A Quest to be a J Class Skipper
By Bob Buckley
This will be an ongoing blog of the construction of Rainbow and a journey as I have begun building and working on J's. Keep checking back as I add to the story and log the hours it takes to build this beauty. I expect it will be pushing 550 hours. If you have any questions you can email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Two years ago I wouldn't have even considered a J class yacht. I had acquired a Santa Barbara, which at that time I thought was big and tough to move around and get to regattas. My wife thought I was crazy at the time, but has always been supportive. In retrospect, the Santa Barbara is a piece of cake now.
In May of 2018 we decided to end our time as full time RVers and made a move to Las Vegas Nevada. We moved into a house and I setup shop.
My first project was to redo that Santa Barbara. I had wanted to to repaint and redo the wood. Now I had the space to do it.
Prior to moving to Las Vegas my good friend Bob Eger invited me to sail his J Class Ranger in a club regatta and I excepted. Little did I know he was setting me up for future events.
Back to my garage in Las Vegas, as I am working on my projects Bob is encouraging me to build a J. It wasn't to long and I'm thinking I have the space, why not. I have always liked building so this would be the ultimate build. I would scratch build a J Class Yacht. Which one? I started looking at all the J class yachts and had decided I wanted to build something different than what everyone else around me had. To me it seemed the obvious choice was Rainbow!
At this time Bob Eger has introduced me to John Hanks (J Class Secretary) Its just a short 3 hour trip down to Lake Havasu City from Las Vegas, so off Jenni and I go. We got some plans, videos and I have been picking John's brain ever since. If you want to know anything about building 1/16th scale J Class Yachts, John Hanks III is the source!
Fast forward and we're back home in Las Vegas working on drawing and cutting frames.
At this time its September 2018 and I have been laying out, cutting and sanding frames. I'm about half way through them when we get notice that the house we were renting was sold and we needed to move in 30 days. Needless to say work has come to a stop. With just a short time to move, we found an apartment and the dream of building Rainbow had come to an end for now. We spent the next few months contemplating what we would do and where we would go. During that time there were more trips to Lake Havasu and we were becoming great friends with John and Barbara Hanks.
It is now the the last week in December 2018 and I get a call from my good friend Bob. This is where you see what a good friend he is. He tells me he is going to build a new j, Svea and he wants to sell his Ranger to me. This is a Novak fiberglass hull. It is hull #1 and he will be in Las Vegas to deliver her in two weeks. There really was no way to say thank you and you can see that in my face.
Did i mention what an awesome wife I have? We are now living in a 1 bedroom apartment and there is an 8 foot 3 inch J boat residing in our living room. Nothing more needs to be said there!
As you can see the deck fittings and cabins is not complete. Some people have completely plain decks, and that's OK but one of the things that drew me to the J's was the scale and the completed decks. Another trip down to the Hank's to learn about building all these little details and getting her all rigged.
It's now the end of March. We have spent a few days with John and Barbara Hanks. John has helped me get all the rigging completed and I have taken a lot of notes on cabin and deck fittings. All this is going to be a big help when construction resumes on Rainbow.
While down at Lake Havasu City we once again get notice that we will need to move again. Long story short we have just over 30 days to find another place to live. We decided we had enough of Las Vegas and decided to head back home to Boise Idaho. Packing begins as we prepare for the 1000 mile move.
It's May 1st and we have arrived in Boise. Will be staying with our daughter until we find a place. In the meantime all the boats are packed in the trailer. It takes about a month and a half but we finally find a house just outside of Boise in the town of Kuna.
So now we are here! Finally setting up the shop and unpacking. Opened a box today and found the Rainbow frames and plans. So here we are,almost a year later from when we stopped work on Rainbow. She is out of the box and work will start again.
Keep checking back as I will post up on here weekly as the build continues along. You can check at the top of the page as I update the amount of hours I spend working on her.
It's been a busy week at work so I didn't get a lot done. Today I decided to take a break from seams like the endless cutting of frames and construct the building board. I had already built this once but because of the amount of space it would take on the moving truck it didn't make the cut.
So off I go down to Lowes to find a suitable 4 X 6. Spent some time sorting through there pile of 8 footers looking for one that was flat and straight. Got one I felt was good about 3 layers down. Next three 92 inch 2X4's. If you cut two 36 inch legs out of each of 2, that will leave a 20 inch drop for the foot on each end and the last one I used as a brace across the bottom. Next I picked up four 36 inch pieces of 3/4 in square stock. This I cut into 4 inch pieces for each of the 29 stations on Rainbow. Last was a box of 2 1/2 inch screws.
Now that I have the building board up with legs I need to mark the stations on it to mount the 3/4 inch blocks. I get this measurement off my drawings. In the case of Rainbow this is 3.08 inches between each station.
I use calipers to lay out the lines. Next I use a long piece of steel to draw a nice straight center-line down the middle of the 4X6. Next a center line around each of the 3/4 inch blocks. This is to line them up on the 4X6. This will ensure a nice straight boat and all the lines will be used to place each of the frames.
Now a little CA to glue the blocks in place. The orientation of the blocks is changed on Rainbow between station 11 and 12. This may differ on other boats. This is just for the ease of building and doesn't effect the location of the frame, but just the placement of the block. I numbered each of the blocks to match the corresponding frames. Not counting the trip to the hardware store, 4 hours later I now have a building board for the 95.78 inch Rainbow.
1 - 4 x 6 x 8 foot
3 - 2 x 4 x 92 inches
4 - 3/4 x 3/4 x 36 inches
28 - 2 1/2 inch wood screws
Well its been a bit since i got much done. Ive been busy at work, holiday's and its been cold. Very cold and the heater I had wouldn't keep up with the below freezing temperatures.
This week I got a new heater and it works great. Spent the day cutting and adding frames to the stations on the building board. Great progress today.
So I got started laying out the frames for the aft section of the boat and the seemingly endless amount of cutting involved with each one.
I was cruising along and making good progress, but work has come to a stop. My scroll saw has broke down so no more work till Monday when I will pick up a new one.
Its Monday now and I just got another scroll saw set up and I now have about another 8 frames to cut. Back at it!
SO I have finally finished the endless cutting of frames and have them installed on the building block.
I laid out the keel, worked it into place and installed the gunwales. After almost 50 hours of work its really starting to come together and feel like i might actually have a boat here! I am really pleased with the fit and alignment of everything so far. I think using the laser really helped.
Today I am starting to cut and strip wood for all the planks. I was really dreading this process just because after cutting all the frames i am just plain tired of cutting wood. To my surprise it didn't take as long as i thought it would. I have a little prep work to do on the skeleton and then I will start the process of planking the boat. Going to take the day off Sunday to catch up on some other things, but will get my first plank started Monday after work or with the way the weather is I might get a rain out!
I've now started planking Rainbow. This is a process that i thought would go faster than it is. So far its taken about 30 min per plank to get them in place and glued. It should start going a little faster as i get a system down and the planks get shorter as I work up the hull. As I install the first 8 foot planks and twist them around I alternate from one side to the other to keep the pressure on the frames the same and even on the hull. The one thing I didn't expect was how sore my finger tips would get manipulating the planks. I have 6 on each side now. I will spend the day tomorrow planking and will see how far I can get.
I can't believe its been over 2 months since i posted up on here. I will try to be better than that . The last 2 months I have been planking off and on. I have been sick, off and on and work has been busy requiring me to work some overtime and now with the Covid -19 pandemic that has increased for me.
So for the last 2 months + I have been plugging away piece by piece. Above you can see the progression as I have moved along. I have done a little sanding along the way and have a ton of sanding and shaping to do still,now that the planking is finished.
Besides sanding, next on the list is to add wood blocks to the bow and stern so I can finish shaping both ends of the boat and get ready for fiber glassing. Also I have all the material to build the rudder. Lots to do.
It's Also time to start thinking about some of the internal workings of this girl. I am going to use the Servo City Arm winch setup for sail control. You can click here to look at that set up. https://amyajclass.com/servocity-arm-winch I am using this set up in my Ranger and it works well and I like it, so no sense re inventing the wheel. On the back stay I am considering using a linear servo set up that was shared with me by David Ramos. Need to do a little more research before I make a decision. On my rudder servo some guys shared a direct drive setup that I am considering also. Always looking at new innovations.
This is where I added the bow section. I started with two blocks of pine and glued them into place with some CA.
After letting the glue cure i started shaping the wood to the finished shape of the bow. It's looking pretty good!
This is the finished stern section. It was done the same way. I started with two blocks of wood glued in place and then shaped with a disk sander. Very happy how it came out.
All the planking is complete and the bow ad stern have been added to the boat. I have started the fairing process and she is looking pretty good. Still a lot of sanding to go. Tomorrow i will focus on construction of the rudder.
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