Burton's Brilliant Bodge click "comment" to read or make an observation about this  article - click "email" to send this page to a friend
by David Bramhall - Great Britain

In his account of building his Houdini "Jackrabbit", Burton Blaise describes how he despaired of bending the plywood in about fifteen different dimension to make the lower planks at the bow, and did it with diagonal planking instead.

I've just adopted his method for my own Houdini which will be named "Rafael", and the idea is so brilliant that it deserves to be repeated and better publicised - hence this message. No doubt it would work for other designs as well.

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He despaired of bending the plywood in about fifteen different dimension to make the lower planks at the bow

(click images for larger views)

I, too, quickly gave up trying to do the job in one piece. At the point where the lower plank is no longer wire-stitched to the bottom plank but is backed by the solid wood of the mast-box, I cut it off diagonally sloping toward the bow.

diagonal strips just epoxied in place. The rows of black screws are holding in place the inside straps which ensure all the planks lie flush and fair. The screws are removed once the epoxy starts to go off.

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I then cut and fettled to fit (a straight edge becomes curved when it's screwed into position - amazing!) several diagonal planks about 4 or 5 inches wide. I imagine you'd get a fairer curve with narrower planks, but I'm lazy. Each is screwed in place. I then put two longitudinal strapping pieces of 6mm ply behind them, and screwed these from the outside until the epoxy sets. These two straps pull the diagonal planks flush with each other, creating quite a decent fair curve to the outside of the hull.

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Inside the foc'sle showing the straps and the temporary screws. Quite a lot of tidying up to be done!

Fibreglass mat and plenty of filler inside and out and the job's done. It's about 5 million times easier than the conventional method. Thanks, Burton - you were a real life-saver!

Incidentally, our local hardware store (B&Q - I'm in the UK) has things called drywall screws. I'd never seen them before. They are black, self-tapping, bugle-headed and both the point and the thread are so sharp you don't even have to drill a pilot hole - they practically pull themselves through the wood! Ideal for holding things together temporarily.

On the port side I used planks about five inches wide which are going to need quite a bit of filling and fairing. On the starboard side the planks are more and narrower
(about 3 inches), which has worked better I think.

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