Harmonica Part 3  
By Bill Nolen - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - USA

A Micro-Shanty Style Houseboat as built by Bill Nolen

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7

Let's see…where were we when Part Two ended? Ah yes, the attachment of the bow chine logs. After I installed the second bow chine log, I then attached two 1-inch by 2-inch boards to the aft end of the boat by cutting a 45-degree angle in the aft end of the bow chine logs and mating the two boards to this angle.

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Photo showing the chine log being glued on.

While I was attaching the aft chine logs I noticed that the slight bulge outward in the starboard side hadn't disappeared…as I had hoped! So I rigged up clamping jig using a pipe clamp and some 2-inch by 2-inch stock. With a slight amount of pressure the pipe clamp pulled the bulge inward. I added an expoxied board on the inside of the side to hold the side in alignment.

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Photo showing the chine log clamps

After all the epoxy had cured for a day or so, I decided it was time to place the boat hull onto the dolly. I didn't want to wait any longer because the hull was getting heavier with each addition that was made to it.

While I lifted the aft end of the boat, my dear wife Donna slid a small auto floor jack under the transom bulkhead. I used the jack to lift the transom high enough so that I could slide cement blocks under the two corners of the transom. I then jacked up the front of the boat by moving the jack under the second bulkhead. There I also placed two cement blocks. By removing one of the corner cement blocks at the transom I had space to slide the dolly under the boat. I moved the dolly around until the bulkheads were positioned over the lengthwise boards of the dolly. I replaced the floor jack under the transom and removed the single cement block, lowering the hull onto the dolly. Moving to the front of the boat, I removed the two cement blocks and lowered bulkhead two onto the dolly.

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Photo showing hull placed on moveable dolly.

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Photo showing how the bulkheads rest on the lengthwise boards of the dolly.

The Harmonica plans call for two 2-inch by 6-inch bottom stiffener board to be installed between bulkhead's two and three. These boards also provide the platform to which the seats/bunks rest. I installed these boards as outlined in the plans, although later I plan on extending the bunks into the storage area of the bow to provide more useable space.

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Photo of the 2-inch by 6-inch bottom stiffeners just installed but not yet sanded smooth.

Since the bottom sheets of 3/8-inch plywood are joined together with butt joints, reinforced with 1-inch by 4-inch cross boards, it is necessary that slots are cut out of the bottom stiffeners so that the cross boards can lay flat.

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Here I have started cutting the slots for the cross boards.

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Using a chisel to cut slot for first butt joint.

I decided to epoxy the three butt joint/cross boards onto the hull and not try to assemble the bottom plywood into one 13-foot sheet. That way each bottom plywood sheet would only be four feet long and much easier controlled.

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Photo showing one of the butt joint boards ready to be expoxied into the cut slots.

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Photo showing all butt joint boards installed.

Because I had left an extra amount of material on each bottom plywood panel, making the panels over five feet wide, it was necessary that the panels be cut to fit. In the photo below you can see where I marked the bow panel and was all set to use a skill saw to trim the panels. However, I remembered that I had a router bit designed to cut plywood so I decided to try using the router. Holding the panel in place with clamps it was quite easy to cut the excess material off each side of the panel for a perfect fit! I could have cut off the excess material after epoxing the panels in place, but I was concerned that the cured epoxy would dull the router bit.

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Photo showing bow bottom plywood being measured for fit.

I had been worrying that the bottom 3/8-inch plywood panels wouldn't want to curve over the bow without being treated with hot water. However, with the front edge of the plywood clamped and nailed into place, the aft end of the panel was actually easy to pull down and clamp into place. The cross boards aided greatly in the clamping process.

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Here the bow bottom panel has been installed and the epoxy has cured.

When I mixed the epoxy resin for the bottom panels I used a mixture of wood flour and West Systems 404 Adhesive Filler until the epoxy mixture was somewhat like thin peanut butter.

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Photo showing all bottom plywood panels installed and clamps removed.

My next step was to install fiberglass tape and epoxy resin on the hull's seams.

I had ordered a 4-inch wide and 50-foot roll of fiberglass tape, so I cut the first piece long enough to fit the bow seam.

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Photo showing bow tape ready for epoxy to be applied.

Using unthicken epoxy, and a 2-inch paintbrush, I applied a thin coating of epoxy to the wood. laid the tape onto the epoxy and applied a second coat of epoxy onto the top of the tape filling in the cloth's weave the best I could.

As the bow fiberglass tape cured, I applied fiberglass tape to all the butt joints that joined the bottom plywood together, then on all the bottom/side seams.

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Photo showing the cured fiberglassed butt joints and side seams.

After the fiberglass tape had cured for about 24-hours I applied two coats of thin epoxy to the bottom plywood. I allowed the first epoxy to almost cure before adding the second coat.

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Photo showing the cured epoxy coating on the bottom plywood.

On to Part 4