Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

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Cruiser
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Location: Bowmanville, Ontario

Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:06 am

My first canoe was a Freedom Solo and I really love this boat for tripping. I toyed with the idea of selecting a different solo for this build, in the end the decision was to build a modified version and incorporate some of the "stuff" I have learned since that build.

So I am officially building now ... the first step was too tackle a few items before I get the strongback positioned and aligned (my shop is small, once this is setup, not a lot of working space left).

Items to complete before I get to stripping
- accent strip
- gunnel prep
- strip inspection
- strip book matching

First up ... organize all the darn clamps that seem to always be a mess and in the way ...

Clamp Caddy V1:

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Accent Strip
I like pin stripes as accents, not sure if this is for looks or that they can be a challenge to pull off. Anyway, that curving tumblehome section just screamed for a pin stripe section to highlight the area. Now a secondary reason is that having built this boat before, I also know that full size strips are a challenge in this area, the accent will be made up of 3/8" strips to ease the stripping.

I had a photo hiccup and don't have many pics of this, the initial glueup is white cedar and a piece of dark red cedar to yield 18' lengths of 2" thick material.

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These were sawn and planed to 1/8" and 1/4" pieces (that is 1/8" x 2" x 18' and 1/4" x 2" x 18'), from these I glued up 2 types of strip blanks 1) 1/4" WRC + 1/8" NWC and 2) 1/8" NWC (top & bottom) with a WRC in the middle.

I cut/planed/coved/beaded 1/4" strips from the blanks, they go together as shown:


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Accent strip complet ...check

On to the next task

Brian
Last edited by Cruiser on Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:38 pm

Next on the task list are the gunnel blanks.

I picked up a 10' length of 4/4 x 8" rough cherry at my local lumber yard. A quick plane to smooth the sides a bit, followed by marking and cutting it length wise to give me 2 pieces of ~ 3.5" x 7/8" x 10'.

I need about 17' 6" for the boat, this includes some allowance, 17' would likely work, but when it comes to stuff like this I am not big on "likely". The 2 pieces will be skarfed together, using the 30" (20'-17'6") allowance, yielding a final length if 17' 6" and a skarf ratio of just under 9:1.

This pic is the pieces ready to be epoxied together, they have been aligned and marked (you can see the pencil marks if you look carefully). When I do this kind of joint I like to use outside stringers and alignment blocks to keep it all straight.

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The cut is saturated with epoxy and then I lightly butter with thickened ... in this case it is thickened with cabosil and cherry wood dust. The clamping order is:

- the left bar clampt to lock the left piece
- align the pencil marks
- right bar clamp to lock the right piece ... this effectively locks the piece horizontally, it can't slide left or right
- place the cut blocks and lightly C clamp them to align vertically
- center bar clamp, then left and right to close joint

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Close up of alignment marks, notice how the epoxy line shows up, that is the colouring I added and should be almost gone when a finish is applied.

Finished joint, just a little light scraping is enough for now.

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The new long length is very straight and ready to become gunnels

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Using the Skillsaw method for cutting strips, it is adjusted to ~3/8" ... gunnels are born, they get a quick plane down to 11/32" and are complete awaiting installation later on.

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Brian

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Jim Dodd
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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Jim Dodd » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:02 pm

Looks Great Brian !
The strongback is so versatile ! No need for infeed/outfeed tables ! As a gluing fixture for planks, decorative strips, and gunnels, it's just plain Handy ! Put a set of wheels on it, and when it's time to sand, outside you go ! Oh Watch out for neighbors, as they will all want to see what you are doing :tu

I actually have three skilsaws set up for cutting strips and gunnels. So accurate !
For someone starting their first, or their 20th canoe, the Skilsaw and Strongback combination, makes it possible !

Great build so far Brian !

Jim
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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Jim Dodd
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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Jim Dodd » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:07 pm

Just spotted the Kootenay stems ! :thinking
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:35 pm

One of the last steps before actually starting the real challenge of building the boat .. is book matching the strips, while not strictly necessary, I like to take this step.

I picked up a sheet of 3/4" ply (just had the store cut it in half) to cut new stations, plus some 1/2" baltic birch.

Before I use the ply for its intended purpose, i spread it out on the strongback to make a large sorting table. Out come the reprocessed strips and the accent strips.

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Once arranged, they get numbered and marked left and right ... a side shot to gives a better idea of the strips and accent

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Rebundled as left and right ... ready to go back to the racks ( a lot of twoing and froing)

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Most of the prep work is now done, getting closer to the fun part.

Brian

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:57 am

Finally, the prep work for the build is done and I can tackle the forms, first step ... dig my original forms out of the shed, then figure out the modifcation of the stern and bow stems.

This is the original bow stem assembly, with St 1 and St 3 attached:

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I drew up the new stems in the summer, I traced the old form on a piece of graph paper setup for lofting, this gave a point of reference when making alterations ... I tried a couple of different radius types and stayed with the one that has the sheer notch. There is also a ref line for where the tumblehome falls, that is kept to help align the initial strips to help with the accent strip placement.

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To transfer the shape, the drawing is positioned and taped in place, then finishing nails are placed every inch or so. The drawing looks a little strange, but the explanation is that I wanted to use the ply left edge as it was the manufactured edge, and I had to flip the bow drawing over, it was still visible enough to do the transfer.

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Carefully lift the paper away and you are left with just the nails, use some clamps and a fairing strip, draw between the nails with a pen or pencil. I started with a marker, not a good idea, bleeds too much.

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Cut out and sand to the line, reposition clamp holes as required and presto ... a new form is born.

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It was pretty clear that the last (or first) stations would require modifications, so I duplicated the existing St1/St2 and St14/St15, as I wanted to keep the original form set intact for possible future builds.

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The new St15/St1 (wings on the stem form) were largely eyeballed using a fairing stick and common sense as to how the strips had to fall. The stem form (stern pictured) was assembled and the St13 modification was determined and marked on the form (you can see the new shape marked in pencil.

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Once the bow/stern stem assemblies where completed, it became clear that I would need to also modify the next station as well to space out the twist the new shape required. It was a small change, near the sheer, just to ease the twist over a longer length. Here is the completed set ready to be installed:

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So the new shape required changing the stem form and 3 stations at each end ... I won't know how well the changes work until I start stripping.

Brian

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:11 pm

The modified stem molds, have considerably more bend than I usually do .... to make the bending easier, I just cut down the thickness and used 4 pieces per stem ... that means reducing the normal .25" to .1875" .... I love having a planer.

Here are the strips on top of my steamer, I decided to use cherry and northern white cedar.

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A few years back I put in a new fence and had a few substandard boards left over, these were repurposed to make a steamer, here is the entire set up ... I have a simple top and sit the whole thing in a aluminum pan when it is operating, so the condensate doesn't run all over. I used to just use a large pot to generate steam, but this little steam unit has been worth the investment .... very slick for the purpose.

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I drill a hole in the ends of the strips and run a coat hanger piece through them

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Then they get hung in the steamer ... a note about the coat hanger and the steamer ... you will notice the coat hanger piece is blue ... that is some sort of plastic coating ... not a good idea to use coated wire, when it heats up it goes soft, when you try to slide the wood off, it bunches up ... when you are trying to move quickly, this does tend to cause a sudden vocal outburst when it happens ... nuff said, use bare wire.

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While that is steaming, I setup the stem mold and added a few bending guides ... you can see that I use block, on the first bending guide, to hold the one end of the strips, this really saves time, as you can pretty much pull the strips, place and start bending all in one motion (unless the plastic coating interferes, then you need to swear and reheat)

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Bending proceeded with out hiccups (almost) and everything clamped well ... I placed alignment lines on the bent pieces, before I removed them from the clampup, so that when I did glue up, I could realign them to the same position.

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After they had a chance to dry ... a green tape separator was added to the top of the last white cedar strip. Used the same epoxy treament as the gunnel, thinned epoxy followed by a light butter of thickened epoxy, place on the stem mold, use the pencil marks to align properly ... tighten each clamp a little and move down the line and repeat till they are all snug, but not "cranked"

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Next day, removed the clamps and separated the 2 halves ... I really need to find a better tape than the green painters tape, it can be a pita some times.

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These get a light scraping to get them more or less flat, then a quick sand with an 80 grit sanding block. That's all I do as most of the stems gets sanded or carved away anyway.

Ready to move on to setting up the strongback and molds .... finally.

Brian

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Jim Dodd
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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Jim Dodd » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:28 pm

Great tutorial Brian !

Jim
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:42 am

The mounting blocks were all removed and repositioned on the strongback and then the whole strongback located to a couple of pieces of duct tape (i did the work to find those spots on my first build, the tape saves repeating) on the floor, which gives the best access and apparently the only 2 spots on the garage floor that are close to level and square with each other. I used a few shims and lucked out, it was all level .... yeah.

Here is the strongback is placed and aligned/leveled, the bow and stern assemblies are ready for installation

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The stern/bow assenblies are clamped/drilled/screwed and then a pair of alignment blocks were added to keep the assembly centered.

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After the bow/stern assemblies, the alignment string was setup .... there is a center mark on the top of each form, as the forms get installed each one is adjusted so it is aligned with the string (and bow/stern). One thing I did have to add was that little support block on the bow assembly, there isn't much wood along the bottom and I felt it was flexing too much ... this was also added to the stern.

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Halfway through getting molds installed ...

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Mold and bow/stern assembly complete ...

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Next step add the bow/stern stems and do the vertical leveling of each mold. A spare strip was nailed between the bow and stern assemblies ... each mold was then checked with a level to be vertical, then a nail was placed to hold it in position.

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Everything is aligned, level and locked down, finally ready for strips .... woot

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Brian

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Jim Dodd
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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Jim Dodd » Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:41 pm

And the Moment of Truth is about here !
Drum roll please !

Looks great so far Brian !

Jim
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:13 pm

Finally getting some strips on ....

Since I am stripping in the winter and the shop is around 16-18C, the usual Titebond II glue will be replaced with a more temp tolerent glue, LePage Express, which is good down to 3C.

The build will be stapleless and the first strips will follow the sheer in the few middle forms and be allowed to fall fair to the bow/stern (the difference at the ends will be made up with short strips). L shaped brackets and wedges will be used for the initial stripping, to help keep the strips snuggly to the forms. A full length (48") 1/4" dowel is run along the top of the strip being glued, to protect the cove ... it is then wrapped with 3/16" shock cord to pull the strips together for a tight fit.

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There is a little extra torque on the initial strips at the stems (this is due entirely to the modifications I have made), so I needed to put together a little jig to be able to snug the strips in place. The bottom is adjusted (and clamped in place) so that the hinged piece aligns with the angles on the strip, allowing me to snug it in place with a little shock cord.

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To shape the stems with the right angle for the strip, I made up this little sanding strip ... just 2 lengths of strip, glued together and a strip of 60 grit sandpaper glued on ... the gap at the bottom near the bead is important if you try this.

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The bead of the sanding stick, fits into the cove of the previously glued strip ....when you move it back and forth ... you sand the perfect angle ... the 60 grit sands pretty quick ... if you extend the sand paper further than shown, you end up sanding into the cove ... so leave the gap

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Top view shows how the sanding stick follows the bead to give a perfect angle on the stem

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The bow and stern sections are pretty straightforward, but in the sections in between the tumblehome shape comes into play and the stripping requires some forethought as to how the strips will be snugged up to the forms. The L brackets handle this quite well, but they need to be adjusted to make sure the wedges can apply the pressure. If they get installed square, very wide wedges are needed, setup at an angle gives a near constant gap, that a 1 to 1 1/2" wedge can bridge. This pic is nearer the middle and you can see there is a lot of curving going on.

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The strips get applied to the top of the L brackets .... it doesn't take many strips to give a good impression of what the bow/stern shape is going to be

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At this point there are enough strips applied that it is pretty strong and the strips cannot flex horizontally, so the L brackets will be swapped out for a buckle system .... that will be covered next.

Brian

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Jim Dodd
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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Jim Dodd » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:54 pm

Really enjoying your build Brian!
It's great to see others step outside the BOX, and you've planned this one very well !

Jim
Keep your paddle wet and your seat dry!

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:59 am

On the first build I used 3/4" forms, which I decided were too thick and swapped to 1/2" (on subsequent builds), I also used nylon ties (really big ones) to hold the strips to the molds, which were swapped to cambuckle straps. This caused a little issue in that these forms are the original size, so none of the current strap jigs will fit the older forms.

Once above the tumblehome section, the wedges/woodjigs, for holding the strips to the molds, are swapped out for cambuckle strap method I currently use.

This is a pic of the current strap jigs/clips meant for 1/2" material (foreground), with the revised version for the thicker molds.

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Production ... not fancy, just getting them built.


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And how they install on the forms

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In practise it looks like this ...and stripping is coming along

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A view of the completed tumblehome section to give a better idea of the challeneges there

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Overall view of the stripping so far

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Things got bogged down some as I enjoyed the flu the better half shared with me ... so much for flu shots being effective this year.

Brian

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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Cruiser » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:35 pm

The flu slowed things down for a bit, but I have a little progress ...

One side closed in to centerline

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The hull profile is easy to imagine, I'm digging it so far

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Last strips done, and all gear removed ... getting ready for center line rough cut

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Rough cut completed

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Cutting the final center line, I am a fan of getting close with a chisel and then sanding to the final line. These are a couple of the sanding sticks/tools that help keep it all straight and square.

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And the final cut is done ... I always sweat this cut, but it always seems to work out

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Last bit of closing in the football is fun, but finicky ...


Brian

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Patricks Dad
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Re: Freedom Solo 15' 3" or 16' 2"

Post by Patricks Dad » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:45 pm

Awesome progress Brian!
:applause
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