Moving To The Country
The first logistic problem to build a boat (and more so a 30 ton beast) is where? We have explored different options, all limited by the same condition: we would live and build at the same location.
We opted to buy a house in the country and here is were we moved in June 2003. We were lucky to find a charming property, but It took us a good year to get it ready to start building. The house needed work and the shop…well…needed even more work.
Truth be said, the house was a bit of a mess. The century farm house had been neglected, and most of the property abused.
Among our requirements we wanted a workshop separated from the house. Welding fumes and dust shall be limited to the working area.
Blinded by necessity, we figured we could make a fine shop from this.
It is funny to look back and see what it all looked like because I can swear that what I saw is exactly what I have now.
We brought the barn down to poles and a roof, pored a cement slab and built new walls. In retrospect, it might of been easier to build from scratch.
In the end there is no doubt that our location choice has been a saving in time, money and stress. Boat building does get expensive, time consuming, and demanding. I believe buying this country property has been the most crucial decision we have made to succeed with our project. Like for any endeavor keeping a good quality of life can only help. Life quality is in the details as being in reach of our home fridge, having proper lunches, no transit time to the boat, having access to our small pool which can make a hot day much more workable or access to the warmth of the house on cold days.
Neighbors are far enough and municipal regulations are such that we can build at ease with no worry of complaints or limitations. We also like to keep the place tidy as we believe that keeping our building environment neat leads to less stress and better work.
Being somewhere nice makes hard work somewhat easier. The animals roam around, being themselves. Dogs, cat, chickens, ducks…everyday we get a good laugh or at least an honest smile from them.
The time saving from living at the same location as we build is not all saved on transportation. It’s also about not having to put everything away each time we put the tools down. We gained a lot not having to set up every morning and secure it all at night… or every time we need a meal or a break. On days we’re not sure the conditions are right to get a full day of work there isn’t much commitment to giving it a try, so we just do and if we only get two hours in; that’s great, we haven’t spent those two hours driving and setting up.
On the draw back it takes a lot of discipline getting work done on nice days when the hammock isn’t too far….but some way work still seems to gets done.
Along with a farm we need a….. Tractor! I can’t resist to anything red. We bought this cute little International B250. From moving heavy stuff to bushogging the back field it has done more then it fair share of work. This little tractor is well over 60 years old and while it doesn’t owe us anything anymore, its still going good.
We are doing fine with the B250 but if we were to do it again we would spend a little more money and get a tractor with down pressure on the bucket and power steering.
It’s amazing all the work involved in just getting ready to build. Once the shop was built we still needed to set it up. While tools may not make the craftsman, good tools and a good working space are an asset to good craftsmanship. A clean and organized setup will favor good work but also safety. Mark is a safe work environment freak…that’s not a bad thing, I actually agree with keeping all my body parts attached and in good functioning order.
I didn’t want to be working off the floor more than necessary, there was going to be enough awkwardly positioned work to do. I built a bunch of different sizes steel welding tables with adjustable feet, that would allow me to move them around to support big pieces (like boat ribs) on a flat plane. My two main working tables have tops made of 1/2 steel, they are nice and heavy. The rest of the tables are lighter with 1/8 steel tops and double up purposes; one is the table saw extension, the other is the chop saw bench.
Building the giant rolling A frame. Getting setup to lift big heavy stuff.
First Pieces of steel After a year shared between working on the property and designing the boat we finally made our first steel order. It arrived under Stumpy’s supervision on July 21st 2005. In volume it didn’t look like much it was 10700lbs of steel, most of it was flat bar for the rib flanges. Our plan was to buy the steel in two steps. First, the structures; the plating would only come when we would be satisfied by the frame. We also agreed to not buy anything else for the boat before the hull would be completed. This is to reduce the losses in case, for any reason, the project would get aborted. It also doesn’t seem logical to spend to accumulate and store parts before we need them (we are the “just on time economy” generation). We have the feeling that buying stuff often become a panic reflex of the amateur boat builder when he doesn’t see enough visual progress. You make a phone call and suddenly you have a boat engine or what ever else. This provides an instant satisfaction but doesn’t help the project. In August, we rented a truck and went to Brannon Steel in Toronto pickup our giant jigsaw puzzle. This was all of it, all the rib webs of a fifty foot boat and more. I’m still impressed how small of a bundle it was. The other surprise was the quality of the cutting (plasma) and the smoothness of the edges. When I sent out my files to get cut, I was so nervous….what if I did a mistake… I shouldn’t of worried, it turned out to be perfect. It’s a funny feeling after working for so long on drawings to see those parts show up…so easily. I suddenly forgot all the computer work and felt like Santa had brought me a boat kit exactly like the one I wanted (maybe Santa could of brought me the completed boat and that would of been great too…oh well).