Eastport Pram Build #14: Odds & Ends…

September 11, 2014


The race was on!  I had about 10 days before my scheduled vacation to splash her, so I jotted down every single step that still needed to be done and divided it by the number of nights for the epoxy to cure.  It was a pretty daunting list.  Every day had its own challenges and a critical path.  Now that the boat had four coats of epoxy inside and out, I could install the gudgeons on the aft transom.  The tricky part was that the bottom gudgeon had to be installed before the aft thwart was put into place and it pierced the flotation tank, so I had to make sure it was extra secure.  I did the standard drill & fill, then I used the gudgeon itself as the drilling template.  This looked fine on the outside, but unfortunately it was a little wonky on the other side.  I also made sure to remember a backing board to eliminate tear-out.  For the bolts into the flotation tank, I used nyloc nuts so they’d never back out and I dipped each bolt into unthickened epoxy to hopefully ensure it was a waterproof seal.  For the top gudgeon, which shows on the inside while you’re sitting there sailing, I bought one of those drill guides to make sure the holes were square to the transom.  This was one of the overnight steps…



 Nylocs on the inside of the aft flotation tank securing the bottom gudgeon.

Note the additional epoxy runs…



 Pan head phillips on the outside for a clean look.

Make sure gudgeon is perfectly level and on the centerline…


Next up was finishing all of the sailboat specific parts.  Even with the boat complete, there’s still a week’s worth of work on all of the part that make it move.  Once they were all laminated, cut out, sanded, edges eased, etc. I had to coat them with 3 nights’ worth of epoxy.  In order to be able to access all sides, I strung them up in the shop in some twine.  This caused a slight epoxy stalactite on the bottom of each one, but at least I didn’t have to do one side each day and flip, which would double the nights needed for curing.



Knowing that I’d need to transport the pram from the truck in the parking lot to the boat launch ramp, I devised a quick and dirty prototype of a dinghy dolly.  It fits between the skids, locking it in place so it can’t rotate, it’s long enough to support the boat, but short enough to fit between the center and aft thwarts for trailering.  The large, pneumatic tires float, so it won’t get lost at the ramp while wrangling the boat.  The tough part was making the platform far enough away from the axle so that the tires wouldn’t rub on the hull.  Once that was accomplished, it works rather well.  I live a block from a neighborhood lake, so I wanted to be able to negotiate a busy crosswalk safely with the boat in tow.  Now that the prototype is close, I’ll make a prettier one in the Spring…




The tiller/rudder assembly was fun to put together too.  Lots of drill & fill opportunities here.  The rudder has to fit snugly between the cheek plates, but still be able to rotate while you’re sitting in the boat.  One of my most shameful confessions is that I basically just hacked the tiller out of a solid piece of oak.  I was originally going to steam-bend the tiller to give it a graceful arc, but after seeing where it reaches as you swing the tiller from side to side, I prefer it to clear the gunwales.  BTW, the placement of the pivot bolt for the tiller on the rudder cheek is crucial to the pivoting angle.  I lucked out and landed it on the second attempt, so there’s a previous hole that was filled with 5 minute epoxy…


 Tiller/rudder assembly…


The pintles come specifically with an upper and lower, so you can get it started, then drop it into place while you’re in the water without the danger of dropping the whole thing overboard.  It’s a pretty ingenious system that makes more sense once you see it working in person.  Even though I was unbelievably careful about mounting the gudgeons parallel on the centerline, there was a bit of binding when I dropped the rudder assembly into place the first time.  With a little persuasion and a little wiggling back and forth, it loosened up so as to be functional…




Click here for the link to the gudgeons and pintles.  To save you from making the same mistake I did, make sure the pintle brackets fit the outside of your rudder cheek assembly, not the thickness of your rudder.  That bit me on the butt and I didn’t realize it until it was almost too late, necessitating running around the last minute trying to find the right size…


As you can see in the image above, I installed the optional outboard stiffener pad.  I plan on putting atrolling motor on this thing once in a while.  The trade off is that it pushes the top gudgeon out of line with the bottom one 1/4″, which they don’t address in the instructional manual and may be a source of the binding issue.  I tried to offset the bottom pintle bracket to make up for it.  In addition to the structural aspect of the pad, I also think it adds a little visual interest to the aft transom.  The pad was glued using Titebond II because it was then encapsulated by the layers of epoxy.  It was also sanded perfectly flush with the top edge of the aft transom as per the diagram.



 Somebody needs to wax his truck…


In the spirit of full disclosure, I finished some of these last bits the morning I was supposed to leave for my vacation.  The good news is that I got it all done in just the nick of time.  I was able to load the boat into the truck myself with the dolly.  It fits snugly between the wheel wells and holds all the rest of my camping gear!


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