View Full Version : Building a Wee Seal

06-19-2000, 04:33 AM
I am currently preparing to build a Wee Seal, designed by Ian Oughtred. This is a clinker plywood/epoxy design, and I have some queries regarding the backbone assembly.
This design has a sizeable keel assembly, especially in the deadwood area. The deadwood is built up from several thicknesses of timber, bolted together as per standard practise. Seeing as the rest of the design utilises epoxy (plank lands, etc), should I glue these together with epoxy, or go down the Sikaflex-type path?
Also, should I coat the keel assembly with epoxy (the hull will be sheathed), or settle for good quality marine paint?
Does anybody know if Australian Redgum is durable in marine situations, as I have come into some solid ex-house stumps, and bought a Delta 14 inch bandsaw- so I hope to make my stems, etc from redgum.
Thanks for any advice, from Campbell Shaw.

Phil Young
06-19-2000, 07:35 PM
Redgum will be there long after the ply and epoxy dissapear. Its use for posts should tell you something. Won't do your edge tools much good though.

garland reese
06-19-2000, 07:37 PM
Try duck flat wooden boats. They are Australian based. They sell plans for Ian's Wee Seal and have a video of sailing her and there is an article available on the building of the first Wee Seal. Check them out at www.duck-flatwoodenboats.net.au (http://www.duck-flatwoodenboats.net.au)
You could also try to get hold of Mr. Oughtred. The last address I have is : The Piers, Findhorn, Moray IV360YF, Scotland 01309 690807.
I don't know where you are in OZ, but Duck Flat offers building classes too.
I can't comment on the suitability of the wood in question....I haven't a clue.
I really like the Wee Seal, and would like to build her someday. I've also been looking at Gardner's "Eel" (another double ender). I have Mr. Oughtred's building manual. I like the glued lap construction, as it suits a boat that would spend much time on the trailer in the garage.
Have you any plans for an auxilliary motor for Wee Seal. The comments in the design catalog did not make any comment toward what type of motor accommodations are in the plans. Duck Flat suggested a small diesel, but I don't think I need that type of power, as my sailing would be in inland U.S. lakes.
I'd like to know more about your project, as it goes along. It is nice to find someone who is building her! Also, check out posts here on the forum, from Paul Friederkson ( I know I botched his last name.....sorry Paul). He is build Ian's EuNa Mara. Maybe the keel construction is of the same type.
Keep in touch! garland

06-20-2000, 08:48 AM
garland reese, thanks for your reply- I will keep in touch regarding my project. I actually bought the plans from Duckflat Wooden Boats a couple of weeks ago, and bought most of my plywood today (ouch!) from a supplier in Melbourne.
Regarding the engine- a Doctor in Adelaide who has built one made a sort of plywood 'wedge' that sits on the sheerstrake, starboard aft quarter. He uses a five hp Honda 4 stroke, and says this is plenty. I dont know much about inboards, but he doubts there would be enough room to have a gravity feed tank, and clutch.
There is an article on his boat in 'Australian Amateur Boatbuilder' No.21- I will try and find your email (I am new to this forum business), and arrange to send you a photocopy if you want. Or you could email me at yasandcam@start.com.au
In reply to Phil Young- I was told today that redgum expands/shrinks a lot with moisture content, but perhaps because this timber is so well seasoned, it might be good- I will have to do some tests! It sure as hell is solid though.
Thanks for your replies, from Campbell Shaw.

Phil Young
06-20-2000, 08:11 PM
Could be right on expansion/shrinking. Woods which are great for always in the water traditional boatbuilding may not be so great for epoxy construction. On the structure issue I'd be inclined to go the epoxy route with sheathing to try to stabilise the moisture content. I've built Oughtred's Acorn skiff, found his plans very good and building method easy. I'm sort of thinking of building a Grey seal one day. Duck flat guys are good, you'll find them always happy to help with these sorts of questions.
Let us know how the boat comes along from time to time.

06-20-2000, 08:44 PM
I was advised yesterday at Marine Timbers in Melbourne, that for most purposes they recommend Hoop Pine for structural timber. Your suggestion of continuing epoxy through the deadwood/keel assembly sounds good. I suppose that since the hull skin relies on epoxy, it would be silly to use a different system elsewhere.

Sjo Hest
06-21-2000, 07:37 PM
I'd laminate the deadwood/keel with epoxy, but I'd limit wood thickness to 1 1/2 inch, and one inch would be better. --Dan

06-22-2000, 01:17 PM
On my Windward 15 I built the skeg from 1-1/2" x 2" pieces of Doug Fir. I used 3-1/2" #18 silicon bronze screws on 8"-9" centers to hold everything together. Then attached to the hull and sheathed the completed assemble. The beam and hull shape was such that the Dynel cloth would go from gunwale to bottom of skeg in one piece. Then the other side was sheathed with a full lap on the bottom of the skeg: double thickness where needed most. Dynel or Xynol will give you sufficient abrasion resistance while conforming easily to bottom shape and hull/keel joint. Just be sure to add a nice radius with epoxy and filler.

Doug Wilde

John N
06-28-2003, 09:10 PM
I too am building a Wee Seal and had the same decision to make; quarter sawn fir boards are what was readily available so I laminated the keel/deadwood assembly and 'glassed it.
(btw I found it quite challenging to figure out how to cut and laminate the various parts over such a long curved shape without a lot of waste!)

06-29-2003, 11:02 PM
I'd be very dubious about using redgum, or any other eucalypt in composite construction. The radial shrinkage rate is around 10-12% from memory, and it will rip any epoxy/glass coating up like paper if it ever gets wet. It's also extremely heavy and difficult to work when green, and near impossible when seasoned.
There's an Australian Standards publication on boatbuilding timbers that lists the characteristics and suitability of a lot of australian and international timbers, and what they are useful for. It only costs a few dollars.
I'd second the suggestion of using Hoop Pine (Araucaria). It's an Australian native softwood similar in characteristics to oregon, and is now plantation grown.

06-29-2003, 11:02 PM
have you folks seen the changes that were made by Ian as seen in his "Wee Seal II" drawings? I caught them in the Design Review Quarterly. If you need more info, I'd be happy to send it to you. email me off-line. Good luck.

06-30-2003, 03:27 AM
There is a grey seal for sale - advertised on boatpoint.com.au in Tasmania for Australian $42,000 - just search under 'wood' and Tasmania.

06-30-2003, 04:05 AM
Red Gum is a great timber, I turn a lot of it as part of my day to day income but I'm not too sure if I'd want to use old house stumps in my boat. I use quite a bit of old fence post material and while the timber that was underground is very attractive it is usually not very strong... If I were to use an Australian timber for the keel, stem etc. that was similar but more "Nautically friendly" then I think I would be more inclined toward Jarrah. of course you could go the whole hog and do it in Huon....... :D

06-30-2003, 04:27 AM
Seashaw, seeing you are in Melb., try this number Alan Chinn, 9397 3100. He has a place in Williamstown and has built a number of Ians designs, including the hull of my Macgreggor. He does'nt mind visitors and is a mine of Info. I am organising to build 'ELF', another double ender and he has one half done to look at. Doorstop, I and a few others have plans for a 'sail in' on the Murray somewhere in spring. Somewhere as central as possible to allow Warren to come too, are you interested?
How's your back Doorstop.

07-03-2003, 05:21 AM
G'day Stoppers! :cool:

How's the boat restoration project comming along?

Wild Dingo
07-03-2003, 08:20 AM
Whachabinupta stoppers that yerve got a buggared back?? strewth sunshine ow the flamin eck yer gonna get that rebuild done muckin about eh?!! pull yer bootstraps up lad! :D

oohh the timber right!!... now Ive recieved the plans for Grey Seal and shes a definant possibility {among others :rolleyes: } and Im definantly going to use the Tuart I have out the front for the keel and deadwood on that so I wonder why the Redgum would be not appropriate?

Im curious is all... does the Wee Seal need to be light in the keel region by using pine or would the keel benifit from the heavy timber?