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Thread: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

  1. #1
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    Default Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Does anyone out there have experience with using WEST's G/flex (instead of wooden splines) to spline the seams of a carvel planked hull?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    I've not. But I lived with a boat that was brilliantly splined in the '70s and held up very well. With Granuaile, the regular epoxy of the time worked just fine as the spline to plank seams were tight and the glue line narrow. I'd imagine that Gflex might even be a bit better.

    But is Gflex what you really want for a wide gap fill?

    Just Gflex? How wide are the seams? If narrow, how to get it in right. If wide, isn't that a bit pricy? And can Gflex really take the expand/contract as well as a 1/4" softwood spline?

    For cost-effective and superior long lasting, I'd go with well fitted softwood splines epoxied in place.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    ^ Ditto in spades.

    Now everyone, stop feeding the troll.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    It would be very hard not to glue your plank edges together and that would be a bad idea. And how would you make caulking bevel in the GFlex? Or are you talking about filling the open seam with it?

    Do you really mean splines or do you mean gump wedges? Now, glueing the spline/gump wedge in with GFLEx I think would be great. I've done some of that myself.

    Chuck Thompson

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    I have heard that the seam can be sawn/routed about 3/4 of plank thickness and then completely filled with G/Flex thereby not using a wooden spline at all. I've love to hear from anyone who has done this and if the seams remained stable once the boat is back in the water.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Speaking as one of the guys who gets to go in later and deal with the mess, I'd say... nearly without exception, I have found that mixing building systems is a mistake.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    http://www.harborwoodworking.com/boat.html

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    On the West Coast we used to do wedge seam construction, a saw with a special blade was run over the seams producing about a 10 degree seam about 3/4 the thickness of the plank. We cut Red Cedar wedges about 3' long and dipped them in a trough that we filled with Plastic Resin Glue, these were then tamped home with a wooden mallet, the soft cedar usually was compressing enough to hold the glued wedge in place, though in shapelier areas we just bent finish nails over the wedge till the glue dried. If it was single plank carvel construction you could hear the hull sound become sharper as the wedging progressed, because the wedges were acting like caulking in tightening and strengthening the entire hull. The surface of the hull was spectacular, fair and smooth, though some contracts called for fake plank lines to be routed in, they usually bore little resemblance to the run of the planks. The only real caulking that was done was the entire rabbet line, the transom seam, and the plank butts.
    This was done on vessels large and small with great longevity, there's a beautiful 65' Philbrick's built/Bill Garden motor yacht in Anacortes that is easily 40-50 years old, looks fantastic still.
    If you fill a largish seam with epoxy,I would guess you'd get a harder to fair surface due to the difference n hardness between the plank to keep and the glue. Why not use basically leftover plank stock to fill the gap?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    I always enjoy hearing from Paul.
    It helps me remember.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Accolade is wedge-seamed above the waterline, on the hard once in the eight years I've had her, in the PNW. I think the climate and cedar planking combine to make this work here. Not sure how this would fair out back in my 'downeast' home, with the required winter haulout. I really must try this G-flex epoxy, as I'm a WEST system guy from way back. / Jim

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    You could be right Chas about this system being best suited to the NW where we are able to keep boats in commission year around. I built four Bill Garden Eels, and they were planked in Larch and all splined. The last one was a bare hull sale that owner never completed, so my father-in-law bought it and I made a little fishing boat with single cylinder diesel/variable pitch prop from Norway, cuddly cabin, etc. He kept it on a trailer, which was parked outside on a concrete driveway. It was mostly trouble free, keeping a soaker hose beneath during summer, but we did have a few splits that needed minor repairs.
    After his stroke, it was in Anacortes so I would check up on it and owner totally neglected it and I repaired a couple of big splits with Detco Hull Caulk ( wish we could still get Detco Thiokol ).
    As I remember, most of the splits were in the plank stock itself, a few were at the glued spline lines, some even were splits that ran across the spline itself. These boats were bent frame/carvel planked and finished with oil based coatings, no epoxy sealing at all, I would use this same system again but add sealing the structure with epoxy.
    I do remember the larch plank stock being very nice, high ring count, resin rich like Norway Pine, but I encountered several boards that were perfect looking to the eye, but would split when steamed to the boat. I learned to flex the boards after planing and it would reveal a check in the vertical grain that you could only see when flexing the board across the grain.

    And thanks Eric for your comment...time for a beer or three!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Paul, just reminds me of going to school and working in the Tacoma area and the kinds of things we were hearing and talking about and sometimes doing. Yes it would be fun to raise a glass. Sorry to say one of your eels was butchered by SCC, currently in cwb storage. May have been in poor shape when it got to the school. Interesting your hulls were wedge seamed. This one I'm talking about is painted and somebody suggested it was wedged. There are a few glue runs. Some planking was replaced, I did not think the wedging would be original. Inboard plank edges are tight.
    Eric

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Well at least one of my boats is not compost! I figure I have built about 70 boats from 1972 to 2002, the majority were classic wood designs. I do not know where these have gotten to or how they have held up over the years, would be instructive to see what worked and what didn't. I did see the Åfjord's færing i built tears ago loaded on a trailer heading to Maine, even it was shrink wrapped for the journey.
    Part of my ignorance of the fleet I am sure is due to the fact that my business became largely yacht repair and maintenance...had to follow the money to keep my family fed.
    Hoping to get something building soon, there is no cure for the boatbuilding bug so best to just give in to it.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Paul and Eric...

    great to hear your combined history... what a great resource!

    Eric has already provided me with some insights with my norwegian cutter.

    I am in the process of replacing the stem and breast hook, but there's a few spots and gaps in the planking where the prior owner had glued some flat bottomed splines; no taper at all.

    The boat is cove planked and so cannot really even have planks replaced without completely ruining the joints. I am looking at this process of splining e wider joints both above and below the waterline to keep the boat tight. I would appreciate any insights you have.

    My plan is to use the newer flexible epoxies like gflex to set the splines and use seam compound elsewhere when the joints are not as wide... thoughts?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    When you say ‘cove’ planked, do you mean bead and cove edges, as in strip built construction? Depending on the age of your Norwegian built boat, and if shows normal carvel plank widths, I would guess she was tight seam constructed where there is no real driven caulking, sometimes a line of wicking is compressed on the plank edge when the plank is hung. Or some yards had a set of knurled tools that would compress the fibers right before hanging, one tool had the knurling set a bit apart, the mate had one knurl down the middle. The net effect was sort of a mini tongue and groove set of crushed fibers that swelled and made for a planking job that was cabinet grade joints.
    Can you remove a plank to see what you really have?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    It is exactly as you described Paul,

    The mating services of one plank or concave while the other convex, they nestle together beautifully. Much of the planking is sound and intact, I’d hazard to say nearly all of it. All Doug fir about 9/16 or 5/8 thick. It’s a Norwegian cutter from the cozy Cove yacht club. Eric has been a great insight into the boat and it’s construction.

    I’ve had to pull and replace the stem, maststep and breast hook. Just getting things put back together now, with the inner stem screwed to the majority of the planks.

    I’ve had the boat up on hard now for about two years, nestled a shady damp spot in the yard. So I think all is well regarding moisture, but I’d like to get it back in.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Splining carvel planked hull seams with G/flex

    Count another "yea" for softwood splining, if the boat needs it, and not as a replacement for proper driven caulking. Count another "fuggedaboudit" for putting epoxy resin between carvel planks. As said, mixing systems doesn't often work. There's no free lunch. If any apparently easy fix really worked, everybody'd be doing it, including the professionals. The pros don't want unhappy customers bringing back bad repair jobs. Take your cues from them and not from something somebody posted on the internet. (Although, the "WoodenBoat Forum" on Facebook is good for a few good laughs if you have time to waste. It's the biggest collection of what not to do to a wooden boat available anywhere.)

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