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Thread: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

  1. #36

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Thanks Powerwagon. I'm no expert on fiberglassing, this is my first big project with the stuff. But the way I've been doing it is I first brush on plain epoxy 2"+ on either side of the joint. Then I mix up a batch of thickened epoxy and form a fillet. Next I place the 4" wide fiberglass tape onto the joint and press it down into the now slightly tacky epoxy. Then I come back and spread plain epoxy on top of the tape and work it down into the fibers until it turns mostly transparent. After it sets up in a couple hours I come back and add another coat of plain epoxy to fill in the roughness of the tape.

    I use cheap chip brushes, but I cut the bristles down about halfway so they're stiffer. When I glass large areas I use a plastic squeegee to push the epoxy around, and the brush for detail work. Foam brushes just fall apart on me.

    For forming fillets I started off loading thickened epoxy into a ziplock bag, cutting off the corner, and piping it on. But that is a load of work and I feel like a lot of epoxy stays stuck in the folds of the bag. So lately I've taken to scooping the epoxy into place with a putty knife, then running over it with a plastic squeegee with the corner cut into a nice radius. The excess epoxy gets pushed to the side where I scoop it up with the putty knife to be reused. The fillets are perfect and I wish I had figured out this technique when I put the hull panels together. I'll have to try the plastic spoon idea.

    Taking pictures for the forum motivates me to clean up the shop! Otherwise I'd be knee deep in sawdust and off cuts by now, haha.

  2. #37

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    My Sailrite kit came in so I've switched off of working on the hull and on to sewing until late at night. I vaguely remember sewing some pieces of paper together in a useless home ec class back in grade school and helping my mother with some of her projects when I was a kid, but basically I haven't touched a sewing machine in over 15 years. I'm using her Janome New Home 2014LE which seems to be doing ok.

    Here are the panels for the jib laid out and the top two sewn together, along with the patches.

    Sewing on the top section to the rest of the sail that's bundled up. Each seam gets two zig sag stitches. This wasn't too bad as the seams were fairly short and it stayed rolled up pretty well.

    Now to do the hems on the edges.

    I started with the foot which wasn't too bad either.

    Sewing up the luff and leach was a lot harder. The material gets pretty heavy so the machine doesn't feed it so well, plus there's so much material it's hard to handle. I don't even want to think about doing the main sail just yet.

    But eventually I got it done and installed the grommets and leather. Also a stainless cable with two eyes gets sewn into a pocket on the luff. I think it came out pretty good, considering my general lack of experience. I found cleaning the needle with acetone every few seams helped keep the stickum from the basting tape from building up. The machine seemed to sew a little better after each cleaning. The instructions were adequate and had all the required information, although they could have been clearer.

    I guess it's on to the mainsail next...

  3. #38
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Miami, FL, USA

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    It's great watching this progress, keep the updates coming! How'd the jib turn out? Looks pretty good from here - think it's comparable to a professionally made sail?

  4. #39

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Thanks SailFlorida, glad you're enjoying my progress. I'm really not sure how it compares. I know my stitching is nowhere near professional level. The sewing machine was really having a hard time feeding the material evenly so some of the stitches are close together and others are farther away. Overall I managed to keep the stitches inside the seam allowance ok. I tried to rip a few test panels apart and I couldn't do it, so I think the sail should be pretty durable. The sewing on the leather patches looks amateurish, but it seems to be pretty solid.

    Here's my machine setup. I bent a coat hanger into a little stand so the string would feed off the spool properly. Getting the tension right took a bit of trial and error on a scrap piece. Eventually I found a cotton ball clipped over the string provided enough tension that the stitches looked good.

  5. #40

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    I've finally got the sails done. It took 12 hours for the jib and about the same for the spritsail. I could definitely tell I was getting faster at it when I was working on the spritsail.

    I started off by basting the patches onto the panel with the reef points. There are five patches while the jib only had four. I also had to make some 3" square patches for the actual reef points out of the scrap material supplied in the kit.

    Next I sewed the bottom panels together and the top panels together along with their respective patches. At this point it kinda hit me how bulky this thing was going to be to sew.

    Sewing on the head panel to everything else. I tried keeping it rolled up with clothespins, but they didn't work so well. The sail doesn't have parallel sides so I couldn't grab all the layers at once, and they weren't strong enough to bite in from the side.

    But eventually I got all the panels sewn together and it was time to hem up the edges. The leech just got a double folded over hem, while the other edges got varying sizes of folded Dacron tape.

    Sewing on the Dacron tape along the foot.

    And again along the head. This is where I encountered the only problem in the Sailrite kit. I wasn't sent enough of the 1.5" Dacron tape to do the edges of the sails specified in the plans. I did have enough 4" tape left over so I could cut it down to 1.5" and piece it together. I emailed Sailrite so hopefully they'll get that right for the next kit.

  6. #41

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Next up was to install the grommets

    And finally it was done. Actually, I still have to sew on the leather around the four corners, but that has pretty much moved to the bottom of the list of things to do.

  7. #42

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Wow, it's been a while since I updated this thread. I went to Egypt and Europe with my wife for three weeks in March to visit some of her family. I managed to herniate a disk over there, so I've also been recovering from that. I have got a ton done on the boat though, but haven't updated because everything was kinda being done concurrently and the pictures would jump around alot. Finally I've gotten to the point where I can post a series of pictures and have it all flow together.

    In Egypt there were a lot of sailboats to take tourists on rides. Especially in Aswan, with fewer numbers in Luxor and Cairo. I didn't see any sailboats on the Red Sea except for modern fiberglass yachts. The sailboats are called feluccas and they are all made out of steel. They definitely need to be steel for all the beating and banging they do at the dock. We took a motor boat to the Philae temple in Aswan and if it's too crowded, the captain just sticks the bow in between two boat and guns it. The rudders are barn door style and they all had giant telephone pole sized tillers. The rigging and spars of the feluccas is made from whatever they can cobble together. Chafed rope, patched sails, and rusting boats seemed to be the norm. I even saw one that had a section of sail patched with tattered blue polytarp. Definitely no Harken blocks, Spectra line or NACA foils around here! Even with all the suboptimal parts, they were still beautiful to watch sailing back and forth across the Nile.

    My last post on the hull was about installing the centerboard case. After that was epoxied down, I flipped the boat over and cut the slot for the centerboard. It was easy to lay out because the endposts stuck through.

    I drew lines defining the edges of the slot, then jig sawed out the middle.

    A router with a flush trim bit cleaned it up nicely. A sharp chisel cleaned out the corners.

    With the centerboard case done, I flipped the boat back over and framed up the rowing thwart. This picture doesn't show it, but the forward crosspiece gets a stiffener glued from the gunnel down to the chine to prevent putting a hard spot in the hull.

  8. #43

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Next I cut out the mast partner on the table saw and bandsaw. It's a lamination of two pieces of 3/4" yellow pine.

    This piece has got to be accurately attached so the mast doesn't lean to one side. To do that, I marked the centerline of the boat, and the center of the notch that takes the mast. Then I clamped a strip of wood that would hold the partner at the right height from the deck. I drilled four holes through the bulkhead avoiding the glue line in the partner and screwed it down with some big stainless screws. Once I confirmed it'd all work, I took it off and epoxied it on. The screws pulled it down tight and I put some healthy fillets around the edges with the squeeze out. I'm not sure how much the screws are actually doing once the epoxy cures.

    Next I worked on the decks. I had quite a bit of 1/4" plywood left over from the hull panels, so I tried to use up the scrap I had before cutting up my last full sheet. First I laid out some pieces to cover the side decks and made sure the joints were tight to each other.

    Once they were clamped down I came in with an angle grinder and flap disk to carve out a depression for some fiberglass. If I was really thinking, I should have cut the fiberglass on a 45 angle so all the fibers were helping. Not that it'll really matter much once the deck is glued down.

    Here's the decks with the joints fiberglassed.

    Once the joints had cured and I faired them out with some thickened epoxy, I flipped everything over and glassed the underside of the joints . Then I gave the bottoms 3 coats of epoxy.

    I'm not sure why some of the vertical pictures are turning horizontal when I link them...
    Last edited by The Jeff; 05-15-2019 at 05:16 AM.

  9. #44
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    northwestern Wisconsin

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Looking great--you're going to love that boat when it's time to launch and sail.

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

  10. #45

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Once the epoxy on the bottom of the panels cured, I cleaned them off and gave them a light sanding before gluing them in place. Clamping was tough since the bottom side of the gunnel is not parallel to the top. But I had good squeeze out all around, so it all worked fine. I did one section of deck each afternoon.

    Glueing up the bow section. My heavy pieces of steel were handy for holding the center down. I put them on first before clamping to try and get all the slack out of the panel.

    Here's how I did the joints where the side deck panels meet. I lapped them over so each lands on half the width of the bulkhead. I left everything proud so I can trim it to size with my router.

    Working on the rear deck. Not much to clamp to, but the weights came in handy. The last little piece will be at the forward part of the motor well.

    With the deck panels all glued down and trimmed up with the router, I decided to make a coaming at the front. It's not in the plans, but I think it'll help with any water coming over the bow. I started off with some 3/4" yellow pine and marked out where I thought they should go. Then I used a piece of cardboard as a template to scribe the curve of the deck. I could have just done this directly onto the wood, but it's easier to adjust the fit with the cardboard. Once the cardboard matched the deck, I traced it onto the wood and planed it to fit.

    Just a vertical coaming would probably work ok, but angling them forward looks nicer. So I tipped them forward to oh-about-there-or-so and set my bevel gauge so I could keep track of the angle. Then I measured the gap at the back with a compass and scribed a line along the forward part. Everything under the scribe line and back to the existing edge has to be removed so the coaming will sit down flush.

  11. #46

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Thanks Tom! You and your adventure write ups were a big inspiration for choosing this boat. I am going to Ocracoke Island in North Carolina in early June, so I've got a hard deadline for finishing it now.

    Cutting the miter was the trickiest part. There's no good way to measure what it should be, not that there's anything flat to measure from anyway. So what I did was hold a square up on the centerline and just eyeball a line on the top of the coaming. The bottom of the coaming can be marked, then just connect the lines. Do this on both sides of the coaming and you'll see what needs to be removed. It took some trial and error to get it close and thickened epoxy will fill the gaps.

    Test fitting to see if I like the shape. The ends are still long and it'll get a better curve on the top later. It's easier to do the miter first, then adjust the ends.

    There's no good way to hold these down for gluing either, so I eventually decided on some screws from underneath. Screwing these in was a trip since I can only get one arm inside the inspection port and my back wasn't too happy at this point. I do have a ratcheting screwdriver which helped.

    Here it is glued down with some thickened epoxy and filleted. I tapered the coaming some and rounded off the corners. It's a bit bigger than some I've seen, but it reminds me of the coaming on a Sunfish which is what I grew up sailing. Part of the reason I angled it forward so much is because I want room to put a large cleat on the centerline. This will let me use a lashing to keep the mast in the partner. This seems simpler and easier than making a hinged mast gate.

    This angle looks a little better I think.

    And here it is with three coats of epoxy on the decks. I also fiberglassed the underside with 6oz cloth, but I'll post pictures of that later. Like I said earlier, I jumped around a lot so the pictures aren't always in order.

    Last edited by The Jeff; 05-15-2019 at 05:56 AM.

  12. #47
    Join Date
    Oct 2013

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    that splash rail is just RIGHT :-)

    lovin your use of SCRAPS!

    sometimes there'z no substitute for a bit of extra weight to encourage parts to conform ;-)

    glued screwed & weighted ll.jpg

    really enjoying the thread :-)

    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)


  13. #48
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    northwestern Wisconsin

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    The boat looks great (and knowing the Phoenix III as well as I do, I'm sure it will be). Do you have a color scheme in mind yet? Starting to get close!

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

  14. #49
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    San Francisco CA

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Good progress and photos!

  15. #50
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Louisville, KY

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Oh, how I remember working to screw the coaming down while the epoxy cured on my First Mate build. That was a ridiculous struggle.

  16. #51

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Swoody, that is some serious weight! I'm not sure if my wife would approve of me borrowing her dumbbells for my boat.

    Tom, the outside is already painted! I just did off white with a fairly wide green stripe under the gunnel. I think I'm going to have to wait and see it on the water before deciding if I like it or not. It's hard to get a good view of the boat in my garage. I think I'm going to paint the coaming green and some of the stuff on the inside possibly. Depends how much time I have left haha.

    Thanks Fossilfool. I'm interested to see how yours performs.

    Cracked lid, I remember standing there reading your build thread on my phone and trying to think of some other way to hold them down without a screw. I didn't have too much trouble screwing them down, but finding the screw by feel to take it out was awful. Also, my cardboard box at the rear finally started to collapse, so I made some of your slotted supports out of some scrap plywood.

    Halfway through putting the decks on, a friend of mine drove down 7 hours for just the weekend to help me fiberglass it. Pretty crazy, but he's also the kind of guy that rides his bicycle in 180 mile races for fun. He built a Jim Michalak Mayfly 14 a few years ago and kept telling me to let him know when I get to the fiberglassing part and he'd give me a hand. Anyway, we laid out two strips of 6oz cloth and taped them down. There were very few wrinkles and the few that formed around the edge of the transom eventually smoothed out with a paintbrush. I wrapped the cloth so I had a double layer on the bow, seems better than just a seam up the stem.

    Here it is after squeegeeing on three coats of epoxy. I carried the cloth along the underside of the gunnel and up to the edge. I did get a few air bubbles at the turn, but I later trimmed them out and put in a pass of thickened epoxy. After letting the epoxy cure for a few weeks while I finished up the decks, I came back and scraped and sanded out the runs and high spots. I found using the blade from a plane worked well to scrape off a thin strip of epoxy and it's long enough to get a section fairly flat. There were a few thin places in the epoxy so I later followed it up with a fourth coat which was enough.

    Last edited by The Jeff; 05-15-2019 at 10:20 PM.

  17. #52

    Default Re: Building a Ross Lillistone First Mate

    Next up was the keel. This is cut out of 3/4" yellow pine and epoxied into place. Pro tip, don't put a weight on the stern first. The keel will slide off and nearly drop the weight on your feet. Not that I'd know anything about that... Also I cut the skeg out to the dimensions in the plans and it matched the curve of the bottom almost perfectly. That gives me confidence that either my boat is the right shape, or I'm just lucky.

    Learning from my previous mistake, I mean... from the hypothetical situation, I put a temporary screw in the skeg to keep it from sliding back. After the epoxy cured I came back and put a nice round over on all the edges. I also put about a 1" radius on the corner of the skeg.

    Cutting the slot for the centerboard was a nightmare. It should have been a 30 minute job, but for some reason I left most of my tools at the shop and didn't really have anything else I could work on. I didn't have my jig saw, so I hogged out a lot of the waste with a forstner bit. The only bit I had for the router took three passes to cut the full thickness of the keel, and I could only move over about 1/4" at the time before the bit's shaft started rubbing. So it was endless passes around the slot, lower the router, do it again. I think it took two or three hours to get this done. I would have been time ahead to just go back the the shop and get my tools.

    Eventually though everything was done on the outside. I've been crawling around on the underside cleaning up epoxy runs and gluing on backing plates for some of the hardware.

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