Other boats

Tony has built several model boats, all more complicated than any of the Bearospace range.

Couta boat ROBIN

He has provided a wide range of progressive photos and hastens to add that it is more or less still a work in progress.

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Tony adds these notes to support the photos

I have been trying to work out how to tell the story about my ’ROBIN’ Couta boat which has a sort of slightly complicated history.

 On re-living the journey whilst looking at my progress photos, I now realise how much I enjoyed the challenge of the ‘build’ although she is currently not finished and will never sail properly, I am still kind of proud of her.

 This is really a story of two boats with the first one that started in early 2020 a scratch build from plans from Floataboat. When I started I had no idea whether this was to become a fully functional R/C sailing model, a non R/C pond yacht or just a static model. I just knew that I wanted to build one and that perhaps as I lived in Lorne where Couta Boats once prospered there was an additional incentive. Even 20 years ago when I first moved permanently to Lorne there were still three Couta boats admittedly just motorised versions but still hauled out of the sea by mobile crane onto the old pier. They were a strong reminder of the once-prosperous fishing history of this seaside town.

 Model Couta Boat 1. 

This was based on what turned out to be a false premise, in that I thought that I could successfully use MDF to cut out the hull station formers on which to lay the planks. It took me to get up to a half planked hull to realise that I was never going to be able to successfully humour the planks around the formers where the hull shape transitions leading to the stern without actually gluing the planks to the formers. To explain I had purposefully covered the edges of the formers with Sellotape to make sure the planks never got glued to the MDF ( as who wants MDF anywhere near water) It was a technique that I had successfully used before but on a much simpler hull shape.

 So there it was, I had a beautiful half Cedar planked hull covered with clear epoxy but could not proceed, so the solution was to start again, cutting out new formers, a new building board, new keel and Plate case with the little rudder and centreboard being the only bits that I could reuse.

 Model Couta Boat 2.

This time having learned my lesson I cut the formers from 5mm thick 7 laminations (expensive ply) and arranged it so that the formers could eventually and easily be cut away leaving just a series of ribs firmly attached to the planking.

I now had to construct the same keel with integral plate case fabricated as before but this time from layers of plywood but with the keel tapering both fore and aft from the plate case, a rabbit had to be chewed out of the keel backbone to take the first of the planks,  this was all a bit fiddly and annoying as I had already done all of this on Hull No 1.

 There were also some adjustments to be made to the thickness of the Cedar planks to help ease them around the form transition, I had a few goes at this and again the Bynes saw proved invaluable.

 I still had no idea about what kind of model I was building but was beginning to see the difficulties in installing R/C as this was going to destroy the form and look of the boat’s open cockpit, however, I still thought that the boat might eventually hit the water and added some expanded polystyrene blocks to the bottom of the hull under the Cedar planked floorboards just in case.

 Because the planking around the tricky stern area transition all got to be a bit messy The Hull needed some thickened epoxy fairing meaning that whatever else the hull was going to be painted at least externally. The inside of the hull was already coated with clear epoxy with one of the accompanying photos showing the boat filled with water to prove its water tightness. There was a lot of sanding, someone once said that 90% of boat building involves sanding and I think that’s true.

 The ‘crowning’ of the ply sub-deck became the next task and having fitted it, the Huon Pine plank laying was relatively easy, however, moving forward to cutting away the beams and decking overhang to create the open cockpit proved a bit harder and I could already see that creating the curved coaming around the cockpit edge was going to seriously tricky.

 I thought about this for a while and decided that I had to build a laminated ply former on which to bend the coaming, a thin strip of Tasmanian Myrtle that I cut (again with the Byrnes saw) and with help of some soaking and steam iron and some clamps I could hopefully get the right form and drop it into place whilst gluing it to the deck edge. I made three of them the first two splitting and the third sort of worked, however, if I did this again I would arrange for some sort of provision in the framing to hold everything in place whilst gluing.

 Some Tasmanian Myrtle ( my go-to’ preferred fine grain hardwood) gunnels were added to the hull and there are still some toe rails to be installed but to my eye, ‘ROBIN’ was starting to look pretty sweet.

 I cut and drilled some bits of brass for the Chainplates, the retainer around the Bowsprit, and spent hours fiddling with the making of brass rudder fittings,  which strangely look much better now that they are painted in with the Hull.

 The Mast, Gaff, Boom, and laminated Bowsprit are all from Jelutong a lovely to work with, pattern maker’s timber.

There are as yet no sails and I currently wonder if I shall bother making them.

 Some tiny brass Sheaves for the Plate lifting gear were turned and a non-functioning Bilge pump added I have got as far as putting some of Gary Webb’s false blocks in the rigging and then just stopped as ‘ANNIE’ came along.

  So there she is as yet another unfinished project, still waiting for a rainy day with nothing to do or more likely the inspiration to just finish her.

Tony   Nov 2021