Model Yachting

Building the Pond Yacht "Footloose"

Welcome to my second pond yacht build. This is essentially another "bread and butter" type build, but this time the lifts are taken vertically rather than horizontally. If you aren't familiar with the bread and butter method of model building, check out my first build, "Keep Clam" You'll catch on real fast.

This boat is of a class known as "Footys". These are pond yachts whose basic design specification is that the hull can't be longer than will fit in a 12" x 6" box. They can be built for free sailing or radio control. The one I'm building is known as Presto and will be built from a kit available from The Wooden Boat Store. Kit is perhaps a bit of a misnomer in that it is not a case of assembling pre-cut parts. You get a set of plans, and instruction book and all of the necessary materials, but you have to make the parts from the materials supplied before you can assemble.

My original posting of the Keep Clam build was extremely extensive. This one will be less so. I plan to simply post a few photos of the result of each day's work, not the process of getting there. I also want to record each day's time so I know how many hours I have in the project when I'm done. The boat is balsa wood, so the basic work is easy, but balsa being as soft as it is, you do have to be careful. It would be easy to mess up.

I began this project on July 14. I'll note the finish date at the end, but in between I'll just identify as "Day One", etc. This will refer to days of work. I generally only work three hours in the morning and don't necessarily work every day. There are always other things going on.

For the initial entry, I'm combining several days' effort since part of it was really hustling about getting ready to really dig in.

Day 1 - The plans came rolled up in the box with the materials and they had been rolled long enough I couldn't really flatten them. I also didn't want to cut them up. The instructions, though copyrighted, gave permission to copy the plan to work with so I took it to Kinko's and had full size copies made on heavy 80 lb. paper. 1 hour

Day 2 - I organized my work space and cut out all of the lift and station templates. 2 hours

Day 3 - Went to lumber yard and got a large cut of thin plywood. Glued all of the template cutouts to it with a spray glue and then sawed the outlines out on the band saw. The design of this boat includes many inside cutouts to provide hollow spaces in the hull, both to reduce weight and to help make it unsinkable, even with the rig on it. Note: I could have just used the cardboard templates I cut out, but I wanted to have a set of hard templates in case I want to make another boat, so I felt the extra work was worth it. 4 hours including trip to lumber yard

Day 4 - Made a tiny drill hole at the corners of each of the inside cutout outlines, then scroll sawed out the inside cutout portions of all of the lifts. Once that was done, I drew the lifts onto the provided 4" x 36" balsa wood planks. That was the morning's work. However, we got back from our afternoon errands a bit early and I decided to put some more time in and band sawed all of the actual hull parts out to their outside lines. Since there are two of each lift, that meant twice as much work as outline cutting the templates. 4 hours.

That brings the project up to date. Here are some pix:


Here's the bandsaw. This is after cutting the balsa wood lifts.


and the scroll saw. These are the principal tools that will get this boat hull built.


Here's the goal... a little gaff rigged slooop.


Here are the lifts (slightly above and left) and the stations (lower and right). Unlike with Keep Clam, where the lifts defined horizontal sections of the boat, these lifts define vertical sections. The stations are the same concept for both boats, they represent the finished shape of the bottom at specified points and are used to insure that you have the right shape and that both sides of the boat are symetrical.

Note all of the holes in the lifts. As mentioned above, these are cutouts to reduce hull weight. (These little boats are part of a very active racing class so weight is a concern.)



Here are all of the balsa wood lifts stood up together in the form they will be glued.


And here is the same pictured from the top. The larger opening is the "hold" where the rc gear will go. The smaller is a cockpit. All of those cutouts in the lifts aren't cut out of the balsa yet. When they are, this pic would look no different as they will be hidden by the solid sections, but they will reduce weight and make air pockets..


If you compare the above two pix to the early "stack" pix in the Keep Clam build, you will see that the principle is the same... cut out oulines at specified spacing on the hull, glue them together and then plane/rasp/sand the corners off to get a smooth boat hull.

Day 5 - 2 hrs. - Drilled the entry holes in the keel piece and all of the lifts and then scroll sawed out the inside cuts for lightening. Here's the result:

The box at the side is the box the whole thing came in, the five balsa planks and the dowels for the spars, fabric for the sails, etc. One real nice thing about this set is that the formed keel bulb is supplied. If you followed Keep Clam you know that that was the biggest problem I had on that build.

The book on this one recommends glueing two pieces together at a time rather than glueing the whole unit at once as I did with Keep Clam. That's going to slow the process down so that's what I'll be up to for the next few days. I'll see you back here with a picture of the result.

Day Whatever - No hrs So, OK, stuff happens. Haven't worked in a number of days. Friend had a stroke and needed help with house and pets, work on my own house was needed, got into a good book and on top of all that, I just got lazy :^) However, a vintage boat sailed into my arms yesterday at the Goodwill. Really a nice one, too. I'm guessing late 40's to mid 50's. Needs re-rigging and one corner of the deck reglued but otherwise in excellent condition. It's the same size hull as Keep Clam, 24" but has a bowsprit to carry a bigger jib, almost a cutter rig. We plan to go to the pond today and sail both this one, witch will be named "Good Will" and Clam. Here is a pic:

I really like these old boats that were made to be sold as toys for youngsters. They're simple, traditional, were popular all over the world and I'm sure provided millions of hours of joy for millions of youngster... including this one.

Dick Wightman

July 31, 2014 - 4 1/2 hrs - OK! Now i have something to show. During these non-reporting days I have been glueing up the lifts, very slowly as per the instructions. Today I finished the glueing, trued the deck surface and shaped the starboard side. Couple of comments on this... I don't really much like working the balsa, though it does the job. The purpose (as far as I can tell) of the one piece at a time glueing is to avoid pieces shifting. This was handled on Keep Clam by using partially driven in nails as alignmsent points. If I were to build another Presto in balsa, I'd align the pieces and use dress pins through the balsa to lock them, permiting the whole glue up to be done in probably two sets, do each side, then join them on the keel. Actually, I might consider doing another one, but at 18" rather than 1 foot and in basswood or pine.

The recommended shaping technique was carving. I didn't do that. I could see a slip of the tool taking a nasty gouge in that balsa. Over the years I've found that all wood working is really a matter of selecting the right tool. No two pieces of wood are the same, nor are all cuts in one piece the same. In this case, I did today's work entirely with sandpaper. I made up a simple sanding block to true up the deck surface and used a mouse to shape the side. Worked great.


Here's the whole glue-up, deck up, one side shaped, one not. Note one mistake I made. I stopped the glueing process when I got to the sides of the hold and cleaned up the hold walls while it was easy. I misssed doing that for the cockpit and will need to do some close work in there.


Here's the still unshaped port side. That will be tomorrow's work.


Here's the shaped starboard side'


This shows both sides and also the neat little detachable workbench with woodworking vise I made for my big table. It's no substitute for my big bench, but it lets me do a lot of work sitting down... real important for me.



August 1, 2014 - 2 hrs Well, if I didn't like balsa yesterday, today I really, really hate it. So much so that I am, without even very much reluctance, abandoning this project. There just seems to be little point in continuing to put a lot of effort into a boat that is going to be a source of a great deal of frustration. The balsa wood is so soft that it dents from a hard look. Not only is this frustrating in the building, in the finished boat it will be unsightly and if any dent actually breaks the finish, this wood is going to suck up water like a sponge. My boats are used by me and shared with children at the pond. They go in and out of cars, get bumped, etc. While some care is certainly exercies, a certain sturdiness is required to stand up to this kind of use.

Today I finished the basic shaping of the hull, but I kept having to go back and resand areas where dents occurred. Even gripping the hull firmly to sand on it, fingernails leave dents. Bumping with tools leaves bigger ones. I have decided to just box the whole thing back up and put it on the shelf for the time being. I rather like the design and may go back to it this winter, perhaps a larger version and in a better wood.

Meantime, I'm going to clear my brain and my shop and get going on Catnip, my catboat. No kit this time, just start from scratch as I did with Keep Clam. I've been collecting catboat plans and comparing and averaging/studying proportions. I'm going to draw my own hull rather than lofting from the plans. I hope to start next week, so, see you on the next build.







I'm going to leave this material up. I found the process interesting, especially doing a hull from vertical lifts. If I go back to the project, I'll go ahead and build a new hull and pick up from here with finishing the rest of the boat.



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