Optima Number 3

Aug 29, 2017
Gaithersburg, MD
Shouldn’t you be busy re-bending the Explorer’s new wood gunwales that your wife thoughtfully unbent while you were away?
I am. Or more accurately I should say that I am letting gravity + time do the work for me.951AC28F-F22A-407D-8CA6-00D396EC8CF6_1_105_c.jpeg
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Jul 11, 2021
The rudder looks matching sexy sharp with white stripes. If there is one place I really want some reflective tape it is on the rudder, in part so I don’t smack a body part on it when walking around the walking around the stern, on the ground or when roof racked. I had a small square of red & white striped Solas tape; perfect, I’ll use both colors on Sexy Rudder.

PA110002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With a stainless washer slid down the peg for easy rudder pivoting action the groove in the pintle top was in perfect elevation for the split ring retainer. Almost like I planned it that way. For long trip roof rack transport I may remove that simple bolt-in rudder blade; lacking the pulley wheels on more modern Feathercrafts removing the rudder blade is a much simpler proposition. Eh, just to be safe I’ll affix a spare SS rudder bolt & nylock to the hull somewhere.

PA110005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Mr Wizard had come bearing other gifts. A couple of little used NRS 3D canoe end floats.

PA100035 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I like those better than the giant blue float bags; Big Blue was sized for the longer, taller Sea Wimp decks, overkill in Sexy Thang, and I won’t be paddling a decked conversion in WW. Fully inflated those 3D float bags come even with the top and bottom D rings for easy tie downs, and leave more room for day paddling gear; some folks tripping load equals my day gear necessities.

Not actually “tie downs”, mini-beeners that simply clip clip to the D-rings above and below for easy install and removal; the line and clips stay on the bags. That should be enough of an end cage to prevent the bags from pooching out. I can always add a short webbing strap vertical between the D-rings for more secure gear storage.

PA110007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I didn’t have enough Neoprene left to cover the knee bumpers. Maybe later. But I had a bunch of “useless” little cut off neoprene scraps. Which, trimmed to size, would cover the last of the exposed purple on the pedestal. So it was back to contact cement and Melco tape work.

Eh, ok, skip the Melco tape; those iron-over angles might have been possible to do when I had the seat pedestal sitting free on the bench. Mistakes were made. In lieu of a better idea I’ll run a strip of 1” Gorilla tape across the neoprene seams and call it another experiment.

PA120009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr
Jul 11, 2021
The rudder guru returned, had a follow-up test sit on the modified sea and found the changes pleasing. Music to my ears. Thank goodness Mr. Wizard was back; simply bolting the foot pedal slider tracks in place was a confounding challenge.

The sliding part of the foot track needs to slide cleanly over the nut and bolt end. ¾” bolts were too long and interfered with the slide. ½” bolts were too short, and didn’t seat in the nuts. We had to create custom washers, rubber circles made with a grommet punch and leather punch, to slip over the ¼” x3/4” wee bit too long bolts, before everything seated just right.

PA140014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was the beginning of a very messy shop session. Once we got started we kept rolling; damn near everything was a two-person job, and there was no one to follow along behind, putting tools and materials away. In the end we needed something from every box of hardware and outfitting. Which we often couldn’t find because the shop benches quickly became a disaster of accumulated entropy.

The foot pedals are perfection. Incomplete perfection; Mr Wizard forgot to bring his preferred SS cable cutters and swaging tool. The SS cables have to cut cleanly, or the cut ends will mush out or fray, and not pass through the wee holes in the cable crimps.

PA140019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With the SS rudder cable installation set aside for another day we moved on. The rudder cable tubing can be installed before the cable is slid through. I want tubing sheath from the rear deck penetration as far forward as possible; I don’t want exposed SS cable sawing at a dry bag of other gear stuffed under the rear deck.

That SS sheath tubing isn’t cheap, fortunately I had sufficient leftover lengths. Even the end of the tubing that ever so slightly protrudes from the OEM deck opening involved Mr. Wizard tricks; tubing cut at a matching angle, heated center punch inserted to flare out the exposed end, so it can’t pull through the hole. Those flanged tubing ends will get a dab of G/flex, both atop and underside the decks.

PA130010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PA140020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The cable tubing is held in place with hardware store cable clamps.

PA140023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those cheap hardware cable clamps have an aperture smaller than a 3/16” pop rivet. No matter, they are not bearing any weight or stress, 1/8” pop rivets and back up washers work just fine, and leave but a couple tiny sliver dots on the seam tape to be painted over.

PA140027 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With the rudder racing striped and ready we could install the retraction cord. Attached via a stainless mini-beener, so I can remove the rudder blade in transport if desired. The ability to remove the blade (or entire housing, more on that later) is important on those gravity-deploy rudders.

Fully deployed

PA140028 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Fully retracted

PA140031 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

What keeps that gravity-deploy rudder retracted when the line is pulled is a closed cleat, and handy grabber ball near the knee bumpers.

PA140033 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I usually keep the excess retraction ball tucked back under the line when the rudder is held up.

PA140034 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With an offset pad eye line guide that KISS rudder retraction line is loaner-boat foolproof.

PA140035 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was as far as we could progress on Sexy Thang without proper cable cutters and swaging tool, and we turned our intentions to my beloved RX tripping canoe, the soloized Penobscot, AKA the Inspector Gadget boat. Someday I will find a beater composite Wenonah Solo Plus or Souris River Quetico 16 to set up as a lighter weight solo tripper.
Jul 11, 2021
For downwind sailing purposes we had DIY’ed rudders and foot controls my Penobscot and Joel’s tripping canoe some years ago. I know, I know, a rudder on a canoe is anathema to purist paddlers. But for a canoe with a sail, even a simple downwind sail, a rudder or tiller is a near necessity.

Removable rudders, so that the only thing permanent on the stern stem were gudgeons.


Those were crude, inelegant rudders, with less than ideal DIY pivoting foot bar controls. Using old sign aluminum for the DIY construction induced some flexibility wobble in the rudder blade. Meh, they worked, but we can do better than those kludgy attempts.

PA140037 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

“Better” being the rudder from the Klepper Kammerad, which uses a 7” long removable pintle pin. Some gudgeon relocation and that antique rudder will do nicely, providing ample range of motion and a beefy blade in the water for downwind sailing. For shallows sailing a wider blade is better than longer.

PA140039 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Perhaps a bit of a vertical sail when fully retracted; depending on wind direction and wave height I could retract the blade held horizontal instead of fully retracted at a raised 45. With feet on the rudder pedals it is easy to tactile tell when waves are whapping at the retracted rudder,

The Penobscot rudder still needs a SS minibeener, better line retraction line, cables (may use Zing-it cord instead for easier field-reparability) and manufactured sliding foot pedals.

PA140040 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Pull the long pintle pin and all that remains are the two gudgeons.

PA140042 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I can live with gudgeons sticking out the stern stem if I can sail downwind with a rudder. Might have to spray paint the gudgeons green or black for un-shiny aesthetics.

So close to finished, but stymied by the lack of a good cable cutter and swaging tool we called it quits. I cleaned the benches, trying to save out the parts and pieces needed to install the cables. I even found where the better set of SS cables were buried.

PA140016 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A footnote on the shop mess; in that kind of two person’s hands on work, needing four hands and something from every box of parts and pieces, having a third party helper assisting while I put stuff away and lay out the next parts needed would have been a tremendous help. We would have finished if only I taken time the time to clean the benches.

Meanwhile there is a bit of dress up still to be done on Sexy Thang.
Jul 11, 2021
The Inspector Gadget Penobscot is about to get heavier. Although the rudder is removable I want more functional foot pedals than the kludgy pivoting bar I originally installed. I relish free ride downwind sailing that canoe with a glamper gear load and, while a paddle blade “rudder” works, I miss the hands-free foot steering opportunities under sail; take a photo, have a snack or a sip, write a note, monocular the shoreline or scratch my nuts. Sometimes all at the same time.

The Penobscot was not even close to Old Town’s speced “58lbs”, IIRC it was closer to 65lbs even as an outfitting-free two seater; OT’s weights on Royalex canoes were hopeful at best, and that was some thickish Royalex. I will weigh both boats when the last of the permanently installed outfitting is done.

I have learned a lot in the last 18 years of tinkering with boats, and could easily cut the permanent outfitting weight in half. But I’m not emptying the Penobscot to start over on a weight reduction program. Hence my desire to find a battered kevlar composite canoe of the same-ish dimensions to gut and rebuild, this time with an eye on weight.
Jul 11, 2021
I am a fan of waffled Ridgerest sleeping pad foam on bucket seats, both for cushioning and non-slippery ass contact. The repurposed IQ seat pan is not just tall, it is wide, and the plastic, though textured, is not very grippy. It also has a lot of curves and contours. A little Ridgerest test fitting determined that the best (only) unwrinkled way to adhere the foam to those complex contours was to cut it into two pieces, one bottom section, one back section.

Before starting the contact cement work on that cushioning I needed to try something to rectify hastily made mistakes with the minicel knee bumpers. As usual those knee bumpers went on fine and firm clamped in place with contact cement and heat gun.

PA040013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Clamps off they looked good and remained firmly attached, and needed just a perimeter bead of E-6000 to seal the edges.

PA050014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And then I got hasty, and learned a lesson. That evening, after removing the clamps, I beaded the top edge of the knee bumpers with E-6000 adhesive sealant. The lesson learned was that not fully cured contact cement and fresh E-6000 make a terrible combination on unsecured minicel. Next morning the combination had caused the contact cement to release, the minicel has loosened and the E-6000 crept in between the separated minicel and coaming lip and hardened lumpily overnight. Bad words were said aloud.

Thus began multiple efforts to remedy what I had screwed up. Dremel tool to excise the hardened E-6000 that had oozed into the separated gap, coaming and minicel edges sanded clean, fresh contact cement left on for days securely tape wrapped. Compressed E-6000 to fill the still-not-flush edge gaps.

The knee bumpers were once again well and tightly S-curve adhered. And, after all that unnecessary done-screwed-up effort, the knee bumpers still looked like hell along the repaired top edge.

PA090024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Let that be a still learning lesson to me; always wait for contact cement to be fully cured before beading E-6000, or probably any adhesive sealant GOOP.

I wanted to cover that now-ugly minicel with contact cemented N1S neoprene. I know that contact cement on the rubbery non-fabric side of N1S provides excellent adhesion. I didn’t have enough N1S, but I did have some N2S fabric both sides. If the N2S is an unsuccessful mess I’ll throw in the towel, remove those knee bumpers and start all over.

Templates made, knee bumper neoprene and Ridgerest pieces cut to size and shape. Not a lot of wasteage.

PA150001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Back to no-curl-up contact cement work. Yay me, I remembered to drill matching holes in the Ridgerest above the drain holes in the seat pan before the contact cement went on. Those couple drain holes won’t get rid of all the water in a waffle textured pad, but that least there won’t be a 3” deep balls soaking puddle. Put on the storage cover for overnight camp storage in case of rain or heavy dew.

PA160005 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PA160006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Ridgerest aligned and insta-stuck, with binder clips to hold the wrap-around Ridgerest tight to the seat edges.

PA160009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sand bag weights to make sure the rest of the pad is in good contact.

PA160010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The neoprene covering the fugly knee bumpers got a new trick, learned while correcting my hasty mistake; using lengths of wide painters tape to secure the neoprene edges tightly along the cowling curves. Much better technique for those complex S curves than using clamps.

PA160011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I’ll pull that tape in couple days, and wait a couple more days to bead the edge of the neoprene with E-6000. And then keep my fingers crossed. But at least I learned a new trick.
Jul 11, 2021
The two-piece Ridgerest padded seat came out well. I drilled an angled drain hole through the seat at the slender gap between the Ridgerest bottom and back for some additional drainage or flatulence release.

PA170014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Time for a foot pedal trick, learned from Mr. Wizard. Bungee cord, stretched between the front of the sliding pedal rail and through a cable clamp will auto center the rudder with feet off the pedals. Easy enough to do before the rudder cables are installed, and beneficial when evenly tensioning the cables. The bungee runs from the end of the slider rail, through a pop riveted cable clamp and then through a cord lock for tensioning ability. A 10” length of bungee is plenty to allow for un-interfered forward/backward pedal slide.

PA170013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That rudder bungee tension was an excellent use for Sgt. Knots stainless steel spring cord locks. Diminishing cord lock strength has been an eventual failure point on other rudder straightening bungee, and thin, low quality bungee has proven another. Quality ¼” bungee this time. I should replace all of the decked boat rudder straighteners with better bungee and Sgt Knots cord locks at some point.

Except for attaching the SS cables those rudder pedals are done. I left the bungee long; I didn’t want to trim it to best length until the rudder cables were attached.

It had been a couple days wait time, and I pulled the painter’s tape securing the neoprene to the minicel knee bumpers. That was a high anxiety tape reveal; they will either be good enough, or time gouge them out and start all over. Fingers crossed.

Better than good enough. I still need to clean up the edge of the cowling, but needing a neoprene sheath to hide my minicel screw up may have been a happy knee bumper accident.

PA180021 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

With the Ridgerest and neoprene firmly attached I could flip Sexy Thang upside down on the tall horses yet again. Photographed in time lapse Sexy Thang would appear to rotate (though sadly not self-levitated) more than Linda Blair in The Exorcist

PA180023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There are a couple new pop rivet mandrels in need of a covering hot glue blob, a G/Flex bead to lay along the under deck side at the inner edge of the cable tubing , and some miscellaneous touch up and sanding work, all best done upsy daisy. Time to nestle my head in Sexy Thang’s elevated embrace once again; no worries; the Missus already knows about the attractive 46 year old with whom I’m lavishing all my time and affections ;-)