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After avoiding punt work for various reasons, like traveling and ridiculously low temperatures in the workshop, we have finally attacked it again. The broken side was fixed in January, but the shape of the punt has stayed a bit wonky. Today we did away with a lot of this.

The two deep floors are in place, the notches for the longitudinal battens are almost in line.

But first things first. The punt needs more structural support, so following Ed Monk (we feel like we can be on a first name basis with him after spending so much time inside one of his designs) we have started adding the “deep floors” that hold up the seats. That and the lower frames on the fore and aft transom, notched to accept the battens. And herein lies the joy – finally we get to put some structural support in in a longitudinal direction! The battens will actually force a certain straightness into the design.

We are not quite sure why, but the second side panel has more of a bend in it than the first one. Perhaps the chine piece has been permanently bent. Perhaps we have different pieces of plywood with differing stiffnesses. The wood we are using is too stiff for the job, in some way: we can imagine that a thinner or more flexible wood would make the construction a bit easier.

We battled with attempts at squaring up the sides, we measured diagonals in the various “boxes” of the boat, angles at various joins. We cannot really say what is wrong except that there is a rather harsh bend in the middle of the new side panel where it meets the bulkhead. That is, where it originally broke (see the early post about fasteners). In the end we decided to straighten it up a bit using a mixture of brute force and ignorance, then get the battens in. We battled with internal angles of batten fitting, bending pieces to fit, correcting then re-correcting lengths and finally, got the suckers in place.

The battens are hammered into place, then held down with clamps to hold things in the righ place as the glue dries.

“You can never have too many clamps” has been claimed as an explanation for the standard back-up Christmas present for every do-it-yourselfer. And as amateur boatbuilders, we now understand the meaning behind this claim. The battens were forced into the notches, thereby straightening the punt. Clamps are holding the joins together as the mass of glue dries.

Now we actually have a form that looks a bit like a boat instead of a cut-out as might be used in a performance of the “Pirates of Penzance”  or the Henley on Todd race in Alice Springs. Tomorrow we will release the clamps and see whether it holds together. Then we will fair the bottom, plane the edges, then sand it down to a homogenous surface before we cut a large piece of plywood for the floor. We need to check that the surface of the plywood is taken off before gluing as the wood we are using is especially resistant to gluing, with a highly polished and unreactive surface. Then we goop up a large amount of glue, position the floor piece and screw it into place with a few packets of stainless steel Spax.

With luck we will be launching within the week.

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