Duckworks - Projects
The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders

Building a Light Schooner in Winter

by Rob Rohde-Szudy

Hey Folks

I'm building a Bolger Light Schooner up here in Wisconsin. You might recognize my name, as I've written a couple articles on Jim Michalak's site about the building of my Piccup Pram.

Thought you might be interested in how I'm getting all this done in the winter up here. PL400 helps, since it cures at 10 degrees F. But notice the "painting booth". My dad's shop is 14' tall - way to high a ceiling to keep any heat in. And it is attached to a 2 car garage with no wall in between. Same deal.

So I put some screw hooks in the walls every 4' about 10' above the floor. Then I screwed some pairs of sheetrock screws into the wall at convenient spots - these to use as cleats for mason's twine. The roof of the booth is cheap (scrap actually) styrofoam beadboard sheets. I drilled a hole at each corner with a 3/8" bit. With beadboard you have to run the drill in and out a few times to clear all those clingy beads.

Then I cut a length of mason's twine for each screwhook, running floor to hook to floor, roughly. I also cut some 5-6' lengths of twine and tied them into loops. A true lover's knot works well. The other thing needed is some longish, thinnish, narrowish scraps of wood.

The loops are held double, like a string, and run through a beadboard corner hole AND the corner hole of the adjoining sheet. The easiest way to get them through the beadboard is to blow the loop through the hole. Then I ran the narrow wood scrap through the loop so it can't come back through. Duct tape helped keep it in place until hoisted, and the scrap wood is what actually carries the (small) weight of the foam.

It helped tremendously to have a partner in this job, one person on each side. Once each loop was fastened, we tied to it the twine running up to the screwhook. Then hoisted and cleated to a pair of screws.

Of course this is only a roof, so far. For the walls, clear plastic sheeting is an obvious choice, since it lets light in and is cheap. Most would try to duct tape the plastic to the top of the foam, but I knew it would let go in the cold. I had a can of old, rusty 16d nails that I was unlikely to ever use on anything I cared about. So they became spikes. I rolled a "hem" of 3-4 turns on the upper edge, pinning through it into the top of the foam every 18" or so. It has worked like a charm with no sign of letting go. I pulled out a nail or two by standing on the plastic in ways I shouldn't have, but the nails are so easily reset that I can't complain about it.

In weather in the 20s and 30s I only need one heater of 2500 watts to stay over 50 degrees. Colder than that and I have to add another of 1500 watts. But that's for a 24' boat AND about a 12x12 attached shop area, so I think most projects would do fine with much less. When building the Piccup, for example, I was able to use PVC pipe arches with plastic sheeting, and the small heater was more than enough.

Best of luck to fellow winter builders!

Rob Rohde-Szudy

PS: Please have a look at the "messabouts and events" link in the upper left corner of any duckworks page. This is where you find out about all the get-together opportunities for the coming season! - Rob