Tom Tweed's Boatbuilding Pages
Page 6- The Hog Fish Era
I had an old friend, a surfing buddy from high school named Barry Pressing, who had a paint and body shop at the time in Sorrento Valley, doing custom work on VW's, Porsches and Harley Davidsons. I looked him up and asked him if I could rent a corner of his yard to put the boat in and finish it. Being a good friend and a generous guy, he agreed immediately, and even offered to let me use his compressor and air tools in the bargain, so I began making arrangements to move the boat from La Mesa out to Sorrento Valley. Since I was living in Del Mar at the time, this was a more convenient setup in some ways, involving less of a commute, but it also had its downside.
While the yard was fairly secure- fenced, with barbed wire on top, and patrolled by a couple of "junkyard dogs" at night- the boat would be outside from that point on, subject to the weather. While it was sealed inside and out at this point, and our Low-Cal. weather is far from extreme, this wasn't as ideal an environment as possible for this kind of work. Epoxy resins are very temperature and moisture sensitive while curing and also suffer from degradation by ultraviolet exposure unless pigmented or coated with UV filters.
There weren't any other affordable alternatives though, so I had a full length tarp made up for the boat, lifted it onto a flatbed trailer with a boom truck and had it hauled out to Hog Fish Studios (my friend Barry's nickname since childhood was "Hog Fish", thus the name of his shop).
Barry started out painting and pinstriping show-winning Harley Davidson choppers, and branched out into custom cars. He is a very talented commercial artist/cartoonist in the Rick Griffin/Von Dutch/Ed Roth vein, a cool-handed pinstripper, a die-hard car buff, and a pretty decent goofyfoot surfer (Mike Diffenderfer is his cousin). As a tribute to Barry, and a nod to his generosity with me, even though it's a bit of a diversion from the main story line, here are some pics of some of the projects he was involved with at the time:
That's Hoggie himself washing one of the VW Speedsters that he made out of a kit. It had a chopped windshield and a little low, tan, Speedster-style ragtop that made it look pretty cool. It was a fun little beach car. His VW van is in the background, and my boat's in the corner behind it.
This is the VW panel truck model he also made from fiberglass kit pieces. Shades of the modern Chrysler PT Cruiser...
This is Barry's Porsche and one of his dogs (a blue Chow, not the junkyard dogs- those were a couple of German Shepards that belonged to Rick, one of the painters who worked there). The 911 was a highly modified RSR-look, chopped, lowered, flared, with about 35 coats of hand-rubbed lacquer on it. The polished aluminum tail is off it and sitting behind the dog. Note the H FISH license plate.
So, anyway, this was to be the boat's resting place for the next three years, as I slowly finished it in my available spare time while working construction jobs in north San Diego County. A corner of a gravel yard, with only a slight slope, behind a 6' chain-link fence screened with bamboo. In this picture, the starboard-side sheer clamp is being fitted to the center section of the hull, which accounts for the two C-clamps sticking above the rail. The temporary cradle can be seen well here, chocked up to level the boat out.
This shot above shows the center section deck framing underway, with the sheer clamp being notched to accept the deck beams along the rail, the headers for the front and rear hatches being dropped in, and the splice strake for the plywood decking that runs down the middle being fitted. It is routed 3/8" deep along it's edge to accept the seams of the first layer of 3/8" plywood, then a layer of 1/4" plywood was run over the top, making for a center section deck thickness of 5/8". The fore and aft deck sections were sheeted with two layers of 1/4" ply.
This is a bit later, with the center section deck framing almost ready for sheeting. In this pic, You can also see the tarp that I used to cover the boat rolled up onto the foredeck. This kept most of the water out when it rained, and when I need shade, I hoisted it up on a couple poles above the boat.
By this time, the keel has been delivered from the foundry, and it had to be smoothed, faired and squared up on top with a 1" x board. The 10 keelbolts can clearly be seen standing proud from the top in the photo below. They are bent into a hook-shape on the bottom and cast into the molten lead. That hunk of metal weighs 3400 lbs.
Eventually, the keelson was drilled in a matching pattern, and the boat was lifted with a crane and set down onto and bonded and bolted to the keel, but this was only done toward the end of the project, at the last possible moment, as it would raise the boat up another two feet, and there was still that scramble-in-and-out thing going on a zillion times a day!
When the keel was delivered, I also had their forklift lift the engine into the boat and onto the mounts I had fabricated in the stern, so that it could be installed easily before the framing was complete on the aft end. It was designed to lift in and out of the main hatch OK when the boat was closed in, but this made it easier on the knuckles.
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