Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Battle of Frame 4

Nothing on a boat is a right angle, except when it is. Some things, like the mast, or centerboard, should pretty much be exactly vertical. Or the seats, which should be mostly horizontal so you don't slide into the water.

Since this is MY boat, though, many of the right angles have slumped into 89 or 91 degrees. No big deal, right? Ah yes, once I thought as you did.

Frame 4 is bisected by the centerboard well, and although I built it as a single frame, I had to cut it in half and trim it a bit so each side could butt up against the centerboard well. This took about seven months.*

In the instructions, John Welsford (designer) states something like, "Using your third arm, attach the frame half to the bottom panel and centerboard well, being sure it is at right angles to each."

Oh John Welsford! You are so funny! I would like to meet you so I can explain in person how funny you are!

Imagine the situation: nothing is a right angle. Every surface is crenellated with notches or little support pieces, so nothing is flat, either. The whole assembly fits together like one of those trick locking wooden boxes. Or rather, doesn't fit together like that.

It's akin to taking something large and squarish, like a coffee table book, and gluing its spine to the cover of another coffee table book. At right angles. Oh yes, in mid-air, with nothing to attach them to or hold them upright. Also, there are spiders skittering everywhere and gnashing their spidery mandible with rage as their egg-sacs are crushed.

And due to some heretofore unknown fluctuations in the very fabric of reality itself, previously solid wood curves and bends. Did you think that was a right angle? Oh boatbuilder! You are so funny! Now it's 3mm off center. Was that level yesterday? Ha ha! Nothing stays the same!

"Oh no you shan't," quoth I, reaching for clamps so fast I no doubt appeared the spitting image of a multi-armed Hindu god to the massing spiders. The buzz of their frustrated, spidery screams was a suitable counterpoint to the constant ripping of my shirt as rage-muscles burst out not unlike those of the Hulk!

"RIGHT ANGLES, OBEY ME!" I roared, scattering spiders with the pure force of my voice. But what was this? Were they climbing atop one another? What gymnastic arachnid devilry was this?

There was no time for that, as the epoxy chose that precise moment to ignite, due to its inconvenient exothermic (heat producing, write that down) properties. I was forced to hurl the smoking plastic container (nee Egg drop soup) into the air, where it described a gentle parabola and landed on our neighbor's prized snapdragons. Ironically, the snapdragons were the color of flame when the flaming pot obliterated them.

I turned to the spiders. They had formed a pyramid, and then an ovalesque shape that spoke. "You will never succeed," it intoned through a thousand spiders. "Bring us flies. Moths are acceptable as well. And stop walking through our webs."

"NOT NOW, YOU IDIOTS," I howled, even more muscles bursting through my rags. In one hand I took both frames and held them in place on either side of the centerboard. Be at right angles, I willed them, remembering not to include my fingers in this command (still paying chiropractor bills from my last blast of willpower).

With the other hand I simultaneously mixed a replacement pot of epoxy, applied the thinned epoxy, added in silica thickener, mixed the glue, applied the glue to the faying surfaces, and applied screws. Everything was working. Even the spiders had gone back to their webs to dream their malevolent dreams.

Until I discovered I had epoxied my hand to the frame! Yet I could not complain, for there, permanently fixed into the epoxy, lay my hand at a precise right angle to the centerboard well.

*Certain sections may be exaggerated for effect.


Peter S said...

Usually when instructions call out for a physically impossible task, I laugh as I swing my hammer in wide arcs towards anything breakable. Ha ha, instructions are for sheep! Hulk smash!

S R Wood said...

The MANtra: Violence begets quality. Or at least efficiency!

Barbara said...

Ah--perhaps those "spayaders", what your ex-roomate Clay would call them-- knew what was best for that epoxy and heat and were signaling you to cease and desist with that until you actually grew that third arm or asked someone to assist you. Why are those printed directions designed to make it look like a simple 2 step process when, in fact, it requires the Hulk and all the Hindu goddesses with all their arms to complete the task??