Final Topsides Plank and a Patch

Topsides planking finished
The topsides planking is finished. Next will be the transom and then the bottom planks.

The final topsides plank is fit and glued in place.  Huzzah!  It took a long time to get here because I elected to vacuum bag each plank individually.  I wanted the tightest seams I could get.  And in order to do that, you need to know the plank you’re fitting against isn’t going to move, even slightly.  Without locator screws, which you can use in traditional boat building, you don’t know things will go back together exactly as they did during the dry fit.  The topsides gets a lot of scrutiny on any boat–perhaps not as much as the deck, but it’s what people notice first.

Vacuum bagging individual planks
All the rest of the topsides strakes were individually bagged to get the tightest seams.

Of course after gluing each plank, I had to clean up the squeeze out along the new seam before fitting the next one.  This is easiest to do immediately after you take the vacuum bag off while the epoxy is still a little “green”.  The fact that it hasn’t completely cured means your planes and chisels will keep their edge longer.


Gluing the final topsides plank forward
I didn’t vacuum bag the final plank forward along the chine. I noticed I could get a fairer curve and fill in low spots without the bag.

But I decided not to bag the forward plank along the chine because I wanted the chine joint to be as fair as possible.  So I let the plank bend in to a fair curve allowing it to gap out just a tiny amount in some of the low spots.  I then filled these areas with neat epoxy as the glue was curing.  Once you stop getting air bubbles along the top edge, you know you’re there.

Now let’s take a moment to talk about the joint of the planking along the chine.  In a traditionally carvel-planked mahogany runabout, the topsides plank is run past the chine and then planed down even with chine bottom.  The bottom plank is then lapped over the chine and topsides plank so you leave the seam along the side and not the bottom of the boat.  This way water is not driven in the seam by the pounding action of the sea on the bottom.  Likewise, the bottom planks run past the bottom transom plank, and the deck planks lap over the topsides at the sheer.  The transom sides, however, usually run past the planks on the sides of the boat, not the other way round.  The only reason I can think of for this exception is that a metal trim strip usually covers the side seams at the transom, and not the back, perhaps to preserve the full wood edges looking at the transom from the back.  So if you followed all that, you know why I planked the sides first, followed by the transom, then the bottom.

In closing, I’ll just mention that one morning I came in to find that the vacuum hose had moved overnight, falling away from where I had positioned it and, in the process, pulling the sealing tape loose along the top of the vacuum bag.  That meant that the plank there wasn’t pulled tightly against the hull while the glue cured.  Bummer.

A small patch low and aft on the port side. All that glue will be sanded away and it will blend nicely.

So I had to cut away a small section of the plank with the router, and glue in a patch where the side plank met the transom.  Not a big deal.  Almost anything can be fixed!


3 Replies to “Final Topsides Plank and a Patch”

    1. You’re talking about the metal strips over the plank joint on the sides at the transom? I probably will. They’re always just for aesthetics, aren’t they? I may elect to leave them off for a cleaner look, and to show off! Haha!

  1. True, for aesthetics. Mainly to hide edges. Sounds like you have clean transom lines and no need to hide anything.

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