Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Creative clamping

got a bit creative with finding things to help with clamping. Its harder to clamp now because my clamps dont stretch all teh way across the bottom boards. I got the fourth one glued on today. Looking good, but also looking like there will be some sanding to smooth some stuff out. Psyched to see how it turns out

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wooden surfboard frame, skins, and steaming technique

So I've still been working on this, just off and on with a busy schedule, but I've been making alot of progress the past week and a half. The skeleton was finished earlier this week, with the holes drilled and chine notch cut out (explained later on in this project), and everythign was fitted and sanded together to make sure the skins would lay on nicely. Here's some photos.

Here's the skeleton on the rocker table I made. The rocker table has all the bottom contours built up so that the skeleton ribs and spine lay supported at each rib. The rocker table took longer than I expected, but it really adds support when gluing on the skins later on. The skeleton is just a spine and then ribs every 8 inches. I used 1/4 inch marine ply for this, as I'd read that is recommended because a) it's marine grade plywood, so it's ok if wet b) it is very high grade, so there's no possible gaps in the plywood layers that could turn into weak spots. I notched halfway through on each rib, and then the opposite half of the spine, and then they fit together. The holes are drilled in to take away some unnecessary weight and allow air to flow to each chamber in the board. If the board is in hot temperatures, the pressure will build inside it, so a vent is installed so the pressure can't build up. I don't know exact rules on how big the holes can be but based on photos I saw, I went a bit conservative on the size of my holes.

Here's me making the backyard a mess. Thank you to our neighbor for never being bummed on me for taking it over.
Another shot of the skeleton frame on the rocker table.

This weekend I glued on the first skins to the frame. The skins are basically skinny fence boards from Lowes. They are western red cedar, which is used for canoes and kayaks a lot because it is very weather/water resistant, has a high resistance to decay, and it's fairly light compared to it's strength. On top of that, it's local to the western USA and Canada, and is therefore ridiculously cheap ($1.50/board, and I need about 7 for the bottom of the board, 7 for the top). Since it's from Lowe's, there's plenty of warped, knotty, badly cut pieces, but with some lengthy picking and choosing, I've found a good amount that are nice pieces. The only thing is that they come in 5/8 inch thick pieces, and I need them to be 1/4 inch thick. So I have to splice them down the middle, and then use a planer to get it down to 1/4 inch thick. Not the most exact way to do it, but it's working, it just takes a while...

I was super pumped to try out this steam bending technique I'd read about. This is very backyard and DIY looking as you can tell, nothing professional looking at all. So I used the camp stove outside, got a pot filled with water, and brought it to boiling. Then I put a board over the pot, with a hole cut in it and a can inserted into it. This way the steam coming from the boiling water only comes up out through the can. Then I made a long hollow box that the skins can fit into. I put wires through the box so that when I insert a skin, it is held up in the air, and not flat against the bottom of the box. The box has a hole cut into it that goes right over the can, so that the steam flows right into it. I steamed one board at a time, for about ten minutes. They come out all warm and flexy. By steaming them and then setting them in place on the frame and rocker table, the boards are easier to bend, and will then be set in the shape I put them in, and not want to go back to being straight boards.

View down the can into the boiling water

Box resting on can, wih the other end supported up a bit higher, so the steam flows up and out the small holes on the other end, getting to all parts of the board inside.

Once the board is steamed and ready, I put glue onto the frame, set the board in place on the rocker table, and then clamp and tie down everything as tight as possible. I used some plastic wrap I got from Lowe's also, as Wood Surfboard Supply had offered up this as a cheap alternative to buying lots of clamps. Here's a picture of the first skin in place. After 24 hours when the glue dries, I can release the clamps and tie-downs, pick up the frame, and then steam the next skin, and put on the rocker table in the right place, and glue the frame down onto it, clamping it all in place again. This weekend, I got the first three skins on, so about 14 inches are covered on the bottom. So far they are going together pretty nicely and smoothly, but it's slightly stressful making sure all cracks are butted up against each other as much as possible, everything is aligned properly, everything is pulled down and flush with the rocker table. But yea, super super pumped that I can see it coming together now! More to come

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chile: Part IV, the Finale!

We got up at 6:30 to greet the New Year and to head out to the airport. First we scored a great free breakfast from the hostel. We gave two sisters from the hostel, Flauve and Tamara, rides there too as they were heading out a little later than us.

Cute kitchen!

The plane ended up letting us check a bag for free, which we didn’t expect. Then we tried carrying on the tent, and they said the stakes are a no go, and they let us check that one for free too! It was nice to finally find out for sure that tents with stakes are not allowed to be carried on a plane, as we’d heard and read different opinions a lot on this. We got on the plane and got awesome snacks and drinks, and Matt was too excited to sleep and watched the views and tried taking pics of the mountains rivers and lakes we flew over the entire way down to Punta Arenas. The whole plane was pumped! We both wondered when we were flying over our friend Collin at Conservacion Patagonica…

There's that volcano again! and another one!

Awesome snacks! OJ, coffee, two types of cookies, and crackers, we're in!

The views from the plane were awesome the whole way down

panorama that kinda worked, from the plane

See, everyone was pumped, except her...

Our first view of southern Patagonia as we were about to land

We got into Punta Arenas after a bus ride, and walked around some. We didn’t totally like the feel of the town, although we were only there a couple hours, and it was dead because it was New Years day, so we hopped on a bus and headed up to Puerto Natales (3 hour bus ride) instead, as we’d have to go there the next day anyway. Right when we got in we got the last two bus tickets to Argentina (about US $40 each) the next morning, score!, and then found a place open selling campstove gas, double score! Then we got some beds at the W Circuit Hostel for 7000 pesos per person (28 bucks total). We headed out to explore the town and get food, and found the town to be pretty awesome. We ate at Mesita Grande, which served awesome wood fire baked pizzas. It was packed with backpackers who had just been exited from Torres del Paine, but it was well worth the wait. The sun stayed up till around 10 or so, and it was light till about 11 when we went to bed finally. Awesome, fortunate day.

Clouds from the bus

What if that was your home, that'd be pretty cool

Clouds clouds clouds!

Every so often there were areas like this, don't know what happened to the trees, but it looked neat

Coolest clouds I've ever seen, but I was incredibly excited, so everything was cool

Mel, contemplating, wondering why we'd ever leave this place

Road to anywhere

Mesita Grande setup, it was awesome!

We got up, ate free breakfast, and headed to the buses. Once going, we quickly got to the boarder of Argentina, and crossed, which was a fairly quick process. The land quickly looked browner everywhere, and like a true Chilean, Melissa noted “The Chilean side is always prettier” . The bus ride to El Calafate was 5 hours in total, and pretty cool, but like a said, pretty brown. It was very rare that we saw anyone else on the single lane road, which was yet another reminder in such an uninhabited, natural place (even though there was a bus route through it…). We got to El Calafate and got a bus to El Chalten (about US $25 each) leaving at 6 PM, so we had about 4 hours to explore the current city. We got some food, some Argentinean pesos, and checked out artisanal stores. When we were about to leave for El Chalten we heard a few couples trying to sell and then give away their tickets there because they heard Torres Del Paine was reopening partially. We were a little bummed that we hit such an exact closed window, but headed onward. The bus ride to El Chalten was about 3 hours, and as we neared the city, we could see Cerro Fitz Roy loomin above, along with other dramatic peaks, surrounding lakes, and glaciers! Pumped! We got in a 9:45ish, and immediately started hiking into our camp, which our free bus station trail map told us was about an hour and 45 minute hike in. We were strapped on time and knew it would stay light till close to 11 PM, so we went for it, which was a bit unnerving. But, this would turn out to be Matt’s favorite hike probably. It was still fairly warm (maybe 60ish), with some strong Patagonian wind, and the views were unbelievable as we hiked along a huge canyon with a field and river covering the bottom of it, and weaved in and out of the forest. We didn’t have to use our headlamps until 10:45 PM either! We saw a few small black scorpions on the trail, and listened to the wind howl as we hiked along, hoping to reach camp before we were too tired. Luckily, trail is very well marked, and signs help you out, and we reached camp by 11:30 PM, set up tent, and went to sleep in the shelter of trees.

Hey crazy girl!

View from the hostel, very weathered

A good rainbow, mountains, lakes. Good way to start the day

OMG! first glimpes at Fitz Roy out the front of the bus! Had no idea what to expect coming here

Argentina looking awesome

Getting started on the trail at 9:45 PM

Mel up ahead

I wish I'd taken more photos on this hike, but maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. It was incredibly windy, but not cold, awesome clouds, 10 PM, huge canyons and mountains, and we had no idea what was coming up next on the trail. One of the coolest experiences I've ever had for sure

We got up and realized we camped in a private campground (there’s maybe two in the park, in which guide companies use for paying customers), and the free campground was just up around a bend in the trail. The guides were cool with us, but it was obvious we weren’t customers because everyone had the same rented tents all around us, except ours that stuck out like a sore thumb. We cooked breakfast by the nearby lake, with probably the coolest view we’d ever seen, or imagined. Cerro Fitz Roy and its friends were perfectly clear of clouds, only surrounded by an incredibly blue sky, and taller than ever. To think, people climb this thing and everything in the park-unreal. We saw awesome woodpeckers going to town on trees, and eventually headed out, after stocking up on fresh water from the lake. We hiked towards Cerro Fitz Roy on the main trail, with not too too many people on it as it was around 9 AM still. The hike along the valley of the mountains was incredible, with view after view after view. We neared a split and headed towards a glacier lookout, slightly away from Fitz Roy. We hiked down it a couple miles, which was pretty, but the glacier lookout wasn’t as breathtaking as we’d hoped. So we headed back to the split, in order to start heading towards our camp which, because we had the free bus-station-provided map, was some unknown fairly long distance away. We had a huge lunch right next to a little creek that definitely flowed from some snow up around the peak of Fitz Roy. The water tasted awesome and super cold! By this time, some clouds moved in and the peaks were no longer visible, nor would they be the rest of the time we spent there, so we were very lucky to get to see them so clearly all morning. Our hike towards camp ended up being somewhere close to 6 miles from our lunch spot, I think, and was along a couple of lakes, through valleys weaving in trees, through forests, and all along, at the base of some of the coolest peaks in the world. We arent’ used to that much hiking, with our equpment, so it took it’s toll on us, but was awesome. Our next camp spot was next to a river that flowed out of a lake, supplied by a glacier, at the base of Cerro Torre. We talked to a kind Canadian guy at camp who told us he was in Torres Del Paine and had to leave it due to the fires, but that this park was probably prettier, so we felt good. He is apparently a pretty good climber, and told us about how he once baked an apple pie at 15,000 feet up, in some type of oven he called an outback oven, and shared it with the first Canadian that climbed Everest. Not sure what that oven is, but I think he has the record for highest baked apple pie. After talking some with him, and hanging out, we went to sleep around 9:30, as we were super tired. It was still incredibly light out, which felt pretty weird.

Camp spot

This is what we got to wake up to! Only about a 100 yards from the camp spot! That's Cerro Fitz Roy by the way. Probably dudes climbing it that we just couldn't see

Fitz Roy looking awesome


Not the best, but just proof we were there!

This guy was going to town on the trees!

Hi Mom!

Heyo! I was there!

Glacial waterfall!

Pretend my eyes are open and this is a great photo! The scenery is what matters anyways

This is real

Pumped beyond belief

Cool part of the trail

Cool moss on alot of the trees down there


Not sure what my face is here

Looks fake huh?

View from the trail

Getting beat!

Wind damage

Money shot!

Money shot dos!

I couldn't stop taking pictures

Lunch break/nap spot

So many different parts to the trails, super awesome

Pondering, with a decent background


These guys were pretty neat!

For some reason Mel likes to hike with her arms crossed, FYI

Getting close to the camp, super beat, but we got to hike along views like this the entire day!


Mel in front of Fitz Roy

Goin in!

Hi guys!

This is what we got to look at all day!

Morning breakfast spot


Woke up at 5:30ish the next morning, and hiked up to the lake up the hill to check out the sunrise. Although the peak was covered, it was awesome! The rocky peaks looked like they were on fire, there was a rainbow, the lake had small icebergs in it, and we could see the glacier on the other end the supplied the source of water. We filled up the water bottles, ate, packed up and headed out by 7:30. The hike out was just as pretty as the day before. We had to backtrack on the same trail some, but then diverged off to the trail back to town, essentially completing a large loop from where we hiked in two days before. We were pretty sore from the day before, so we took plenty of breaks, and enjoyed the views. Again, the canyons, forests, mountains, and hills all were breathtaking. We ended up back out at the city by maybe 11:30 AM, and went to get a bus leaving at 1 PM back to El Calafate. After eating, avoiding petting the dogs, and listening to some good acoustic tunes by a fellow traveler with a guitar, we headed out of there. We arrived in El Chalten by 4 PM and got a hostel for US $6 each! It was a dorm style, but it had hot showers, lockers for $1/day, and was fairly clean, so we were down. We walked around town some, then down to the nearby lake for the sunset, and then got some local beers, and relaxed! We saw some very intense tango going on in one open bar, and were tempted to stop in, but had our hands full with our dinner and beer already, so we headed back after watching for a bit from outside. The hostel was full, and a bit loud that night, but it didn’t bother us too much.

View hiking up to Lago Torre with the sunrise and a rainbow to top it off. This photo is not altered

Looks like Lord of the Rings or something!

Lago Torre and Cerro Torre (covered in clouds) and tiny icebergs! Dude!

Another panorama with the rainbow

Good Morning!

Windy morning

The camp spot

Not sure what I was stretching to look at here

Hi guys!

View across the valley we hiked by

The valley we hiked by

Mel pumped to get to relax soon

Big dragonfly!

View from bus, the water, again, was the coolest color ever

Hostel we stayed at

We did not try this, but I would assume it's good

Catching up on writing, and experiencing traditional mate for the first time

I can't read spanish well, but I think they're building a halfpipe here!

I imagine heaven is very similar to this scenery

Check out that rock wall dad! Must've taken them forever

Some local beer. The negra one was horrible, the roja was awesome

This one was super good too.

We woke up and went for the free breakfast, which turned out to be coffee only, and pretty crappy coffee, but hey, it was a $6 hostel, so we didn’t expect much. Then we headed to get the bus to Puerto Natales. We arrived back in Puerto Natales, Chile by around 1 PM, and had time to explore that city more, along their lake and harbor, and around the city square and stores. Here we bought some last minute gifts because now we wouldn’t be hiking around with them, and hoped they’d stay safe on the trip home. We got some awesome vegetarian food at El Living, and left town 8 PM to go to the airport down in Punta Arenas (about 3 hour bus ride). The sunset and ride there was, again, beautiful. There was so much land that was uninhabited and unused for any purpose; it was refreshing. We got into the airport at 11 PM, met a couple from Manhattan Beach, CA, and went to sleep there, waiting for our 3:30 AM flight.

Yes! At the bus stop in the Argentinian Patagonia

Many houses with wind blockades like these

Ha, can't remember what this guy was called

Puerto Natales shoreline

Puerto Natales

Good skies


Our last Patagonian sunset, for now...

We loaded up in the plane, went to sleep again, and arrived in Santiago around 7 AM. Nato picked us up and took us over to Pita’s for the day, to rest up, see everyone again, struggle with Spanish again, and eat more awesome food! We ended up going to a mall that day, which was about as opposite as could be from southern Chile, but entertaining at the same time. That day’s lunch was Matt’s favorite – humitas de casa (homemade tamales), and paella (seafood paella, which was clams, shrimp, salmon, and veggies and rice all cooked together perfectly by Marta). We got to see everyone one last time, and headed to the airport with Checho in the evening. Mel splurged on a pretty awesome sweatshirt at the airport, and we got on the flight home. Mel’s family is awesome, and we can’t wait to see everyone again, sooner than later. Not sure how to end this. This was a trip of a lifetime, and set a pretty high standard for anything to come.

Good creation here, only about US $60 too!


Airplane meal!
and now wondering why we left