Richard K. Larson - MIRROR 26688 ("Tweedledee")
They say good things come in 2's. In August '06, while I was busy working on Mirror 70369, I learned of another Mirror - hull #26688 - that had been begun in 1971, but was never completed. The owner had recently passed away, and the family was hoping to locate someone who would finish the boat & enjoy it. Mirror 26688 was mine if I would simply drive out and pick it up.
Well, not so simple, really. The boat was in Paw Paw, MI, 800 miles away from Long Island. Undeterred, on Nov 3rd, at 4:30am in the morning, I hopped in the car, set the GPS for Paw Paw, and began the long trip west.
Here is 26688 as I found her in Michigan, suspended from garage ceiling beams by a clever pulley system:
There had been some wear & tear: an animal had chewed on the gaff ends, there were water stains on the hull panels & decking, and the once-straight bilge pieces had warped into squiggly noodles. All in all, however, the boat was in remarkably good condition for having hung uncovered & unsealed in an unheated, uninsulated garage for more than 30 years. The parts were all still there, waiting patiently for assembly.
I strapped the hull to my roof rack, lashed the spars, and stowed sails, hardware, and assorted wooden bits in my car trunk.
Two days later, Mirror 26688 was back with me in Port Jefferson, NY. I had logged a total of 1656 miles.
Lorne Bellamy of Mirror Sailing Development (MSD) advised me to tackle 26688 from the outside in. The interior seams and bulkheads were already in place, so I began by inverting the hull, removing the wire lacing, sanding the hull & coating it with epoxy, and sealing the exterior seams. That done, I'm back to the interior. Ultimately, I'll invert the hull again to complete the underside (skeg, bilge keels, metal strip, fairing & painting).
At this point I have:
- scrubbed the exterior hull, spars, gunwales & deck pieces with a strong solution of TSP to remove 30+ years of accumulated dirt & contaminants.
- removed the copper wire lacing, sanded & sealed the exterior hull with two coats of epoxy. ,
- sanded & sealed the spars and gunwales with two coats of epoxy. 
- removed the side deck battens (see Building Notes below).
- barrier coated the deck pieces. , , , 
- barrier coated lots of small wooden pieces!
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- faired and sealed the centreboard , ,  and the rudder. , 
- assembled the gaff, and varnished it. (The light-colored gaff is for 70369).
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- attached the foredeck beams, filleting for strength.
- glued the oars blades to their looms, and varnished the oars.
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- filled the exterior seams and sanded them. , 
- sanded the hull, glassed the seams, coated the whole thing with epoxy, and scrubbed off the blush. (See Building Notes on the cloudy spots that are visible.) , , 
- scrubbed the interior with a TSP solution to remove dirt & stains from the cockpit.
- sealed the cockpit & storage compartment with epoxy and painted the tank interiors. (The previous builder had already applied paint to the tanks, so I had to go with this.)
- cut inspection port holes in the side & aft tanks and sealed the edges.
- filleted & retaped the mast web & centreboard trunk base; retaped the cockpit mid-seam.
- cut side tank bulkheads & transverse batten pieces from a wonderful wooden assortment Lorne Bellamy sent me from MSD. (Do we have a great kit maker here in North America or what!!).
- attached the thwart risers & installed the thwart., , , 
- attached the aft & fore decks., , , 
- attached the side tank battens and the the optional side tank bulkheads., , , 
- attached the shroud blocks, countersinking the outer screw holes and notching the side decks to accommodate them., , , , 
- attached backing blocks beneath the side deck panels to support jib cleats., , 
- attached the side decks. (See below for the accident that occurred at this stage.), , 
- attached the quarter knees., , , 
- attached the inner and outer gunwales., 
- sealed the cockpit seams with epoxy fillets & tape.
- attached the bowshapes., , , , 
- attached the footrest
When I was attaching the side decks, an accident occurred. To hold the side decks against the supporting battens while the glue set, I put heavy weights on their surface. The Gorilla Glue holding my trestles together failed (I'll never trust GG again.). The trestles collapsed and a portable light sitting beneath the hull poked its carrying handle through the cockpit flooring, shattering the plywood around it. Ouch! ,  A boat-builder friend, Chris Hale, rendered preliminary assistance by grinding down the cracks from both sides and stabilizing the area with epoxy prior to repairs. , , 
I was fortunate to be able draw on the services of Bayles Boat Shed, part of the Long Island Seaport and Ecological Center in Port Jefferson. For a small fee, the wooden boat group agreed to let me bring in the hull and to supervise repairs, with me doing the actual work.
After discussion, we came up with a plan that involved removing a section containing the worst damage, then patching in a new piece of marine plywood. The section would be removed between two batten lines so that, once everything was glued, two battens would straddle the long edges of the patch like butt straps, making for a strong joint.
In making the repairs, I:
Repairs are now complete. The patch and damage are barely noticeable! There's nothing like expert advice from experienced people.
- cut out a rectangular section using a steel rule and an Exacto Knife (and a very fine toothed Exacto saw on the corners).,  This method was slow and time-consuming, but left very clean, sharp edges. (The dark lines visible are the ones along which the six floor battens will run.)
- removed the (badly) damaged section of cockpit floor. (The picture shows its interior side.)
- beveled the short sides of the hole , . The bevels face inward since the main stress will be directed downward by feet inside the boat. On advice from Lorne Bellamy of MSD, I didn't attempt a bevel angle smaller than 45 deg. With plywod this thin & old, a larger beveled area would have been very hard to grind & fit, and doubtless would have been very messy.
- checked the loose fit of my patch, from above & below. 'A good snug fit, but with room for the epoxy.
- stained my patch to match the brownish cockpit flooring using Minwax water-based stain (Vermont Maple + American Walnut).
- epoxied the patch into place. To ensure that it followed the hull curvature, I laid pieces of lucite over its long edges, then taped them down (so they wouldn't move), and then put weights in the middle. To ensure proper epoxy curing, I put an incandescent light over the cockpit area and tented it, and positioned another light beneath the patch.
- checked the result and sanded down any high areas of epoxy prior to covering the patch area with lightweight (1.4oz) fiberglass cloth, and to gluing in the battens., 
- restained any areas of the patch that has been exposed by sanding, glassed it in, and glued and screwed in the battens., , , 
Side deck battens. The side deck battens on older Mirrors were attached as one length, running longitudinally down the middle. MSD now recommends using small transverse battens for greater support. Unfortunately, the side deck battens on 26688 had already been attached, requiring removal. I tried using a pull saw, cutting flush along the deck, but damaged the surface this way (along with my saw when it hit brass nails). In the end I planed the battens off (after digging out the nails), did some surface repair with epoxy + filler, and then resealed., 
Inspection port holes. On 70369 I cut the inspection port holes using a keyhole saw. This was slow & left a somewhat ragged edge. On 26688 I used a circle cutting attachment with my rotary tool; it was quick, simple & yielded a very clean cut:
Cloudy epoxy. Some of my initial epoxy coatings became cloudy/milky. Ultimately, I discovered I'd been using the wrong hardeners, namely, West System 205 & 206. West System recommends the 207 Special Coating hardener for all clear coatings. I simply didn't read the labels properly. In retrospect, it's remarkable how well I've done on both Mirror builds considering I was using the wrong stuff. At any rate, with parts that will get a clear coat of varnish (deck pieces, centerboard & rudder), cloudiness has entailed sanding back down to bare wood, and reapplying a new clear epoxy coat. In the case of the hull, which will get painted, I've not fussed about removing it all. You can see spots in some of the hull pix.
Moral of the story: always read product labels carefully. Well duh.
Oar stowage. I saw pictures of an Australian Mirror with 2" holes on either side of the storage bulkhead that allowed oars to be stowed neatly along the side tanks, underneath the thwart. I've implemented this idea on 26688, using a pair of Optimist mast collars as liners for the holes. I trimmed the collars on one side to allow room for the fillets and glass tape at the side tank/storage bulkhead joint. The oars will be held in place with bungee cord and nylon lacing hooks attached to the side panels.
-Sand the whole interior and prep it for varnishing.
-Flip the boat over and finish the fairing and painting.
-Get some sailing in this summer!
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