Tom Dually 1.7 and 1.8


Tom Dually 1.7

A truce, of sorts.

There’s no doubting Chesty Puller, and his boys’ heroics and sacrifice at the Frozen Chosin.  But, my analogy slaps me upside the head for its hubris.  That particular chapter in American warfare ended up back at the original line of scrimmage.  And, I must report, that after about 12 or 14 hours of grunting, groaning, pulling, shoving, and burrowing; I am right back where I was about two days ago.  Today was a day of splitting, prying, lifting, shoving, and careening.  All of which would have been possible in about 20 minutes if Miss Kathleen was still in the water.  But there’s this upside.  If I had continued to shape stuff and bolt stuff to my original measurements, it all would have had to come off once she went back in the water, anyhow.  Soooooo, I’ll declare victory, and call a truce.  Until tomorrow, anyway.

We who think of ourselves as “discovery learners” must be fully prepared to accept that phrase as a classic oxymoron.  My initial assumption was that the roller track set under the stub keel would need to climb by one-and-a-half-inches from back to front.  So, yesterday before mounting the boat in the way, I set that track on a 1-1/2 inch thick piece of cedar.  It was bolted thru, but my guess was that I could “simply” split it out with a chisel if it needed dropping back down to the frame.

And, I had a similar “plan” with all those wedges that I ground down and made a complete mess of the place doing it.  But, now, they were wedged under the boat and kinda’ picky about their place in the cosmos.

Firmly stuck under-the-boat.

And, that was all still copacetic, until I discovered the center of balance with a dual axle rig is not the same thing as a single.  I hadda’ move the boat about two feet forward to get the requisite tongue weight.  And, to do that, all those shapes and shims had to go.

First, went the shim under the keel rollers.  That took about two hours of lifting and careening and cajoling.

Then, came the other shapes—laboriously ground on the wide side of those 2×6’s.  All those screws had to be found and extracted to avoid holing the hull.  I think of ‘em as frags.

Seems my big band saw threw a capacitor about two boats ago, but after initial failure to find parts for a 75-year old Delta saw, I just sort of forgot about it.  My midsized band saw needs track tires that never quite fit when I order ‘em.  That saw has been idled for quite a while too.  My small band saw from HF is a little wonder.  But, I broke my last blade the other day and can’t get one locally.  And, well, you see.  Resawing a bevel into these boards just wasn’t a happening thing.  So, after spending a whole night shift making those wedges, I spent half a day shift breaking ‘em out from under the boat.

Then, before beginning the process of sliding the hull forward on the trailer, MK SLID SIDEWAYS.

So, that’s why mom always said “work on a level surface.”  Well, one set of wheels was on the driveway.  The other slowly settling into the pile of grass clippings that will probably turn to topsoil in a year or two.  The big shop crane isn’t real fond of working in a peat bog, and threatened to capsize several times.  The floorjack under the keel was similarly prejudiced.  But, a combo of about five jacks and good ol’ Alice the tractor got’er slid back in no more than about 2 hours’ work.  I backed Alice in and blocked her wheels.  Then with a chain fall hooked up to the drawbar, we started a tug-a-war.  Remember that old playground game we used to play back in grade school?  “Lift, wobble, and skid?”  Well, we played that game for the longest time.  Until MK’s 3,000 pounds bested Alice’s 2,500, and the tractor had been winched over to the boat.  Don’t ask me why I did it this way.  Seemed like a good plan at the time.  So, the durn boat was still crooked on the trailer, and hung up on the foundations for the bunks.  And, that my friend, is because of that damn roller track under the keel.  Seems, it was going to need about an inch and a half of shimming to get things working out.  Yep.  And, a stack of washers or even bored-out metal plates stacked up won’t work.  Because you can’t pull that 6 x ½ inch carriage bolt out without the boat being someplace else.  I could have cut a slot in a stack of aluminum plate, if I had a working band saw.  And, enough scrap ¼” plate.

I told you this job is beginning to look like the last 68 years in Korea.  Back.  Forth.  Stalemate.  Try again.  Stalemate.

So, we now have another 1-1/2 inch shim in place.  This time, hardwood.  Harder to split.  Less likely to compress.  And then, with a whole lot of judicious use of jacks and cranes she finally slid forward to where (I think) she will need to stay for the balancing act these trailers do on the highway.

There were other “small unit skirmishes,” and even some pitched battles fought today.  And the best we can report from this particular foxhole is that there is still tomorrow.

We will likely try the same stuff, and earnestly hope for different results.  Clausewitz called it the “fog of war.”

Tom Dually 1.8


Scared.  To.  Death.

Oddly, for a guy who has always been scared of heights; the ab-so-lut-ley last thing I wanted to be doing this afternoon was heading to the bottom of a certain steep hill.  Looking back, it wasn’t such a big deal.  But, when I started down the hill leading to our launch ramp with Miss Kathleen just perched on the inner bunks on Tom Dually’s fore and aft frame members, I would not have been all that surprised to have her join me in the driver’s seat.  We were lashed with several mooring lines of substantial diameter.  But, I needed to launch again, to be able to invent the bow chocks.  Mostly, it was time to stop crawling under that cockamamie trailer and work from above.  And, that, of course, needed the boat to be someplace else.  I already tried that high wire act with the crane and chain falls.  No.  She needed to be back in the water.

And, the water happens to be at the bottom of a steep hill.  It was damn the torpedoes, press on regardless time.

I had spent the day shaping the runners that will carry much of the boat’s weight when carpeted and smoothed up a bit.  It’s a complex curve cut into red fir 2×6’s.

A moderately fair curve, but a variable slope.  And, the majority of it must be figured in a 5-foot tunnel under the boat and behind the wheels and generally a muzzable SOB to even see, much less actually measure.  Four 8-foot boards took about 2 hours apiece to shape and tack into place.  Everything will be bolted and secured, once I can get a half-inch drill in there to do the boring.

I couldn’t just mark the boards, and cut ‘em later.  This is what the boat was sitting on, to go down that steep hill to get to the water.  Like that old kid’s song, “I don’t know why, she swallowed the fly.”

The whole time, I was trying to remember why I didn’t follow Montana Jim’s advice.  It was actually my first idea of how to do this never-ending job.  Like he said, all I had to do was jack the bunks into place and mount ‘em on metal stanchions.  All-I-had-to-do.  Plenty strong, and a lot easier all around.  Well, that’s not what I did.

But, I did do lot of noodling on this.  And, there were seemingly good reasons for all of this.

It has to do with how a tapered, cambered, and roundie shape floats.  It also has to do with how all launch ramps are not created equally.  That, and how we trailer-haulers should “color inside the lines.”  Certainly, guys who get paid to do this sort of mental gymnastics already know how to do this stuff.  But, somehow, the Frankenwerke staff has decided that I should be able to figure this out, all on my own.  And, here we are.

I thought that rollers would push up into MK’s admittedly super-annuated hull with deleterious effect.  So, long and shaped-to-fit bunks were the Big Idea.  And, that’s not all bad, especially for a road warrior such as she.  Bouncing and jouncing over hill, dale, and metropolis.  But, one of the reasons the folks of the Roller School of Thought have been so pervasively successful is that rollers actually WORK.  Granted, most boats sit passively most of the time.  Most boats take relatively short trips, float for a while, and then return to their nests.  I’m dealing with a real road warrior, that gets launched sometimes several times in one day at several different locations.  We gotta’ be ready for just about anything.

Of course, Tom was specifically designed to work with ROLLERS.  Yep.  But, I figured I could make it work, anyway. So, that’s pretty much how I ended up creeping down that horrible hill hoping that the law of gravity had been modified, and the coefficient of friction doubled, just for my benefit.

And, yes.  I think it must have been.  Now, back into the shop for paint, and miscellaneous stuff that I haven’t thought up yet.  I’ll let you know how it goes from here.

Part 1.0Part 1.1 and 1.2 – Part 1.3 and 1.4 – Part 1.5 and 1.6 – Part 1.7 and 1.8


  1. just wondering… for this “how to shape the bunks” question – would it have been an option to take some largish plastic foil tube for each bunk, fill them with PU construction foam and place the boat on top of them, so that the expanding foam shapes them to fit the boat? Once the foam has hardened, you would have a perfect stencil to shape the final bunks after. Or is that rather a brainfart and I have forgotten something completely obvious why this would not work?

    • Hi Mario:

      It’s probably a curse of the hyper-creative (my wife says ADHD), to forget most of the details of a task once it’s crossed off the list. Re-reading these stories when they get published is an opportunity for me to revisit some of those dilemmae. Much of this project got to the “just-too-hard” point as a matter of scale. The boat is big and heavy, the trailer, big and heavy, and I began to wonder if I shouldn’t be acting my age (71). I’m certain, I took what ever path looked promising at the moment. I was also racing winter, and an even bigger project that I’m currently crawling out from under (the complete amputation and replacement of the boat’s superstructure.) At any event, all my moaning and groaning aside; I THINK THAT IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA. Wanna job on our Planning Department Staff? Except the pay is lousy, the hours are ridiculous. But, we do tell a lot of stories.

      In this case, there is about 50 lineal feet of bunk-to-boat contact. These bunks also vary from about 6 inches to nearly a foot wide. For the most part, I let the boat and trailer settle things among themselves. The shapes are at best approximate, and then I piled several layers of carpet on the bunks to compress and squish-to-fit. Over the course of the next season, I’ll likely add and subtract to some of that carpet-mass as the opportunity presents.

      I’m fascinated with your idea. Taking it a step further, how would you hold those tubes in place, when you set the boat down on them? Were you thinking that the hardened tubes would then become the bunks?

      I’m quite certain some of us consider my project off the end of the scale of a “normal” DW-style. I submitted this series, because the boat and trailer, etc., have served the general mission profile of a DW-style combo. We go just about anyplace, at the drop of a hat. I launch and recover single handedly. And, the vessel is quite comfortable as a home away, for weeks at a time.

      We’re also pretty big and quite heavy. So, any ideas on how to make-it-work are not only fun to consider, they are most appreciated.

      We’ll keep your chair, waiting for you at the table. For the morning meeting.



      • Hi Dan,
        thanks a lot for your Detail consideration. I love your reports in that they illustrate your building situation (at least in my head) rather vividly. Hence I can fully understand how the wood based bunk setup in Tom Dually comes into being… I might well have done the same in your Situation. Admittedly my PU foam idea is semi-academic. It does depend on finding an appropriate kind of plastic tube to start with (e.g. relatively sturdy HDPE). I would bed such a tube on a wood flat with side walls and use multiple zip ties to fix one can of 2-component PU foam to each tube. Then I would hang the boat above the trailer much like you did = with any and all kind of ratchet, belt and chain fall fixtures at hand. I would try to locate the boat in the correct position that it needs to take on the trailer, only “weightless”. Of course this implies that I know my boat’s CG and the trailer’s balance point beforehand. Once the boat hangs correctly, I would press each PU foam can’s release button until my tubes are largely inflated and the foamed-up tubes lie snugly against the hull. While the foam is not fully hardened, I could still wiggle the tubes into shape how I like them.
        Note that this can only work with two-component PU foam, which is self-hardening. Regular PU foams require humidity to harden, and hence will not work inside an airtight plastic tube.

  2. Mario.

    I showed your comment to the guys, at today’s staff meeting. Some wiseguy in the back row said, “This whole thing is like a re-run I saw on TV last night. After we knocked off, early. Some eccentric ol’ guy…can’t remember his name…wears a raincoat alluhtime…in LA, fergawdsakes…” The more I thought about it, this is what cropped up:

    “The audience already knows who dunnit.

    Rumpled, apparently hapless and forgetful, Columbo has to figure it out—in only one hour, minus commercial breaks. And. The solution to each and every dastardly crime will be, sooner or later, found in one of those raincoat pockets! Yeah. Columbo already HAS the answer to the riddle. It’s just not yet apparent to either him, or us. What a remarkable premise.

    It took me about a dozen frankenbots, and an enormous heap of sawdust, metal shavings, and pinched fingers to discover this particular figgeritowt.”

    Thanks, Mario. Maybe, the rest of that prologue will end up in one of these stories, one of these days. And, like I was saying. We’ll keep a chair for you.


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