Monday, 2 December 2013

Hi all.....

My new website is up and running but it will be a very slow process getting enough content there to make it interesting! This blob will remain and there is a link to this from the website.

Friday, 25 October 2013

October 25, 2013

Last Sunday I took the Chameleon out for it's final run of the season and this time I had it set up with two seats and drive units. No other mechanical changes were made. The boat performed quite well with two people and fortunately it was also choppier than I have seen previously. Got splashed a little but it handled better than expected and still had lots of reserve buoyancy. (the other rider also weighs 50-60 pounds less than I do...) The hulls certainly cut through waves easily and there seems to be little effect on boat speed. I never did manage to get a GPS out with me so the numbers next year will have to come from buoy to buoy measurements again just to compare.

I have a new lighter frame drawn up and most of the materials so it should be ready to test in early spring. I will post here when there is something to show.......

Also setting up a website so once I get it up and running I will place a link here.



Friday, 11 October 2013

Perfect day

On Sunday September  I set out at around 7:30 from Mahone Bay and headed towards Chester. Lots of islands, shoals, rocks, marker buoys and absolutely glassy smooth for almost two hours. This photo was taken around 1 pm on the lee side of Round Island but the windward side doesn't look much different since the wind never did come up. Not the usual scenario for this area. 
Prior to this trip I had moved the prop shaft support from it's previous location at the prop, to just below the trailing edge of the deck. It was hanging from a pieces of 1/16 ss wire ( which I keep meaning to put a teeeeeny fairing on ) and when I pedaled through weeds they would catch on the wire and get wound around the prop. The entire unit would become one and start winding the wire around the shaft and bring the prop up out of the water. The support was riding on a ss stub shaft that holds the prop but this time I just have a ss shell with plastic bushing running right on the aluminum shaft. The only time the shaft is supported is if I stop pedaling, the rest of the time the prop determines the dept of the shaft and the support wire is slack. Moving this forward has stopped the weed problem almost entirely!!!!! The last two outings have not required a single prop clearing event. In fact, only twice have I had to lift the prop and pedal backwards to flip them off.

The other change was to the steering. Still very wire and duct tape-ish but it shows that the system will work better than what I had before. 

One of the folks on the boat design forum viewed one of my videos and referred to the speed as pretty underwhelming.........hard to even pretend to be insulted by that since I feel the same way!! With the current gearing and a 16 x 8 or 10 prop I can keep about 4 to 4.5 knots for an hour but if I want to be out all day 3.5 is more realistic. Yup, not as fast as I would like or hoped for. But I went 40 kilometers on Sunday which is pretty good but I could barely stand up when I got back.......took me several days to recover!

About the only thing I can do now to increase my speed is to reduce weight. Off me and the boat. Now if I can just stop fueling with crap that would be about 15 pounds.....
The frame and drive systems are fairly good now so I will make a new frame without all the double joints and pins etc. Probably use 1.5" sch 40 aluminum pipe instead of the 2.5 square tube, use a lighter deck, and thinner wall cross bars. Once I am comfortable on the boat I can cut back on the tools and spares etc I carry. 

Before winter I want to get at least one hull so I can use it separately with a small set of floats and haywire a drive system to it. Just to see if there is any potential there for an interesting turn of speed.

And if I can figure out how to get another thread started here I will start to talk about my trimaran plans!! 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

June 2013

On Sunday June 23rd my friend Kevin and I took the Chameleon to Lake William for it's first trial since the gearbox failure of last summer. There have been a few changes since then.......

I had the original gearbox switched from 2:1 to 1:1 because I was concerned about reliability. Well this boat was designed to be used with one or two riders so when it came time to make up the drive train for the second rider I chose to buy two new gear boxes and went with 5/8 shafts and 1:1 ratio. I will use the other box for the single hull version. Each drive system is completely independent of the other and installed on a 2 x 2 tube with the gearbox on the inboard side of the tube. From there a 10 foot aluminum shaft goes back to an airplane prop with the only support being a 1/16 wire to a small steady bearing. (which could and will be smaller at some point) The wire is just to stop the shaft and prop dragging on the bottom when pedaling stops. It is also a way to lift the prop free of the water when not pedaling and to clear weeds, lobster pot lines etc. The shafts are both turning clockwise when viewed from the stern so that they tend to move in the same direction when getting on and off the power. The  props are also designed to turn in one direction only. Plus, the shafts are different lengths to reduce the chances of them hitting each other.
There is a spring loaded idler wheel on the chain which has a limiting bar so that the drive train can be pedalled in reverse. One prop is a 16 x 14 and the other is 16 x 12 right now.

The frame has been lengthened one foot and an extra set of anchor brackets has been added to both hulls. The two piece deck is cedar and is now only as wide as the frame without the extensions. I had grand plans about having enough deck space for a carnival, hot tub, and float plane but........things are heavy enough as it is!
I made two seats from aluminum tubing and covered them with red mesh. The blue is just temporary!!!

The rudders are raised and lowered by the levers on both sides of the deck and I can reach them both if I am using the boat on my own and sitting in the middle. The steering control uses wire in a plastic jacket and is set up so that it can be moved depending on the number of people pedaling. The left rudder is always connected and the right one is only to be hooked up for sailing or rough water.

So on Sunday morning the boat was fully assembled on the shore and carried to the water, clearly this thing has been eating well over the winter because it is a LOT heavier than the ideal...........Anyway, we paddled away from shore and dropped the props in while the boat was drifting, I started to pedal and it felt like the boat felt like something was dragging on the bottom......I looked back and realized the prop was turning the wrong way and we were in reverse!!! At some point I got the gearboxes on the wrong side doh!! An easy switch and off we went again, this time it worked well. It was quickly evident that we were going to have to come up with a way to increase the rpm of the prop because the boat was certainly not at full speed when we were pedaling as fast as possible. But everything worked okay and the props did not hit even during hard turns.

Things needing attention,

I have made two 90 tooth props to replace the 52s on there now. Much cheaper than replacing gearboxes etc. Also made two fixtures to go in the ends of the frame extensions with 12 inch wheels on them so the whole boat will be easier to manage, plus I can move it myself.

The method of raising and lowering the rudder works well but the steering is unsatisfactory. Too many lines and shackles etc and the steering effort is too high. I can do things to make it a bit more efficient but I am thinking about doing it using hydraulics. Single action cylinders could be built quite easily, double acting are more work but certainly possible. Plastic cylinders, stainless rods, plastic lines.....More complication but a fun little side project....
At  some point the seat mounting brackets will have to be made easier to adjust but will do for now.

Tomorrow I will get at least one mega sprocket installed ( don't have another crank with the appropriate offset at the moment ) and now I am just waiting for a break in the rain to try it again!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Going to be a quiet winter for the boat. I am bulding two seats from aluminum tubing and open mesh. The frames are complete and painted, the covers are cut and sewn, now I just need to make one more fibreglass seat platform and I can put them together. I'm going to make a few changes to the frame as well to streamline things a bit.
I had the whole boat assembled in the driveway and was running control lines through plastic housing to main control centre between the seats (or beside the seat if I am going solo). I made blocks to attach to the deck that were the correct size for the tubing, and I used tie wraps on either side of the block to stop the tube from sliding under load. This worked when things were dry but slipped when they got wet.  Steering was easy and moved smoothly but the force required to raise and lower the rudder was much higher than I expected. About this time I decided to pull the plug for the year........Get back at it in March I guess!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

There has been a pause in the testing of the new cat because of a gearbox failure. I am happy to report that the box was returned Friday and the ratio has been changed from 1:2 to 1:1. This gearing is less desirable but should be much more robust. The diameter of the output shaft is only about 7 mm and I think that while this is may be fine for a lighter craft with less drag, it isn't enough for this application. They were great to deal with and I may buy another drive from them shortly.
In the mean time I added some graphics to the hulls and changed the mounting methods for the drive line tubes, built a couple cedar decks to cover both single user and double user configurations.
I am going to be away for a few weeks so nothing will happen on this front for a while. First results were very encouraging so I am looking forward to the evolution of this craft!


Monday, 13 August 2012

Some not-so-good quality video

The on-board videos was taken with 430 pounds of man and spruce and I really don't know what the speed was. We were not trying to go fast but just keep up a decent speed. Cadence was well below ideal.