Mouse Boat One — Details

This last summer, while picnicking (and sailing) at Lake Cleveland we met a really nice family that let my children paddle some of their Lifetime “Wave Junior” kayaks. The kids had so much fun with these boats that I realized that I had to build one. Not only would this give the opportunity for the kids to captain their own vessels, but it would bolster support for more family outings to the lake. However, these plastic kayaks, cost upwards of $100 and they only hold one child apiece. With 5 children (and one on the way) getting Wave Juniors for everyone that was interested was going to cost way more than KaeLynn lets me spend on boating.

Besides, I sort of like building boats.

I ran across the mouse boat (and Gavin Atkin) when I was trying to decide which sail boat to build. If I would have been looking for something to paddle, the mouse boat would have been at the top of the list. Well, now I was looking for something that I could paddle.  The mouse boat looked easy and inexpensive to build, and stable to paddle.  Add to that the fact that Shorty Routh (of Puddle Duck fame) also has a mouse boat variant (The Flats Rat), and I was sold.

The question then became, could I build a mouse boat inexpensively enough so that it fit my budget. A bit of back-of-the-envelope calculation and it seemed that I could build a nice mouse boat for less than the cost of a Wave Junior–if I didn’t value my time very highly.  However, I am a Scout Master who is always looking for inexpensive and fun things for boys (and me) to do.  So I didn’t really have to worry about labor costs.  I am actively looking for these sorts of projects.  If I could drive the price of the materials for the mouse boats down low enough there was a chance that I could build boats with both my Scouts, and with my children.  It seemed doable, and so I decided to do some more exhaustive research.

With the pdracer I purchased Jim Michalak’s book after I had already started, and then learned that I had made quite a few rookie mistakes. Plus I learned that I had spent quite a bit of time and energy designing hatches for my floatation chambers only to find that he had plans for better hatches, that were much easier to build, in his book.  I decided to be smarter this time so I purchased Ultrasimple Boat Building before I purchased any materials.  I highly recommend the book.  It is a worthy addition to any boat builder’s library, and it is chuck full of plans for interesting boats.  There is no question in my mind that my mouse boat is a much better boat because of Mr. Atkin’s many insights.

In some ways, however, the book was a little discouraging. Mr. Atkin warns against using many of the materials that I had already decided I was going to use. Titebond II, for instance, is much less expensive and much less toxic than the other likely alternatives. Since I was going to be building this with my little girls, and since the goal was to make a small fleet of these boats both of these considerations were pretty important. I had also decided to use inexpensive RevolutionPly 5mm underlayment plywood, and drywall tape to tie everything together. I used both in my pdracer and it still looks fine after a year of hard use and being stored outside.

I decided to press ahead with my material choices.  It will be interesting to see how long I can make a boat like this last.  The fact of the matter is that I have friends that have spent nearly as much time and energy on boats made of cardboard (for Scout competitions).  If the boat fails spectacularly I will make sure to blog about it.  Otherwise, the fact that I am cost and toxicity sensitive made the choice for me.

This gave me a ridiculously inexpensive shopping list:

  1. 2 sheets of plywood (half a sheet would be left over) $13 a sheet at Lowes.
  2. One roll of Extra Stength Fibatape (250 ft) $11.
  3. One Gallon Titebond II $18.
  4. One Gallon white semi-gloss exterior latex paint $22.
  5. One 12 foot 2×6 that I ripped into 11/16 strips $8. This provided enough strips for the chine logs and spars (when laminated togeter) for my pdracer, plus gunnels for the mouse boats.

It should be noted that this is enough paint and glue for at least two mouse boats, and 3 sheets of plywood would also serve for two mouse boats as well. So adding that up that’s under $110 for two mouse boats. That I can swing.

Here's the sheet of plywood that will become the hull cut into the various panels.
Here’s the sheet of plywood that will become the hull cut into the various panels.
Here's my buddy Karl helping me tape the boat together with duct tape.
Here’s my buddy Karl helping me tape the boat together with duct tape. We are almost 3D already. This seems pretty easy.
Here's Abigail helping me tape the panels together with Extra Strength Fibatape and Titebond II.  If I were using epoxy she would not be able to help.
Here’s Abigail helping me tape the panels together with Extra Strength Fibatape and Titebond II. If I were using epoxy she would not be able to help.
Closeup of seam work.  This might actually float.
Closeup of seam work. This might actually float.
Inner seams all taped.
Inner seams all taped. Here’s a peek at my fancy tools as well.

It was exciting to go from a pile of wood to a 3D boat in a few hours. Especially considering the fact that this boat wouldn’t have any of the fiddly bits that take so much time to make when you are building a sailboat. With the mouse boat once the hull is done, that’s all there is too it.

Well, not quite. I also had to make a paddle, but that’s definitely going to be another. This post is out of control.

By Wednesday September 8, I had taped in the bulkheads and taped up the outside seams.  Mr. Atkin’s book suggests that we put the bulkheads in first, but this technique worked very well.

Taping in the bulkheads.  This made the boat a lot stiffer.
Taping in the bulkheads. This made the boat a lot stiffer.
Bulkheads all taped in.  This is really starting to look like a boat.
Bulkheads all taped in. This is really starting to look like a boat.
I don't really have any good pictures of the chines being taped up, but here's Eliza showing off our work on the center seam.
I don’t really have any good pictures of the chines being taped up, but here’s Eliza showing off our work on the center seam.

I then took a most of a week off from the boat to build a rabbit hutch.  That was a bit discouraging, because I knew I was running out of good weather.  However, Eliza has been asking for a rabbit since before she could talk (really), and we came across a great deal on a Norwegian dwarf.  We bought the rabbit before we had an appropriate place to put it, and when I went to price out pre-made rabbit hutches I was shocked.

Still by September 13, I had gunnels on the boat.

The boat is now stiff enough that I sort of want to see if it is actually going to float.
The boat is now stiff enough that I sort of want to see if it is actually going to float.

And on September 15, we tried the boat (unpainted and without decks) on Utah Lake.  It worked spectacularly.

Holy smokes, it floats, and it doesn't even leak.  I was mostly interested in sailing my pdracer, but the girls had a blast in the mouse boat.
Holy smokes, it floats, and it doesn’t even leak. I was mostly interested in sailing my pdracer, but the girls had a blast in the mouse boat.

However, the test float did point out a few issues.  First was that I really needed a double ended paddle and a skeg for the boat.  I originally planned on building the mouse boat without a skeg, and the float test showed that the boat tracked well enough for me even with a single bladed paddle.  However, for the girls it quickly became clear that a double bladed paddle and a skeg were going to be requirements.

So I put off mouse boat building for a while to think about how I wanted to do that, as I didn’t really like the non-epoxy solution in Mr. Atkin’s book.  In fact, I didn’t think that a single ply of the plywood I was using was likely to work no matter what sort of adhesive I used.  Plus, I needed a paddle anyway.  I thought I would try my hand at building one of those.

So instead of mouse building I built a paddle, refit the gunter on my pdracer, and added a topping lift and seat to the pdracer.  Add in a trip to Disneyland and a pair of major holidays and it wasn’t until January 6, that I got back to the mouse boat.

Eliza showing off the new skeg.  From this angle it even looks straight.
Eliza showing off the new skeg. From this angle it even looks straight.

Even though I was back working on the mouse boat I still had lots of projects for the pdracer that I wanted to finish.  I built oars, and a new cart for dragging the pdracer down to the lake.

Plus, I apparently didn’t take pictures of me working on the decks and painting the interior of the floatation chambers.  So it wasn’t until February 13 that I finally glued on the decks.

Rear deck being installed.  Note the mixture of clamps and lathe screws.  Classy!
Rear deck being installed. Note the mixture of clamps and lathe screws. Classy!

There are some major pieces that I am leaving out.  Putting on the seat supports, for example.  Covering the gunnels with drywall tape took most of a Saturday (I am not sure I am going to do that again).  I did learn–near the end of course–That taping the drywall tape down with masking tape if it lifts once the glue is added works quite well.  I might do a separate article on the seat, as that turned out well, and I have good pictures of it.  If you are reading this and would like a detailed account of how I built the seat (or anything else really) please feel free to get a hold of me at jearl AT notengoamigos.org.  Or just leave a comment.

For a detailed account of the final bit of painting read this article here.

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Eliza posing with the new mouse boat.

Serial Boat Builder

This Saturday the girls and I finished our second boat.  The tentative name is
“Lizer Pizer,” but Eliza doesn’t get to officially name her boat until I have built one for Abigail as well (I am going to vote for Fabbylosa for that one).

I touched up the white paint on Nephi's Courage while I was painting the new mouse boat.  I also took the opportunity to take a picture of both boats together.
I touched up the white paint on my pdracer “Nephi’s Courage” while I was painting the new mouse boat. I also took the opportunity to take a picture of both boats together.

My records show that I started this boat on September 6, 2014, and I did a much better job of documenting the build with pictures than I did with my pdracer.  I have already started another article with the details.  Today I just want to talk about the fun that we had on Saturday painting the boat and finishing it.

Before we actually started painting the girls all wanted to get a picture sitting in the boat.

Eliza, ready for adventure.
Eliza, ready for adventure.  Notice the can of glitter.  That will play an important role soon.
Abigail can hardly contain her enthusiasm.
Abigail can hardly contain her enthusiasm.
I haven't had the heart to tell Stella she can't go in the boat by herself yet.
I haven’t had the heart to tell Stella she can’t go in the boat by herself yet.

We started painting outside, but it quickly turned cold and windy.

I am not sure I have ever seen all three of these girls actually working at the same time.  Small boats are a huge miracle.
I am not sure I have ever seen all three of these girls actually working at the same time. Small boats are a huge miracle.
The older girls wore my clothing so that they wouldn't get paint on their clothes.  Apparently Abigail can pretend my shorts are a skirt if she only uses one leg hole.
The older girls wore my clothing so that they wouldn’t get paint on their clothes. Apparently Abigail can pretend my shorts are a skirt if she only uses one leg hole.  Eliza is wearing my shorts as well, but I am pretty sure that shirt is hers.
My shorts are pretty big on Abby.
My shorts are pretty big on Abby.

When I told the girls that all of the boats were going to be white (I didn’t want to have to purchase small quantities of various different paint colors), they were disappointed.  Eliza asked if she could apply some glitter to the first boat.  My initial reaction was “no.”  I am probably going to use this boat sometimes, and it is likely that my scouts will as well.  I didn’t want a glittery boat for the same reason that I didn’t want a pink boat with unicorns on it.

However, she persisted, and it occurred to me that perhaps glitter would be useful as a sort of low cost non-skid surface.  So we applied some glitter to the cockpit.  I didn’t include the glitter in the price list because we always have glitter at our house.  Pictures just do not do this justice.  The glitter is very sparkly.

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My eyes!
Abby and Eliza sparkling next to the new applied glitter.
Abby and Eliza sparkling next to the new applied glitter.
The new boat, the next day, out in the sun.
The new boat, the next day, out in the sun.

I am ridiculously pleased about this boat.  I think that it turned out extremely well, especially considering the materials that I used.  I am expecting to have a lot of fun with this boat this summer.

Michalak Oars

I had always planned on a set of oars for Nephi’s Courage.  I drew oar locks into the plans, and I purchased an inexpensive set of nylon oarlocks from Duckworks when I made my big order from them, and I even installed the oar locks when I built the boat.  It turned out to be a good thing too.  When I first launched the boat I didn’t have the clam cleats yet for the jib (I forgot them in my order to Duckworks), and so I used the oar locks as a fairlead for the jib as they are mounted in approximately the right place.

What I did not do was actually purchase oars.  My alternative power source all of last season was a tiny orange collapsible paddle that my neighbors gave me (thanks Karl).  Several times last year I was becalmed enough that I actually had to use that paddle.  I would lean against one of the air boxes and paddle one handed, while trying to steer the boat with my foot.  This also provided part of the motivation for a “tiller tamer” mechanism that could lock the tiller in place, but I hope to write about that later.

Perhaps the worst part about not having oars was that it required me to get wet up to the waist every time I launched.  Nephi’s Courage doesn’t require very much water to float, but the prevailing wind where I launch requires that I launch right into the wind.  Since I can not really make headway until the leeboard gets down a foot and a half, or so, I ended up having to pull my boat out quite a ways from the beach before climbing into the boat.  I tried using the paddle but without a lanyard to hold up the rudder blade, or at least a workable way to keep the tiller straight, these attempts just made me look ridiculous.

I may be a fat guy, in a tiny, obviously homemade (read ugly) wooden boat, but flailing around ineffectively with a orange plastic toy paddle in a few inches of water is too much for even me.

And no, I don’t have any pictures of my attempts.  I didn’t have any free hands for filming.

Anyhow, oars have been on my wish list since I first started dreaming about the boat, and they were definitely something that I wanted before boating season rolled around again.  Unfortunately, buying oars was out of the question.  My wife is willing to put up with my pdracer fixation as long as it doesn’t cost actual money.  I was able to find 6 foot boat oars for as little as $30 apiece, but $60 was just outside of my mad money price range.  Besides, I own a copies of both Boatbuilding for Beginners (and Beyond) and Ultrasimple Boat Building and both of these books have plans for the exact same set of oars.

That definitely seemed like a sign to me.  The fact that the pine boards that I needed to build these oars cost less than $6 sealed the deal.  I picked up a pair of 8 foot boards at Lowes, and headed for home.

It then took me a couple to get around to actually starting on the oars.  In that time the boards warped.  That made making them even more fun.  I was pretty sure that I could still get something useful out of the boards.

Oar cut out.
It only took a few minutes to mark out the lines, and then it was time to cut them out. I used my cruddy old jig saw. It doesn’t cut very straight.  I think that those are actually the off cuts from the other oar, which is why they don’t appear to match.  Hopefully you get the idea.
Here's an oar glued up.  I used the center from one board with the off cuts from the other.
Here’s an oar glued up. I used the center from one board with the off cuts from the other.
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Here’s the loom and handle on the same oar. Notice how there is just enough material.
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The idea was to take out the uneven bits when shaping the oar.
Both oars all glued up and ready for shaping.
Both oars all glued up and ready for shaping.

Once the oars were glued up the real work began.  I don’t have any fancy wood working tools.  I have a block plane I purchased from Harbor  Freight, a rasp that I picked up from Lowe’s, and an Old Hickory butcher knife that takes a great edge.  That, along with a spar gauge that I made out of a piece of wood and a pair of sheetrock screws are all of the tools that I used to shape the oars.

I use the butcher knife to carve out the handles.
I use the butcher knife to carve out the handles.
Here's a picture of my fancy spar guage.  The measurements are available on Jim Michalak's website, and nothing could be easier to make.
Here’s a picture of my fancy spar guage. The measurements are available on Jim Michalak’s website, and nothing could be easier to make.

Despite my primitive tools carving the oars to the basic shape was actually pretty easy.  I am surprised, for example how quickly the block plane turned the shaft of the oars into a cylinder (well, I left a bit of oval shape to the cross section on purpose).

Eliza and Abby volunteered to be "boat models" and show off the nearly finished product.
Eliza and Abby volunteered to be “boat models” and show off the nearly finished product.

Once I got the oars shaped, and made sure that they fit the oarlocks I had ordered, I needed to decide how I was going to finish them.  Both Michalak and Atkin advise wrapping 8 inches just below the square part of the loom with synthetic twine and then varnishing everything (including the twine).  I am not interested in varnish.  Paint is cheaper, and it covers the ugly better.  I don’t have the patience to build beautiful things, when useful ones will suffice.

I painted the oars with white exterior latex paint and then seized part of the loom with nylon bank line.  After that I decided to paint the bank line with Titebond II.  You can see the glue still drying on the top oar.
I painted the oars with white exterior latex paint and then seized part of the loom with nylon bank line. After that I decided to paint the bank line with Titebond II. You can see the glue still drying on the top oar.

 

This is precisely the sort of flaw that would not have looked good covered with varnish.
This is precisely the sort of flaw that would not have looked good covered with varnish.
Stella wanted a chance to be a boat model as well.  Here she is with the finished oars.  From there they look pretty good.
Stella wanted a chance to be a boat model as well. Here she is with the finished oars. From there they look pretty good.

Puddle Duck Refit — Rudder

I built my puddle duck racer with a Michalak-style kick up rudder, and I still think that was a pretty good choice.  However, the place where I typically launch is shallow for a good distance, and I did not take the time to install a lanyard that would allow me to pull the rudder blade up manually.  So my rudder dragged the bottom a lot.  I didn’t care last summer, because sailing is more fun than fixing rudders.  I hoped that I could make the rudder last the season, and with a bit of emergency repair it just made it.  I definitely needed to fix the rudder before I could take the boat sailing again though.

This is a piece of the leading edge of my rudder.  As you can see, it is no longer plywood.
This is a piece of the leading edge of my rudder. As you can see, it is no longer plywood.

I have come up with a two pronged approach to fixing this issue.  The first is to cut out the delaminated parts at the front of the rudder and replace it with a solid piece I cut from an old oak floorboard we ripped out of our kitchen.

De-laminated piece cut away, New oak rudder toe installed.
De-laminated piece cut away, New oak rudder toe installed. If you look carefully you can see the recessed area where I poured in the molten lead. I decided to do a better job fairing that up as well.
All taped up and faired (good enough for me anyway).  It is ready for painting.
All taped up and faired (good enough for me anyway). It is ready for painting.

The second prong was to fit the rudder with a lanyard that would allow me to pull it up.  My first attempt at this is clearly not ideal.  I can not just pull on the lanyard and have the blade come up.  Part of that is due to the very poor angles involved, and part of that is almost certainly due to the fact that the blade is very heavy.  I bought a lot of lead, and I was quite sure that I didn’t want a blade that was too light.  So I over did it when I weighted the blade.  However, the lanyard will hold the blade up once it is up and has been cleated, and if I pull on the line near the blade I can pull it up (even when it is not in the water).  That’s probably good enough.  Hopefully it works when I get it in the water.  At the very least I  can launch the boat with the rudder up.  That’s definitely going to be a win.

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Here’s the new rudder blade lanyard in the “up” position. You’ll notice that the angles are not good for actually using the lanyard to pull the blade up.

New Sail Boat Cart

The weather here in Provo has been beautiful.  In fact, it has been so beautiful that I am starting to believe that maybe I will be able to get out on the water sooner rather than later.  With that in mind I decided that instead of painting the mouse boat today (more on that in another article), I would build a new boat cart.

My last cart barely lasted the season.  I designed it around car topping it on my wife’s Kia Sedona, and  the wheels I chose were way too small.

This wasn't much of a cart, but it worked for a year.
This wasn’t much of a cart, but it worked for a year.

Like always the solution had to be inexpensive.  It also had to be able to be made with a minimal amount of tools and skill.  This is what I came up with.

Here's the new cart.  Sweet and simple.
Here’s the new cart. Sweet and simple.

Basically, I just cut a 2×4 down to size and put wheels on the ends.  Then I simply lashed the board to the boat with one of the racheting tie downs from Harbor Freight.  The boat already has handles.  I just use those.

Close up of one of the wheels.
Close up of one of the wheels.

When I first started designing this cart I started by looking for an axle that reached all the way across the boat.  It quickly became apparent that a full axle was going to cost more than I wanted to spend.  So instead this is what I built.

Bottom View of my cart.
Bottom View of my cart. Yeah, the wheels are a bit crooked. Apparently I put it on that way.

Lowes had galvanized 1/2″ x 10″ anchors for $0.97 (I needed 2). and the pipe anchors were $0.63 for four (I used 6).  I already had the PEX pipe (I used it for the handles on the boat and some other stuff), 8 feet of PEX pipe cost me about a dollar.  I got the wheels from Harbor Freight.  They cost $4.99 each.

I dragged the cart around my neighborhood.  My neighbors are used to my oddities.  The board didn’t slip even when I flipped the boat on its side (yes, I put it on a little crooked and it stayed that way).  Once I verified that the cart was actually going to work I enlisted the help of some “boat models” to help show it off.

The girls make the boat look good.
The girls make the boat look good.

My old cart only worked with the boat upside down.  The new cart can be used either upside down or right side up.  Right side up it also doubles as a wheel barrow.  This is a big deal as I have to drag all of my boat stuff about a quarter of a mile to the place I normally launch.

This is going to save me several trips.
This is going to save me several trips.
Detail of the underside of one of the wheels.
Detail of the underside of one of the wheels.

Nephi’s Courage

In October of 2013 I started building an 8 foot sail boat.  Or, at least that was when I made the first cut in the wood that I purchased.  I had decided to build a boat after spending some time looking at the prices of new sail boats.  I now think that if I had been more patient in looking at the used sail boat market that I probably could have found an old sunfish (or something similar) that just needed some love, but now I am glad that I wasn’t more patient, because building a boat was awesome.

The boat I decided to build was a Puddle Duck Racer.  This is an 8-foot, home-brew, racing class designed around the idea that everyone has to have the roughly the same size hull, but that the rest of the rigging can be up to the builder.  In case you missed the earlier link you should just Click Here and see what these crazy people have done.

The Puddle Duck looked like a great way to get out on the water inexpensively. What’s more, it looked very easy to build. The boat is basically a sandbox with a polytarp sail. So I downloaded some free plans, learned how to use a CAD program, and began drawing up the plans for my very own Puddle Duck.

Even though the pdracer is a relatively easy boat to build, it is still a sail boat, with tons of fiddly sail boat bits that all have to work together or the boat won’t sail. Plus, none of the free plans had exactly the kind of rig that I wanted to build, so I spent quite a bit of time researching and designing my own boat. In fact, I even changed the rig after a trip to California, and a few hours spent with Zachary in a “real” sail boat.

So the build took me considerably longer than I had originally expected. However, Nephi’s Courage was launched at the Earl Family reunion July 25th, 2014 at Bear Lake (on the Idaho and Utah border). Fortunately, most everything worked very well right out of the gate. I was a little concerned that I was going to spend the entire reunion tinkering with my boat trying to get it to sail. Instead I spent several days giving rides to all of the kids. It was amazing. There were a few things that could be improved, but for the most part things worked spectacularly.

Which is good, because I was really concerned that boat was going to fail dramatically in front of my entire family.

Launch of Nephi's Courage
Zachary and I getting ready for the maiden voyage.
Nephi's Courage Full Sail
Jason And Zachary sailing Nephi’s Courage on Bear Lake

This article is mostly an introduction of sorts. I have a whole pile of articles that I want to write about making the mast, leeboard and rudder, and the rigging in general. I have separate articles planned for re-doing the gunter jaws, adding a topping lift (such cool names, right), and building my own oars. Not to mention the fact that I have planned articles on the fleet of smaller boats that I have started to build so that my children will have boats of their own. In fact, the first of these boats just needs to be painted. It seemed like the easiest way to entice my family into boating with me was to make sure that everyone could be their own captain. More on that later.

It didn’t seem right to just jump into these articles without a little backstory, so here it is. A formal introduction to my Puddle Duck Racer, Nephi’s Courage.

Winter Camp: January 2015

I just got back from winter camp, and it was cold.  On the bright side nobody died.

Leaving for Camp outf
Here we are ready to leave

We had quite an adventure just getting to the campsite.  The tarp blew off the trailer, and I spent the entire trip worried about the trailer I was pulling.  The trailer is so wide that I couldn’t see past it with my mirrors.

I need to get my much smaller trailer set up so that I can pull it instead.

Dinner went well.  I fixed milk can dinner.  It was delicious.

It then started to snow.  I didn’t get many pictures, but I did get this one picture of where I slept.

Here's where I slept.  Well, at least until I gave my sleeping gear away.
Here’s where I slept. Well, at least until I gave my sleeping gear away.

Later that night the wind started to blow.  One of the tents blew away (it was later recovered), as did a sleeping mat (not recovered).  Most of the tents blew over flat.  My tarps actually did ok, but I wasn’t in them.  One of the boys got really cold and I was attending to him.

The next day most of the boys went sledding.

Boys trudging towards the sledding hill.
Boys trudging towards the sledding hill.

The drive back was also nerve wracking.  We were so tired when cleaning up camp that we just threw everything in the back of the trailer.  We tried using the tarp, but it was just broken.  Fortunately nothing flew out.

Preparing for Winter Campout

I’ve got the big van ready to take scouts camping.

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To give you an idea as to the size of the van and the scout trailer the scout in the picture is 6 foot 3 inches tall.  There is no way that I am even going to think about backing this rig up.  It only goes forward.

Jason’s Monster Van

Grand Tour

This sticker is my absolute favorite thing about the new van.

dscn0625Here it is close up so that you can read it.

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Once I put a rack on top we are going to need 8 feet of clearance with an empty rack, and 12 feet of clearance when fully loaded.

My Civic is so afraid of the new van that it is hiding.

This is what the driver seat looks like from the front passenger’s seat. Perfectly respectable. The van is clean enough that I think that even KaeLynn will approve.

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Here are a few shots of the 12V (with AC adaptor) cooler/heater that comes with the van and that fits between the front seats. I am totally going to be able to live in this thing.

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Here’s a picture of the crew quarters. Those seats go on forever. We are going to need a stewardess. The seats all look amazing. The ceiling sags a bit though. I am trying to decide whether I believe that is on purpose or not. When they put in all of the lights and air vents (each seat has a light and air vent just like on a commercial passenger jet) I think that they may have just left too much slack. Either way, it’s plenty clean.

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Mats like these go everywhere. Taking a picture of all of them would be too much work. You probably get the idea with these two pictures.

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The front is a little rough. There’s no denying that this van and I have a lot in common. With are both big and ugly. She’s bigger, I’m uglier.

On the bright side, I imagine that when people see that grill bearing down on them they are likely to get out of the way. I could run over my Civic without even noticing, and it probably wouldn’t even make the paint look any worse.

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It is impossible to get a feel for how big this vehicle is without seeing it in person. It is ridiculously imposing. I tried to give you a sense of how large the van is with this shot. I am actually in the picture, to help give it some perspective. Unfortunately, I am too small to be easily seen. I am the dark spot right under the driver side door.

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I Have a Journal

For the last 16 years or so I have kept a journal.  It’s a beautiful document.  I used LaTeX so the layout is beautiful, it has an index, table of contents, footnotes, list of figures, the whole shebang.  I’ve migrated it from one difference version control system to the next over the years, and so I have every edit ever made, and a sanitized branch for sharing with other people.  I have reused entries from it numerous times, and I often refer back to it when my wife and I have a disagreement about how something happened in the past (she’s generally right, but I get points for being able to provide the proof).  Plus, I can write, update, and build my journal using the same tools (and techniques) that I use when building software.  I would bet that your journal doesn’t have a Makefile, for example, and Emacs makes writing LaTeX sort of fun.

Still, when it comes to sharing your journal with someone else paper doesn’t really cut it any more.

Since I currently work as a Systems Administrator for BlueHost.com I thought I would try out WordPress.  It seemed the thing to do.  I might very well switch to something more Emacs-friendly in the future, but I have no idea what that would be.