Monday, June 29, 2009

A great effort (quick update)

Well, I'm a little late with the news, but for those of you following that don't know. We took 9th in the nation with the PakYak.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Awards ceremony

Hey, for all those who are interested In watching the awards ceremony for SkillsUSA in the chance that our team and the pakyak might place , the link is here: and it will be broadcast at 5:00 CST. Thank you and wish us luck!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kansas City

Today was the first day that we had any sort of competition related meetings. We set up the booth and got to see the other competitions. From the looks of it, it will all come down to the presentation, but I think we have a really good shot at this.
Tomorrow theres a competition for engineering technology that will not count for or against our projects (they're still trying to get this relatively new competition group ironed out) and from the sound of it it will be a problem solving completion. We will have to solve a problem with the tools provided and otherwise show our stuff. I think that will go well. I want to go through our presentation again though, just to get it down.
I'll keep you updated, competition is on Thursday.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Great news

I have finished (mostly) the newest of the five frames yesterday (makes two completed) and I gave it a try on the latest skin the Shelly at Aker Shorter made and it works! The skin and frames are a close enough fit to be interchangeable, this will make Shelly happy.
Anyway, I just thought I'd give the momentous news there before making my way off to Kansas city today. Wish me luck, and some aid wrapping up some things I still have to do.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Less than a Week

There is less than a week to go till Kansas city and I still have to get a few more things done, most of it minor though, namely:
Shelly over at Aker Shorter is still working on the newest skin and I still have to put a little more structure into our presentation, not to mention we have to rehearse it.
Later this week I'll post some pictures here of this last week, which was the first week of my summer vacation. I spent last week working on the other 4 frames and got really far on one of them, it might even go to Kansas with us as part of the display. As far as that frame goes its only the center brace and the gunwales that need to be completed.

Also I plan on posting pictures in the gallery of the SkillsUSA national competition, there will be over 17,000 competitors there in various competitions, that should make some things interesting to say the least. (e.g. finding a place to eat) I'm going to focus one what all I think is neat there, other groups displays and such.
I'll talk to you later next week, stay tuned for competition updates as we get closer to game time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

One Month, still alive... For now x.x'

I've still been working here, I just haven't been as diligent in updating or documenting the progress as the end of the school year winds down. w00t! one week!
*cough* anyway, I forget what I last mentioned, so heres a recap: The new frame has all but the gunwales, gunwale straps, wood seal, and tailored skin finished; The new frame is currently in the shop (Aker Shorter Upholstery) getting it's new skin; and finally I have started and finished a new banner for the National trip in June, its pictured bellow so take a look and tell me what you think.
For the National competition we will be taking the new banner, yet to be printed, both PakYak sets, and possibly equipment for a powerpoint or keynote presentation.
I do plan on getting the straps, new skin, and gunwales for the new frame all ready before nationals, we'll just have to see about the wood sealing. *crosses fingers*
Overall I'm very pleased with how this frame has turned out, there are a few rough spots, but nothing that can't be taken care of with a little TLC.
I've also uploaded a few new pics detailing a concept backpack design for the new frames, so be sure and check that out as well.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Long day, Much accomplished.

I might have mentioned this earlier, if not then oh well, but I'm not planning on having a regular meeting time for my team and I to work on various aspects of our project. Every Tuesday and Thursday.
Lately I've been feeling a bit of the pressure, a lot of things going on for me right now, but most importantly I have to get a new frame turned out so that the rest of the skins can be made. I want to make sure that the one I have for this frame, for whatever reason befits human error, fits on a new frame before giving the green light to make more. So because of this I spent after school today cutting two full sets of aluminum pieces out for frames and getting each of the pieces to the point where each only need to be drilled and countersunk. When all of this is ready by tomorrow evening I'll be able to do the drilling over the weekend and, hopefully, have two frames ready to assemble. (Hopefully because thats hedging the possibility that I'll make a stupid mistake, hence two sets of pieces)
I also cut templates out of card stock today so that I can use a metal punch to quickly mark where each hole is to be drilled.
All and all I feel as if I've accomplished much and that getting two frames ready to assemble by monday evening is now a much more doable goal. (Wasn't so sure about it this morning.)
Sorry, I don't have any more pictures for you yet, though I'll be sure to get some for the next post. Promis

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Catch Up

Okay, alot has happened since we last met. First off our SkillsUSA team competed in the Indiana state competition and took first place! We're going on the nationals in Kansas city now. W00t!
Also to be said, a week or two ago we worked a little on the wooden parts again, rounding corners and finishing up drilling the necessary holes. Nothign real exciting, but I posted a few pictures of us doing that, in the gallery, regardless.
Both the foam and the aluminum has arrived now, a while ago actually, and the newest skin has been put through a pool test. The gunwhales still need to be attached to the skin, but the difference is still night and day between the new skin and the old one. I'll have a short video of the new skin in action up in the gallery as well.
Some of our goals for the immediate future include: mount the gunwhales, seal the wood, countersink-sand-seal the new wooden pieces, start and finish the metal pieces for the new frames, and turn out at least one new frame. (Hopefully within the fortnight.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Quick Update

Sorry, I don't have any new pictures for you, we're getting ready for our competition on the 17th and 18th of April. Last week we were able to finish drilling the rest of the wooden pieces and round off all the necessary corners. Really all thats left to do with the wooden pieces now is to countersink, finish sand, and treat them. Also late last week I ordered the foam and aluminum stock necessary, both of which should be arriving early next week some time.
Its spring break for me and my team right now so we're hoping to get a bunch done on the presentation side of things. Some of those things include creating a new poster board for the State level competition and deciding on what we want to bring to present, aside from the PakYak itself. Thats it for now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Continuing as a SkillsUSA Project

I've diverted a little from my original intentions for this bog in that it will no longer cover news solely pertaining to my own personal PakYak, but will now encompass the SkillsUSA Engineering Design team for Terre Haute South and it's endeavors as we go throughout the process of producing five more PakYaks. There will be an opportunity down the road to purchase four of these boats if anyone is interested, from the way things are shaping up right now they're going to be a lot nicer(cleaner) looking that my original. Just incase I've got anyone's ears perked, we will more than likely be asking somewhere in the one thousand dollar range for one boat.

Now on with the news. On Monday got a call form Aker-Shorter, the upholstery business that is going to be sewing the skins, and I received some good news that she had a working mock up ready to test on my existing frame. Bellow is one of the pictures, there are more in the gallery.
From PakYak
As you may be able to tell, the skin is much tighter now. I'm very pleased with the way that this skin is turning our, already the frame is much stiffer/sturdier than before. With these new results, I've also ordered all of the proper fabric materials necessary to create a finished skin, we'll hopefully get to see how that goes down next week.

Then on Thursday Cody, Brennan, and I stayed after school to start of the frame pieces of the next five kayaks. We were able to get all of the wooden pieces at least cut and all of the 20" stringer pieces drilled, roughly 260 cut and 130 of those drilled. Once we had a jig set up for drilling it was just a matter of sticking the piece in and pulling down the lever. Bellow are the results of Thursday's work, there are more pics in the gallery too.

From PakYak
From PakYak

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Alright, so this past month or so has been less of an adventure or progress towards the completion of my PakYak, the Steadfast. No, what I have been doing for this past month has been largely working towards a better SkillsUSA project. When I set out to build my own PakYak it was a choice mostly driven by an intense fascination with the design and the idea of having a Kayak that could be stored easily in a closet and then, just as easily, hiked or driven in a normal car to anywhere with water. What I have taken this little endeavor to now amounts to something that that could potentially result in more than just a fascinating little boat. By entering it into SkillsUSA for the regional competition I feel motivated to take my project a step further. I now consider the boat that I have built to be a sort of prototype, even though the design is not of my own it still has been a massive learning experience for me. As I said, I want to excel what has become, for SkillsUSA reasons, my team's project in order to set my sights upon the high goal of making it to the National competition.
I intend to do this by building five more Kayaks, four of which the plan right now is to sell to foot some of the bill for the National fees, air fair, and hotel.
So thats the sum of my last month. I've been planning and Sponsor hunting for this $1500 addition to my SkillsUSA team. I'm going to solicit the help of my High School's Technology classes/students and get them to build all of the 240+ wooden pieces necessary, as well as the Aluminum pieces, from the detailed pdfs that I have come up with. It should be relatively simple to accomplish if we incorporate small scale mass production techniques.
Thats the News, and again if anyone is interested or has questions, leave a comment with your email address in it, or send me an email to gage6917(AT)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

By no means graceful, or perfect

Ok, so I just did a second water test. ( I did more than just float near the edge this time, promise) 

So I'm a little disappointed with how the skin performed. I have to go back and seal the seams again, the sealer I used didn't quite cut it. Also I've come to find out that it matters a lot how tight the skin fits you the frame. If its too loose and the water billows the fabric in and the boat sits very low in the water. Anyway, there is the video and I've uploaded a few more pics to the gallery. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Steadfast

Okay, So I went to Skills USA over the weekend, the regional competition, and my PakYak won the first place prize for the engineering challenge! I got a one year tuition paid scholarship to Vincennes University.
Also, thanks to a computerized embroidery machine at my school, I was able to name my boat as I was making the skin. It is now the Steadfast and has it's first water trial in the pool here at school. I wouldn't call it a maiden voyage though, considering that I didn't go anywhere or move away form the edge of the pool.
Thats the exiting part, but it took a lot to get there. I spent Friday, the day before the competition, finishing up some of the skin in a last mad scramble. But, thanks to a couple of late nights, I'm all but finished with my PakYak. I still need to seal the wood and spend a few minutes of detailing for the seat, but all and all its done. Who knows what the first real water trial will turn up though. Anyway,  I have a lot more pictures in my gallery and a video of me unfolding the boat. 

Sorry the video is a little blurry. In real time it takes me about 10 minutes to unfold the Steadfast.
Also there are some people in a few of the picture's I've uploaded that have given some sort of help to me throughout the process.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Come a Long way

I a few days ago I built half of the center brace of my PakYak according to how I've drawn them in my PDFs, but it didn't work. I spent a little while manipulating the dimensions on Autodesk Inventor and came up with a modified design that seemed to work in the computer model. I then modified my existing center brace and came up with this:

So now that my center brace worked I could build the other one. Anyway, long story short, this post is more of a pictorial update, seeing as how my last one was rather lacking. I've uploaded a whole bunch more pictures to my PakYak album, should be linked there to the right on this page. If by chance its not, heres another link right.... over... here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Almost to the halfway point!

Well I don't have anymore pictures today and I haven't posted in a good long while, but I can say that after a hectic few months in which I couldn't work on my boat I am finally to about the halfway mark. I have 90% of one half of the frame completed and it looks great. I still have to make pdf design details for the center brace structure and gunwhales, that should be done this week, and once I have the frame finished I can start tailoring a skin to the frame, bringing me to the home stretch. 
Also I've discovered an interesting DIY article on waterproofing wood, as long as the finish doesn't have to be anything in particular. The article is here, but in short this guy goes through various dilutions of a acetone fiberglass resin solution, starting with a 50-50 mixture and working his way up. He says that it allows for the waterproofing to soak into the wood deeper and leaves almost no tactile coating on the wood, but outperforms even name brand sealers. This process is a little more extensive that it would be just to seal the wood pieces the convectional way, but I think it might yield a better product, I might even paint the pieces afterwords who knows. 
Also I cheaped out on the wood, Jim Heter calls for 9 ply 1/2 inch baltic birch plywood, but I bought 7 because it was substantially cheaper due to the fact I could purchase it in a smaller quantity. At the time, I didn't realize how big of a difference there is between the two types of plywood, I figured that it wouldn't make much of a difference. Anyway, my point is that I'm hoping that this firberglass resin might even minutely increase the strength of the boat. 

P.S. anyone taking on this project, I would really recommend using 9 ply baltic birch instead of 7 ply. Unless you absolutely can't help it, get the 9 ply. So far is seems that the 7 ply I bought will suffice, but likely only just. The 7 ply has many voids in it, in comparison to the 9 ply stuff.