Monday, May 2, 2016

Project Recursiveness

Projects on a boat are rarely singular.  Instead, what usually happens is that one project spawns another, or reveals another, or enables another.  Boat projects are recursive.

In the current case, the initial project was not a big one. Our compass binnacle is a beautiful brass construction.  But over time, exposed to the sea air, it takes on, well, a "patina".

The binnacle is not difficult to remove.  The upper domed section is a slip-on.  With it removed, the compass can be removed by extracting two screws and disconnecting the wires to the nite light.  The four bolts holding the lower cylindrical section are then accessible. 

Now, the project-within-the-project reveals itself.  The small wood shelf that surrounds the steering pedestal has never been refinished since its original installation, many, many years ago.  I didn't do it because I couldn't see how to work around the throttle/gearshift levers.  But with the binnacle removed, it was not much of a step to disconnect the cables and remove the section of the pedestal containing the levers:

Add caption

And so the shelf can be removed...

Project II
I will take this to the shop to strip off the failed Cetol and run a router around the edges to smooth them (the original edge finish used a very small round-over bit and left sharp edges...  and good self-leveling varnish hates sharp edges - it pulls away from them).  I'll reinstall after 6 coats or so of varnish.

In the mean time, a trip to the shop and an hour spent on the buffing wheel, and Project I is complete:

OOooo shiny!


Monday, April 25, 2016


Remember, a few posts ago when I went Uh oh...?

Well, the time finally came up.  I wedged myself into a small, wedge-shaped compartment right next to the refrigeration compressor (Turn it off!  And more importantly, remember to turn it back on...).

As my body slowly became more compliant with the wedge-shaped space, I had to, slowly, with only a couple of inches freedom of movement, saw out a section of the exhaust hose.

Why just a section?  Well, this stuff is about as flexible as a 3" diameter tree branch.  There is no way that I would be able to bend it enough to get one end off of its pipe while the other end is connected - it's only 18" long.  So I chose to cut out a section from the center, which would give me enough freedom of movement to deal with the two remaining ends.

Ugly, isn't it?
So, over the course of a few hours, I was able to make the two necessary saw cuts thru the heavy, multiple-wire reinforced rubber.  What came out, after I re-inflated my body to its normal shape, was pretty ugly.

Looking at the cut end that passed thru the external salt deposit (I cut it there on purpose), you can see that the thin outer layer of rubber is loose from the bulk of the hose.  And closer examination shows that that bulk rubber at that location is actually completely cooked - hard as a rock and fractured, barely hanging together.

How did this happen?  The exhaust gases are water cooled.  Well, this is the top of the hose, near the water lift muffler.  Nearly the worst possible location if the water flow was weak (by the time it got here, it would probably be just running along the bottom of the hose).  And there have been some occasions over the years where raw water flow thru the engine was reduced.  I think this is the eventual consequence, come back to haunt me a lot later.

This is the tool that I used to cut the hose.  It is a handle especially designed to take Sawz-all blades.  I have a metal cutting blade chucked in it for this job.  It is really the only tool that I could have used to make these cuts, given the space constraints.

For the removal of the two end pieces of hose, I pressed a Dremel tool into service, using a tiny cut-off wheel.  It sliced thru the rubber and the wires with ease.  I had originally been worried about cutting too deep, marring the sealing surface of the pipes, but that was unnecessary.  Those wires are so hard and springy that as each was severed, it opened up the cut more.  It was not necessary to cut the rubber beneath the wires - their tension tore it.

Now all I have to do is bend a piece of new hose enough to get it in the space, and over the pipes at each end.  Sounds easy right?  A story for another time...


Monday, April 18, 2016

Canvas - Round Two Completed!

Round two of cockpit canvas replacement - the roof section of the dodger - is done!  Here's how it went:

Topstitching the aft tail seam
Having completed the actual construction of the panel, I needed to create the attachment to the "windshield" portion of the dodger. The original canvas had the roof and the windshield sewn together, making a hugely unwieldly thing, almost impossible to handle with all the compound curvature and the easily damaged vinyl.  As I reported last time, I made a design decision:  The new roof panel would be separate, and attach to the windshield via Common Sense fasteners.

So, how to locate those fasteners?  For a taut roof panel, the fasteners need to be in the exact right spot, and further, the eyelets and male portions need to end up in registration with each other.  How to do this?  I solve problems like this as I am falling asleep and letting my subconscious work on them.  This is the procedure I came up with: 
  • Mark, on the tuck back tail of the new roof panel the desired location for fasteners - this portion will show in the final installation
  • Place the new roof panel in place, carefully aligning the sides, and positioning the front seam on the front surface of the tube, as designed.  You'll note that the old panel seam (built by a professional) missed the tube by as much as an inch in the center.
  • Insert T-pins at the marked locations.  By pushing them all the way in, they made a good solid temporary connection because the vinyl in the windshield gripped them, allowing tension to be applied so that wrinkles could be worked out.  Adjust the T-pin locations in the windshield as required (keep the pin locations in the tail as marked since, again, these will show) and reposition as needed for a good fit everywhere.
  • Mark exactly the T-pin locations on both the tuck back tail, and the windshield.  To mark the windshield, pull a pin part way out, giving enough room to work under the tail, but keeping the location established.  Since this is all done with the existing canvas all in place, it is easy because the old roof panel is keeping the windshield tensioned and in place.

T-pins for alignment
  • Pull the new canvas off
  • Punch holes in the windshield using Sailrite's Common Sense punch...  this is the only way to do this, given that 4 layers of Sunbrella and the vinyl need to be cut.  Jane was inside, with a buck made out of a 6" piece of railroad track with a piece of Starboard taped on as the working surface.  Without something to work against, the punch would not have worked.
  • Install the eyelets in the windshield.
Holes punched and eyelets installed
  • Install the male portions of the fasteners on the tuck back tail of the new canvas.  Getting the male fastener mounting holes in the right place cannot be done by eyeball.  I made myself a jig out of an old blank non-silvered CD, by drilling holes at the correct spacing and then marking the outline of the fastener and horizontal and vertical centerlines.  This can then be held in place on the marked T-pin location and a pen can be used to mark the rivet locations thru the holes in the jig.  (Sailrite?  Are you listening?  You need to sell something like this...)
Homemade drilling jig

  • The moment of truth: Test fit.  Will everything work?  In order to get a true assessment, I disconnected the rear of the old canvas from the rear tube and installed the new canvas completely.  Since the old roof canvas was still attached to the windshield, it hung down inside.  Yup, it looked good.
Test fitting
OK, punching the holes in the windshield was a commitment, but not a serious one...  Eventually tho, it was time to make the big jump, and say "I do."  So I cut the old roof panel off of the windshield and voilĂ , c'est fini!


And man oh man is it good to see the old faded canvas as a jumbled up pile (and eventually in the dumpster) instead of gracing the cockpit!

Good riddance!

Now there is only one more roof panel to make - the center section.  This is much simpler to construct, being a single panel of cloth with only edging installed.  Ah, but exact sizing and zipper placement are critical for a taut installation.  Gotta think about this...


Monday, April 11, 2016

What Was The Question?

Sixteen or seventeen years ago,when Jane was walking along the boardwalk at Shilshole, something tiny and yellow caught her eye.  She picked it up: a yellow Barbie high-heeled shoe.

When she got back to the boat, she placed that shoe atop our VHF which is mounted on the overhead just as you come down the companionway... 

Yup, it's still there...

The operative question I have is... Why?  What was the question this placement answers?
  • Was it to test Eolian's stability?
  • Was it to see if the VHF is mounted at the Eolian's center of motion?  (It is, pretty nearly...)
  • Was it to test me in some way?  If so, I have missed the cues...
  • Was it associated with the rest of her shoe collection in some way?
All I know for sure is that the little yellow shoe is still there.  And that Jane checks periodically to see that it is. 

But she won't tell me why.

And I know better than to disturb it...

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