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Monday, March 27, 2006

Spring Clean 2006

We rented a pressure washer to clean the dirt and grime that accumulated over the winter on various things (deck furniture, BBQ, front and back porch). I decided, while we had it, I might try it on the deck of the Westsail. I had already taken smaller 2hp pressure washer to it last summer, but this one we rented is a 7hp. Boy did it make a difference. You might recall my post from last summer when we discovered the gelcoat is actually WHITE instead of OFF-WHITE after we scrubbed it with mild hydrochloric acid. Well, after this pressure washer it is even WHITER. The higher pressure removed much more dirt and oxidized gelcoat. In fact, it removed so much oxidized gelcoat, that it looked like milk was draining from the deck drains. Also, I removed the plain plastic sheeting we had taped over the hull/deck joint. The wind and UV was trashing it. It was replaced with 4 inch wide preservation tape (white). This is to keep weather from leaking through the hull/deck joint. Plus, the tape being white, helps the boat look nicer instead of "white trash" . While cleaning the deck, I came up with an idea. Something needs to be done with the deck (it has a lot of hairline and spider cracks in the gelcoat). The solutions are generally 1) grind it all off, fair it and paint (very labor intensive) or 2) grind off the non-skid and cover it up with Plas-Teak, Treadmaster, or even Rhino lining (not as labor intensive, but wont look as nice). Since we dont have to deal with this for a couple years, we have an opportunity to try different ideas on saving the existing deck coating by treating some test patches. The tests will get exposed to a couple years of weather and UV. I do like the existing non-skid "waffle pattern" that was originally molded with the deck and it would be nice if we could keep it. As one of the first tests, we still have some Sterling two-part polyurethane paint chemicals left over from a paint job we did on our 28 foot sloop. We will try applying that to a test patch and see how it works out. I am not optimistic, but you never know, we might find something that works.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Main Salon Floor Timbers & Tank Space

Here is a rundown of the work done on the Westsail this last weekend... We removed the temporary floor and started roughing in the main timbers and lower bulkheads for the main salon. This is the area that will house tanks and batteries below, above will be the galley and dinette. For the lower bulkheads, I used a tick-stick to transfer the hull curves to some door skin. Cut and checked the door skin against the hull, then used it as a template to cut the final 1 1/2" Coosa board (measure twice, cut once, especially when it is $400 a sheet!). For now the timbers are screwed together and are simply resting on the hull as there is a chance there may be minor changes. Which there already are. Work was halted on Sunday as the hull started revealing the "real" dimensions over the ones in the drawing. The good news is that there is more space under there than I had planned in the drawing. The "wing" and "center" tanks both can be widened by a couple inches. Once we have finalized the tank and battery layouts, everything will be jointed, glued and fastened before final glassing (which doesnt need to happen for a while). Sharpening Axes... Earlier this week, my wife sent out a number of table saw blades and router bits for sharpening. Even using carbide blades and bits to cut the Coosa board, they do get dull. Cutting with a freshly sharpened blade is soooo nice! My wife also cleaned, squared and trued the table saw this weekend. It had been slightly out of alignment for some time. Thankfully, she is the one who knows table saws, as I don't (the table saw was her Christmas present a few years ago, and yes, she really wanted one). Summer is coming... It is starting to stay light later outside. When we switch on (or off?) daylight savings, it will be even moreso. I gotta get in the habit of doing some more on the boat when I get home from work. ...that means summer vacation. We tentatively decided this year's vacation will be a couple weeks over the Fourth of July. We will take sloop to British Columbia, specifically, Desolation Sound (this will be our second time). How's that for a patriotic celebration, eh? Anyway, that means we have three months to fix a few things on the small boat: holding tank pump, galley foot pump, computer, shorten the 130% jib, etc. This all depending if we can get the time off work.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Break from Boatbuilding

Took a break this last weekend. The crew took the sloop out overnight. Weather was clear and calm, although a bit chilly. Here are some highlights. Sunday morning sun rising. All is calm (and cold).
Shots of the crew...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Engine Analysis

So the joke with my wife is that I change my mind about which engine to use every three or four weeks. Even though we wont be ready for one in at least a couple years, you gotta think about these things! The thing is, every time you learn more information, it sways your decision one way or another. What follows is the latest analysis. I reserve the right to change my mind in the future . Selection Criteria or Requirements Given in highest to lowest priority.
  1. 75-100 horsepower
  2. low revs would be nice, but it needs to drive a hydraulic pump (which prefers higher revs), so something in the "middle"
  3. fuel efficient
  4. Established parts and service network
  5. Reputation for reliability
  6. Easy to maintain
  7. Naturally aspirated (non-turbo)
  8. Reasonable cost

Volvo Penta D3-110

  • 110 hp at the crankshaft
  • 3000 rpm
  • 5 cylinders
  • 146 cu. in.
  • 582 lbs.
  • turbo charged

Currently the favored engine. Available as OEM equipment on Halberg-Rasseys and Nautor Swans (both reputable production sailboat makers). Plenty of power. Nice midrange rpm (compared to other engines). 5 cylinders means smooth and low vibration. Lower displacement plus CAN-bus, common rail technology means it should be good on fuel efficiency (computer controlled injection, no complex mechanical injector pump). I don't care for turbo charged (one more thing to maintain or break) but I am discovering most other requirements can't be met without going to a physically LARGER engine, which I can't do given the current constraints of the engine room. So, I may have to learn to live with a turbo. Of course, the Volvo is high on the initial+maintenance costs. We had one in our sloop years ago and know this first hand. But, they are also quite reliable. MSRP is about $18,000.

Click here for a link to the engine specs.

Westerbeke M64A

  • 64 hp
  • 2600 rpm
  • 4 cylinders
  • 182 cu. in.
  • 678 lbs
  • naturally aspirated

A close second. Low on hp. Nice rpm for reduced wear, but ok for hydraulics. A bit on the heavy side and no turbo! If I decide to cut hp, this would be ideal. Though it seems one of the complaints with original Westsail 42 owners is the lack of power with their original engines (often they were a 50hp Perkins 4-108). This engine uses the old tried and true Perkins block (I dont know if it is the same block as the 4-108). Fuel consumption might be a bit high. Given the shape of the engine, this one can sit quite low in the bilge which would be good for space conservation. MSRP is about $10,000.

Click here for a link to the engine specs.

Yanmar 4JH3-HTE

  • 100 hp
  • 3800 rpm
  • 4 cylinders
  • 122 cu. in.
  • 503 lbs
  • turbo charged with intercooler.

A distant third. Good hp, but high rpm which means more wear (though plenty to drive hydraulics). Light, but turbo charged AND intercooled. Probably good on fuel efficiency. Rumour has it Yanmar will be replacing this model series this year with common-rail technology (my guess to compete with Volvo). MSRP is about $12,000.

Click here for a link to the engine specs.

Other Makes

Perkins/Sabre - Sometime in the past CAT bought Perkins, then bought Sabre (a UK based engine maker). CAT moved all of the old Perkins designs under the CAT brand (which they do not sell in the marine market, at least as far as I can tell), then rebadged the small engines from Sabre as "Perkins/Sabre". So, even though they have the "Perkins" name, they are NOT the old tried and true Perkins engines. They are Sabre engines, whose track record is hard to research. With CAT behind them, I am sure the support is excellent. Though it looks like some of the old Perkin's blocks are being used in the Westerbekes.

Isuzu, Kubota, Vetus, Iveco, Etc. - There are a number of smaller brands out there. But market share of these and support network is not known (yet). I still have more data to collect (and more opportunity to change my mind!).

I will throw open the comments if anyone has more data, suggestions, ideas to add.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

New Bandsaw and More Floor Timbers

My wife selected and purchased a new bandsaw and some accessories on Friday. I spent most of Saturday morning putting it and the mobile base together. Lots of fasteners between the two. Along with it she bought an "extension kit" which raises the maximum cutting height by 6 inches. This required taking the factory-assembled saw apart then re-assembling it with the extension parts. It also took some time to adjust and align the blade and bearings. So with the new bandsaw I was able to finish the mizzen mast step. With the lamination done last week, I used the bandsaw to trim/smooth the curved edges to the hull. After about three passes I got a perfect match to the shull shape. For now the step will just rest in place on the hull until we are ready to do the final glass. Also this weekend I laminated and tacked in the floor timber/thrust bearing plate. This is laminated similar to the mizzen mast step, but using only two pieces of 3/4" Coosa board. This is the piece that will hold the thrust bearing assembly for the Aquadrive. Instead of bearing compression forces it neads to bear lateral (sideways) forces, so layers of laminate are not as critical. Instead it will get four to five layers of glass skinned over the outside to minimize deflection (as recommended by the Aquadrive installation manual). More on what an Aquadrive is described below. Cut/shaped and placed the lower bulkhead between the aft stateroom and the engine room. We can now place a temporary floor in the aft stateroom. Next phase will be the main salon bulkheads/timbers and tank space. We have more Coosa board on backorder. Hope it arrives in the next week. What is an "Aquadrive"? Traditional sailboat engine installations usually are just a engine+transmission coupled to a straight shaft that goes directly to the propeller. In this setup, the force from the thrust of the prop is transferred, via the shaft to the transmission/engine, then via the engine mounts to the hull of the boat. That is how the boat gets its forward motion. There are some downsides to this setup. Wear and tear on the transmission for having to bear the forward thrust can cause transmission failure (rare, but it happens). The engine mounts need to be pretty stiff in order to sustain the shear forces from the shaft. This means that noise and vibration from the engine are also more directly transferred to the hull, which accounts for about 50% of the "engine noise" one hears throughout the boat. Finally, the shaft alignment must be very precise. This requires precise alignment of the engine as well. Now moving a 600 pound engine up/down/left/right in 1/8th inch increments while inserting shims can be difficult if not annoying. The Aquadrive solves these issues by isolating the engine/transmission from the prop shaft. It splits the traditional straight shaft into two shafts. The prop shaft pushes on a thrust bearing and plate that is attached directly to the hull. This eliminates the wearing forces on the transmission in a straight shaft setup. The thrust bearing is then attached to the transmission via a shaft with two CV (constant velocity) joints. The CV joints make the engine placement less critical. And you can actually dilberately offset the engine up/down/left/right a few inches without issue. Alignment of the propshaft is still critical, but it is easier to achieve since the engine does not need to be aligned with it. By isolating the engine from the thrust forces, softer, more vibration absorbent engine mounts can be used, thereby significantly reducing engine noise and vibration from the hull. The Aquadrive is made in Sweden and soley distributed in the US by a NW company. For more information click here.