For the very latest activity, click here: From a Bare Hull

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cockpit Drain Thru-Hulls and Seacocks

Got the thru-hulls and seacocks for the cockpit drains this week. Per a previous post, we have decided to use Marelon fittings instead of bronze. Advantages of Marelon (a composite material) are: 1-does not corrode, 2-lighter than bronze, 3-cheaper than bronze. Yet they are UL approved and meet or exceed ABYC and ISO specifications for underwater thru-hulls and valves. These particular fittings, made by Forespar, are not the "off-the-shelf" fittings you find in the West Marine catalogs. These are the OEM-only "93" series. To see the difference the equivalent "off-the-shelf" Marelon fitting is to the very right in the picture, with the 93 series valves to the left. It is important to note that these are not "ball valves threaded onto thru-hulls", which is a big no-no on a boat, especially under the waterline. These are true seacocks with a flanged base requiring a backing plate. Some other differences to note:
  • these are "two piece" units: the thru-hull and the valve housing. The hose barb is part of the valve housing, not a threaded on "tail piece" like some other valves.
  • The thru-hull uses a straight buttress style thread, which is stronger than typical a pipe thread.
  • Units are a bit more compact than standard seacocks.
  • Other than regular opening/closing of the valve, they require little maintenance
And I love this feature...
All MARELON® integrated valves have a removable plug in the handle (white cap with loop). This plug is made to fit into the external thru-hull (non-screened style only). In an emergency, this plug can be placed in the thru-hull (water pressure will keep it in) and the valve disassembled while the boat is in the water. Someone must get wet, but the boat does not need to be hauled for valve repairs. By tying a lanyard to the cap, you need only get wet once.
This depends on how warm the water is of course (or if you got your drysuit with you). For more info see Forespar's website.
From Building A Westsail 42: Thru-hull Installations

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pssst! Hey.... Wanna Buy a Couple Masts??

The continuing saga of "what to do with these damned masts!"... Last week, on the way to the Seattle Boat Show, we stopped by Mr. Perry's place and discussed rigs and sailplans (amongst other things anarchic) to help determine a course of action on the masts. The short and skinny version: we will be going with a new, taller, main mast, keel stepped. And, the existing mizzen (too short) will be replaced, and will be deck stepped. Ugly Details... Bob gave us a pencil and his RPN calculator and called out some numbers from the drawing and Skene's Elements of Yacht Design (I felt I was back in college, in my very last class, taking a final exam for which I hadn't studied. My worst nightmare). After computing and double checking some calculations based on the original W42 drawings, we determined the existing main mast in possession, given it's cross-section and wall thickness, is a bit on the "light" side. Light in terms of strength, for a cruising boat of this size (particularly for a deck stepped mast). Furthermore, the total sail area with the "short" 50 foot mast, was a bit conservative when considering sail area/displacement ratios. He wasn't surprised when I mentioned some W42s were offered with the tall 55 foot mast option, and indicated he would go at least 55 feet. But the key point was the lightness of the existing mast. As with things like hulls and rudders, you really only get ONE CHANCE to do this right. Changing it after the fact would be quite an effort. And, while you are replacing the main mast, might as well go double spreaders and keel stepped for stability and strength. Anyway, turns out my wife had a copy of Skene's (8th Edition). I now need to go back and review what we computed, just for my own knowledge and understanding. I did graduate from college, right? That wasn't a dream? I might post more of the technical details later...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Paying More Attention To Detail

Time for an admission: I am a hack when it comes to "crafting" things with my hands. Most of my experience deals with making things "functional" over "looking nice". So far, the same has been true for the Westsail project. This project, so far, has been work that has been/will eventually be "covered up", usually by paint, paneling, laminate or whatever. So, while attention has been paid (as much as possible) to keeping things straight, perpendicular and strong, I have cared less about how it "looks". That will change later this year as we get closer to the finish work. Between the two of us, it is my wife who is the "finish carpenter". In a "previous life" (late 80s) she helped with finish work on a couple large yachts of that day. She has an eye for detail, and almost OBSESSES about it, and insists we buy the best tools (I hate that). Having these qualities, for finish carpentry I imagine, is a GOOD thing. Now that I have embarrassed her, back to me. She will probably laugh at this, but "learning" detail work is something I want to do. I figure the best way to start is to hack on some project that will provide little disappointment if I screw it up. Something that wont go in the boat, but might still be useful. A mental list includes some shop cabinetry and some household "improvements". For the first project, I picked this table saw accessories cabinet. You can purchase the plans for seven bucks and download them online. It is written for woodworking idiots like me with step-by-step instructions and complete bill of materials calling out mfrs and model numbers for hardware. How can one go wrong with this? (just watch me).
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Update on Head Plumbing

The design for the head systems has now moved from two "independent" head systems to a more "centralized" head system with two toilets. See the "Head Plumbing" drawing link on the sidebar. A centralized system has some distinct advantages with few drawbacks compared to the independent approach.
  • cheaper - centralized system shares some common components that would otherwise be multiplied with the independent system (cost savings estimated to be about $1000)
  • saves space - fewer components means more space for other stuff
  • more "efficient" layout - in the centralized system, the components can be placed in those "hard-to-reach" areas, under the main salon, that are unlikely to be accessed in "normal ship operation". This may make access to components difficult for repairs, but, hopefully repairs will not be a regular event (knock on fiberglass).
The only real drawback is difficulty in running sanitary plumbing through the boat. Also, one might expect the redundancy of two independent systems to be better. But in the centralized system, the critical redundant piece is the vacuum generator, of which we need two anyway. Components after the vacuum generators (holding tank, discharge pump with manual backup) are less critical (not much can go wrong). When I originally considered this some time ago, I thought it would be too difficult to install a centralized system. But, now having got my "VacuFlush training" (aren't I special) and with the boat interior being further built out, installation of such a system should not be that difficult. Note, the Electro-Scan is still planned as an option. There are a few installation questions I intend to hit the manufacturer with at the Seattle Boat Show. Update: Got a look at Vacu-Flush stuff at the boat show. The 706 compact toilet is way too, um, compact. Changing to the 5006 toilet. Add $140.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ketch or Yawl?

With all this mast inspection and analysis over the last week, we discovered what we hope is our "last surprise" with the rigging. It turns out the mizzen mast that came with the boat, is in fact for the yawl configuration, NOT the ketch rig. Here are the dirty details that led to this discovery. Too Short
  • Comparing the mast length to the original factory drawings for the ketch and the yawl reveals that it is too short for the ketch. Ketch configurations had a keel stepped mast with no spreaders, yawls had a deck stepped mast with a pair of swept spreaders. The mizzen mast in possession is too short by about eight to nine feet.
  • The beginning of the sail track is too high. It starts at about 7 feet from the bottom. This would give a sail with a luff dimension way too small for the ketch.
Can we use this Mizzen Mast? Recall from recent posts that we pretty much decided to stick with the original masts. But this discovery throws all that into question (again). First thought is to step this mizzen and use it anyway, but, even deck stepped, it is too short by about three feet. Is that a significant difference in terms of sail balance? I am not sure. To use this mizzen will require significant modifications: extending the sail track, grinding off welds, fitting a pair of spreaders, and splicing in some height (requires finding a matching extrusion). Also, chainplate placement would need to be revisited. Sounds like a lot of work for such a small mast. What about the Main Mast? The main mast matches that of the original ketch configuration. Fifty feet tall. The yawls, according to the drawings, had the 55 foot mast with double spreaders. So, it appears we got the right main mast for a ketch (whatever "right" means by now). What to do now? One could say "switch to a yawl!" That presents problems: it would require moving the main mast aft, and to do so, with the current layout as built, would result in a compression post in the face the moment you stepped forward of the galley. Nevermind the main mast is too short for the yawl. Another problem: I hate the look of the the yawl. What we are likely to do: seek professional help. The "designer" kind I mean (we got that "other" kind already covered). Thanks in Order One Last Mystery I'll finish this post with one last mystery that maybe you readers can help solve. Below is a picture on the spreader bracket from the main mast. Immediately to the right is bolted a double-holed tang where the two inner stays are attached. There is a single holed tang immediately to the left. What do you suppose that is for? Too close to the spreader to be any standing rigging leading downward. Even downward and aft! I see no evidence of a need for such attachment point on any drawings. Its not for the staysail (attachment exists higher up). Perhaps something to do with external halyards? anyone?
From Building a Westsail 42: Mast and Rig

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Virtual" Halyards

Last weekend's inspection of the masts revealed something interesting. Looks they were built for "virtual halyards". That is a joke BTW. Here is what I mean...

Take the construction of the masts, this is apparently how it was done: Take the aluminum extrusion (the long piece), weld a "cap" on the end that is supposed to be the top. Take the previously constructed/welded "sheave box" that holds the masthead halyard sheaves, and weld it to the cap at "top" of the mast.

For you non sailing types, the idea is the sail halyards run up inside the mast, exit out a hole in the top, goes around a sheave (pulley) in the masthead box, then down and outside the mast to attach to the top of the sail.

The problem is, there is no "exit hole" at the top! The "cap" is sealed! Ok. Drill holes! But, the hole needs to be cut, through the cap, that is now covered by the "sheave box". It is quite narrow. One might be able to do it with a right-angle drill and a short bit. As long as the chuck is smaller than the width of the sheave box, it could be done.

This is one of those head scratching "Why did they do it this way?" questions. Was there a reason? Or did someone just forget to drill the holes before welding the sheave box on?

The case of the "virtual halyard" is the same for BOTH the main and mizzen mast. Seems there must have been a reason for doing it this way.

Update: We have concluded the masts were designed for external halyards (see the comments section). This was confirmed by Bud on the Westsail Owners site. Apparently all Westsails came with external halyards, though they could easily be modified for internal halyards. Neither of us were familiar with this setup, so it seems very foreign to us. Ya learn somethin' new...

From Building a Westsail 42: Mast and Rig

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fifty Foot Critter Habitat

Last weekend, I spent sunny Sunday going over the masts in more detail. I took a look up inside the main mast and discovered that, at some point in the past, some critter setup his house in there. Big wads of straw and stuff had been stuffed up inside. I took a boat hook and tried to pull out as much as I could, but there is still some left. Not sure how I will get it all out. It was mostly some sort of straw, but there also were bits of foam, candy wrappers and cigarette butts. Whatever kind of critter this was, he certainly did not lead a healthy lifestyle. While I as poking around in there I discovered that, despite my earlier observation, there is a pvc conduit for wires. It just ends a few feet from the end, and, it has detached from some of the rivets. It is quite small and will have to come out. On the wires, the main pair of wires running to the top of the mast for lighting is... LAMP CORD! Guess that is how you did things in the 70's.
From Building a Westsail 42: Mast and Rig
From Building a Westsail 42: Mast and Rig

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Mast Inspection...

So it ended up being a sunny, yet cold, weekend. Having finished my goals on Saturday I had time to take a closer look at the masts. First let me say I woke up grumpy and not really wanting to do something really physical, yet, as sunny as it was, I felt guilty about staying inside. The best remedy in that case is... TAKE SOMETHING APART! Yes, when you can take something apart without much regard for how you put it back together it can be quite rewarding. The masts fall into that category. While we hope to use the masts, what exactly will be needed to bring them up to snuff is not exactly clear. But it looks like ALL mast hardware will need to be replaced. Recall I never really inspected them since we bought the project. With the masts sitting on the new stands my dad and I built a couple months ago, and the wind having taken care of the fence around the boat (cleaned up yesterday), I could bask in the sun while wrenching. Paradise! I mentioned in an earlier post that some bits of the mast didnt want to come off. A bit of coaxing with a 5lb sledge, a breaker bar, and liberal use of liquid wrench took care of that. All the nuts and bolts bits came off. However, there were some new surprises (I thought I was done with surprises on this project). Stay tuned...
From Building a Westsail 42: Mast and Rig

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gadgets on a Boat

Today, laptop computers, flat screen monitors and large flat screen TVs are becoming the norm in today's modern household. And, they are finding their way onto boats. Behold a new generation of small, low power, projection units. Just think of all the weight and wiring complexity you could save it you had one of these projecting your nav software, DVDs, Satellite, whatever, onto a (white) forward bulkhead!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seattle Boat Show

The Seattle Boat Show is coming up January 23 - February 1. I often assert that it should really be called the "Seattle Powerboat Show", as the exhibition hall is filled mosty with powerboats, or powerboat related accessories. To see any sailboats you need to get down to Lake Union. It will be interesting to see what it will be like in this "down" economy. If you have money, and want a boat, I am sure some deals can be had. Something my wife pointed out to me is the "Boat Show University" schedule. Nigel Calder will be giving some presentations. One of the topics will be Diesel/Electric. I might have to check that out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Forward Head Plumbing

Ok, I have heard a couple rumors over the past month that, with the economy the way it is, Dometic/Sealand, makers of VacuFlush, might be running a BIG promotion come this spring. And, it will be a manufacturer program that will not undercut dealers and distributors (contact your local dealer!). So, in hopes of taking advantage of the promotion, if it happens, I have started the hack design of the heads. Starting with the forward head, the picture shows the major components involved. I was hoping that one of their prepackaged HTS systems would fit, but that is not to be the case. The goal of the forward head design to such that there is not evidence of "complex" head machinery. That means a flush back splash panel behind the head behind which everything is wired and plumbed. None of the HTS systems will fit. The thing I like about the VacuFlush system is the "Tank Manager" component. Which is a keyed lock operated discharge system that can operate in fully automatic, manual, or "shut down" mode. In full auto mode, the system senses when the holding tank gets full and initiates the overboard discharge pump (IF the discharge sea cock is open for which there is a electric lockout switch). "Manual" initiates overboard discharge whether or not the tank is full (again if the sea cock is open). "Shut Down" mode turns off discharge altogether. The Tank Manager, as it requires a key, satisfies the US Coast Guard requirement for securing overboard discharge equipment in no-discharge zones when the system is in "shut down" mode (that is, if the only key is in possession of the captain). Next steps in the design:
  • design such that a Raritan Electro-Scan can be fitted AFTER the fact. This device essentially turns your head system into a "Sewage Treatment Plant" making it legal to discharge effluent over board. I say "after the fact" because I am undecided on this piece of equipment. Seems owners either LOVE or HATE it (due to breakdowns and/or maintenance). This device would make overboard discharge legal NOW, but if laws change...
  • rig a manual hand operated overboard discharge pump. Sticking with only an electric pump virtually ensures it will fail at the most inconvenient time. Don't ask how I know...
  • there will be a shower sump under the floor in the forward head. Plumb it such that the pump can be pumped into the holding tank, or direct overboard.
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Who's Who for 2008

Here is a look back at you, the readers, for 2008. Number of visitors remained steady at between 500 and 600 per month. About 70% of you are "return customers" (who must be really bored!). Here is a look at the US readership. All are coastal states, except for one, Montana (Happy New Year Sam!). And here is to you Foreign (non-US) Readers All countries with significant coast lines. However, of note is Romania, with a small coast on the Black Sea. Tip of the hat to you whacky Romanian boat addicts over at Barcaholic.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rethinking Nav Stations

I know I said in an earlier post that I did not think having a dedicated nav station is important. My feeling is that a nav station is to provide a dedicated space to do all your paper chart navigation stuff and not have it be in the way of other functions and duties while at sea. With that I do not disagree. But, in these days, the use of paper charts and need for "manual" navigation has become less (for better or worse). The reality is we will be using more electronic means of navigation, not necessarily requiring this space to be available full time. Previously, we designed the main salon dinette to act as the nav station while underway. With access to table space and electronics. But, I was wondering of there was still room for a "dedicated" nav station, and this is what I came up with. The forward salon port side settee is somewhat limited in use as designed now. So I took one "leg" of the settee and raised it up as a table. The other leg of the settee, still present, acts as the seat for the nav station. Yes, it would be facing aft, and positioned a bit forward, which could be a bit uncomfortable while underway. This is just an exercise in "what if". I am not convinced we will do this, but, it is "doable".
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Monday, January 05, 2009

Putting Things in Perspective

Nothing like some time away to put things into perspective. After we got back from visiting family for the holidays, I walked into a shop that was a total mess! No, it didn't happen while we were gone, I had just subconsciously ignored it up until now. Whats more, some wind storms, while we were gone, did a number on the fencing around the boat. I decided it cant be salvaged. No matter, it was sort of hacked together anyway and has lasted nearly three years. Perhaps I can take the bits of it and finish the fence on the other side of the yard.
So, I think for the next month I will be working on Shop 3.0 design and organization. With it being cold and gray outside, this is a good time of year to do something like this. Actual boat work, for the month of January, may be limited to design and preparing for some projects due in the coming months.