Monday, June 28, 2010

Pressure Washer Weekend

An annual event, happened this past weekend. Every time, I am amazed at the amount of dirt that accumulates.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Dive Tank Locker is In!

And it ain't comin' out! Constructed from fiberglass tubing, coosa, glass and epoxy. Thru-bolted, glued, leak tested. Still needs a permanent lid and some paint (which will happen when the deck is refinished). I will let the slide show speak for itself. Generally everything went according to plan, with just a couple hiccups (nothing that couldn't be easily recovered from).

With this construction technique proven, I will follow a similar plan for the construction of the propane tank lockers. In fact I have a couple ideas to make that project easier. More on that later.

Design Note: While this locker was "planned" it was not high on the feature list. We are divers (occasionally) and expect to do more in the future. But, simply put, the layout of the boat revealed a dead space in this area that could not be easily accessed from the inside, so this is how we chose to use that space. When not carrying tanks, the lockers could be used as a typical lazarette, holding coils of line, fenders, etc.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Freshwater Tank Plumbing is In!

The freshwater tank plumbing is in! All connected glued and permanent. Including deck fill and vents. Features include

  • Tank isolation valves, for fill and discharge
  • drain plug for draining any/all tanks directly into the bilge.
And the system passes the leak test.

Next step from here is the domestic water supply (pump and plumbing) for the rest of the boat.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

RFI Gremlins: A Preemptive Strike

On the small boat we run amateur radios, including HF equipment, when on the water. Despite modern radio electronics, HF equipment is very susceptible to RFI (radio frequency interference) generated by all sorts of devices (computers, navigation electronics, refrigerators, etc). With all the modern appliances and electronic doodads that are finding their way onto boats these days, eliminating RFI is a constant battle.

With the PVC conduit, we are making the first strike by wrapping it with copper shielding tape. When connected to a "ground" the foil will contain the RFI "transmitted" from the boats wiring reducing the chance of interference entering the "front end" of the HF radios. This tape, 3M 1183 copper tape, is design especially for this purpose. It is tinned copper, thus resistant to corrosion and can be soldered. And, the adhesive is conductive.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Blank Canvas: The Engine Room

The time has come to give thought to/start building out the engine room. Unlike the rest of the interior, it need not look aesthetically pleasing. Functional, well organized and space efficient are the top design qualities here.

So far, my feature/quality list is

  • storage for parts/tools/doodads
  • a "shop" work surface that will include things like a vise. Must be strong enough that I can pound things on it with a hammer.
  • storage for parts/tools/doodads
  • a secure, yet easily stow-able seat (where the bucket is in the picture).
  • storage for parts/tools/doodads 
  • easy access to ship's mechanical, plumbing, electrical bits and equipment
  • storage for parts/tools/doodads 
  • bright, well illuminated, including "crawl spaces"
  • a force field (12 or 24 volt) under the floor for catching small expensive parts so they don't get lost forever in the bilge.
Anything else? What do you like/hate about your engine room? What is the one feature you wish you had?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weekend Rant: "Right Tool for the Job"

I am sure readers have heard the wise advice of "always use the right tool for the job", or some variant. It is advice well founded. Often using the "wrong" tool results in lots of frustration and/or poor results. But I submit there are jobs where there is no "right tool". I have discovered one of these in this weekend's project.

So, the job is to cut out an opening in your 3/4 inch plywood cored fiberglass deck. What is the single "right" tool to make the cut? Answer. There is none. The fiberglass will dull any toothed cutting blade in seconds (i.e. jigsaw or sawzall blade). Carbide grit blades work great on fiberglass and last a long time, but they wont cut plywood. In fact, carbide grit blades have a greater chance of setting the plywood on fire, due to heat from friction, before making any significant cut (don't ask me how I know).

So, what to do? Answer: use the "wrong" tool, and expect to ruin a number of blades in the process. But there is a way to go about it to minimize the tool cost:

  1. Go to the hardware store and stock up on toothed and carbide grit jigsaw and sawzall blades.
  2. Rough cut the opening just short of the desired opening size with a jigsaw and/or sawzall with a toothed blade. Expect to change in new blades a couple times. This gets most of the material out of the way and close to the edge of the desired opening where you want to spend time on detail.
  3. With a router and sharp rabbeting bit, carefully route out the plywood core. The router will fly through this easily. This gets the plywood out of the picture.
  4. Now, switch your jigsaw/sawzall to carbide grit blades. Cut the fiberglass even closer to the desired opening size as much as possible, without cutting beyond. It helps to have a plywood template cutout jig if possible.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 as necessary to get closer to the desired opening size.
  6. Finally, trim the edges of the de-cored fiberglass with a router and trim bearing bit. Having a cutout jig here is a must unless you are quite good and freehand (I'm not). The blade on the router bit will be dulled here, so have a couple good quality bits on hand. The closer you can get with steps 3 and 4, the easier this step will be.
  7. Do the final rabbet of the plywood core to prepare for epoxy/resin fill of the edges.
There you go. One afternoon and a handful of blades later, you should have a nice cutout in your deck. Seems like a long process, but it will save cursing and frustration in the long term.

More on this later.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Electrical Conduit

I have had plenty of time to give thought, needless to say, on how to route electrical through the boat. I have gone around and around on various ideas only to come back to one of the most simplest, and cheapest solutions: PVC pipe.

This is 1 inch Schedule 10 PVC pipe (the thin walled stuff). Cost: $0.98 for 10 foot length at Home Depot.

I came to this based on experience with our small 28 footer. Being the geeks we are, we have spent lots of frustrating time and energy chasing wires, for new electronic doo-dads, through our small boat, which has NO conduit. In that boat, the wiring travels through bulkheads via holes just big enough for each individual wire, and is secured with nylon cable clamps and tapping screws. A very frustrating setup when you need to string a new wire.

So, in the Westsail, it will be this PVC pipe that runs under the side decks. Tee fittings will be strategically placed in-line to allow entry/exit points for the wiring. The fittings will not be glued, just slip friction fit, to allow them to come apart if you need to get in there. The plan is to have messenger strings throughout to help with the installation of any new wiring in the future.

Three conduits on both sides of the boat to ensure plenty of room. I may even add a fourth. Current thought is one conduit each for: Electronics (N2K, Ethernet, etc), DC electrics, AC electrics. Though such division may not be that important.

More on this later.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Home Depot!

Sometimes, in the very rare case, one can find perfectly reasonable, and sometimes ideal, applications for "non-marine" materials. You know, the stuff that does not include the "marine premium" in the price point?

Here, the freshwater tank fill plumbing is one of those cases. The fills for the three freshwater tanks have been plumbed with household PVC pipe and fittings (Schedule 40) including three ball valves to isolate each of the tanks. Much cheaper and easier to fit/install than what one might otherwise use (flexible hose, stainless hose clamps, brass/nylon hose barbs, bronze ball valves, etc). All this PVC for less than $20 at your local Home Depot!

For you international readers, Home Depot is an American retail building material supply chain of stores. Sometimes referred to as the BORG (Big Orange Retail Giant).

As for the plumbing, a hose from the deckfill will feed a valve assembly that will direct the fresh water to any one of, or all three tanks. Before the valves, a tee with an auxilary port is fitted to provide inputs from other sources (like a water maker). Tools required: chop saw, tape measure, PVC cement.

At this time, only the valve assembly is permanently glued. The pipe and fittings feeding the tanks are dry fitted until they absolutely need to be glued (in case I change my mind, ya know).

Actually, I lied. There are some "marine" fittings in that plumbing. Three PVC 90-degree street elbow fittings from Sealand (purchased from our marine supplier). These have shorter flanges and a tighter "turn" than standard fittings to help keep things more compact in smaller spaces. $2 each, including the "marine premium".

The observant reader will notice that, in the first picture, one of the plumbing lines runs OVER the floor supports.  When the floors go in there will be a small step there, extending the floor from the main salon into the forward salon by about ten inches, concealing the pipe (and perhaps other utility). This is by design (really!).

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Deckfills are In!

Today's lecture is how to install a deckfill in your cored deck.

Here is the correct way to install a deckfill (well, correct way according to us).
  1. From the underside, spot the center of the (future) deckfill, and drill a pilot hole.
  2. From the topside, grind away the nonskid surrounding the pilot hole (optional, but not for us as the deck here has quite aggressive nonskid. We will be refinishing the decks in the future).
  3. From the topside, cut a hole with a holesaw just large enough to fit the body of the deckfill. Carbide grit holesaws work best on fiberglass.
  4. Rabbet out any core, at least a half inch, with a small router and rabbeting bit.
  5. Fill the rabbet with thickened epoxy or filler. Be sure to prime the inside surface with catalyzed resin that is compatible with your filler of choice. This will prevent any moisture possibly leaking and absorbing into the deck core.
  6. Once cured, grind/sand the filler to smooth out the inside edges of the hole. A power drill with a small drum sander bit works good.
  7. Test fit the deckfills, make sure they drop in easily and are centered and positioned (In this case, the text is oriented such that it is readable from the dock).
  8. Mark screw hole centers with a sharpie.
  9. Drill an oversized hole on the hole centers. These should at least be twice the size of the mounting screws.
  10. Epoxy plug the oversized holes. (as with the rabbet above, this is to prevent water ingress into the core)
  11. Once cured, re-mark the hole centers from the deckfill and drill pilot holes for each screw.
  12. Apply sealant, drop in the deckfill, and screw it down.
  13. Once the sealant has cured, trim away excess with a razor.
Piece of cake (go eat it now!).

In our case, we initially used light duty sealant as we will need to temporarily remove these when it comes time to refinish the decks.

More pictures in the "Latest Activity" slideshow in the sidebar.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Forward Salon Glass-in

Weekend recap: seems the weekend was fairly productive. The two items on my list (pressure washer and tank locker install), which were weather dependent, could not be done due to... weather. It was raining most of the weekend save for a couple short breaks here and there.
From Building A Westsail 42: Latest Activity
I did manage to get the forward salon supports all glassed in (see picture, more in the "Latest Activity" slide show, to the right). As these pieces are not structural (they only hold up the settee and the cabinet), two strips of glass, 3 and 5 inches wide, both sides, with a half inch foam fillet.

This glass-in, plus a couple small strips of glass installed under the side decks behind the galley counter, represent the last of the "hull glassing" planned for the forward end of the boat. All bulkheads, supports, floors, etc are in. One exception is the forward head, which may require a bit more glassing, is waiting pending final mechanical design. Otherwise, the remaining glass-in areas are in the aft cabin, which are waiting on tank locker and steering installation.

More weekend details coming when I muster the energy.