Friday, March 25, 2011


During the middle of an important and complex cut, one of the drive motors of the CNC table sheared at the shaft. Funny thing was, just like my old cordless drill, it wasnt under a heavy load, it just sort of 'let go' (the tool was above the table and simply moving from one point to another).

Of course, my supplier is out of these motors, and you shouldn't mix motors with different torque ratings. Which means, if I want the machine back up soon, I need to order a new set of motors.

In boating there is a rule about having "spares" for critical systems that I think applies here?

Left: drive motor now with no shaft. Right: shaft coupler with piece of shaft sticking out.
UPDATE: Jury Rigged using a Little Red Motor
After a bit of creative thought, swapping existing motors on the machine, and raiding one of my other projects of it's motor, I managed to get the machine working. This red motor is weaker than the other motors, but using it for the Z-axis should be ok. Should get me by until the new motors arrive. Also, I managed to save the original cut! So, the weekend is not a total loss.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Annual Spring Boating Symposium...

...was held last weekend at the new Northwest Maritime Center (opened last September) in Port Townsend, WA.
Many years in the making, it featured speakers and workshops all centered around cruising (power and sail). Far from your typical "boat show seminar series", there were no boat and equipment manufacturers hawking their wares (well, some of the presenters had a few copies of their books available). Just a bunch of nice experienced people exchanging ideas in a comfortable classroom setting. A number of topics were presented that could be categorized under "the adventure", "the boats" and "the systems". The presentations generated much useful discussion. So much so that they could have gone on all day.
Attendees got to hang out and chat with many of the "usual suspects" from the marine sailing/cruising community including Lin and Larry Pardey, Carol Hasse, Brion Toss, Chuck Hawley, Steve D'Antonio, Mark Schrader and many others.
A number of boats were available for sniffing, (production, custom and home built) ranging from a small Pacific Seacraft Dana 24 foot cutter (preparing for Mexico) to a large Steve Dashew designed aluminum power cruiser (designed for expeditions). Also there was S/V Ocean Watch that sailed the "Around the Americas" circumnav a couple years ago.

We got to see the new Inland Sound 48, under construction at SEA Marine. A power cruiser equipped with fly-by-wire twin Volvo IPS drives, a Mastervolt distributed power system, a drop down "tailgate", and too many other features to list. Very cool.

We met some locals doing their own boat builds: a just launched 50 foot sailboat (from a bare hull) and a wooden trawler workboat conversion. Some very nice and inspiring work that generated a lot of good ideas.

With three to four hundred attendees, overall, a successful show considering it was the first one. Well worth the attendance fee. Mark your calendars for next year's symposium (same place, same weekend). It is sure to be even better.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Galley Cabinets and Drawers

This is my first crack at cabinets and drawers.  I have never done this before, so I am treating this as a "test". Meaning, if I fail miserably, I will rip it out, learn from it, and try again. No worries.

I picked the smallest cabinets in the galley to start with. This will NOT be a piece of art in woodworking joinery. I am going for a strong yet practical, easy to build, easy to install/remove design that will facilitate the various face frame decors/styles we are considering, It will use standard household stainless steel drawer runners (positive locking).

Design parameters so far:
  • top drawer, shallow, to hold silverware and utensils
  • middle two drawers, deep enough to hold canned and small jar items
  • bottom drawer, deep enough to hold pots and pans, up to the size of a large pasta pot.
If this is successful (enough) it will be used as a template for the remaining cabinets in the galley.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Batteries!

It has been decided, and executed: the aft-most dinette riser base cabinet will be used to store batteries. As the contents of the cabinet cannot be readily accessed, its storage is best used for occasionally accessed items. It will be used to store two battery banks:

  • Engine Start Bank - the box is big enough for one or two (in parallel) Group 27 size batteries
  • Communications/Electronics Bank - the box is big enough for one 8D size battery or three golf cart batteries. Why a communications/electronics bank? An amateur radio trick. I am considering this for powering the HF radio equipment. RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), from other devices on the boat's power circuit, like a refrigerator compressor, can travel through the DC system wiring, into the radio's power leads and interfere with even the best quality radios. One of the easiest solutions for this, provided you have room, is to connect the radio equipment to its own isolated/dedicated power source.

Now, even though the batteries are accessed occasionally, there must be access to allow complete removal for replacement as well as access to the terminals and filler caps (if they are flooded cells). Access ports on the top of the riser will provide access (through the inside of the future settee) to the terminals and filler caps. Complete removal/replacement of the batteries will require the removal of a side panel near the floor, and the companionway stairs (which would normally block this side panel), followed by the removal of a couple cleats holding the battery boxes in place. At which point the batteries and their boxes can be removed by sliding them sideways, one after another, towards the centerline.

Essentially, removal is the reverse of installation, as shown by the pictures.
Empty dinette riser/battery compartment
Sliding in the engine start battery box
Engine start battery box in place
Sliding in the communications battery box
Communications battery box in place. Cleats installed to secure boxes.
Access port covers installed.
Even if the communications battery option is not pursued, the box can still serve as storage for something. The point is, it will be "ready".

Next on this front is the permanent wiring of the battery cable leads.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Plywood

The finishing of the dinette base cabinets has been waiting on more plywood to cut one last piece. Our supplier was out of the least expensive Chinese made Sande marine plywood, so we ordered the next one up, Meranti faced Hydrotek. Turns out, due to their mistake, they sent an even better grade plywood, Aquatek (also Meranti faced and cored, BS1088 and Lloyds certified) at no extra charge. This stuff looks too nice for the base cabinets. This isn't rational, but as someone who has shelled out twice the cost for Coosa board, I feel guilty cutting into this stuff (what anything is rational about boats anyway?)

Friday, March 11, 2011

DC Electrical Panel Design... in progress. This is for the engine room.

It will be used for "24 hour" loads (like bilge pumps) and a few switched loads. Mostly for stuff that will be "set and forget". But I don't know every load item, and may never. In our experience, load items will be added and removed over time as we change our minds, always.

So the question is, "how many circuits do you plan for?"

With the uncertainty, I am tempted to answer "as much as real estate will allow".


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Not Sure Why...

... I keep putting this off.
The small boat's engine needs maintenance before this years boating season. Besides your typical oil change, it needs

  • coolant change
  • valve adjustment
  • injector pop test
  • transmission oil change
In the past we farmed this out to a local mechanic, but, having done similar work on our motorcycles, I should be able to do this. I mean, I have all the necessary tools.

Maybe it is because I don't care to get all twisted inside a small engine compartment? Or lay sideways across a split level settee, with my ribs getting jabbed? All to get access to the engine?

Or maybe I am just lazy?  ...nah.

Scheduled for the next dry, non-freezing, weekend. Really!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A New Color

The dinette riser base cabinets got a splash of primer and color. These surfaces will not be seen by anyone under normal conditions. However, the admiral wanted to pick a specific color. Its a very nice color. "Beach Basket" is the name. Sounds somewhat nautical, don't it?
But, this is not "marine grade" paint. We feel the marine premium is not necessary in this sort of application. This is a household oil based exterior grade enamel. Turns out, with the advent of latex paint, this stuff is getting a bit scarce. A regular paint store will probably have it, maybe your local hardware store, but the big box stores like Home Depot or Lowe's do not stock this stuff. At $30-ish a gallon it is less than one third the cost of the marine equivalent.