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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Galley Cabinets and Drawers Test, Update

I had chosen the small galley cabinet section as a means of testing a design style and construction method. Let me be clear, I have never built cabinets and drawers. I am not familiar with "traditional" cabinet design and the hardware used for construction. I am not a craftsman, or a finish carpenter. I am not even a novice. I am a hack. So, for someone like myself, I figure the best thing to do is to think things through a few times and try to build it yourself. And, repeat that till you have something that satisfies.

Some of the requirements I have for the drawer cabinets in general:

  • modular. The ability to remove a cabinet for future modification and/or replacement without tearing out/cutting up  any of the surrounding structures.
  • space. maximize drawer sizes to maximize storage.
  • simple(er) construction. No dovetails, or fancy joints that take a lot of practice, time, and special tools to get "right". While I can appreciate those things, and would not mind learning, I would rather spend the time on other boat building tasks.
  • no special tools. I want to use the tools that I already have. 
  • use standard off-the-shelf drawer hardware
So, here is what the first iteration produced...

Drawers installed. Drawer faces and face frame ready for installation.

Drawer faces installed. Added a couple latches.

Everything installed.

And done! (sorta)
As I said, this is only a test. And while I am generally happy with how this went, I did hit a couple snags that will require this to be redone:
  • drawer faces as slightly too narrow. The drawer runners rub against the face frame when you open the drawer. The faces need to be widened by about a quarter inch.
  • The latches need to be lowered by about a quarter inch. There is not enough gap to mount the latch strike plates on the inside.
  • The drawers cannot be removed when the face frame is installed. The type of drawer runners used require the drawer to be opened and tilted to pull the drawer from the runner. As I maximized drawer box sizes, the back of the box collides with the face frame, preventing removal. The solution is to change the box shape and "notch" the top/back corner of the box. As these are 3/4 extension slides, you would never see this notch in normal use.
  • The bottom drawer, and the face frame, is about one inch too tall. It is taking up some of the toe-kick space.
In any case, for now, it is nice to have the drawers to store tools, parts and all the bits that accumulate while building the boat. I may use the adjacent drawer space for "round two", learning from this construction, and perhaps, try a different design style. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Equipment Relocation

This last weekend was spent re-locating some of the heavier shop equipment. It's previous location had a "cascade" blocking effect:

1. Equipment blocks port side of boat, which
2. Prevents hawse cleat and other deck hardware from installation, which
3. blocks further development in the engine room port side

and so on.

Besides, previous location would make exterior work on the hull more difficult (like painting, still a long ways off). So, dust collector, air compressor and shop vac got relocated to the "hack shack". Getting it out of the way, giving better protection from weather, and easier access to for maintenance.

One of those "I shoulda done it this way a long time ago" things.

Space under stairs, vacated by equipment.

New home for equipment. Even more compact than ever.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ergonomic Testing: Companionway Stairs

So this boat project came with a set of makeshift companionway stairs made from some 2x6's and 2x4's which have always been a pain for me and my size twelve feet. It had too many steps with the rise/run of the steps being much too small.
Original stairs that came with the project
As we have some pretty well known requirements for these stairs, I thought I would build some new ones from cheap Home Depot plywood as a way of testing form and fit.

Here are some of the design requirements.

  • Easily traverse stairs up and down, whether person faces fore or aft.
  • Steps wide enough for size twelve feet
  • Steps must seem natural
  • Must not interfere with adjacent dinette settee access
  • Easy access for our four legged family members (dogs).

So I set out building some stairs...
First Stairs Test: FAIL. Too wide, step rise too high.
The first set was a complete failure. Never mind some mis-measured dimensions, I made the rise too much and the steps were much too wide.
Second stairs test: GOOD. Ok for my big feet. Closer to dimensional constraints.
Second stairs test, looking down from cockpit.
The second set is much better. I will use these for a while to get a feel for things. But already I want to tweak them a bit. We may cut down the "threshold" of the companionway opening by a few inches. This will allow the removal of one step and a more "shallow" run.

Already we have some ideas as to how the stairs can be integrated into a future cabinet that will be behind the stairs. But for now we will live with this until Stairs V3.0.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mizzen Mast Step

Is in and ain't coming out!

This is one of those things that has been nagging for a while that I just never got around to. But it has become a blocker for some other work in the aft cabin. Namely, finishing the AquaDrive installation and starting the steering installation.

The step is for the compression post for the mizzen mast. It is large block of laminated 3/4 inch Coosa board. Very light and very strong. As there is no wiggle room for the placement of the mizzen mast, the spot for the step is pretty much constant. Since the aft cabin had to be designed and built around this piece, it was constructed and dryfitted early on in the project. It has simply been resting in place up until now.

Shaping the step
Originally I shaped the block to mate with the curve of the bilge by running the piece through the bandsaw a couple times. For final gluing, a closer fit is desired. So I took a grinder to it to gradually smooth out the hard points.
Gluing the Step
In the boat, I ground away the paint from the bilge surfaces and wiped with acetone to prep it for the glue (Plexus methacrylate structural adhesive).
Step installed. Its not coming out.
After a few generous beads of glue on the mating surfaces, set the block in, tap it down, and squeegee out any glue that squirts out the sides.

The glue may be somewhat overkill as the block need only be kept from moving. The forces on it will be compressive from the top and the shaping of the block to the hull helps resist any side-to-side and fore/aft movement. But the glue will ensure that it stays put.

Yes I could of used thickened epoxy here, but sometimes the convenience of the glue is hard to resist.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hard Dodger Designs

When out boating, we often see other sailboats with "hard" dodgers around the cockpit (as opposed to soft canvas dodgers). However, as most dodgers are an add-on, after the boat has been built, their designs tend to be more functional than aesthetic causing things to look a bit weird.

So I started playing with some designs trying to match some angles and proportions of the Westsail's cabin trunk. I am trying to get something that looks like it belongs on a Westsail 42, but I ain't no designer. This is of course a work in progress. Any questions/comments/ideas/suggestions appreciated.

View forward
View aft

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Were gonna need a bigger boat..."

The famous quote from Sheriff Brody in the movie "Jaws".
We are just back from a multi-week boating holiday aboard our little 28 foot cruising sloop. It was a nice holiday and a good time was had by all. But... it has become clear we need a bigger boat. It is just too cramped for two people and two dogs. Examples: when one needs to move from one area of the boat to another, chances are, the other person must move out of the way. Or, should you need to access some gear or compartment, you need to move something out of the way temporarily (sometimes the another person) just to get to it. Then, when you are done, you need to move everything back. This trip has essentially confirmed that we have pushed the small boat to the limits for cruising in the PNW, for us at least. She is certainly more capable than what we have put here through (the boat should do fine offshore for example), but as for our comfort level, I think we have "maxed out" the boat.

A trip on the small boat is always good in that it generates a lot of new design ideas and re-prioritizes features for the Westsail project. This trip was no exception.

Its all good.

Now, back to the Westsail projects with a newfound excitement and enthusiasm... as soon as I recover from the holiday.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Online Community Resources: What Do You Read?

Here are a few that I browse...
  • - Anything and everything related to boat design and construction, professional and amateur
  • Panbo - The scoop on marine electronics
  • Cruisers Forum - Mostly about cruising but some content on maintenance and DIY
  • Wooden Boat Forum - Wooden boat building and maintenance
Readers, please post a comment and share any sites you have found useful in your project.