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Monday, April 30, 2012

Do Real Men Sew?

Quite a bit early for the Westsail project, but better late than never for the small boat as we have had a bunch of canvas projects in queue for some time...

The admiral picked up an industrial sewing machine (Consew) from a neighbor of ours down at the marina. The owner had closed down her canvas business and was looking to unload some equipment. We already have a nice Pfaff sewing machine at home, and I have used it to hack together a couple canvas bits for the small boat (emphasis on hack). But the admiral says its really not great for heavy material like canvas. Something about poor thread tension. This new (to us) machine will sew heavy canvas and sailcloth. I am looking forward to becoming incredibly dangerous with this machine.

Includes table mounted on platform with casters.

Built in worklight.

Wide "throat". Rack for large thread spools.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why This Westsail Will Have Zero Topside Teak

Pictures presented without comment.

Small Boat Diversion: Applying annual varnish refresher coats.
Repeat: "Perfection is not the goal. This is to protect the wood."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Water Pumps Are In

Under the floor of the forward salon, the raw and fresh water pumps are now mounted and plumbed to their sources (fresh water tanks and raw water input hose). 24 volts were applied to both to verify that they actually worked. On the fresh water side, two filters are added. One to remove dirt and sediment, the other to remove bad tastes and odors. Next is to work out the distribution manifolds with the SeaTech fittings, which will go in the same compartment. This will tie together those red/white/blue hoses shown in the picture.
Water pumps and filters

Monday, April 16, 2012

Intelligent Control

Not much happening lately due to a couple things. First, I started a new job, which makes the admiral happy, and I am kind of excited about the work (haven't been excited about work in a while). Second, waiting on parts. The decision to go 24 volts means special ordering a number of items. Now, my supplier can get these parts in a couple days, IF I want to pay an extra premium. Otherwise, the order is placed with the supplier's regular stock order, which means it could take a week to three months depending on the vendor.

These pumps took about a month to finally arrive. These are the 24 volt freshwater and raw water pressure pumps. Made by Whale, the freshwater pump (yellow one in the picture) claims new innovative "Intelligent Control" technology for maintaining pressure and flow at the water taps.

In traditional pressurized water systems, in order to keep constant pressure and flow at the faucets when more than one are open (example the galley sink and the head shower), an accumulator tank (sometimes called a pressure tank) is installed in the system to help "bank" the pressure reducing pump cycling and water flow "surging". The larger the tank, the smoother and consistent the flow. On a boat, this tank can take up a lot of space.
Left: freshwater pump. Right: raw water pump.

Enter Whale's Intelligent Control pressure pump. Through some fancy electronic monitoring of the flow, the variable speed pump will adjust to maintain a consistent flow, without the need of a pressure tank. I have seen Whale's demo display at the trade shows and it looks to be the real deal. At 3.5 gallons per minute, Whale claims it can maintain a consistent 5 psi and flow for up to four water taps. Made in Belfast, Ireland of all places.

The layout design of the pump mechanical space has been waiting on these pumps, which can now proceed.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Engine Room Scale Layout

Traditional wiring on a boat this size usually has a big main breaker panel located somewhere in the main cabin. As impressive as such an installation may appear, we are choosing to have most electrical controls in the engine room. In normal electrical distribution this would not make much sense as one would need to go to the engine room to turn on/off any device. But we are using digital switching which allows for multiple display terminals, which can be placed just about anywhere, for everyday control of devices.

With circuit diagrams and electrical equipment selection coming together, I can start on the scale layout of how all of this stuff will fit and be placed in the engine room. The drawing in the picture is a scale drawing of the surfaces available for mounting equipment. The center region is what you would see if you were sitting in the engine room facing the port side. Surrounding it are the left, right, overhead and below counter surfaces. Layed out are scale images of battery chargers, transformers inverters, panels, etc. The pictures shows things as if everything were "kitted out" in Phase III.

The purpose of this exercise is to help determine wire routes and ensure there is enough physical space.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Small Boat Diversion: It Keeps Going... and going.. and going...

A diversion courtesy of  "the other boat"...

Last year we took a couple weeks vacation aboard our small 28 footer. Everything went well in that nothing major broke, nor were there any big emergencies. But our dinghy's outboard motor, having been neglected for years, started fighting back. It hit us with an inability to idle, and just plain die at speed after only a few minutes. This behavior forced us to row to our destinations, or hitch a tow from a local neighbor and their dinghy (at great humiliation). Upon return, I was determined to get this resolved by the following season. The time has come.
27 year old outboard motor
The outboard motor is an old Honda 2HP four stroke. It "came with the boat" and is known to date back to at least 1985 (27 years old). The serial number indicates it as one of the first 700 produced by Honda, according to the dealer. The motor has always started with a couple pulls of the cord despite having been abused and neglected from stupid owner tricks such as:
  1. running an entire season with nearly no crankcase oil
  2. wrapping eel grass around the prop and stalling (many times)
  3. sucking up mud from shallow mud flats, clogging the cooling system, and overheating (many times)
  4. burning old gasoline
  5. changing crankcase oil on an interval of "years" (see #1)
  6. running over rocks and shearing off the prop.
  7. overfilling the crankcase with oil (upon discovery of #1)
  8. rinsing/flushing with freshwater after each trip, NOT (never, ever)
Honda. the ONLY maker of small four stroke outboards in 1985 (every other make was 2-stroke)
We had the motor tuned-up by a shop over ten years ago. I think that was the only time it has been seen by a "professional". Every year at the boat show, we would take a look at Honda's current 2HP offering (not much different than ours). Besides the $900 price tag, we would walk away telling ourselves we "can" keep the old motor running if we just keep it serviced (which we would never do). Anyway, having worked on our own cars and motorcycles (many of them Hondas), and being in possession of the shop manual (all twenty five pages), I finally set out to fix it give some TLC. How hard can it be?

Being a 2 horse, this engine is very simple: crankcase, one piston, two valves, small carburetor, bolt-on solid state electronic capacitance spark ignition (i.e. no points). The symptoms suggested a fuel problem. Noticing the carburetor was badly rusted (adjustment screws were rusted shut) I picked the following strategy: replace the carburetor and fuel filter. This is effectively replacing the entire fuel system for such a small engine and costs about $100 in parts.
Reassembled with new carburetor (lower left)
Some non-critical bolt heads sheared off, due to rust and corrosion, during disassembly. I pulled the cylinder head, checked valve clearances, removed the valves and cleaned up everything with solvent and a wire brush. I reassembled everything with the new carburetor and gaskets, cleaned out the gas tank and changed the fuel filter. Topped up the tank with fresh fuel, and with four pulls of the cord it fires up! Make some small adjustments to the carburetor and it is purring like it used to (as much as a single cylinder four stroke can purr). I love this little motor. I hope it never (completely) dies. If and when it does, I will buy another Honda.

So check that off the list. It should last another 25 years of neglect, right? The real test will be in the dinghy, on a real trip, out in the middle of nowhere, a mile or two from the boat. Maybe this summer.