Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Utterly Miscilaneous

Other completely Random Shit

I (Jon) finished these jobs variously between November and April.

I replaced the o-rings on all the deck-fills.

I painted the leading edge of the dodger where the paint was peeling.

I replaced the lines that held the rigging for the whisker pole with beefier line.

I added distilled water to the batteries.

I adjusted the bridle for the outboard engine.

I replaced the ethernet cord with a longer one.

I serviced and cleaned up the valve for the propane line to the BBQ. I also bought a new valve. It doesn’t fit the line. Fuck me.

I added another line to keep the fenders in place in the engine room.

I replaced the fuse for the wind generator when it blew because I was messing with the wiring when adding the splash panel.

A board on the dinghy that sits behind the mount for the engine came off. It seems to have been held on by a single nail. Justin put it back on with 4 wood screws.

Justin broke the bungee line that holds the monitor servo paddle out of the water while it is not being used. It got replaced. The bungee line, not Justin.

I replaced a spring on one of the hatches that broke.

I put a patch on the dinghy to try and stop a leak in one of the corners. Matt declares that it will forever leak, but I believe it can be stopped. The patch I applied is about 99% effective, so I’m at least glad for that.

Scuba Tank shelf

I (Jon) finished this job on April 4th.

Justin and I had grand designs to go scuba diving dozens and dozens of times. Syzygy already had two tanks that Matt purchased in Mexico for $? dollars each. (100?) Justin and I each purchased an additional one for $400 dollars each. Per usual, Australia is obscenely more expensive than elsewhere. So now with four tanks, there needed to be a better storage system than just laying them down in the port cockpit locker. So I built a small shelf in the port locker to accommodate them. Now they all stand up straight.

Two of the tanks fit great. the third tank in fits with a little bit of maneuvering to get it under a lip that is on the locker lid. The fourth one…. goddamn it if the fourth one doesn’t quite fit. Actually it fits if you take the hard plastic protector off the bottom of the tank. This nets you an additional millimeter or so of space and that allows the fourth tank to fit.

I had to cut a small section of a shelf that was already in the port locker that was holding spare flotation vests. The vests still easily fit and the tanks now use what was once dead space in the locker.

Awesomely, we had thought that the cockpit locker was over-flowingly filled before. Matt and I had both swore at the locker at various times as we tried to pull the drifter out and put it back in while sailing across the Pacific. Now, with the shelf in place, it arranges the tanks into a better position; they create less dead space then when they were lying down flat and they take up some dead space that wasn’t being used previously.  I also rearranged some of the sails already in the locker. Voila! Now everything that used to be in there is still there AND there are two more scuba tanks that fit inside the locker.  AND I actually think getting the drifter in and out of the locker is easier.  Boomsticks. On rare occasions, things just work out.


Rusted Stuff that go Replaced

I (Jon) finished these jobs variously on Dec. 22nd, Dec. 23rd,  and April 1st.

The galvanized screws that held the hatch hinges were all replaced. All 700 of them. Ok, there was about 70. I pulled the hinges off, most of the old screws had to be drilled out. I filled the old screw holes with epoxy, drilled new holes, glued the hinge down with 4200, and added 4200 to every screw as I screwed it in. I also touched up some of the varnish on the hatches edges that was cracking. Not sure how effective that is going to be.

I also took quite a bit of time scrubbing away rust stains from various places. The hatches and port lights both had rust stains running from them. There were also rust streaks running down the hull from the radar arch. The sinks were all quite rusty.

The set screw on the starboard pedestal pole got replaced.

The galvanized U-bolt brackets holding the life sling were the rustiest things you’ve ever seen. They were replaced with stainless U-bolts. (April 1st)

All the set screws on the radar arch were replaced with stainless set screws.

A lock washer for one of the bolts holding the whisker pole mount was apparently not stainless. It got replaced.

A washer holding one of the nav light screws was apparently not stainless and completely corroded. The other right next to it was fine. The rusted washer was replaced.

Repaired boom vang

The wire broke; I replaced it with a length of 5/16″ amsteel–overkill, but it’s the only piece I had that was appropriate.  If it breaks again, it sure won’t be the amsteel.

Added lightning protection

(pictures will be added when I have time to sit down for more than a minute)

Maybe I should say “replaced”, but I don’t consider 30 year-old stiff corroded 14 gauge wired snaked from the chainplates all through the overhead of the boat before going down to the keel bolt any form of lightning protection.  The cables need to be substantial–I used 4 gauge–and more importantly they need to run as straight as possible down to the keel bolt.  The idea is to protect the lightning from travelling down the shroud and then jumping from chainplate straight to the mast–which would happen to be right through the center of the boat where you could be standing at the time.  So each chainplate got its own 4 gauge wire, and the three wires on each side join up behind the settees (a bolt holds the terminals together), then one wire goes down alongside the watertanks, underneath the settees, on each side, to a keel bolt.

There are four chainplates on each side, but the aft lower and the intermediate backstays are bolted together on opposite sides of the bulkhead (they serve as each other’s backing plate) and so required only one cable on each side.

I snaked another 4 gauge cable from the backstay down to a keel bolt, but I haven’t yet done the forestay.  That will be more problematic since it needs to go underneth the holding tank, which has poured expandable foam all around it from what I can see.

Added restraining netting to liquor cabinet

(pictures will be added when I have time to sit down for more than a minute)

Can’t have that stuff getting away.

Added second primary fuel filter

(pictures will be added when I have time to sit down for more than a minute)

Pete was on hand and thought it would be a really good idea to add a second primary fuel filter to the engine fuel circuit, plumbed in parallel via a valve, such that when one filter clogs up from bad fuel or sloshing around during a storm, one can flip the valve to the new filter without the engine stopping–and then have time to change the clogged filter.  Initially I balked because I thought the cost would be prohibitive, but when I discovered that another nice racor filter would only be $150 (and I wouldn’t have to deal with the installation part at all, with Pete around), I decided it was a good idea.

Redid SSB counterpoise

(pictures will be added when I have time to sit down for more than a minute)

In the course of various projects over the past two years pieces of the ssb installation had been disconnected; e.g. the antenna to the backstay, the copper foil behind the radio itself, a couple pieces of foil surrounding the antenna tuner.

I sat down with the manual and reviewed my literature on ssb installations and discovered that we didn’t actually have a decent counterpoise at all–there were only two old bits of foil connecting the tuner to the rudder shaft and to the backstay chainplate.

I bought 4″ wide copper foil from Alco for 50 cents a foot, and painfully snaked the foil from a keel bolt in the center of the bilge back through all the various holes, under the engine, under the fuel tank, and up the side of Pete’s newly fabricated quadrant protector, to reach the antenna tuner.  It is very difficult to deal with that foil: the edges are very sharp, and it is hard not to kink and bend and fold it all up into a mess.

Fabricated Quadrant Blocker

(pictures will be added when I have time to sit down for more than a minute)

Ever since we pulled the old propane locker, opening up the entire lazarette for storage, we had the unexpected problem that everything we dropped into the back locker jammed up against the steering quadrant, preventing the rudder from turning, which is not a safe feature on a sailboat.

When Pete arrived, I put him on that project first, since he is far more comfortable with wood that I am.  He made us a bombproof box to block off the area where the quadrant moves from the rest of the stern.  It succeeds admirably in the three design criteria: 1) protect the quadrant 2) strong enough to be climbed on 3) minimize amount of space taken away from the storage.

Installed echo charger

The echo charger siphons charge from the house bank to the starting battery, up to 15A.  It follows the voltage of the charging source, and cuts the circuit whenever it is below ~13V (a one-way valve to keep the starting battery from draining, and charged up).

We have a Xantrex Freedom 20 inverter/charger that has a built-in echo charger.  After we installed the starting battery a year ago I wired this up to the starting battery.  However, at some point it stopped working, and it would cost more to pull out the large unit and ship it off to be fixed than to buy a new echo charge ($120).

I mounted the new stand-alone echo charge above the batteries in the engine room; so far it is working as it should.


Sanded sole board edges, epoxied

This was a problem of our own making.  First we painted the bilge, including the edges against which the cabin sole board edges rest, which reduced the clearance enough to make it difficult to get the boards in and out.  Then we sanded the edges down to make them fit.  Then the raw wood on the edges, which we didn’t treat with anything, absorbed water and swelled, making it even harder to get them in and out.

Finally yesterday, using our latest fantastic new tool toy (Ryobi 3×21 belt sander–flat topped so you can flip it upside down and use it as a grinder) we sanded down the edges properly, and also the bottoms while we were at it, and coated all of those surfaces with penetrating epoxy.  (we used Smiths Penetrating Epoxy, purchased at our local chandlery Svendsens in Alameda–for those who don’t know, the penetrating epoxy is as far as I can tell just epoxy extremely thinned down with volatile solvents, so that it is thin enough to soak into things, the solvent evaporates off and the epoxy cures over the course of a day or so).

Eventually, we will add latches to these boards so they won’t fall out when we’re upside down.

Serviced furnace, reinsulated/replaced ducting

I had already remounted the furnace outboard and forward of its old spot a few extra inches to gain us additional space in the engine room (this happened while it already was removed to access the jib car track and stanchions to rebed them).  While I was at it, I partially dismantled the furnace, satisfying myself that it was in pristine condition (how rare!) and needed no immediate attention from me.

Some short lengths of ductwork were missing: the piece through the wet locker and the piece underneath the nav seat.  I replaced the one in the wet locker with the common, expanding type available at home depot.  I wasn’t excited about the durability of it, but I wrapped it with a ton of foam insulation and then taped it all over with the metal duct tape to strengthen it.  The section underneath the seat had to be stronger (tools get dumped on it) so I found a double wall scrap piece from Urban Ore down the street from us (a great source for obtaining other people’s garbage). The fitting that joined the duct to the vent was missing, so I fabricated one out of a section of single wall metal duct that was flexible enough to bend into the shape I wanted with pliers (and extensive shaping with the cutoff blade).

The section through the wet locker still gets too hot to touch and scares me, but I don’t think it’s dangerous.  I wrapped the entire exhaust section with fiberglass tape designed for the purpose (previously just the last two feet were wrapped with it) and secured it with stainless seizing wire so it wouldn’t work loose.

The last thing I have to do is install a tiny little fuel filter in the fuel line–I found one that is meant for this purpose in the spares bin and I think it’s a good idea.  Not to mention I’d rather store it in usage in the fuel line than in a bucket in our locker.

Added reflective tape to the mast

When dinghying back to the boat in the dark after a day on land, it is difficult to figure out which boat is yours in a crowded anchorage.  With these reflective strips two-thirds of the way up the mast, one of our headlamps will be able to illuminate it from some distance.

Credit goes to another for this brilliant idea–I just wish I could remember which book I read it in.  Bud Budworth also did it on Tara, Valiant 40 hull #117; I was fortunate enough to hang out with him on his boat in ventura and talk shop a few months ago.

Installed portlight on forward surface cabin top

This is an unconventional one!  No one does this!  It’s a terrible place for a portlight!

But it’s also a fantastic place for a portlight.  Conventional wisdom says that it’s a bad location because waves washing over the bow will pummel the window, either breaking it or causing it to leak at the least.  But we are so confident in our portlight design (1/2″ thick acrylic 6″ x 16″ hole, through-bolted with 12 bolts and thoroughly sealed with silicon) that we went ahead and did it.

Not only does it let in a significant amount of light, but it lets us see up onto the foredeck to check out what’s going on.  I’m convinced that it’s bombproof and I’m glad for our choice.

Be sure to check out the post about our original post about added portlights, where I detail the whole process.

Fabricated gasket for dinghy gas tank

The old one let gas leak out after we filled it at the gas station, and let water leak in when it rained later that day.  Which required another few hours of effort to siphon to good gas off of the water (after first transferring it to a clear container) so we could move forward with getting the outboard operational.

Caulked companionway with 4200 UV

There was a leak manifesting itself in the engine room, just below the companionway, and I think it must have been coming from the seam of the wood with the deck.  I caulked it and it hasn’t rained since, to test this theory.  But it needed it anyway.

Rebuilt Monitor Windvane

Boy was this a task.  It was vintage 1989, and it was in tatters.  One of the supports broke off under my weight one day, nearly dumped me in the drink.  The chain broke off in my hand.  Then we tried to take it all apart, and half a dozen bolts and things sheared off.  Some of the tubing had rotted (I didn’t even know 304 stainless could rot, but that’s sure what this looked like.

Conveniently, Scanmar is located just 10 minutes away in Richmond.  I went up there with the monitor in pieces and carried it inside, and they had a grand time poking it and giving me fantastic advice on how to restore it to pristine condition.

I took a piece of it back home to my dad to weld this past christmas (before I learned how to myself).  I did a post about it on the syzygy site.

We spent $600 on new parts–everything that wasn’t in excellent condition was replaced–and put it all back together fastidiously (do I know any other way?).  Everything is as frictionless as possible and as tight as possible (with out binding).  And ready to go.

Remounted diesel heater

Carriage bolts were sunk through the deck to mount the heater.  This is the perfect way to mount it–if you want to guarantee that it will leak and rot your deck.  I constructed a mounting plate from 3/8" plywood, epoxied some countersunk bolts through it, and epoxied it to the ceiling of the engine room with thickened epoxy.  I managed to move it back into the corner more in the process, gaining us some extra room.


Refinished rubrail

The rubrail is the wooden strip along the side of the hull that acts as a bumper.  For some reason, the Valiant factory built the rubrail out of two strips of fir closest to the hull, and a strip of teak on top of those.  Fir is not so waterproof.  The previous varnish was peeling up, etc, and the fir was rotting in a handfull of places.  Water was wicking down the gap between the wood and the hull, and rusting the bolts that hold it to the boat.  It was time to take care of it, before more drastic repairs became necessary.  Aside: there was no worry of the strength of the rail-hull connection.  Valiant used a bolt every foot to fasten that rubrail to the hull, so a few rusting bolts is no concern.

We elected to paint the rail rather than varnishing it, for two primary reasons: 1) varnishing is way more work, both in the beginning and ongoing maintenance, than paint  2) after filling the rotted areas with filling compound, varnishing over them would not have resulted in a particularly pretty final appearance, which is half of the purpose of varnishing

This was our workflow:

1) Strip off old varnish with heat-gun and scraper (get a good scraper, it was worth every bit of the $30 I spent)

2) Dig out rotted, soft areas as best as possible with scraper and chisel

3) Sand with 80 grit.  Buy and use a Fein Tool!  Damn that thing is sweet.

4) Soak rotted areas with penetrating epoxy (i don’t recommend this step, it was a mistake, more below)

5) Fill rotted areas, voids, low spots, etc with QuikFair, which is a two-part epoxy fairing compound.  QuikFair rocks.  It is easy to mix, a perfect consistency to spackle on, and a pleasure to sand afterwards.  We were in a rush and only did one round (one application of quikfair, then sand).  I recommend leaving the time and finding the patience to go through at least one more round of fairing–after sanding down the quikfair the first time you’ll find that it didn’t get perfectly flat and smooth, so fair it and sand it again.

6) Sand with 120 grit

7) Apply Interlux Primekote.  It’s a two-part epoxy primer that goes on really thick.  Probably too thick–we probably should have thinned it some.  But it is supposed to go on thick, and seal.  We put it on with the intent of really waterproofing the rail.  I would definitely recommend an epoxy primer like this one, for this job.

8) Sand 220 grit–since the epoxy primer didn’t self-level very well, there were some ridges and high spots to sand down fair

9) Paint 3 coats of Interlux Brightside, sanding with 300 grit between coats (just for giving tooth for the next coat).  We did not thin and it didn’t seem necessary, but be careful it sags pretty readily, even out of the can.  Meaning that you’ll put on what you think is a normal amount of paint, and then 10 minutes later you’ll see that it’s running down the side of the hull on you, and you’ll wish you had spread it out more.

10) On top of the second coat and the final coat, shake on non-skid beads (Interlux Intergrip, or whatever).  We want to be able to stand on the rubrail without slipping, and the nonskid had the added benefit of cutting down the gloss–the rest of our boat is worn down, dirty, and dull, and the gloss was starting to make the rest of the boat look bad.

11) Lay bead of 4200UV down the top seam.  The paint did a good job of sealing the crack–for now.  I didn’t want to take any chances, because you know that it will flex and soon enough there will be space at the joint again for water to wick in.  I was planning on using lifecaulk but Wally Bryant headed me off just in time–because that spot needs a product with UV inhibitors, like 4200.  Since we’ll have to strip it off and renew it eventually, we elected not to use 5200 (which is effectively a permanent glue).

I’m fully satisfied with the result.  It looks good and it certainly does the job (it’s protected).  Jon sort of misses the wood look, but agrees with the wisdom of painting it.

long hiatus . . .

. . . from blog writing, not from boat work!

Apologies for not updating the site in so long.  I ran out of memory at my hosting provider, or something like that, and I was too lazy/busy to fix it for the past few months.  Anyway, we’re back in business, and I have a long backlog of work to add to the log.  It will all appear to take place in the next week, because I’m not going to bother backdating it.

Replaced docklines, bumpers

The old docklines were 4 short lengths of unmanageable dry 3/4" 3-strand nylon; our new lines are 6 40′ lengths of 5/8" 3-strand nylon.  I bought 4 blue bumpers to supplement our deflated old ineffectual white ones.

Replaced Profurl furler bearings and seals

The Profurl has sealed bearings and supposedly cannot be serviced (throw it away and buy another is the policy among riggers). I found a site on the internet that explains how to do it, what parts you need, and what tools you need. I am very thankful to Andrew Bray for posting this information, and also Chris Zinger who wrote up super detailed instructions (available through Andrew Bray via his website). Without their pioneering efforts on this project, we would never have been able to do it. They are gentlemen and sailing scholars, and I salute them. The hardest part was pulling the seals out. We tried the methods described, but to no avail. In the end we used the dremel tool to very carefully grind away the steel ring that exists inside the nitrile rubber seals. Fortunately, we did not damage the sealing surface using this method (we had damaged the sealing surface already, before we knew any better, trying to pry back the edge of the seal with an awl to get grease in/out–damn–oh well).