Archive for the 'Deck hardware' Category

Windlass handle

Windlass handle

I (Jon) finished these jobs variously on March 10th, Apr. 20th and Apr. 25th.

Somewhere across the Pacific the handle used to crank up the anchor windlass broke about 3 inches from the bottom.

Multiple welding shops here in Australia said they didn’t want to bother. Another wanted to charge me $75 just to weld the 3 inch piece back on. Finally I found a shop willing to do it for a reasonable amount $20.

This worked great for two months at which point the handle broke again, this time one inch further up, 4 inches from the bottom.

At this point, I was beyond extreme frustration levels. Syzygy was headed to Bundaberg after this and it was unfortunately most reasonable to use the welder right next to the marina. This meant I was probably overcharged even with respect to Australia’s over-inflated prices. He charged me $120 to weld on a new 6 – inch stainless bar onto the cylindrical pipe forming the entire handle. (this is, of course, what Matt said I should do originally, but I tried to get away with something cheaper.) This stainless bar was supposed to be exactly like the old one. The next time we went to go use the handle to crank up the anchor, Justin finds that the stainless bar that was welded on was not exactly the same, it was nearly twice as wide. And it didn’t fit into the slot made for the handle on the anchor windlass.

So a week later while sailing along at 2.5 knots on completely flat seas, I pulled out the grinder and took off enough so that it fit.



Go sailing, stuff breaks

I (Jon) finished these jobs variously on April 5th.

While sailing along soon after Justin arrived, one of the pulley wheels on a jib sheet block completely exploded into four pieces.

A entirely new block would have cost an obscene fortune here in Australia, but I was luckily able to buy just a pulley and make it work.

Also, the cover for the emergency tiller had been slowly breaking and finally I accidentally stepped on it and crushed it through. I bought a new one of those, left the threads from the old one in the deck, and just used the male threaded lid.

Serviced Windlass

No luck with my previous plea.

So, between Jonny and I we got the windlass apart, cleaned all the gears inside, and re-oiled the whole thing.  Karen cleaned up the wooden pad on the foredeck where it is mounted, then I faired it with epoxy fairing compound (we had taken some big chunks out of it while trying to get the windlass off), sanded smooth, and painted it with an epoxy primer (primekote).  Eventually I’ll have to put two coats of something different on it after it yellows, but there’s no time now.

Jonny dismantled the windlass, but wasn’t around when it time to put it all back together . . . boy was that NOT fun.  There is no manual for this windlass, anywhere; I spent a long time looking around the internet, inquiring in forums, etc.  So just figuring out how the one-way bearings all went back together was a challenge.

Eventually I figured it out, all the parts got cleaned spick and span, I rinsed out gunk and metal filings from the housing so it was all pristine, put it all back together, and added nice fresh oil.

But the real bitch was the very last step: trying to get the bronze hand wheel back onto the stainless shaft.  The threads at the end were all mangled and cross-threaded, and I spent hours, literally hours, just messing with trying to screw the wheel back onto the shaft, without forcing anything.  No matter what I tried, including gentle filing to clean up the threads, nothing worked.  The shaft was a standard size, but the pipe thread on the shaft was a custom-sized pitch–meaning I couldn’t find any taps/dies online that would work on the threads.  I put it aside for a while.

Pete showed up and managed to get the handwheel to thread on the shaft.  Didn’t do anything special, just sat there and messed with it and got it to work.  Now it’s saying something for someone to best me on a task like this, which is to say that Pete is a phenomenon.  I’m just thankful we didn’t have to scrap the whole windlass for this one little problem, especially after I spent so much time making everything so clean and pretty.

Can anyone identify this windlass?

And give me a link to a manual for it?  I have no idea how to take it apart and service it.

I know it needs servicing because every fifth crank or so I move the handle without anything happening.  It feels like the pawls don’t want to catch, or something.  Regardless, the windlass is important, and no doubt it looks like all hell inside, knowing my luck and having experienced everything else breaking on the boat.

repaired jib sheet foot blocks

The jib sheet runs aft to a turning block, turns 180, and leads to the winch.  The last sail we were close-hauled in decent wind and I noticed that the bracket on the port side was bending–starting to rotate forward under the force.  We pulled the brackets from the boat, I fabricated a couple of support struts from the spare sheet of 316 stainless we have, and then I welded them up down at the tech shop.  Jonny shined them up and we’ll put them back on after we paint the deck (hopefully in the next two weeks).

Added amidships cleat

In the previous setup, lines were tied to a shackle mounted on the deck and led through a fairlead on the toerail.  We wanted a proper cleat amidships, so we mounted one on each side directly on top of the toerail.  It has greatly improved our handling of the docklines.

Rebedded Staysail Tracks

After doing the jib car tracks, we knew these would eventually have to be done as well.  While adding the new portlights we discovered a fairly significant leak on the starboard side that we were 99% certain was coming from the staysail track.  So we pulled off the interior trim to access it, removed the track, cored the holes, plugged them with epoxy, drilled new holes through the epoxy plugs, and remounted the track using 3M 4200 UV for a sealant.

When we drilled and cored the new holes it was easy to look at the fresh, wonderful balsa core and see that the track hadn’t been leaking (the port track, on the other hand, showed some minor signs of leaking).  So we were wrong about the source of the leak and now we have to pull something else off the deck.

Added/replaced spinnaker hardware on deck

The old downhaul was routed down the starboard side, to the same winch as the topping lift.  Which meant that when flying the spinnaker, the starboard cabintop winch was needed for both of those purposes, while the port cabintop winch was unused.  Jonny had pulled the downhaul hardware (a fairlead and turning block) out of the deck months earlier anyway, and filled the holes with epoxy, so I was free to put it wherever I wanted.  I ended up routing it just inboard of the handrails on the port side, back to the port cabintop winch.  We’ll try it out this weekend.

The topping lift runs from the mast down the starboard cabintop and comes under the dodger just right of the companionway.  The old rope clutch exploded one day when we were out sailing (which is my way of saying that the pin busted apart the plastic).  The old clutch was mounted atop standoffs also–not particularly strong.  Finally, it was a terrible lead from the clutch to the winch.  So we replaced the clutch and added a turning block jobby–check out the pictures.  It’s a necessary evil; I wish we didn’t need the turning block jobby, but I’m glad that it exists to solve this problem nicely.

You’ll notice that both the clutch and the turning block mounted on top of blocks of polyethylene (starboard in one case, UHMW in another case) in order to provide a fair lead.

Replaced jib car tracks; replaced deck underneath tracks

We traced a bad leak in the quarterberth to the port side track, and it was bad enough to need to be addressed immediately.  Jonny pulled up both tracks.  On the starboard side we got away with drilling, coring out the balsa, and filling the plugs with epoxy before redrilling new holes and mounting the new track from Garhauer (1-1/4"  10′ long).  On the port side we weren’t so lucky.  Jonny discovered that a 1′ x 10′ section of the balsa was rotted out, so he cut the top side of the deck off, chiseled out all the balsa, cut a new piece of marine plywood to fit, and glassed over the top with epoxy and knytex (great fiberglass available from TAP plastics–layer of cloth backed stitched to mat–good for building up thickness fast).  I laboriously ground down and faired it afterwards (Quik Fair is my fairing product of choice for this task).  Initially I was trying to do my grinding with a grinding blade on our 4" grinder, but the radius is too small for quick, pretty work.  So we bought a variable speed 5" Milwaukee grinder, took the guard off, and put a 7" sanding disc on it.  I bought some 36 grit discs for it, and ran it at low rpms.  This is DEFINITELY the tool to use for this job.  We painted over the work with a two-part epoxy primer and we’ll finish the rest of the painting, etc when we get around to doing the rest of the deck. 




Moved liferaft cradle & installed dinghy cradle

The dinghy is large heavy and unwieldy, and we had no place to put it expect the floor of the cabin.  We wanted to put it on deck.  Turned out the most efficient use of space was to move the liferaft cradle aft, just forward of the dodger, then install steel tubing for the dinghy in front of that. The hardest part of the whole project was gaining access to the underside of the holes, inside the cabin.  It was a pain in the ass to remove all the necessary ceiling panels, pull out the foam, cut out squares in plywood where necessary, and in one spot even relocating some wiring to make space for the bolts to come through. For every hole we cored out the deck, filled with a plug of thickened epoxy, and redrilled the holes down through the center.  When we put it all together we used lifecaulk as our sealant. Jonny built the new dinghy cradle out of 316 stainless tubing and fittings (a shout out to Marcus, a marina friend, for helping source the expensive stainless). The result looks really sharp and is completely bombproof.  We found a location for all of the mounts that doesn’t foul the running rigging (which all runs directly under both the liferaft and the dinghy).  We made the dinghy cradle wide and long enough so that it was easy use simple webbing cam straps to hold it down.

Serviced Winches

Over the past month Jonny has completely dismantled, cleaned, and regreased all of the winches except two–the last two need to be removed from the cockpit coaming for servicing.  We still need to figure out what to do about the finish on the drum of a few of them; the chrome is half off and the resulting rough surface is eating up our halyards on the cabintop.



Replaced rope clutches and deck fairleads


The old system: original jammer-style rope clutches, a mess of deck fairleads that no longer turned, lines crossed on the deck. The jammer-style clutches are frustrating because they can’t be released under load, which means that to drop a halyard for example you have to wrap it around the winch put the handle in and crank an inch just to be able to release the clutch. We tore out all the old deck fairleads and rope clutches and installed all new.  We drilled and cored all the holes at the same time (old and new) and filled them with epoxy plugs.  We cut large plates from our sheet of 316 stainless for backing blocks, and laboriously drilled all the necessary holes.  The one bank of clutches needed to be elevated slightly off the deck for a fair lead; we used a piece of our UHMW (ultra high molecular weight) plastic to do the job.  Everything was bedded with lifecaulk.  In short, it was all done BTB (by the book). The new system is a dream–the boat is far easy and more pleasant to sail, largely because the friction is a fraction of what it was.  It was worth every penny of the ~$1500 we spent on clutches and fairleads.  I have to rank this as the most satisfying modification to our boat so far.

Replaced/added backing plates to dodger, bow pulpit, staysail halyard block

We’re discovering that many things installed through the deck are sans backing plates.  The dodger was just screwed in, which in my opinion is not solid enough for how much force that dodger experiences.  The staysail halyard block was backed with washers, which has rusted into powder because no sealant was used on deck.  The bow pulpit backing plates were aluminum, which had so reacted with the stainless bolts in the salty environment of the anchor locker that they had corroded clear in half. We made custom 316 stainless plates for each application.  In each case we also cored out the deck, filled the cavity with thickened epoxy, and redrilled for the bolts.  In short, we did it the way we were supposed to in order to insure that water never permeates to rot out our cored deck. I’m willing to guess we’ll have many more of these to do–probably every time we open up a new ceiling panel.  Much thanks to John Ryan for providing the stainless steel, making our bow pulpit plates for us, and giving us essential advice at every step of the way.

Replaced Lifelines

I read on Brion Toss’s forum spartalk about using HM (high-modulus) line–amsteel is my brand name of choice right now–for lifelines. This idea appeals for many reasons:

1) Much cheaper–no need to have ends swaged, no need for mini (yet still expensive) turnbuckles

2) Much easier–we can splice the eyes ourselves, and use lashings for the ends, making it simple to maintain them ourselves

3) Stronger–for it’s diameter, stronger than wire

4) Prettier–we used amsteel blue, which nicely matches our boat. It’s unusual to see blue lifelines, and it’s cool.

It took over two weeks to finish this task, working on it an hour or so a day on average.  Mainly because we didn’t have all the materials on hand, then ran out of some stuff, dropped one of the latches in the water, couldn’t decide how we wanted to do the lashings, etc.  But now everything is finished and we’re satisfied with the result.  My only concern is that the blue is going to wash right off the amsteel, and then it won’t look as cool.

Replaced bow pulpit backing plates

When we had it trucked up from Mexico we removed the bow pulpit for 14′ clearance.  In doing so, we discovered that the stainless bolts were inextricably locked to the aluminum (?) backing plates (which were 50% gone from corrosion, especially the ones in the anchor locker).  So we ground off the heads of the bolts on deck, leaving the issue for the Berkeley workyard.

Our excellent friend John Ryan made us up some replacement backing plates out of stainless.  We put it back together with neversieze on the threads and lifecaulk as the bedding sealant.  I’ve settled on lifecaulk–a polysulfide sealant–as my number one preference.  I used to think that I would use 5200 on everything, until I started trying to take apart old stuff that was put in with 5200.  Now I stick with the lifecaulk.  And I have gone sort of crazy with the neversieze–everything we take apart is a chore, requiring pounding, heating, lots of penetrant, extractor bits, and half the time we still end up drilling it out and replacing it.  With the neversieze, I expect you’ll be able to take it apart pretty effortlessly for decades.  But I still hate the stuff.  My dad uses it (and used to make me use it when I was growing up on the farm) all the time, and it’s messy as hell.  It gets all over everything and it spreads infinitely and it only comes off with gojo.  Hate the shit, but I find myself using it on everything.