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Replaced a couple of rotted interior panels.


Rebedded and refastened the traveler with new bolts and larger washers under the nuts.

Removed the sticky slide for the convertible settee / double berth and trimmed and rebuilt it so it will work.

Modified poorly fitting ceiling panels over the galley so cabin bulkhead trim will fit properly and reinstalled trim.

Built electrical panel cover to protect switchboard from spray and prevent random switches being turned on or off as people go up and down the companionway. When open, it locks into the removable step to support the opened switch panel. Now I won't strain the hinges and pull the cables while trying to torque the screws for the electrical connections.

No more having the table leg drop out and dump the meal all over the cabin sole every time somebody bumps the bottom (very lightly) with their knee. The thumbscrews were made by soldering pieces of brass sheet into the screw slots.

Looks like a simple job but this "Tee" for the holding tank pump out system was an epic struggle due to the tight working space and inability to twist the hose for the second connection. This would have been a $200 boatyard bill. It might have even been higher because they wouldn't have felt free to fire up the galley stove and heat water to soften the hose ends. No one who hasn't done a fair amount of this stuff themselves should bitch about boat yard bills.

Also installed seacock and tail pieces for pump out discharge, drilled holes for new hose run, and installed table leg fittings.

Built this GPS mount out of scraps from the switch board cover project. It will clamp onto the hand rail in front of the steering pedestal. It can be tilted to various angles and the GPS used in place or quickly removed.

Sliding cleat for jib halyard with holding tank pump in the background.

The cleat is a sliding unit intended to go on a jib sheet track to provide an additional cleat. It came with a thumb screw to hold it in position which I removed. I then removed the cleat and put a 1" wide tang with an additional hole drilled in it between the cleat and slide. I'll have to replace the machine screws with slightly longer ones before using it.

The cleat had to come from England because units like this are hard to find domestically except for very expensive and larger Schaefer models that can not be disassembled to add the tang. (Marine Store Chandlery, Product No. PLB51253, Barton Sliding Cleat, 25.37 Pounds Sterling, including shipping) Removing the thumb screw wasn't strictly necessary but it didn't fit the detents in the domestic track and I didn't feel like drilling the third large hole in the S.S. tang.

The 1" track will be screwed to the mast under the jib halyard exit hole. The halyard will be made fast to the cleat in the normal manner with the cleat slid against the stop and as much slack pulled out as can be done by hand. A three part tackle attached to the tang will run to the base of the mast for final tensioning of the halyard. Cheaper and easier to use than a winch as well as cleaner looking and less likely to foul the jib sheets.

The holding tank self pump out system for use over three miles out finished and ready to use.

The removable handle tucks under the strap that secures the holding tank. Don't even think of using the nylon elbows shown here if you try this at home. Use only black Marlon for anything a hose fits over. Everything else is oversize and a nightmare to get the hose connected. Hot water, lubrication, pre-stretching, and a hair dryer will still leave you cursing and straining. With the fitting clamped in a vice, I could just barely make the connections. The Marlon fittings, meanwhile, slip into the hose like machined metal parts and have a better design for the hose clamps to work against. I replaced the nylon for the final connections that needed to be made in the tight spaces on board the boat.

Completely overhauled steering pedestal control head. I just wish I'd taken a "before" shot. Also painted the pedestal.

The formerly grotty and faded throttle handle has a new coat of toolgrip rubber, everything has been painted, and all screw threads cleaned, screws replaced, and everything lubed so it can be gotten apart again.

There is also now a friction adjustment for the throttle. This replaces the hair elastic on a loop of marline that got us through last season.

It was a bit of a disappointment last spring to find the through hull fitting for the speedometer leaking after the major effort to redo all the other hull penetrations. The backing block swelled up enough by mid season that the leak couldn't be distinguished from condensation but it went on the "must do" list for this year. There is an unused depth transducer next to it so I got an estimate from the yard for plugging that hole and installing a new backing block. $1000.00! Yikes!

The depth sounder looks solid so I decided to move fiberglassing that up to the "someday" list and tackle the speedometer myself. The yard warned me that they would probably destroy the through hull in removing it so I bought another. However this rig

pulled it out cleanly. The leak appears to have been the result of some optimism and misguided frugality in the use of bedding compound.

Made this new tail piece for the sink in the head.

The line from the dishwasher connection at the top of the tail piece goes to a shut off valve at a tee into the head intake line. By closing the red valve at the bottom and the head seacock, I can then flush the head with fresh water run into the sink. This will flush out the critters and plant bits that can make the head smell like low tide. I can also pour an appropriate deodorant into the sink with the water and really sweeten the whole thing up. The high connection on the sink drain makes forgetting to reset the valves less likely to sink the boat.

Another advantage to this arrangement: If the sink drain clogs, you can pump it out through the head before starting work on clearing the drain.

I decided on a change in standard operating procedure for the next boating season. Instead of just waving as people who fall overboard disappear astern and then sitting around in the cockpit reminiscing about how nice they were and what a pleasure it was to know them, we're going to go back and pick them up. Key to this process is the latest thing in crew retention, the lifesling.

This lives on the stern and the long line in the bag is made fast to the boat. Instead of having to stop the boat exactly in the right spot, you tow the sling around the PIW (Person In the Water), in a circle like picking up a water skier. If they are too cold and weak to get up the boarding ladder, as can often be the case in Maine, they can be hauled aboard with the spinnaker halyard. This piece of equipment was a present via gift card from some friends e took sailing last summer.

I figured out this very clean jib sheet attachment using spliced eyes in the ends of the sheet. Note the lack of rope loop projections on the inside to snag shrouds as the jib comes over. There is no way this attachment will come undone if the sail is flogging and there is a double loop of rope in the cringle for each sheet to take the chafe. This is a mock up with docklines one size larger than the actual sheets so the final result will be cleaner.

The key is to put the first sheet on in the normal manner and then run both it and the bitter end of the second through the eye as shown below. I've had a vague memory of hearing about this before most of you were born but it's taken several days and much discussion on Internet forums to stir the solution back up to the top.

This is the way I think it should be done, at least for roller jib sheets that don't need to be detached for headsail changes. The loops of the eyes will be a lot easier to work loose than most knots when you do want to remove the sheet.

Here's how I do it with sheets in a single length.

Overhauled the cooling water intake system to avoid the failure that led to my selling my first boating magazine article which appeared in Points East magazine. There's a long story (aren't they all) behind this new package of the cooling water strainer and the Aqualarm which is supposed to help you avoid engine and exhaust system damage if something interrupts the flow of cooling water.

When the boat arrived, the raw water strainer was mounted as high as possible in the engine room, probably with the misguided idea that the strainer should be removable without closing the seacock. We spent hours trying to get the engine to draw water and finally discovered a rotted hose end at the strainer that was nearly invisible in its location almost under the deck. The yard moved the strainer to a proper location and I then installed the Aqualarm in the space left and under time pressure. It ended up looking like this:

We still had a hard time getting the engine water pump to prime and the yard manager said he didn't care for that high loop. I figured I'd redo it if we had problems but it worked fine all season.

The last sail of the year, as you can read here, was in a very strong and gusty northeast wind. I was delivering the boat to the yard for haul out so I was motor sailing and heeling to some fairly extreme angles in the gusts. The water alarm suddenly went off and I was unable to restore cooling water flow.

The large heel angles lifted the seacock out of the water so the system sucked in a big gulp of air. When this reached the pump, it cavitated and stopped pumping water. The bubble of air was left in the high part of the system. Even when I reduced heel and got the intake back under water, the pump couldn't get the flow going. These pumps will self prime to some extent but this one just couldn't break the airlock. I also suspect now that the strainer was drawing in some additional air through the funky and now replaced cover gasket that I discovered today.

Anyway, when I screw the piece of plywood I've close coupled both units to onto the side of the engine room, all flow paths will be upwards or at least level. There will be no high spots to trap air and water will fill the entire line right up to the pump without having to be sucked over the hump.

The installed the strainer and alarm. Pre-mounting on a board was a great idea. I was on the boat for about 15 minutes. I would have been curled up there all afternoon cursing and wracking myself trying to do things at arms length if I'd tried to duplicate this installation piecemeal and putting each part in place directly.

The backing block for the speedometer sensor through hull shown installed below. This piece of plywood was double embalmed in Epoxy and then set in 3M 5200. It's a flush through hull that doesn't have an outside flange and thus much less resistance from being punched through by contact with a floating object. The backing block is therefore much more critical to the impact integrity of the hull. I would have liked to build up a pad of fiberglass and epoxy in this area but it is a nightmare place to get to. The rated tensile strength of the 5200 adhesive and bedding I used times the surface area of the block adds up to nearly twice the weight of the boat so I think it's a clear case of "Good'nuf".

Not very neat but, like I said, a very hard spot to get to. The unused depthsounder transducer on the other side will need to be attended to some day but it was bedded and installed much more competently than the speedometer which was leaking.

This rig squeezed out the compound and will hold the the block in place for a couple weeks until the 5200 is fully cured and then some. The old through hull was used as a sacrificial alignment jig and then pulled out before cleaning off the excess goop. Planning and thinking ahead really pays; especially when the yard is 30 minutes from your shop.

I remembered to take a "Before" shot for the anchor roller project.

I have a different fitting to install to hold the head of the anchor instead of the floppy snap shackle that used to be shackled to the 'U" bolt. Looking at the difficulty in removing it and plugging the holes, together with the rather sad appearance of the whole affair, I decided the best course was to remove the whole thing. It was quite a struggle, trying to clip Vicegrips on to bolt heads just 1/4 inch out of maximum reach. I'll remember this the first time I put out the anchor and see the blood on the anchor rode.

Good thing I decided to to it right. I never saw teak rot before but, if you put a spacer of ordinary plywood (complete with voids from missing inner ply's) under something like this with no bedding compound and let it soak up water for 10 - 15 years, it will start the teak rotting. Fortunately, I caught it in time.

I took the teak "bowsprit" home and trimmed and planned it to a more elegant shape with a teak spacer epoxied to the bottom in place of the plywood. I also recessed the forward bolt that could have snagged and cut an anchor rode in a heavy swell and painted the entire bottom with epoxy. When I've properly finished the top and sides, it will go back on the boat.

Recessed washer and nut in epoxy plug on bottom to eliminate protruding bolt in outer end.

This is a light roller intended as a hoisting convenience and stowage device only. The boat rides with the line in a bow chock. In severe conditions, the rode could have chafed on this bolt end and been severed. I just read an account of a boat going ashore due to something like this. It will also look a lot neater.

The refurbished and more elegantly shaped bow roller is installed.

The appearance is helped by the use of carriage bolts instead of hex heads. Having to put the nuts on and turn them at fingertip length while wedged in through the small opening to the forepeak was one of those "Why the hell to I do this to myself?" moments. Actually, it was a "Why the #@^%*$& hell do I put myself through this grief for an old boat?" hour and a half. Thanks to the impulse purchase of a spark plug wrench that works in tight spaces the day before, I got it done.

This simple repair sure beat pulling out the whole port and putting in a new one just because the strain of the new gasket broke a hinge.

(One of the things on the "Someday" list is to clean up the former owners varnish drips.)

A door stop bumper for the head door. I won't have to wince anymore every time someone goes to the head.

Here is the knot log sensor with a copper ring to slow down fouling.

A little clean up sanding when the fairing coat of bedding sets up and it should provide supper antifouling protection at this critical spot.

Checked the stuffing box and found the hose clamps for the flex hose to be cheap, rusty, cruddy, faux stainless steel. This is the part of the boat most likely to cause rapid flooding and I don't know why neither the surveyor nor the yard flagged these. Put three top quality clamps on at arm's length while lying with my head lower than the rest of me after squirming into the small space full of fiberglass splinters. Oh, maybe that answers the question.

Removed the other dodger fittings and epoxied up the holes. Used excess epoxy for more keel fairing.

Replaced the mast wiring connector plug and added enough wire to the mast half that I can make the connection without sticking my fingers into the three inch space between the sharp metal edge of the bottom of the mast and the step while the mast hangs from a crane and the boat bounces up and down in the water. Losing my fingers would really muck up the sailing season.

Replacement of the original rubber hose of the stuffing box meant lying head down, twisted up, and disassembling this stuff while working at arm's length.

Everything up to this point came apart quite easily.

I'd been wondering whether the rubber hose, without question the most dangerous thing on the boat, was original or not. That question was answered pretty decisively when I cut back the fiberglass edge and found that they glassed around the aft most hose clamp after the hose was installed! I know that clamp had never been off and it was a bitch chipping it out.

Thinking I only had one hose clamp at this critical point was a primary motivation for this project. There were two clamps but I got up close and personal enough with the hose to see the beginnings of a small crack. Its time has come and I'm committed to the replacement now.

Normally, getting the coupling off of the end of the shaft would have been fairly simple: put short a piece of steel rod in the middle of the coupling with four bolts through the holes. Take up on the bolts and the shaft is pushed out. The Drivesaver (red disc) prevented this. When this Drivesaver was installed, the heads of the bolts that hold it to the gear coupling were buggered up.

When I took a utility knife to the rubber hose. It melted through disturbingly easily and I had the hose out in my hands not ten minutes after climbing onto the boat. It didn't actually look too bad and the boat probably would have floated on it for several more years. However, it turned out to be only exhaust hose, about half the thickness of proper stuffing box hose which is built about like the side wall of a tire. If the stuffing box gets too tight, these hoses can take a lot of twisting force. If the hose lets go, all the bilge pumps as well as buckets in the hands of frightened people will only slow the sinking long enough to reach a nearby shore, if there is one. The cords at one end were starting to rot and it didn't look like something anyone would want entrust so much to.

As I expected from the set in the hose, the engine was sitting much too low. The shaft was practically touching the bottom of the shaft tube. This puts a heavy side load and twisting force on the stuffing box which would be twice as bad after installing the heavier and stiffer hose. The next job was to re-align the engine.

Simple job really, squirm in headfirst and reach over your head to loosen the top bolts on the mounts and then turn the ones underneath in 1/8 turn increments about 10 turns working at the limits of your vision with your eyes rolled all the way up in your head. Then squirm out backwards, twist up and out of the seat locker, climb into the cabin (where the ladder is removed for engine access) and turn those bolts. Then go back, squirm into the engine compartment, run the feeler gauge around the coupling, figure out what needs to be turned, turn it, squirm out, go forward, turn what needs to be turned there. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.

It didn't take much to get the coupling off, just two 5/16" carriage bolts and the usual agony. I found an OEM timing gear puller I'd forgotten I had and cut the jack screw short. You would think someone who has designed many shaft couplings to tolerances of thousandths of an inch could get up to the boat without finding that the screw was still an inch too long but you would be wrong. I went off in search of a shorter screw (not likely because of the thread) and resigned to a 45 minute round trip home to lop off the rest.

Just up the road I saw a small building I hadn't noticed before. The sign said "Machine Shop" and there was a guy in the appropriate clothes walking in front. I asked if he would do a small job for me and he gave me that, It's-Saturday-and-I'm-just-here-to-get-away-from-the-wife-look. Five bucks to run a hacksaw through the bolt seemed reasonable to him though. Fifteen minutes later, the coupling was off the shaft.

I had to do it in two stages, taking it all apart and sticking a wrench socket inside to make the second push.

Above in the picture is the stuffing box and the grinding wheel used to zip through the hose clamp the day before.

This hose is by far the most likely thing to sink a boat like ours. See why I've gone to so much trouble to replace it with the right part?

The finished drivetrain:

Few projects I've done on the boat have given me more satisfaction than this one. Banish that nagging little tickle of doubt in the back of my mind when out there in the dark. The engine is properly aligned and the stern tube hose should be safe for much longer than that engine is likely to run before it comes out of the boat for replacement or overhaul.

Here is one of the standard flax packing rings I took out of the stuffing box.

After just one season of light use, there was a hard crust next to the shaft that looks like something burned on the bottom of a cooking pot. This kind of packing depends on water to lubricate and cool it and the gland should be adjusted so that it drips slightly when the engine is running. I know mine was because the box was covered with the green of sea water exposure (see picture at top) and pictures of the boat before I bought it show it all bronze.

The problem with flax and the wax it is impregnated with is that it is an insulator. Thus, the need for water flow to carry away the heat generated by friction with the shaft.

I found and repacked with stuff called GFO Virtually Dripless. The fiber is Gore-Tex which is a Teflon based product. Teflon is always a good place to start for things that need to be slippery and tolerate heat. It is impregnated with what appears to be graphite lubricant, a better conductor of heat than wax and also tolerant of high temperatures. This looks to me to be the best of the alternative packings available. The instructions say to adjust the gland so that the leak just stops when the engine is running. Not having the shaft spinning the salt water that drips in will keep the salt off things near the shaft. The higher heat conductivity of the GFO packing will carry the friction heat to the bronze stuffing box with it's large surface area that can dissipate it.

I knew there was something funky going on under the cover for the pocket the companionway slide goes into. I planned to spend the day working on it so I would be there if the yard started removing the prop.

Inside, I found a rolled up cruising guide to some part of the Great Lakes. It was a soggy mess that had held the moisture and rotted the wood trim guides and front hatch frame.

The original design was defective. There is only 3/8" of clearance under the plastic hatch cover at the forward end. This isn't enough for the teak strip originally installed to support the plastic against the flex of someone standing on it momentarily before the captain starts screaming, "DON'T STEP THERE!". I'm sure most of these were cracked within weeks of launch. After mine turned into mush, the plastic sagged against the fiberglass wearing a scuff line down the middle.

With only 3/8" to work with and being under great time pressure to get the slide back on the boat so I can lock it again, I came up with this solution:

I bought three 1/8" x 1" aluminum flat bars and glued them together with five minute epoxy while lying on top of a level to be sure the laminated strip came out exactly straight. Then I clamped the level to the hatch frame as shown above so gravity would hold the plastic panel straight and glued the aluminum to the plastic. After the epoxy set, I drilled and tapped eight 8-32 stainless steel FH screws through the plastic and into the aluminum. The whole thing should now be plenty stiff and flexible enough to withstand a careless foot without cracking.

Close up of the aluminum frame and plastic wear buttons I installed since the forward ends of the frame run on the fiberglass cabin top and the wood was wearing. You can also see that I'm now putting multiple coats of oil on the thirsty teak.

The companionway slide in place on the boat showing new plastic guides and bumper made from plastic lumber that won't hold moisture.

You can see the tight clearance at the centerline that required thinking up the laminated aluminum frame. With the machine screws through it, it is just as stiff and strong as a solid metal bar.

Finally, Strider's "front door" is completely restored. This would have been well over $1,000 at shipyard rates.

I did have the yard remove the prop and replace the stern bearing.

Another project from the "Whip it Up" department. This 31 pound piece of odd shaped lead came in a purchase of scrap for the 700 pound counterweight to my eight foot long working model of a medieval trebuchet (don't ask). After we got the boat, I remembered it and thought it would make a dandy weight to let down the anchor line in "do or die" holding conditions. As I was putting the eyebolt in it, I noticed that the small inside cavity was machined to a very precise and complex shape with provision for a tapered plug secured by two threaded brass sockets cast into the lead. This was clearly no ordinary piece of scrap lead.

It didn't take long to realize that I had a piece of shielding for something highly radioactive, probably medical isotope. Fortunately, my father in law used to be the radiological safety officer at RPI so a quick phone call relieved any fears that the lead might be dangerous. I threaded in an eyebolt and filled the rest of the cavity in stages to dispose of left over epoxy from other projects.

Tonight, I tackled the question of how to store such an awkward and potential loose cannon ball on board. I put together this cradle using my favorite construction method, glue everything together with five minute epoxy and then figure out where to put all the screws to make it strong enough.

This goes under the cabin sole with the upright portion screwed into one of the cabin floor beams. The weight, know as a Kellet, will ride there being ballast and, hopefully, never being called to a higher purpose. If the chips should ever be really down, having that thing shackled to the end of the anchor chain should boost the holding power of the anchor enormously.

The only question is what will happen if I'm ever boarded by the Coast Guard and they find this object of obviously nuclear origin carefully secured in the bilges of my boat.

Kellet stowed.

Then all the usual spring stuff and on to sailing.

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