27 Sept 11 All summer I thought about how I would approach painting the boat this fall (see the May entry for the disaster I had rolling and tipping Interlux Perfection on the topsides). Though we learned a lot about rolling and tipping--the cockpit and hatch areas came out great--I didn't want to chance a second failed effort. So, I decided to get some bids to have it sprayed. I located two painters that came with recommendations. I settled on a painter that has been spraying boats with Awlgrip for many years and was fully equipped to paint at my location. The price to spray was very reasonable. In fact, the biggest expense of painting the boat, by far, is the prep work which I already completed (initial sanding, fairing, priming, final sanding, etc). The painter came to the house and looked over the boat. He was very satisfied with the preparations I had completed. He recommended I reconsider spraying the Perfection. His position was that it cost the same to spray either Perfection or Alwgrip but that Awlgrip would last much longer. I knew that Awlgrip is pretty much the gold standard, but initially chose Perfection since I was going to roll and tip and it was the easier product to use when applying in that manner. But, since I was now going to have the boat sprayed his point made since. I shipped the Perfection back to Jamestown Distributors last week and ordered Alwgrip.
Today I went back to work on the boat. I spent most of my time cleaning it up and preparing it for sanding tomorrow. I taped visqueen over the port-lights to protect the interior, vacuumed off the grime, wiped the boat down with a wet cloth, and then performed a final wipe down with Interlux 202 dewaxer solvent.
Tomorrow I will start sanding again to finish up where I left off last May. Since we need to have the cabin sides painted, I will also sand the cockpit and the hatch area even though they came out fine with the roll-and-tip Perfection. The Alwgrip tech rep told me that Awlgrip and Perfection are compatible so I don't need to sand the Perfection off or even prime over it, just sand it with 220-320 grit paper. It's requires more work to paint over the Perfection, but I think it is better to have only one kind of exterior paint on the boat. The plan is to complete the sanding and tape off the boat by the beginning of next week. Then, the painter will spray the cabin sides, cockpit, and hatches (laid out on saw horses) on the first day. He will spray the topsides (hull) the second day. Then we will be done. I should have gone this route last spring when the hull was in perfect shape. Live and learn.
26 Sept 11 I have been corresponding with Lin and Larry Pardey for about 18 months. They have graciously answered many questions I've had about interior changes we made to the Far Reach. During the summer, while exchanging emails with them about splicing wire rigging, they suggested I meet with them this fall during their tour of the US East Coast so Larry could get a better look at my splices and give me some tips. So, this past week, while visiting with my friend Steve and welding the test pattern for the bronze bulwark bracket (see below), I linked up with Lin and Larry just south of Annapolis where they were scheduled to speak at the Seven Seas Cruising Association Gam. What a great visit! I had about 2 1/2 hours "one-on-one" with them. They were not only incredibly helpful answering my many questions but wonderfully encouraging on the direction we are taking with the Far Reach. They were as delightful and charming in person as they are in their videos and books. It was a privilege to meet with them. They are truly a treasure to the sailing community.
25 Sept 11 Last week I drove up to visit my best friend Steve for some welding (since he clearly does not have enough to do). I have written about him on this site before. We have been friends since college. He is a retired fighter pilot and a master of many trades: sailor, home builder, soccer coach, artist, small business owner, arborist, IT master, mechanic, godfather of my kids, etc. And, he is truly a "Thousandth Man." He is one of those guys that can fix just about anything. He is currently building an airplane in his shop. Click here to visit his site. Last year he taught himself to weld with Oxy-Acetylene, but recently upgraded to a TIG welder and has been learning its many ways. So, instead of casting the stanchion brackets that need to also support a raised bulwark, he suggested we try to weld them. Having never welded bronze before, he did some research to figure out how to approach it. I ordered a small sheet of 1/4" silicon bronze and some one inch ID silicon bronze tubing from Atlas Metals. After making some drawings, we cut out the parts for a test pattern on his metal band saw. He made a few test runs and then welded up the test pattern. Though Steve was not thrilled with his first attempt, I think it came out pretty darn good. Because it will eventually go completely green, all the little imperfection and grinding marks that I failed to remove won't be noticeable. By the time we are finished I have no doubt he will be an expert welder of bronze. I would not be surprised if he starts welding bronze art work in his spare time.
Welded bronze stanchion-bulwark bracket.
In the photos below you can see how the one we made compares to the ones I had made by a local SS fabricator who welded on the brackets to a stanchion bracket that came off the boat. I didn't think they were very strong. The SS bracket to the far right is designed to provide extra support to the bulwark. The plan is to install six stanchion/bulwark support brackets on each side of the boat. Then we will add six bulwark support brackets on each side, alternating them with the stanchion support brackets, designed to provide extra support to the bulwark. They will be patterned on the SS one I designed last summer which is pictured below. The one big change is we won't build the new brackets angled to accommodate the 6 degree deck slope. Instead, I will install beveled teak wedges under the brackets. The brackets are much easier to build that way and I can cut each wedge to better align the brackets so they are exactly vertical.
17 Sept 11 I spent the last couple of days working on plans for the rig and the rest of the time I spent polishing some new bronze hardware. Previously, all the bronze I have had cast came from Port Townsend Foundry. Their work has always been superb. But these are parts were cast from the Pardey's patterns and they were located at a different foundry. I needed two bow rollers, a sculling oar lock, and some small brackets to secure the oil lamps to the stanchions that will be mounted in the center of the saloon and support the table. The parts arrived from the foundry un-polished, as in they still had the casting marks on them. They had come out of the sand and only had a quick grinding to knock off any flashings,etc.
I have, of course, polished bronze and brass like most folks but had never had to polish bronze from scratch. I did some research and bought some polishing supplies from Caswell Inc. They were easy to work with and told me what I needed. I bought two sisal buffing pads and a more aggressive spiral sewn pad. I bought a few small felt pads and a block of medium grit brown and a block of aggressive black polishing compound. I bought a wheel rake and an adapter that would allow me to attach the buffing pads to my 4 1/2" Makita grinder so I would not need to buy a stand along polishing machine. The plan was to clamp the grinder to the table and use it like a buffing machine. All these supplies cost about $75.00. I have since seen all the same stuff, though less heavy duty, at Lowe's.
I started by sanding the bronze with 80 grit sandpaper on my double action right angle sander. Then I worked my up through 120, 180, 220, and 320. I performed the final sanding by hand with 400 grit wet/dry paper. There were some defects and scratches that were too deep to eliminate as I would have had to remove too much bronze. All these parts, save the oil lamp brackets, will eventually load up with green verdigris anyway so a mirror finsh is not required. Next, I took the parts to the buffing wheels. The way it works is once the buffing wheel is spinning you touch the stick of abrasive to the spinning buffing pad and then start polishing. After lots of polishing with the black abrasive I switched to the brown. You keep polishing till you have the finish you want. In between I had to use my Dremel with very small polishing wheels to work some of the tight corners. I was never able to really polish out the inside flat parts of the bow roller because I could not get my DA sander in there. The procedures were the same for the other bronze parts as well.
The most exciting part of the whole event was in the last couple of minutes of the final polishing my 10 year old makita grinder gave up the ghost and caught fire! There were flames and smoke. I quickly unplugged it and dragged it out of the shop by the cord. I took it as a signal that I was done polishing. Though I learned a lot about polishing I have a real appreciation for the quality of work and the product produced by PTF. Their products do not require any work . . . they are ready to install. Nonetheless, I am satified with these parts and as I have all along I Iearned something new as I rebuild the Far Reach.
I hope to get back to installing overhead insulation this coming week.
7 Sept 11 I am starting to work around the boat again after wacking my shin last week. All I have been able to do is hobble around the last 8 days. I have had to satisfy myself with small projects. I stripped the caulking off the deck hatches and removed the lexan lenses. I went by a glass supplier to look into replacing the lexan with tempered glass--there are some pros and cons to making the switch. Its early in the decision process so I will continue to gather info. I cut some G10 for a platform for the ABI windlass to sit on. It will have to be faired to fit the camber of the foredeck. For the last two evenings I have spent my time practicing wire splicing. This has not been a simple endeavor and I am not talking about the difficulty of the splice. I basically have the splicing technique figured out . . . not that the quality is ready for prime time but with continued practice I am confident I can make a strong splice. No, the issue is parts.
A 7X7 SS 5/16" Liverpool splice with bronze thimble. Better but still not ready for prime time.
The real stumbling block seems to be finding the right thimbles. The trick with SS wire is to use an "oversized" thimble because the wire is very stiff and it is hard to bend the wire around the standard sized thimble radius. I am not sure exactly what constitutes oversized but the thimble tends to be more oblong than the standard "tear-drop" style. Last year, I practiced on 7x19 1/4" galvanized wire. It was easy to bend it around standard thimbles. Then, this last spring I started practicing with stiffer 7X7 SS 5/16" wire. I found some oversized 304 SS thimbles with a slightly oblong shape that were excellent at 2 1/4" long. But, they are not really made for wire and are not suitable for standing wire rigging. The thimbles I need should be bronze and closed on the small end. The one in the photo to the right I found at Whitewater Marine in NZ. They are about $15 each and I bought five of them to practice on. But, I am convinced they are too small and not oblong enough. They are only 1 3/4" long and are more tear-drop shaped than I had thought they would from the picture on their website. I have scoured the internet for a couple of years and have not been able to find the right thimble. Port Townsend Foundry has beautiful bronze solid thimbles but they seem huge to me at 4" long and they are heavy . . . and of course that much bronze is expensive. I don't think they have to be that big . . . but so far I have not been able to find what I am looking for.
And this brings me to something I have learned over the course of the rebuild of the Far Reach . . . some of the traditional techniques and ideas I have tried to incorporate to keep the boat strong and simple are not so easy or inexpensive to implement. In the old days splicing was common and I am sure there were lots of suppliers to help sailors, builders, and riggers get the items they needed to get the job done. But, traditional techniques are so seldom used anymore that when you can even find the special things you need they are incredibly expensive.
For the last couple of years I have been watching with great interest the development and use of Dynex Dux synthetic line as standing rigging. I have talked to some folks that have used it. Most of what I have heard and read has been positive. It is expensive but it is very easy to work with. It is super strong (twice as strong as steel wire of similar size) with almost zero stretch though it does suffer from creep. The real question for me is UV longevity which Colligo Marine states should be at least 8-10 years in the tropics maybe more since it has not been used that long as standing rigging. I have heard some frustration with thermal expansion and contraction--in other words as the temps drop the rig can get slack if you use dead eyes to tension the rig. But, Brion Toss seems to think it has a great future. There have been interesting discussions on the "Spar Talk" forum about the pros and cons of synthetic rigging.
I still have time to decide what I am going to do but I am beginning to feel like I am swimming upstream with regards to splicing traditional standing rigging. In the meantime I enjoy the splicing. It's not that hard and it is very satisfying to create a nice splice. Now, if I can just find those thimbles.
3 Sept 11 After cleaning up the debris in the yard I set to work to rebuild the vapor barrier. I removed the old one because . . . well . . . it was old. The plastic sheeting used for the vapor barrier is not the same as the plastic sheeting used to cover the SRF. The plastic over the SRF is very heavy with lots of UV protection and is guaranteed for 5 years. The vapor barrier plastic is 4mm sheeting from Lowes without any UV protection. Thus, it was starting to fall apart and it was also pretty grimy from the residue created by the never ending sanding that took place over the last two years. I decided to use the same kind of plastic sheeting for the liner as I used before because it was cheap and it did the job I needed it to do.
A much improved vapor barrier.
The bigger issue was how to support the new liner. For the old liner I used strips of wood that I cut off of 8' 2x4s which I then stapled and taped together. To be honest, they were pretty flimsy and would get to flopping around whenever I had the transom hatches open and their was any wind blowing through the shed. This is the main reason I decided to take the liner down before Hurricane Irene. I didn't think it would survive the wind that would get through the cracks in the SRF. I thought maybe PVC pipe would work better and I bought a minimal amount to experiment with. After trying a few different techniques I settled on using 20' long 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe with bell ends. It is commonly used for sprinkler irrigation pipe. It's a little more expensive then non irrigation pipe but it comes in 20' lengths and because each pipe has a bell end I don't have to buy or glue any couplings. I added a 4' section of pipe to each 20' long section to give me a total length of 24'. Gayle helped me install them. First, we ran a new cable from one end of the shed to the under just under the ridge pole. Second, we draped the plastic, which we had pre-cut, over the cable and let it hang freely on both sides of the boat. Third, we put a single pipe together, bent it into position and clamped it in place. Fourth, I drilled two holes through the pipe on each side of the bow (both below the level of the platic sheeting) and into the bow frames. Fifth, I used a drill gun to install 2" #10 SS screws, which I have plenty of on hand. Sixth, we repeated the cycle. We started on the aft end and worked towards the bow end of the shed. It only took a few hours. I rolled the edges of the plastic all around and used a pneumatic stable gun with 18 gauge 5/8" staples to tack the plastic down. Finally, we finished off by ripping some 8' lengths of 3/4" by 3/8" strips off of some scrap 2x4s. I used 1" long staples to secure them over the previously rolled and stapled plastic sheeting. Nothing to it. I think it looks much better and hope that it is stronger too.
3 Sept 11: Hurricane Irene and the SRF (Sailboat Restoration Facility). UPDATED I updated this entry from yesterday. This morning I was able to merge the two separate videos. It took a while to figure out how to do it and the quality is not that great--I am clearly operating at my maximum computer skill level. In fact it took a lot more time than I expected so there won't be many of these in the future. On the plus side there is some good video of the outside of the SRF during the hurricane. I posted the most recent video to You Tube which can be viewed on the link below.
The center of the eye came ashore at Cape Lookout which is about 30 miles east of here. The coast can be misleading here as we are on the Atlantic as well . . . the coast runs almost directly east. In fact, Cape look out is actually ESE of us. We never saw the eye as the west side remained just a little to the east of us. That pretty much put us in very strong winds the whole time to include a ride along the eye-wall. Amazingly, the shed came through without damage. There are a few holes in the top of the plastic next to the ridge pole but that was due to my own fault when I installed it more than two years ago. I normally have a vapor barrier rigged up on the inside to mitigate condensation that forms when the air is warm on the inside but cold on the outside. The vapor barrier also channels these minor leaks to the sides of the shed. For Irene I removed the vapor barrier in case the shed blew down. I have since installed a new one.
The water seen in the video on the ground mostly entered under the edge of the shed from the flooded yard. Some blew in through the cracks in the barn-style doors. The shed really impressed me. It flexed a lot but never gave any indication it would structurally fail. The UV resistant plastic held. We have heard from several sources that the wind speed hit 100 mph in our town but I have not been able to verify it. Nonetheless, it was pretty darn windy.
26 Aug 11: 1600 We have made all the preparations we can for Hurricane Irene (pictures below). This morning we also got the last of the plants, outdoor furniture, and other outdoor things in the garage and work shop.
I finished closing the boat up and taping over any remaining holes. I removed the vapor barrier because it had a lot of UV rot and was beginning to fall down. Also, the bows that held the vapor barrier in place were pretty flimsy and I wasn't sure they would survive the high wind shaking of the shed which I expect will be significant. What I want to avoid is the vapor barrier bows snapping and punching a hole through the plastic cover. I installed two guy lines from the top of the shed, one from each end, to steel engineer stakes I drove into the ground. The eye bolts are probably undersized but that is what I had. Maybe the lines will hold. I also rigged up two ratchet straps rated to 13,000 lbs--one over the front and one over the back of the boat. I hooked them into the steel screw anchors I installed yesterday. Hopefully the shed, and the Far Reach, will come through the storm. If not, I'll deal with whatever is required to get back on track.
25 Aug 11 Well, still no pictures but progress has been made. The cleating system is more or less installed for the underside of the cabin top and the side decks. I shifted focus to address the bow sprit heel system and the location of the anchor windlass as they affect the cleating system. After much discussion and measuring I decided against cutting the hole for a 5"x5" sampson post and in it's place I will install a bronze heel socket I ordered from Port Townsend Foundry. It will require a backing plate and holes for bolts. More complicated in some ways and more simple in others . . . choices.
I decided to use Armaflex AP self-adhesive closed cell foam 1/2" thick for overhead insulation. I add 1/4" thick reflectix foil insulation on top (between the AP foam and the overhead panels). I chose this method after much research. I finally decided that I can mitigate condensation on the inside of the hull by directing it down into the bilge, but I can't mitigate condensation on the overhead . . . it will drip against the overhead panels and even with epoxy coating to protect the wood nothing good can come from the moisture. The foam arrived to day. So I am ready to go . . . except for Hurricane Irene.
The Storm: We have spent the last couple of days prepping for what looks to be a pretty big hurricane. Having grown up in south Florida and having spent much of my adult life in coastal Carolina we are not new to these dangerous weather systems. We had high hopes she would pass by to the east, as so many do, so our early preparation have been things that we needed to do any way, e.g. make simple wood hatches and covers for the portlights that can be secured in place, sink 4' long screw anchors (used to hold down mobile homes) and buy two 30 foot long 3" wide ratchet straps. We also secured shutters on the house that were lose.
Well at noon today we were surprised and concerned to see the forecast for land fall of the eye move from about 75 miles north east of here to basically right over our little seaside town of Swansboro. It could still move but it seems to be firming up that Irene will come ashore very close. That intensified our preparations. I spent the day taping plastic over the portholes to keep the water out of the boat, moving the rest of the tools from the SRF into the shop, securing the dinghy and kayaks, etc. The big question has been to leave or remove the plastic cover over the SRF. After much thought and several plans to do this or that we decided to leave the plastic in place. It's a very good design and sheds wind exceptionally well. We think, based on what we know today, that most of the wind will come from the west side of the house. The garage should provide some wind break. The shed base board is through bolted to (12) 4x4s sunk 4' in the ground with concrete. The design called for a single diagonally on a side and I installed two on each side when I built it. One of the problems with removing the cover is I did not have a place to store every thing in the SRF (scaffolding), SRF plywood floor, tables, etc. This stuff could be dangerous if the wind gets under it. It seemed the lesser of two evils to leave the plastic on the sheet and hope for the best. I bought some 6' engineer stakes tonight and tomorrow will rig guy lines from the ridge pole on each end to add strength to the shed.
We have a lot of work left to do tomorrow. Plants to move into the garage, lawn furniture, final taping on the boat, and rigging the guy lines and ratchet straps.
15 Aug 11 I have spent the last five days working on the installation of the overhead V-groove panels. I routered a test panel of 1/4" plywood, which I was very pleased with. I have spend numerous hours, with many more to go, installing more overhead cleats necessary to secure the outboard edge of the panels. I suspect I'll be working on this project for the next few weeks. Once the panels are cut and fitted they will require a couple coats of epoxy on the back sides and edges. The underside, the side you'll see, will need to be primed and painted. I'll post pictures of the progress in a few days.
10 Aug 11 Today I trimmed the wood plugs in the settee lower panels and added the first coat of varnish mixed 1:1 with mineral spirits. I am amazed by what I learn everyday. I have been having some trouble with trimming the wood plugs. I occasionally get "tear out" in the plug below the surface of the wood that is being plugged. So, I spent some time sitting cross-legged on the cabin sole examining a bucket full of plugs I cut a couple of weeks ago. I noticed little waves in the grain of some of the plugs. I have been cutting plugs out of scrap mahogany. Some of the scrap was "wonky" wood that I couldn't use for anything else. Big mistake I think. The lesson here is the wood for the plugs needs to be just as good as the rest of the wood being used. Also, I think the plugs need to be cut with the primary grain of the wood in the running parallel to the surface of the wood being plugged so that the chisel cuts it cleanly . . . othewise you can get "tear out." This is problematic when plugging quarter-sawn wood where the primary grain in the wood is not parallel to the surface.
First coat of varnish mixed cut 1:1 with mineral spirits. There are a couple of misaligned wood plugs.
In some of the plugs the grain on the end of the plug is hard to see. I have tried to be very conscientious about the orientation of this end grain so it will match the grain of the wood being plugged. Sometimes, when inserting the plug into the hole, it is easy to see . . . sometimes not. In the photo to the right you can see a few plugs misaligned. Rats! But I am not going back to fix it.
9 Aug 11 Today, I removed the screw-clamps, counter sunk holes, and installed wood plugs. I added a picture to the photos below.
8 Aug 11 For the last week I have been working on the settees (See the photo album below). In between the work we took several days off which I will cover with a separate entry.
I started off by painting the exposed epoxy and biaxial tape in the locker bottom with two coats of grey Interlux Bilge-Kote paint. Next, I installed the cleats that will secure the forward and aft ends of the settee panels. The cleats are ash. I then clamped 2x4s to the cleats, which I had run over my jointer to create a perfect straight edge, to serve as a strong back for the dividers. With the 2x4s clamped in place I made doorskin templates for the dividers. I chose to go with only one 1/2 BS 1088 plywood divider per settee since the settee panels will be further stiffened once the staving is epoxied in place. I drilled a series of 1 1/2" holes in the dividers to promote airflow. I glued the cleats to the divider, except the inside vertical one, and screwed them into place with #10 1 1/2" SS screws.
Next, I cut the plywood panels and then trimmed them to fit. I glued the end cleats to the panel, but not to the bulkheads so the panels can more easily be removed. Once the panel was secured in place I cut and installed the ash cleats that secure the bottom edge of the panel to the locker bottom. I also glued the cleats to the panel but again only screwed them to the locker bottom.
I pre cut the staving pieces and test fit them to the panels. The staving will extend below the cabin sole (the picture below show them sitting on the cabin sole). Once installed, the sole will butt up to the staving. This is necessary so the entire sole can quickly and easily be removed. Also, any water that drips on the sole and runs to the edges of the settee will drain into the bilge through the V-grooves. By keeping the V-grooves open air flow is also promoted.
The next task was to epoxy the staving in place. As has become my SOP, I used System Three T88 epoxy as the adhesive for the staving. I used the same screw blocks to clamp them in place as I have for all the rest of the staving.
With the heat in the boat near 96 degrees today this was not fun. But, its done. Tomorrow I will remove the screw clamps, counter sink the holes, and install wood plugs. Soon I will be able to declare victory for the setee project.