We took a day off to relax after completing the installation of the portlights. Then, it was on to the stanchion and bulwark support brackets. I chamfered the holes on deck and in the top of the teak blocks a few days ago. I spent the last couple of days drilling holes in the vertical plates to accommodate the bolts that will secure the wood bulwarks to the bronze bases. I built two simple jigs so the holes would be consistently positioned. We staggered the holes to avoid splitting the wood which can happen if you drill multiple holes along the same line in the bulwark plank.
Next, I laid out all the bolts and prepared the tools we would need. It took Gayle and me about 30 minutes to wipe down the base, wedge, and deck area with acetone, apply the butyl, and install the brackets. We tightened them gently two times over about two hours and it was interesting to see how the squeeze out continued as the butyl slowly compresses. The butyl was not difficult to work with. A real advantages is that it was not messy. If I had used caulk I would have had to tape off the wedges to keep the caulk out of the grain of the wood. We will tighten them again tomorrow and once more the next day. That should do it. Today we installed 11 brackets on the starboard side. Tomorrow we will install the port side. The pictures in the gallery below explain the steps.
A perfect spiral.
27 Mar 12
Finally, all 10 port light are installed. Tomorrow we take the day off and then we start installing the stanchion and bulwark brackets.
25 Mar 2012
Over the last two days we installed five of the 10 portlights. It takes about two hours to install one. We are not in a hurry but there are a lot of steps with the Spartan portlights.
We started the actual installation by vacuuming then wiping down the area around the portlight cut-out with acetone to make sure there was no residue. We also wiped down the portlight spigot as well. Except for the first portlight, we wrapped the spigot with butyl tape before we inserted it into the cut-out. We wrapped just enough butyl to allow us to slide the portlight into the cutout (for the first portlight, we inserted all the butyl into the gap from the outside after we had cut the nuts off. Wrapping first was much easier). Once the portlight was in position we installed the bolts. We made little balls of butyl rubber and formed them around the bolts on top of the chamfered exit holes. Then we tightened down on the "pm" nuts slowly getting some butyl squeeze-out and forcing butyl into the chamfer under the nut itself. Next, we masked off the entire area to keep the bronze "dust," that would occur from the cutting off of the long bolts, from contaminating the butyl and the portlight work area. We cut the bolts off with a Dremel and a right angle adapter and a metal cut off wheel. After cutting off the bolts, we unmasked the work area and wiped it down with acetone again. Next, we peeled off 6"-12" strips of butyl rubber from the paper backing and rolled it between our fingers and palms to make it into a round tube. We doubled it over when we needed it to be thicker. It was fairly easy to work with. Then we proceed to "jam" it in the gap between the portlight and the cabin side. The gap is important to allow the bronze metal to expand and contract with temp changes while having enough butyl to move along with the expansion and contraction. We used plastic West Epoxy squeegees and a silicon kitchen spatula to force the butyl in the gaps. After a while the butyl would stick to the plastic squeegee but not to the silicon spatula. This part of the installation was difficult and time consuming. It took a long time to fill the gap till it was good and proud of the cabin side as we wanted butyl to squeeze out on the inside of the trim ring next to the spigot. Next we added a little "smear" of Teff-Gel" anti seize cream to the underside of the head of the bronze wood screws and positioned them in the trim ring along with a little donut wrap of butyl. Then, we flipped the trim ring over and added bigger donuts of butyl around the shaft of the screw where it comes through the trim ring so the butyl could be forced into the slightly chamfered predrilled screw holes. Next, we filled the trim ring with Life Caulk polysulfide and positioned it around the spigot. We tightened the screws down slowly getting good squeeze out all around. We wiped up the squeeze-out with paper towels wetted out with paint thinner. We waited awhile and then tightened down a little later as the butyl continued to compress.
We bought the butyl rubber from Compass Marine. We incorporated some of his techniques which he describes in detail on his website was well as some of the techniques provided by New Found Metals. We could not follow their techniques exactly but adapted them as best we could to the Spartan Portlights which are a different system. As I previously posted, all the portlights leaked when I acquired the Far Reach. The teak ply under the portholes was completely rotted. Not to get off on a tangent but the under the PO the trim rings had been filled with silicone in an attempt to keep them from leaking. It did not work. We agree with Compass Marine and Tim Lackey that we should not apply bedding/caulking under the portlight flange inside the cabin. If the portlight trim ring is leaking we want to know so we can fix it right away. This is a better option than having the water migrate into or behind the plywood cabin sides without us knowing till it is too late. We have gone the extra mile installing the epoxy "bushings" to isolate the plywood cabin side from water intrusion from 200 holes associate with the 10 Spartan Portlights.
23 Mar 12
Today and yesterday saw more work on the portlights. Yesterday, I polished the spigot and flange of the portlight so the bedding compound would have a clean surface to stick to. I used a brass wire brush on an electric drill to remove the patina. Then I buffed the surfaces with a clean high-speed buffing pad. Last, I wiped the surfaces down with acetone. I had to remove all the patina from the outside of the spigot as I was not sure where the trim ring would end. It will eventually turn green anyway to match the rest of the portlight. Today, I drilled "stepped" pilot holes for the wood screws that secure the trim rings. I drilled the holes in the Gflex plugs I made the other day. This will keep the screws from ever cutting into the plywood cabin sides. The Gflex is very interesting. It feels hard but it is not brittle . . . almost like a super hard rubber, though it is harder than any rubber I have ever seen. Rubber is not an accurate description but it is the only one I can think of at the moment. Anyway, after I drilled the holes I installed all the trim rings to test for fit . . . all 100 screws to make sure everything was lined up. The Gflex really gripped the screw threads well. I think this should be a very good technique. The portlights and trim-rings looked great. Afterwards, I taped off the exposed part of the spigot to help reduce the mess when the bedding compound squeezes out. Then, I removed the screws, trim-rings and portlights. I then made a very small 45 degree bevel on the outside edge of the portlight cut-out to better allow the bedding compound to be forced between the portlight and the cabin sides. Tomorrow, I will wiped the areas clean with some acetone and start the process of installing the portlights. It should be interesting.
21 Mar 12
I got a slow start today but was able to get a fair amount accomplished. Yesterday, I drilled the over-bored holes for the trim ring wood screws. Today, I marked and drilled the holes for the port side. Then, I wet out the inside of the holes with unthickend gflex epoxy. Next, using a syringed filled with thickened Gflex epoxy I filled all 100 trim ring holes. Tomorrow, I will polish up the inside flange of the portlight and the underside of the trim ring to remove all the patina so the bedding compound and butyl rubber will compress against the metal and not the gritty patina. I will leave the patina in place on the outside of the trim rings and portlights spigots.
In the photo to the left you can see 20 holes per portlight. That seems like a lot to me. That's 200 holes in the cabin sides for 10 portlights. I have looked at the New Found Metal portlights and they look pretty good to me. Also, they only have 8 total holes. The portlight through-bolts to the trim ring. That makes sense. However, the Spartan portlights have been around a long time. I know soon enough if they can be caulked well enough not to leak. If I were ever to replace them I would look real hard at the New Found Metal bronze portlights.
20 holes to install a portlights. Crazy. The Gflex epoxy plug for the trim ring screw holes are the yellowish colored ones.
20 Mar 12
To the right is a picture of the new portlight chain stops. I found these after a long search. They hold the portlight up when you want them to stay open. The chain is 8" long but I won't need any of it. The 2" long brass anchors will be secured to the mounting bracket which will be screwed into the overhead panels. They will be positioned such that when the portlights are open the anchor fluke fits into the slotted flange on the bottom of the portlight. That will keep the portlight in the up and open position. I think they look a million times better than the chintzy little chain with the twisted wire "keeper" that came with the boat. Note, the original chain was just screwed into the fiberglass headliner with a single SS self taping screw.
Yesterday I redrilled the 5/16" holes that I previously filled with epoxy. I drilled through the plugs with 3/16" bit that will allow the #10-24 bronze oval head bolts to pass through the portlight flange from the inside to the outside of the cabin. I used my little right angle wood triangle as a guide. I was pleased how well it worked. The holes now have a nice epoxy sleeve separating the bolt from the grain of the plywood (see pictures below).
Today, I needed to perform the same task for the wood screws that secure the bronze trim rings to the cabin side. These screws don't pass through to the inside of the boat but terminated in the plywood on the inside of the cabin. Must we drill 20 holes into the boat for each portlight? That's 200 holes and 200 opportunities for water to penetrate the fiberglass skin. The Newfound Metals portlights seem to be a better option. But, this is what I have and they are heavy duty. They look good. Perhaps, when installed correctly, they will not leak.
The original screws were 5/8" long. The new ones are 3/4" long #10 oval head slotted bronze wood screws. I used some of the old bolts and original PM nuts to secure the portlights in position-three or four per portlight. I used a Dremel with a metal cutting disk to cut the bolt heads off so the trim ring would fit over the spigot. I inserted some wood wedges to center the trim ring on the spigot and marked the center of each of the 10 holes with fine tipped sharpie. I then removed the trim ring and drilled pilot holes through the fiberglass skin of the cabin side. Next, I used a counter sink to flare the holes (the countersink helps to keep the fiberglass from cracking when the larger drill cuts through it). Next, I used a 5/16" bit with a stop ring on it to limit the depth of the hole. I drilled into the cabin side and into the plywood. Then, I set the trim ring over the spigot and moved on to the next portlight till I completed five. I ran out of time. Tomorrow I will do the same for the five portlights on the port side. Then I will swab the enlarged screw holes with epoxy and fill them with Gflex epoxy thickened with colloidal silica. Once they are cured I will drill pilot holes for the wood screws. Then we should be set to install the portlights. All this drilling and filling with epoxy is designed to provide a barrier between the bolt and or screw and the vulnerable plywood. Hopefully, if I do everything right and bed them properly there will be no leaks . . . but if there are I want to protect the wood. This is the way it should be done vice the way most production builder so it. To keep the purchase price down they pass the problem on to a future owner.
17 Mar 12
Today, I faired the mismatched edge between the too-large original portlight cut-outs and the slightly ones we made when we installed the new mahogany plywood on the interior of the cabin sides. First, I used a chisel, 80 grit paper, and acetone to clean the edges to be filled with West Systems Gflex epoxy (later on why I used Gflex). There were little bits of residual 5200 "squeeze-out" from when I installed the plywood cabin sides--I used the 5200 as the adhesive to glue the plywood to the inside of the cabin side. With the edges clean, I taped the outside of the cabin off to protect the Awlgrip paint and the inside edge of the plywood around the porthole cut-out. Next, I took an old plastic fairing trowel and cut a 90 degree notch on one side. I mixed up the Gflex 1:1 in a 8oz plastic cup. I used Gflex because is less brittle than 105/205 resin/hardner--you can drive a nail through Gflex and it won't crack. Since the screws for the trim ring will pass through and grab on to the epoxy fairing it is less likely Gflex will crack. Anyway, Gflex does not require a meter. You can mix it by sight, equal parts of A and B. After mixing it thoroughly, I added some colloidal silica until it was thick like peanut butter. I used a smaller wooden stir stick to squish it into a 14cc syringe (one batched I added in some 407 but after thinking about it I decided it was not necessary so after that I only used colloidal silica). Then, I used the syringe to made a bead of epoxy along the edge to be faired. I then slowly pulled the notched trowel along the edge to fair the epoxy flush with the two edges. The epoxy was creamy yellow and took the shape of the notch without difficulty. It took four to five reloads of the syringe to complete all the portlights. So far I am please with the results. I'll know more when I drill the holes for the portlight trim ring.
16 Mar 12
I bought replacement gaskets from Spartan Marine. I could have bought the round closed cell foam from McMaster Carr for less than half the cost. But, I think sometimes we need to support our specialty chandlers. Spartan Marine still has many of the original hardware for our boats. I try to buy from then when I can otherwise they will not be able to stay in business and that would be a big loss for the owners of Cape Dory boats. Anyway, I talked to Paul at Spartan Marine about installing the gaskets. He told me to use "Devcon Rubber Cement" that comes in a tube (It is a type of contact cement). You buy it from ACE hardware. One three dollar tube was enough for all 10 gaskets. He told me to only put it on the trough in the portlight frame and to apply it with an acid brush. He also told me not to put the seam where it is joint at 12 o'clock but slightly off-set. So I did. However, with the cement only applied to the frame the gasket was not in very tight and tried to lift off. So I did the first three over and applied the cement to both parts. After that, they stayed secure. As soon as you install it you close the glass hatch and dog it down as tight as you can and leave it overnight.
The next step was to drill holes through the cabin sides to mount the portlight frame. This is a good time to mention that it became obvious to me when I installed the mahogany cabin sides last year that the original cut outs for the portlights were not done properly by CapeDory. Some of them were too large. The problem that occurs when that happens is there is not enough glass left around the cut-out for the trim ring screws to sink into—they are a little closer to the spigot than the flange on the inside of the boat. So, some of the screws were actually just hanging in the air. There is no way to hold the bedding compound in place if the trim ring is not installed properly. Why were the holes cut too big? It seems to be a problem more on the port side than the starboard side. Maybe the “new guy” cut the holes on the port side. Maybe they were cut out later in the day after the installer “drank” his lunch. Regardless, it was sloppy work and I was paying for it all these years later.
When I installed the mahogany cabin side I very carefully scribed and made the cut-outs to fit the portlights with a little bit of slop vice mirror the existing too large cut outs. So, now there is a bit of a lip that still needs to be addressed. More on that tomorrow.
I clamped the portlights in place with two twist clamps. I then viewed the spigots from the outside making sure they were centered. I used a small bubble level to make sure they were level. I drilled through the portlight frame about 3/16” deep for all the holes. This made sure they were in the right place. I then removed the portlight then used a small home made drill guide to insure I was drilling perpendicular to the cabin side. The guide is a small 90 triangle about 1 ½” long on each side. Once angle is 90 degrees. I placed it on the cabin side and matched up the 90 degree angle to the bit and started drilling. I moved this little triangle around to keep the drill going in straight and plumb all the way through the cabin side. Then I inserted all the bolts to check for fit. It took all day to fit the10 portlights.
The next thing was to over-bore the holes to reduce the likelihood that water can migrate along the bolt threads into the exposed grain of the plywood. So, I drilled out the 3/16” holes for the #10 machine screws with a 5/16” bit. I would have preferred to use a 3/8” but it would put the edge of the hole very close the edge of the cut-out and the 3/8” bit I have just tears through fiberglass in an ugly uncontrolled manner. After drilling the holes I covered the hole on the inside of the boat with tape. Then, I filled a syringe with West Systems epoxy thickened with colloidal silica and carefully filled the holes till they were flush on the outside. I had to refill the syringe about five times. Last, I smoothed the uncovered end with a plastic stir stick and cleaned up any spill over with paper towels wetted with acetone. A few hours later I removed the tape covering the holes on the inside of the boat and the epoxy “plugs” looked good.
Tomorrow, I will drill through the epoxy “plugs” with the 3/16” bit and if I do it right I will have an epoxy sleeve that surround the bolts and keeps any water that get to the bolt from migrating to the wood grain.
11 Mar 12
Yesterday, I applied what may be the final coat of varnish to the cabin sides . . . at least I hope so. It came out OK . . . not great mind you, but good enough. I have to keep going. I also applied another coat to the sink cabinet base due to a "holiday" that occurred during the last coat that I could not live with. Today, I reinstalled the sink cabinet base with the newly varnished toe kick. I am please with the result.
It was finally time to start preparing the portlights for installation. They have been sitting under a table on the floor of the SRF for a long time. Today, I removed the old, hard as a rock, gaskets. The gaskets were initially difficult to separate from the portlight, even with a heat gun. As I pulled on the gasket it would tear and large chunks would remain fiercely stuck to the portlight. It was frustrating and annoying. Then, I stumbled on the idea of using my wire splicing marlinspike which is really a Snap-On #7 scratch awl that has the point filed to "duck bill" shape. Sliding the point under the gasket worked like a charm. They lifted right up without using any heat whatsoever. Next, I used a little wire brush with my Dremel (actually it took four wire brushes as they wear right out) to clean up any residue in the gasket trough. Then, I wiped the trough down with some acetone and a 3M maroon scrub pad. Finally, I washed all the portlights, dried them with paper towel, and laid them out in the shop to dry completely. Tomorrow, I plan to install the new gaskets.
9 Mar 12
The next project was to drill a small hole in the stanchion base and tap threads into the stanchion so that a machine screw could be installed to secure the stanchion in the base (there are some photos of the project below). To do that I used a small wooden block as a jig so the hole would be located in the same place on all the stanchion bases. Then I drilled a 3/16" hole in the base. Next, I used another small block as a jig and marked where I wanted the tapped hole to be located in all the stanchions. When we designed and fabricated the stanchion bases we made a little hole in the bottom of the tube near the back so that water that gets inside will drain out. To ensure the drain hole works as intended, I drilled the hole in the stanchion to ensure the bottom of the stanchion is raised about 3/16" above the bottom of the tube. My hope is that by doing so, the water will have a clear path through the drain hole. In order to install #10-24 machine screws the correct pilot hole for tapping is 5/32". I used my little tube holder (cut from some scrap 2x4 which I made last summer) to hold the stanchion steady under the drill press while I drilled the 5/32" pilot hole. After drilling the hole I used a tapered tap to make the threads.
I had never tapped holes in metal so this was another new skill for me. It was not hard. The key was to turn the tap a little--maybe a half turn--then back up a quarter turn to clear the shaving from the hole and just keep going till I got the tap through. Stanchion side walls are pretty thin so this was a good way to learn. I also used a little cutting fluid to keep the tap lubricated.
I did not have any #10-24 round head bronze machine screws. So I went with what the SS pan head ones I had on hand. I am not in too big a hurry to install the bronze screws as the stanchions are SS too so they go together. Once day I would like to install 30" tall bronze stanchions. But, they are expensive and not essential to where I need to spend my time and money. When I get them I can install the bronze screws.
I finished off the day taping off the cabin sides and sanding and taping the sink cabinet base (it's in our guest room over the garage) in preparation for another coat of varnish. One more coat of varnish on the cabin side and I can install the portlights.
7 Mar 12
I spent the majority of the day countersinking the holes for the 5/16" bronze flat head screws I'll use to install the stanchion bases and the bulwark support brackets. This is the first through-hole countersink I have used. It cuts very smooth. In the photos below you can see how it cuts paper thin spirals of bronze. A countersink with a 5/16" pilot on the end, to guide in the predrilled 5/16" holes, would line up more accurately but I used what I had. The drill press was key to making accurate cuts. I ran out of time before I could finish up the bulwark support brackets. I should be able to finish this up tomorrow easily.
5 Mar 12: Ridiculousness Knows No Bounds. Where to begin? For those following the daily log, installing the stanchion bases and bulwark brackets have been the focus of my efforts for the last couple of weeks. Originally, the plan was to counter sink the brackets and install flat head bronze machine screws. Sounds simple enough. The problems started when I could not get the countersink to cut and because it was more difficult than I thought to use the extension. My first mistake was not trying to figure out why the counter sink would not cut. Instead I abandoned it and moved on to installing round head bronze machine screws. Then, mistake number two, it became apparent after drilling the holes through the deck that the 2 ½” bolts would not be long enough to pass through the ¼” base, ¾” teak wedge, deck, inward turning flange, and backing plate. I ordered some 3” long bolts. I cut holes in the half moons to accommodate longer bolts. Mistake number three--after epoxying the backing plates into position—necessary to fill the gaps in the wavy inward turning flange—I found out that about half of the outboard bolts (where the deck/wedge is thickest) were too short by about 1/8-1/4”. It doesn’t sound like much but the nut needs to be fully engaged, else why build these strong brackets and use large bolts. OK, the fix would be simple, order some 3 ½” bolts and the problem would be solved. Mistake number four—I found out this week there are apparently no 3 ½” round head bronze bolts anywhere in America—no one makes them or imports them. I did find a place that would custom make them for $28 each! So, after thinking about it this weekend I decided to see what the deal was with the countersink. Though it was new it just would not cut. I decided to try and sharpen it with my dremel and a small grinding stone. With a few minutes of work it cut like a champ. Amazing. So, I spent the day trying to get the suppliers to take the round heads back. Jamestown Distributors were heroes. They were happy to take them back and provide a full credit. B&S Bolts, however, was not so enthusiastic. It took some wrangling but they finally, grudgingly, half heartedly agreed to a credit on future orders. If you ever order fasteners from B&S Bolts make sure you discuss with them about their refund policy. They told me they don’t make refunds if you use a credit card (???) but failed to mention that to me when I placed my order plus that little gem is not stated on their website. They also want a restocking fee though they failed to mention that when I ordered and it is also not stated on their website. Other than their refund policy, they have been easy to work with and can provide milspec and ISO certified fasteners. Their prices are competitive. “Caveat Emptor.”
So, now I am back where I started. Countersinking the holes in the stanchion bases and support brackets. I’ll place the order for the much easier to find flat head fasteners which are available in many more lengths than the round head fasteners.
Lessons learned. Some of the mistakes were probably unavoidable. I had no reasonable way of knowing that I would need 3 ½” long bolts until I had the all the backing plates in position (over half the bolts worked fine). Also, I had no way of knowing that they don’t make 3 ½” long round head bolts until I needed them . . . who knew? But, the real learning point was I bailed out on the countersinking without really running to ground why the countersink would not cut. I had a good plan that I had researched. A little more time investigating the cutting problem and I could have avoided all this ridiculousness. Sloppy analysis of the cutting issue created a chain of problems that were not necessary. Lesson learned (again) “work the problem” until you are sure you understand what the issue is. I failed to turn known unkowns into known knows.
29 Feb 12
I have continued to work on the bulwarks brackets. I had to drill oversize 9/16" holes in the "half-moon" (the upper horizontal plate) to allow the longer 3" bronze bolts to pass through the half moon into the 5/16" holes below in the base (could this be more difficult?). The head diameter of the bolts in about 1/32" smaller than 9/16" so the upper hole has to be pretty much dead on or the bolt can't get through to the lower hole. I tackled it by flipping the base over and drilling through the bottom with an extended HSS 5/16" bit. Then I flipped it right side up and used the hole I just drilled in the "half-moon) as the pilot hole for the 9/16" bit. Sounds simple enough but it was made complicated because my little Delta drill press only has a 2" plunge. So, I had to insert the extended bit in the inverted stanchion base then lift the whole thing under the press and then insert the bit in the chuck--with the bit already in the stanchion base--get it? Then tighten the chuck and then the machine vice on the base . . . keeping everything aligned. It makes me tired just writing about it.
Several important steps are worth mentioning. First, I had good quality 5/16' High-Speed-Steel (HSS) bits that I bought from McMaster Carr. I bought the 9/16" bitt (black oxide) from ACE Hardware as the HSS were about $35 for that size. It worked fine. Second, I drilled pilot holes for the 9/16" which was key to smooth and accurate drilling for such a big bit. Third, I used a spray bottle with water to keep the bit cool. I drilled for about 7-8 seconds then lifted the bit and sprayed some water. It only took 4-5 plugs to get through the 1/4" bronze. Last, I wore a full face clear plastic flip down sheild to protect my eyes from the bronze shavings.
I cleaned up the oversized holes with my dremel. All totaled I drilled 120 5/16" holes. The bitts seem to be as sharp as they were when they were new.
This afternoon I installed all but two of the fiberglass backing plates that I cut last week. I epoxied them in place with thickened epoxy which was not my preference but due to the uneven nature of the underside of the deck that seemed the best way to fill the voids and spread the load that the base plate put on the deck.
I have two difficult base plates to deal with tomorrow. I still need to drill four holes in the vertical plates for the bulwark themselves and also drill a hole in the stanchion tub and tap it for the bolt that will secure them in place. Then, with some luck, I'll be able to bed the bases this weekend.
I don't normally post information in the daily log on the books I have read. However, I just finished reading High Endeavours, The extraordinary life and adventures of Miles and Beryl Smeeton, by Miles Clark and because it may be the most amazing book I have ever read I wanted to share it with others. The author, Miles Clark, an accomplished sailor himself, was the godson of Miles Smeeton. He had unprecedented access to the Smeetons during their lifetime as well as to their papers, friends, and immediate family. The book details the life of Miles and Beryl Smeeton. The gist of the book is that the Smeetons though individually unique were perfectly suited for each other with the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Harder than woodpecker lips, savvy, intrepid, and fearless they were masters of their own destiny. If the undertaking was neither dangerous nor required incredible physical perseverance, extraordinary skill, and luck to survive then it just wasn’t worth doing. High Endeavours is only partly about sailing. It is filled with stories about climbing mountains, trekking through jungles, fighting in WW II, homesteading in the Canadian wilderness, etc, etc. Miles was the quintessential professional warrior turned skilled adventurer. Beryl’s solo treks across China, Burma,and South American in the 1930s alone are some of the most incredible stories I have ever read. At times I could not decide if Beryl Smeeton was a Jedi warrior or had gone completely mad. But, I recommend you read it and decide for yourself. The Smeetons exemplify that one can sit on the side lines watching life go by or pick up a ruck-sack and live life to the fullest. I truly hated for this book to end.
26 Feb 12
For the last couple of days I have been focused on installing the bulwark support brackets. Though they are dimensionally the same stanchion brackets they are different in that they do not have a tube welded to them for the stanchion to fit into. A support bracket is a welded "L" shaped bronze bracket with a gusset for added strength. Support brackets alternate with the bulwark stanchion brackets. There is seven feet between bulwark stanchion brackets with a support bracket located half way between each stanchion bracket. I drilled and mounted (temporarily) the stanchion brackets last week. Then, I determined the approximate location of the support brackets, determined the deck camber, cut wedges to match, drilled holes in the wedges and routered the edges. Next, I needed to drill holes in the deck to mount the support brackets. The plan was to clamp a 16' long batten that I milled from a cheap piece of Lowe's lumber around three stanchion brackets and use it to "scribe" a gentle curve that matched the curve of the gunwale. Then I planned to use the clamped batten to determine the location of the support brackets ensuring they were evenly set back from the edge of the hull/deck edge. Once that was done I would reclamp the batten further down the deck and install the next couple of support brackets. But the reality is with a span of seven feet between the stanchion brackets the batten flattened out slightly between them. So, I set the "batten" aside and just continued to use the same small jig I used to locate the position of the stanchion brackets from the deck edge when it came time to install the support brackets. After I installed the all the support brackets I clamped a 1"X2"X16' batten to the stanchion bases and it was perfectly fair around the all the brackets (see photo's below). So, in the end it worked out fine, though I lost about a day milling and fiddling with the batten. There are 12 brackets per side which looks like a lot, though I think once the bulwark is bolted to the brackets it will look seamless.
Tomorrow I will remove the brackets (only the stanchion brackets have nuts on the bolts) and start installing the fiberglass backing plates. The whole bulwark project has been a whole lot of work . . . I can only hope that it will be worth it in the end.
19 Feb 12
The focus of this past week's effort has been the installation of the stanchion bases and the bulwark brackets. Basically, as of this evening I have completed the temporarily installation all the stanchion bases. It was a heck of a lot of work but I am pleased with the results, so far. The only thing holding back the completion of the installation of the stanchion bases is the arrival of some longer bronze bolts. The gist of it is that until I actually drilled the holes I could not know how thick the deck would be, therefore I could not be sure of how long the bolts needed to be. One of the photos below shows that there is maybe 1/4" of the bolt protruding through the inward turning deck flange. The inboard bolts have no issue . . . they are plenty long enough to include a 1/2" fiberglass backing plate I'll install this week. I'll use a 1/4" backing plate for out outboard bolts. But, of course it is more complicated than that . . . of course it is! The gap between the upper horizontal support on the stanchion base (I call it the "half-moon") and the lower base plate is 2 1/2". That is how long the bolts are. But, due to the combined thickness of the deck, inward turning flange, and the teak wedge I need 3" long bolts in order to have enough threads to install a backing plate. So, how will I get the longer bolts through the hole in the base with the "half-moon" preventing the longer bolt from sliding into the hole in the base plate? The only answer I could come up with is to drill holes in the half moon directly over the outboard holes in the base plate. The upper hole will allow the bolt to be dropped through the half-moon and into the lower hole. There are several advantage of the large holes in the half moon. First, it is the only way to get the long bolt into the base. Second, the hole in the half moon will allow access for a screw driver to hold the bolts while they are tightened from inside the boat. Last, a shackle and be fastened to the hole for any reason I may need one there--securing halyards or attaching one end of a vang/preventer.
The photo below depicts test drilling of two holes in the original test stanchion base. I drilled a 5/8" and 9/16" hole. I like the 9/16" hole better. It leaves a little more "meat" on the outside edge of the "half-moon." I can't be sure which hole will work though till the longer bolts arrive. In the meantime I decided to get a head start installing the base stanchion bases.
I started off by drilling pilot holes in the stanchion bases at the Camp Lejeune Machine Hobby Shop. It's a great resource even though I would rather do as much work as I can in my own shop. But, they have a nice slow turning floor mount drill press and a great selection of large diameter bits. I could not complete the job there as I was unable to determine what the best size would be for the hole above the base plate . . . and I did not want to rush the decision. So, after drilling out the four pilot holes in each stanchion base and the two test holes in the half moon I returned home. After measuring and some experimentation I decided the 3" bolts would do the job. I made some phone calls and put in an order for 3" long, 5/16", bronze, roundhead, bolts. Next, I went to work cutting the teak wedges, drilling holes, and temporarily installing the stanchion bases. It went pretty smooth. I worked carefully and deliberately. The hardest part was drilling through the unique Cape Dory steel weldment that runs under the inward turning flange and to which the pad-eye chain plates are through bolted to (the weldment is about 44" long and only one stanchion base had to be installed in that area. It is important to also get the teak wedges right so the vertical plate on the stanchion bases (and the same for the bulwark brackets that I'll install next) are vertical and consistently offset from the edge of the deck. I built a small jig to help keep everything accurate. I ultimately decided on using five stanchions, per side, spaced seven feet apart. The bulwark support brackets will be positioned half way between the stanchions so the bulwark will be supported every 3.5 feet with a 1/4" silicon bronze bracket (stanchion base or support bracket) bolted through the deck and through the bulwark itself.
I decided a while back that I would eliminate the stern pulpit and the bow pulpit. With the windvane, boom gallows, and perhaps a sculling oar the stern pulpit cluttered up the stern of the boat. We will run a safety line across the stern from one stanchion to the other. With the Cape Horn Windvane there is very little room to squeeze through anyway. The rest of the week will be spent working on a mock up bulwark to insure the proper placement of the bulwark support brackets.
12 Feb 12 I have spent the last few days varnishing the inside of the lockers and the new staving around the companionway. I used Epifanes Clear Gloss Varnish as I have throughout the Far Reach. For the lockers I applied three coats of varnish . . . which is all I will apply. The first coat was thinned 1:1 with mineral spirits, the second coat 2:1, and the third coat I applied unthinned. I applied one coat per day and sanded in between each coat. I initially sanded the wood with 120 grit abrasives. After the first coat was applied, I sanded with 180 grit. After the second coat, I sanded with 220 grit. All of the staving will eventually receive about six coats of varnish. I will continue to sand with 220 till I am ready to apply the final coat. I will sand it with 320.
I used ash for most of the cleating because it is hard, holds screws well, and is inexpensive. I used oval head screws for wood pieces I want to be able to easily remove without drilling out the bungs. I did not develop a solid protocol for oval head screws so it is somewhat inconsistent. I am pleased with how the varnish on the locker surfaces turned out. All the bare fiberglass will eventually get painted with grey Interlux Bilgekote. I will not apply the bilgekote until I am confident there is no further tabbing required, at least in the area to be painted.
The fasteners arrived for the bulwark brackets so I will start working on them this week.
7 Feb 12 I have not done a very good job of keeping the daily log updated this past week. The work is slow and tedious and at the end of the day it hardly seems as if I have accomplished that much. But, much effort has been expended and the progress is steady. Since the last post, the walnut sole under the galley sink cabinet was constructed, hand oiled, and installed. The galley sink cabinet was varnished and installed. The toe-kick under the sink cabinet was built and temporarily installed. Woodplugs were installed and all the new staving has been sanded. I spent a lot of time sorting out how to best install the bulwark and stanchion brackets . . . time was spent test drilling the bronze to see what is in the art of the possible regarding fastener options. Yesterday, the interior of the lockers were sanded and taped in preparation for varnishing which, with luck, will take place today. I bought a shockingly expensive teak plank to be milled as wedges under the stanchion and bulwark brackets.
Spacing options. Note the mockup for the beveled wedge under the stanchion base.
I am very pleased with how the walnut sole under the galley sink cabinet turned out. It is basically a hand rubbed finish that I learned from Rebecca Whittman's book Brightwork. It's a new technique to me and took a little while to figure out. The gist of it is I sanded the bare walnut to about 220 grit. I applied two coats of teak oil with a foam brush. I allowed about 30-minutes to an hour between coats to allow the oil to nearly dry to the touch. Then I applied a third coat and gave it five minutes and began to block sand it, with the grain, with 400 grit wet sandpaper. I sanded it till it got too gummy to sand. Then, I used a clean white cotton wipe rag to buff it in a circular motion. Then I repeated the process, except I sanded it with 600 grit. I was amazed at the finish . . . very smooth with a satin silky finish. Probably too smooth. I experimented on the back side by sanding with only 220 grit. I'll further experiment with some samples later to see what will work so the sole is not slippery when wet.
Hand rubbed finish on the walnut sole.
Temporarily installed toe-kick.
25 Jan 12 Today I installed more staving in the quarterberth area (see additional photos in the photo gallery below). Tomorrow, I will cut and install more wood plugs and identify any remaiing areas that require additional staving. After installing the wood plugs and a couple of coats of varnish to protect the latest staving it will be time to install the bulwark support brackets and stanchion bases. This will be a multi-step process but I am looking forward to it.
22 Jan 12 The last week has been all about staving. I started off milling what I hope is the last batch. Afterwards, I installed wood plugs in the galley panels and the quarterberth bulkhead staving. Then, I took some time to get a couple of coats of varnish on the newly installed panels in the forward cabin as well as the two panels for the galley sink cabinet (I was able to remove these two panels and varnish them indoors), and the quarter berth staving. I spent the last couple of days installing the staving around the companionway (photo gallery below has a few pictures). I still need to install staving on the inboard side of the quarterberth compartment. This is slow, boring, tedious work. It takes a lot of determination to keep going. Soon, we should turn the corner and it will start coming together.
No boat work tomorrow.
14 Jan 12 Today, I epoxied staving to the quarter-berth side of the aft bulkhead. Straight forward job. No issues. Took about two hours to make the template, layout and cut the staving, and test fit. Took three hours to install the staving. Tomorrow I'll trim and router the staving in the galley as well as the quarter-berth staving. I'll also install the wood plugs for galley and quarter-berth staving.
13 Jan 12 Yesterday I precut the staving for the face of the galley storage cabinet base. I used mostly off-cuts from other staving projects. It required some planning and measuring to ensure the vertical edges of the staving above and below the opening would remain aligned. I also had to cut a compound bevel on the bottom edge of the staving--to match the angle of the hull from forward to aft as well as inboard to outboard. It was not difficult but it needed to be accounted for. It took about an hour to set everything up in the boat (since I have been applying the staving to detachable plywood panels in the woodshop for the last week--and then only about two hours to apply the staving. In the photo, the staving has just been applied. Tomorrow, I will remove the screw-block clamps, drill countersinks, and install wood plugs. After the glue for the plugs has dried, the plugs will be trimmed and then the staving sanded with 120 grit abrasive. I'll then use a jig saw to trim the saving to within about 1/8" of the edge of the plywood. I'll finish off by used a flush cut router with a guide bearing to trim the staving flush to the edge of the plywood.
11 Jan 12 Before I can complete the installation of the staving in the galley area I had to finish installing the plywood panel that covers what would otherwise be the exposed fiberglass hull. The photo from yesterday's post clearly shows the plywood that fits between the galley vertical panels and the walnut sole. The problem was that the plywood was just laying on the hull and the hull is not flat so it rocked when you stepped on it. It was time to glass in ribs for the panel to sit on which, if raised, would also allow any water that made its way under the panel to continue on down the hull to the bilge. This project turned out to be more complex than I anticipated. There were various angles to deal with and the Iroko ribs needed to be cut with different tapers to accommodate the changing curve of the hull. After I collected the data I cut the Iroko and test fit them several times. When I was satisfied with the fit, I mixed up thickened epoxy and pressed them into place. I covered the "ribs" with thin plastic and pressed the panel down into position. I left the epoxy to cure and spent some time installing more staving. Later, I lifted the panel and brushed on epoxy to completely seal the ribs.
Glassing in "ribs" to support the plywood that covers the exposed hull.
10 Jan 12 I cleaned up the staving for the galley panels--routered the edges and clamped the panels in place to check for fit. I also routered the staving edges for the aft side of the nav station/ice box. I cut the staving to fit the plywood face panel for the nav station/ice box and sorted some staving for the next installation. Then, the plug gave out on the shop vac I use in the Far Reach. There was an electric arc in the plug when I unplugged the vacuum. This is the second time . . . it might have bee lose prong but I was not sure. The last thing I need is for the shop vac to catch fire. So, I cut the plug off and went to Lowe's to buy a new plug for the 15 year old Sears shop vac. Three hardware stores later, I finally found a two pronged, polarized, plug. I took it home and wired it in to the vacuum cord. It seems to be running fine.
Test fitting the galley panels.
9 Jan 11 This past week has seen a lot of work completed. I cut and installed a mock up to replicate the mahogany plywood that will hide the hull in the forward cabin. I also built the vertical faces for the lower cabinets in the forward cabin and laminated the staving to the 1/2" okume 1088 plywood. Face frame with inset doors with eventually be installed above the cabinetry in the photo to the right. I also installed the staving to the aft side of the nav station/icebox and to the vertical faces of the galley sink cabinet. I glued up (from two pieces of plywood) the vertical face for the nav station/ice box and set aside the staving that will eventually be laminated to it. Finally, I cut and installed numerous mahogany bungs. This is slow tedious work but it should start coming together faster as we move along. In the next week I should be able to complete the installation of the remaining staving.
After. The fresh staving in the background has not been sanded. You can see the mock-up ply at the bottom of the photo. It wil hide the fiberglass hull.
2 Jan 11 Today I cut the hole for the opening to the portside galley cabinet base. Access will be gained via a sliding door that will slide aft between the cabinet and the stove/oven. I cut the hole by tracing around a template I made from 3/16" scrap plywood. Then I cut the ply about 1/8" inside the line with a jig saw. Next I clamped a guide bar I made from scrap 1/2" ply and used a router with a guide bearing between the blade and the jig saw to trim it flush to the line all around. I then temporarily clamped in place the frame I made last night for the galley sink cabinet base. The sink base will have a hinged door. Since I had a mess going I went ahead and trimmed the top of the partial bulkhead that frames the aft side of the chart-table/icebox and cut back the longitudinal bulkhead that separates the Q-berth from the old engine compartment. I spent the rest of the day cleaning up the boat and the shop in preparation for the big freeze coming our way. Temps are supposed to hit 16 degrees here in the next two days which is very cold for coastal NC.
The cabinets are temporarily clamped together to check for ergonomics.
The opening for the portside galley cabinet.
1 Jan 11 (Up dated 2 Jan 12--Though my writing skills are very modest, the grammer and spelling from last night's post was horific!! Thus, some editing this morning was required). I was able to devote about two hours to the boat today. My plan is to make "inset," raised panel, cabinet doors. They are more difficult to build and install correctly. The tolerances are much smaller than for overlay doors. They are certainly not necessary but to my eye they provide a more elegant look which is part of the vision for the rebuild. To start I had to make a final decision on the size of the door. I then removed the galley sink cabinet front panel. If I were building "overlay" doors, I could cut the opening out of the panel with a jig saw. But, the opening for inset doors has to be exact and square. Therefore, I decided to build what you might call "rails and stiles" out of the plywood panel itself--though I use the term descriptively, vice accurately, since these terms really refer to the door itself.
Test fitting the plywood frame.
Biscuit joining complete.
My plan is to epoxy the mahogany staving onto the plywood backing (or frame) just as I did for the bulkheads. With the staving epoxied over/around a square opening I will be able to use a straight cut router bit with a guide bearing to trim the staving to a perfect match (I use the word "perfect" with trepidation) to the square opening in the plywood frame. If all goes well, I should be able to make a square raised panel door (with proper rails and stiles) which will then fit the opening with even clearance all around. Of course, all the parts will have to be varnished otherwise the swelling of the wood would jam the doors in the frame. I have made a number of inset doors over the years and they have not been difficult . . . you just have to be more precise. Of course all this takes more time and any errors are plainly visible and more difficult to address. After cutting the plywood "rails and stiles" I cut slot for biscuits. After test fitting, I epoxied them together with slightly thickened West Systems epoxy. I double checked to make sure they were square before I let them cure overnight.