I started work on the design of the port side cockpit locker water tank. This 20 gallon tank will sit on the shelf in the locker that formally was used for the two house batteries and some storage. This water tanks will be also be made by Dura-Weld and just like the others we had built and installed in the bilge. The reason it will be on the shelf is this tank will be dedicated to the shower. It will be a gravity fed tank that will lead to the head compartment. I short hose with a ball valve will serve to allow the user to fill a pump up spray bottle. Hot water will be made by mixing in water heated on the stove or on the refleks heater if it's running. By having a dedicated shower water tank we can better meter the use of water. We will have a few five gallon collapsible water cans stowed below deck that we can replenish either the drinking water tanks or shower tank desired.
I also designed an 11 gallon kerosene tank that will be bolted to the bulkhead in the starboard side locker. This tank will gravity feed the refleks heater. It will be refilled via a screw on cap via lifting the cockpit hatch lid.
As part of the preparation for installing the cockpit hatches and the shower water tanks I had some work to do on the portside locker. I enlarged the openings below the shelf and as depicted later in this entry I cut out the third batter shelf that was used as the engine start battery. It was poorly positioned and severely limited storage in the locker. Click here for more info on installing the dedicated shower water tank.
As part of the work to prepare the cockpit lockers for more storage and painting I decided to remove the last of the three battery shelves. It was poorly positioned. It just ate up the aft third of the largest and most accessible of the three cockpit lockers. I used a Dremel with a right angle attachment and a metal cut-off wheel. It did not take long. the nasty part was the additional sanding/grinding required to complete the preparations for locker work. It was hot sweaty work. Back into a paper suit, full face respirator, and gauntlet gloves.
The last of the three battery boxes.
The port locker is fairly large but did not have a storage system other than for the batteries. The dedicated shower water tank now sits in that spot. In order to install more shelves I needed a way to support the outboard edge against the hull. I did not want to tab the shelf to the hull though that was an option. Instead, I used my laser level to draw a line along the hull. Then, I determined the slope of the hull along that part of the hull and cut small Doug Fir blocks to match the slope. I used thickened epoxy to attach them to the hull. I installed a cleat on the inboard side. A shelf with sit astride the cleat and the blocks. There is room for a vertical face forward of the shelf and that will allow storage underneath. As part of the locker improvement plan, I glassed the bulkhead to the underside of the deck. I glassed the forward side early on during the refit. The whole deck is much stronger now.
This is not a very good picture but you can see two of the four supports epoxied to the hull. They will support the outboard side of the shelf.
It is shocking to me how much of the deck was not tabbed to the bulkheads. The deck feels noticably more rigid.
Starboard Cockpit Locker
As part of modifying the lockers I needed to install a flat bottom to the starboard side locker otherwise the space is not very useable--everything you put in there just ends up in a pile in the lowest spot. I also wanted to prevent the contents of the locker sliding under the fuel tank and perhaps damaging the fuel line and shut off valve that is on the bottom side of the tank. I attached a cleat to the inboard vertical face of the locker which you can't see in the photos. Then, I made a doorskin template. I used that to cut some scrap ply to which I screwed the cleat that would be epoxy taped to the hull on the outboard side. Once I glassed the cleat in place I went back to the template and used it to cut the actual shelf from BS 1088 Okume. Once I was satisfied with the shelf I cut vent holes with a hole saw and then brushed on a couple of coats of epoxy to the end grain.
The outboard cleat epoxy taped in place.
Test fitting the shelf.
There are three cockpit lockers on the Far Reach. All were essentially the same--just holes to dump stuff into. The sloping hull meant there wasn't a flat surface in the bottom of the locker . . . everything just slid down into a big pile. Nothing ever dried out. A while back I installed the bottom shelf, with vent holes, in the starboard locker. This past week, while also working on the icebox, I built and installed a upper shelf in the locker as well. Everything is removable. This locker is now ready to paint. For more information on installing the kerosene tank for the Refleks heater click here.
The upper shelf with ventilation holes. This shelf is removable with the fuel tank remaining in place.
Looking down into the locker. The new flat bottom shelf, fuel tank, and upper shelf are all in place. Painting comes later.
There were 1/4" thick aluminum plates on the outboard faces of the two vertical plywood support that ran fore-and-aft under the outboard edges of the cockpit sole. I think the aluminum plates stiffened up the plywood to which was bolted the large steel weldment that was part of the pedestal steering system. Since I converted the Far Reach from wheel to tiller I probably do not need the plates but I decided to leave them anyway . . . you never know. However, the aluminum plates did not lay flat on the ply. They each sat on the tabbing all the way around the edge of the plates and there was a 3/16" gap between the aluminum plate and the ply. That did not seem right to me. The plate was pulled to the plywood in the center when the nuts were tightened down putting a lot of "spring" pressure on the nuts which secured the steel cross bar that supports the pillow block at the top of the rudder post. I decided to cut down the plates so they lay flat against the plywood which, to my thinking, better spread any load transmitted to the plates. I tried cutting the aluminum with a variety of jig saw blades without success. I could not cut it even with "steel cutting" blades. So, I tried using a metal cut-off wheel on my Makita 4 1/2" grinder. It worked very well. I couldn't cut a perfectly straight line but it was more than adequate for the job. After cutting the plates, I reinstalled them. The fit is much better.
While waiting for the epoxy to cure during the various stages of the icebox build, I started working on the lazerette locker. The locker was originally pretty voluminous. I made it smaller by converting part of it to propane locker that holds three 10lb bottles. Click here for info on the propane locker project. But, just like the original, and most of the Cape Dories I have been on, the locker had a sloping bottom and everything put in it slides to the forward end. It seemed impossible to figure out how to store anything in an organized manner without some serious modification. The obvious solution was to install a flat bottom. I thought, for a long time, when it came time to modify the locker I would epoxy tape the outboard edges of the panels to the hull but then I knew it would mean I could not remove them. So, I decided to epoxy in small blocks and the panels would lay on the blocks and I could then remove them. I crawled inside the locker--a tight squeeze to be sure--with my laser level and used a sharpie to trace the line around the inside of the locker along the hull making sure it would be low enough to clear the Cape Horn steering quadrant when it is in the "stored" down position. I moved the laser level several times to be able to trace the line all the way around the locker. Next, I determined the angle of the hull at each station where I would put the blocks. The, I cut the blocks from some scrap Douglas Fir. I also cut some longer 1"x1" cleats, also from Douglas Fir, to support the panels on the bulkhead and around the propane locker bottom edge. Then, I epoxied the blocks in position and let them cure over night. The next day, I used door-skin ply to make templates by laying them across the blocks (they were surprisingly perfectly level) and hot gluing them in a manner that would define three separate lifting panels. I took the panels to the work shop, traced them on some BS 1088 okume plywood and cut them out. I spent a little time with a small block plane beveling the outside edge to match the slope of the hull. They fit nicely. Sometime in the next couple of days I will cut vent holes in the panels to allow air to circulate and to use as finger holes to lift them out. There is some loss of space but what I have is far more useable.
I removed the clamps after the epoxy attaching the lower 'thwarthip support bracket cured. It looks good. As I mentioned earlier, I dadoed slots in the side supports so the vertical panel can be easily pulled out to gain access to the windvane quadrant or support brackets. Later, I will cut vent holes in the plywood and paint the ply and the entire locker with Interlux Grey Bilge-Kote. I am pleased with the way this project turned out. Click here for a link to the installation of the Cape Horn Self-Steering Windvane.
The "box" keep the contents of the lazeretee from interfering with the windvane steerin quadrant.
The 'thwartship panel fits into dad slots so it can be removed easily and quickly.
Painting the lockers was a lot of work and I am certainly glad it is behind me. The lockers are small and difficult to work in. It seems having a locker too small to crawl into is asking for trouble. It's fine for a builder to make them that way as they install them before they fasten the deck to the hull. They don't have to work on them. The shelving I installed should increase the usable storage significantly. I have not reinstalled all the panels in the lazerette as I still need to install the vent/drain system for the propane locker and it is a lot easier to crawl down into the locker and work on the drain system with the cape horn quadrant removed from the boat. There is no question that the Cape Horn quadrant in the lazerette is inconvenient. I knew that when I chose the system but I think it will be a small issue in the long run
Starboard locker with kerosen tank and two shelves.
The Lazerette minus the vertical panels that isolate the quadrant for the Cape Horn Windvane.
After completing work on the propane locker drain system I was able to reinstall the panels that isolation the Cape Horn Windvane quadrant from the rest of the lazerette locker. I painted these a few weeks ago but had to delay installing them until after I completed installing the propane locker drain system. What is good about this set up is I can disassemble different components to get access to everything in the boat. Unfortunately, the Cape Dory 36, like most production boats is not built with that in mind for all the systems. Nonetheless, I am happy to have this project behind me. I spent the rest of the day milling about 25 BF of ash to serve as the counter tops for the galley, nav station/icebox, and a few other counter top areas.
The painting is complete and the isolation panels are installed around the Cape Horn windvane.
Cockpit Coamings and Winch Bases.
One evening, I decided to have a look at the original cockpit coamings. They have been hanging on the side of the SRF for nearly four years. In fact, I had only kept them because I was going to use them as a pattern for new ones made of mahogany. But, since I have walked passed them about 1000 times I had begun to think that maybe I could reuse them. A close look revealed a little splitting but nothing dramatic. They are, after all, made of Burmese Teak and I thought it would be criminal not to use them if possible. So, I took one into the shop, clamped it to the top of the table saw, plugged in the heat gun and began to scrape the ancient peeling varnish. They actually look pretty good. I only spent an hour or so on them but I think I might be able to reuse them. If I do, I will sand and clean them, remove the radiused top edge, and square it. Then, after applying the varnish I will top the coaming with a bare teak cap rail. The contrast will look nice and the teak cap rail will serve as protection for the top edge.
Next, I used the heat gun and scraper and removed the varnish from the second coaming--I stripped the varnish from the other one about a month ago during some down time. They are both a banged up and one has a small split. I think I can run a 1/4" straight fluke router bit in a line down the split and cut a matching square strip of teak to fit in the trough and then epoxy it in place. I may do that part tomorrow. Anyway, after stripping the varnish I decided to cut a slight "spring in the top edge of the coamings. Originally, they were straight on top sloping down from fore to aft. I always thought they clashed with the gentle upward slope of the cabin top and the spring in the sheerline. So, I used straight edge that I clamped in place and then used a pencil to draw what pleased my eye. I removed the straight edge and used my Bosh jig saw to cut just shy of the line. Next, I clamped the coaming vertical and used a block and smoothing plane to smooth out the new edge. It came out very nice. I left it square on top so after it is varnished I can attach a bare teak cap to the top edge. The teak cap will take the wear and tear greatly preserving the more delicate varnish on the vertical faces of the coaming. At least that is the plan. I finished off the day by applying Te-Ka cleaner to both sides of the coamings in an attempt to restore the original teak luster. Even though the teak is 30 years old and has seen a lot of abuse it is still oily and has that wonderful strong teak fragrance. As I was planing the edge the entire shop smelled of teak. What's not to like about that? I have two 14" wide x 10' long African Mahogany planks sitting on a shelf in the shop in case the teak can't be reused. I would prefer to use the teak since it is much more durable than mahogany, but the mahogany is a good back up. If I don't use if for the coamings I'll use it for interior trim.
After careful consideration I decided not to reuse the teak coamings. They were just too beat up. So, I pulled down from the wood rack two planks of A. Mahogany I have been saving for the coamings in case I replaced them. They were 11' long and about 14" wide by 1 1/4" thick. I planed them down to 7/8". I used the original teak coamings as a template. I traced the originals on the mahogany. However, after talking to someone I trust I decided not to curve the topline of the coaming. I left it straight. I cut the outside corners copying the originals. The cut outs are important to keep the wood from bindings on the inside corners of the cockpit as they are pressed into position. With that completed, I took the coaming up to the cockpit and braced them into position. I left the front wild and the same in the back until I decided what I wanted to do for shaping the ends. I left them pressed into position overnight to adjust to the new stresses that will be placed on the coamings.
After the return block is glue, screwed, and plugged, I will shape the outboard corner with a significant round-over.
The next day I decided to more or less duplicate the aft end of the original coaming but kept the "S" a little shorter. I made a template from 1/4" ply, traced the pattern on the coamings, cut them out with my jigsaw and cleaned them up with a cabinet makers rasp. Next, I went to work on the return blocks. The originals were sloped forward 30 degrees and they extended forward about a foot past the trailing end of the cabin top. To my eye this made the cabin look shorter and the cockpit longer which looks odd to me. So, after a lot of measuring and careful consideration I decided to reduce the angle to 15 degrees. I also wanted to "ship lap" the end grain of the coaming, if possible, to cover the endgrain. One thing I decided not to do was to try and duplicate the forward slope of the return block with requires a compound bevel. Once again I thought, though elegant looking, it would make the coaming look longer. So, I decided to build the return block with more of a right angle though there is still a small angle on the block where it extends forward from the outboard end to the inboard end. I started each step by cutting a scrap piece of pine. I shaped it and check for fit. I made any adjustments necessary and once the saw was just right I then cut the mahogany. I did this step by step. I cut the angles, then trimmed the board to width, and finally used a dado stack to cut the ship lap. I decided not to make the last cut with the mock up and forgot to add 15 degrees to my final cut and butchered the return block on the final cut. Wow. I was not happy. Fortunately, I had been shaping both return blocks at the same time and I adjusted the final cut for the other block and it fit very nicely. It took about an hour but I was able to make another return block for the one I messed up and it fit nicely as well. I should have known to keep using the mock up all the way till the end. I have learned this before. Like they say, "We learn from history what we do not learn from history." I will glue and screw the return block to the coaming tomorrow and then conduct final shaping and sanding before I varnish them. I'll varnish first and then install. The top edge will be covered by a teak cap, which I will mill from the original coaming boards.
It was time to glue up the return blocks. I used Aerodux 185 which is a type of resorcinal glue--it will cure down to 50 degrees. Applied properly, it is stronger than epoxy and more resistant to heat but its not very good at gap filling. It requires tight joints and high clamping pressure. It also leaves a purple glue line which, depending on the type of joint may or may not be hard to see. I predrilled the fastener holes and then taped off the wood around the joints. I applied the glue and left them to cure overnight. Next, I spent a long afternoon sanding with 180 grit and applying the first coat of varnish thinned 1:1 with mineral spirits to the coamings and the remaining galley shelving and trim. I went to World Timber and picked up the last of their 4/4 mahogany--about 80BF. I hope that is enough to complete the interior trim and the bulwarks. It's beautiful wood. Today, I went to Atlantic Veneer and picked up some short Burmese teak planks they were selling for $16BF, which is a good price. Some of it is quartersawn. I'll use it to build the companionway trim. I also grabbed some 8/4 Juniper for the shelves. It's light weight, it smells great (I'll only varnish one side), and it repels bugs. We sand the wood again, this time with 220, and applied the second coat of varnish thinned 25 percent.
I test fit the cockpit coamings with the attached return blocks.
After I reinstalled the galley shelving I went right to work on installing the cockpit coamings. I applied only three coats of varnish to the coamings as I will need to install wood plugs then start piling the varnish on afterwards. I also needed to drill out the oversize holes where the fasteners penetrate the cabin top side. I used a 3//8" bit to drill the oversized hole and filled the hole with thickened epoxy. Next day, I drilled out the holes big enough to take 2" long #12 SS screws. That left a sealed ring of epoxy to protect the plywood end grain on the inside of the cabin side. I laid the old coaming over the top of the new coaming and drilled the holes in the same place. No need to do it that way but the spacing was already done. I filled the old holes in the face of the cockpit where the coamings attached so I could have drilled them anywhere. After drilling the holes I counter-sunk them for the 1/4" flat head SS bolts. I took the coamings up to the cockpit and braced them into position with plenty of padding. I then drilled the holes through the cockpit sides and ran the fasteners in and tightened them down. I drilled the holes for the return blocks and ran the screws through them. I taped everything off as to keep the squeeze out from being a mess. I ran out of time so the bedding will have to wait till tomorrow.
I think the African Mahogany looks good. The top edge will be "capped" with 3/4" tall teak left bare. My expectation is the teak cap will greatly reduce the wear and tear on the varnished coamings since that is where the coamings takes the most abuse. I'll sort out the winch bases later. I will have to address the changing angle for the sheet leads with the raised bulwarks. I also need to carefully consider how the sheets for both the jib and staysail will be routed to the winch and determine which winch need to be forward--the primary or secondaries.
Lots of progress. The coaming is almost installed.
Today, Gayle and I installed the cockpit coamings. First, I ran the bolts through the holes I drilled yesterday. I shortened five with a hacksaw earlier so they cleared the overhead panels under the side decks. Next, I wrapped a small bead of butyl rubber around the bolts. Then, I chambered the holes in the fiberglass. I vacuumed and performed a quick wipe-down. Next, we applied a small circle of Boat Life Polysulfied then preceded to find out that it had started to dry up in the tube. Rats! I switched to 3M 4000 UV. This is pretty good stuff. A little more grippy than polysulfied (its a polyurathane) but not near as tenacious as 5200. Then, we applied a bead along the coaming right at the edge where it joins the deck. We then braced it into position and installed the nuts and tightened it down. Finally, we cleaned up the squeeze out and I left one brace in position to let the bedding compound cure overnight. In the next day or so I'll install the wood plugs.
We applied a bead of 3M 4000 UV along the coaming where it meets the deck then clamped it into position.
After installing all the bolts and nuts we left a single brace in position till the bedding compound cures.
I scarfed some teak scraps together to make a teak cap rail for the mahogany cockpit coaming. The teak will be left bare and serve as a buffer and protector for the coaming. I cut a 10:1 scarf and used resorcinol as the adhesive.
Clamping up the cockpit cap rails with resorcinol.
I applied three additional coats to the cockpit coaming for a total of six. I wanted to get a few more coats on before I applied the teak cap-rail (it will be left bare) to the top edge of the coaming. I also had two pieces of trim in the boat that I could not remove that also needed a few additional coats. Good progress.
Installing the bare teak cap rail on top of the varnished mahogany cockpit coaming turned out to be a simple job. The teak is repurposed from the original 30 year old coaming. There was a split in one and they were just banged up and had too many holes to reuse. So, I ripped them on the table saw and then scarffed the strips together with resorcinol to get the length I wanted. I also used resorcinol to glue on the end blocks. The pictures below reflect the installation procedure. What amazed me is how good a shape the teak was really in once they were remilled. The color is gorgeous and they are as oily as new teak. They should last a good long while. The idea behind the bare teak cap rail is the teak will take the abuse of being stepped on, lines running across them, stuff getting dragged over them . . . all the while protecting the less robust varnished mahogany. In time, the teak will gray but will contrast nicely with the varnished mahogany. I did not have any teak colored polysulfide and its now on back order. So, I'll just let the rails sit in place and remove and bed them once the polysulfide arrives.