The stanchions are a key component of the interior layout as they will support the table and serve as a hand hold/grab bar. The table is intended to be a folding table but not a drop leaf table. By that I mean one half the table will always be up and extend out to the port side. The table will be hinged in the middle and the starboard side will fold over onto the port side leaving a clear passage fore and aft. I offset the stanchion about five inches to the port side. This keeps the passageway a little wider since your shoulders are wider than your hips. The table will not be gimbaled, per se. It will have adjustable brass stays underneath that allow it to be tilted and locked into place to compensate for heal underway, though normally it will be horizontal. Or, it can be tilted vertically to allow maximum movement if necessary. The table will also be easy to remove.
I ordered the brass pipes from McMurray Metals Company in Texas. They were, by far, the best price I could find. The pipes are solid brass and 1 1/2" in diameter with a side wall thickness of 1/8". Total cost was about $140. These are stout heavy pipes . . . and they need to be as they not only support the table but also serve as primary hand-hold/grab bar when moving through the boat. They have to be able to take a persons full weight if the boat lurches and one is thrown against them or grabs hold to keep from been thrown off one's feet.
I installed two solid brass stanchions in the saloon that will support the table. There is nothing dark or dreary about the inside of the Far Reach.
To install the pipes I first had to determine exactly where they needed to be positioned. I decided the simplest and strongest way to attach them would be to through-bolt the bottom end of the pipes to the cabin sole cross beams and secure the upper end in pipe flanges screwed into the overhead. The location of the cross beams would, of course, influence how far apart they could be spaced (they ended up 38" apart). However, the overhead is just 1/4" plywood and there is a 3/4" gap between the plywood panels and the underside of the deck. I installed 1/2" AP closed cell foam as additional insulation last year and I would need to beef up the overhead panels if the pipes were going to be fasten to the panels. Also, because I wanted to install the pipes off the centerline, the pads between the pipe flange and the panels would have to be scribed to fit the camber of the cabin top. I made those pads, from mahogany, first and temporarily fastened the flanges to the pads. I cut the pipes a little long, removed the cabin sole, and test fit them in position making sure they were plumb. Gayle and I discussed the location and I left them clamped overnight. Satisfied they were in the right place, the next day, I carefully marked the location and removed the pipes and the overhead panels. Next, I cut out some of the insulation and made hardwood pads that fit snugly between the underside of the deck and the inside surface of the plywood overhead panel. I wiped the fiberglass down and then drilled some 1/4" holes into the underside of the deck. I mixed up some thickened epoxy and then pressed the hardwood pads in place. My thinking was the thickened epoxy would be forced up into the holes and create a stronger bond. I heavily filleted around the edges of the hardwood pads and left them overnight to cure.
Next day, I reinstalled the overhead panels and aligned the mahogany pads with the marks on the overhead and temporarily fastened the flanges in place. With the hardwood spacer pads in place I can tightened down on the mahogany pad/pipe flange without fear of distorting or crushing the plywood overhead panels. There is a #14 screw in the center of the mahogany pad that goes through the overhead panel and into the hardwood spacer. The three screws of the pipe flange are #10 SS 1 1/2" long that pass through the mahogany pad, the overhead panel, and into the hard wood spacer. I previously marked the bottom of the pipe and cut it so it stops about 3/4" above the water tanks that are under the cabin sole. I drilled a 3/8" hole through the pipe and the cross beam that supports the cabin sole. I then installed a 3 1/2" hex head bolt with SS nylon locking nut. The bolt has full shoulders and with the 1/8" pipe sidewalls I think this is a very strong arrangement. Then, I marked the temporarily plywood cabin sole (the finished sole will be 7/8" thick black walnut) and used a 2" hole saw to cut holes for the stanchions. Then, I ripped the plywood sole right through the center of the hole on my table saw and dropped them into place.
I think this system provides a lot more room in the boat than the original double drop leaf table that came with the Far Reach. A centerline drop leaf table leaves you no place to put your feet when the table is in the down position. Interestingly, as heavy as the pipes are (about 14 lbs each) I believe I also saved some weight as the original table is much heavier. Another advantage to this system is the vertical pipes are a much more convenient hand hold--especially for my kids that would have been able to reach the original overhead grab bar. I suspect this system adds some additional strength to the cabin top as well.
5 Aug 15--The Saloon Table
With the jib being reworked by the sailmaker it was as good a time as any to start building the saloon table. We knew all along we were going to build a table modeled after the one on the Pardey's Taleisin. With the rest of the interior already installed and designed to accommodate the table, all I had to do was build it. (click here for more on the table build). I purchased some rough cut 5/4 ash about a year ago. It was kiln dried but I stacked it in the garage and left it there to continue to acclimatize while we worked on other projects. I had planned for a long time to wait till the boat was in the water to make and install the saloon table. To get started, I sorted the wood and picked the pieces I wanted. I knew the dimensions required for the table to work in our boat--37 3/4" long (it fits between the stanchions) and 35" wide -- with both leafs open--so I needed to build two leafs each 37 3/4" long x 17 1/2" wide. I first cut the planks a little long--about 45" long -- on the chop saw. My jointer is only six inches wide so I jointed the edges and then ripped the rough cut planks on my table saw to 6" wide. I ran one side of the rough planks over the jointer making sure they were flat. Next, I ran the planks through the thickness planner taking them down to about 1/32" over 3/4" thick. I left them for two days to settle.
Next, laid the planks out matching the grain so the surface would look more "harmonious", picked the side to face up and which sides to face down. I also alternated the grain of each plank to reduce the likelihood any stress in the wood might cause them to warp. I made sure the edges were dead flat and ready to be joined by using a technique I have used many times called an "edgeless joint". I read about this technique years ago in WoodenBoat magazine. After surfacing the edges with my router and a guide bar I glued them up with Tightbond III glue. To ensure they would remain flat I incorporated cauls (braces clamped across the plank to hold them flat) while the planks were clamped together horizontally. Next day, I removed the clamps and to my disappointment they were warped. I was not happy. I looked at them for a long while trying to figure out what happened. I had no idea except perhaps I clamped them to tight (or perhaps I should have let them acclimatize longer after I planed them) before I had the cauls clamped in place. I have not had this happen before and I must say it was rather disconcerting. Frustrated, I took the planks to the table saw and ripped them along the glue joints, arggghhh! I left them over night. The next day, I rejointed the edges with the router and guide bar. This time, however, I glued them up with System Three T88 epoxy. I decided to use epoxy because only the lightest clamping is required so there would be less of a chance of over clamping them. I used the T88 because I had it on hand from when I installed the mahogany staving during the winter time several years ago. It is also invisible under varnish. Next day, I unclamped the planks. Thankfully, they were flat. I cleaned up the planks with a cabinet scraper and 120 and 220 abrasive on a random orbital sander. I laid them out to check the grain. They looked pretty good.
I collected the hardware I needed for this project several years ago. Finding the transom slides took a long time--I found them at White Chapel Hardware where I have purchased a number of solid brass pieces for the boat rebuild, to include all of the cabinet door hinges. Because the starboard side leaf folds over on top of the fixed port side leaf I needed special hinge called a sewing machine hinge, folding leaf hinge, and incorrectly called, a butler tray hinges. Unlike butler tray hinges, these hinge fold all the way over flat and when open or closed and are perfectly flush with the wood top or edge. However, they are a little tricky to mortise as you can see from the picture below. My normal technique for mortising hinges, like butt hinges, is to carefully lay them out then trace around them with a knife or sharp pencil then use a small router to remove the waste. Since there is no "do over" when mortising hinges, I decided to practice on a piece of ash off-cut. A little trial and error and I felt confident enough to proceed with the real top.
Now that I was ready to start the first thing to do was to position the hinges. I measured out where I wanted them and used a small square to make sure the hinges were perfectly aligned with the edge of the table. Then, I traced around them with a very sharp pencil. Because the hinges are not flat underneath, I had to cut them in two phases. The first phase was to cut the first layer that corresponds with the thickness of the flat part of the hinge. In order for the top table leaf to lay flat on the bottom leaf the hinges have to be slightly countersunk--about 1/32". Thus, I set the router depth about 1/32" deeper than the thickness of the plate (see the photo gallery below). With the 3/8" diameter x 1/4" shaft straight cut router bit installed in the laminate router, and the depth set correctly, I cut out the area inside the outline of the hinge. I went very slow and cut a little shy of the line. I used a chisel to sneak up on the fit but had to rely on the router for the curved part of the cut out since I only have flat chisels. I cut all thee mortises on one side then laid the opposing leaf out next to the part I just cut and with the hinges upside down in the freshly cut mortises I then traced for the other side. Finally, I cut that side out and checked the fit of the three hinges. I was satisfied. Phase one was complete. At that point, I called it a day.
More Table Work
I spent about half a day completing the installation of the hinges and radiusing the edges of the table. It was very detailed work. If I built another table I think I could be a little more precise with the hinges though I think it is pretty darn good. I have to say that for someone that was better at blowing things up than building them I have come a long way in six years. I am much more confident in what I am doing and it takes me about a tenth as much time to plan and then build something as it did when I started the rebuild so many years ago. That is not to say I am satisfied with my skill sets (I wish I had more time to really refine by woodworking skills) but that I have sure enjoyed gaining the skills I have.
I also did a little preparation work for the pull out slats that support the table leaf when it is opened up. Unfortunately, all the bronze fasteners are in a box on the Far Reach. I'll have to make the trip tomorrow to pick them up in order to complete the table.
The next steps are to install the slats, prepare the transom slides for mounting, mill and shape the removable teak fiddle, and fabricate small bronze plates (as part of the fiddle system) to install into the leaf edge. Once the table is completed, I'll temporarily install it to check for fit. Then, we will varnish it with eight or nine coats of varnish and complete the final install. As soon as we start varnishing we will start sailing again.
The table top folded over and upside down. The sliding bolts secure the table between the two saloon stanchion poles. The transom slides (not installed yet) lock the table in place.
Next,we took the table down to the boat for a test fit (photo gallery below). We applied tape to the stanchions to protect them, then clamped some wood across the stanchions and laid the table across the frame. We moved it up and down till we were satisfied we had the right height. Next, we marked where to drill the 1/4" holes for the sliding bolts. I drilled the holes and we slid the pins into position. Gayle held the table level while I marked the stanchions for the transom slides. I drilled the holes with a 13/64" bit then tapped them for 1/4-20 bolts. We installed the bolts and the table was installed. I was pleased that it felt so solid and secure. It seems like a great design. It replaces the standard double drop leaf table that came with the Far Reach and is so common to sailboats. The advantages to this design are the table is open underneath so you can stretch your legs out. It also makes the saloon seem bigger and more open. The table can also be tilted to match the angle of heel. Lastly, it is super easy to remove it or fold it up out of the way. After returning home with the table, I took it apart and radiused the edges of the table as well as the cleats. I elongated the holes in the cleat stock so the table can expand and contract with the changing temps and humidity. I still need to install brass plates on the edge of the flip top that will be tapped to receive bolts that support the removable fiddle. More on that later. Hopefully, we will get the first coat of varnish on the table tomorrow.
Completing the Saloon Table.
For the past two weeks I have been working on several projects at the same time. I completed the construction of the table a while back but we needed to varnish it and that took about two weeks. Once the varnish was completed, I reinstalled the bronze inserts in the edge of the table. I stopped by Atlantic Veneer Mill Shop Outlet and picked up a teak off cut. I brought it home and milled it to 3/4" thick on the thickness planer. I cut a taper on each side of the fiddle using the table saw fence on the left side of the blade. Then, I made a pattern template for the ends of the fiddle and cut them out with a hole saw and my Bosch jig saw. I shaped and smoothed the edges with files and sand paper.
I needed to determine where to drill the holes in the fiddle so they would line up exactly with the tapped holes in the bronze plates installed in the edge of the table. I did that by cutting off the heads of three 10-24 SS machine screws and sharping the ends on the bench grinder. I positioned the fiddle and used scrap blocks of the wood clamped to the fiddle to insure I could reposition it precisely on the table edge. Then, I inserted the sharpened screws (point up) into the tapped plates and placed the fiddle on the edge of the table and gently tapped it with the dead blow hammer. I removed the fiddle and had perfectly positioned dimples to serve as guide marks for drilling. I drilled the holes on the drill press, installed the 10-24 round head bronze machine screws with washer and installed the fiddle. The fiddle can easily be removed and stored when not needed.
Finally, I reinstalled the parts that support the bottom leaf of the table. I took the table to the boat and it took about 10 minutes to install it. It looks very nice and I am quite pleased with it. To build the table, I followed the information Lin and Larry Pardey provided in The Care and Feeding of the Offshore Sailing Crew.
I think the table turned out well.
Mast Wedge and Waterproof Boot.
We had always intended to install Spartite as our mast wedge and waterproof plug at the partners. When we installed the new mast in early May 2015 I made some wood wedges as a temporary solution. I wanted to sail the boat and tune it before we installed Spartite. Even though I had plastic wrapped around the mast and a ton of rigging tape the mast leaked horrible. The reinforcing plates on the side of the mast where it passes through the partner did not help. We also needed to wait till the afternoon temperatures were a little lower as Spartite is a two part mixture that relies on a exothermic reaction to initiate the curing process. I ordered the Spartite about a month ago. I read through the directions and scanned the internet for additional info. There are some real horror stories out there. Either the liquid ran down the mast or the plug got stuck in the partner when owners tried to unstep their mast and had to resort to cutting the Spartite out to remove it. But I also read some about success. Ideally, the plug bonds only to the mast as a release agent is smeared on the deck collar. That way, plug comes out with the mast and then when the mast is restepped it goes back into the previous position easily. It is also suppose to be a very good plug to keep water out. We carefully followed the directions. It was pretty simple. Do that many people not know how to follow directions? It will be interesting to see how well it works at keeping water from entering the boat from the outside of the the mast.
Gayle and I installed the Spartite mast wedge and waterproof seal yesterday. In a few days, I'll smooth the edges with a file and then we will paint it to protect it from UV.
Building the Work Bench
One of the easier projects was building and installing the work bench. After thinking about it off and on for the last couple of years I had determined the best option for the work bench was to install it under the bridge-deck and behind the companionway ladder. I wanted to use walnut because it is hard and stable. It is also dark and if left unvarnished won't easily show the marks and abuse of using for it's intended purpose. However, I was all out of walnut. I dropped by Precision Trim and Molding in New Bern. They had walnut. But, they also had some tongue and groove walnut flooring that was brand new but did not meat the specification for a new build custom home. I picked up what I needed for $10! It was already milled and ready to glue up. I installed walnut cleats and then used some doorskin ply and a hot glue gun to make the pattern. I used West Epoxy slightly thickened with 406 colloidal silica and lightly clamped the wood leaving it over night. Next day, I cut the walnut per the pattern and went by the boat to install it. Quick and easy. Later on, when I have some time, I'll install a pull out drawer under it to hold tools that I expect I will use frequently.