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Sailboat Projects

So I’m done for now. All that remains is to launch, then begin the regular spring rounds of cleaning, varnishing, cleaning, rearranging, cleaning, sail installation, cleaning. . .  you get the idea.

Prop and Shaft – installation is finished with minimum of drama and back pain. Shaft and coupling went back together easily, and I’m satisfied with the fit and security of all the connections. When I uninstalled the engine six years ago for engine bed repair, I reassembled the coupling with waterproof grease. That was a good decision, as now the coupling comes apart with no struggle, and the bolts turn easily – no horrible corrosion to deal with. Reassembly this time was done with the same grease, all went smoothly.  Mating the shaft with the coupling and key can be difficult, but with the grease it slides right together with no problem. The shaft is then secured with the provided set screw perpendicular to the shaft, and the split coupling receiver that tightens the collar with bolts and nuts. I then checked the play in the cutlass bearing (can’t really do that without attaching the shaft to engine) – there was none, which is a good thing, because replacing that would have been a struggle.

This is an older photo of the coupling, but in it you can see the collar bolt holes and the set screw hole.

New Prop – I mated the prop to the shaft taper with lapping compound, which is done by working the wheel left and right on the shaft until it feels seated. I cleaned up the surfaces, then applied grease again, fit the key into the key way, and spun the shaft nuts into place, tightening them down with the same wrenches I use to adjust the stuffing box. That done, I installed a new split pin. Next item was to apply Lanocote to the prop. This is my first time using it, and it’s interesting stuff. Made primarily of lanolin and something else that’s really viscous and sticky, you have to heat up the surface of the prop apply it. I used a heat gun on the (50-degree day) I applied it. I also had to heat up the container of Lanocote to get it soft enough to apply. It cures/cools quickly, so I had to keep heating up the prop and the Lanocote until all the surface was covered. It leaves a pretty thick, tacky surface on the prop which prevents (discourages?) barnacle growth. I also fitted a new shaft zinc.

New three blade wheel installed.

Finally, I washed and waxed the topsides, shear and boot stripes. I made a new cleaning discovery: Purple Power (degreaser sold by Walmart and other outlets) does an amazing job of removing marks and even diesel soot from the top sides. I like it better than using On-and-Off, which is an acid-based remover of some sort. It seems less toxic to skin (though I still used gloves), and certainly doesn’t smell as bad. Maybe it didn’t remove the soot quite as quickly, but was certainly effective.

Shiny, clean topsides

I began the interior clean up, but stopped as I didn’t have a ready water source, or easy access to storage of the boat cover, and other bulky items which are on board temporarily (extra tools, heater, etc.). All of that can come off when the boat is pier-side and ladders aren’t involved. For now, the interior is a disaster area, probably qualifying for government resources.

I hate this stage of the spring recommissioning. What a mess.

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I guess the post title is a misnomer. It’s more like spring projects. I haven’t done too much this winter, although I have poked around the engine compartment a good bit, and I determined a couple things related to the cooling pumps on my 2gm20f.

First, my neighbor, who is a certified boat tech, had led me to believe that both pumps were on the way out. My inspection seems to indicate otherwise. His opinion is based on the presence of weeping evidence from the weep hole on the bottom side of each pulley assembly. I, on the other hand, have done a more thorough inspection. Having removed the raw water pump, I determined that there is no problem with the pump. I can see very little evidence of leaking, and the bearing has absolutely no play in it. I carefully inspected the coolant circulation pump as well.  Again, I seen no evidence of leakage, and the bearing is in great shape. So I’m not replacing these pumps. Never had a cooling problem, never lost any appreciable amount of coolant.

Sometimes the “experts” are wrong. To be fair, he works on boats that cost deep into six figures, owned by people who never blink about the cost of maintenance or repairs. If there is a hint of trouble, just replace it. I don’t have the financial luxury of replacing stuff just because there might be evidence of a problem discovered by a 90 second inspection. I’m not replacing those pumps.

Second, I haven’t found my oil leak yet. There has been no dripping oil since I’ve hauled the boat, but of course, the engine hasn’t run during that time either. If it’s a main seal, it likely won’t drip without having the engine running. I’ll have to wait and see on that one. If I need to, I can pull the engine out off the beds while it’s in the water and change the seal then. Only takes about a day or so to do that.

Third, I’ve decided to reuse my old prop shaft that I replaced in 2016 (linked here ). I read up about the reason prop shafts are replaced (should have done this 3 years ago instead of just assuming). Doesn’t seem to be much risk of shearing the shaft at a place where there is pitting. The main problem with the corrosion is that the un-smooth finish can disturb seals and shorten the life of cutlass bearings. I definitely haven’t had that problem. So back in it goes. Yesterday I cleaned up the shaft, inspected the coupling and packing nut, and got it all ready to install. I’ll probably do that tomorrow, as we’ve got a stretch of nice weather ahead of us.

Reassembled shaft and coupling. I was concerned that the coupling would need to be replaced because the key had been sheared. It was fine after a little dressing with a file.

The high-quality Buck Algonquin shaft log hose is still in perfect condition.

Cleaned up stuffing box and hose reassembled.

And here’s the assembly ready to go into the boat. Of course, the coupling has to come off the shaft and be slotted through the shaft log, then coupling reattached to the end of the shaft. Not sure where those black bands came from. A glitch in the photo upload, I guess.

The prop – I still have the old prop from before I repowered 12 years ago. If I recall correctly, it allowed the engine to rev 400-600 rpm too high. I got another prop second-hand, that was amazingly close to the right dimensions, and brought the rpms into an acceptable range. Of course, that prop is now somewhere on the bottom of the bay. So I’ve been researching props a good bit. I’ve used the prop calculator on boatdiesel.com a number of times, sometimes with differing results (I could have sworn I entered in all the correct information each time. . .). I visited with a prop expert near me, and learned some interesting things. First, it is impossible to cover all the variables for calculating a prop simply by using an online tool like that.  You can get near the ball park.  Notice I didn’t say in the ball park, I said near. Second, having a base line from which to calculate a prop size is pretty important, and I have that with the old prop. Seems like I can get pretty close to the right size and pitch by knowing the error margin of the old prop. Fortunately, this shop (digitalpropshop.com) has prop on consignment for a very good price. This is a three-blade wheel, vs the two-blade wheel I had before. Definitely not going to do any racing now, but I’m eager to see how the new prop performs compared to the old. He said it would be better balanced (less vibration) just by virtue of being a three-blade wheel.

And that’s it for now.  I’ll keep you posted.

Although I haven’t posted in a while, I thought some of you would like an update, and a current-status report.

My last sail of the year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was sailing alone. 5 miles out into the bay I came about for the return leg, and apparently snagged a crab pot warp with my rudder.  After sailing slowly for a while, I attempted to clear the line from my rudder, but instead managed to foul the prop with a “thunk.”  After that I had no drive to the prop. Later inspection revealed that I had lost the prop and shaft when the coupling/shaft key sheared.  Although there are many more details to relate (things I’d be happier to forget), I got towed into my boat yard travel lift slip by TowBoatUS and I was very fortunate that my friend the manager was still there. He lifted the boat out immediately so there was no more danger of sinking through an empty shaft log (I had stuffed a rag into the hole), and there she sat for the Thanksgiving weekend. I had to have her moved on Monday to a boatyard next door (the yard I’ve been using for 12 years has changed their haul-out policy as a result of a change in ownership). There was no problem though, and the move was made smoothly.

Now I’m in the position of again replacing the prop shaft – the one I lost was only two years old.  In addition, I need to find a prop that will work – easier said than done, if you don’t want to also pledge you first-born as part of the purchase price. Sailboat props are absurdly expensive if you buy them new. I’ll be looking for used.  Fortunately, I still have the old shaft which I can use as a template for the machinist.

I’ve also been leaking oil – not much, but enough to make a mess. This started before I lost the prop shaft.  I haven’t found the leak, but think it could be the rear main seal.  It’s hard to tell because there is no leak while the engine isn’t running. On the other hand, I discovered the dip stick partially out of the hole when I was looking for the problem – oil could have easily been splashed past the place where the stick normally seals against the block. Just not sure. . .  Wish I could find out, because now would be the perfect time to replace that seal, but it’s not something I want to do unless I’m reasonably sure that it’s the source of the leak.

I also need to replace both cooling pumps – raw water and circulator – I know for sure they are leaking – have been for years. Now’s the time.

So I’m looking forward to some quality time crouched in front of my engine this winter-spring. Nobody ever said owning a sailboat was cheap, and I’m here to verify that fact. More posts and photos to come.

 

After 8 years of pretty much continuous use, I needed to strip and revarnish the drop boards. I’ve repaired nicks, dings, chips and breaks in the finish up to now, but there have developed several dark spots under compromised varnish that are too extensive to repair.  The boards are red oak, which is a strong, heavy material that looks beautiful under varnish.  The drawback with this wood is that it is prone to rot, which means any break in the protective finish needs to be repaired right away, or deep dark stains result, followed by deterioration.

The middle board has two vents built into it for fresh air movement.  With the forward hatch open an inch or so and the vents in the middle drop board, I never have any problem with mold/mildew through the sailing season, and not much of a problem during the winter when the cover is on.  However, where the vents are epoxied into the board has been a problem area, and it’s been difficult to keep them sealed from the weather. Aside from chips and wear spots on the upper and lower boards, the middle board in the vent area is affected the most.

I spent several hours out of two days with chemical stripper and a scraper, only to remember a little later that a heat gun would have done a more efficient job. The heat gun is not the tool for the epoxy-glued vents. Heat would weaken the glue bond and I’d have more problems, so regardless I would have needed to use the chemical stripper on the middle board.

It’s a messy process. The only way I could do this at the pier was because it was a windless day, and I could collect all the varnish shavings.

There were many, many coats of varnish to remove. 16 or 20, probably.  This is because I refresh the finish at least once each year, often twice. It’s not really a lot of labor to refresh the varnish – really, just a light sanding with fine sand paper, wipe down with mineral spirits, and then a quick coat of new vanish thinned 10 to 15% with mineral spirits or paint thinner. But it does build up and begin to look bad after years of refresher coats, and needs to be all removed. An important tool for this job is a paint scraper (or two) with a mill file handy to sharped the blade every so often. It is surprising how tough the varnish layers really are. They were hard to remove.

The louvers in the vents, as you can imagine, were the most tedious to prepare. I used the scraper and several applications of stripper, working on both sides of the board. After that, I wrapped sandpaper around a paint stir and sanded all of the interior surfaces of the louvers.

It looks most of the way stripped here, but it’s actually only about half done. Two or three more applications of stripper were needed to get most of the varnish off.

This board is finally done, and I have also bleached it to remove any water stains that stripper didn’t get.

I used oxalic acid to get any dark stains out of the wood, followed by a neutralizer (baking soda in water). I discovered a few years ago, that if the acid isn’t thoroughly neutralized – not just rinsed with water – that the finish would turn milky underneath the varnish after some time in the sun.

The vents are taped off so that I can fill the seams between the board and vents with thickened epoxy. The sanding process excavated some of the original expoy. This is also where the finish failed, and I want to ensure that the crevices are completely filled and sealed.

First sealer coat of varnish applied. Not very shiny yet, but protected against the weather until I can add additional coats.

Cay of Sea is unwrapped, sanded, painted, signed, sealed. . .  but not delivered. I’m waiting for the boat yard to launch her.

As usual, I used Hydrocoat antifouling paint, and continue to be satisfied with its performance. It effectively keeps the hard growth at bay for two seasons, and is easy to sand smooth after the second year, prior to recoat.

The winter cover greatly reduces deterioration due to weathering, and effectively keeps rain water on the outside. Like most older boats, Cay of Sea has her share of deck leaks, typically along the gunnels. Eventually I’ll need to recore the side decks and rebed hardware. The decks aren’t soft anywhere, but I know there are sections of saturated core along the sides.

Here are a few photos of the spring work.

 

Winter storage

Sanding in progress

Sanding complete. Topsides washed and waxed.

Not shown, but I coated the prop with cold galvanizing spray this year. I usually use bottom paint, which works fairly well. We’ll see how it works – I’ve heard good reports.

Starboard view.

 

Cay of Sea is finally buttoned up for the winter. Although she’s been hauled out for 6 weeks now, we’ve finally finished the alterations on the winter cover, and it fits nice and tight.

Alterations involved cutting appropriately placed slots for stanchions and shrouds, then sewing binding tape around the newly cut slots. We also needed to take material out of the stern section. This area was marked with a sharpie, pinned together into “darts,” then sewn up along the marked seam lines.  Finally, the excess material was removed from underneath the darts. My wife, having sewn a great deal in her younger life, knew exactly what to do, and did a great job.

All in all, it wasn’t a marathon sewing session. Just a couple hours on two different days. The final day of sewing involved a trip to the boat (just a mile away from our house) to fit and evaluate the alterations. Then a final session with the sewing machine finishing up the last details.  Here are some photos of the process.

Cutting new relief slots for stanchions and shrouds.

Cutting strips of excess material on the bias to be made into binding tape.

Sewing the tape along the raw edges of material.

A finished slot, raw edges bound with tape. There were probably 10-12 of these slots to bind with tape.

There’s the finished product.

Compare with last years’ arrangement, when the cover was just put on any way it would fit:

The alterations made a big difference. Now it lays flat and tight without bunchy gatherings where the cutouts were in the wrong places.

Many thanks to Kate and Frank for the use of their excellent Sailrite sewing machine!

Here are links to previous posts on this subject:

https://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/score-winter-cover/

https://middlebaysailing.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/winter-cover/

 

I’ve been away. Literally and figuratively. We travel far and long this summer (to S. Korea and back), and spent every free moment with our kids who were moving there (before they left).

But, I’m back now.

We’ve been day-sailing recently and had an over-night with a group of friends over Labor Day in the Rhode River. Last week I finally installed and satisfactorily tested a tiller pilot that I picked up for cheap at a second-hand marine shop ($40.00!). As I’ve experienced with my previous tiller pilot (that gave up the ghost about 5 years ago), it isn’t strong or fast enough to steer the boat in a brisk wind, but in moderate conditions it’s okay, and of course for motoring it’s excellent.

As you can see, I had to adapt the old bracket with an extension because this unit is shorter than my old one. This is a prototype bracket, and I need to make one that looks a bit more shippy.

I’ve done a couple other small projects on the boat, mostly by way of keeping the appearance and functionality intact (the continuous refit). Otherwise, she’s been sailing great and doing exactly what we want her to do.

Some boaters get 5-foot-itis – the desire to get a bigger boat. We keep pushing that away, knowing that for how we sail and cruise, Cay of Sea is just perfect for us. We are so satisfied with her size, seaworthiness, and cost! Besides that, I can’t imagine starting all over again with a different boat. There is always so much to do with a boat before you trust her completely, know her systems, know the status of all her maintenance items.

We’re completely comfortable with boat we have!

 

 

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