Category Archives: DIY

Small Projects 2017

I tend to forget how many little things I do on/to the boat. In my mind, most of them are opportunities, not maintenance as such, but if I really think about it, a lot are actual maintenance! A friend of mine remarked when I told him I was swapping gauges while underway – “Phil, you need a fidget spinner.” I did some of these projects before we left, others en route, and some up in GB at the end of the season.

glove box & trim

The glove box was an awesome update to the binnacle. Somewhere to safely store cell phones, sunglasses, keys, and sunscreen. Now we can put 4 drinks in the cup holders! I fit it into the binnacle where the VHF radio, and later an older chart plotter, was originally located. I constructed the box out of quarter-inch Corian type material (old mouse keyboard shelf). I made a teak bezel around the glove-box out of some teak scraps, slapped a few coats of gloss Epifanes and glued the bezel on. The trim is purposely slightly larger than the opening so it doesn’t get abraded. There is a small drain hole at the back bottom of the box as it sits on a backward slant, but it really didn’t collect any water over the summer and kept things secure and dry.

There is a funny/boring video of me gluing the trim. I left the camera running by accident and it is from the vantage point of the cup holder looking straight up.

fixed retractable boat hook

I used our retractable boat hook to take the boat’s weight last year pulling it closer to the mooring ball. The hook got stuck and didn’t want to retract or extend. I could just get it to turn if I put one end in a vice.

The fix was to cut the outer sleeve off with the inner fully extended. This revealed that the problem was simply that the plastic tape (provides friction to the inside of the inner walls of the sleeve) got rolled-up in the tube. This made locking and unlocking somewhat moot as the rolled tape was wedged between the locking mechanism and the outer tube. I removed the tape, put some new tape on and reassembled the pieces. I used a punch to re-crimp it.  It was a 5-minute fix and the pole was only 4 inches shorter.

We promptly lost the boat hook in the first days of the trip and bought (yet) another in Peterborough.

dripping arch bolt

This bolt was responsible for a persistent leak down the back of the liner in our aft cabin, right behind our pillows.
The fix was simple, remove nut and washer and apply some sealant. Wait…. the washer doesn’t sit flush to the fiberglass! Take washer home, grind and then reinstall with butyl.

freshwater float

The freshwater gauge was always a bit spotty, but last season it continually red empty.  I assume the sensor float has become waterlogged, and this proved true when I tested it. I wrapped some foam packing around the old float – now it works.

replace LPG valve

It took a while for me to clue into what the issue was with the original LPG safety solenoid valve which leads to the pork-loin incident.

These solenoid valves are opened by current through an electromagnet, as they age they overheat causing the magnet loses its “grip” and the needle slowly slides back, closing the valve partially. You may start out with full gas, but after 10-15 min you are back to a small trickle of gas ( leading to a very slow cooking roast on a cold spring cruise…). My workaround was to pour cold lake water on the valve to cool it and it worked quite well. I did this for a season and it was easy to do as the propane locker is located on the sugar-scoop transom, usually one splash for a kettle to boil.

I ordered a solenoid from Aliexpress a year ago as the price was right ($9 including shipping!!) but it rattled around my toolbox for a full year. I finally installed it this year along with a new sparker battery. The stove works perfectly now!

  • Model: 2W-025-08
  • Working Medium: Air, Water, Oil,Gas
  • Operating Method: Direct action
  • Type: Normal Closed
  • Flow bore: 2mm
  • Pipe Size: 1/4″
  • Working Pressure:  0.15~0.8Mpa
  • Max Pressure:1.0Mpa
  • Working Temperature: -5~60 Celsius
  • Voltage: DC 12V
  • Material: Brass

installed compass

 

Not too much to say about this one. I’ve given up on trying to refurbish old leaking compasses. I bought the compass (yes it is rebuildable….), enlarged the hole in the binnacle with a jigsaw and rasp and connected the wires. I still need to swing it and adjust the compensation, but it reads pretty accurately to the fluxgate so I’m not worried or in a rush. It does give the cockpit a nice finished look. I cheaped out and didn’t get a sun cover, but the compass doesn’t get any direct sunlight under the bimini and the boat is covered for the winter.

mahogany binnacle cap

If you look at the top of the binnacle you’ll see a hole in the fiberglass right about the word Autopilot on the left gauge (see top photo on page). The previous owner had wires coming out of there and had stuck on a couple pieces of teak with some 4200 which were growing moss when I bought the boat.
I spun a nice bung and fitted it with an o-ring to give it some grip.

LED strip lights

I love indirect LED lighting, spots are so harsh, I could fill the boat with these.  I finally got around to properly installing the starboard side.

These lights are cheap Ikea strip lights LEDBERG (same as I installed above the sink). I originally just plugged them into the cigarette lighter and let them lie in the bottom of that ledge several years ago. The lights got covered with books and brick-a-brack, so I installed them using clips and industrial velcro and wired them to the DC panel properly.

  • LEDBERG $14.95 CAD
  • LED life approx. 25,000 hours.
  • Light color: warm white (2700 Kelvin).
  • 3 pieces, 10¼” each
  • Power: 2 W
  •  wire directly to 12 volt- no controller needed

I also re-routed the speaker wire. For some reason, the previous owner had the wire coming out of the old speaker, behind the seat cushions and up the bulkhead?! I ran the wire out the back of the switch cabinet and behind the curtain valance. I got rid of the old-lady-Florida curtains too, oh so much tidier…

Navigation Electronics – part 1

As a computer literate sailor, and convert to digital charts, I thought it would be a good idea to get all my systems talking together, ideally using the processing power of a real computer (not a phone, tablet or overpriced doodad from WestRaymin. Systems like autopilot, chart plotter, depth, wind speed, compass, and GPS should all be interconnected.

Here’s what I want to cobble together.

  • MacMini – or other
    • screen, keyboard mouse
  • openCPN and all apps.
  • Pulling data from instruments -seatalk or  NEMA 0183
  • External GPS – USB to computer
  • wifi remote desktop to iPad at helm – VNC over local mac Wifi

Below is my scratch pad for research, in a coming post I will outline exactly what I actually build.  I have some components and as usual, am trying to execute this in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Continue reading at your discretion.
Continue reading Navigation Electronics – part 1

Screen Time

We’ve been lucky, we have screens for our major hatches and companionway, so bugs haven’t been a big issue on our travels to date. We were plagued by black flies on the trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, but that was mostly on open water and was actually an entertaining introduction to bug killing for the girls.
We were, however, missing screens for our aft birth and bathroom portlights, two rooms that would benefit from having the portlights open more often than not.I scavenged a couple of square screen frames from a condemned boat and decided to see if I could make them fit the Lewmar (New) Standard ports. Luckily the metal removed from one dimension was just enough to lengthen the other side. I used the method that the screens were originally made with, that is crimping in a piece of aluminum with a punch. I made the joints out of some aluminum scraps.

Continue reading Screen Time

It’s the little things

I’m a big believer in details, perhaps it’s my training as a goldsmith or a pixel perfect developer, but if there’s a speck or a design flaw it will bug me. Having a white boat is a lesson in finding serenity, I swear there is someone out there laughing at all the scrubbing boat owners do.

Having a brand new high-pressure water pump with a faulty shut-off sensor (the backstory) gave me the perfect opportunity to fashion a wash-down pump. A bit of hose, a few clips and away we go!

With 40 psi and 17 liters/min the cleaning possibilities are endless!

Fridge

The fridge door/lid always made a screech when opened and the gas strut was very stiff. I found a bunch of gas struts on the sale table at Princess Auto for $4 each and they seem to be close to the right size. I only noticed when I removed the old one that there is a manufacture’s sticker and model number.

fridge_strutI only noticed the brackets were not in the same plane when I put on the new strut.  I relocated the brackets to get the door to shut, but also the bottom bracket needed to come over by 3/4″ to line up.
The bottom bush was drilled out to fit on the existing stainless post and luckily the top fitting works!

UPDATE: Fall 2017

The cheapo strut didn’t last the season so I splurged on a new strut (It was only $13 !) I choose one from  Amazon based on the weight of the lid. Here are the specs:

  • Load : 170N ( 17Kg)
  • Hole Diameter : 4mm / 0.16″
  • Rod Size : 172 x 6mm / 6.8″ x 0.24″
  • Hole Distance : 408mm / 16″
  • Total Size : 430 x 15mm / 17″ x 0.6″ (L*D)

After a full summer of cruising here are my thoughts.

  • The piston rod is a bit on the thin side but it doesn’t bend, in the future I might get one thicker but I don’t think it really matters.
  • the ends have plastic caps like automotive ends, they do snap onto the stainless mounts and only fell off once or twice if I really impacted the strut. It did come ball-end mounting hardware, but I thought I would try it and it seems to work. I could drill out the plastic caps and fit the circlips if falling off was an issue.
  • the struts lift is stronger than either of the two, it takes some effort to close and I had to put on two latches to keep it closed (which is how it came from the factory in the first place.

UPDATE: Spring 2018

The strut worked(s) flawlessly !

shelf

The requirements of a shelf, to be a shelf, are fairly simple. It needs to be big enough to hold the intended items and sturdy enough to stay up, but the shelf in the photo really isn’t a shelf.

new_bathroom_shelf_hunter_340For me, like the boat itself, the shelf is the physical manifestation of my dreams, personality and aspirations. A bathroom towel shelf on a cold winter’s night is less about orderly towel storage, but about making the boat into a floating home, one that we will live on and hopefully take to warmer climes, have adventures, and watch our children discover some of the wonders of the world. This shelf is about providing the best summer home for my young children to make memories in and keeping my wife happy with a nice bathroom (my idea not hers). It’s about having clean dry clean towels to wrap ourselves in after a cold swim. It is about dreaming of sailing down to the Bahamas. It is about making the boat better then new, putting my stamp on it, doing it better than the designers. It is also a great justification for having a shop full of tools and ferreting around boat yard dumpsters.

A shelf that loaded better be strong.

Continue reading shelf

Bruised boat, bruised ego

starboard_hull_damageLast summer I was merrily heading into Toronto’s inner harbour through the Eastern Gap*. I was busy lounging behind the wheel and talking with friends when one casually said “we are headed straight for a big green thing”.  That big green thing being the big steel buoy making the inner entrance to the Eastern Gap. I turned the boat to port and the wake pushed the buoy away from the a boat,  only to have the buoy swing back back with a vengeance and smack the hull just below the rub rail on starboard. Ouch.
The impact shattered the gel-coat and the underlying layers of fibreglass. It didn’t look too bad and I left it for the season as it is well above the waterline close to the forward sling marks.

What king of sailor sails straight into a big green buoy that he knows is there… ugh.

Repair #1
20160504_163350_repair_complete
Finished repair.

Peeling back the layers of crushed gel-coat and fiberglass mat, I discovered the damage was much more extensive than it appeared. There was considerable de-lamination between the many layers however the lowest layers were just bruised, not cracked. The damage also extended in a much larger radius then the gel-coat damage itself, presumably from the fibreglass flexing in.
I couldn’t access the damage from the interior unless I did a massive cabin disassembly, so rather than cut a hole , I decided to grind down and re-glass from the outside, leaving the bottom most layer intact.

After applying a few layers of mat and resin I levelled the patch with a sander and enlarged the grind. You can see the wound get bigger in the photos. Complicating the repair job was an unusually cold spring. I used a heat gun to warm the hull first and then gently warm the repair at several intervals to ensure the resin kicked.

Continue reading Bruised boat, bruised ego

A tale of three pumps

Shurflo_20881. SHURFlo 2088-422

  • 3.5 GPM open flow, 45 PSI Demand Switch
  • Self priming up to 12 feet
  • Can run dry without damage
  • One way check valve prevents reverse flow

The first pump died after 15 seasons. It sounded like a jack-hammer but was a reliable crew member on our boat,  sort of like Relic on The Beachcombers. Part of my bedtime ritual was turning the breaker off so as not to be awoken but sporadic bursts of pump.

This pump was made in the USA in 1999 and judging by the date, I’d say it was the original freshwater pump.  It started weeping at the end of last (2014) season and I ignored it. At the end of this season, shortly after finishing out trip to the 1000 Islands, it quit (almost exactly like the fridge did last year). Upon inspection the inner sealed-bearing failed and flooded the electric motor. Rust-brown water trickled out of the motor case, it was done.

Continue reading A tale of three pumps

the blue seat.

Trouble shooting the Johnson 9.9
Nice blue seat…

Our dinghy is a hand-me-down inflatable. It’s a bit too big, crowding the dinghy dock and it’s showing it’s age, but the price was right and it has served us well for the last 5 years.

The dinghy came with a bright blue seat, the kind Canadian Tire sells for fishing boats. Because the drain plug doesn’t drain, the seat is often an island in a floating sea of rainwater, a refuge from water, sand and slime.

The blue seat is awkward height for an adult to sit on. It’s only a few inches off the floor, but it is the perfect for height and size for the girls. They sit side by side because, well it’s the only seat on the boat.

The blue seat kept them low, stationary and safe. It was unbeknownst to me their spot. I only discovered the last aspect when I casually mentioned to the girls that we will have a new dinghy next season and was met with cries of  “you can’t get rid of the blue seat, our seat”!

Continue reading the blue seat.

Inverter repair – xantrex xpower 1000

cooked mosfet
cooked mosfets

This summer I fried the old Xantrex xpower 1000 inverter. I can’t remember if it was the blender the did it….  This is a 2007 square wave inverter and I think the “digital” speed controller on the blender did a number on the inverter as well as frying the blender. I should upgrade to a pure sign wave to keep my electronics safe. but it will be nice to have a backup inverter to the older Xantrex onboard.

Continue reading Inverter repair – xantrex xpower 1000

Crispy, Hard and Smoking.

IMG_0331We had just left Kingston Marina and were motoring east past the scenic Kingston waterfront to begin the trip back to Toronto.  I headed down into the boat for some reason (stereo? chart? sunglasses?) when I heard a very faint high-pitched whine for a couple of seconds. I dismissed the noise but immediately began to smell something burning.

As every sailor soon learns,  ignore unusual sounds, smells, or vibrations on a boat at your peril. If the noise didn’t trigger a response in me,  the smell certainly got me busy.

I lifted the step and peeked into the engine compartment and didn’t see anything amiss – no flames, no billowing smoke. I took a second look and realized that the alternator wasn’t turning but the belt wasn’t broken.  Alt seizure? I immediately shut the engine down to take stock of what was happening. It turns out the belt was toast, literally.  It was crisp,  hard and smoking. It was so worn out that it wouldn’t turn or flex.

I think the noise was the alt spinning down.

I did a quick replacement as we slowly drifted towards the rocky shore,  past a few sailing dinghy’s and stand up paddlers.  I  put on a Genuine Yanmar 25132-003700 (old part no# 128670-77350). We were back up running in 5 min, I think Rufus was impressed.

Continue reading Crispy, Hard and Smoking.