Category Archives: DIY

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 I used the method that the screens were originally made with, that is crimping in a piece of aluminum with a punch.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!

 

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.

Evinrude 4hp

Our dinghy motor, a 1987 E4RCUD Evinrude has an interesting history. It was made in Belgium, spent several decades in a locker in Grand Cayman and was shipped to Toronto via DHL in a cardboard box. I would guess that before I got my hands on it that it had probably only had an hour or two of runtime. I think the previous owners would head out straight off the beach to dive. Rumour has it that the previous owner never had any luck running the engnie and spent lots of time trying to get it started – to the delight of the other residents.

Breaking the motor down with help from my stylish assistant. Never did find the 11mm socket after that.
Breaking the motor down with help from my stylish assistant. Never did find the 11mm socket after that.

When I recommissioned the motor all it needed was a throttle/cam follower as the U-shaped plastic snapped due to age.

I’ve cracked it open this fall to change the impeller and generally show the old girl some love. It’s always been grumpy at idle and the choke doesn’t stay put, meaning start-up requires a delft touch and several hands.

Continue reading Evinrude 4hp