Tag Archives: maintenance

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…

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.

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

Maintenance on the hook – chasing smells

Mid-winter, on one of my periodical visits to the boat,  I was blown away with the smell of diesel fuel when I slid the hatch open. I chalked this up to the new cover not giving the boat as much ventilation as it used to have, but I really wasn’t fooling myself. In the back of my head I’ve been wondering why the boat smells worse this year then last?

When doing my spring commissioning I discovered a drop of fuel on one of the fuel filters. I didn’t have time to look at it until now. I was partly motivated as we are are on day 10  ( I’ve lost track) of a trip to the 1000 islands. The girls still crawl into our bed some nights and last night I was squished up against the back bulkhead, getting strong wafts of diesel. That was enough to motivate me this morning to see if I can stop the leak.IMG_0613 Continue reading Maintenance on the hook – chasing smells

wheel wrap

Last summer on the return trip from Ottawa/Kingston, the weather was particularly cold in early August.  Malcolm and I got seriously cold, numb feet and stiff hands. I noticed that the stainless wheel gets really cold in cool weather,  I never had this problem with a wooden tiller, but a cold wheel makes life that much more miserable.

I decided to wrap my wheel in the leftover marine grade vinyl I used for the cushions on my previous sailboat, the Tanzer.  I used just a small amount of contact cement to hold it in place.The thread is UV nylon I used for the cover, not that I am worried about the elements as the cockpit is covered by the bimini (and solar panels).  It took me about three hours to stitch. I cut the vinyl a little too narrow and the seam varies from closed to about a 2mm gap. The perfectionist in me says it can wait until it needs to be replaced, or I’m retired, whichever comes first!

The fridge: AB Coldmachine and the fans.

When I stepped onto the dock after our 26 day day trip to Ottawa, a club member congratulated me on my trip and asked if everything went OK, “sure” I said, “it was great!” “Nothing broke?” he asked, “Nope” I replied. It wasn’t a lie, it was just that I didn’t remember that the fridge compressor was making strangled-guinea-pig-like noises as opposed to the usual Darth Vader sounds, besides, it was still keeping things cold.

IMG_0001A couple of days later the cabin was very quiet, on the trip, with a kids, stereos, motoring and lots of activity on the boat I hadn’t realized that the fridge was ominously silent. I looked in on the compressor under the port dinette seat and realized that there was no air moving, the compressor was very hot. Not having paid too much attention to the compressor in the past I figured it was supposed to be hot – but not hand-burning hot!
Clearly the cooling fans had stopped. The fans are computer fans, nothing special, easy fix I say to myself. I pulled them out and tested them. One was definitely dead, it wouldn’t spin up and when I poked it with my finger it raced then died.  The second made grinding noises and was sluggish, clearly the source of the strangled-guinea-pig noises.

Continue reading The fridge: AB Coldmachine and the fans.

Let the plumbing begin! (shower relocation)

After the first season there were a few things that I wanted to change with the plumbing. I would like to think plumbing fixtures have progressed  since the boat was built 15years ago, and besides, Hunter didn’t really go all out on the fixtures in the first place. The changes may see mostly aesthetic but are more practical in nature. For example a single handle kitchen faucet makes mixing and adjusting water flow much easier, leading to less water use and waste. The spare hole makes a great soap dispenser location. (kitchen photo here) Boat plumbing would be much easier if I could send my 2-year old under the cupboards with a wrench. It was impossible to get a wrench onto the faucet nuts so I had to take the double sink out. The upside is I discovered the ice cube trays way under there -yes, we can make ICE! The bathroom faucet, while perfectly functional, is dated ugly and the shower diverter only sent about 80% of the water to the shower, the rest running down the drain. I didn’t like the shower hose traipsing across the counter and over the toilet.

Continue reading Let the plumbing begin! (shower relocation)

Holding tank, holding breath

The toilet to holding tank hoses on Tortuga, I assume, are original and the source of our stinking shame. We developed a big odour problem by the end of season and eradicaton of odour was a priority job for 2014 launch.  I picked up a new Jabsco pump unit on sale at the end of last season as the entire unit was cheaper then a gasket rebuild kit and I could see that  the flimsy plastic pump was distorting, so I wasn’t convinced freshgaskets would stop the spurts of water when pumping. Although not a source of odor, water spraying out of your toilet isn’t exactly the experience I’m after.

trident 1.5 sanitation hose I contemplated using PVC tubing instead of replacement hose as it is much cheaper and will never smell, but the complete lack of access to the hose run made me I realized that while I might (no, it’s impossible) get a pipe in, there would be no way to secure the pipe from banging around. Securing PVC in marine installations is key as flexing and movement will lead to cracked joints and leaks. Hose it is. Trident, the industry standard is guaranteed for 10 years, in fresh water I should be able to get 15-20 years – who knows if I’ll have the boat then?! I’ve gleaned what I can from forums and Peggy Hall and bought some holding tank treatment (Happy Campers) to keep the vent air fresh. Final task is  to back flush the vent to ensue proper airflow to the tank.

Continue reading Holding tank, holding breath

Compass repair, again.

I tossed out the mounting frame from the original compass as I assumed I would never see it, then I got the compass…. It’s an OEM Suunto compass with a fancy Hunter logo inside, but for some reason the globe is full of “stuff” floating around. Looks like it was filled with dirty lake water?!

Black goo, very sticky goo.
Black goo, very sticky goo.

In the mean time, I sourced a well used Ritchie compass and fit it into the pedestal with a few strokes of a rasp. This compass however had a distinct lack of fluid. Not a problem, Ritchie is known for being rebuild-able, right? Now that it is winter project time, I opened the compass to discover a heaping glob of black goo inside. Hmm. Caulking perhaps? Sealant?

Upon further inspection I realize that I am looking at the bottom of the dial, how does the fluid stay in?

I find a parts-book online and see that there is supposed to be a rubber diaphragm inside – that explains the big blob of black stuff.

20131214_132349The diaphragm is about $20, the fluid $15 etc etc, being the frugal Scotsman and practical German! I figure, hey, there’s got to be a homemade solution here in the shop.

I cut a disk out of an oil can and put in some squeeze-cheese gasket, Permatex 2, screwed it all together, tossed in some lamp oil and splash of mineral oil. Seems to be holding.

20131214_141432I must say I’m a bit baffled that the fluid melted the diaphragm so completely. Did they not test the rubber? It seems like planned obsolescence but I suppose this is what they were referring to as “rebuildable”! ‘ cause you are  going to have to at some point. It reminds me of the arguments I’ve heard about American cars, cheap abundant parts versus slightly more expensive import parts.20131214_141528

I’m under no illusions that this fix will withstand the full expansion pressures of a summer’s sun, I’m sure there’s a reason for a rubber diaphragm, but I am optimistic that under the shade of the Bimini it might not piss itself in a day.

To be continued….

 

syringe and a spade

Once I had possession of the boat, I gave the rudder and prop a close inspection. The rudder seemed to have a lot of side to side slop/play, at the bottom tip it seemed to be about an inch (if memory serves me correct). As the boat was on the hard and I didn’t do a sea trial I figured that this play would be, at the very least a clonking noise on the hook. Seeing as I was in for a pound with the hull I figured I’d tackle this  job.

DSC00069

I looked into replacing the big white lower busing, but it isn’t available from Hunter, but I did stumble upon a solution used by others as outlined in the West System Epoxy manual. It involves drilling holes in the bushing and injecting epoxy with colloidal silica (for bulk/viscosity) and graphite powder (for lubrication). It seemed a reasonable method so I forged ahead.

Dropping the rudder required digging a hole in the yard, there seemed to be several holes that spring! There is definitely a benefit to being on gravel instead of pavement! Funny thing is the hole filled up with water in heavy rains and I ended bailing the hole out to reinstall the rudder.

DSC00071The technique calls for waxing the steel bushing, drill holes, reinstall the rudder and then inject epoxy with 50/50 mixture of silica and graphite. In my case I drilled three holes on each side and three on the front. As you can see from the photo the epoxy merged into one big pad. I like this technique as it creates a zero tolerance fitting that would be difficult to achieve otherwise and I suspect is better then when it left the factory.

It stood a season and seems fine – there is a posting out there with