Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Refit Begins

Chillin under the cockpit
Let me first say that I have no illusions of getting Velorum in the water next spring (2024).  I've done enough boat work in the past to be realistic in my estimates.  Things happen and life gets in the way.  My Alberg 35 was out of the water for 5 years when I refit her from 2009 - 2014, but the nature of that work was dramtically different (Alberg 35 Refit).  The Alberg was among other things, a structural refit and required me re-coring ALL the decks.  I cannot begin to describe how terrible it is to do that kind of work.  It consists of long hours on your hands and knees grinding and sanding a cloud of toxic dust and I would never, ever do it again.  

With that said, this refit will have it's share of annoying work, but structurally the boat is sound and most of the jobs (except for the first few) will be fun engineering puzzles.  From scratch system installs are one of my favorite things to do; it involves a lot of thought, design, and research up front and once it all falls into place in my head, the implementation is fun.  Ultimately, if done right, I will be left with nothing to complain about and I know who to find if/when I do have complaints.

As far as a timeline goes, I'm hoping I can do all of this in the next 18 months and re-launch in the spring or summer of 2025, but don't hold me to that.  Because of Northern New England winters, working on an unheated boat between December and March is basically untenable so I've set some seasonal goals for the near term and adjust as neccesary.  

So, for the next 2 months (Fall 2023), I hope to accomplish the following (in general order):

  1. Paint bilges under cockpit.
  2. Install above waterline scupper, cockpit and propane through hull fittings with new hoses.
  3. Close up unused seacock. There were 2 - 1.5" head discharge lines, 1 for direct discharge and 1 for holding tank discharge.  I'm removing the holding tank discharge because I plan on only holding tank exit to be via on-deck pumpout.
  4. Paint bilges under v-berth.
  5. Re-enforce engine mounts with additional layers of glass.
  6. Paint engine room compartment.
  7. Install raw water intake seacock.
  8. Paint bilges in main cabin.
  9. Install remaining seacocks.
  10. Design and install marine head, holding tank, and associated plumbing.
It's a fairly ambitious list, but I've already started on items 1 and 2 and should have those finished up by weeks end.  

A clean bilge is a happy bilge!
Although painting bilges is not high on my list of fun things to do, Velorum came to me with clean, pre-sanded bilges with no oils or grease to contend with, so it was just a matter of cracking a can of TotalBilge and getting to work.  Compared to my Alberg, getting into the lazarettes is a comparative breeze and access is generally easy (especially with the engine out).  I cut all the trim with a brush and then rolled it out with the 6" hotdog style rollers to cover the bulk of the area.  Despite having to use a full face respirator, I like working with TotalBilge Epoxy Paint becuase it is thick and covers lumpy mat glass extremely well. 

Thanks Steve!
I gave that a day to dry and then moved onto installing the deck and cockpit scupper through hulls.  The previous owner did all the hard work of machining backing blocks out of G10 board for every through hull and deck fitting, so all I have to do is find the correct one (they are labeled) and glue them into place along with the through hull fitting. It almost feels like I'm cheating.  I could have epoxied the backing plates into place first, but for the extra work required (for little benefit) it wasn't worth it to me.  Instead I used 3M 5200 (slow cure).  It's rated for above and below waterline through hulls and is much faster than using epoxy.  All told it took me about 3 hours to get the 5 through hulls (2 scupper drains, 2 deck drains, 1 propane drain) installed over 2 days time.  Now I just have to wait until the 5200 fully cures and I'll get the hoses installed and finish up a few spots of bilge painting I missed on the first round.

Propane and cockpt drains and backing plates
Keeping some of the goop off the hull
Oooh, Shiny!

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