Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Getting A-Head

The weather has mostly held out so far so I was able to keep pushing on the sanitation system installation task.  The new toilet is a Raritan Superflush which I believe has the same pump assembly as the highly rated Raritan PHII that has been around for a long time.  The main difference that I can see is that the base is slightly different on the superflush and will not accomodate an electric head.  Since I have no interest in an electtric head and sold the new in box electric head that came with the boat, I don't think this will be a problem.  Marine sanitation systems have caused me great problems over the years (Nasty Example) and the last thing I want to do is make things more complicated.  The new system will be as simple as possible, but still legal (and not a composting head).  

The first thing I found with the new toilet was that the bolt pattern didn't match up and 2 of the backing nuts would be located in a totally inaccessible area without cutting away some of the fiberglass pan in the head.  So I decided to cut a piece of plywood that would fit on top of the existing pan and install recessed tee nuts on the bottom so I could wouldn't have to deal with trying to spin a nut on.  Once I cut out the shape on the plywood, I marked the location of the head mounting bolts and tapped and recessed where the tee nuts would be located before encapsulating the whole thing in epoxy followed by 3 coats of Kirby paint.  I know it's going to be wet in there so the epoxy coating should keep the wood from getting saturated.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry I started plumbing the hoses, vented loops, and the lockable y-valve to divert the head discharge to either the holding tank or overboard.  The only thing to say about this is that the 1-1/2" Trident Premium sanitation hose is tough to bend and hard to wrestle through bulkheads.  The raw water hoses (3/4") were quite a bit easier to work with, but the cramped quarters made everything a challenge and took much longer than expected.  I made sure that the hose runs had no low spots where sewage could sit and made the runs as short as possible.  I also did a vented loop for the toilet discharge (before the y-valve) and for the raw water (between pump and where it enters the toilet).

I waited for a few days for the paint to dry and then stuck the new platform in place with 3M 5200 and moutned the toilet.  I left the hose connections to the toilet that I had previously installed a bit long so I could measure and cut them accurately once the toilet was bolted in place.  The final piece of the installation was to mount the Scad Tank Monitor to the holding tank and install the display next to the outlet in the head.  I still have to run the connection to the breaker panel, and will need to fasten the hoses with zip ties, but probably won't get to that until I tackle the electrical system.  I'm happy with the result and think the install will be serviceable in the future.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Fall Projects Completed, Might Just Have Time for One More

When I bought the boat at the end of August, I had a rough plan of what I wanted to get done before it got too cold.  Of course, just getting the boat tucked away with a good cover was a project in itself, but I really wanted to get some actual progress on the refit.  I know this is a long term project that will last until Spring of 2025 (that's the plan now at least), but tangible results are key to keeping motivation over the winter (I'll be rebuilding the engine this winter in my shop).

Despite the many contortionist positions I've folded into while doing work aboard the boat so far, I'm really loving this refit so far.  Obviously, there are frustrations along the way, but compared to the Alberg 35 I restored, this is mostly a pleasant experience so far (read: grinding decks off is bad, installing systems on a clean boat is good).

Anyway, the projects on my list seemed simple enough: paint the bilges and install the seacocks, but as with any boat projects, even the most innocuous task can be challenging. Fortunately, the biggest challenge with painting the bilges was moving stuff around and crawling into corners with a respirator.  Now that it's all done, I will say that the bilges look amazing.  I've never had a boat with bilges that clean and shiny and I'm not sure why my wife isn't as excited as I am when I show her the photos of my work for the day.

The seacocks on the other hand were not as simple as I thought. I've installed seacocks before, but they were direct replacements, but several of the seacocks on Velorum were different makes and sizes from the originals. So, as in my previous post with the transducer, some surgery was required.  The last two I had to install were the drain for the head sink and the engine raw water intake.

The raw water intake was a 1" (original was 3/4") so I had to enlarge the hole in the hull, which was pretty straight forward, but the real problem was that the new seacock (Forespar Engine Flush) was much wider than the original and I needed to cut away some fiberglass liner to give me enough room to spin on the seacock to the new backing plate and through hull fitting.  The head sink drain was the same size (1"), but similar to the raw water intake, I needed to do some surgery to the surrounding fiberglass liner to be able to screw on the seacock.  All in all I ended up doing a lot of head scratching trying to figure out the best solution, but I'm happy with the end result.  

So even though I've finished what I had planned for this fall, the weather has been pretty good and I've started installing the sanitation system. I posted about the holding tank install a few weeks ago, but I think I have time to get the rest of the system installed and hooked up before the weather really turns. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Boat Yoga and Lost Time

I took last Friday afternoon off in the hopes of wrapping up a bunch of the 'Before it gets too cold' projectts and ended up making a mess and not really getting much done.  With the rain on Saturday and family commitments on Sunday, I really only had the time to get back to were I should have been Friday afternoon.  Oh well.

My plan on Friday was to get the Airmar B60-20 depth transducer installed along with a bunch more bilge painting. The old depth transducer was something smaller than the 2-3/8" hole I needed for the new one and if you've ever had to overdrill an old hole with a holesaw, you know it can be a challenge.  I had a cool trick that I had heard about and wanted to try; just bang a piece of scrap wood into the old hole and then mark the center.  Once you have the center, you can use the pilot bit in the larger diameter holesaw to drill the center and guide the bit.  

I was really pleased that it worked really well and thought I was well on my way to getting a ton done for the day.  I dry fitted the new transducer, but didn't snug down the nut.  My son came over to help and we slathered up the transducer with 3M 4200 and fitted it in.  I started tightening the nut and it became increasingly difficult to turn with the sealant in the threads so we decided we needed to get 2 wrenches on it (one to keep it from turning in the hole and the other to tighten the nut).  Unfortunately, the location of the through hull is under the vberth, and while I can get a hand on it easily, getting 2 on is nearly impossible. There is a second opening from above and my son was able to reach down and just barely hold onto one of the wrenches while I somehow manage to get 1 arm and both my shoulders through a very small opening.  

After much grunting and lots of choice words when the wrench would slip and my knuckles would smash into jagged bulkhead corner I got it as tight as I could.  To my horror though, I could still wiggle the transducer in the hole and there was a noticeable gap in the center.  So, when I decided I didn't need to snug down the nut when test fitting without sealant, I didn't notice that there was a slight curve to the hull there and it was not flat, so no matter how tight I got it, it would never seal properly. Uggh.

So we reversed the procedure complete with lots more choice words directed at all manner of things and pulled the transducer.  At that point we were 3 hours into the job and decided that it was time to cut our losses and call it a day.  We went home and I spent the night cleaning the transducer threads with a toothpick and a wire brush. What a fun Friday night!

Over the course of the weekend, I came up with a solution and once again, a donut came to the rescue (is there anything they can't do?).  This particular donut was a 1/2" G10 plate that I drilled a 2-3/8" hole and shaped to match the interior of the hull.  There was a lot of test fits before I was satisfied that it sit perfectly flat on the curve of the hull.  Then I test fitted the tranducer and was able to snug the nut down very tight with no gaps.  I epoxied the donut to the hull and let it cure overnight. When I came back in the morning, I was able to give it a quick sand to clean up any little globs and then refit the tranducer just to make sure.  Finally, we re-bedded it with another round of 3M 4200 and it snugged down perfectly with very little effort.  A lot of effort for one through hull, but I'm now certain it is very secure and will not give me any trouble in the future.

Mmmmm, donut

Finally a snug dry fit

The finished product

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Lots of Little Things

I know I'm working on borrowed time right now and I'm trying to take advantage of the warm weather while it lasts knowing full well that the cold is on the way and direct work on the boat will come to an end soon. Over the winter I'll be rebuilding the Westerbeke 27 in the relative warmth of my shop, but for now I have to focus on the million little things that I want to get wrapped up.

When I bought the boat a little over a month ago, I put together a list of things I wanted to get completed before the cold sets in, and I'm happy to report that I think I'll be able to complete all of the tasks I set out to do plus a few more.  Over the past week I've spent time on the following jobs:

1. Seacock Installation: I dry fitted each seacock and backing plate multiple times, rehearsing for the actual install that using 3M 5200 sealant. This is kind of a holy war in boating circles. Many use 4200 which isn't as permanent, but new chemical techniques allow for removal of parts that have been sealed with 5200 so it isn't totally destructive, and 5200 has never failed for me before when applied correctly.

Before we even started dry fitting the seacocks, my son and I sanded down all the through hulls to get old paint and sealant out of the holes.  Next we dry fitted each seacock multiple times to make sure they would snug down properly.  In several cases we had to do some additional sanding inside and outside of the hull to make the flush fit through hulls seat properly. Once we were finally satisfied with the fit, we went to work on the messy job of actually gooping up the through hull fittings and installing the seacocks on the inside of the hull. 

In most cases we were able to apply the 5200 and insert the fitting into the hull while someone on the inside screwed the seacock on. Once hand tight, we cranked them down by inserting a piece of wood into the through hull fitting while the person inside really put their back into tightening the seacock.  After that, we did a rough cleanup and let the curing begin.  So far we've completed three of the five seacocks.  I'm waiting on through hull fittings for the final two that I ordered last week.

2. Install Scupper and Deck Hoses: One of the first jobs I did when the boat arrived was to install the above waterline through hull fittings for the scupper and deck drains.  Given that the boat is well covered and dry, I wasn't worried about things getting wet down below so I hadn't circled back to installing the hoses for them until this week.  This didn't take particularly long, but involved some interesting 'boat yoga' to access some of the hose runs and wiggle them onto the fittings. The hardest part was bending the heavy 1.5" sanitation hose through holes and around corners. I opted for using this for the deck drains because they travel through some electrically sensitive areas in the boat and I wanted something that would last.  For the cockpit scuppers I used standard smooth walled bilge hose (1.5").  I still have to add a few hose clamps to double up every connection, but I can check this job off the list.

3. Install and Secure Holding Tank: This job was not on my list of to-dos for this year, but when I got
into the vberth area to paint I decided it wouldn't be much additional work to get this done while I was in there.  The previous holding tank was a slightly different size than the new one and I needed to build a frame to support and hold down the new tank.  I started by painting the locker under the vberth where the tank will reside.  I let that dry for a day and then went back and built out a support frame that I also painted and then installed four stainless steel hold downs for straps that I ordered.  I finally got the whole thing installed last night and I'm pleased that the hold down straps keep the tank absolutely still, so I don't expect the tank to be bouncing around when pounding into headseas.