Friday, June 27, 2014

That Was Easy! Adventures With Hayn Hi-Mod Compression Fittings

Throughout this entire rebuild, I've had the rigging in the back of my mind, but it never really mattered until now because there was soo much else to be done.  Well, there's still much to be done but time is getting short and this needs to be done. 

Originally I planned on replacing all the standing rigging, but somewhere along the way I decided that I would just replace both uppers, the forestay and backstay (read: I can't keep spending money).   I figured that this would be the safest way to replace part of the rig and will replace the lowers next year. 

I'm not sure why I decided to do the rigging myself; I had falsely thought it would be cheaper than having a shop swage everything, but in reality, the cost of the mechanical fittings eats up any labor savings. The nice thing is that they will be reusable in the future should I need to replace the rigging again.

In the end I had a shop swage eyes on the top of 1/4" 316 stainless 1x19 wire and bought Hayn Hi-Mod compression fittings and turnbuckles to do myself on the bottom.  I chose Hayn over Sta-lok or Norseman mainly because I heard really good things about them and that setting them up was a bit easier because they use a castellated nut that locks each strand of wire in position. 

Anyway, I've had the rigging bits and pieces sitting in my shop for over a month now waiting for a good time to get it done.  I was a bit apprehensive having never done any mechanical rigging work before, but I really shouldn't have been.  I invited my friend Mike to help me out (he is a fellow serial boat restorer like myself and was interested in seeing how mechanical fittings work as well) so we met up early this evening in my day job parking lot after it had emptied out for the weekend. 

To make sure the new rigging was cut to the right length, I screwed a couple of 3/8" machine screws into a board and backed my truck wheel on it so we would have a secure platform to straighten out the wire.  Next we hooked the eyes of the old stay/shroud and the new wire onto the board and straightened them out. 

Then it was just a matter of marking the wire where the new stud and turnbuckle would be the same length as the old ones.  I wrapped a piece of painters tape around the wire and marked it with a sharpie and we took it back to the liftgate of the truck and cut it with a hacksaw.  I bought a new 32tpi hacksaw blade because I was worried that cutting the 316 stainless wire would be difficult.  This went extremely easy, I'm guessing the new blade made a big difference because it only took 30 seconds or so to make a nice clean cut. 

I pulled the tape off where I cut and then used one of those grippy rubber jar openers to twist the wire against the strands to separate the core.  Again, surprisingly easy, but it took a few pieces to get the hang of it and make it lift off the core in an orderly fashion.  Oh, before you do this step, make sure you slide the body of the fitting onto the wire or you will have to undo what you've done.  Don't ask me how I know this....

After the core is separated, slide the cone (small end first) over the core with about 1/4" of core exposed on the bigger end.  Next, slide the castellated crown ring (concave side first) over the exposed core and then use the end of the stud to push it into place. There is a little divot in the end of the stud (or whatever fitting you are installing) that allows you to use it to get the proper depth for both the cone and crown ring.  I'm not explaining it well but it is super obvious when you see it.

Now for the hard part.  The outside strands that were previously separated now have to be laid back down and seated in the castellated ring with each strand going into each 'cove' of the ring.  In reality, it's not that difficult, but it takes a bit of practice and I think that once you figure out how to smoothly separate the strands from the core initially it goes much better.  The first one we did took about 25 minutes from laying out and measuring the wire to completion.  By the third one, it only took 10 minutes for the whole thing. 
Once each strand is seated nicely then it's just a matter of pulling up the body and twisting it with the direction of the wires and then screwing the stud (or whatever fitting you have) and tightening it down.  Hayn recommends lock-tite (I think blue, non-permanent) on the threads but I didn't have any tonight, so I didn't fully tighten them down until I get some lock-tite. 

All told it took 1.5 hours to do three pieces including everything. They were really easy to do, and that never happens to me.  I had never done any type of mechanical fittings before so I had zero experience and by the second one I felt like a pro (except when I forgot to put the body on before I split the core out).   I would say that even a child could do this, but it does help to have strong fingers, a helper, and a little dexterity, but other than that you barely need directions.  I guess the proof is in the pudding, so if the rig collapses when the mast is stepped, I may have something else to say, but I suspect that it won't be the fault of the Hayn terminals.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Another Project Complete

After a seemingly endless amount of work on the four opening ports I finally got them installed this afternoon. The work on the ports started almost two years ago to the day when I stripped the chrome off using my impromptu de-plater (details here).  After that they pretty much sat around until late this winter when I finished cleaning them up.  Then they sat again until earlier this week when I decided it was finally time to get them in.  

I had ordered some new bronze screws (#8 - 32 x 1") but they all had to be cut done to roughly 3/8" long (I don't remember if I couldn't find the right length or if I wasn't exactly sure because I didn't have any of the original screws).  Once I cut them down I re-tapped each of the six screw holes on each port and made sure the newly cut screws fit properly.  At that point I was ready to go.

Originally I planned on using butyl tape to bed them, but I had a bit of a false start the day before yesterday when I applied the butyl tape to the inside of the frames and the trim cover and fit everything into place. Unfortunately because of the addtional width of the butyl tape the screws were too short to catch in the port frame no matter how much pressure I applied.  After about an hour's worth of struggle I gave up, and pried the port off and took it back to the shop to get all the butyl tape off.  Dammit!

Fortunately, Plan B consisted of a tube of SikaFlex 291 that I had lying around.  So this afternoon, my son and I took all the frames over along with the SikaFlex and got started.  The process went smoothly (although a bit messy) and went as follows: 
1. Lay a thick bead of SikaFlex around the entire flange of the port frame. 
2. Carefully hand it to my son who was inside the boat.
3. My son presses the frame into the cut out in the cabin top.
4. Lay another bead of SikaFlex around the outside of the cut out.
5. Press the trim frame into place, squishing the bead of SikaFlex out.
6. Screw down each of the six 3/8" machine screws until I had good squeeze out around all sides.

I cleaned up the squeeze out around the outside of the ports where it was on paint, but left the squeeze out where the port frame and the trim frame meet.  I've found that unless it is on paint, SikaFlex cleans up better with a razor once it has cured.  

I'll do that tomorrow, so technically the project isn't complete, but I'll take it as a win. I had been dreading the whole thing because I was worried that I would end up stripping one of the screw holes that I had re-tapped or the trim frame wouldn't sit flat.  In the end, the final installation only took an hour.  

Forward port looks slightly off in the photo, but it's just the angle.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Looking Yachty

After 6 coats of varnish in the shop on the outside of each coaming and 2 on the inside I decided it was time to get them installed for good.  I figured that since I had already fitted them weeks earlier it would be a breeze to get them on again.  Not so.  A combination of errors on my part made the job very frustrating.

I brought the coamings over from the shop and then opened up a new tube of SikaFlex 291 (mahogany) and laid several beads along the inside edge of the cockpit with one right at the top so that once I pushed the coamings in place, it would squeeze out a bit and provide a reasonably watertight seal.  All that went according to plan but once I positioned the boards in place I decided that I would attempt to get the coaming block on the forward end bolted on first so there would be no gap between the cabin top side and the block.

The 2.5" #14 wood screws that secure the coaming block to the cabin top sides are screwed in from inside the cabin. I didn't have a helper so I did the best I could to secure them in place, but I couldn't get the forward edge of the coaming to pull in to the cabin top sides.  I eventually figured out that in order for them to sit flush, I needed to put the bend in the coaming board, which meant that I needed to bolt the entire thing down Before I screwed in the forward block.  Grrr... So I unscrewed the three screws from each forward block and moved aft to get the coamings bent in.

I eventually got everything done, but I was just generally annoyed at myself for working out of order and making the job infinitely more difficult than it needed to be.  I will say though, that it looks really nice to have the coamings installed properly with shiny varnish.  Looking yachty indeed, but I still need to get at least 6 more coats of varnish on the inside and 2 on the outside.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Finally Finished Something

It seems like a rare statement from me, but I can actually say that I have fully completed a project... Yay! I kind of completed 2 projects but can't quite cross one of them off the list because there is still some varnishing to be done... Boo!  

The first project that is officially crossed off the list is the chainplates.  A bit of a long time coming because I actually had the new chainplates fabricated in 2013, but they have been sitting around doing nothing in the interim.  As with every boat project, this one ended up taking more time because of a variety of little issues.  

I had decided early on that I would use the old chainplates as backing plates for the upper shrouds but didn't realize that I would need to cut them down to make them fit.  Not sure why I didn't see that coming, but I am blindsided by many things in life so this came as no surprise.  I also needed to do something to make the newly cut (old) chainplate fit in the locker because there were shelves fastened to the bulkheads that would need to be cut or removed.   

On the starboard side, I decided that the shelves were not needed since I never used them before and they got in the way of the functionality of the hanging locker.  They always made it difficult to hang items, so I ripped them out.  Once I had pulled everything out of the locker I realized I should really clean and paint the whole area.  Years of neglect had resulted in a nasty, smelly locker with plenty of mold and mildew.  I scrubbed it out and then put on 2 coats of brightside polyurethane, mostly because I had 2 cans of it sitting around, but I figure the shiny surface it creates will make wiping it down easy.  

I moved onto the next locker in the forward cabin on the same side and did the same there.  I let everything dry overnight and then bolted in all three chainplates on the starboard side.  The upper (center) chainplate I backed with the old, cut down chainplate and 3/8" lock washers and nuts while the lower chainplates I backed with fender washers, lock washers, and nuts.  I moved onto the port side, and while the lockers were smaller because of the head, I cleaned and painted them as well before bolting the chainplates in with the same fastener configuration as on the starboard side. 

With the chainplates properly bolted in place, I moved up on deck and drilled and tapped the chainplate covers for #6 - 32 x 1/2" machine screws.  I snugged down each of the tapped screws to make sure they fit before taking them out and then packing butyl tape around the chainplate.  Then I slowly screwed the covers back down until the butyl tape squeezed out the edges.  I did the same with the backstay chainplate and called it complete.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Varnish, varnish, varnish

Varnish has been pretty much my life over the past week or so and I feel like I'm making some good headway on all the bits that should be shiny.  Nothing too exciting to talk about but the boat is looking 'yachtier' by the day.  I also got started bolting the chainplates back in but will save that discussion for when I actually finish.

I opted to go with Epifanes Wood Finish Gloss varnish that doesn't require sanding between coats although I find that sanding after the third coat makes the subsequent coats lay down really smooth.  Right out of the can the consistency is like warm caramel; it's really thick so it needs to be thinned with Epifanes Brushing Thinner to make it lay down nicely.  I may get a quart of Epifanes Clear varnish for the final coat or 2 just to make sure I have a hard surface.

The coamings have 4 coats on outside and 2 coats on the inside. My plan is to give the outside side one more coat before lightly sanding and installing on the boat for good.  That's not to say the varnishing is done for the coamings, it will just be easier to do in place. I wanted to get a bunch of coats on the sections that won't be exposed before installation.

The new washboards and the new tiller are on coat 6 and we just finished coat 3 on the toerail last night. The toerail is time consuming and takes a little over an hour to do, but last night my wife and I both started up at the bow and worked our way aft and got it done in 30 minutes or so, and having someone to talk to makes it much less tedious.  With 3 coats on, things are starting to look really good.  I may put on one more coat before a light sanding, but I will have to take a look today and see how smooth it looks.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Ides of June

Not much to report other than lots of varnishing and further prepping the coamings for final installation. I taped the inboard and outboard edges of the entire caprail so I wouldn't get any varnish runs on the new paint.  I got the first coat of varnish on the caprails in about an hour.  Not too bad, but it's going to be very tedious.  

In deciding to reuse the old coaming blocks I had to come to terms with the fact that the joint between the new coaming boards and the old blocks would not be perfect, so I sealed the joint with mahogany colored Sikaflex 291. It looks pretty good and the joint is barely noticeable.  Once that cured, I plugged the screw holes with wood bungs, cut them flush and sanded it all down. I followed it all up with a coat of varnish.  

I'll probably re-install the coamings after 3-4 coats of varnish (I'll still need to do many more coats once installed), but I needed to have the aft deck Kiwi-Gripped beforehand.  It was such a small area, it only took about 10 minutes once I had everything taped up.  As always, the prep work is what takes time here.  20 minutes to tape, 30 minutes to sand the deck and all the corners and edges, and 10 minutes to vacuum and wipe everything down with acetone.  Once it was done, I pulled all the tape before it had a chance to dry and it was done.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's Really Coaming Together

Lame yes, but it's true.  With the tiller project completed and moved onto the varnish department it was time to get back to the cockpit coamings.  The reason I jumped from the coamings to building the tiller over the weekend was not because I wasn't excited about getting the coamings done (I was), it was more about me forgetting to order the stainless steel bolts to fasten them until the last minute.  Fortunately, the interwebs shipping department is really fast these days and a lot of the suppliers that I deal with are in the New England area which means that if I order in the morning, I generally have the part(s) the next day.  Beats spending $50 in gas for my truck to drive to a marine hardware store.

So the 1/4" - 20 x 4" bolts and finish washers arrived yesterday so I got started right when I got home from work.  I prepared myself for an unpleasant job, because I recall that the coamings were one of the first things I removed from the boat back in January of 2010 and I remember it being stupidly difficult.  The bolts were corroded and they were virtually impossible to access.  Once I removed them there some sort of hardened sealant that adhered the coamings to the cockpit sides. I thought to myself, if everything is this difficult will I ever finish this thing?

I marked out the location of the 9 bolt holes on each coaming and with the coamings still jacked into position, I drilled through the coamings and the cockpit sides.  I'm fastening a bit differently with the new coamings; I'm not going to countersink and bung the bolt holes, I'm simply going to use a finishing washer with an oval head bolt so I can potentially remove the coamings in the future if I need to re-varnish over the winter.  I haven't decided what sealant to use on the back, but I suspect it will be something along the lines of boatlife or sikaflex (not 3M 5200 or silicone based anything).

Once all the holes were drilled, I ran a 1/4" x 20 tap through the holes (slightly undersized) to have a good mechanical bond and threaded in the bolts.  I was expecting a horror show when I attempted to put the nuts on the back side because of the tight access in the cockpit lockers but it all went smoothly except for one nut that gave my son and I a bit of a hard time.  It's amazing how your perception of difficulty changes after being in the 'trenches' for several years.  On the grand scale of sucky-ness, this barely registered.

My decision to try and reuse the old combing blocks was a good one because they fit pretty closely to the new combings and with a little bit of work on the block plane and sander, they will be pretty seamless.  I drilled the new coamings to fit the blocks and screwed them home.  The only thing that will be a bit of a challenge is on the starboard side, there is about a 1/4" gap between the combing block and cabin trunk, but I expect some brute force and big screws from the cabin interior (where they were originally mounted) will cure that.

Once everything was fitted and in place I used both the jack plane and block plane to trim the top edge of the coamings (I cut a bit proud initially) to the mounted coaming block.  Since I was having so much fun I decided to take everything off to take back to the shop for final sanding and a lot of varnish.

Monday, June 9, 2014

That's a Nice Piece of Ash

I have waited a long time for the tiller project.  I've always figured that if I am far enough along in the overall restoration timeline to be able to focus on the tiller things will be good.  It's certainly not 'Miller Time' yet because I still have much to do, but I felt like I could take some time to do a fun project like building a new tiller.

I didn't really have anything to go on for size, shape, or length of the new tiller other than the dimensions of the rudder head assembly (2 1/8" wide x 8" long) where the tiller connects.  To find what might work for these dimensions, I grabbed an old 2x4 and marked where I thought the length should be.  I knew I wanted to have a pretty steep curve in it so legs could fit in the cockpit when underway, but for this I just guessed.  I probably should have made up a real template, but I didn't and basically winged it.  One nice thing about the rudder head assembly is that it has a height adjuster screw so you can raise or lower the height of the tiller, so I figured that I have some leeway to just be creative.

Once I had the length figured out, I went back to the shop and started tearing into the big 2"x10" chunk of Ash I picked up at the local sawmill the day before.  I chose Ash because it has a bunch of properties that make it really good for tillers.  It's strong, flexible, and best of all: cheap (at least compared to the exotics). I was able to buy a 2" x 10" x 6' piece of it for $50 and have a lot leftover for other projects.

Anyway, after cutting it to length (with lots of wiggle room), I ripped a bunch of 3/8" strips for the curved lamination. Those Emerald Ash Borer beetles are nothing compared to what I can do in the shop.  I also had some scrap Sapele leftover, so I cut that down to roughly the size of the Ash strips so I could have an accent strip (I wanted to add a little creativity).  A lot of people do alternating layers of Ash and Mahogany, but I never really cared for that look.  Once complete though, the tiller will certainly not look off the shelf.

I ended up cutting 8 strips total (7 Ash, 1 Sapele) and ran them all through the thickness planer until I got 3/16" strips that were nice and bendy.  A note about my thickness planer; I bought it on sale for $200 a few years back (Porter Cable 12" PC305) after reading questionable reviews and wondering about its durability. I have used it with many types of wood and this planer has been great. It produces a nice smooth finish with no tear out (except I once attempted to shave some maple down a little too much) and little or no sniping as long as you support the piece entry and exit.

I built a lamination form with some old 2x3s blocks and a pine board I had lying around and screwed them to a fair curve I had drawn onto pine board.  I test fit all the strips in place and then mixed up about 4 oz of epoxy and brushed both sides of each strip before placing on the form.  I lined the jig with plastic cling wrap but this is just a messy job and intially is not pretty.  It's always a bit of a challenge wrangling 8 slippery pieces of wood onto a curved form that they naturally don't want to bend to.  Eventually I got it done and clamped up, but I always worry that my epoxy may kick before I get things into place and wreck it all.

I let it sit for 24 hours to make sure it was hardened up nicely and the pulled it off the form and sanded off the hardened epoxy before running it through the planer again. I always love sending a rough piece of raw lamination through the planer and have it emerge as a lovely piece.  It's very satisfying.

I still had one more lamination to do to finish up the basic shape because the Ash I had was 2" rough and once I had planed the laminated tiller down, it was about 1 - 7/8", but the rudder head assembly 'jaw' where the tiller bolts in is 2 - 1/8".  So I needed to add 'cheeks' to the tiller.  This was a bit easier since I was only working with 2 pieces at that point and they didn't need to be bent.

I set the piece in the hot sun and after 5 hours it had hardened up to the point where I could work it. The cheek blocks I glued on were 3/16" on either side, but I only needed 1/4" to get the required width, so I hit them with my random orbit sander and some 60 grit paper and they were down to the 1/8" per side in no time.

Now it was a matter of shaping with a block plane and a series of rasps.  This takes a lot of time, but it's one of my favorite things to do.  I think I must have been a whittler in another life.  After several hours, I got it to a shape I liked and fit nicely in my hand.  The kids thought it was pretty good, but my wife giggled and said it was too phallic.  Ok, I think I'll have to work on it a bit more, but tillers just are kind of phallic, and I don't know how much I can ultimately change that, but I ran out of time for the weekend so I'll have to finish this week.  Below is a picture of what I thought looked finished.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I'm staring to bump into logistical issues when moving forward.  There is a lot to do yet, but some projects are dependent on others that I don't have either the materials, time, or both so I can't always move forward where I'd like.

This is the current situation I'm in with the cockpit coamings.  I have them fitted and in place but I want to tap the bolts for them in so I can fit the coaming blocks before removing them again for fairing the sheer and sanding prior to varnish.  Unfortunately, the bolts for the originals were countersunk with bungs and I am planning on keeping them accessible for the new ones so they can be removed for maintenance without destroying anything.  I thought that I could get the screws I needed at the local hardware store (stainless 1/4" - 20 x 4"), but I was wrong, they need to be ordered so that has to wait.

Original coaming block prior to sanding. Note that the new
are thicker and don't seat flush in the rabbet.
I also originally planned to make new coaming blocks but I don't have enough Sapele left to make them.  I called over to Goosebay Lumber and they have some in stock, but they didn't have the 4" thickness that I need. Doh!  I tried to work out in my head how I could laminate up a bunch of blocks and then cut it down into the shape I need.  Doable - yes; a lot of work - yes.  At this point in the game I am looking to save a bit of time.

I took a step back and looked at the old blocks that were lying in a pile on the boatshed floor.  They were covered in dust and years of really bad varnish, but there was no rot in them and they were solid mahogany. Best of all they were already shaped.  So I took out some 80 grit paper and gave one of them a good sanding.  It didn't look half bad.  Sure there were a couple of old screw holes in the side where the dodger snaps were mounted, but I would likely be putting them back in the same spot anyway.  The second one looked good as well, so I went to town and really cleaned them up and after a bit of work, they really looked great and now I'm considering reusing them.

52 years old.
I still have a few concerns about reusing them though. While both Sapele and Honduras Mahogany are in the same family, Honduras Mahogany gets that deep red tone when exposed to sun and varnished while Sapele has more of a brown hue.  So I'm hoping they color differences don't stick out like a sore thumb.  I threw on a coat of varnish and will set it out in the sun over the weekend to compare with some Sapele samples I also have varnished to see if the difference is too bad.

The other issue I have with the old blocks is that the original coamings were not as thick as the new ones, so I will need to take about an 1/8" off the forward end of the new coamings for them to properly seat in the coaming block rabbet (see 1st picture in post).  I'm hoping I can work out these issues because it would save a ton of time and money (more spendy wood and epoxy), and it would be a nice touch to incorporate some of the original 52 year old woodwork in the new incarnation.  

The only other accomplishment yesterday was installing the sliding cabin hatch in the companionway.  This proved to be a royal pain in the ass.  It is build such that there is no way to get it on with both sliding rails screwed down.  I forgot this initially when I happily screwed down both aluminum rails into the new companionway trim and then hoisted the bulky hatch into place.  After a series of nicely timed grunts followed up by a descriptive narrative detailing my woes, I unscrewed the starboard rail and maneuvered the hatch in place before screwing the rail back on. As I did it, I remembered I had the same trouble trying to get it off when I first dismantled the boat back in 2010.

Anyway, once I refastened everything the hatch popped into place and slide reasonably well.  It sticks a little bit in places so I may have to fiddle with the rail screws a bit, but I'm pretty happy that I took a lot of care when I rebuilt the companionway, because the tolerances are pretty slim.

Finally, once the hatch was in place, I scribed the curve of the hatch on the new washboard and cut it out with the bandsaw.  After a bit of sanding I put the washboards in, closed the hatch and took in how my boat is actually looking a bit yachty again.  I finished up by putting a coat of varnish on the front side of the washboards and called it a day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I had been worrying about building the new cockpit coamings for a long time. Not because I didn't think I could build them, but because I thought that they might snap when I bent them in place.  My worries went back to a few days after I committed to using Sapele for the new exterior wood instead of Honduras Mahogany.  I found that while Sapele is a good rot resistant tropical hardwood with many of the workability characteristics of Honduras Mahogany and other commonly used wood in marine applications, it is not a good bending wood.  In fact it can be a bit brittle and has been known to split when bent to a significant degree.  It also doesn't soften up with steam or a good water soak.  For that reason, it's rarely used for planking or other applications where the wood has to be bent.

So I was understandably worried, but I think they may have been a bit unfounded.  With all the time I've spent rebuilding the cockpit, you'd think I would measure the radius.  I hadn't. It turns out that the bend needed was only about 3.5".  

So at lunch today I took the raw boards I sanded down in the drum sander last night and laid the old coamings on top of each board and clamped it in place and traced their shape onto the new board.  I removed the old coaming and using a jigsaw I cut the new coamings out, making sure to cut a little bit proud of the line. I managed to get both cut on my lunch hour and beat the rain so I didn't have to make a mess cutting inside.  I brought them over to the boat and went back to work (my real work).

After work I spent a few hours shaping the boards where they will butt into the cockpit corners.  Most of it involved rounding over the backside corners for the aft end of the cockpit, but the forward section needed to be chiseled out so it sat flush.  This took quite a bit of time because I didn't want to screw anything up so I just took it slow.  My new set of Stanley Sweetheart 750 series chisels made the job actually fun; they are so sharp and precise, even a really hard wood like Sapele just sliced like butter (well, maybe frozen butter).  Along the way I kept fitting them in place to make sure I didn't cut too much.  

Once I had them fit to my liking I had to go to a family commitment at my son's school, but thankfully we made it back home before dark so I grabbed a bottle jack out of my truck and ran over to the shed.  I gathered up a bunch of scrap wood I had laying around in the shed and screwed together a makeshift ram and fit it horizontally across the cockpit.  Then I positioned the bottle jack in the ram and slowly started pumping it up.  I never realized it, but bottle jacks don't really work well horizontally (or maybe it's just this one).  Anyway, it took a bit of fiddling but I managed to get it to work well enough for the few inches that the boards needed to move.  As I pumped it up, I incrementally pushed in a large 2x12 that was just about cockpit width just in case my bottle jack ram contraption popped out of place.  

It all went much smoother than I had hoped and both coamings happily cranked into place with no cracking or fight at all.  Yay!!!!!  I'm really glad I had the old coamings to use as a template or this would have been a much harder job.  There are a lot of strange angles that I wouldn't want to guess at.
I left them in jacked in place for the night so they would hopefully release a little tension spending the night in position (I don't know if this will make any difference, but it can't hurt).  I may get a few bolts in place tomorrow just to hold them in place better and then start fairing the sheer.  After that I want to start building the forward coaming blocks that will ultimately tie the coamings to the sides of the cabin top.


This and That

I'm still picking away at various projects trying to move toward launch at the end of July.  Over the past 4 years doing this project I've been working with the Mark Twain mantra: "The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting one the first one".  Now I'm down to one complex task (engine) and a bunch of simple tasks that just take time and I am adopting a new mantra until I begin work on the engine. The new mantra is: "Don't be a lazy f&*k; get s&^t done".  Simple but effective.

To that end,  I tackled a few small projects that need to be done over the past few days.  The first was to finish up the top of the new rudder by tapping two screws for the rudder bearing.  The first is simply there to keep the bearing from sliding down in the rudder tube, and the second is a set or "grub" screw tapped through the rudder tube and into the bearing.  The purpose of this is to keep the bearing from rotating in the rudder tube.

My father in law used to be a machinist and a few years back gave me a set of roughly 150 taps of almost every imaginable pitch and diameter up to 1/2" and until a few weeks ago, I had not used one of them. Looking back at all of the projects I've done over the past few years (boat and non-boat related), I wish I had dug them out earlier, they are fantastic.

Anyway, I used one of the #10-24 taps to ream out the screw holes for the top of the rudder.  This allowed the stainless screws I had on hand to nicely thread into the rudder tube and in the case of the set screw, I tapped through the rudder tube and into the bronze bearing itself allowing for a nice tight fit and a secure connection to keep the bearing in place.

Next I moved onto the washboards. The old ones were really, really tired and one of the corners had a bit of rot in it so I decided that I would rob Peter to pay Paul.  Earlier this spring I planned on building Sapele dorade covers to add to that yachty look and went as far as making one up and hand cutting dovetails here. Unfortunately, even though the dovetails looked good and the box fit nicely on the boat, they looked a bit chunky according to my wife.

We make a good team in that I am good at making stuff, and she is good at telling me if they look right or not.  In this case they didn't and she was right.  Because the box I made was a cover, the extra width needed to make the box slip over the old fiberglass dorade made it look way too big.  So, on rethinking the size I realized that the only way to do it right was to cut the old dorades off and build the boxes the same outer size as the originals.  I decided that this would be way too much of an undertaking at this stage of the game and would make a nice project somewhere down the line when I didn't have so much else to do.

When I had painted the decks last year I didn't touch the dorades thinking they would be covered with the nice shiny Sapele works of art, so I had to go back and clean up all the nicks and gouges with fairing compound, followed by 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of Interlux Perfection.  As much as a pain as it was, it was still a lot less work than cutting the dorades off and building new ones.   Now I just have to re-mount the bronze dorades that I have to shine up and I'm good to go.

So back to the washboards (see how easily I'm distracted).  I used the Sapele I had planned to use on the dorade boxes, made a template with some masonite I had on hand and cut out the washboards.  I didn't actually have enough Sapele to cut out all three boards so I cut out two of them and used what I had left to make a third that had room for a window.  I didn't take any pictures but I just cut the stiles and rails and shiplapped them together.  Using the router I cut a rabbet into the inside of the rails where the acrylic (Plexiglass) window will be located and glued it all up with some epoxy.

I still need to mount the sliding cabin hatch before I can cut the top board, but I sanded everything down to 180 grit in the meantime and may get some varnish on the bottom two before that gets done.  I picked up some 1/4" acrylic at the hardware store and will cut and fit that as well.  I haven't thought too much about how I am going to mount the window other than setting it in the rabbeted inset, but I'm sure that will come to me soon.

Finally, I few weeks back I had picked up some really pretty Sapele stock for the new cockpit coamings, but they were 7/8" and I am a little worried that it won't bend to the cockpit curve so I wanted to get it down to 3/4" before trying.  Since the boards are 15" wide, my planer was out and the local sawmill didn't want to plane them because they were worried that there would be too much tear out on their brutish planer, so my friend Jim offered to run them through his 18" drum sander.  I brought them over last night and we spent close to 1.5 hours running them through pass after pass to get down to 3/4".  the boards were slightly cupped so this process flattened them out nicely.  I'll be using the old coamings as a template and will try to get them cut out tonight.