Sunday, August 2, 2015

Once In A Blue Moon

Seems like a long time since I broke out the good camera.  So, after a hard days work I decided to see if I could get a couple pictures of the blue moon...

Blue Moon over the marina.

Moon still up early in the morning

And the sun rising on the Severn river.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Finally A Little Progress on the Bimini

I guess I've been making progress all along, but with most of it in the planning stages, sometimes it just doesn't feel like real progress.  I reworked the design of the top a bit to give it a more pleasing curve along the front edge.  It also allowed me to clean up the model a bit, and I could better get measurements off of the 3D model (so I might have a chance of getting the compound curves where it attaches to the arch right).

New front curve, otherwise mostly the same.

Wednesday afternoon we were finally able to get some supplies to the yard that were needed to start the build.  These supplies included 4 sheets of 4 foot by 8 foot plywood, 8 foot long 2 by 4's, and a bundle of 8 foot long 1 inch by 3 inch wood strips. Right about now you might be wondering whether I'm building a fiberglass top or a small shed because it certainly feels a bit like the latter to me.  But all the wood is to create the "mold" that I will need in order to create the top with the aforementioned curves.

Actually, not all of it is for the mold itself.  The 2x4's and two sheets of the plywood were so I could build an 8 foot square table so I would have a flat place to construct the mold.  The small chunks (crushed...almost) of granite that cover the yard don't really make for a good or level work surface, so before I can start on that, I need a place to work.  This project is starting to feel like I am building a house by first going to out in the forest to cut trees for timber and mine ore for making nails.

So, Thursday morning I started by setting up the 12 foot square portable canopy that we purchased on sale at K-Mart while we were in Hampton.  Shade is desperately needed in a boatyard in July after all. Then I began putting together the table.  This is not as simple as it might sound due to the sad state of the lumber available at the big box hardware stores.  It took a while digging through the plywood at Lowes to find the two flattest pieces they had.  And they were by no means flat.  When we laid the worst of the two on the floor at Lowes and stood on one end, the other end would lift up off the ground about 5 inches.  The 2x4's were a little better but not much.  So we got the best we could and hoped we could attach everything together so the result was a mostly-flat table.  The result isn't perfect, but should be good enough for what we need.  Oh, and my cordless drill battery died about 3/4 of the way through, so I still have a few bits to attach to really complete the table.

How one might normally draw an arc.

But, the table was in good enough shape for the next task.  The hard top has a curve from side to side and so I need to construct curved stringers so I can attach the foam board to it to get the desired curve before I apply the fiberglass.  Thanks to the 3D model, we were able to determine the radius of the curve that we would need (since the arch sits at an angle, you can't just measure it).  I needed to create an arc with a 38 foot, 6 and 3/4 inch radius. Of course, I don't have a drawing compass quite large enough to draw an arc that size, so I improvised.  I took one of the boatyards straight boat stands and tied a piece of 40 foot line to its center post with a bowline.  I then placed the stand about 35 feet from the edge of the table top and parallel with the seam between the two sheets of plywood that made up the top.  I measured from the center of the stand post along the string out the 38' 6 3/4" and made a mark on the table.  I then made a mark 6" back from that and drew a line perpendicular to the table seam at that distance.  Then I took the plywood for making the stringers, ripped them into 6 inch strips and lined them up with the line on my table.  Using the drawing, I marked where the center and end points of the arc should be on the stringer board and table and then lined up the board on the perpendicular line I created on my table. I then wrapped the line around a pencil so the tip of the pencil was at one of those marks when the line was pulled tight.  I confirmed that if I moved the pencil and kept the line tight, it would intersect the marks.  Viola, a crude 38+ foot long compass.  I was able to draw the arc, paying particular attention to keeping the pencil as vertical as possible (ok, I ended up drawing several arcs and had to go back and darken small sections of line confirming the correct locations).

My 38+ foot long version of a drafting compass

Out came the jigsaw and I cut the arc, leaving just a little excess.  I then used a sander to finish off the edge of the stringer.  Since my stringer needs to be 12 foot long and the plywood is only 8 foot, it is not a complete stringer and I will have to create a duplicate of my incomplete stringer, flip it so it is the mirror image, and attach the two together to create a complete stringer. We took the cut plywood to the boat to check our work, and the arc appears to be pretty close to perfect (best we can tell holding it up in what should be its correct position if it were holding the top on at the boat).  So, tomorrow I should be able to construct the rest of the stringer pieces.  In this heat, I'm not sure how far I will get, but I am very glad I have the canopy and a fan.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Salt Ponds Marina

I know it has been a while since I was at the marina, but I haven't found a lot of extra time for blog posts while working on the boat.  But, before it becomes too distant of a memory, I thought I would do a little review of our last marina stop, Salt Ponds Marina Resort in Hampton Virginia. I know I am always looking for information on a variety of places, so hopefully this will help someone else.

Aerial view of the marina (from marina web site)

Our time at Salt Ponds was nice.  I got a chance to spend some time with my family and see some of the local sights, and we even got a little work on the boat done.  The marina itself is interesting.  I guess the best phrase I have to describe it is that it has a lot of potential.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and most of the people there are super nice.  You can tell the marina was once a very nice facility, but it seems a bit weathered and run down (the exception is the pool, which seems to attract a crowd and most of the maintenance attention).  I guess that explains the price, which is very affordable for the area.  My understanding is that it has undergone an ownership change recently and there is evidence that things are starting to get more attention so I hope improvements continue.

Entrance into the marina is via a dredged channel.  At the time we were there they were in the process of dredging the channel so we saw depths when we arrived as low as 4ft (while trying to pass a boat coming out the channel) and were in the 8ft range by the time we left. My understanding is that they need to dredge the channel every couple of years, so you probably want to verify depths and access if you have a deeper draft boat. It may have been the result of the dredging operation, but we found that our air conditioner sea strainer (desperately needed in the 100F+ heat index days) needed to be cleaned every week or two and contained a fair amount of growth and mud. We also found it necessary to back-flush the entire system to flush out what the strainer didn't catch.

The docks themselves are nice since they are floating docks. Their construction is a butcher-block-like design and some of the wood is decaying so there are some soft spots (nothing dangerous, just small spots thus far).  They have rubber rub-rails along most of the docks and I didn't find anything protruding, so they are certainly good dockage for a short or long term stay.  The marina lies along a channel and has a long boardwalk with 18 piers, labeled A through R, for slips and T-heads at the end of each so they can support a variety of sized boats.  I know they have 30A electrical service, and I think 50 may have been available, but check with them regarding power requirements before you go. Power is sometimes metered and sometimes flat-rate, I think it depends on whether the meter on the power pedestal is working or not. The walk from end to end of the marina boardwalk is about a mile long.

Rover at the dock in the distance.

I guess this is a good time to bring up the bath houses.  There are 3 along the stretch of boardwalk (the web site states 4, but I don't recall seeing the 4th), which is good since it would be a long walk from the end piers to the office when you needed a bathroom. The bathrooms are where you can best date the age of the marina...or at least their last make-over.  The sinks in the main bath house are molded "green pearl" plastic sinks that are cracking and weathered and give a distinctive 70's feel. The walls of the stalls are rusting, and there is a general need for caulking and updating.  Two showers are available.  The remote bath house at the far end (near piers N through R..the one closest to us) was a bit more utilitarian with white wall mount sinks and one piece plastic shower stalls and the same rusting metal stall dividers.  The showers each had a three hook bar, which is good when you need a place to hang your towel and clothes.  The flooring in this bath house is soft in spots so one toilet rocked a bit, and the floor outside the shower was of questionable stability.  The remote bath house had a pay washer and dryer in each of the men's and women's sides.  At a minimum, the bath house needed a good cleaning, some floor repair, and caulking to prevent continued water damage to the floors. The remote bath house could also use a No Smoking sign that was obeyed (Virginia, presumably because it is a tobacco growing state, seems to have a high number of smokers). The boaters seem a bit rough on the facilities...possibly because they feel "why bother" given their current state.

The boardwalk. About half of the walk to the office for us.

The main office and pool area is a bit of a hike, around 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile from the outlying docks. Many of the regular tenants have golf carts to make the trek.  This is also the location of the main parking lot and can be quite a hike to your car if you have one.  There is a small parking lot near the higher letter docks, but there seems to be a fight for control of it between the marina and the gated housing development. The office has some supplies, t-shirts, ice cream, and drinks.  They usually have coffee available in the morning as well. While I did not use it, the pool seems to be a good size for the facility and a very nice area for lounging at the marina. I'm told that the pool and a common area that is part of the office can be "signed out" for an evening if you want to have a party or gathering.  This is a particularly nice feature if you would like to do some entertaining not on your boat.

Salt Ponds has fast internet access, but the fast only seems to exist at the office and common area. There are wireless repeaters that attempt to spread the signal down the docks, but like many marinas, they don't seem to work very well.  We were on the T-head of dock Q and the closest WiFi router could be connected to but didn't seem to have any internet access except on very rare occasion. Using a long-range WiFi antenna, I was able to connect to repeaters down the dock and closer to the office and could get marginally usable internet there. I usually had to play a game of "which router is working today" in order to get access from the boat.

On the marina grounds there is a restaurant and Tiki bar.  The bar even has it's own pool.  Food at the restaurant the one time we tried it was decent, especially for being so convenient.  Groceries or other supplies not found in the office are not as convenient.  There are a couple small convenience type stores a long walk or medium bike ride away near Buckroe beach.  Going further, there is a Farm Fresh supermarket in Phoebus (the one we went to when anchored at Ft. Monroe), and a Sav-a-lot about equal distance away. The neighborhood along the beach consists mostly of nicer vacation/rental type accommodations, and become more modest as you move away from the shore.  There is a small beach across the street from the marina (beaches behind the beach houses are private) and the public Buckroe beach is a moderate walk or short bike ride away.

Overall, the marina is worth a stop if you are looking for a marina to hang out at for a while in the southern Chesapeake.  It is an aging "resort" but has some nice amenities at a reasonable price.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Almost Sank The Boat

Ok, not really...but we did let a bit more seawater in than we wanted to.  But let me back up a bit...

Today is the day we are supposed to launch the boat.  Finally, we could be off of "the hard" (what us sailors call it when a boat is intentionally put on land...where it obviously isn't supposed to be) where the boat sits in the air, acting as a solar oven while surrounded by trees that block even the slightest of breeze.

Where Rover started the day.

But first, we needed to touch up a bit more bottom paint.  When a boat is put on the hard, it is sitting in the air on blocks or stands.  When the bottom paint is as thick as it is on our boat (yes, at some point we need to do a full strip and repaint...but I'd like to get another year or two out of it first), the blocking can actually stick to chips of the paint and pull them off of the hull. This may also have something to do with the original surface prep, but in any case, it seems to happen.

So, early this morning the Travelift operator showed up to pick the boat up off the blocks so we could touch up those areas.  Hanging in the Travelift slings, we cleaned and touched up areas under the blocks and bottom of the keel. Now, the Petit Hydrocoat paint we are using typically wants 12 hours or more to dry, but we were scheduled to go in between two and three...so hopefully it will dry enough in time. Thus far I've liked the Petit Hydrocoat paint, the boat has remained pretty clean and there are no noxious fumes from the paint.  The only negative I've found so far is that it takes a while to dry, and getting the yard to give me enough time to allow the paint to dry while off the blocks (they prefer hanging in the Travelift slings to re-blocking a catamaran it seems) is near impossible.

With the paint applied and drying, we headed out to breakfast.  Since the boat was swinging in the lift, we figured we should probably limit any time on board to only absolutely necessary...and going out for breakfast seemed like a good option.  After breakfast and taking the dogs for a walk at a nearby park, we returned to the boat.

We decided to apply some wax to the hull at the waterline (we started waxing the whole hull a day or two ago, but ran out of time after one side of one hull), since it is easier to do on land than floating in a dinghy.  We hand applied wax to the bottom 8 inches or so of bare fiberglass.  By the time we were done, it was almost time to go back into the water.

We quickly went around the boat, removed the tarps we had put up to help shade us from the sun, and set up dock lines and fenders so we could be moved out of the haul-out slip and over to the slip we will call home while I work on the hard top.  The lift operator arrived while we were getting the tarps put away, so we felt a bit rushed.  This turned out to be a bad thing.

The boat made its slow roll from the yard to the haul out pit.  The boat was slowly lowered into the water and as soon as I was allowed, I hopped on board and started inspecting the through hulls to make sure none were leaking.  I started with the starboard engine room as there were two down there and the access is through the hatch in the sugar scoop.  They looked good when closed, so I opened them up and there were no leaks.

Then I went inside.  As soon as I got through the door I could hear running water.  Oh crap.  I quickly followed the sound to the starboard holding tank cabinet and I knew what the problem was.  I opened the cabinet door and found the valve in the half-opened position that I left it in when I installed it. In our hurry to get the boat going, I forgot to go through and check each of the through hulls. Since we had two through hulls that were not connected to hoses yet, we basically had two big potential holes in the bottom of the boat.  I quickly shut off the valve and the leak was stopped, but not until about three buckets full of water made its way into the bilge.  Good thing it didn't take too long to find.

Fortunately, after shutting off the valve, no other leaks were found. I burped the prop shaft seals to remove the air and allow water to cool the seals and then it was time to start the engines.  The engines fired right up.  We made our way out of the haul-out pit and over to the narrow fairway leading to the slip. It was a tight fit but we made it into the slip without incident and are finally back in the water.

Rover at the end of the day.  Much better.

In the slip there was even a nice evening breeze so we were able to open up the boat.  It is soooooo nice to be back on the water and not stuck in the hot, dusty, breeze-less boatyard.  So, maybe tomorrow I'll go back to the yard and set up my work area for the top...or maybe I'll take a day off.

Note: The last two posts were a day or so behind due to internet access issues...yes, in the marina/yard. Seems marinas are difficult places to implement WiFi with all the boats that have repeaters blasting away at full power.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Almost Ready To Splash

Whew.  Yeah, that is about the best word to describe the last few days for both my wife and I.  But the good news is that, barring any unforeseen issues (ahem...yeah, we are talking about a boat) we should be back in the water tomorrow.

After pulling the cutlass bearing sleeve the other day, I needed to wait for the yard shop to open up so we could press out the old bearing and press in the new one. I have to admit, I do like the fact that the bearing holder unbolts from the boat and slides can be pulled out.  Being able to take the sleeve holding the bearing to the shop and use a press to pop out the old bearing makes that a breeze.

Old cutlass bearing removed and new in the holder.

Once the old bearing was pressed out, I cleaned up and inspected the holder.  The previous bearing wasn't the phenolic sleeve bearing that is called out for in the manual but was a bronze sleeved bearing. There was some corrosion in the holder, but thankfully it was still in pretty good shape.  We pressed in the new phenolic sleeve bearing and I headed back to the boat. I then used a drill to create a dimple in the bearing for the set screw and then installed the set screws with some Locktite.  The assembly was now ready to install.

Installation of the bearing holder was surprisingly easy.  I thought, given how difficult it was to extract, putting it back in would be similar. But, after cleaning the holder as well as the shaft log where it resides, it slid into place with only minimal resistance.  There was a fair amount of debate on the use of any sealant during the install, but I decided to put a small amount on the back of the flange just as it was when I removed it. I also used a rubber mallet to make sure the holder was seated properly along the bottom edge since there was a possibility that using the bolt alone to seat the holder (or some combination of it and the sealant) might cause a slight mis-alignment. At least theoretically this could have contributed to the encountered wear, so the mallet seemed like an easy solution to a problem that might or might not have existed.

Propeller installation was very straight forward.  I cleaned all the metal contact surfaces to ensure that the prop zinc takes the corrosion before the bronze propeller or stainless steel shaft does.  I'm actually a bit surprised about all the bronze and stainless touching as I would think that would lead to dissimilar metal issues.  A stainless steel prop shaft, stainless steel key, bronze prop, stainless steel locking washer, bronze prop nut, and a stainless steel screw that holds on the zinc. I guess that zinc must work well.

Everything back together.

With the through hulls, cutlass bearing, and propeller installed, there were only two tasks left.  First, I needed to reconnect all the hoses to the through hulls.  It had been several days since the sealant was applied so everything should be about as cured as it was ever going to be.  I ended up buying two boxes of AWAB stainless steel hose clamps to replace a bunch of the cheaper, rusting, hose clamps that were removed.  I like these clamps because they are high-quality stainless, seem to be well constructed, and are designed so they don't cut into hoses like standard clamps do.  Unfortunately the down side is they are a bit pricey compared to standard hose clamps...but I think well worth the difference. I also needed to replace one hose as the new valve required the hose to be about an inch longer. So, other than a couple of the black water hoses (a system we still need to investigate a couple issues with...thanks to the last boatyard), the "plumbing" should be back in working order.

The last task is to touch up the bottom paint.  Pulling through hulls out required the hull be cleaned around the through hull location on the hull so the sealant will do what it is supposed to do (unlike what was done with the air conditioner through hulls).  This results in the need to repaint around the areas. Of course, the smallest amount of bottom paint you can get is a quart, and after using about a half-pint to touch up the areas, we ended up touching up the keels and the waterline since they can usually use a little help. Interesting thing about bottom paint is that it apparently fades in the water.  I bought the same paint as I applied last year and the new paint was noticeably darker than what was currently on the hull.  Oh well, I guess the fish won't mind and I'm not going to spend another $400 or more in paint plus a few extra days in the yard to repaint the whole thing when most of the bottom paint is in good shape and was working well.

So, I think we are ready.  Hopefully come tomorrow, we will be back in the water.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Removing The Cutlass Bearing - or - I Need To Work On My Planning

I don't recall if I mentioned this already (boy my memory is failing lately), and with the slow internet here I'm having a hard time checking the older posts...so bear with me if any of this is repetitive...

After finally getting the through hulls reinstalled on the boat (I still need to connect hoses...but wanted to let the sealant have plenty of time to cure), the next task was one we discovered after hauling the boat out.  Yep, you haul the boat for one project and seem to find a few more that need to be done.  This next task is to replace the cutlass bearing on the starboard engine.

For those who are not familiar with such things, a boat with an inboard engine and no sail drives has a long shaft that extends from the drive shaft of the engine downward at an angle through the hull and on to the propeller in order to make the boat move under power.  In addition to a good seal to keep the water out, this long shaft needs a little support so it doesn't go flailing around from the forces generated by the propeller and end up cutting the back end off the boat.  This job of holding the shaft in place is performed by the cutlass bearing.  The bearing is a nitrile rubber sleeve type with a hard outer shell and is found near the propeller end of the shaft. The combination of this bearing and the coupling on the engine keep the shaft spinning along a constant axis.

The cutlass bearing is in the sleeve where the shaft enters the boat.

Naturally, as with many things found on a boat, these items wear over time.  When we hauled the boat, we checked the shaft by wiggling the propeller up and down to see if there was any movement. We heard the clunk of the shaft moving, which indicates it was or soon will be time for the bearing to be replaced.  Since we already had the boat out of the water, now seemed like the right time to change the bearing.  While it is theoretically possible on a Leopard to replace this bearing with the boat in the water, it should be far easier to do as we sit on land.

In order to replace the bearing, we first have to remove the propeller.  Given the importance of a propeller remaining attached and all the forces involved in it pushing the boat along through the water, it is usually well attached to the shaft and requires a special device to aid in its removal. A propeller puller (gee, how did they come up with that name) helps pry the propeller from the shaft much in the same way a gear puller removes gears that are pressed onto a shaft by grabbing the forward facing hub of the propeller and then clamping against the aft end of the shaft to squeeze it off.  The reason why I'm telling you about this is...well...because I don't have one.  If you carried every possible tool needed to work on a boat with you, I'm betting that your boat would not remain afloat. So some things, particularly more rarely used tools or ones you are not likely to need while underway, have to be assumed that you can find at the average boat repair yard.

This is where my planning comes into question. I'm sure the boat yard where I am hauled has one or more of these handy tools since they work on boats every day and several they are working on are sans propellers.  But, with the push to get all our through hulls installed, I lost track of time and didn't think about this critical tool until well after 5 PM on a Friday.  Just a little too late to see if I can borrow one...at least until the shop re-opens on Monday. The same Monday when I had hoped to march into the shop with the bearing sleeve and new bearing in hand to have them press out the old one and install the new one. Not knowing how difficult it might be to remove the prop or the bearing sleeve, I really wanted a portion of the weekend to work on it.

So, Saturday morning we started looking for a prop puller.  Went by the marina office and got the official story that the shop guys wouldn't be back until Monday and the receptionist doesn't know where...or what...one is.  Checked several nearby marinas and boat yards to see if they had one to borrow or rent, but had no luck. I considered the option of trying to make one, but with the forces involved and the chance of damaging an expensive bronze propeller, decided that would not be the best idea. Went to several auto parts stores to see if they had something that would work (some auto parts and hardware stores around here carry marine stuff) and even looked at a couple of gear pullers. I was worried, given the forces that are reportedly involved in extracting the average prop, that the small hooks of the gear puller might put too much force on a small point on the propeller hub and be able to damage the soft bronze.

Here is where a friend and fellow Leopard owner I met in Georgia saved the day.  He had offered to provide some tips on this whole process, and when I called to talk with him he said he uses a gear puller.  When I mentioned I had looked at some and was concerned about the hook size, he indicated he never had a problem and would send me some information on the model he had.  A few minutes later he called me back and, not only did he figure out the model, he found that the local AutoZone had one in their free tool loaner program and had reserved it for me.  He also explained that if you don't use too much force at one time and just take it slow (a 1/4 turn of the clamp at a time and maybe tapping it gently with a rubber mallet), the prop should work its way off with no damage.

Gear (propeller) puller from AutoZone

I also heard, with the forces involved, that it was recommended to thread a nut on the end of the shaft to prevent the propeller from flying off once it released its hold on the shaft.  My friend said he never had that problem with his technique, but I figured I would play it safe and get a nut anyway (I couldn't just use the prop nut because the puller didn't have a long enough reach to work around the big prop nut). So, when we went to the store to pick up the puller, I also asked if they had this large metric nut in stock.  Of course they did not.  As it turns out, neither did the other auto parts or hardware stores that were in town (I guess a M20x1.5 nut is pretty rare, the closest we found was an M20x2.5 [bigger threads] at Tractor Supply).  So much for playing it safe.

So, about 8 hours after the odyssey to find the puller started, I was headed back to the boat with something that "should work".  I carefully placed the puller around the prop with the three arms going between the three blades of the prop, centered everything, and tightened the screw up snug so the puller was attached but not yet "working".  I then tightened the puller a quarter turn with my wrench. I went to get my rubber mallet (naturally I left it a little out of arms reach...what was that about my planning again?) and when I returned it looked like the propeller had moved.  I checked and sure enough the puller was loose and so was the prop. I removed the puller (being careful not to let any of the arms ding the prop), then slid the prop off while making sure I didn't drop the prop key (a small stainless steel bar that fits in a slot in the shaft and the prop to keep them oriented).  Yeah, about 8 hours to find the tool, and about a half hour to actually remove the prop...with most of that time spent bending the locking washer back out flat so I could remove the prop nut.

It was finally time to remove the cutlass bearing sleeve containing the cutlass bearing. The sleeve is just a stainless steel cylinder that contains the bearing with a teardrop shaped flange welded to it.  At the top of the teardrop is a single large bolt that holds it in place.  The theory is you remove the bolt and slide the sleeve out.  Yep, that's the theory.  I don't know if the factory originally did this or if it was a prior owner, but the sleeve is glued in place along the flange with some sort of sealant.  So the actual process is:

  • Cut the sealant and paint between the flange with a utility knife as best you can without damaging the fiberglass.
  • Remove the bolt.
  • Use a flexible putty knife to try to cut through the sealant between the hull and the flange of the sleeve.
  • Use a sharp, stiff blade scraper/putty knife or painters tool and a mallet to gently cut through the sealant and pry it away from the hull.
  • Curse and question the lineage of those who designed this part of the boat or at least used sealant on it.
  • Continue to try to work the sleeve out of its resting place.
  • Attempt to spin the sleeve around by the flange to convince the last bits of sealant to finally let go.
  • Use screwdrivers or pry bars (with wood backing against the hull) to get a bit more leverage and continue trying to persuade the sleeve to come out of the hull.
  • Stick a dowel or screwdriver through the bolt hole in the flange of the sleeve when it is spun sideways to get more leverage as you work the sleeve back and forth and slowly extract it from the hull.
  • Once the thing is finally out, have a beer...you earned it.

Everything removed.

Ok, so it wasn't quite that bad.  Honestly the actual working time for the removal of the prop and cutlass bearing sleeve was a couple hours.  The vast majority of the time on this project thus far has been spent researching how to do it and finding the needed tools (prop puller) to do it. And a special thanks to my friends Fred and Lee as well as the other Leopard owners on the LeopardCat forum for all the help and advice!

From left to right: The prop zinc, nut and lock washer, key,
propeller, sleeve retaining bolt, cutlass bearing in sleeve.
All freshly rinsed from a little downpour.

Now that the bearing is off of the shaft, I can see that the reason for the cutlass bearing wear is that the shaft...or the bearing holder sleeve...seems to be misaligned. The bearing is worn at the top on the aft edge and the bottom on the forward edge of the bearing.  So, I guess I'll have to research how I can resolve that while I wait for Monday so I can get the yard to use their press to remove the old cutlass bearing and insert the new one.



Friday, July 17, 2015

It Always Takes Longer

When we were learning to sail, one of my instructors once said "if you want to know how long it takes to sail there, take how long it takes to walk and add a day."  I don't know if he came up with that or if it came from somewhere else, but it gives you a good idea that travel by sailboat is fairly slow.  Now I just need a way to better gauge how long a boat project takes.  Take how long it takes to do a project on land and double it?  Or add a month? or ???  Of course, I never could gauge projects well on land either (a long weekend bath retile project using stone tiles took us over 2 months to complete).

Yesterday we spent a fairly long day rebedding the through hulls. I don't think we were done until after 9 PM.  We started off by going to each through hull location and dry fitting the parts to make sure everything fit as it was supposed to and to determine orientation of the parts. It is also a good time to figure out the assembly process for each through hull.  You would think that you would use the same process each time, but within the confines of a boat, it doesn't work out that way. With the narrow spaces in a boat hull you need to figure out which parts you can pre-assemble and which need to be done in place. You even need to see if you can get wrenches or other tools to the locations where they are needed and that you have the room to swing them. Oh, and don't forget how you are going to apply the sealant to each of those parts as you assemble them...caulk guns aren't exactly low-profile tools either.

What the 1.5 inch through hull looks like from the outside.

One problem area I found and didn't really have a way around was the nut that screws on to the through hull. The nut itself is relatively thin so it doesn't take up a lot of assembly space. Unfortunately this also means there isn't much surface area to get a wrench around it.  Add in the fact that boat hulls are usually curved and you are trying to tighten this nut on the concave side, and it can be a real bear to get the wrench to turn the nut.

The 1.5 inch through hull from inside.
Note the general lack of space around it.

Another major issue is simply dimensional space.  As an example, all the 1.5 inch through hulls in the boat are in narrow spaces and require an elbow just after they penetrate the hull so the valve and hoses will run along the wall of the hull. Of course the ball valve handle sticks out far enough that you cannot thread it onto the elbow without hitting the nearby hull, even with the handle removed. So, you need to attach the valve to the elbow first.  Then you run into the problem that the combination of the elbow and the valve sticking off one side of it takes more swing room to thread on than you have available.  So, how do you attach all of this together and still be able to tighten that thin through hull retaining nut while not spinning all of the sealant out of the fittings and causing a leak?  Heh, heh, heh...guess I'll find out if my approach worked when we put the boat back in the water.

The air conditioner through hulls installed.

If all of this rambling doesn't make sense, just take a good look at the pictures and the various parts and think of how you would assemble all of them together. It took us about as long to dry fit the things as it did to rebed them. Rebedding consisted of using sealant on all the threads as well as a generous bead around the mushroom head of each through hull. Assembly is a combination of NPS and NPT threads, so orientation of parts can be fun.  NPS threads will just turn until the pieces bottom out, but will always leak without some sort of sealant.  NPT threads can be tightened so they won't leak, but then you don't get much of a choice of which direction handles or hose barbs point. A good sealant seems critical when you can't tighten pieces enough due to the needed orientation.  Since the through hulls on this boat are not the ideal proper seacocks with through bolts, I decided to go with 4200 as it is both an adhesive and a sealant but not as permanent as 5200. It appears to be what the original builder used so hopefully it will work well to both hold things in position and seal them.

The air conditioner through hulls from inside.
Remember the far one is at the limit of my reach.

The through hull replacement project has certainly taken a little longer than I expected, but we now have 12 new assemblies and are waiting on the sealant to cure.  Of course, at under double the amount of time, I'm still doing better than that tile project on the time estimate versus reality front.