Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frustration in detail

That's how I feel about this weekend.

I thought I was going to have the temps I needed to get some epoxy down. I need to do this to advance several projects. That didn't happen. Cold, wet and raw instead.

Then, the fittings I needed to finish getting fuel to my engine were mis-ordered/mis-shipped. I don't know which. I do know that I got the wrong stuff. I thought I could find a 90 degree elbow 1/4 inch NPT to 5/16 hose easily enough so I drove to my local hardare store but they were out of stock. I drove to Lowe's because I secretly wanted to check out a new 1/2 inch Porter Cable drill. Lowe's had neither the drill (which they advertise as stocking) nor the fitting. Home Despot = same result. I am considering giving up on all local purchases. I hate surfing around looking for stuff and feel like I am wasting time but I seem to waste even more time driving around looking for stuff. I find too that the 'super stores' have less of a selection than my local hardware store -plus the employees are completely ignorant about the items they sell. They have lots of stuff but its mostly of poor quality and really, I don't need 100 boxes of the same thing, I need a couple of simple items to chose between. I think I should abandon all local shopping and stick to the internet. I might keep my local hardware store in the loop just because I hate to see them go.

Anyway, two hours wasted and no fitting. McMaster and Carr will have it for me on Monday.

I started connecting the battery cables. I didn't have enough connectors to finish. I thought I had enough. I was wrong.

I forgot to bring up my drill from work so I couldn't drill any holes with my new bit I bought just for my transmission shifter. I also couldn't drill holes for my second bilge pump hose.

I decided to salvage Saturday afternoon by working on another boat that will pay me money. At least that was productive and the proceeds from that job will pay for my summer mooring. I still haven't tracked down a mooring yet.

Sunday morning was very rainy.

With my drill motor recently deceased I was a bit stuck on some small projects until I remembered this:

My great grandfather's egg beater drill. It actually worked quite well. I don't know why I don't use it more often. I liked that it was quiet too.

With this, I cut a few starter holes and then using my saber saw I cut out two frames.

The headliner in the head/hanging locker area basically fell out a few years ago. I found out when I went to put in the opening ports that the skin on the cabin side was too thin and even with the screws tightened all the way down the ports were loose. My solution is to add these spacers made from some leftover 1/4 inch okoume marine plywood. I am thinking when I get a chance to put in some automotive headliner over the area that these frames, varnished, will look quite nice and make a clean transition from fabric to port.

While I was doing this I cut out a couple of donut shaped rings for the seacocks in the head area. The head seacocks are mounted on backing pads of 3/4 inch okoume marine plywood (I would use G10 next time) surrounded by the foam insulation and a sheet of linoleum (because linoleum was easy to glue to the foam and then transition onto the platform that the toilet sits on - plus it should clean up easily). The backing pads are flush with the linoleum. Where the seacocks are cut in is kind of rough and the rings will help cover this little blemish. That's my thinking anyway.

To cut these rings out I used my rotozip tool.

I have a love/hate relationship with this tool. Its noisy and it tends to break bits and send them.... somewhere. I never see them go and that spooks me. 30,000 rpm and they simply go 'poof'. On the other hand sometimes this is the only tool that works. It also comes with a nifty attachement for making perfect circles.

And then I had a chance to try out my new router. Nice. I have to confess that I have never used a handheld router before. I was using router tables as a 15 year old at a furniture factory until OSHA had a fit when they saw me working with this tool, underage, with not a safety device to be found. I worked in laminations and laquer and stain spraying after that.

Anyway, I played around with some scrap and then I got serious and routed the edges of my teak engine instrument frame. 1/4 inch round over on the inside and a 1/2 round over on the outside. Its starting to look like a finished piece. I need to take it to the boat now and do some final fitting.

I did some updating of the 'real' website and ordered up another $200 in bits and pieces for next weekend. I am getting a little concerned about the cash flow as the launch date approaches. My monthly boat budget is being obliterated in tiny increments with boxes of screws, plumbing fittings, special hole saws etc. I can only hope that this will slow down at some point.

I need a second job...

And that concludes this week. Hopefully, better progress and more interesting pictures next week.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The temps didn't really make it into the epoxy or sealant range so I spent my time on backup projects. And those projects required bits and peices that I spent half of Saturday and Sunday shopping for.


At a reader's request, a picture of my bronze shift lever after a machinist was able to get it apart for me (that took half the morning too...)

I was waiting for a sheet of cherry veneered plywood to make the front end of the 'service center' when I realized that I should put insulation in there too. That also means that I will not have to have the hardware that holds my engine fuel system exposed to the interior. That's a good bonus. The bolt heads will be quietly hiding under a layer of foam.

The plywood came from my scrap bin (I save everything)and was at one time part of my settees (I think). 40 years later the wood is still fine. I didn't see a need to put new plywood in there.

On this panel I mounted my engine fuel filter and electric fuel pump.

Naturally, the fittings I used before won't work and I had to order some new fittings. I am thinking I might be able to squeeze in a 'T' valve to the left of the fuel filter that will switch the water supply between my two drinking water tanks.

Its getting a bit crowded in there.

I also cut a hole for the manual bilge pump hose that you can see from the right side of the photo. The hose goes under the starboard settee, makes a hard turn aft, goes through two bulkheads and out into the space under the cockpit. The hose exits the aft bulkhead just outboard of the cockpit drain seacock. I had a picture but it didn't show much. I had no access between the two bulkheads and it was quite a chore threading the stiff, curly bilge hose through the two just-big-enough holes in the bulkheads. After half an hour of getting no where I grabbed a 4 foot iron rod and stuck it through both holes. Then I ran the hose around the rod (rod went inside the hose) and into the hole in the first bulkhead. I just pushed the hose and the rod inside kept the straight and sent it out the second bulkhead. Not very interesting to read about I am sure but I was quite proud of my achievement.

Sadly, in the process of cutting the holes for the bilge pump hose, my 20+ year old drill motor died. It served me well. RIP old buddy.

Part of my morning shopping was to pick up a few items. At the hardware store I found these rod end attachments in a dusty bin in the back. The threaded part is too big but I thought I would fill the end with thickened epoxy, drill and tap for a smaller hole, and I will have a workable end fitting for my transmission shifter. We will see how that works out.

The other two items in the above photo are a drill and tap for a 3/4" pipe thread. That was a quick $70 purchase.

My plan for the drill and tap was to use them to install bronze fittings in the corner of the cockpits to drain the puddles that always form there.

I could have simply glued the fittings in but I figured I might someday want them out for some unknown reason. Besides, a good mechanic is always buying more tools. I had anticipated the bronze fitting extending nearly flush with the deck surface. I didn't realize the deck surface was 1-1/4 inch thick. I might have to do something to dress up the holes a bit. Not sure what exactly.

Speaking of new tools:

I am dying to try this out but I really should wait for a rainy day or when I am held up on other boat projects.

Other than that, I spent time searching out odds bits of hardware that I needed for upcoming projects and other non-boat related responsibilites.

Hopefully, next week will be a bit warmer and I can start installing engine controls.

Em Tasol wantoks.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Controlling the situation

I need a few short lengths of #2 battery cable to connect the battery with rest of the engine electrical system. Last Sunday I drove up to West Marine to get a short section that I figured I could cut up into the lengths I needed. West Marine is clearly significantly over priced compared to other outlets; at least on most items. However, I sometimes justify the additional expense simply for the convenience of buying locally and not waiting for UPS to deliver. Well, Sunday, I stopped at West Marine and found the 18 inch cable I needed; for $43. There was no way I was going to pay that much for less than two feet of wire. And then I got to thinking about how many times I have made the drive only to be turned away because of the cost or because they didn't have what I needed. I realized that 60-70% of the time, I walk out of store without buying anything. That really isn't very convenient at all. West Marine is now dead to me. I have no idea what took me so long.

I had purchased this bracket from Moyer Marine last year. My throttle cable had been attached to a board that was drywall screwed to the nearby 'aft bulkhead'. It was a pretty flimsy setup which allowed a lot of play in the cable. This bracket mounts directly to the engine and holds the throttle cable securely in position. It looks a lot more respectable too. I had to make a quick run to the hardware store for some longer screws. The originals that came out of the engine were too short after the hefty bracket was in. This bracket is really over kill for what it does. But it works well.

Then I held my breath, whispered a prayer, and cut a new hole in my freshly painted cockpit well.

I was planning on buying a shiny new throttle lever but even from non West Marine suppliers, they seem to be rediculously expensive for what they are. I cleaned up my original lever and will mount it near the original location. I can't remember exactly where it was- I filled in the old hole so well that I can't find it now- but this is a good location to operate it and the cable has a good point to attach to- or rather it will when I build the structure it needs.

I had some luck today with my bronze shift lever. It was stuck on quite well. Some friends from the local diner recommended a place that they thought could fix me up. It was one of these places way back in the woods where the banjos play. A few quiet old guys hanging around that don't seem happy to see newcomers. A few quick words, a half nod to follow inside, and then pick my way through piles of junk and tools to the very back of the shop. There was stuff EVERYWHERE. All kinds of random stuff. A wall with at least 100 old junked starter motors, a race car under wraps, another car with the front taken off, all sorts of random car parts, boat parts, HUGE sheetmetal tools and a dusty deer head on the wall. The owner was able to press out the lever from the shaft at considerable effort. It was really on there good. And then he spent a few minutes with the shaft on a lathe cleaning it up for me. Then he refused to take my money and said come back next time with a real job. He smiled. I gave him $20. He threw it back. I gave $10 to one of the workers and I left with a working shift lever. A new one was going to cost me several hundred dollars and wouldn't work nearly as well as this one is going to.

I positioned the cable and decided that my original thought of putting the lever back towards the aft end of the cockpit wasn't going to work out well. It puts too much bend on the cable. Maybe not 'too much' but by moving the lever forward the cable runs easier and it puts both throttle and shift levers in front of the helmspersom. I anchored the shift lever temporarily and found a good spot for the lever. I drilled a small pilot hole and then realized that I didn't have the drill I needed to cut the big hole for the big bronze shift lever. That will have to wait until next week. To give an idea, the pilot hole is about 6 inches aft of the forward cockpit locker drain hole.

I was worried that the shaft seal hose wasn't going to fit over my modified shaft tube. I was right to worry as the extension added about a 1/4 inch to the diameter and the hose didn't want to go on. In the end I reamed out the hose a bit, sanded down the tube a bit, added a bit of lubricant (Dow DC4- similar looking to petroleum jelly -its what I had on hand), and used some brute force to get in in place. I probably could have used a longer tube. This one was brand new for the one short season that I had the boat in the water. This time I can get two clamps around the tube end. Before I could only get one on the short tube.

Just in case anyone doesn't know how great a Bomar hatch in the cockpit is...

Servicing the shaft seal is a breeze with one of these in place.

Tomorrow just might be good weather for sealants so I cut some exhaust hose and did a trial fitting of my cockpit drain tubes.

The Triton cockpit sole is only an inch or so above the waterline. When 4 people crowd into the cockpit, the stern sinks and the cockpit floods. For this reason, and to guard against the unlikely chance that a drain tube will leak, I had removed the glassed in fiberglass tubes and installed seacocks under the drains. This leaves very little room to replace the hoses so to get around that I made the drain fittings removable. These are Marelon 1.5" flush thru-hulls. Remove the nut and lift up on the fitting and then there is enough room to lift the hose off the seacock and replace it. The holes in the cockpit are countersunk for the thru-hulls.

It has been a busy day and now it is past my bedtime. I will try to add a bit more tomorrow.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Making connections

Continued with the engine wiring today.

Last week I suddenly decided that I wanted to put in fuses on the battery and alternator feeds. Luckily, there was room to add them in neatly. I also added in an on/off switch for the battery. Not sure how important that is but I have it. Its for the long term. Someday I will think I want one and now I have it. There really wasn't a great place to put it so I just put it in front of the battery. I want to keep all the battery wires the same size and I didn't have any 2 guage wire on hand so I wasn't able to finish up those connections. Close, but not quite done. I also ran the power wire off the starter post (which in turn is directly off the positive battery terminal) out to where the ammeter will be installed at the aft end of the cockpit. Then I ran a similar wire back from the future ammeter to the 'battery bus bar'. The Alternator feeds into the other end of the battery bus bar and whatever needs to take of power from the battery will be connected to this bus.

My original plan for the bilge pump hoses was to run them alongside the engine beds inside the engine box. Its becoming apparent that it is going to get crowded in there so today I decided to cut some holes and route the bilge pump lines under the platforms aft of the settees.

The small bilge pump is out for the moment. The larger Rule 3700gpm pump is located on a shelf about six inches from the bottom of the bilge (It would be impossible to retrieve if it was any lower). I pulled the 1.5 inch outlet hose from that pump away from the engine beds...

... out under the starboard aft platform and past the starboard drain seacock (note the handy access via the cheezy plastic hatch)...

... and along the fuel tank through the starboard cockpit locker. When I get the boat cover off next month I can install the thru-hull fittings in the counter where the hose will terminate. At least for now I am no longer tripping over that hose.

The wiring, the hose, shoveling a few cubic yards of leftover snow and a quick brake job on the truck finished up my Saturday. Hopefully I can squeeze in another blog update tomorrow.

The Countdown never ceases...



Spent another hour or so on the boat Sunday. (sorry camera was at home charging)

I laid out the engine control cables and was a little scared for a bit when I realized that the transmission cable wouldn't go over the fuel tank as I had thought it would. The approach angle was too much for the heavy type 64 cable. Luckily, it does seem to work going under the fuel tank. That means attaching at the lowest hole on the transmission shift lever which won't help with the leverage much. On the other hand, its a heavy type 64 cable and it would probably lift my car if it needed to. I spent a good bit of time frantically trying to figure out how to route the cable and where the other end of the cable should wind up since my primary idea was a failure. Luckily, bending it as much as I am comfortable with, it just fits on the aft end of the port cockpit locker. That location was one of my preferred locations from the beginning anyway. Big sigh of relief.

In the future I think I should have spent time with an old junk cable to try out different positions and lengths. It ended well so that is good.

The throttle cable too has to be changed from its original run. It had a funny awkward loop in it from the beginning anyway. I had always assumed I would be buying two control levers and mounting them in different locations but now it looks like a two lever single unit might work out well. I am going to do some snooping online tonight and see what my options are.

The choke cable should be pretty easy. I did use my throttle cable as a stand-in however just to check out how it would run. It turned up a few errors in my original ideas but it will work out okay.

I must say it was also hard to remember which way the cable needed to go to make the engine operate correctly. Now was that forward on the cable to push the throttle open or closed? Does pushing the lever forward make the cable go in or out?...

Nothing is easy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Watching snowflakes

That is what I was doing today instead of getting much done on the boat.

Yesterday, I ran my weekend errands and then decided to work on Other-Peoples-Boats. Other people have launch deadlines too apparently.

Speaking of deadlines...

Deadline Countdown

A friendly reminder set up by some 'friends'...

With the snow flying I did what I could on the engine instrument panel. Yesterday I managed to find the hardware I needed to push forward. Unfortunately I need more so it isn't quite finished.

I was going to make the panel hinge out for maintenance but I haven't been happy with any hinge stock I have found so far. I just don't like the look. Considering how many times I expect to have to get to the back of this panel it isn't really a big deal to remove the whole thing from the cabin. I think I am just going to screw the panel down and be done with it. The main electrical distribution panel is another story but this one should be about complete and need very minor and infrequent maintenance. I might just regret those words someday.

I also forgot my heat gun so the shrink tubing isn't on yet.

I cleaned up the inside of the corners of the instrument panel using a sharp chisel to work out the epoxy smears. I was trying to explain a detail of the inside corners to a friend and had a hard time using words so I am throwing up this picture as a demonstration. Its just some toerail scraps for a demonstration only.

My desire for a router last week was to easily round out the inside edge of the frame. And then I got thinking that I like how the corners come to a tight right angle rather than a round inside edge. That's what the demo picture is for. Had I thought about it, I would have rounded the inner edge of the frame pieces before I glued it up and then cut 45 degree angles in the ends to match them together. At this point I am not sure how I will finish the inside edge. I might leave it square. I might take a router with a quarter round bit or something more fancy and just walk it around the inside. Sometimes I get lost in these silly details. The closer I get to completing something the more I want to fuss with the details.

And speaking of details. Yesterday I suddenly started thinking about fuses and switches for my limited electrical system. I could have put it off. I have never had a car that needed a battery switch or fuse after all. On the other hand its something I probably would have put in at some point so in a last minute online shopping frenzy I ordered an on/off battery switch, 2 fuse blocks (for the battery and alternator outputs), and the appropriate fuses and spares. I could have waited. But I didn't.

Snow falling today. Big storm tomorrow. Sadly, that's all that is going to happen this weekend. I wasn't expecting my simple wiring job to take more than a day or two and I realise I have been tinkering with it for a month now. I better go back and click that deadline link...