Saturday, August 21, 2010

Installing a Monitor Wind Vane.

well, starting to install the windvane...

Part 1:

I actually bought he windvane five years ago back when I thought the project would take a year or two. For the past five years the box has been cluttering up my work space in the basement and I am very happy to get it out of there.

I chose the Monitor for its great reputation both for quality and customer service. I can attest to both of those attributes. The quality is top notch and my dealings with the company have been very professional and helpful. Yes, the Monitor is quite expensive. I paid just over $5k for mine. But to see this machine is to understand why it is so expensive. It is absolutely gorgeous. The vane is a very well built piece of machinery and the mounting is all custom manufactured for the individual boat.

The first step is to fill out a form with a bunch of measurements and angles for my particular boat. The company had a couple of drawings from previous installations on other Tritons and using my measurements, the company engineer recomended one of the drawings for my application. Since the drawings are freely available on the web I don't think they will mind if I re-post it here:

The first step in the installation process was to install the deck mounts for the upper mount tubes. I immediately ran into a problem.

The aft deck hatch that I had installed interferred with the mounting pads. After a moment of considering grinding the deck flat and the necesary layers of fiberglass repairs I remembered that I still had some pre-made polyester based sheet material. I still don't know why I had it in 3/8 inch thickness but that is exactly what I needed to create a level surface for the mounting pads. Some quick cutting and more artistic grinding and I had my custom fitted filler blocks.

And then being very careful to space the mounts equally apart from the centerline I drilled the mounting holes. Note: there is a slight difference between the port and starboard shape of the stern - the port filler block is half an inch shorter. With the mounts temporarily fixed in place I moved onto the next step.

The mount for the Triton is a bit non-standard with the top tube mounting on the deck rather than the transom. The special instructions for this deck mounting that come with the kit (the kit instructions are fabulous overall) say to drill two holes in the tube for a through bolt. The through bolt secures the upper tube to the deck mounting pads. This is where I ran into a bigger problem. The holes need to be perfectly perpendicular to the pre-formed bend in the upper tube. When the holes are even slightly off...

The results look like this. The tube is turned slightly inwards. This event made me a very unhappy camper. The instructions suggest installing the windvane with the boat in the water to fine tune the height adjustments and infer that only basic handtools are needed to install the windvane. That might be true with a standard mount but this deck mounted tube proved to be too tricky for me working in a boatyard on a sawhorse with handheld drill motor. Maybe it is just me. After all the most complex stuff I do at work is re-build crashed airplanes and fabricating new parts to replace the damaged ones... It must be just me because the instructions suggest it is pretty easy to do on the dock with the boat in the water.

Anyway, my plan is to take the tubes into work where I have nice jigs and stationary drill presses that can accurately drill my holes. To fix my error I had to cut off about an inch of the tubing. This will lower the whole mount about half an inch which I think will be acceptable. If I am wrong then I might have to order new tubes to replace the one I ruined with the bad holes. If I do have to order them maybe I can get the factory to drill those holes for me too...

So, while I am overall very very pleased with my Monitor windvane to date, I was a little dissapointed with this particular stage of assembly. At this point in the day I broke off and sanded the cabin sole and applied another coat of urethane.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I had great plans this weekend for something new and exciting to go onto the boat.

But the weekend had other plans for me.

I was asked to give someone a hand for an hour or so that turned into most of Saturday. On Sunday my plans were made for me...

So, about all I managed to do was put a couple of coats of urethane on the cabin sole and place another order for hardware and shop supplies. If I were to add up the costs of all these small hardware orders I would probably give up boat work. You wouldn't think a few bolts and screws and nuts and washers here and there would add up to much. You would be wrong to think that.

Hoping for better luck next weekend.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beat to fit...

Paint to match.

After another hot and humid work week, the weekend turned out to be another really good varnishing weekend. I just didn't feel like varnishing. I didn't feel like doing much of anything this weekend actually.

I made more than my usual number of return trips for forgotten tools and materials. My helper for securing the deck hardware had some last minute changes of plans. The pulpits have different sized backing pads and it appears as though I used the larger pads that I made on the pulpit with the smaller feet - and the smaller pads were too small for the larger feet. I didn't have any more backing pad material so I was out of luck there. I needed to order more for the jib cleat backing pads anyway.

So, this was not my most productive weekend. I spent most of my productive time Saturday sanding the cabin sole hatch lips smooth. Getting the hatches to lie pefectly flat and without any wobble took more work than expected. They aren't beautiful under there but that is what paint is for.

And so speaking of paint, I did prime and paint the sloping fiberglass hull alonside the cabin sole and the hatch edges.

I wasn't able to get the paint matching machine to work on the bamboo because there is too much variation in color in the bamboo. I wound up finding the closest match I could with a paint chip and ordering a pint of that. I put down two coats and used the top 1/4 inch of paint out of the can so I have plenty left for 'other' projects (read: pay for hazardous waste disposal in 10-20 years...).

I also took another look at my jumper strut shrouds. I had them made up new two years ago with 'adjusters' so that I could tweak the tension on the struts after they were up and installed. Well, the adjusters are totally inadequate at the tensions necessary. My first thought was to match up a turnbuckle that I can screw into the end of the shroud just as the adjuster screws in. My second thought was to hand the shrouds over to my rigger and them him figure it out. I am going with my second thought.

And that's it. Everything I said I wanted to do last week is exactly what I want to do next week. I am hoping for a bit more success.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Changes in the weather

A change in the weather meant a change in plans.

For the past month, the temperatures have been in the mid 90's (F) with 90%+ humidity most days.

This weekend, the temperature dipped into the upper 70's low 80's with 50-60% humidity. Perfect varnishing weather. During times like these there isn't any choice. One must drop whatever plans one had and pick up the varnish brush.

So that is what I did. One coat on every piece of wood on Saturday and another coat on Sunday: Toerail/rubrail, engine instrument frame, companionway trim, water deck fitting block, coamings and winchblocks, forehatch, and misc. bow woodwork. That makes a minimum of five coats of varnish on all my wood so I am getting close to an acceptable amount of coverage. At least I won't be worrying about it all the time (for at least a month).

Other than that... I continued to build up the surface that the cabin sole hatches rest upon with a couple of coats of epoxy thickened with WEST 407 (low density fill). My earlier plan of using foam tape fell apart after some thinking. I figured over time the tape would compress and I would either have the hatches sitting too high initially or too low after a period of time. I didn't like either result. Instead, I mixed up some epoxy leaving it just thin enough to self-level before it kicked off. An application last week and the first application this week brought the hatches just about perfectly aligned with the surrounding sole. I applied an additional coating Sunday to help fill in any low spots and give something to sand smooth. Next week I should be able to prime and paint.

Yes. I need to clean out the bilges and apply a fresh coat of paint. Its hard to keep the boat clean while working on it.

I really like my bamboo plywood sole and I only have one caveat about it. Let it sit anywhere near a moist environment for more than a few minutes and mold will spontaneously begin reproducing right in front of your eyes. Mold loves this stuff. It isn't just on the boat either. My stock in the garage grows moldy in no time flat and I have had to clean up my stock a few times. A solvent rag takes care of most of it. A light sanding usually finishes it up clean.

To make the mold problem go away, the bamboo plywood needs to be sealed up. I cleaned up the undersides of the hatch covers where I had not applied any finish before and then gave them all a coat of clean polyurethane on the bottom surfaces. One more coat and they should be good to go. Any of the bamboo that has been sealed this way exhibits no tendency to mass produce mold babies.

Sound like nothing happened. Maybe. Setting up for varnishing everything on deck takes more time than I would like. Nothing looks better but it does take some work. Beauty costs.

On another note. After some emails with a fellow boat restorer I need to add some thoughts about on last week's projects.

I woke up the next day thinking about the broken taper bit and the bronze screws I was using to secure the bronze foredeck cowl. After reviewing the failed installation I realized that I did not like how the screw felt going into the thickened epoxy plug. My email correspondece confirmed a better technique I was thinking about- drilling and tapping for machine screws. Taper bits just don't work well in epoxy. I think the tapped machine threads is a much better solution. Now I just need to order the machine screws. On a different note, with the cowl over the new hole in the foredeck I noticed a vast improvement in the air quality below decks when I went below after a week away Saturday. The ventilation is much better now.

The second idea we talked about was one I had heard of and then prompty forgot. The time consuming method I had for drilling the mounting screws through the backing pads could be dramatically improved with a hot glue gun. Mix up some thickened epoxy and goop it on the backing pad, apply hot glue to a few points on the backing pad and stick it into position. The hot glue sets up in a minute and holds the backing pad while the epoxy takes a full cure. Then it is a simple method of drilling through for the mounting bolts. Of course that means the backing pads will never come off again but why would anyone want to take them off ?...

Finally, the green composite material I was using for backing pads is not G10 after all. It is a polyester layup. Completely adequate for what I was using it for but I feel the need to make the correction public and reduce the amount of bad information found on the Internet (a hopeless task I know). I don't know where that stuff came from. It has been in my stock pile for a few years now and I guess I just forgot what it was.

So that was the weekend and another month of summer is gone. I have the bow pulpit, jib sheet cleats and stern cleats to install. I hope to get my new Monitor wind vane mount out of my basement where it has been taking up space for the past five years and finally get it installed on the boat. I am still trying to get enough done on the actual sailing hardware list to be able to spend some time and money this Fall on some interior paneling. If I can keep plugging away I have hopes of some interior installed before Old Man Winter comes to visit again.

I say, I say, I say... That's all folks!