Saturday, June 28, 2014

Marelon Seacocks suck monkey balls and Spring Varnishing is boring

Nope, not forgotten but the work on Jenny has been pretty boring (lots of varnishing) which isn't very interesting to write (or read) about.

First of all, Forespar Marelon Seacocks...  they suck.

I started this boat project as a wet behind the ears newbie-don't-know-nothing sort of person.  At that time I was looking at the old corroded seacocks in the boat (though few and far between - straight tubes abounded) and saw the new, modern, can't corrode Forespar Marelon seacocks and thought that was my answer.  As it was a safety issue, installing new seacocks in the under water holes in the hull was an early priority.  I think I installed about $1,000 worth of Marelon seacocks in the boat.  After the first season they started to feel stiff so I contacted Forespar technical support for recomendations for maintaining the seacocks.  I was told, any lubricant other than aerosol (the propellent swells the material) and rinse them out every season.  Fair enough. By the end of the second season I was getting worried.  Towards the end of the third season my girlfriend shut off the head intake as we were going home and mentioned the seacock felt 'funny'.  I checked it and found the handle had sheared off the ball. Luckily this was on an intake which was broken in the closed position so I was able to carry a bucket in the boat and draw from inside and continue with a semi-working toilet until haulout.

I am not interested in having more failures of seacocks so I have removed all my seacocks.

Luckily I chose not to install these with 5200 as others had suggested and the 4200, which was holding fine, gave up its hold without resorting to the nuclear option.  I did have to hand chisel off the plastic mushroom heads which was a painful job but only took a few hours.

As you see, the balls were well lubricated at removal.

There were all rather stiff.  Even though they were very greasy there was a lot of grit around the ball.

The balls were all heavily scored.  If they were metal I could polish them.  I am not sure what I am supposed to do with Marelon to make them smooth again.

In any case, when the ball gets stiff, the weak point in in the connection between the ball and handle.  There is a square section that the handle is slotted on.  The picture shows a 1.5" seacock. The 3/4" seacock is much smaller and that is what my girlfriend pealed off.  I don't blame her, the plastic is rather soft and easy to distort.  The handle itself is rather weak and I can severely distort the handle if I wanted to.

So in the end, a little grit gets into the ball cavity (dirty ocean?...) causing the ball to get stiff and then the connection snaps with hardly any effort.  3 years of summer use before failure.  Bronze has been king for a few centuries and I should have stuck with the proven material.  Next time I will let someone else try out the new fangled stuff.  End of story, Marelon seacocks suck and I wasted a lot of time and money on them.  Bronze is good.

So I have plans to replace the seacocks soon but I have a few other non boat expenses coming up and a full set of seacocks is going to set me back some so I have been procrastinating.  Luckily it has been good varnishing weather, and that is cheap, so that is where I have been spending my time.

First of all, I upgraded my ladder to something more substantial.  I was having fun going up and down on a ladder that was flush with the deck but I know that sooner or later I am going to dance my way off while having a toolbag in each hand so I purchased a 12 foot ladder.

Thank you Google for displaying this image sideways...  

Now I can climb up and down safely and I have a second ladder to use as a poor man's staging for work at deck level.

For the past month, every saturday and sunday morning I am varnishing.  It is boring but with widespread failure starting it has to be done.  If you want the varnish you need covered storage, preferably indoor and heated and really preferable would be to hire a varnishing crew every season to do it for you...

Not much to say there.  Sand off, brush on...  My winch blocks are near the end of their life.  50 years is about it I guess...

I managed to install the panels that go behind the galley which will allow some fun projects to move forward there.

 As you can see the interior is sanded and ready for a final coat (or two) of the satin finish.  That will probably happen this weekend or over the July 4th extended weekend.

Other minor projects included some electrical connectors which will allow me to remove the engine electrical box completely without having to disconnect every wire leading in to it.  The box covers hardware that secures the starboard cockpit coaming so removal will always be something I need to do from time to time.

I am also ordering some deck navigation lights to be installed this summer and the propane tank and installation bits to finalize last year's stove project.  There there is the big electrical project which is mostly just a project on paper at this point.

And that is where it stands.

Think of me slaving to the varnishing Gods while you are enjoying this fantastic last spring early summer sailing weather in New England...