Monday, May 27, 2019

Back at work on Long Steps.

Giving the blog a kick.  I’ve been trying different social media, have concentrated on Facebook for the last while, but it’s a mixed blessing and many people don’t like it.  So, I’ve got the Yahoo Jwbuilders group going again, its still showing 4500 or so members but I’d neglected it somewhat, as with this blog.  But the three media seem each suited to somewhat different purposes and I figure that there is a place for each.
So, here on the blog you’ll find news of my builds and adventures both in design and cruising,  those are essentially an archive.  On the Yahoo group there will be question and answer plus that incredible photo archive that can be so helpful to a new builder trying to find an answer, and on Facebook, we’ll chat.

How to keep all three going? I suspect that I need to figure out a way to be awake and productive 24 hours a day 7 days a week, but we’ll see.

I had a great summer, three cruises on Spook, one in the Bay of Islands, one in Kawau Bay. That one just an overnight to see how my little dog would take to life on a small boat, and to check out Spook after her long layoff and several mods to the rig, and also to check out the inflatable kayak.  That wasnt a good thing by the way, I've since bought a rotomoulded plastic one, have yet to try it out, so "watch this space". 
The third cruise was across to Waiheke Island, the home of the best ice creams on the planet and some of the best scenery you'll ever find.
That took me away from the boatbuilding shed. Worth it though.

 I’m back at work on Long Steps.  Its been a while, as I’m the customer I figure that I can work on her or not, whichever is right at the time.  But its time I got on with her, Phil McCowin has been sailing his, reports that she’s well balanced, fast, ( and for Phil to be saying that, means fast, as he’s sailed some very quick boats in his time) and comfortable. He’s taking NFRTT  in the Texas 200 in a week or two, and I’m very much looking forward to his reports.

So, I’d been a bit stuck on two little problems, I had issues with accessing the lower rudder fitting bolts from inside, once the deck is on this area will be darn near impossible to access, I had visions of welding up a fitment that would hold the bolts from inside, in such a way that I could wind the locknuts on outside when fitting the gudgeons to the transom, and as I don’t have the gear to weld stainless steel ( yet, its on the list) I’d put that task off until, hopefully a flash of inspiration would give me a better idea.
While at a friends place, I spotted a strip of scrap stainless steel, 6mm x about 25mm, just eboug enough to do what I had in mind.  So, hacksaw, files, drills and 6mm metric fine taps came out on the bench and I’ve built the three fittings you see below.  The stainless straps are screwed to the inside of the transom, the bolts come through the gudgeon fittings, through the bolt holes in the transom and screw into the tapped holes in the straps. That way I’ll hopefully never have to rip the deck off to get back in there to tighten or replace nuts and washers.
There will be a countersink in the bolt holes on the outside, a sealant will form a big gasket,  allowed to set at about 2mm thick before the bolts are tightened and hopefully that will mean a permanent installation with no leaks.

 That stainless steel is seriously tough stuff, I broke two taps getting the threads in and ruined a drill bit, even with the special stainless steel cutting fluid.  Ah well, done now.

This is where the lower one of those fittings has to go. Its more than an arms length down plus will have a permanent deck over it, you'll note that the lower fitting has its bolt securing fittings in two pieces so it goes one each side of that stern web. Once in, its going to be there to stay.

I’d mention too, that I drilled the bolt holes out at 20mm diameter, filled them with thickened epoxy and re drilled them to take the 6mm bolts, this considerably  increases the strength plus prevents any water getting into the plywood end grain.

Next job. I have, after a complete change of batteries in my old ship, a big 660 CCA truck starter battery that’s still in good order.  Its one of four, and two of the others which are on a different circuit, had failed so I replaced the lot.  That leaves me with a $350 battery that testing showed to have a lot of life left in it, and a boat in build that will have a solar panel charging system, lights in the cuddy,  a light in the forward locker on each side, a GPS chart plotter, a VHF/SSB radio, navigation lights, phone and laptop charging points and an electric bilge pump ( in addition to a big manual one).  That’s a fair bit of electrical demand,  and it seemed a good idea to put the two together.
But here is the problem, the battery weighs 22 kg, (48,4 lbs).  How to fit it into its space, secured well enough to ensure that it doesn’t come loose should the boat be knocked down, and yet be accessible when I need to pull it out and put it back.
I’ve built a box, it has a lip along the top side edge and a “door” on the other, also with a lip. The box has tapered bearers to fit the curve of the bottom and side, is to be held in with bolts through the adjacent bulkhead and the centreline web on which the main mast step is mounted, and the door in the side opens to port, leaving just enough space to slide that big lump of a battery into place, and close the door.  I’ve a cleat on the top edge of the door which takes lashings that come across from the centreline web so once in and the lashings on, its there to stay.

Here's the battery box, its not bolted in yet but its a good fit to the curve of the bottom, the centreline web and the angle of the lowest plank so is well supported.  Oddly enough the real risk is not while sailing, its being bounced around while the boats being towed on its trailer on my way to another adventure.
The battery has to be lifted though that hatch opening on the right, placed in the box and the door closed as below, then the door lashed closed to a cleat, yet to be fitted, on the centre spine. Its the lip on the door and the lip on the back wall of the box that holds the battery in place within the box.

The electrical feed to and from the battery will go up the side of the mast box to a plastic kitchen container, through holes in the side which will then be sealed around the wires, to a bus bar set.  The container has a removable lid so I will be able to get at things, the wiring then goes across to a switch set mounted on the inside of the hatch so when I want to get at it, I open the hatch, press the switch and close it again.  All secure, out of the wet, but accessible.

I’ve begun running wires, there will be quite a lot of them, and all this needs to be done before I put the side decks on.

John Welsford

I had a great summer sailing in Spook.

I'll get back with a more comprehensive report, but in the meantime here is a pic taken by Jon Tucker while sailing in the Bay of Islands.  The pic pretty much says it all.