Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cabinet doors

We cut out the face panel for the head's cabinet and set to work on making a door for it.
A couple of decades ago an ol' shipwright taught me how to build these doors.
They are easy to make, allow good ventilation, and are surprisingly strong.

You can make them any size, I like my frames to be 1.5 inches wide and about 7/8" thick to allow them to be routered down making a rabbet around the edge to inset them into the door frame. This leaves me with a half inch thickness atop the panel face.

Once the frames are cut I run them through the saw with the blade set to half an in depth to make the groove for the slats.
We made the slats by ripping boards to the width we wanted then running them through the table saw to get the strips. A thickness planer was used to clean em up and get them all to a uniform thickness.
Then several coats of finish was applied and after they were nice and dry they were cut to length on a chop saw. This is by far the most tedious and time consuming part of the process. I usually spend a day and make a large number of slats at one time and apply the finish and store them in long strips. That way when ever I get the urge to make a door I have plenty of slats on hand and  just have to cut them to length and the door can be assembled very quickly.
I bevel the ends of the slats slightly to make inserting them easier.
For the frame I like to inset the top and bottom rails a half inch into the side rails. this hides the groove for the slats when the door is viewed from the top (or bottom). A screw can be driven into the top and bottom rails from the sides if you like to stiffen it up and covered with a nice wood plug.
The slats are simply popped into place without glue (none is needed) working from one end to the other.
When we decide what the length of the door should be we typically divide it by the width of the slats and then adjust the length slightly so that the last slat fits perfectly without trimming the width.
I forgot to do this on this door so the last slat is a little narrower as a result,...but it will be at the bottom and no one but me will know!.....well, and all of you now..... 
Bending in the last slat.
Test fitting the door and panel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Shore power plugs

One of our suppliers passed on this article (picture below) that was published in Latitude 38 magazine.
I found it interesting and wanted to post it here for others to read.
As a marine surveyor I often go to a meticulously cared for vessel to perform a survey and find the ends of the shore power cord to be badly worn and in need of replacement.  It amazes me how something that gets handled every time the vessel leaves the dock can be left to deteriorate to the point where it causes so much resistance that it causes a melt down or in the extreme case in the article, almost kills someone.
If your plug is worn it would serve you well to replace it. I have seen insurance claims denied for fire damage caused by faulty receptacle plugs, it is often considered a maintenance issue and as such is not covered.
When unplugging the shore power cord from the vessel turn off the main circuit breaker on the vessels electrical panel before unplugging the vessel. Ideally this should be done on the dockside panel but they are often locked or otherwise inaccessible. When the plug is disconnected while energized it creates little arcs that cause minute pitting on the connectors. The pits fill with carbon deposits that are created when it arcs, the carbon creates resistance that leads to more arcing, more pitting, more carbon, etc. Before to long you have created significant resistance in the connection and are well on the way to a melt down.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving along

Lately the focus has been on finishing up loose ends.
A wash-down fixture was mounted on the foredeck and tied into the water pump for the toilet inlet. The toilet inlet water pump does three jobs now; provides water for the toilet, the deck wash-down, and a faucet at the head sink. There is no discharge  thru-hulls anywhere near the intake so their is no threat of contaminating the incoming water. The head discharges directly into the holding tank and is pumped overboard from time to time when permitted, or drawn thru a deck suction fitting when required. 
I plumbed a tee into the toilet discharge line and took it up to a deck fitting so that when pumping the holding tank the deck cap can be removed and a water hose used to flush the holding tank.

A ball valve was placed on the discharge side of the holding tank  and a macerator pump was plumbed in.
I got the pump from a customer who wanted a replacement pump as he considered this one to be too noisy.
I took it apart and cleaned, sanitized, and rebuilt it, put in new check valves and installed it my boat.
The disassembly and cleaning was a thoroughly disgusting job as there was a significant buildup of foul deposits that needed to be scraped and picked at to remove them from the orifices. Even though I saved a few hundred bucks on the pump I don't think its a task I'd care to repeat!
A two way valve was installed and the discharge line plumbed into it. From there one side of the valve went up to a deck suction fitting and the other through a vented loop to the overboard discharge thru-hull.
The last connections were made to the holding tank vent and filter and now the toilet system is finished and operational....although not tested at this time. It feels good to have another system completed and struck from the "to-do" list.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


We plan on launching the boat this January or February and are at a stage in construction where there is plenty of individual projects left to do. Rather than trying to map out a rigid schedule we typically climb the ladder to the boat and work on whatever job we feel like tackling that night. I find the flexible approach to be more productive for our crew....its all got to be done before she sails so if one feels like cutting and fitting "have at it" ...if electrical is your interest break out the wire! 

Speaking of wire, we've been tackling some of that lately. I decided that the led lighting and low current draw items would be easier to run from two Blue Seas fuse boxes mounted forward rather than running everything back to the panel. I located one of the boxes in the head on the port side and the other in the V-berth hanging locker on the starboard side. The small loads for the port side run into the head fuse box and the starboard side loads run into the hanging locker. The fuse blocks are wired back to independent breakers on the main panel.

So far we have an LED two way light over the galley (shines red or white), a spot reading light for the starboard settee / berth that currently has a G4 bulb that we will swap out for an LED bulb, and a surface mounted LED light in the head that shines, red, white, or blue. The crew calls it our patriotic light.
A gold plated Cantaloupi light is mounted to the aft cabin wall above the chart table and doubles as a chart light and reading light for the port settee / berth. We installed an LED bulb in it to keep the power demands low. Its remarkable how far LED lighting has come. You can get almost every type of bulb in an LED now. Its great for retrofitting existing lights into low power drawing lights without breaking the bank.

The original plan was to use all gold plated fixtures below decks and stainless on deck thereby reducing the need to polish as the stainless and gold plating doesn't tarnish like brass and bronze.
We managed to purchase only the one gold plated fixture before reality climbed aboard and we realized we would not have enough "fun tokens" (money) to outfit her all in gold on our budget! It does look awfully nice over the chart table though, the gold sparkling in the light. Perhaps someday we will retrofit the rest......perhaps.

We found some self adhesive low profile plastic wire chases at the local Lowes hardware store and used them to run the wires in on the surface of the cabin.
While at Lowes we spotted a low profile strip of six outlets and bought it and installed it behind the port settee back. It was a bugger to install back there but its a great place for it. The A/C wiring comes out of the panel into a GFI duplex outlet above the shelf on the port side Settee. From there it goes down and into the strip of outlets then carries on through the head and into the V-berth and ends in a duplex outlet. 
The entertainment system will be wired into the strip, things that aren't usually unplugged until they fail, DVD player, Hi def TV, Bose system, etc. Their wires will be hidden and tucked up out of the way.
The two Duplex outlets will be used for laptop computers, cell phones, etc.

Installing Deck and Cabin fittings

We placed the cowl for the chain locker onto the deck and moved it around until we were satisfied with the location. As the chain locker is a self draining watertight compartment there was no need to install a dorade box under the cowl.

 A hole saw was used to cut the hole, starting on deck and cutting through about halfway then finishing the cut from under the deck drilling upwards. Cutting the hole from both sides prevents fragmenting the laminate as often happens when pushing through from one side.

Once the hole was made the Fein Multimaster was used to remove the core material between the laminate and the void was filled with a mixture of West System Epoxy and colloidal silica.

Once cured a drum sander was ran around inside the hole to clean up any epoxy spurs and ensure we had a uniform surface. The fitting was then bedded in 3M fast curing 4200.

The same method was used to cut the hole for the bulkhead compass. The notch at the bottom was cut out using a small flat blade on the Fein Multimaster tool.

In response to the comment below and request for information; here is some pictures of the blades we have used in the MultiMaster tool.
The above blade we used to remove core materiel
The above blade was used to cut the lower portion of the compass hole


I really like the above blade with the flat portion. You can keep the flat edge very close to a shelf (for instance) and cut the bulkhead  neatly and flush to the shelf.

We have found the scraper blade  to be very fast at removing stubborn materiel. We used it a lot when re-coring portions of the deck to remove the balsa core and also on the hatches and window frames for removing old hatch gaskets and sealants. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Power of the probe

Soon it will be time to hang the rudder back onto the boat.
Derek used the video scope to examine the rudder tube and ensure we left no voids or pockets that could cause problems later. Its a very useful tool and we can capture images or record video with it.
It was Derek's first time using the scope and as you can see by the picture he was suitably "wowed" by it.
The shaft and cutlass bearing is temporarily placed while we design the motor platform. 

There be tunes aboard!

With the majority of the dust making out of the way we brought the entertainment system aboard to install.
A Bose stereo system was installed and a nineteen inch Hi definition TV was mounted to the bulkhead on an articulated mount. We still have to tidy up the wiring for it all but its nice to have a high quality sound system playing while we work.
We thought it only fitting that the first movie to be shown aboard was "Yves Gelinas With Jean-de-Sud Around The World". The crew really enjoyed it and it was (and still is) played over and over while we work.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Now that all the nonskid is down we've been busy bolting down hardware.
All the rails and stanchions are in as are the main-sheet traveler and jib and genny tracks.
We put the fore and aft hatch hinges on the buffer and polished em up and got em installed and the hatches mounted. Both hatches were reinforced with several layers of roving and bi-axial cloth to stiffen them up. Taco neoprene hatch seal was used as a gasket on the hatches and cockpit lockers. Its a hollow "D" that compresses and seals very nicely. 
Gary suggested getting the prop shop to polish the rest of the old hardware, they have a $10,000 polisher they place the props in and it shines em up nice. I liked the idea and sent the rest of the hardware to them for polishing. Should be back in two days and we will see how it looks, the old chrome was peeling and hopefully they will be restored to polished bronze again.


We hope to get her in the water before the big freeze hits and have been plugging away getting as much done as we can.
We masked off the cockpit and applied Pettit Easy Poxy semigloss "buff" paint. This is the same paint we used on the window frames. We decided it would not look as dirty as quickly as the white would in the cockpit.
We unmasked the area and let it cure up for a few days then re-masked it and applied KiwiGrip to the nonskid areas. When we unmasked the area we were surprised by how dark the semigloss looks next to the much lighter  nonskid, if it didn't come out of the same can as the paint we used on the window frames I'd swear it was an entirely different color!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


After Jessie had the window frames picked as clean as possible we brushed on some strong paint stripper to remove the really stubborn deposits. A medium scotch-pad  was used with a little water to scour off the last of the sealant after the stripper had gone to work on the frame.
Jerry from Perception Plastics stopped by to have a look and gave me some tips on making templates for the windows. "don't use corrugated cardboard as it makes a frilly edge that cant be followed precisely when cutting out the material,  use poster board or something like it". I had some thin sheets of stiff foam that is used for building radio controlled model aircraft that was a good material for the job so Jared and I set about making templates.
Once the templates were done and on their way to the fabrication shop we continued getting the frames ready.
They were sanded to bright metal, wiped with awlprep and primed. Two coats of Pettit semigloss Easy-poxy was sprayed on as a finish.
 A few days later Jerry delivered the finished, 3/8" thick, acrylic panes for the windows. They were cut out precisely and were a perfect fit. I wanted a light tint to help keep out some of the UV rays and keep the cabin cooler. The acrylic only came in clear or bronze and the bronze was too dark for maintaining good visibility at night so we decided to tint them ourselves. We bought a light tint from the local Napa store, cleared the lunchroom table and got to it. The literature on the box stated that the tint wold block out 50% of the UV rays. That seemed like a happy compromise, a nice light tint that would block half the UV rays but still enable us to have good visibility out the window at night.
I rough cut the tint to be a little bigger than the window panes while Jared mixed up a batch of soapy water in a spray bottle. We misted the pane with the soapy solution then applied the tint and used a plastic squeegee to chase out air bubbles and smooth it down. The edges were trimmed with a razor blade and the panes set aside to dry. 
Once dry the windows and frames were assembled without sealant to ensure everything was ok. The panes and the adjacent cabin sides were masked off to make cleaning up the caulking a little easier.  3M UV4000 sealant was used for the final assembly as it will not damage the plastic. After assembly we waited about fifteen or twenty minutes for the sealant to start to gel and then used a West Systems plastic mixing stick to remove the excess sealant. The Mixing stick has a fairly sharp edge that removes the sealant easily but wont scratch the acrylic or painted cabin side and the gelled sealant lifts right off without smearing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kiwigrip nonskid continued

I received many emails asking if Kiwi Grip would cover the tread pattern molded into existing nonskid areas without the need to sand down the existing nonskid. As I had sanded mine down before I discovered KiwiGrip I didn't know if it would cover well or not. I had one piece that still had the original nonskid on it and this weekend I applied Kiwigrip to it and am happy to report it covers well without the need for sanding down the existing nonskid texture. In fact it applied easier and more uniform than the sanded areas, the roller didn't slide at all as it can sometimes do when using a light pressure to finish rolling out the product.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bits and pieces

Jessie tackled cleaning all the old sealant off of the window frames. It was a tough job but he stayed with it and got-er-done! Thanks Jessie!
While he was working on the frames I sanded the old wood coamings from the cockpit.
It was quite soiled and I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I used the Fess sander / vac combination and started with 40 grit paper and worked up to 320 grit. It came out looking fantastic!
The Fess sander is a very high quality unit that I inherited from Dennis, a fellow boat-builder and friend who died of cancer last year before he was able to complete his beloved vessel. He was a fine craftsman and was far more skilled than I am at woodworking. His custom built laminated wood hatches, counters, and tables often had beautiful little accents and features built into them that made each one a work of art.
 He kept a good attitude right to the end and encouraged me to finish my boat.....we aren't getting any younger and when our time here is up.....we're done. We miss ya Dennis.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Settee Cushions

Now that we had the bunk foam cut and test fit I started pondering what we would do for the back rests.
On my previous small vessels some had one piece bunk cushions and some had a two piece arrangement making it easier to access the lockers below. I quickly learned that the two piece was uncomfortable too sleep on and I much preferred a single bunk cushion. When lying on my back in the bunk the backrest cushion was in the way narrowing the width of the bunk just enough to be very annoying. I used to toss the backrest cushion into the V-berth at bed-time to give a little extra room on the bunk.
So I decided on this vessel I would keep the bunk cushion as one piece and make the backrest cushion a partial that would leave the lower section open and provide a little more width for sleeping.
The drawback to a long bunk cushion is it flops around when trying to move it or gain access to the lockers below it. A good way to solve the problem is to mount the cushion to a thin sheet of plywood.
It makes it far easier to move around and when the cushion is lifted to gain access below, it acts like a locker lid and "hinges" up nicely and takes little effort to hold it there while digging in the locker.
The bunk cushion was laid on a quarter inch thick sheet of plywood and the outline drawn onto the wood.
The wood was trimmed a half inch on all sides to allow for the wrapping of the upholstery.
The foam was then glued to the plywood with contact cement.  Half inch thick low density foam with a scrim was rolled out onto the work table and the cushion was inverted onto it so the plywood bottom was now on top.The foam was pulled up over the sides and stapled down to the plywood. It was then carried aboard and test for fit. The fit was good so we rolled out the vinyl and repeated the process.
The backrest was done in a similar manner but we used two inch medium density foam to start with. We ran the edges through the band-saw with the table set at a forty-five degree angle to give a nice bevel on all sides. Quarter inch foam was glued onto the face of the cushion keeping it back two inches from the  sides. This helped form the gentle radius shape. Then the half inch thick foam was laid out and the cushion was finished in the same manner as the bunk cushion. The finished back-rest was secured to the settee with strips of Velcro.
Jessie and I started in the afternoon and was later joined by Jared and Kyle. Once we got started we wouldn't stop! We all wanted to see the end results before calling it a night.
As the evening wore on Jared broke away from the production line to whip us up a fantastic meal. Hes an amazing cook and before too long he laid out a feast of tempura yams and zucchini complete with dipping sauce, and chicken katsu served on a bed of rice with a lovely lemongrass, coconut curry sauce over it.
The feat was impressive considering he did it all on a one burner hotplate and a small deep fryer.
After the meal we completed the job and installed the cushions. They fit well and everyone had big smiles as we congratulated one was two am, and a major milestone was behind us!
Thank you guys! Thank you very, very, much! It was a tremendous success and a wonderful evening.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bunk Foam

I had originally designed the settees so that they would fit a standard futon width and the port settee would fit a standard length also. This would have saved considerable time and money by simply buying a futon and dropping it in place.  The major disadvantage would be dealing with one very large "cushion" that would be difficult to gain access behind and below it.
We have been doing several large vessel interior refits at the shop lately and the crew has become proficient at wrapping panels and dealing with headliner, carpet, and foams, so I decided to go ahead and build the cushions in house rather than taking the easier futon route.
We bought some medium flex high density foam and set to templating the settee bunks.
We stacked 2x4's two high to simulate the thickness of the foam. This allowed for the angled seat-back and ensured the top of the foam would not be too narrow due to the angle.
We used the wood strips and hot glue gun method and made a template in the usual way then took it below and laid it on the foam and drew it out with a felt pen. An electric knife was purchased from the local Wal-mart kitchen center and was used to cut the goes through the foam like a hot knife through butter!
The 13 degree seat back angle was cut "free style" by holding the knife at an angle and following the line we drew. It worked ok but I might make a jig for the angles on the rest of the cushions to get a more accurate cut.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Lately we have been making trim and installing it in the boat. Its a very rewarding job and I have an ear to ear grin after each piece goes in as we stand back and admire our handy-work.
We made most of the trim out of Jatoba (Brazilian cherry) milling down the twenty foot long by six inch planks we bought over a year ago for this purpose. The wood is very dense and brutal on our tools. It dulls saw blades and smooths out sand paper very quickly compared to teak or mahogany. When using the router table to shape the pieces it would go along just fine and then randomly catch the grain just right and throw a chunk out of the piece on occasion. The Tech would utter a few colorful metaphors and start all over again, saving what he could in the hope it could be used elsewhere. It didn't seem to matter what depth or what shape of bit was used, or if it was new or old, every now and then it would throw a chip out and we got used to the fact.
Sometimes it enabled us to get creative as with the vertical trim going into the threw a chip on the last run through after the piece had been milled and almost completely formed. We didn't want to start over so we cut a forty-five degree bevel along the one side of the face where the chip was. In the end we all liked it better than the original, it made the profile on the face look a little narrower and it balanced visually with the piece on the other side of the door frame.
When we milled the boards down we typically used the table saw to get the rough dimensions and then ran the boards though the thickness planer. After that it was shaped using the table saw and router table and then sanded starting with 80 grit and working up to 600 grit. All the pieces have soft corners with varying degrees of raduis on them. The radius had to be hand sanded and we quickly learned to wear gloves as the wood had fine splinters that were needle sharp that would cause a nasty sliver to the bare hand. Once the finish was applied the grain toughened right up and by the time we got six or seven coats on and the final 600 grit sanding done it was like polishing glass. The look was worth the hard work to get there!

Monday, July 12, 2010


The interior is coming together nicely and its been very rewarding to move off of sanding and sanding, and more sanding .........and move on to installing things. Over the last three years I have been purchasing items for the the boat and putting them in storage so I would have them on hand when it came time to install them.
Its been like Christmas morning every day as we open a box and pull some treasure out of storage and turn it over in hand, admiring it before carrying it up the ladder and into the boat to be installed. The electrical distribution panel was carried aboard, as was several plumbing parts and fixtures. The solar panel and wind generator was placed gently to one side, its not your time yet. The light fixtures and deck cowls were placed in line, soon to be carried aboard. The box containing the shortwave radio receiver and plotting tools, binoculars, etc. were carried up the ladder and placed about the area for the chart table to see how they'd fit.
The top for the chart table was then templated and cut out of half inch plywood. A five inch shelf was left along the bulkhead aft and outboard under the distribution panel to accommodate the shortwave, binoculars,etc.
A thin sheet of cork with self adhesive backing was laid down over the area. I went to the local sportsman outfitters looking for some cork sealer that is used by fishing rod builders but none carried it in stock. I remembered reading on-line that some of the rod builders also used "Tru-oil", the brand name of a product that is used to finish gun stocks. I found a bottle and purchased it but was very skeptical......I didn't care for oil finishes in the boat as they tend to pick up dust and dirt and our shop is on one very dusty road. I applied several coats to a scrap piece of cork and was impressed with the results. It hardened up to a tough shiny surface like an old fashioned shellac. I used it on the cork and it turned out just right, a hard shiny surface that still had some flexible properties to it that other users promised  would not crack or shrink over time.

Friday, July 2, 2010


The plumbing is moving right along. I tee'd off of the head intake pump and ran a line forward into the anchor locker for a deck wash-down and ran a line to the head sink for a seawater tap. There is no discharge anywhere near the intake thru-hull to contaminate the water. The toilet discharges into the holding tank and then the holding tank will have a discharge thu-hull and deck suction fitting aft near the cockpit.
The fresh water tank is located under the V-berth and I needed to vent it but did not want the vent outside the vessel and possibly contaminated with salt water etc. I ran the vent to the head sink and plumbed it into a brass spigot at the sink, that way its inside the boat and if the tank is overfilled the overflow goes harmlessly down the sink. We installed a whale foot pump for the head sink. We could not reach the lower fastener on the foot pump to install it so we cut a thin piece of aluminum and mounted it to that and then fastened the aluminum into place. 
We plumbed it to a chrome plated spigot at the head sink.

V - Berth

The V-berth is coming along nicely.
We cut Jatoba planks and used a thickness planer to clean them up and get them to a uniform size.
They were sanded up to 320 grit disks then several coats of Poly Wipe was applied, sanding with 600 grit every three coats thereafter. We have all but the little pieces installed now. They were screwed into place without any compound so that they can be easily removed to access the wiring and plumbing behind when required.
A fresh coat of paint was applied to the berth and the hatches were installed.