Friday, November 30, 2012

November 29, 2012 - coming together

Today was a good day on the project list.  I finished the navigation light mount.  I finished prepping the exterior of the flybridge for paint.  This morning before light I tested the new LED cockpit light that I'm going to be installing.  It has 3 light colors in one fixture.  White, Red, or Blue.  It draws almost no electricity and it is plenty bright.  They are outdoor rated (for wet conditions) and the frames are powder-coated stainless steel so they will last a long time.

One LED light fixture, in "white" mode.

Same fixture, now in "night vision preserving" red.

Same fixture, now in "cool" blue.
I'm not sure I will ever use the blue color, but maybe.  The kids like the blue the best so far.  White will get used most, but red is almost essential because at night you can still see around the cockpit without destroying your night vision.  Try looking at a white light then looking outside at night.  Ever notice that it takes a minute or two to before you can see in the dark again.  If you do the same experiment with a red light, you won't need to wait for your eyes to adjust before you can see outside a gain.  Lots of boats are equipped with red interior lights for night (and so are fighter planes, submarines, ships, etc).  With the red lights you can walk around the boat in safety AND still have your night vision so you can see beyond the boat at night.  I'm really happy I found these lights.  In case you are interested in them, they are made by i2systems. click here for info on these lights

Anyway, many other projects are now coming together.  I am checking off items from my list quickly now, which is making me feel better.

The 3 sliding doors have now been primed with two-part high-build epoxy primer.  They received 4 coats of paint this afternoon and will now need to be sanded smooth in preparation for the final/finish epoxy coat.

Sal getting ready to prime the sliding doors.

Sal applying the first coat of high-build primer.  The doors got 4 coats.

4 coats of primer later.  Hey they are white again!
The flybridge is now basically ready for paint.  I have another couple of hours of work sanding a little bit of fairing compound (like automotive body filler) and then I turn the job over to Sal to paint.

Ready to paint, finally.  I bet I spent at least 30 hours getting this ready.
I used an air grinder to grind out all the cracks in the fiberglass where the flybridge attaches to the floor.  Then I filled my groove with an epoxy filler.  And of course there was a lot of sanding involved to make it smooth.  But, the cracks should be gone forever...

Cracks in the fiberglass removed and filled with grey epoxy filler.

Closeup of the repair job.
I am about ready to install the bottom and side rails for the salon sliding door.  They were both damaged during the trip up the coast from California.  I had to make quite a few repairs to the wood rails.  But, I'm done now and I think it is going to be stronger than new when I'm done.  I expect this will last another 30 years before someone has to deal with it again.  I hope that's not me!  :-)   I decided to make my own teak wood plugs to hide all the screws that hold these rails in place.  I want a nice clean look with no screws visible.

I have cut my own wood plugs out of a nice block of teak.
Two sizes of wood plug installed.  They need to be trimmed and sanded flush.

The back side of the two larger plugs.  This is where the door "catch" goes
to latch the salon door shut.  The screws had stripped out the wood and so
someone just put bolts all the way though.  It looked bad.  The only solution
was to install new wood so that screws could be used once again.

We are having a new swim step made for the boat.  The existing one is not deep enough.  With the transom overhang you really only have a little over 12" to walk on.  So we are extending it another 12", which will double the walking room.  Also, it will be wider at the sides than it is in the middle.  Our transom has quite a curve to it and there is no reason to duplicate this curve exactly at the outside edge of the swim step   The guys were over last night to make a template for the new swim step   It will be fiberglass, not teak like we have now.  This should make it maintenance free!

Our swim step when we bought the boat.  Still looking pretty good.
Our swim step now.  Not looking so good.  
What our new step will look like.  Wider at the sides
than in the middle.  Pop-up cleats.  Fiberglass.
And best of all:  Maintenance Free!
So, that's it for now.  A lot is going on right now.  Our boat will be quite different when we put her back in the water.  Lots of things will be upgraded and/or repaired.  A lot of things will be looking much better with new paint.  But the biggest improvement is going to be the new stabilizers, which should be arriving in about 2 weeks.  Perfect timing, as I hope to be done with the paint shop projects by then.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28, 2012 - Project update

Progress seems to be going very slowly, despite my spending 10-12 hours a day on the boat.  But, I guess I've got a lot of projects going on and I'm jumping from one to another, so nothing is actually being completed, yet.  I work on one item, then move to another while glue/fiberglass/filler/caulk are drying/curing.  Things are definitely moving forward, but I'm a bit frustrated by my inability to check off much of anything substantial from my long list of tasks.  I'm sure at some point I'll be furiously checking them off, but not yet.

The 3 exterior doors are now ready for paint, after about 20 hours of my time.  A few days ago I soaked them with penetrating epoxy (4 coats at 1 hour intervals) and then let that cure for two days.  I sanded them today to get a good smooth surface, scuffed and ready for paint.

Sanding the penetrating epoxy so the high-build epoxy primer will
get a good grab.  It's a shame to paint these beautiful doors, but I want
a long lasting finish, and paint is the most durable and maintenance free.

I have rebuilt the salon sliding door upper track, and the side rail.  Both were damaged on the trip up the coast.  I have added several more screws to attach them to the wall, and I'm using 3M 5200 fast-cure marine structural adhesive/caulk to attach them.  They will NOT come loose again!  They will get painted white, just like the doors, very soon.  I cut (made) some mahogany wood plugs to fill the screw holes yesterday.  One last tighten of the screws in the morning, after the 5200 has cured.  Then I can glue in the plugs, trim them flush, and then soak it all with penetrating epoxy in preparation for the two-part epoxy paint.

The upper door frame reattached.  It is VERY solid now.

Close-up of the door stopper.  This broke off during the trip up
from California.  The door slammed into it over and over again
in rough seas.  It now has it's own big screw attaching it to the wall.
Next I have to tackle the pilothouse door frames.  One upper rail is loose and all of it needs to be repainted. I have decided to remove the lower salon slider rail.  It is slightly loose after the trip from California, and it is in need of paint.  I expect this to eat up the better part of a day.  Yuck.

I am just about done with the stern navigation light mount.  It's been a ton of work.  Way more time has gone into making this than I expected.  But hey, it's a boat, so that's par for the coarse.

The new light pod, almost ready to be painted.  A little more work with the
finishing filler and I'll be done.
I'm just about done prepping the flybridge for painting.  Maybe another day of work and it will be ready.  This too has taken a lot more time than I expected.  But looking back at it there was a lot to deal with.  I can't wait to see it get painted!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 25, 2012 - project update

Well I didn't get through my list for the weekend.  I didn't even manage to check off half of the items.  But, it is a boat after all.  Things always take WAY longer than expected.

The three doors are now sanded and ready to be saturated with penetrating epoxy.  Tomorrow I will coat them with penetrating epoxy giving it a coat every hour or so until it won't take any more.  Once it hits that point (where the epoxy doesn't soak in anymore) the door needs to sit for a day or two.  This will give the two-part epoxy paint was are using for the exterior a good "bite".  They say that this paint job on the doors should last 10 years.  I sure hope so.

3 doors ready to be painted.

I have the salon door frame at home so I can repair it.  It took a long time to get off the boat, but I now have an easy fix that should be much stronger than the original design.  I also removed the trim from the inside of the old hatch.  It was bedded with some really goopy adhesive that didn't want to let go.  I had todestroy the wood getting it removed.  But it's gone now.

hatch almost gone.  It will soon be a nice clean ceiling.
I've been cleaning up the "boat deck"; removing all of the flaws.  I am gringin out the flaws and filling hem with fiberglass which I then sand down until it is flush with the deck.  This is the best way to go as it eliminated any potential for a small patched hole to "let go" and cause a leak in the future.  I also filled all of the old railing mounts as I want to change the railing to better accept our two kayaks, and perhaps solar panels (for future use in Mexico).  Plus, when we re-orient the dinghy our railing will have to change to accept the dinghy.

The LARGE boat deck being repaired.  This is a big boat deck.
I continue to work on the new rear navigation light pod.  The US Coast Guard has specific requirements for navigation lights (depending on the size of the vessel) and I'm making sure that our boat meets the latest requirements.  Actually, I'm meeting the requirements for an even larger boat (66', or 20 meters, and longer).  It will make our boat more visible at night, which to me is an important safety factor.

The new light pod ready to be faired
So, if had to guess right now, I don't think we will be painting this week.  I still have a lot going on before that can happen.  This is turning out to be quite a big project!  And the big project hasn't even started yet; our stabilizers.  Yikes!

Friday, November 23, 2012

November 23, 2012 - another project

The boat in the paint shop at La Conner Maritime.
I have a nice warm dry place to work, which is great.
I knew I forgot a project on my last post.  I'm installing a new LED navigation light on the stern of the boat.  Our old one was not very bright, and stuck up enough to be vulnerable to being broken off, or tripping someone.  The new one is a 3 mile (visibility) modern LED stern light.  The problem is that there is no way to mount a modern light back there without building a custom mount for it.  So that is what I started to do today.

Old light and new light housing.  There's no good way to attach  this
to a curved surface.  I have to make a new "pod" for it.

Light pod bonded into place.  Ready to start glassing it.  It will look factory when I'm done.

The new light "pod" partially built.  Outside fiberglassed into place.

Here are a few pictures of the pilothouse door refinishing project.  It takes about 5 hours to strip a door down to bare wood.  Most of the old paint comes off with a heat gun and putty knife.  Then a quick sanding to get it perfectly smooth and flat.

One pilothouse door before stripping.
Closeup showing why we need to refinish these doors.  Yuck!

One pilothouse door partially stripped down.  Looking good.
Well it's time to head back to the boat now to carry on.....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22, 2012 - projects underway

The boat is now out of the water.  The mast and dinghy davit have been removed.

About to be hauled out by the travelift.

About to get the bottom pressure washed.  The paint looked GREAT for
being in the water for 1.5 years.  
There goes the radar mast.

We are removing the hatch that covered the opening between the cockpit and the boat deck (you can see the opening in hte left side of the boat deck in the above picture).  There used to be a ladder there but we removed it.  The hatch is partially covered by the dinghy so it cannot be opened with the dinghy up top, so it's mostly useless.  The hatch is rotting and looks terrible.  But worse, the hatch prevents us from locating the dinghy where we really want it.  So, the hatch has got to go.  We are having La Conner Maritime fill the hatch opening with fiberglass.  When they are done you will never know that hatch was there.

Once we got into this project I decided to remove the cockpit ceiling lights, which were big clunky things that were rusty and looked terrible.  The problem is that removing them left two huge cavities in the ceiling.  So, La Conner Maritime is going to fill those while they are at it and make them disappear so I can then mount two modern, flush-mounted, LED light fixtures.

The two lights removed, and the hatch that will disappear

The light holes are being filled with fiberglass.  Next comes the hatch opening.
While we were doing all these fiberglass repairs I decided this is the best possible time to deal with one known moisture issue in the deck. So, I cut into the spot with the highest moisture content (as indicated by my hi-tech moisture meter).  It was indeed wet inside.

Standing water in the end-grain balsa coring.  This is BAD news on on a boat!
So, with my moisture meter I marked off the boundary between high moisture and normal/low moisture and then began cutting into the fiberglass deck.  Once the fiberglass was removed we could see exactly what was going on.  Fortunately, the moisture hadn't traveled too far and it will be a relatively easy fix for La Conner Maritime.

Not what a boat owner wants to see.  Water damaged
coring in their decks.

The deck opened up and a new 3/4" thick piece of solid fiberglass installed
where the dinghy davit pole passes through.  There will be no chance of a
future leak causing damage, and it will be much stronger than before.
I used my moisture meter to inspect the entire deck and found two other areas with high moisture and we are fixing these also.  They are much smaller.  Once these repairs are done we should be good for another 20+ years.  The guys in the yard commented on how thick the fiberglass deck is on our boat.  It's a testament to what a solid boat Hatteras builds!

My buddy Sal working on the big repair.  Another one is near the bottom right
of this picture.  The other is next to the hatch opening.

Fixing a relatively small area of wet coring.  This is easy to do while we are
filling that hatch opening since it right next to it.

Sal working on the hatch removal.  Just to the right is the repair of a water soaked
balsa core repair.

Since I've got to paint the boat deck once these repairs are done, I decided to go ahead and deal with the foredeck.  It has a bunch of little "battle scars" that needed to be ground out, filled with fiberglass, sanded smooth, and then painted.  I will be painting the entire foredeck.  I am almost done with these repairs now.

Repairing a bunch of small nicks, dings, and failed past repairs.
But by far the biggest paint project is repainting the flybridge.  It was looking bad.  I removed all of old antennas, the navigation lights, hte old searchlight, two horns, a PA speaker, and all the old snaps for long-gone canvas.  I patched all of the holes and now I am sanding it all in preparation for painting.

Sanding the flybridge.  It will be repainted and new antennas installed.
I'm also stripping the pilothouse doors down to bare wood so they can be refinished.  I will also repaint the pilothouse door frames.  Another much needed project is to repair the salon door jamb (the door that goes to the cockpit).  That door frame got damaged on the trip up the coast and badly needs to be fixed.

So, there is a lot going on in the paint shop right now!  I may have even forgot to mention a project or two here, as I've got a lot of irons in the fire right now.  I hope we can pull it all together within the next week or so and the painting can begin.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November 09, 2012 - Big projects about to begin

As I mentioned, I've been in a US Coast Guard Captain's certification class for two months.  I've also been working on a major project; completely wiring a commercial crab boat from scratch.  It has been an incredibly busy two months.  I have had virtually no free time, not even weekends or evenings for two months.  So, we haven't been boating at all since our summer trip to Canada.  This is perhaps the longest spell we have had in 10+ years without going boating.  And it's going to continue.

Next week we haul the boat out of the water so we can do some major upgrades.  We are having a new, bigger swim platform (swimstep) built.  We are going to have the flybridge repainted and I will move antennas around so we can get the boat name put on the side of the flybridge (US CG requirement for documented vessels).  I am taking down the radar mast to fix the broken hinge at the bottom and to add mounts for a second radar, a satellite TV dome, a remote control spotlight, hailer speakers/horns, deck lighting, and a new weather station sensor.  I will also install two new LED navigation lights and new LED anchor light.

I will also install a new Depth sounder transducer, and some new through-hull fittings (for another washdown pump, a sea water spigot at the galley sink, and the sea water intake for our watermaker).

But the big project is the installation of Naiad stabilization fins.  These are computer controlled underwater wings that virtually eliminate the side to side motion (roll) of a boat while underway.  They are simply amazing.  It will totally transform our boat when we get into heavy seas.  Most long range power cruisers that venture offshore have stabilizers these days; the difference in comfort level is almost beyond description.

I will be posting pictures as the projects get underway.....