View the Archives | Subscribe to Posts [Atom]

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rudder and Hull

Finally got to sneak off from work a little early after trying to do that all week. Decided that the rudder would take way too much sanding so took a few thin passes with the planer to get down towards the resin, should be good to epoxy coat after a bit of sanding now, once the bottom is rebuilt. Looks a bit like a crazy piece of modern art right now

Kept going with the hull blisters, almost done, and we mixed up a little epoxy putty and testing techniques for filling them, which looks like it should be a fairly straightforward job.

And helped Kevin finish off the canoe repair, which is looking good and a nice test of fibreglassing skills.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Still sanding, and work inside

Still working away at sanding and grinding. Getting there. 

Been taking down all the headlining sections inside, so we can see all the fittings and fixings coming through the deck, identify the places where we've got leakes, release the hardware for when the deck comes off and have access for any new wiring. The headlining is trimmed with hundreds of carefully cut pieces of teak, so they all get mapped out, removed and labelled. Max is great help for this sort of thing.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Dropping the Rudder

The rudder has damage to the bottom edge, probably from being grounded hard some time. That must have happened before I bought the boat :-)

So as a bit of a break from sanding and grinding, Adam and I dug a hole beneath the rudder, took out all the bolts and stood there as nothing happened.

The middle bracket was pretty firmly glassed in with fillets of epoxy, and we had to chisel and grind away at that to get it to begin to move, with some pretty firm taps with a lump of 2x6 timber on each side. Slowly but surely, the rudder moved downwards.

Eventually we got it all the way out and found out just how immensely heavy it is. I'd been doing some research, and expected it to be built of a stainless steel frame around the rudder stock, then infilled with wood or maybe foam, and all covered in a fibreglass skin. 

The problem with this construction is that once water gets in, the wood rots and swells, and you have to cut it out and replace the core. Water together with stainless steel in an enclosed structure causes crevice corrosion, threatening the integrity of the joints between the stock and the frame and leading, eventually, to a break that lets the stock turn without moving the rudder. That's pretty catastrophic if it happens at sea.  

This rudder, though, is heavier than I expected for that construction. The two of us couldn't lift it, we put it on rollers and pushed it around to a spot under the boat for a closer look. Out with the hole saw and a couple of sample cores revealed that it is solid glass fibre. That explains the weight, and is also great news, there's no rotten core, no voids to hold water and create that corrosion. The damage at the bottom is delamination, but that can be cut away and re-glassed pretty easily.   

Ty Dewi looks a little odd without the big barn door rudder at the back

And, because you just have to keep going, we pretty much finished the sanding of the hull around the waterline, just a few feet left at the starboard stern. 

Monday, May 01, 2017

Find'em and Grind'em

Dusty work this weekend, continuing to prepare the hull for the epoxy bottom treatment I'm using (Coppercoat). The boat has a mild case of osmosis - leftover chemicals from the manufacturing process react very slowly with moisture to form bubbles, or blisters, just below the surface of the hull.

At this level, in a hull an inch thick, it's pretty much cosmetic and we've happily left it for ten years. But the slow bulging of the surface can force the coating to flake and separate. Since we're going to a lot of effort and expense with the Coppercoat, it makes sense to fix as much of this as possible.

That means locating the blisters and grinding them back to solid fibreglass, then letting the hull dry out through the summer and filling them in with epoxy filler in August.

The first photo shows the white spots that reveal the blisters - white because there's a thin unbonded gap between the surface layer and the resin beneath. The black is paint that hasn't been fully sanded off yet.

In the second photo, I've ground out the blister until we are back at solid laminate, and marked each one so we know where to go with the filler later. It's a dusty job, I've got a respirator, goggles, ear muffs and look more like I belong in a Doctor Who episode.

Blisters show as white spots
Grind out each one and mark for filling

While I have the sander, grinder, scaffold and protective gear all set up, I've also been getting rid of the last of the paint around the waterline. It's slow work but finally showing a real difference. Before...and after

Before sanding the waterline

Down to bare hull

And between the sanding, usually when the rain showers came through, I moved along a couple of other looming tasks. More cleaning and scraping of the bilge area around the stern gland - this is actually getting fairly close to being paintable, even though it hardly looks that way.

And decided to go looking for the chainplates - the steelwork that holds the mast up. These are original and almost certainly in need of replacement, inspection at the very least. The bad news, well known with these older boats, is that the builders set them into the hull and completely covered them in fibreglass. 

I cut away the back of a kitchen cupboard to check on this and sure enough - there it is, a tell tale large bulge of glass fibre covering the chainplate. Well, time to research and then get busy slicing it all out. This is a tough job. 

I've found a couple of good reference sites from people who've done a similar task:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Un-wiring and revealing

Having decided that we'll fully rewire, it's so much easier to tidy up the engine compartment. Just pull through the wiring we're going to keep - mostly the antenna cables and other instrumentation, and then tear out everything else. Max came and helped me extract as many cables as possible without slicing them, so we've got good long runs to reuse, and then we tidied everything else. There were quite a few completely redundant cables, not connected at either end...!

That done, the bilge and engine compartment were a very dirty big hole ready to be cleaned up. A day's work with scraper, detergent, wire wheel and elbow grease makes quite a change. I've also cut away some of the plywood sides to expose the fuel tanks, we'll keep doing more of that and tidying up until we can be sure of the condition of everything and start rebuilding.

Before.....and after

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cleaner engine, cleaner hull

Having got the engine out of the boat, now we can inspect and clean it properly before starting work. I'd built a sort of tray of poly sheet into the base, on top of the pallet, so we could wash the engine down and catch the dirty water without it going all over the yard.

So Issie got busy with the degreaser spray and and old paintbrush, while I built a little shed to cover the engine and keep out the dust and rain. All looking much tidier now. The plywood sides are all on hinges so they fold down when we're working on the engine.

The next day, my friend Adam had volunteered to help with scraping and sanding the hull. That's a seriously nice offer I wasn't going to turn down, so we cleared all the area under the hull, got out the scrapers, sander, planer and grinder and set to work.

Seven hours of hard labour later and we've made huge progress, with all the waterline paint planed off and ready for sanding, almost every area of paint on the rest of the hull scraped off and nearly half of it sanded to provide the keying for the new epoxy coat that will go on in late summer.

There's quite a lot of small osmosis blisters. They aren't a big problem except that if they grow, they might loosen the epoxy coat, so I'll grind them out and fill the resulting dimples once the hull has had a summer to dry out. Big thanks to friends on Froogal for suggesting the abrasive wheel for the grinder, which works perfectly for this job. And even bigger thanks to Adam, who just works until there's no more work to be done, and does the things that need to be done without being asked.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Engines Fly

Having cut the new temporary sunroof, a call to the excellent Maverick Crane saw Brett turn up with his rig this afternoon and in less than an hour we had the engine and gearbox down on a pallet beside the boat.

All covered with a tarp now, and I'll build a waterproof box around it then we can work on the engine on sunny days - if we ever get any - and see how much we need to do there.

And now there's that great big empty dirty hole to clean up and make all pretty again.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cleaning and Scraping

Whilst all the engine work was going on, we also got along with more of the general tidying and hull work. Max and his friend Finn came along for an hour or so and worked like troopers emptying out the deck lockers, including the deep lazerette. Lots of old, damp stuff down there. Now it can dry out and be prepped and repainted.

I also tried out some approaches to the very well stuck on paint around the waterline. Even the big belt sander hardly made a mark, but taking the power planer to it with a few very thin passes took off the many layers of paint without harming the epoxy coat underneath. It's tough work, with the heavy power tool making my arms ache, but it works and it'll be good to get that all done and sand the whole hull back to epoxy.


Just four bolts and up she comes. Or maybe not. The engine mounts support 1000lbs of Mr Ford's best ironwork, with four large nuts holding it all down. We pieced together enough extension pieces to the socket set to reach down the two and a bit feet and leant on the ratchet.  Nothing moving. Add a long piece of tube to the ratchet handle and lean on it a lot more. Creak, click, movement. And more, and the first nut is off.

But the second wasn't so easy. Eventually it moved, but it spun the whole stud, we'd sheared or shifted the stud on the engine mount. Now, these mounts will all be replaced anyway, so that's not too bad, but how to free it all up? The mount itself is bedded onto the stringers with two bolts, so we set to it and pulled those. Which worked fine, so on we go, and pulled all the hold-down bolts so we could lift the engine, mounts and all. And lift she did, an eighth of an inch with each crank of the chain hoist.

A pair of come-alongs helped us slide the hoists forward along the lift tubes as we went and inch by inch we got the engine up and onto blocks in the saloon. A little more effort and we had the gearbox separated too, and it's time to think about what next.

The options are to leave it here, work on the engine and drop it back in. Sounds sensible, which is why it's been plan A. But really, I want to degrease and wash the engine, take lots of stuff off and replace, then reassemble and repaint. It means turning the saloon into a workshop for a while yet. And there's so much else to do in there.

So plan B is to get the engine out and off the boat. We get in and out through the companionway hatch. It's not all that big. The engine is smaller than the hole, but only just, and only if you lift it out on end. The opportunity for disaster is significant.

Overnight, I devise plan C. Plan C is actually pretty simple. Cut a bloody big hole in the roof and lift the engine out with a crane. As it happens, the coachroof has some solid structural supports just far enough apart to let the engine come out between them.

We took a core of the roof to see what it was, 1/4" fibreglass, 5/8" ply then another 1/4" glass. That's a lot of strength, and plenty of thickness to lay in new plywood and glass when the engine's back in. So we took the circular saw and sliced ourselves a new hatch. Brutal, but effective.

All we need now is a crane.....

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Rainy day, leaky boat

On a boat, the best place for water is on the outside. But they call these Taiwanese boats 'Leaky Teakys' for a reason. Over the years, there are a thousand places water can find it's way in, most of those thousand are the screws holding down the teak deck, and, beautiful as it is, that deck is coming off. Heaven know what we'll find beneath. 

Today, it was raining outside and water was running along the decks, even below our tarp. Inside, I could feel the damp and decided to go track down one or two of the more troublesome leaks. Removing the lining from one of our lockers showed up one of the trickier problems. This is the diesel fill line, 35 years old. The tube is still in pretty good shape, but the deck fitting is seeping water all around. When we take the decks off, reseating the fitting will solve that. 

In the locker beneath, years of slight leaks have flaked off the paint and left a few stains. Solving the leak and repainting the locker will sort that out.

Up above, behind the headlining, there has to be more trouble. But how much?

In the end, not much, thankfully. Some damp making it's way in through the top left corner where cables run up to the deck, that will need to be sealed up, but otherwise all the water seems to result from the drainage of that leak. We'll let it dry out and eventually all this overhead will be insulated, rewired for lighting and covered with new headlining. Cedar tongue and grove is my thinking for now.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

That pesky final bolt

Managed to free the fourth and final bolt from the prop shaft. The flats had rounded off slightly and so the wrench just slipped off. If you just use a single wrench, the shaft spins, so you have to put another wrench on a bolt on the other side, and they are so tight you then end up standing with one foot on each wrench and gently bouncing until the bolt gives.

For this last one, I figured a ring spanner would work best, but the housing of the coupling is so close to the bolt head that there's not enough space to get a normal ring spanner over the bolt. But there's little an angle grinder can't help with. I ground down the end of a ring spanner to remove a lot of the metal of the ring, hoping the remainder would be enough to hold together and deliver the required torque.

First attempt was going ok when there was a twang and my right foot landed in the bilge. The ring spanner was fine, but the wrench on the other side had snapped one of the arms.

Tools of the job - the failed wrench, and the ring spanner with the ground down end

Fortunately, there's a spare wrench and the second try had the bolt shift gently under my foot, then backed away and bingo, clear air between prop shaft and gearbox. Celebrations...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Getting warmer

Been wanting a woodstove for a while, to give that lovely dry heat to the cabin. Since we don't use the oven at all, a stove could go there and be used as a cook-top in the winter, with the alcohol stove backup Or something like that, we'll see.

My preferred stove is the beautiful Little Cod stove, but it's out of our price range for now.

So in the meantime, we've bought a smaller and much cheaper 'Grizzly' tiny stove from a Quebec company. And it arrived today, so time for a test firing, then we'll look to install it on board.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Back to work - Paint blasting

After a couple of weeks away in England, and some time recovering from the cold I picked up there, I've been watching a video blog by an enterprising Danish guy who is refitting his Warrior 39. Check out the SailLife channel. h/t Owen for sharing this one with me.

Anyway, being single, with a 9-5 job, he gets a depressingly large amount of work done every week and records a video about it too. Lots of inspiration, not least of which that anything is possible with determination and power tools. Anyway, he got the hull pressure blasted to remove the paint, so I figured that was a reasonable option.

This weekend, hired a pressure washer with a sand blast attachment....

Parked next door, each side, are two mini-buses from the local transport company. Not wanting to sand blast them too, Issie and I set up a big tarp wall.

And so to work. The sand blasting worked well on metal, but used up sand pretty quickly and wasn't really effective on the layers of paint. But changing to just the the pressure washer with a water knife nozzle got a lot of the paint off in big chips.

Some places, it's still too well stuck to come off that way, so it'll be back to the hand scraper and sanding for that, but this got a huge amount of the work done in two sessions. Also pressure washed the topsides to make it easier to clean when time comes to paint those.

All told, when tidied up and cleared away on Sunday, there was a lot more bare hull to see than paint. That's progress....

Monday, February 20, 2017

Inching forward

 Emptied out the saloon storage, lots of 4 year old tins of food, spare half-dead pumps and other junk. The kids helped get all that down from the boat on a nice sunny Saturday afternoon.

Sunday was raining and miserable, but worked away to free the prop shaft from the gearbox - 3 out of 4 bolts free up reasonably easily. The fourth, of course, does not. The flats have got a bit rounded, and only the open end of a wrench fits on. Soaked it some more in penetrating oil and let's try again another day.

Removing more wiring and other junk from around the engine, as well as the exhaust muffler and tubing, getting closer to being able to lift it out. 

And had to dig into the electrical system, since so much of it is old and messed up, running around the engine with too much redundant wiring. Eventually decided to not try and trace everything but take out and re-do anything that's going to stay. But I still want to be able to keep the batteries charged and run some lights and the radio when I'm on board, so I re-wired the charger in near the battery bank. 

So much to do.....

Monday, February 13, 2017

Scrape scrape scrape

With the snow still lying on deck, and a busy family weekend, just took a couple of hours to scrape away at the bottom paint. Progress is pretty quick, really. The waterline is harder - it's high up and very well stuck on. I'll wait for better weather to get the rolling scaffold out and work up there.

Clear yellow patches are where the oldest primer was still well adhered, the grey is where it had already gone at the last major repaint and we just had primer on epoxy. 

There's a few, but not too many, osmosis blisters as well. I'll probably go over the hull and grind those out and refill before we put the coppercoat on.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Fuel system dismantling

Braved the raging snowstorm and spent a few hours with the heater taking the chill off the cabin, taking apart the fuel filters, lines, valves and other ancillary stuff to make space in the engine bay. Grubby, smelly, delightful work. All boat work is fun....