Monday, March 19, 2012

Galley Rebuild (More than we anticipated)

The plan has always been to completely refit the boat from Stern to stem and we did start in the owners stateroom and completed that.  The next section was the walkthrough, nav station and galley.  Lets talk about the Galley.

We planned on re-veneering the wood in the Galley and replacing the formica on the countertop top.  As we started the project we realized that there is always something you find that makes you think "Better to do it now while we have this apart"  
That is what happened to us, as we removed the old counter laminate, we found that around the sink faucet connections, it had leaked over time and the plywood countertop was wet inside.  It was still fairly sturdy but it made sense to remove it and replace it while doing this work.
As we removed that, we found that the back corner of the cupboard was also wet and so was the lower ceiling.  What we found was that after 30+ years of on and off leaking ports, the wood just had soft spots.

So we gutted it.  We have taken most of the parts to our garage and used the old ones as templates to cut and fabricate all new walls, counters, etc.  
Galley after gutting

This was our first time using laminate so we started on what will be the inside of the cupboard.  It turns out that is not so hard.  The first pass had a few small bubbles in it, but we adjusted and the rest looked good.  We ended up putting white laminate on the lower ceiling, inside of the cupboard (bottom, back and sides).   We chose white for it's ability to reflect light in those areas.  For the front of the cupboard (Which was originally white laminate) we fabricated a new piece and finished it in Mahogany Veneer.  

We still have work to do in the Galley, we have to fabricate one small wall that I ended up destroying removing it.  We must re-route several plumbing lines.  We will need to remove the laminate in the stove cavity and replace it with a nice laminate that will match the countertops.  
We also decided to add a top loading dry storage area behind the sinks, so some additional modifications will need to be done to the countertop to create the opening, lid and storage area below.  

As we continue to think out loud, and having all of this torn up right now, we are also considering modifying the rear cupboard to fit the microwave (and remove it from the countertop).  We are also now considering adding LED lighting in the new dry storage area as well as the cupboards with an indicator light to let us know when it is on.  We have kept a flashlight in the galley because it is fairly dark in the back corners of the cupboard so this will be a great improvement.  

Deb is quite the contributor to these boat projects.  We work together on the weekends and some nights that I am in town.  With my work travel schedule lately, I haven't been home during most weeks and Deb has continued to sand and prep for whatever the upcoming weekend work is.  She has been ensuring that we have what we need so when Saturday comes we can start early and work all day.  
As we were routing thin pieces of laminate, She even acted as a "Router Table".  She Freaking Rocks !!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rebuilding the Fixed Ports

When doing our refit on Last Affair, we decided to rebuild the large glass fixed ports in the boat.  There is a story behind why, but for the purpose of this blog, lets just go with “we decided to”.
This blog and subsequent videos are not going to be about how to rebed the window and frame to the fiberglass hull, but rather once removed, how to actually remove the glass from the frame and rebuild that.

This started innocently enough, it was to take the ports home and clean them up (They had a bunch of residual silicone on them from years or caulking by the PO (Previous Owner).  Once home, I started thinking that I really didn’t know if they leaked from the bedding into the hull or between the glass and the aluminum frame.  One way I thought to check was to lay the port down on a flat surface glass side down.  On these ports, the frame is about an inch thick and the glass is on one edge almost making it like a 1” deep bowl when laid flat with the glass down.  So, I poured a quart or 2 of water into that little 1” bowl.
In about 20 minute almost all of the water had leaked out from between the glass and the frame.  The majority of that was from the spot where the rubber sealant that goes around the glass was sealed back together at the bottom of the port (the bottom, that doesn’t seem like good planning either come to think of it).

These windows are rectangular (about 9” tall and 23” long but they have angles on both the leading and trailing end of the window forming a parallelogram (?) with rounded corners.  The point is that there was not a replacement out there that you could just go find easily to fit this size and shape.
I removed the screws holding the upper and lower halves of the frames together and pulled them careful away from each other exposing the edges of the glass and the rubber spline that was around the glass and pushed into the slot on the aluminum frame to hold it in place.

This part turned out to be a challenge.  I have looked at many places on line and local custom glass shops and can’t find the same shape spline.  While searching for sources for the spline, I decided to clean up the frames.

I was able to get some supplies (from Home Depot) so you can likely get it from your local hardware store to refinish the aluminum frames.
I started with a wire wheel on a lathe (a drill would work, this was just easier for me).  I used the wire wheel to brush, scrape and scratch away all of the old silicone, and gunk that was in the grooves of the aluminum.  I also used the wire wheel on the facing side of the aluminum in the areas that had scratches.  The wire wheel actually sands down the surface and removed the scratches.

I then lightly sanded these with a sanding disc in the same drill/lathe.  I used 400 and then 600 grit to remove the scratches that the wire wheel left.  This got it fairly smooth and confirmed that there was not more silicone caulk left. 

After the sanding, I installed the first buffing wheel (I used a denim buffing wheel) with “Tripoli” that is the brown buffing stick.  You rub it on the buffing wheel and then buff the aluminum.  After that was complete they were really starting to look good.  I then put on a loose cotton buffing wheel and used the “White Diamond” that is the white buffing stick.  I rubbed some on the cotton pad and ran at high RPM’s (3000 or so) and brought the surface up to a nice shine.  These are not as shiny as stainless steel, but pretty darn close.

In this video, you can see the before and after, but also can see the construction of the window, and how the glass gets put into the frames.  Where the spline came together is where mine were leaking.

NOTE UPDATE:  I have read a few posts on the internet about being cautious in using a wire brush on aluminum window frames because small amounts of the steel from the bristles can lodge on the softer aluminum and while not seen by the naked eye, could cause issues with corrosion due to dissimilar metals in a salt water environment.  I will update this blog over time if there seems to be any negative results from this method described. 

Now that the frames are complete, lets get back to the assembly of the glass into them.  I tried for a week, Rubber Mallet, Clamps, Tie down straps, bench vise and even the lathe to try to compress the frame together.  Long story short, I was defeated.  I couldn’t get the frames all the way together (1/2” gap could not be closed).  I called a local glass glazier and brought the 2 ports (or parts as it were).  He was able to rebuild both of them for $175.  Money well spent because comparable sized ports were $700 each.

I did the same leak test mentioned above and all was good.  We took them back to the boat and rebedded them back into the fiberglass and tested for leaks. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Galley Veneer Removal

Like many good ole boats, ours was starting to see the veneer peel off of the Marine Plywood used for several of the bulkheads.  In the galley, it was fraying a bit on the bottom of the cabinets.
We have found that Rockler (woodworking stores) sells manageable sized pieces of Mahogany and teak veneer.  We are going with Mahogany.
In order to prep for the installation of new veneer, we have to remove all of the old veneer, prep the surface, sand and then apply the new veneer.
In this case, we removed the fiddle rails along the galley counters, removed the stove, removed all drawers and cabinet doors.  We also had to remove an added on cabinet that we likely won't put back up and 3 shelves for storing spices, etc.

There was one piece of plywood under the stove that needed to be replaced.  It took quite a while to remove it and I will need to build a new segment of the wall.  While we have all of this down, we will likely also be putting new formica down so we can upgrade the look of the counters.

Here is a small video clip of the start of the veneer project and another one as we were wrapping up the removal of the old veneer.