Sunday, December 2, 2012

LED Multi-Use Lighting for the Owners Stateroom

We have been considering putting accent lighting in the Owners Stateroom since we completed the refit there last year.  I ended up purchasing some LED light strips that were single color and waterproof at a local electronic component store to install in the boats breaker box.  I never did install them but it started the expansion of our ideas for the stateroom.

LED lighting is available at West Marine but it is very expensive and not as versatile as what you can order online.  I reviewed the specs for the LED strips from West, and the ones I can find on Amazon seemed to be fairly similar in that they were the bright LED style strips and waterproof, but the ones from Amazon were also able to be cut to any length and could be set to change colors if desired.

Link to Amazon RGB LED Lights

Thin Cedar Strips mounted
We chose Cedar as the mounting surface for the pleasant smell, resistance to moisture and lastly it was an inexpensive but good way to accomplish the task.  I bought a single 8 foot cedar fence picket and 3 8 foot lengths of scalloped moulding to put the LED's behind.  We got these from home depot.

We cut thin strips of the cedar wood and drilled thin pilot holes through it every 18 inches or so.  We then drilled a small countersink hole at each one so that when mounted to the walls, the screws would be flush.

These particular LED lights came with a 120V AC to 12V DC adapter included in the kit which allowed me to toss that and wire these directly into the boat's 12v DC system.  When we did the refit in the stateroom, we planned to add lights later so already had wiring into each of the 4 corners of the room.
LED's mounted to cedar strips

When installing these lights, we installed the small electronic component, and Infra Red Remote receiver into the corner of the stateroom (where later we will install a small shelving unit with power in it to charge cell phones and Ipad's and store eyeglasses when sleeping).

Once the wiring was connected to the connector for the LED's we mounted the LED strips to the cedar strips facing down.  These particular LED's come with a 3M adhesive backing but I don't suspect that will hold up in the varied temperatures on the boat.  We are adding some epoxy glue to the back side as well to ensure they stay put.

The scalloped molding was also cut to the proper length, had pilot holes drilled, as well as counter sinks allowing us to install and fill the screw holes with bungs after the fact.    Every time in the past we had installed anything that was wood on the boat, we have used a good hardwood (either Teak or Mahogany) but in this case we chose to use a simple pine molding and stain it to the color we wanted.
All my wiring tools
(meter, shrink wrap, marine crimps), etc

After staining the pieces, we applied multiple coats of varnish like the rest of our interior projects.  Once dry we installed these pieces of molding to the cedar strips with the top of the molding flush with the top of the cedar strip so that it creates a void aiming downward for the lights to shine down without being able to see them directly.

We are happy with the way the LED's have turned out and will also be doing something similar in the Salon as we wrap up that part of the refit as well.   The good news is that the entire strip of LED's in the stateroom (about 16 feet of them) still draws minimal amps and are better than the 2 double filament fixtures that were back there before we started the refit.  It is a pleasant surprise to turn on all of the boats LED lighting throughout and watching the DC Ammeter barely move.

Below is a short video we did showing what the lights look like in operation.  We filmed them with the lights changing colors but I don't see us using it that way, I suspect that we will just have a single color when they are on.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rigging upgrades

As Deb and I got mid way through our Salon refit we noticed that the chain plates were leaking.  The research we did speaking to other Gulfstar owners as well as others that had boats of this vintage was that the chain plates likely need to be replaced.  If we were going to be trying to repair the leaks by rebedding them, we may as well have them replaced when we do.
I was a bit suprised at the cost for Chain plates to be made, but it is not like you can just call up your local store and order them, so you end up having a fabricator make you new ones using the old ones as patterns.

With all the travel I have been doing, Deb stayed here and worked with the Rigger to have these replaced.    He started by removing the port side lower shrouds and unbolting the chainplates from the hull.  Over time they had been sealed, caulked and who knows what else had been done in the last 30 years to try to keep water from running down the stainless steel chain plates and into the boat.  To get them out, he would connect the halyard to them and then use the winch to apply some upward pressure.  Here you can see the port side coming out.  Remember they go through the toe rail (about 3 and half inches of wood), then through the hull to deck joint which is a layer of the hull sides that is folded over and also a flange on the deck of similar thickness.  On our Gulfstar the hull is solid fiberglass lay-up and when we measured where the bolts went through it was 15/16" thick.  Just a tad shy of an inch.  

As of this posting, there are 3 of the 6 replaced, Monday he is coming back to install the 4th and removing the final 2 that are holding the upper mast supports.  He will take them to the fabricator and I expect we will have them back Tuesday or Wednesday.

As he has been removing them, Deb has been epoxying any small hairline cracks in the toe rail.  In one case the toe rail was split about 1-2 inches on both the fore and aft side of the chain plate opening.  I was so impressed with her first epoxy job.  She mixed it up, injected it down into the crack with a syringe and then clamped the toe rail tight.

After a good rain, we noticed that they were still leaking a bit (horrible disappointment after spending all of that money).  When we asked the rigger about it, he suggested we try pouring water on the deck to see if they are leaking from where the chain plate comes up through the toe rail or if water is seeping under the toe rail and then finding an exit in the chainplate hole.  Well based on our test we think it was the later and had nothing to do with the quality of work by the rigger.

So back to the boat today with heat gun in hand.  We cleaned all of the silicone that was there from a previous attempt to stop the leak, and ensured it was all gone.  We then mixed epoxy in a small syringe and injected it in the tiny crack between the toe rail and deck.  It was kind of like calking with a tip the size of a needle.  It seemed like it was working very well as it was being laid down and even seeped a little more generously into the areas that had a noticeably bigger gap.

Our Mast Head
(Anemometer, anchor light, vhf antenna and windex)
Since the rigger was going to be here, we opted to take care of several other things that were on our list to get done.  So the list is.

  • Rear Backstay replaced (had a small crimp in 1 of the 19 strands of stainless steel)
  • New VHF antenna mounted on mast head (not sure what happened to the old one, I noticed a couple of months ago that just the base was there, the antenna itself was gone)
  • New Deck light bulb installed (heck if he was going to be up there, lets get it all done)
  • Had him add an additional block at the top of the mast for a 3rd halyard (it will be nice to have a backup halyard in the event of a failure, rigging issues or even a backup line for a bosuns chair.)
  • Deb was cool and surprised me with new Halyards for the Main and Jib while he was here.  The old ones were losing their "flexibility"
  • 2 new flag halyards on each spreader for proper quarantine flag flyings, burgees, etc.
  • Lastly a complete rigging inspection (all looked good)
New Main Halyard (New England Spectra Line)

It has certainly been a productive week and will be a productive next month or so.  We will be going back in with all of the salon rebuild as soon as the chainplates are back in and the hatch is installed.  (We have to know all the leaks are taken care of before we put the wooden walls back in place).  We have also got smart about ensuring that we are building access panels to all of these as well through cabinets, walls, etc.

In the last week we have also been getting everything lined up to finalize the salon and galley refit.    We have placed our order for a new 16K BTU reverse cycle air conditioner and heater for the salon.  This in addition to the 12K BTU unit for the rear stateroom should be more than enough for our warm days when living aboard.  The great news is that as long as we don't sail in sub 40 degree water, we can use the same units to heat the boat.   It was out of stock so hoping we have it in the next few weeks.

She looks small from 50 feet up
(You can see our welcome aboard matt on the dock)
The hatch that was leaking was sent back to the manufacturer (nice to see they are still family owned and in business) and being rebuilt and having new glass installed.  Our Gulfstar has all heavy duty Atkins & Hoyle opening/reversing hatches and I spoke to Brian Atkins about doing the work.  It is currently curing and will be coming back next week.

We are also really excited about our new refrigerator/freezer unit.  When we were at a boat show last year we looked at, and really liked, the Cool Blue 12v low draw units with large holding plates.  It was pricy and our unit worked so we just made a mental note and loved the idea of only drawing 24 amps of power in a day.  When I dripped water into our cold machine circuit board, she decided not to run again.  Instead of fixing it (which would have been about 20% of the cost of new unit) we decided to just go ahead and get the best unit for living aboard.    When installed it will give us a complete freezer compartment and a separate refrigerator.  It comes with a 13" X 21" holding plate that is 2 1/2" thick.  The holding plate allows the unit to cool the fluid in that stainless still plate and hold that cold temperature much longer reducing the number of times the compressor has to cycle on and off.  We will end up modifying the opening to our top opening unit to allow better access to the side that we will make the freezer but more on that project when we install it.

Below are a few pictures from atop the mast.  I just through the view was cool so figured I would post them here on the blog as well.
Atop the mast facing North
Watergate Marina starts at the boat house
Atop the mast facing South
Legend Point Marina/Condos in view