Saturday, June 29, 2013

Continuing to complete the little tasks...

It seems that the major tasks that needed to be done before moving onto the boat are done.  There are a lot of little ones and today was one of those days filled with little tasks.  Deb was taking care of some final prep on storage areas before putting pots, pans, food, and storage bins in all of the little hidey holes that will become our the equivalent to a house "pantry"
Here is some video of Deb doing the work on this task.  She actually does a LOT of the work on the boat and helps with most projects but sadly she is usually the one filming so you rarely see her 'doing' the work.

In addition to this today, we were also able to get a third coat of varnish on all of the new teak cabinets
in the Salon.  In the picture to the right, you can see that we still have all of the cushions out of the salon so we don't get any varnish on them.
Salon starting to come together
With those missing, it seems so disheveled.  Today, I was also doing some work under the companion way steps, so you see those leaned up against the mast in this photo.  The cabinet doors are all inside getting varnished as well and I am hoping by early next week they will all be installed.

Things Deb completed today.

  • Loaded pots and pans for the boat
  • Organized several air tight containers (Lock & Lock are the brand we really like) in the pantry behind the stove. 
  • Started to put some condiments into the refrigerator (Ketchup, mayo, salad dressings, etc)
  • Finished organizing all of the screws from our projects (which we had in about 40 small plastic cups)  She sorted and tossed any flat head screws, and kept all bronze and stainless screws.  We threw away all zinc ones due to the possibility of corroding on the boat in the salt air.  
Things I was able to complete today.
  • Installed House Battery (Big ass 8D battery) into the new battery box with tie downs in the engine room (With a stroke of genius, I was able to use the companion way stairs and a couple of dowels to roll the battery from the walkthrough up onto the new shelves in the engine room without having to lift the 75lb battery while contorting my body in the engine room)
  • Rerouted the large battery cables for the starting battery, house battery and both charging banks
  • Cleaned and services both batteries
  • Installed molding under rear stateroom door frame and around shower
  • Put engine room door back on as well as forward engine access panel that has been out for months
  • Another coat of varnish on the cabinet doors (insides this time)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Starting to organize and Clean

The galley has been a mess for 6 months now.  It has turned into a great place to store things and has been the most logical "workbench" in the boat.  I have cut, sanded, carved, planed, sanded, epoxied, hammered and cursed at the surface of the galley counters and the epoxied piece of wood that I keep over one side of the sink for additional "Workbench" space.

Today I had one of those reminders on how this project has really shown Deb and I how well we work together most of the time.  It is not uncommon that she anticipates what I am working on and if I need that 'extra hand' or the next tool, she is right there with it.  It is one of those things I didn't even realize at first.  The seed was planted by my Dad during one of his visits last April.  Deb and I were working on some project (I don't even recall what it was now) but we had it set-up in our storage shed.  As we were working on whatever it was, my my dad commented that we work well together and everything seems planned or synchronized.   At the time, I just took it as a passing comment and thought, "yep, we do" and went on about our project.

A few weeks later, I was working on something when Deb was not around and I realized how much "back and forth" I was doing to get some tool off he shelf and then put it back, when I was done with the jig saw, I rolled the cable up, put it away and dragged out the vacuum.  When Deb and I are working on the project, I set the tool down and move to the next task and it gets miraculously put away neatly.  When cutting wood by myself, I was using clamps and pushing the wood up against the lathe to keep it from sliding as I made cuts.  These are the little things I didn't notice at first.
Yes, We Do Make A Good Team.  More importantly, Deb makes a great team-mate.

With that supportive and intuitive notion, Deb has also realized that I am getting a bit worn out on this refit.  I am ready to have part of the boat back into a usable state.  Something I can go down to and feel proud and enjoy it when I am there.  It was getting to the point where every time I went down below decks on the boat, I came back with a list of things that needed to get done.  It was starting to get frustrating.  This week, Deb has been getting things "setup".  For example in the rear head, she brought towels, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving supplies and all of the things needed to shower and make it usable.

Today, she cleaned up my "work bench" and organized the galley.  It is not complete like it will be when we move aboard, but I can get to the cups, and there is some food in the cupboards and some cold drinks in the fridge.  
The navigation station has been the sorting table for screws and small parts (smaller than a quarter) for the last 2 weeks and finding half used boxes or bags of screws everywhere.  Most all of the screws have been sorted by size, stainless or non, put into compartmentalized storage bins and tucked away in some little nook or cranny.  When that is cleared off completely, it will be a wonderful feeling.

Ok, I must confess, I am typing this blog sitting in the salon on a folded old towel because all of the cushions are out of the room preparing for varnish.  I looked up at the nav station and started to giggle a bit.  It is a disaster, I had to take a picture and just give you some insight into what a mess it is right now.  I think this is going to be the thing that Deb and I will struggle most with when living aboard.  No room to leave "stuff" out.  If you need something, dig it out of it's hidey hole and when done, put it all back.  The put it all back part is going to take some getting used to. :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Aft Head - Teak and Holly and Epoxy, Oh My !

We now have a working rear head with electric flushing head (toilet), new counter and Teak wood sink basin.  

We removed the artificial marble that was in the head for an old counter.  It was stained and not installed at the right angle and sadly after showering, the water would puddle on the countertop and not run off the front.
We pulled all of that out, repainted all of the walls with a porcelain paint to refresh all of the walls in the shower.  We also decided to make the counter out of Teak and Holly.  To do this we used 3/4" marine grade plywood with teak and holly veneer on it.  
After dry fitting the counter and vertical wall, we cut all of the holes we needed for the storage access, shower pump switch, sink drain, faucet and shower knob.  

Because this is also the shower, it was important that we consider how to avoid rot from the water.  To do this we decided to cover all of the wood in epoxy.   After mounting, we have used painters tape to protect the newly applied porcelain paint, and then did an initial coat of Epoxy.  After dry, we sanded with 220 grit sandpaper to get it very smooth.  The next step was to wipe it all down with a tack cloth and then apply another coat of epoxy.  I noticed in the first coat that by the time I was finishing up the work the epoxy was starting to get too thick to work well with.  

To combat this, I mixed smaller batches and focused on specific parts of the counter starting with the top because I wanted that to look the best of all of it.  I applied a fairly thick coat of epoxy with a chip brush on the wood, and then gently stroking in the direction of the grain to blend it all in and ensure any bubbles in the epoxy were popped.

I added the shower control and the sink faucet and then installed our favorite feature and that is the sink carved out of an actual teak log.  We bought the sink online and when installed it leaked around the drain.  We contacted the company and without much help from them other than an assurance that the movement and gaps in the drain would not be a problem (turned out it was), we did what most boat owners end up doing, we figured we could do it better.   We removed the old drain from the log, cleaned out the sealant that was used by the place we bought it from to seal the drain.  From there I carved the drain a bit deeper so that the flange of the drain actually sat lower than the lowest portion of the bottom of the sink.  I thickened some epoxy with sawdust to a peanut butter consistency and applied it in the newly carved drain seat.  After installing and letting it dry, this worked great and was no longer leaking.  I still need to anchor the sink to the counter (likely will use silicone to do that in the event I ever need to remove it I can) but will do that after the fact.

In the end, we loved how this turned out.  The epoxy coats are thick enough to protect the wood for many many years even when getting wet during showers.  The finish is so shiny that it is reflective.  In the top picture you can see the reflection of the outlets.  Now I may have to make an outlet cover out of some spare teak that I have and epoxy them so they look close to as nice as the counter.

When we finish all of the work such as hanging the mirror back up, finishing with the outlet covers and doors for the counter, I will post more pictures.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

DC Distribution Panel

In the last couple of weeks we installed the new electric head in the aft stateroom and also the new Technautics Cool Blue compressor for the refrigerator and freezer.  When we got ready to install the head, I had to find a proper breaker location for it.  Originally I was hoping I could just tap into the 12 volt lighting circuit in the head.

As I read the instructions, it called for a 20amp circuit, so I ran the correct gauge wire to the distribution panel and used a breaker that was not being used for anything else.

Over the years since 1978 when the boat was built, much of the labeling on the wires from the breaker to the distribution bus have come off and some new wiring was not labeled.  I took the time to sketch out the back of the panel and then trace all of the wires from the 12Volt battery selector to the positive bus bars to the breaker to the distribution bus.  Like most things as we have worked on this project, if it was not documented, then we have created and saved the documents into a new Boat Book to capture all wiring, plumbing, networking and any other diagram that I may need later when working on, or enhancing the boat.
The next step is to add the Refrigerator/Freezer to their own dedicated breaker as well.  It will end up being breaker 9 because the windlass is actually on it's own high amperage switch that must be activated from the engine room.  (Due to the high amperage required when pulling up many feet of chain with the windlass, it was made it a point to not run the windlass unless the engine is running and replenishing the batteries)

The next step will be to create a similar schematic for each of the different AC panels.  The reality is I likely won't do it until I need to rewire something on the AC side of the panel.  So maybe it will be within the year when we end up replacing the rear air conditioner with one that doesn't sound like a freight train.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Air Conditioner Condensation problem

Today I hope I have solved the problem with condensation in the forward air conditioner condensate tray.  Typically these are supposed to gravity drain and people either put them into a sump or into the bilge.  I have an issue with this on our boat.  When we bought the boat, it you can tell there was an air conditioner in this spot but it was not there.  It had all the hoses going to that location including a drain hose to the bilge.  The problem was that the drain hose ran parallel about 4 feet before it went downhill toward the bilge.  The problem is that it would not gravity drain out.
There were NO other routes to a lower space without drilling holes through a stringer and I feared doing that not knowing exactly where the 115 gallons of water tanks are and how far they extend.
I have spent countless hours trying to come up with a solution that did not involve taking up the flooring.  I looked into the Mermaid Condensator, but it doesn't appear that Mermaid sells them any more even though I found a ton of references to them on the web. I thought about making my own, but would have a similar issue with routing the suction tube to the through hull location on the discharge side of the water circulation.

In the end, I went old school low budget and I sure hope it works for me.  Basically I put an automatic bilge pump in the condensation tray, I ran a 3/4" tube from that pump to a vented loop above the water line and then tee'ed it into the galley sink drain above the water line.  The vented loop will prevent sink water from ever running or siphoning back to the condensate tray.

So now in the Galley I will have a modified bilge pump switch that will be labeled as Air Conditioner Condensation Pump

As a side note I tested this out by pumping the condensation into a bucket before I plumbed everything in.  In South Texas where it is between 85-92 this time of year.  The 16,000 BTU air conditioner for the forward salon extracts about 3/4 to 1 gallon of water an hour.  That actually shocked me, I didn't expect there to be that much.  It just goes to show I want to do something with the rear air conditioner now too in order to avoid all of that water going into the bilge.

In the event anyone is interested in the parts I used for this solution, I have put links below.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Refrigeration - Yeah

Now that the newest shelves are installed in the engine room, I was able to connect the Technautics Cool Blue low amp DC refrigeration system.  I mounted the cold plate quite some time ago (came with a 2 and a half inch thick cold plate so it will retain that cold for a while without having to cycle the compressor.

Cool Blue compressor is on top right of shelf
This may be one of the simplest units to install.  Once you have the cold plate mounted and the 2 freon tubes run to the location where the compressor will be, it is just a matter of connecting them and tightening to the specified foot pounds (10 in this case).  We mounted the thermostat in the refrigerator and ran the wires to the engine room where the compressor is located through the same path that the freon tubes were run.

After connecting the freon tubes, it is a matter of just connecting 4 wires, 2 for the thermostat and DC Positive and Negative.  In my case, I had to run the wire for it since we located the compressor in a different location than where the old one was.  This wire was easily run in the existing wire channels in the engine room to the distribution panel where it has it's own 20amp circuit.  The previous owner had the old unit connected directly to the battery and not through the panel or on a fuse or circuit.

The Technautics Cool Blue allows for variable speed compressor settings and has some smart controls that will actually have the compressor run at a lower RPM as the batteries begin to get low.

The good news is that I put a gallon of water in there and had nice ice cold water to drink so it is working good.   :)

As a next step, I will end up building a new top loading door for the refrigerator box so that it matches the rest of the counter tops we installed and allows for access either to the Freezer or Refrigerator without having to open both like it is now.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Water Circulation Woes...

As you may know we have been working on an engine room redesign/refit.  The start of this project was driven by the need to remove a rotted subfloor and add holding tanks.  To access all of this, essentially everything but the engine had to come out of the engine room and then start the process of rebuilding.

So the good news is we are really close and as we have been doing down this path, I have been planning how I would mount all of the pumps and strainers back in the engine room to make them easy to service.

The plan was to mount the water intake strainer for the engine and air conditioners on the side of the subfloor with easy access just sitting inside the doorway of the engine room.  I planned on using a single strainer for the air conditioner circulation pumps, so essentially water would come into the water strainer and then on the outbound side, I installed a tee fitting with one line going to the salon where the forward air conditioner water circulation pump is mounted.  The other side of the tee went to the rear air conditioner water circulation pump which was mounted in the engine room.

In the diagram below, Pump1 is mounted in the engine room and is a 1000 gallon per hour pump and runs water circulation for the owners state room air conditioner.  Pump2 is mounted in the Galley and is a 500 gallon per hour pump and runs the water circulation for the main salon Reverse cycle Air Conditioner/Heat pump

When we connected everything and ensured no leaks, we turned on the Air Conditioning in the main salon fed by pump2.  When the compressor kicked on, the pump did also and began circulating water and we had good discharge out the boat, I was feeling pretty good.  When we turned on the owner's state room air conditioner fed by pump 1, it would stop the feed of water through pump2.  I suspect this is due to being closer to the water strainer and also the fact that the pump is a higher capacity pump.  I really do not want to put another through hull in the boat so have at least come up with my next plan of action.

In the morning, I am going to remove Pump2, and just connect the lines together where the pump was.  I will then re-plumb the sea strainer to only feed to pump1, out of pump 1, I will locate a tee and feed water through both air conditioners.  The down side of this is that I need to either install a relay so that the pump kicks on when either Air Conditioner compressor runs, or I can connect Pump1 to it's own 110v breaker and just ensure that when either air conditioner is on, that breaker is on and the pump is running all of the time.

I do believe I may add valves to each output side from the pump so if I want to, I can turn off the water flow to either air conditioner if I need to service one without having to turn the other off.

I will be a little nervous wiring in the 110 volt pump to the breaker panel.  The good news is I can pull the shore power cord so I know that we will have no power coming into the boat while I am in there working on the back side of the distribution panel.  It should be a short cable run for the pump given it's proximity to the panel.  I will also need to disconnect the power to pump 2 from the inside of the Webasto Control unit in the forward salon.

Sadly, it looks like some more time in the engine room.  I don't mind it so much except after a few hours of being contorted into whatever position was required for the given job, I seem to end up with quite a few stiff muscles a few hours later.

All the while I was working on this today, Deb was sorting every single stainless steel screw, nut and bolt that I have managed to gather over the last 2 years of work.  She organized them all by size and put them in small waterproof containers.  She also sorted and organized all of the varied electronic, electric and plumbing spares and parts that we have on board.
In the last 2 weeks she has painted all of the bilges and storage behind the settees and the V-berth.  She started to organize and put the navigation station back together (we had relocated all of the items to another location when we rebuilt that).  She also cleared and organized the Galley and Tool storage.

June 2, 2013 - Update
The plumbing has been re-arranged and working as described above and outlined in the second illustration.  I opted for a seacock under the galley sink for the forward air conditioner rather than at the actual pump location.
Engine Room (Side of subfloor wall) | Left strainer for A/C and right strainer for Engine | Pump with split outputs