We hope we are getting close to being ready to paint the boat. We spent this weekend getting stuff checked off our to do list. Most of it is not really photogenic, so what Nina shot on her phone is what you get. Still to do is align the engine so that it runs smoothly. New engine mounts were installed. This involved taking the old mounts off and replacing them with the ones in the photo. The red rope at the top was hooked to the hoist in the shop and lifted so that the mounts could be replaced. It can be quite mesmerizing watching chain go up and down if you’ve never played with a 5 ton hoist before. The old saggy mounts came off (they’d sagged about 1/2 inch) and the new ones were installed.
Our alternator, which charges the batteries when the engine is running, has had problems delivering its charge. Tom discovered that we didn’t have the correct mounting bracket, and that the way the alternator was installed made it difficult to get it into alignment and keep it in alignment so that the belt to the engine doesn’t wear down and throw black rubber dust all over the engine. This will all get fixed and readjusting the alternator tension should actually be easier from here on out.
Ok, so the bit of shiny plywood is not exciting, but it is a stand in for the work that was accomplished over the weekend but did not got photographed. Bill got an extra day in the shop and worked on the windvane alignment. He finally got it all in place, and was so excited to get it fit that he took it down again without taking any pictures of either the windvane in place, or the location of its mounting brackets. Thus photo of a 9″ by 4″ piece of wood. Nina is getting pretty good at designing plywood pieces to install, especially when they are simple shapes. The autopilot platform is waiting to be glassed in place. One of the delays here is that there is now a thru-hull going right through where it will be fiberglassed to the hull and we still have to locate the engine exhaust routing and thru-hull, so that platform is sitting there, making crawling in and out of the locker both easier and more challenging (think shimmy and twist in an awkwardly shaped hole but the floor is now level instead of sloping). Meanwhile, the small plywood piece will help secure the furnace bracket to the shearclamp. Nina’s light reading this week is the installation manual for the furnace. Thankfully, there is a version in English.
Other miscellaneous tasks we completed: the ceiling in the cockpit locker was primed; thru-hull hardware was sanded so that it can be laquered (sealed so that any moisture will show up more easily); and the stern pulpit was fit so that its mounting holes could be cast. Bill aligned blocks to lead the windvane stearing lines forward to the tiller. Tom installed backing blocks for the thru-hulls and added pipe fittings for the engine exhaust and the manual bilge pump on the transom.
It was a short week of boat work for us. We only got a day and a half in, but it was a full scale effort.
On Monday after flying back to town we finished up on the slider rails for the sliding companion way hatch. We had cast the bolts in epoxy to get threaded holes and I had to disassemble them, sand off the excess epoxy and clean the rails. We also filled and sanded the companionway sides to get them ready for the new teak trim that the doors will seat against. The old trim was chewed up and so we are making new ones.
We also epoxied in the cleats to hold the autopilot shelf. The back edge of the cockpit locker openings were fiberglassed to strengthen them and fill the old hinge holes. We also got a second coat of bilge paint on the engine, fuel tank and water tank areas. These three things got started after 5:00 pm and we finished after 9:00. Things just take longer than you think.
Tuesday we needed to cast the holes for the stanchion braces. To do this we removed the stanchions and the toe rails. They had been put back on to locate where the braces would go. Then we had to drill out the holes. They go in from the sides of the boat through the shear clamp. To cast them we drilled down from the deck into the holes and then taped off the horizontal holes. This time we had no gushers. Epoxy is sneaky. It waits until you think it’s kicked, and then it leaks. Only a couple of slow oozes, thankfully, but we did have one set of holes that absorbed an amazing amount of epoxy.
The other exciting thing that happened is the holes for the thru-hulls got cut out. thru-hulls are valves in the bottom of the boat that let water in or out. These are at least 1 1/2 inches in diameter, so you make the boat watertight and then cut big holes into it. The thru-hulls will be flush with the hull to reduce drag.
Bear with me on this. Have you ever watched the movie The Great Escape? The one where they have to go down the hole and then tunnel away? And keep on doing this until they reached the other side of the fence? This was Nina’s weekend, sans moving dirt. Her job was to figure out the platform for the autopilot and all the supporting cleats and whatnot that go into that project. This meant innumerable trips up the ladder, across the cockpit, down the locker hatch, crawling on hands and knees under the cockpit to measure things, wrestle them in place only to have to unwrestle them, take them out and recut, redo or re-something them. Multiple, interesting bruises later, exhaustion has clearly set in. Technical and proper names are no longer readily available. And thinking in three dimensions is not something that you normally have to worry about as a knitter. Bill was moaning about having to drill more holes to cast. At least he got to be standing up, and in a position that did not remind one of World War II tunneling movies or multiple trips down the rabbit hole. Marsden got to polish more. He got to be outside, and standing up. No sympathy from the tunneler.
In many ways, we are at the “are we there yet?” stage of the project. The real excitement for the week was bees. Tom had a swarm attach itself to a tree in his yard. Being city folk, we’d never seen anything like it. Even more exciting was watching another swarm of bees swarming.
When we got to the shop on Friday the cockpit combings and propane locker opening were installed. We can now see what the finished boat will look like.
It was a weekend of continuation for us. We put the toe rails back on so the stanchion mountings can be finalized. We continued to work on the painting. We now have shiny engine beds and the locker is ready for the new water tank.
Other stuff happened this week end: the bolt holes to mount the forward hatch were drilled and tapped. On the cockpit end of things, the angled backing plates were finished and more work was done on the cockpit locker lids. Inside the cabin, we now have the grab rail backing plates epoxied to the cabin top.
On Monday two big projects were started. Nina got to work on the mounting platform for the autopilot drive and motor and Bill started aligning and working on the Monitor windvane mounting. Both of these project are going to take awhile to finish.
We bought the windvane third hand (at least two previous owners, the last of whom has a sugar scoop on the end of their boot) so the mounting tubes need to be modified to fit Gypsy’s traditional stern. Tom rigged up a crane out of an old boom to hang the windvane for fitting. It was adjusted so that it we have the vane hanging in place so we can take measurements and get new tubes made. Tom had the smaller 1 1/4 inch diameter 316 stainless pipe so the only pipes we’ll have to order from Monitor (Scanmar) are the 2″ stainless pipes to connect the Monitor to the top of the stern.
Nina got to spend most of the day in the cockpit locker measuring for the platform to mount the auto pilot on. This is what happens when you ask a question that you hope will get you out of sanding. The autopilot allows for more precise steering and it works when the wind is not blowing. While that sounds exciting, what it meant was that she got to spend the day measuring and dry fitting equipment in a space not much bigger than the box below, and with much less headroom. More measurements and more cardboard templates.
Marsden got a reprieve from polishing, sort of. The cleats that will be mounted on the combings (remember the alligators?) needed backing blocks on the hull sides. He got to fit fiberglass blocks and then bondo them on place. Keeping with recent family tradition, it took more than one try to get it pink enough to kick. (The hardener catalyst is red so if you use enough the bondo is bright pink, if it is light pink that is not peachy as it won’t harden.) They are now in place and ready to do their job.
We have gotten into painting mode. It is imperative that we paint the cabin where stuff is going to be mounted when we put Gypsy back together. This has meant a flurry of filling and sanding so surfaces are ready for paint. What we do is paint a coat of primer and then after it has dried, sand it. If there are defects in the surface, more filler and sanding. Then a second coat of primer followed by at least two top coats of enamel.
We are using oil based paint because it is tough and holds up better in a marine environment. Oil based paint stinks so we have to wear respirators while we paint and it takes at least a day to dry. After painting now for two weeks the results are looking good. We got our first coats of the semi gloss white enamel on the shear clamp and cabin sides. This is the best the cabin has looked in years. We’ve been adding fiberglass reinforcements, new ports and other projects as we could, but it’s meant that the cabin still looked like a project, in spite of cheerful curtains. It’s finally beginning to look finished. Wow!
We also cut big holes in the bulkheads for the 4 ” furnace ducts. Being warm has to make up for the lost storage space because we’re suddenly realizing how much small locker space is being taken over by ductwork. Plumbing hoses and electrical wires also needed bigger holes and some of those holes have run into the new shear clamp. We mend and forge on.
The dorade boxes are coming along. They got a starter round of sanding to fair them into the cabin top. Imagine them painted with cowls on top, and they’re gorgeous.
The other project was the cockpit locker lids. They had been installed wrong ever since the boat was new, with not enough lip to properly screw in hinges. We added fiberglass to the back edge where the hinge attaches and added a foam core to stiffen the lids. They will also sit level with the rest of the cockpit seating now.
It’s exciting to see how the interior of the boat is coming together. The exterior doesn’t have much left to do, and that should be well on it’s way during this next week.
We left you on a cliff hanger last week. We showed how we were molding the Kevlar lining for the anchor hawse pipe. Now you get to see the Kevlar, it is bright yellow (well, it is in a bright light. Otherwise it’s just a variant on fiberglass brown).
Bill’s big project was the dorade boxes. The air tubes have been installed, the boxes gelcoated and the boxes have been fiberglassed to the cabin top.
Here they are installed on the deck.
This doesn’t show all the fiddly bits inside. Part of the dorade glassing was that the interior of the box needed to be glassed to the deck as well, but this had to be done through two three to four inch holes.
Meanwhile, the interior of the boat was progressing. Nina spent more time sanding than she cares to think about, but we got the cabin sides primed where the ports (windows) will be installed.
We’re definitely on the home stretch. Tom will be connecting the new platform on the stern for the propane locker. At that point, we’re pretty much ready to start prepping the outside of the boat for paint (this means yet more sanding).
It has been a week filled with dust and shavings. Friday we re-drilled all of the toe rail holes after they had been cast with epoxy. That’s one more job off the list. The cabin, cockpit locker and dodger have been sanded some more. We want to be able to paint the insides of the cabin where the ports will go and where the engine, fuel and water tanks will be.
We made our dorade boxes. The molds were ready to go with a coat of wax and gel coat. We added two layers of fiberglass mat followed by three layers of biax cloth on the sides and 5 layers of biax on the tops. These are going to be stout boxes. (Dorades are water trap vents, they have a cowl vent on top, drains on the bottom and a air tube that lets air into, but keeps water out of the cabin.)
Sunday we popped the dorades out of the molds and trimmed off the excess cloth. Monday they got fit to the cabin top. The location of the dorades was dependent on the location of the oar rack. The oar rack had to avoid lines for the main sheet and vang. The dodger got installed to help decide on how the lines would run. In the end we found a place where everything will work, but it took a little fiddling with where thing would go.Tuesday the holes for the cowl vent and inspection plate were cut out on the dorades and a baffle was glued in to keep spray coming down the cowls from going into the air tubes.
The cockpit is ready for us to layout where the hardware goes.
This was followed by drilling holes and casting them with epoxy. Next week we will re-drill them.
The bulkhead to support the cockpit was fiberglassed, but it had not been sanded properly first. The fiberglass popped off, it was a sad day. Here is try two. This one did actually stick.
It was a shorter week of boat work for us. My sisters came out from the midwest for a visit and we took a couple of days off to do sightseeing. I felt very guilty not working on Gypsy. I even felt more guilty sleeping in to 8:00 am on a Sunday morning. We are usually on the road to the boat shop at 8:00. After weeks of non stop work and boat work it was very nice having a real weekend. The itinerary included wine tasting, Columbia Gorge waterfalls and a Portlandia Tour including Voodoo Donuts and Mississippi Ave. We made up for our time off guilt by staying late on Tuesday.
If you remember back a couple of weeks we had cast the port hole openings into the cabin sides. Friday I drilled out the bolt holes for the ports and then test fit the ports to check the holes. Nina sanded the shear clamp wood so we can paint it before the bolts for the toe rail are installed. When we had returned Tuesday the cockpit drains and fore hatch had been started.
Other stuff that also happened was our oar rack got built and Marsden polished it. Tom has also been working on the propane locker/aft deck/ and cockpit combings to finish the stern of the boat.
This week we’re starting from the front and working back. In sailing terms: forward to aft. Tom fiberglassed the new platform for the windlass in place and Bill drilled the really big holes. The platform was needed to get the chain feed from the anchor roller to the windlass level. Nina is looking forward to having an electric windlass so that she will no longer need to be the cranking lass to get the anchor up or down.
All of the holes for the toe rail got drilled out this week with a 5/8″ bit. That’s 164 holes! Drilling went much faster after Bill learned how to sharpen drill bits. The pipes work better and are faster to install than tape, and leak less than tape, at least on top. The height helps get rid of epoxy bubbles from air escaping the wood. We had a couple of holes that that kept on being leaky nuisances inside the cabin, but they’ll be fixed this coming weekend.
Nina’s bulkhead project was installed! The pieces of wood were epoxied together with a spline and glued to the after end of the cockpit. She also made fillets on both sides at the bottom to make fiberglassing them in place easier. They were sanded to smooth them up for the glass cloth and resin, and sanded once the glass was in place and cured. She was quite pleased to be told by Tom that she’d done a good job!
The boat is really starting to feel like it’s going back together rather than being torn apart. That being said, we don’t have much time left to get it to a state where Tom and Chris can begin prepping for paint. Once that starts, we’ll need other projects to work on, like the mast.
We have been busy and it is starting to show. For awhile it has seemed like not much was happening. This week progress has been more apparent, which means all that prep is paying off. We have finished filling in the gaps around the holes for the ports so that they will have solid, tight fits. We have even made shims on the inside of the cabin to create a flat spot in the curving sides of the cabin for the forward-most ports. This should mean trouble-free and leak-free ports.
The dodger got glassed. The edge stiffener and hand grip that we have been working on has been covered in fiberglass. Last week we were gluing on the PVC pipe. Chris smoothed all the curves and we gave it 3 layers of glass cloth and one layer of mat. It’s a nice, strong edge. Now it has to get sanded and finished.
Dorades are another project we need to get done. These are water trap boxes that ventilation cowls will be mounted on. This lets us get fresh air in the boat even if it is stormy. The old wood boxes were showing their age so we are making fiberglass replacements that will get glassed to the cabin top.
Nina has been working on the bulkhead that will go at the aft end of the cockpit. It will provide support for the cockpit. The cardboard template has been cut out in plywood and fitted to the hull. It is made in two parts so it can fit into the boat. They will be glued together with a spline and epoxied to the hull. Her last job for the week was to prep the hull with 36-grit sandpaper (full bunny suit, goggles, respirator and many layers of gloves while creating storms of fiberglass dust in a small enclosed space. She’s glad that’s over.)
Other things that have been happening this week.
Marsden meanwhile, has been working on stanchion brace parts. He’s milled the straight pieces, bent them to shape and smoothed out the rings and prepped the mounting brackets. They’ll all be sent off to be welded. Hopefully the new stanchion posts will arrive this week.