Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Almost there.

With the help of my nephew and my sister-in-law, Bigtooth is so close to splashing into the water after a two-year wait. All the portlights are mounted and the opening portlights are sealed. At least I hope they are now water tight but only time will tell. The new deadlights are going to look amazing after I seal around the edges of them with Dow Corning 795 silicone. I used 3M VHB tape to surface mount the new deadlights and I think that they will look fantastic. The last of the epoxy filling has been completed and after a little sanding on the port side deck, we can get ready to paint the foredeck and side deck to protect the epoxy from UV damage. The Pettit Easypoxy is amazing paint. It rolls and brushed very well and seems to self-level nicely. It is a gloss finish so we will see how it looks in the little parts we are painting. When I am ready to paint the entire deck and add new nonskid I might go with more of a satin finish. Only time will tell.

So over the next few days, I have to varnish the teak to protect it from UV and mount it on the boat. Then all of the hardware gets bedded and I get the engine running again. My sister-in-law gave us an amazing gift of hiring the yard to sand and paint the bottom next week. I am getting so close that I feel giddy like a school boy. It's wonderful.

Here are a few pictures of what's going on.

Looking forward on the port side. Everything is epoxied and sanded except for the aft most portion of repair.

This is the deadlight on the starboard side viewed from the inside of the cabin. Eventually, I will fabricate wooden trim for the two deadlights and the two hatches.

Here are one of the new Beckson self-drain portlights installed.

This is the new starboard deadlight from the exterior. It is 3/8" tinted acrylic adhered to the cabin exterior with 3M VHB tape. I will seal it with Dow Corning 795 silicone.

This is the opening for the new cabin top hatch with the second coat of Pettit Easypoxy paint applied. If the coverage is good I will mount the new hatch tomorrow before work.
Once the deadlights and hatches are sealed the winter cover comes off and we can start to bed the hardware with the 5-gallon bucket of 316 stainless steel nuts, bolts, and washers.

More updates to come.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

I'm gainin' on it!

The projects are really getting close to completion now. While there is still a lot to do I am quite sure that we will be back in the water by the end of this month and that should still leave plenty of sailing opportunities for me this summer.

Today I spent most of the time laying down some 1708 fiberglass over the cracks that I cut open to replace the rotten core. After I cut the fiberglass strips I spent some time dry fitting the first new portlight and found that I ordered screws that were too long. But thanks to the wonderful interwebs I ordered the new 10-24 x 3/4" screws for the Beckson portlights and the screws for the new Bomar hatches from my phone and received notice just a few hours later that shipped them.

So after a really hot day last week grinding through the gelcoat along the seams of fiberglass deck I was ready to clean it down with acetone and start cutting the 1708 fiberglass to width and length.

Ready for fiberglass.
I will tell you, I have not done anything this messy and uncomfortable in my life. I happened to do all the grinding on the hottest day so far this year, while in a Tyvek coverall, inside the winter boat cover/greenhouse. There was gelcoat and fiberglass dust everywhere. It was falling out of the winter cover like snow and coated every surface of the boat. I spent more time vacuuming up the dust than I spent grinding, but the worst part of the project is now behind me and I can get on with the fiberglass work.

After laying in the 1708 fiberglass with epoxy.
Before I laid the fiberglass over the seams I filled them with slightly thickened epoxy so I would have a solid foundation for the 1708 to go on. Hopefully, this will prevent the seams from showing through the fairing epoxy I will be applying next. In a couple days, I will wash off the amine blush and lightly sand these seams then apply the epoxy thickened with West System 407 filler.

Next, I began to fit the new Beckson portlights. During this process, I found that the 1" screws I purchased were too long so I stated before I ordered new 3/4" versions. These new portlights are going to look fantastic! I have chosen to use the Beckson flush mount barrel nuts on the exterior so the trim ring will not have any fasteners showing on the exterior of the cabin. This will be a nice, clean look. Combine that with the new 3/8" thick acrylic deadlights that will be surface mounted on the exterior of the cabin using adhesive tape and caulking and the boat should look sharp. I cannot wait to mount the deadlights. I was going to make them myself but I am so glad I spent the money on a professional to make them. I could not get them to look as good as they do.

This is the Beckson Self-drain portlight dry fitted inside Bigtooth. I have the screen removed so I can work on the interior and exterior simultaneously. I think the clear lenses will allow plenty of light into the cabin that the original Bomar portlights did not. Even better is that these won't leak like the originals.
That's about it for this update. I hope to have all four opening portlights and the two deadlights installed by the end of next week and the two new hatches shortly after that. Then I only have some epoxy filler and some paint to cover the epoxy patches and re-bed the hardware. There will be some little things to do along the way but the bulk of the work will be complete and Bigtooth will be closer to getting back into the water.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Almost ready for more work.

Today was another beautiful day to work on Bigtooth. I was mostly pleased with the way the spacers turned out in the four opening portlight cutouts but there was still a void where the old drain spigots were and these needed to be filled. The new Beckson Self Drain portlights don't need the extra drains so I added some tape to the exterior of the cabin and filled them in with thickened epoxy.

I taped and filled the eight old drain cutouts with thickened epoxy.

Tomorrow I will be able to clean the amine blush off and sand them flush to the cutout before I go into work. I did learn not to forget about the extra epoxy in the plastic cup since it gets a bit warm as it undergoes it's chemical transformation.


The forward hatch was a bit of a trial but taking what I learned from the other hatch and the portlights I was able to get the new wooden spacers epoxied and clamped in place without too much hassle. I was also pleased that I only had a few drops of epoxy fall but since I had a plastic drop cloth on the v-birth and floor that was no trouble at all.

Clamps doing their thing on the forward hatch opening.
I also cleaned the amine blush off the epoxy I applied to the cracks along the transom where the traveler track and cowl vents mount. Then I sanded it all smooth, enlarged the holes for the new vents and re-drilled all the holes to the proper size. Working on solid fiberglass is so much easier than cored fiberglass. Before mounting the track and vents I will brush on a coat of Pettit Easypoxy to keep the epoxy protected from UV. This is the same thing I will be doing for the hundreds of gelcoat cracks that I am filling. It won't look nice but it will be dry and protected until I get to the point of painting the entire deck and adding new non-skid. The new vents will be installed at the same time as the opening portlights are installed since they all need the 795 silicone to seal them.

Here is an overview of the repaired cracks and enlarged holes for the vents.

A little closer look at the work area.
Tomorrow before work I will remove all the clamps and tape and then continue to grind out the gelcoat cracks and get ready to fill them with thickened epoxy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


I have been making a lot of progress on Bigtooth but it does not look like it. There must be hundreds of gelcoat cracks that I have ground-out, cleaned with acetone, filled with thickened epoxy, and sanded smooth. However, when I stand back and look at it there are still hundreds of cracks left to treat the same way.

I did finish the repair on the top hatch opening and while it does not look nice it is solid and should accept the new hatch perfectly. I made four wood spacers to fit between the headliner and the inside fiberglass layer and four more to fit between the inside and outside layers of fiberglass. I used come wood that I had at the house and it turned out to be poplar. Now I am sure that poplar is not the first choice of boat builders so after milling it to the correct thicknesses and cutting them to length I used Smith's CPES to make sure that they would be as water tight as they could be and still provide a good substrate to screw the new hatch down properly. I taped wax paper over some wooden cauls I made from scrap 2x4s to use with the clamps. One of the most important things I learned over the years while woodworking is to not over-tighten your clamps. It's really easy to wrench down and put hundreds of foot-pounds of pressure but all you do is squeeze out all of your adhesive and leave a weak, dry joint. With the epoxy thickened a bit, I only applied pressure until there was a little squeeze-out. I left the clamps in place for a week since I did not have a chance to get back to the boat until then. The wax paper made it easy to remove the cauls and I have an edge ready to sand.

Here is a view from inside the cabin looking to starboard.

I only used an upper spacer since there was a huge block of polyester resin between the headliner and lower skin.

All eight clamps doing their job.

Firmly epoxied and ready to sand.
The hatch opening now is a uniform thickness and has a solid wood foundation for the hatch screws to firmly attach. This will allow the 3M 4000UV sealant to make a water tight seal between he hatch and the deck.

I was able to get the 1/4" spacers epoxied in place along the lower edge of each of the four opening portlights. This was a bit tricky to do alone as the epoxy makes the wood very slippery. I did lose one spacer to the void so it will either be permanently glued to the inside of the headliner or will fall out when I heal to starboard.  

I also glued the new balsa core into the foredeck and replaced the top layer of fiberglass that I removed previously. This did not go over too well.

I used almost all of the 2'x4' sheet of balsa to replace the old, rotten core material.

I was convinced by the person at the store I purchased the core material from to use a polyester cream to bed the core and then polyester resin to glue the top layer back on after wetting out the balsa. I did this but I did not get good adhesion and will have to figure out what to do next. I think that grinding down the edges and using chopped strand mat and fiberglass tape to seal everything back up is the best course of action right now. After the boat is in the water I can drill some holes and fill with thickened epoxy to get good adhesion and make the deck void-free. The important thing to me is to make sure that it is watertight. I suppose that only time will tell.

The last update for the day is that I finally finished sewing the nine dacron panels together to form the body of the new genoa. Now it's on to finishing the three edges and add the sacrificial sun protector. The sail project has taken a back seat to the fiberglass work since the temperatures are cooperating now in New England. More sail work will be done on rainy days and when I don't have enough time to drive to the boat yard.

Now all nine panels are sewn together and ready to finish the edges.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Work is progressing nicely.

Well, the massive work on Bigtooth is underway and progressing nicely. My great friend, Wade, from North Carolina, came up to have a working vacation with me to give a boost to the long project list. Since it snowed on the first day of spring (the first day we were going to work on the boat) we sanded and applied the second coat of TotalBoat Penetrating Epoxy Sealer. The difference in the appearance of the teak is incredible already and I will be applying a few coats of spar varnish to finish them off.

After two coats of CPES, the drop boards are looking so much better. Even after bleaching the top board has remained darker than the others. It seems to be a replacement since the color and grain are different and it is slightly thinner than the bottom three.
The CPES did a fantastic job of penetrating the teak and leveling the surface so I should not have to apply as many coats of spar varnish to get a nice smooth finish. There are blemished and a few nicks in these boards but they look so much better now. They should also hold up to the weather better now that they are sealed completely.

The following day we went out to the boat and tried to begin stripping the bottom paint but after fighting with the drop cloth in the wind we quickly gave up on that and moved to the protection under the winter boat cover. Here we began the very labor intense process of removing all of the old duct tape and the residue it left behind. Wade used a couple different scrapers and progressed nicely during the day. During this time, I began to enlarge the gelcoat cracks to prepare them for repair. The plan was to fill them with epoxy as a tempory measure until I can continue the core repair and then repaint the entire deck. After burning through a few different Dremel bits I finaly found one that worked like magic on the gelcoat. The Dremel 952 3/8" Aluminum Oxide Grinding Stone cut through the old gelcoat and left a perfectly smooth, tapered edge like a hot knife through butter. The other import thing is that it did not burn up, it just kept going.

After Wade was tired of scraping he started to remove the old polyester resin between the portlight openings and the headliner. Again, this was a task that took some experimentation to find the right tool for the job. The resin was almost as hard as steel and just about every cutting tool used just broke after a short time of cutting. Finally, we went to Home Depot and picked up a new blade for my oscillating tool and before too long all four opening portlight holes were clean and ready to take measurements for the new wood spacers.

The next day we brought the new Beckson opening portlights and Bomar hatches. We first put the portlights into the opening and my heart sank. The spigot on the self-drain model of portlights I purchased was too short and the trim ring would not fit on. This is bad since I am beyond the window for returns at JMS and would have to try and sell these on eBay and purchase the rain-drain version that has a 2.5" spigot. After looking at it for a minute I decided that I could cut thinner spacers to go between the outer cabin wall and the headliner and epoxy them in place. There seems to be enough flexibility in the headliner to make this work but I suppose only time will tell. Dry fitting the hatches went exactly as planned with the forward hatch fitting perfectly and the cabin top hatch opening needing to be enlarged slightly. Of course, it took seven jigsaw blades to make the four cuts through the fiberglass/polyester cabin top. Thankfully I had exactly seven saw blades in my toolbox.

We spent four days working on Bigtooth and made some wonderful progress. As the temperature increases here in New England I will spend more time on the boat and start the epoxy work and installation of the ports and hatches.

More updates will be coming soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Winter projects...holy cow!

With Bigtooth in her frozen cocoon for the winter here in Connecticut and her new slip for the 2016 sailing season paid for I have started all the indoor projects that will get her seaworthy for her late April, early May launch. Below you will find some photos of the various projects that have been started and I will update them as I complete each one.

First is the biggest winter project and that is sewing a new set of sails. I ordered two kits from Sailrite for a main and a 150% genoa to replace the old, tired, and mouse soiled sails that came with the boat when I purchased her. After looking at a few places online for new sails and even used I felt that sewing my own what a better value both for my wallet and my soul. I paid just under $1400 for complete kits for the two sails and since I already have the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 sewing machine that my wife gave me for Christmas a few years ago I was ready to go. I have been looking forward to this project for a long time as I love doing any sort of work that I get to build things. I have to say that Jeff Frank at Sailrite has been wonderful in helping me select the material and sizing for my sails. He also has answered all of my questions that I have had so far in the construction of the genoa.

The biggest challenge to this project, of course, is working indoors on a sail that is 33' 9" at it's longest in a room that is only 30' long. It has been a great challenge and I am learning a lot about the process and getting much better at sewing really long seems. (Each seam between the panels get two rows of zig-zag stitches.)

The genoa looks rather small on the roll it was shipped on.

In my front yard, the existing genoa didn't seem very big. The new one rolled out in my dining/living room is another story.

Getting ready to start sewing.

This is one of the longer seams connecting two of the panels together. I have to run two rows of zig-zag stitches along the seam of each panel. Scrolling the panels to fit under the sewing machine arm and make them more manageable is a challenge in and of itself. Since the room is not long enough for this panel I had to sew until I hit the door and then pull the sewing machine and panels back about three feet and sew the rest of the seam.

Detail of the clew patch assembly after installing the 2" D-ring on the genoa with the webbing installed.

This is a view of the patch assembly before sewing it to the sail and adding the last patch to the top. This puts the webbing that holds the D-ring between the sail and the top patch.

Here is the clew patch completely sewn to the sail. Later there will be edge treatment, UV dacron sun protector (this is a furling genoa), and a hand sewn leather patch.
The next project was to repair and refinish the teak on the exterior of Bigtooth. I really wanted to buy new teak and fabricate new grab rails, drop boards, and companionway trim but at $30 per board foot I was just not willing to spend that money, and more importantly, spend the time. The grab rails are not salvageable so I will fill the holes in the cabin top in the spring and go without this season. If all goes well over the summer I will buy the teak and make new grab rails over the next winter.

In an earlier post, I showed some pictures of the drop boards after sanding them. The companionway trim was in bad shape but salvageable. I used West System epoxy and filler to fix the cracks and missing wood. Then I used some Oxalic Acid to even out the color of all the teak parts. Lots of sanding. Next will be a coat of TotalBoat Penetrating Sealer before four coats of spar varnish.

This is what I started with for the companionway trim.
After sanding with 80-grit paper on my random orbit sander. 
Here is the crack on the top of the trim that holds the drop boards in place.
This is the back side of the piece pictured above. There is quite a large piece missing as you can see.
Taping off the area surrounding the area to be repaired so I have less cleanup to do afterward. 
This is the front view of the area to be repaired. 
After putting a generous amount of unthickened epoxy on the top of the crack.
To get the viscous epoxy into the thin crack, I held the hose of my shop vac on the underside and it pulled the epoxy all the way through and then I applied clamps to close the crack up.
You don't want to put too much pressure on the clamps or you will squeeze out too much epoxy and have a weak repair. 
With the remaining epoxy, I added filler and poured it into the large gap on the back of the board.
Another view of the thickened epoxy on the back of the trim.
After the epoxy cured on the repair above I thickened some more epoxy and filled the six countersunk holes so that I can drill them all to the same depth since they were all deteriorating at a different rate.

Another project that I just completed is removing the broken bolt from the front of the stemhead. The stainless steel bolt had a bad case of galvanic corrosion and there was no way to separate the bolt from the aluminum stemhead. I did try by heating and cooling the stemhead and using a screw extractor bit but that did not work. Next was using left twist drill bits but that too failed. Eventually, the solution was to drill the hole larger and tapping it one size larger to accept a 7/16-14 size bolt.
Here is the stemhead with the broken bolt flush with the surface and corroded together.
First up was heating the stemhead and trying to remove the bolt with a screw extractor and left twist drill bits. All to no avail.
After drilling the hole to 23/64" and tapping it to 7/16-14. I also filed the surface flat with a bastard mill file so the chainplate will lay flat against the stemhead.
I put a longer 7/16-4 bolt into the newly tapped hole and marked the depth of the hole with tape so I can order the correct length 316 stainless steel bolt.

I will clean up the stemhead so it looks a bit nicer but other than that it's ready to reinstall once the sun returns to my corner of the world. I will, of course, have to enlarge the one hole on the chainplate to accomodate the larger size bolt.

The last project for this post is to clean up and inspect the chainplates for any signs of fatigue. I tried some stainless steel polishing compound on a cloth wheel on my slow speed grinder for this task. I think it will work just fine.

Here are two of the chainplates. The picture does not show how much contrast there is between the two but I am very pleased.

The next post will have updates on these projects with final pictures and the plans ahead. As always, please leave feedback and any tips you might have on these projects. I am always willing to learn new things.