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.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A look a the work ahead.

Today I made a quick video aboard Bigtooth to document some of the work that I am going to try and do this fall and winter before the weather warms back up and I can finish the core project.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

New Winter Cover

Today I finished the installation of a new winter cover on Bigtooth. Last year I purchased the Kover Klamp framing system and installed it on Bigtooth with a cheap blue tarp. While the frame held up without any issues the blue tarp was destroyed and was torn to shreds and blown across the boat yard. I am not ready to sew a custom fabric cover due to time constrictions with work and children so I called up the folks at Kover Klamp again and ordered their Ultra Kover. This is a very durable three part laminate material with a mesh core. I ordered a 22' x 40' cover, Kover Klips, door kit, sealing tape, and strapping. Everything but the cover was at my doorstep two days later and the cover arrived within the two week window they said it would. The cover weighed in at about 45 lbs. and I had my son help me unroll it and re-fold and roll it in a way that would make it easier to install.

This is how the cover looked after my wife and I installed it in a hurry a couple weeks ago. It is oversize and tied down irregularly.

This is a view from the port side of the bow looking aft.

This is looking at the un-trimmed cover from the port side looking forward.

Two weeks ago my wife and I installed the cover the best we could with the strong winds that day. I went back today to trim the cover to size, strap it down properly and vacuum the rest of the water out of the interior that has accumulated since the blue tarp failed. I spent most of the day working alone on this project and everything went very well. I started with the installation of the zippered door. Following the instructions from Kover Klamp I positioned the door where I wanted it and cleaned the surfaces with denatured alcohol. I cut the sealing tape to length and worked my way around all four sides of the door. After taping the door onto the cover I unzipped it and cut the cover to make the access hole. Everything worked perfectly and I was able to climb right into the cockpit and inspect the boat. I was very pleased that there did not seem to be a drop of new water inside the cover even after the heavy wind and rain from the past week. The cover also lets in a good amount of light since I ordered the white version (it's also available in clear and black).

The zippered door installed and cover trimmed with clips evenly spaced along the length of the cover.

The completed cover from the port side of the bow looking aft.

The completed cover from the starboard side of the stern looking forward.

Next I trimmed some of the excess from the bottom sides of the cover and added some darts using the sealing tape to finish them and allow the cover to follow the curve of the boat from stern towards the bow. I also started to place the Kover Klips at regular intervals on both sides of the boat and used the strapping to tie the cover on. I used a trucker's hitch to tie the strapping to the clips from one side to the other. This allowed me to pull the cover tight so it won't move in heavy winds that frequent the boat yard in the winter.

Here is what the inside of the cover looks like from the cockpit forward. I covered all of the 3/4" steel conduit with foam pipe insulation as recommended by Kover Klamps to extend the life of the Ultra Kover. I also made little boots with the pipe insulation to cover the tops of the stanchions.

Another view of the inside of the cover from the bow looking aft.

The door is small but works perfectly to gain access without having to remove the tie down strapping on the cover.

After vacuuming all of the water out of the settee storage compartments, anchor chain locker, and the little remaining in the bilge I was ready to call it a day.

All-in-all it was a great day of working on the boat. I am hoping that this cover will hold in some heat this winter so I can continue to work on Bigtooth to be sure she is read for sailing next year.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Installing a garboard drain

Today I finally had some time to work on Bigtooth and install the garboard drain I have been planning for some time now. Before I started I had to empty 30 gallons of rain water from the bilge. (At least this was the last time I have to do that.)

I used three drill bits to get this job done. The first was a small twist bit with a 90-degree angle attachment on my drill that I used from inside the bilge at the lowest point to drill a locator hole through the hull. On this Watkins 27 that hole was on the top, port side of the keel. This will be the bottom of the hole for the garboard drain.

If you look closely just above the corner you can see the small locator hole.
Next I went to the outside of the hull and held the drain up with the bottom of the drain spout on the locator hold and marked the center of the garboard drain. Then I used a 2" Forstner bit to drill the flat-bottomed hole to counter-sink the flange of the garboard drain. (This is of course not necessary but I think it looks nicer than just screwing it on the outside of the hull.)

The 2" hole to recess the garboard drain into.
Now that the Forstner bit left the center mark I used that with a 1" hole saw to drill completely through the hull and into the bilge. 1" was just a tad too small for the garboard drain and I wanted to leave room for the adhesive to create a solid bond so I used the side of a large twist bit to enlarge the hole.

Exterior view of the holes.

Interior of the bilge with the through hole drilled.
After scraping away the anti-fouling paint from the exterior of the hull, locating and drilling the pilot holes for the three screws, and cleaning everything up with acetone I was ready for the 3M 5200. I am told that nothing says permanent like 5200 and I don't want this to come out.

Cleaned up and ready to install the garboard drain.
Before the final mounting I put the garboard drain in place and marked it inside the wall of the bilge and used my bench grinder to make it flush with the inside of the bilge. A nice bed of 5200 and I pushed the garboard drain into it's new home and secured it with three #8 silicone-bronze screws. I had good squeeze-out through the screw holes and around the outside edge of the garboard drain so I am confident that I have a void free installation of adhesive. After some cleanup and clearing the slots of the three screws I was finished with this little project.

The finished project from inside the bilge.

The finished project from the exterior of the hull.
The final step will be a little fairing compound and sanding before applying the new bottom paint. Of course I will first strip all of the old paint off and make sure there are no blisters or damage to the gelcoat but that's for another day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A little woodworking

With my job, yard work, my son's baseball games, my daughter's gymnastics and dance recital I have not had much time to work on Bigtooth during that past couple weeks. Today since I had a little time before the children get out of school I thought I would start on some of the woodwork for the boat. The companionway drop boards are the only teak from the exterior of the boat that I will be able to salvage. The drop board retainers and the companionway sliding hatch retainers are split so I will create new ones from new teak using the broken ones as templates. I used my 6" random orbit sander with 80-grit sandpaper and the task went rather well. It took four sandpaper discs to complete the initial sanding since there was old varnish on the drop boards and this clogs sandpaper quickly.

Here are the outside faces of the drop boards after removing the hardware. The bottom two were scraped and sanded by my son and me using a card scraper. This was not very efficient at all.

After about 30 minutes of sanding using the random orbit sander and 80-grit paper the drop boards are ready to be cleaned and detail sanded.
Unfortunately I don't have much more time today but it feels good to get any work done on Bigtooth. I plan to first use Smith's Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer (CPES) then put on a spar varnish before it fully cures to ensure a strong bond between the sealer and finish.

As for the other teak parts, I think I will buy the pre-made teak hand rails from West Marine if they match my old rails. 4/4 teak locally is $30/board foot and that makes buying pre-made rails less money. It will also save me precious time and that is at a premium these days.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The point of no return.

Today I started the process of replacing the damaged core on Bigtooth. I decided to start with the port side foredeck since it is in the worse shape. I used my Rockwell Sonicrafter oscillating tool with a new metal/wood/plastic blade in it and started to cut a triangular piece of the top fiberglass/gelcoat lamination off. This tool worked well but was by no means fast. The up side to this is that moving slowly allowed me to really see what I was doing and not over cut and cause more damage than necessary. It was difficult to know where the cored part of the deck stopped at the edge of the deck where the toerail mounts so I drilled a couple exploratory holes and cut to the inside of where the bow pulpit mounts to the deck (about 4" inboard of the edge of the deck). After prying the section of fiberglass/gelcoat off I found that I could have gone a little closer the the toerail but better safe than sorry. I will have to clean out the bad core material under the 2" lip and slide the new material under it. The only spot that was still glued down was near the forward hatch that was fiberglass and not wood core. Overall it was still rather easy to pull up with a little elbow grease.  On the starboard side I will try to get closer to the edge of the cored area but it seems to be uneven and I can always cut the starboard piece of new core shorter and add a filler in between the port and starboard pieces to accommodate this.

As for the core material, it was made from 5 3/4" x 5 3/4" x 1/4" pieces of plywood like a patchwork quilt. Most of it was so wet that I could wring the water out of it. I also noticed that this method left a lot of spaces between the individual pieces of core and there was not enough epoxy resin used so it was working like a water channel in between the fiberglass skins. I used a paint scraper to remove the parts of old core that still were glued in but there were not many of these. I will bring the top skin back to my house to clean up and sand to prepare it to be used again. I will have to sand the bottom skin before doing the new core layup so I get good adhesion. My only concern is that the inner fiberglass skin is much thinner than the top skin and since there is space between the inner fiberglass headliner and the inner skin I will not be able to push the inner skin up from below to get good contact with the bottom of the new core material. I hope that the thickened epoxy I will be using will fill any low spots and not leave voids. Of course it will likely take 30 years to find out so I suppose it's okay.

I am working under the winter cover so that I have less wind to blow around the dust that will be made during this project and the sun won't be beating down on the deck and my back. Of course this makes for poor lighting for the pictures.

Here is the panel after cutting and before removing it. You can see that on the port side it lifted up after the cut was made.
No wonder the core stayed wet after it penetrated the deck. All of this wood was wet. The darker the color of the wood, the wetter it was.

After removing all of the damaged core material.

I will be replacing all of the core on the deck and cabin top but I thought I would have to use 3/4" balsa but only needing 1/4" saves me about 50% of what I was anticipating. That's a good thing indeed.