Monday, February 10, 2014

Projects in Seattle

Well the thermometer moved up overnight and the sun came out this afternoon.  The day started out raining which washed away the little bits of snow that were left and this afternoon its in the mid 40’s again.  The wind is blowing a bit but you gotta love 45 degree weather in mid-February.

I’ve got about 4 boat projects on the go.  The cleat installation is ongoing – today I caught the bus to Stoneway Hardware in Ballard and bought a couple of 6 x 1/2 galvanized bolts.  Stoneway is an incredible hardware store – I shopped there a lot when we were originally outfitting Gray Hawk and I think I’ve already been there four times this trip.  They have the most incredible selection of fasteners in bronze, brass, stainless, galvanized and zinc plated.  They actually had 1/2” sizes – 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 etc in all their galvanized bolts at least up to the 6 inch length that I was buying.  If they’ve got that assortment in galvanized then I can only imagine what they have in zinc plated and stainless.  There’s two long aisles with bulk bins up to my eye level on both sides for fasteners.

When I drilled the deck for the cleat it turned out that the deck is wood cored.  I don’t particularly like that.  Wood cores tend to be a problem on these old Taiwanese tubs because they get wet and rot.  True to form some water ran out when I drilled through.  Not much I can do about that now so I’m trying to seal the core where the bolts go through.  I bedded the cleat to the deck in thickened epoxy and then drilled through the cleat and deck.  Now I’ve got the bottoms of those holes plugged and I filled the holes with heated epoxy resin.  (heating it makes it thinner so it will work its way deeper into the wood)  Once that cures I’ll drill the holes again. 

While that is curing I’ve got a drainage project underway in the starboard aft locker (boatspeak for drawers on the right hand side at the back of the boat)  I dunno why boaters think they have to call things heads and galleys and lockers instead of shitters, kitchens and drawers but after a while it sort of becomes a habit.There’s a low spot under the stack of drawers where condensation from the inside of the hull collects and pools.  Then the water works its way under the floor and generally causes problems.  So last night I drilled a drainage hole as close to the bottom of that low spot as I could get.  I was a little spooked about drilling the hole because nothing is square and it felt like I might be drilling through the hull.  I wasn’t but it felt like I was and of course it was an awkward spot where I had to stand on my head and work blind which only made it feel more like I was about to put a 1/2” hole in the hull 3 feet below the waterline.

The hole ended up about 3/4 of an inch above the absolute bottom of the pocket so today I filled that space with epoxy resin.  The problem I had was that the spot was damp from condensation and my access was too limited to let me put a fan in to dry it out.  So I ended up wiping the area down as well as I could with paper towels and then I deliberately caused the epoxy to “kick”.  One of the features of epoxy that everyone who uses it eventually learns is how unpredictable it can be.  A batch that normally might take 7 or 8 hours to cure can all of a sudden start smoking and cure in a few minutes if you aren’t careful about how you handle it.  Typically what happens is you get too much depth of resin in a pot and the heat of reaction can’t escape fast enough so it starts a chain reaction which is referred to as “kicking”.  This morning my goal was to deliberately cause it to kick and I accomplished that by preheating the resin in the microwave.  It didn’t take much – I probably had 6 or 8 oz of resin and I heated it for less than 30 seconds.  I had about 30 seconds to dump it in the hold before it started steaming and a couple of minutes later it was rock solid.


I’ve also got the cover from the foredeck that goes over the storage compartment for the electrical cord in the cabin.  It was almost completely falling apart so I reglued it a few days ago and now I’m refinishing it.  Sometimes people ask “but what do you DO on a boat?”  Well, some weeks you mainly fix things.

I managed to find a 3 year old Garmin radome that is supposed to be in good condition and bought it from some dude in Maine.  It should arrive here this week.  The guy who wrote the core of the open source charting software that we use has also written a plug-in to drive a Garmin radome from within the software.  I just couldn’t talk myself into spending $1,200 to $3,000 for the radar display – buying just the radome was bad enough but considerably less painful.  By all reports Dave’s plug-in works really well and it sounds like a relatively simple installation. 

Apparently the Garmin radomes use a Cat 5 ethernet cable to take the radar information out of the radome.  Evidently all of the processing is actually done in the radome with the display simply acting as, well ….. a display.  I guess we’ll see but it will be a while because I need a special Amphenol connector which I ordered from Digi-Key.  That’s coming to Regina so it will be a while before we connect with it and once we do I’ll have to modify it a bit before we will know if the whole project is going to work or not.  Stay tuned.

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