Saturday, December 20, 2014


I’ve been building boat parts for the last week. 


The bottom piece with the rounded end is the teak bow pulpit, visible in the photo below.  The angle irons are new fabrication and the existing bow roller bracket is visible in the drawing and the photo.


I drew the area using Sketchup before we left the boat in July.  The final rendition is this one where I have scrubbed out the teak bow pulpit to leave only the stainless steel assembly which I need to now build. 


Some of you may have experience fabricating in stainless.  Its challenging.  Stainless is not that hard to cut, if you cut it the first time.  The problem is that it does something called “work hardening” which means that if your saw or drill misses even one opportunity to cut then the material becomes so hard that nothing will touch it.  A good example is my experience cutting 2 little tabs out of 2” x 3/16 bar yesterday.  On the first cut my reciprocating Dewalt cut through the bar with one blade.  On the second piece I clearly didn’t put enough pressure on the saw because I scrubbed the teeth off three blades before I finished the identical cut that had cost me one blade the first time.

My drill press turns out to be not even close to adequate for drilling stainless.  In order to keep it cutting you have to put serious pressure on the drill and my press simply doesn’t have enough rigidity and torque to handle the necessary forces.  Fortunately I was able to figure out how to do the drilling in the lathe.  Before I figured that out I spent a whole morning drilling one pilot hole in the press.  In the course of that fiasco I broke probably 6 or 8 bits.  Clearly that wasn’t going to work for a total of 14 holes in the entire project.  To make matters worse, most of those holes are 1/2” diameter but I broke all those bits on a 1/4” or possibly smaller pilot hole. 

I had to partially disassemble the lathe, removing the back plate and the guard but with those items out of the way I was able to clamp the parts to the cross slide and from there it was dead simple.  All morning to drill one pilot hole in the press versus roughly a day of drilling to do all the finished holes in the lathe.  Then I ran myself out of MIG wire welding everything together.  I almost got done before I ran out so it won’t take much to finish up and we were already planning to go to Saskatoon on Boxing Day. 


1/2” bit emerging through 2 x 2 x 1/4” 304 SS.

(The guard and backplate are still in place in this picture – I had to remove them in order to drill the holes closer to the centre of the long angle irons)

This project arose because our windlass won’t bring the anchor completely aboard.  If you look at that first photo above with the anchor chain leading straight down from the bow roller you can imagine what happens at the point when the anchor stock reaches the bow roller.  At that instant there is roughly 100 pounds of anchor hanging 2-1/2 feet below the bow roller with the chain bent at 90 degrees over the roller.  There’s no way in hell any reasonably sized windlass is going to pull the stock at that point because the entire weight of the anchor has to swing up and out.

The theory of my modification is that the roller and the entire bracket that houses the roller will pivot at the critical moment.  By the time the anchor stock “emerges” it will have travelled through the pivoting bracket which will give the windlass roughly 7 inches of leverage to lift the anchor.  That should be more than adequate.  Currently I go forward and give the anchor a little tug with the boat hook while Marilyn works the windlass button.  It only takes a momentary lift to get the anchor past the sticking point so I don’t think it will take much help to get it home with only the windlass.  There are times when its not entirely convenient to climb out in the pulpit and lift the anchor, not to mention the challenge that single handing creates.  I’ve lifted the anchor alone but I actually can’t remember how I did it.

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