Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Perry Como, Jack Daniels, and Power Tools

Power Tools
One of the "problems" with well-built boats is that they aren't meant to be taken apart. The upside is that they probably won't break up and sink in a storm at sea. The downside is that when you do want to remove something, the job can be rather epic in scope.

If the previous owner of said old boat was neglectful (or worse, a little kooky) any repair or removal job will climb the scales in difficulty.

Take the thru-hulls and seacocks on our lovely old boat. This week I started getting ready for our little galley remodel by stripping down the port side of the cabin interior. I removed the holding tank (everyone's favorite this case made even better by the fact that the only thing the previous owner apparently put in the tank was that blue chemical concoction that is supposed to make things smell "better"), I removed some of the wood, and pulled some of the wire and hoses that ran through the locker. So then I was left with this:

That seacock is looking pretty good, no? Big surprise that it was permanently corroded in the closed position. The hose was completely clogged and the handle had obviously not been exercised in a decade. No matter, all of the seacocks and thru-hulls are being replaced anyway.

So now I just had to pull the thing out. Once I confirmed that the flange wasn't bolted to anything, I grabbed the trusty pipe wrench and gave it a few (million) tugs. I pounded on it with the hammer. I torqued it. I hammered it more. Nothing.

It's then that I notice the seacock is not only threaded onto the thru-hull like normal, it is EPOXIED to the hull. Epoxy. Not sealant. Not glue. Epoxy. Are you kidding me with this?

There is no way it is coming out. Ideas anyone?

Calling Dennis confirmed my idea: figure out how to cut the damn thing out of there.

Bring in the 4" angle grinder! I decided to grind the flange off the outside of the thru-hull in hopes that I could pull the whole apparatus through the inside of the boat.

(insert grinding sound and flying metal shavings here)

No dice.

Bring in the Sawzall. I love the Sawzall, if only because that is really what it is called. I cut through the inside of the thru-hull until it was in quarters, pried it out with a screwdriver, and there you have it: after 5 hours of heavy labor, we have removed ONE of the thru-hulls from the boat.

At least now I know what I'm up against. I hope to pull the rest of them this week and order the Maleron replacements soon...This is why you don't want to pay boat yard prices for labor, by the way. 5 hours at $45 an hour? Plus one saw blade and one grinding disc? Plus one dust mask? It adds up. All this job cost me was a little bit of skin (though the next job would cost me a toenail...)

The Cape Dory Time Capsule
I knew that when Hayden got here she would want to do some work on the interior wood work, so I decided to take a break from my destruction of the underwater metals and do some prep for her. I pulled the bunk top boards out of the v-berth, exposing the water tank and its plumbing. Then I figure, what the hell? We have to clean and inspect it anyway, let's take it out and do it on the ground!

Piece of cake. Easiest job yet. The tank lifts out (note to self, build straps to hold the tank in place when we put it back). I set in on the driveway and rinse it out.

This is when the tank decides to attack me. As it filled with water, it rolled onto one of its sides right onto my flip-flop protected big toe. Instant purple toenail. Awesome. The good news is I am only supposed to run a HALF marathon this weekend, not a full 26.2. Crap.

Anyway, back to the boat. I have no doubt that the bunk top boards have not been removed since the boat was built. So the mess underneath them is pretty epic. Dust, dirt, grime, mold, pennies, paper clips. Perry Como and Jack Daniels.

Yep. There under the water tank was a mint condition Perry Como 8-Track tape and an unopened airline-sized bottle of Jack Daniels. Jackpot. I can't help but imagine the tee-totalling former owner of the boat sneaking mini-liquor bottles onboard when his wife isn't looking, getting a good buzz on and grooving to some Perry Como. Sweet.

Next Up
As I post this I am heading back out into the heat (record heat here in Seattle this week, with temps climbing above 100 degrees for the first time in history) to get back to work on those thru-hulls. First the head has to come out. Which, after the holding tank, is everyone's favorite job.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your toe, but you do write a funny narrative. The photo of the 8-track is great. I might use it in class. :)

  2. I'm just sad that we have now mined the deepest depths of the bilge and there are no more time capsule prizes waiting for us. :(