Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Deep Dark Place

The bilge on the CD 27 uses up every bit of the boat's four foot draft. Even stretched out as far as I can reach, the bottom of that cavern is unreachable.

This presents a bit of an issue with the bilge pumps.

One: How to install an electric pump when you can't reach the bottom of the bilge to install one.
Two: How to keep the manual pump hose fastened down so it doesn't float when the bilge fills up with water?

I puzzled over this for about a year. Then I remembered the installation I saw on an Island Packet a while back.

So I grabbed some cardboard and starting building some mockups. Fun times.

The idea was to make a rack that all of the bilge apparatus would attached to that could be bolted down or removed from the bilge in one piece.

Here is what I ended up with after some cutting and shaping of some plastic StarBoard lumber.

The Bilge "Rack" Ready to Be Installed
I made a shelf for the electric pump that sits about 2 inches off the bottom of the bilge, which should keep it free of debris and reduce clogging. The strainer for the manual bilge pump is screwed to the bottom of the rack and is meant to sit on the very bottom of the bilge. It has a built-in check valve so water won't backflow into the bilge when the pump stops. I ran the wire in split-loom conduit and attached it to the rack with a cable clamp. The circular cutout is a guide for the manual pump hose.

Using the template the rack was made from, I drilled two holes in the forward part of the bilge and epoxied two short pieces of all-thread into them so the holes at the top of the rack would slide over them. 

Looking down at the rack installed. You can see how the hose guide works and also the bolts sticking out waiting for washers and nuts to secure everything in place.
It's a pretty tidy installation, if I do say so myself. If anything goes wrong with either pump, I can unbolt the whole thing and lift it out.

Now that the pumps were both in place, I was able to finally run the hoses up and out of the way in their final position. Here you can see them running up and over the engine compartment. The other hoses you see are the propane hose for the galley stove and a wire conduit for the water pump and port side cabin lights. As soon as I snapped this picture, I realized I should have painted this section of the compartment before installing the hoses. Woops. So I loosened them up and painted everything out before reinstalling them. Nothing like doing a job twice!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Engine

This is what will adorn than nice shiny space under the companionway. Betamarine 16. More later...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Diesel Dreams

I get all choked up when I say this, but next week we will put down the deposit to have our brand new 16 horsepower, two-cylinder diesel engine built for our new old boat. Weep. Sniffle.

It's true. The Diesel Santa is coming to The Boatyard early this year, and he will leave a crate in the garage that has a brand new, custom built, red diesel engine inside of it. Realizing that the best time to do almost anything to a boat is when the engine is out of its little hole under the companionway, I have been frantically sanding, grinding, washing, and painting everything I can get to.

With the engine out, here is what we were faced with:

Gross. I let that sit there for a while and then in one full day push, I started in on the problem.

First, the prop shaft and stuffing box had to go. No small affair. Everything is bonded to everything else and nothing wants to move. I pounded away at that damn thing for the better part of a 90 degree day before finally tasting victory. After 30 years, everything was perfectly happy where it was.

Then I realized that the old battery "box" had to go. By box I mean rotting plywood platform that apparently served to hold a couple of leaky lead-acid batteries down. Here is what became of that:

That's a nice pile of crap ya got there. Thanks.

Once the old plywood was out, I had to take out the fiberglass tabbing that held that POS in place. Bring in the grinder. I love that thing.

But it does make a dusty mess of everything. Including the operator.

After several hours of grinding and sanding, I had an inch of dust on everything and a clogged up shop vac. What to do, what to do...Why not just drown it?

So off to the garden to get the hose. I washed down each cockpit locker and the engine compartment, sending my dust into the bilge, where it made a lovely mud. No worries. A heavy duty sump pump and some dredging work will take care of that.

Once the water had dried (2 minutes in the heat of the day) I gave everything a nice bath in acetone, sanded down a few rough spots, and got out the epoxy paint.

And when I left today, there was a nice bed just waiting for a new motor. Isn't it precious?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Is This Progress I See Before Me?

Today the offspring and I dropped by to visit the grandparents and check on the boat. Yep. Still there.

When I got out of the car, I was surprised to see Dad pop his head out of the companionway.

"What are you doing, Dad?"

He held up a length of chain and a small come-along winch.

"Figuring out how to get this engine out of here." It was then that I noticed the Hi-Lift parked by the garage. Painters were busily working on the house. "When they go home tonight we can use their lift and yank this thing out of here. If it comes out."

I had long ago unhooked every hose and wire on the engine. I had removed the starter and the fuel filters. It was stripped down as far as it would go. I disconnected the propeller shaft and unbolted the engine mounts. For a couple of months, The Beast - the original Yanmar YSM8 - had been sitting in the engine compartment disconnected from the boat. But would it come out?

What possessed Dad to want it out of there is anyone's guess. But as the kids tore off to the beach to search for treasure (read: shells they could color with permanent markers) I walked up the boat to see that it was pretty much rigged for lifting.

But the lifting would have to wait until the painters called it a day.

In the meantime, I went below and got to work on some other projects. I pulled out the propane hose that needs to be replaced and did a little sanding of the bulkhead. But I was totally unfocused. Then I saw the 100' spool of wire sitting next to the tool kit. I have tried several times to find a good wire run for the cabin lights. But since Cape Dory sandwiched the wiring between two parts of the hull, there is no channel in which to run new wire.

Determined, I grabbed the fish tape and started just jamming it in between the headliner and the hull. Dead end. Dead end. Sliced finger. Dead end. Swear word.

And then? Miraculously that damn fish tape slid from the overhead fixture at the galley right down to where the new panel will be mounted. I have to say I was a bit in shock at my luck, so I left the tape there, sat down, and had a beer. Progress!

After a cold Rainier (PBR wasn't on sale this week), I attached some wire and pulled it back through. Success. One wire run complete from panel to fixture.

The other four main cabin wire runs weren't quite so easy, but with the help of Offspring #1's long arms and skinny fingers, we were able to get wires pulled for 4 cabin lights (which will be one circuit), the fresh water pump, the bilge pump, and the propane fireplace.

Here is said child labeling a wire. The DC panel will go on the bulkhead to the side of the companionway behind her.

By then it was dinner time. And then came the big event.

I carefully drove the Hi-Lift next to the boat and lowered the bucket right over the companionway. Dad hooked up his lifting harness.

I crawled down into the boat and, using the come-along, started lifted the engine an inch at a time to get it free of the boat. It took a little persuading since one of the year engine mounts didn't want to let go, but after a little jostling, the engine broke free and smashed my hand against the fiberglass of the engine compartment. Awesome.

The big question remained. Would the engine fit through the opening under the companionway stairs? It's a safe bet that Cape Dory installed the engine before the deck was even on the boat, so this thing has never been through that opening. I have heard of other owners having to cut away some of the fiberglass to get their engines out.

At first I thought we were screwed. I tried pivoting the engine around the corner like moving a couch through a doorway. No dice. Several other attempts were equally frustrating.

And then I figured it out. By lifting the front of the engine straight up I could work it through the top of the opening. A few clicks on the come-along and there she was. Hanging on a chain, out in the fresh air for the first time in 31 years.

I hopped back on the lift and pulled The Beast free of the boat. Adios.

Dad grabbed a pallet and we set the engine down on the driveway. I have no idea what to do with it next. But driving that Hi-Lift is fun. I could go for more of that.

What a monster this thing is. 31 years of pure neglect.

I mean the engine. Not the girl. She hasn't lived long enough to suffer that much neglect. Yet.

Weirdly, the transmission looks brand new, inside and out. It isn't. But I can't figure out why it looks as good as it does.

So there is the engine.

And here is where it used to live:

Gross. Next step is to clear that space out, replace the thru hulls and seacocks, and paint it all out with a nice epoxy paint. Won't be long and we'll be ready for the new engine. Wherever that might be.

After a satisfying and solid day's work, the kids and I retired to la playa for a sunset fire. As is customary at The Boat Yard.

Thanks Dad.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Measure Twice, Buy Once

Another update? So soon? Well don't get used to it, because in two weeks we are boarding a plane for Kenya and won't be back anywhere near The Boat Yard until late July.

Which explains why I have been working so furiously over the last two weekends to get some things done. A bonus this weekend: a near 70 degree day that allowed me to open the boat up and dry things out. Ahhhh.

With the fireplace in its home, I decided to finalize all of the plumbing and wiring for the propane system as my first chore for the weekend, starting with the hose for the galley stove. Once I cleaned out the port side lazarette, I wedged myself in there and ran the hose up high against the underside of the deck so it will be out of the way and won't get any abuse when we drag things in and out of that locker. Note to self: make sure you have all of the tools you will need before crawling down there. Getting in and out of that space is not easy. You can't see it in this picture, but I did at least think to tie the lid open so as not to get trapped when a gust of wind slammed it shut.

Here you can see the hose, which I wrapped in some plastic split-tubing for a little extra abrasion resistance. I have miles of that stuff from clearance sale last summer, so I might as well use it. I used the bolts from the hinges on the lazarette to connect the zip ties, saving me the trouble of putting more holes in the deck.

While we're down here, check out that lovely plywood backing block for the winch stand. Awesome. Add replacing those to the list of things to do...
And here is a bonus image. The view from below decks:
The galley supply line fits perfectly, with just a little slack at the propane connection. It's as if I had planned it.

So then I shifted my attention to the starboard side, where the supply line for the fireplace will run. I had already run it through the cabin back to the starboard lazarette. Now all I had to do was finish the run to the propane locker. I gave it the same treatment with the split tubing for chafe protection and attached it to the underside of the deck. Perfect.

Except that it's 2 feet short. Insert string of expletives here. I SWEAR I carefully measured that run before buying the hose. I remember running surveying tape along the proposed path AND adding 3 feet for good luck.

Now I have to go back and undo every hanger along the way (every 12 inches or so) and take the fireplace out in order to disconnect the hose. F Bomb. F Bomb. F Bomb.

Oh, and the longer hose is $100. Do you have any idea how much PBR $100 will buy?

So I abandoned that project for the weekend, started a shopping list for my next trip to Disneyland, I mean Fisheries Supply, and got to work on some other random projects.
  • Finished painting the forward cabin. It's all sparkly white now and looks fantastic. When the newly finished wood panels are back in place, it will look amazing. I didn't really appreciate how nasty the old finish was until the new paint was on and dry.
  • Cleaned up the space where the old fuel tank used to live and made measurements and plans for the new tank. We gain 3 gallons of fuel and upgrade from a steel tank to a poly tank, but it will require cutting up this space to make it fit.
  • Painted out the port lazarette in lovely BilgeCoat White. It looks sharp. Take my word for it.
  • Then I retired to the beach and treated myself to a little camp fire. Just one of the many perks of The Boat Yard.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

We're Still Here. I Promise.

I thought I'd start us off with an image of actual sailing. Since our boat is still a driveway squatter, I have to hitch rides on other boats. This was taken during the 65 mile "Round Whidbey" race on Dent-de-Lion, a Morgan 30 I sometimes "race" on. Sigh. Beautiful, no? We were even in first place when I took this shot.

Anyway, back to reality...

You know you have neglected your blog space when you get a notice that it is about to be terminated due to lack of activity. After going through Blogger’s amazingly complicated system for re-establishing my account, I am proudly back up and running.

You would think that with 7 months between posts there would be a lot to catch up on. Maybe you are expecting to see that our little boat has emerged from the gray blanket of the Northwest winter ready to hit the Puget Sound and carry us to far away destinations. Nope. Not quite.

She still sits on the stands at the Boat Yard, enjoying her view of the water she will one day sail. And, despite a rather hit-or-miss work schedule over the winter, some progress has been made.


One rather anticlimactic job was to disconnect and dismantle the existing engine. The old Yanmar will have to find love somewhere else, ‘cause it can’t live in our bilge anymore. Sadly, there is no replacement option immediately available.

Still, I figure we need to take the engine out one way or another, so on a particularly dark, wet weekend I dismantled the ancillary parts and disconnected the engine from its fuel system, electrical harness, and from the boat itself. And there it sits: completely disconnected and ready to lift out. We are waiting for the weekend when we rent a lift to wash the w

inter moss off the roof of the house to lift the engine with it. Two birds. One stone. etc.

The fuel tank is out, the hoses are out. We’re ready to move on!

Having that engine out will free up a lot of space to facilitate running wire and plumbing, as well as installing the dripless shaft seal and basically cleaning up the lockers and engine room. I’m looking forward to seeing that space cleaned and painted, actually.

Maybe by the time we get done with that the new engine will magically appear on a pallet next to the boat. Maybe. So far Santa has cast a deaf ear to those thoughts.


Every wire that isn’t permanently glued to the hull (grrrrrr) has been pulled out. Every wire that can’t be removed has been cut as far back as possible. We’re going all new on this one. Old light fixtures are gone. The old electrical panel is gone. Batteries are gone. Rebuilding this ought to be an adventure.


All of the wood parts that could easily been removed have been relocated to the garage at The Shack, where we spend most of our time. This way even when we aren’t able to get to the Boatyard, we can be making progress on the boat.

All of the wood is solid and in great shape. We are sanding it down to remove any water stains or other blemishes and refinishing it with three coats of Cetol Marine “Natural Teak.” It really looks excellent on the doors, drawers, and panels. Only the bulkheads and some of the built-in furniture will need to be refinished while on the boat.


The existing set up required hauling a hose down below, lifting up the v-berth cushions, and opening the tank to fill it up. What a drag! I'd rather cut a hole in the boat and run some hose.

So I added a fresh water fill on the starboard side. The fill hose is hidden in the closet in the head compartment and runs forward under the bunk boards in the v-berth.

This is a much more elegant solution than dragging hoses around down below at every marina we visit, no? And the bonus with this job is that I not only got to slice my finger open on jagged fiberglass, I also got see first hand just how damn thick the deck of this boat is. Holy crap. They just don't make hole saws tough enough for this work. Let's see, 1/4" of fiberglass at the deck, 1/2" of balsa core, another 3/8" of glass, some foam filler, and 1/8" of fiberglass in the headliner. The hole saw bottomed out before it cut all the way through this stuff.


Because I can't get enough with the hole saws, I had to seek out a project that would let me make use of the 3". I knew I'd need it eventually!

The latest project got a little fast-forwarded when a Dickinson P9000 propane fireplace came available on Craigslist recently at a steal of a price. And it happened to be for sale just miles from my Dad’s house. Hey Dad, want to do me yet another favor? Thanks.

So a half-price fireplace spurred me on to get some heat installed this weekend. Just in time for summer.

Since it is used, I had to fire it up to make sure it worked.

Yep. She works!

Next it was time to create the space for our new best friend (it gets really cold at night around here!) to live. We long ago decided that the bookshelf nook on the starboard side was the logical location. A little deconstruction, reconstruction, and refinishing, and I had this. (By "a little" I mean 8 hours. These jobs take forever...)

The vertical piece is one of the original shelves, re-tasked and trimmed with an edge piece from the torn out galley. The hole at the bottom right is for the electrical and propane connections. I lined it with a piece of left-over sanitation hose, glued in place. Pretty slick.

I cut a three inch hole in the top of the nook for the chimney stack. This protrudes through the shelf in the head compartment closet, but is nicely concealed from the cabin of the boat. Maybe some of that residual heat from the stack will throw a little warmth into the v-berth. Yeah, right.

While I had the hole saw warmed up, I went ahead and cut the hole in the cabin top as well.

Truth be told, I drilled this hole twice. The first cut revealed a cavernous nightmare of broken foam between the deck and the cabin liner. A look at the plug that I cut out will tell you what I mean:
Nice, eh? Off to Dad's garage I went to get some "Great Stuff" foam (the stuff you can buy in a spray can at Home Depot). It's sole purpose is to fill in the voids between the deck and the cabin liner and to make the hole through the deck uniform. I taped off the bottom side of the hole and filled her right up with the foam. Thanks Dad.

After 12 hours, a few cold beers, and some sleep, I re-cut the hole. Much better. I'll seal off the core with epoxy before the stack goes in. Later.

I sanded and refinished the nook for the fireplace before all of this took place, by the way, so that by morning it was dry. I can still touch it up later, but I knew once the fireplace was installed it would be a pain to get a paintbrush in there.

Here is the fireplace in its new home:
I apologize for the low quality images. They're from my phone. Seems I forgot the camera at home. Still, you can see the finished wood in the nook compared to the unfinished wood everywhere else. I can't wait to get it all detailed out. It's going to look great.

The propane hose runs down under the settee and to the aft lazarette. I decided to run the hose up high in the locker to keep it from getting beaten up by anything we might put in there. All holes through bulkheads are lined with the same sanitation hose solution as in the nook itself. Pretty tidy installation, Greg. Thanks, Greg. You're welcome.