Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Next Batch of Calf Stretchers

This first picture is a calf stretcher from a previous batch.  I have orders for at least two more, and I finally got around to getting them started.

I found a nice piece of Lacewood that was almost wide enough to make them in one piece.  To make up the difference, I am gluing them up with some light colored Curly Lyptus.  The Lacewood is incredibly heavy and very porous.  The Lyptus is slightly thicker and will need to be sanded down after the gluing is done.

The second image shows the Lacewood and Lyptus in the clamps.  The smaller piece will be the front.  The larger piece will become the deck.

Halyard Shackles

I have wanted to add shackles to my halyards for a long time.  I am hoping this will speed up and simplify the process of rigging and launching the boat.  Now that I finally have purchased some hardware, I am not sure I really want to go this route.  It doesn't really take all that long to tie a bowline after all!  Here is a brief recap of my hardware shopping.

I looked at many of the shackle options at West Marine, both in the store and in their catalog.  I am still in shock at what good stainless steel hardware costs!  The cheapest "economy" shackle at West marine is about $16 for bronze, and a bit more for stainless.  The really nice ones are at least $35 each.  That just seems a bit much for two clips on the end of a rope for my little boat.  So I went shopping on eBay to see what I could find.

I found a seller on eBay (marine_hardware) that listed small shackles at 2 for $13, with a "Make Offer" option.  I offered $10 for 2, and won the bid.  Two weeks later I now have the shackles in hand.  I have not tried them on the boat yet, but as I manipulate them in the living room it is obvious that they don't match the quality of the West Marine hardware.  Not even close.  I had to sand off a burr that I repeatedly stabbed my finger with, and the bail hinge is pretty loose.  The bail does not always line up with the pin when closing the shackle.  I think they will serve the intended purpose, but they are not as good as the economy shackles and I can see a possible upgrade in my future.

The proper way to put a shackle on a line is with a splice.  I thought that splicing double braided line would be easy.  Well, think again.  It is not hard, just complicated.  I watched some videos and read a few articles, then decided that for now I would tie a knot!  I did add some cheap thimbles to help prevent wear and tear on the lines.  I went for the galvanized thimble rather than the stainless ones.  I will update you later on how it all turns out.  My attempts to save money might not pay off like I had hoped!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Refinishing the Brightwork

The West Wight Potter does not have a lot of exposed wood.  Different production years included more wood parts at times.  On my 1980 Potter 15 I only have 4 pieces of brightwork, plus a companionway door, wood tiller, and some wood parts in the rudder.

This year the small parts are getting refinished with Deks Olje two part finish.  I received two cans (one of each part) as a hand-me-down gift from my father.

I removed the parts from the boat so that I could work indoors and avoid getting any varnish on the fiberglass.  The handles are from the cabin top.  The two small blocks are the brackets for the bottom of the companionway door.

The parts were first sanded lightly, then coated with as many coats of Deks Olje #1 as I could put on in one evening.  The instructions tell you to keep putting it on about every 15 minutes until it stops absorbing, then wipe off the excess.

After step 1 dries completely (about a week) I began coating with Deks Olje #2 (Gloss Finish).  The picture here was taken after the first coat of #2 was applied.  I will continue to apply one coat each day for the next few days and then the parts will be ready to install in about a week.

Re-installing the Keel

Two of us went in together to get our keels galvanized in order to save a little money.  The keels for two Potter 15's together weighed 134 pounds.  That still got us into the galvanizer at the minimum $100 charge.  So with tax the galvanizing cost each of us $54.50.  I thought that was a great bargain.

As I noted in an earlier post, I took my keel to a friend for sandblasting.  I invested between $20 and $30 in sand, and another $10 to buy lunch for my friend.  The other keel in this adventure went to a professional for sandblasting and the bill for that was $95.

The hot dip galvanizing process caused some accumulation of zinc in the holes where the line and pulley attach.  The zinc is pretty soft, so it was very easy to dress out the holes with a round file and then polish the edges smooth with a little sandpaper.  

I invited the same friend who helped remove the keel to come back and help re-install it.  I was under the boat when it came out, so I didn't get to see all the secret gyrations he had to do to get it out.  After a little head scratching, it went right in.  We dropped it in vertically then rotated the top forward until it rested against the pin.  We then continued to rotate the top of the keel forward until the keel was seated on the pivot pin.  All that is left now is to install the pulley and the new line.

We noticed a couple of differences between my keel from 1980 and the newer keel from the late 90's.  The shape is basically the same, but the newer keel swing arm attached a little differently.  The different attachment point means that the keel well slot can be 2 or 3 inches higher above the waterline.  That sounds like a great safety enhancement.  

Another key difference is the shape of the slot that holds the keel on the pivot pin.  My keel has a "J" shaped slot.  To get the keel off the pin you had to push up and back.  Unfortunately, this is the same motion one might experience if the keel hits bottom.  I have heard sad stories about keels bouncing off the pin.  The newer keel has a "T" shaped slot.  This makes the keel harder to take off, both accidentally and on purpose.  Both of these improvements seem to be intentional efforts on the part of the engineers at International Marine to make the Potter 15 safer and more seaworthy.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Working on the keel: Sandblasting

Here is an update on my work on the West Wight Potter 15 #1036.  As you can see in the last post we managed to get the boat off the trailer and up on blocks.  The keel came out with a little help from a friend, and this weekend I took it over to another friend for sand blasting.  If you ever need to do something like this, here is a hint that might help you.  Sign makers often have a sand blaster for making sand blasted signs!  That was the case with my friend Walker.  He runs a small sign shop out of his home and was happy to lend a hand with the keel refinishing project.

I am taking advantage having the boat off the trailer in another way too.  I am replacing all the parts that contact the boat.  That means a new winch, new rollers, and new bunk covers.  I remember last year I crawled under the trailer for most of a day and rewired it and replaced all the lights.  Then the next time I launched the boat I could see all my work from above, and thought it would be so much easier to do that if there was no boat on the trailer!  

I bought some keel rollers at West Marine for $10 each, but then saw a similar roller at Cabela's for $5.  Cabela's also has good prices on bunk carpet and winches.  The carpet at Cabela's was about half the price as West Marine.  And when it came time to pick out a winch, I was able to get one at Cabela's for less than $40 that more than doubled my pulling capacity.

So the next step in the spring re-fit is to get the keel to the galvanizer in Ballard, then re-assemble it all when the keel is finished.  I may be adding guide posts to the trailer.  I would like to mount the tail lights up high so that the salt water will not be able to get to them.  My waterproof lights I bought last year lasted less than one season before the salt water ate away the electrodes in the fixture.  I am glad I bought the extended warranty.  Too bad it doesn't come with free installation!