Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Winter continues to grip our part of the world but from how hot the sun is beginning to feel on my skin as I move through our frozen world, I know it will soon ease, and I'll be back to work.

While I'm not yet finished with the console, I'm well on my way, and for some reason this particular project has me feeling good. I guess, after all these years, finally seeing the command center beginning to take shape has me feeling like I  might actually be getting somewhere.

As you can tell, I move the wheel to the center of the wheel house. This was for sure the right move, and so far, the layout feels like it's happening. 

To port of the console, is the navigation desk and to starboard is more counter space with the electrical distribution panel below. The nav desk is 30" tall, and the console is 36" tall, with the gauge board being 20" deep x 30" wide.  The surround the console sits upon is framed  up out out of solid cherry stock. Sticking with my shoe string budget, and using materials I have on hand, I made the console out of solid cherry. I had debated using cherry plywood for the  console, but by the time I treated the ply edge's with solid stock, I'd have double the labor and it would look like I edged plywood.

Keeping with my philosophy of having future maintenance and servicing or remodeling requiring as  little bending or contorting  as possible, I hinged the console dash using a stainless piano hinge. Having the dash hinged already has paid off as I needed to alter a plywood bulkhead to fit the engine controls, and it for sure made that job easy by being able to quickly lift up the dash and make the cuts. Two screws will hold the console fast.

The only gear I have fit so far into the console is the engine and generator controls, and the bow thruster control. I left enough room to fit a row of switches under the engine and generator panel. Depending on how large of a chart plotter screen I go with, I think I can fit a small chart plotter in the dash above the generator panel. The radar screen is going to either going to hang from the ceiling or sit on the counter to starboard. The VHF radio will be to port of the console so it can be used from either the captain seat or the navigation desk. For reasons relating to layout, I placed the engine and throttle controls to port. In order to not feel like I was reaching around the wheel, I pulled the engine and throttle controls out a bit by creating a column. The compass will reside on the shelf above the console right at the base of the windows.

To starboard of the console is where the electrical distribution panel will be installed. The distribution panel, like the console will be hinged. Access under the console will be via a small door  under the wheel or through the hinged door the electrical panel resides in ( and by lifting the hinged console).

I'm getting close to wrapping up the carpentry work in the wheel house, and am almost at the point where I could get some finish on the wood. I've been sanding as I go, but there's still a days work of bunging screw holes, sanding off scribe lines and getting rid of dust.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Another settee, another drawer needing a notch

Every morning at 5:30 or so,  I step out on to our back porch to do my wood stove duties, and while I can feel the cold, the echo of splitting kindling bouncing back from the frozen trees and earth, really announces the below zero mornings. A long stretch of  below zero nights and daytime highs in the single digits, and low teens, has finally given the Ohio river a crust of ice we've  not seen since the late 1970's. On these frozen mornings as I gather kindling, I  have recently heard a great horned owl's deep, hollow calls, and I feel better knowing the earliest mating bird species in North America has begun  tending it's nest. A cold winter  has lost it's novelty, and I'm ready for spring.

During this type of weather, "for pay" work has come to a standstill, but I continue to make progress on board. This week found me routing the six inch heat duct from the salon in to the wheel house via a galley cabinet, and the wheel house settee. Because I'm getting ready to build the wheel house console, I wanted to tidy up some of the elements under the console. I connected the air line manifold under the console so I can hook  my air tools to this area vs routing  air hose from the lazarette, and also made up the air connection for the air horn. I cleaned up some of the wiring under the console and got it temporarily strapped to the  forward bulkhead, and also connected my two 30 amp shore power feeds to the smart plug inlets. I built the wheel house settee, mounted some of the galley cabinets, and all in all had a pretty decent week.

We have a settee in the salon, and now another in the wheel house. Besides having another item checked off of the list, I needed the wheel house settee built in order to verify the final position of the wheel. The final dimensions of the settee are 46" wide x 72" long.  The table will collapse down and make for a full sized berth. There are three drawers under the settee along with the 6" air conditioning  duct that feeds the wheel house.  I purchased one pedestal for the table, but I'm going to have to either add another pedestal, or build some creative folding brackets to support the table when it's collapsed for berthing. The settee benches have removable seats for stowing life jackets. I plan on having cushions made for the seats, but for near future the seats will be hardwood. For the seats, I used 3/4 cherry plywood, and glued on solid stock, rounded over, to finish the edge. The seats look good, and will do just fine until funds for an upholsterer can be found ( way down on the list ).  A strategic cleat and some Velcro hold the seats fast. I'll have to look at head room pretty close, but I think there's room for a small cabinet or shelf above the settee on the bulkhead wall. At least one of the drawers will have to be notched to accept the table pedestal, and two drawers if I add another pedestal. 

The layout of the console has the wheel centered on the port side fixed window. To port of the wheel is the navigation desk, to starboard is a fixed cabinet that will hold  charts and other stuff. The height of the wheel house console will be 36", and the height of the navigation desk will be 30". Right now, the wheel is 16" off of forward bulkhead. With the wheel on the port side center window, the navigation desk feels cramped. I'm going to move the wheel from it's current off center local,  to be on the center line of the wheel house. This  move will represents the helm pump moving 13" to starboard. I'll be able to leave the welded pedestal in place and will only have to fabricate a bracket to weld to the existing  pedestal. If I were to cut, move, and re weld the pedestal, I'd be getting in to foam and paint damage to the master cabin ceiling. The distance between the wheel and the settee is 52".  Besides moving the helm pump to the center of the wheel house, I'm going to push it 2" further away from the bulkhead. The additional 2" will make the console 18" deep, which makes me feel better,  and I still will have adequate room between the captain's chair and the settee. The navigation desk will be 24" deep along with the cabinet to starboard of the wheel. The console will now be "notched" in to the forward array which makes the captains chair/ work, the desk work, and the space between the back of the chair and settee work. Between I pads, smart phones, and inexpensive chart plotters, I wonder if  paper charts are fast becoming a thing of the past. Technically, I'm the last year of the baby boomers, and I still write checks and carry cash in my wallet, so I'll carry charts until the winds of change blow in my window. Personally, I like looking at charts and look forward to plotting our way.

Building the galley wall cabinets last summer, I had  mocked up the salon ceiling in order to get the angle for the cabinet doors. I had left plenty of meat on the port side style to fit the cabinet to port side wall along with enough wood on the top rail to scribe the cabinet to the ceiling. The only problem is that the actual ceiling angle changed a little from my mock up to the actual site built ceiling. This slight oversight, while not crazy, had me scribing the top rail of two of the doors to make the wall cabinets look good. I"m not 100% pleased having to have scribed the door rail, but I do like the way the doors look, and especially like how the angled raised panels match the camber of the ceiling. I had to cut about 3/4" from one of the microwave cabinet doors, and the same from the outbound large wall cabinet door. 

It seems like every day I show up at the boat, I bring 50 lbs of something on board, so I needed a few cabinets installed to be able to start stowing "stuff".  Between the few galley cabinets and the wheel house settee, I now have some decent topside tool stowage that helps me out  by not having to run down below to get "stuff".

I'm going to continue on with the wheel house, so the next order of business is to get the console to some level of completion. I'm  not going to be able to button her up as I have to leave room to land wires and run controls.