Monday, March 24, 2014

Leaving the wheel house

The heavy lifting in the wheel house is complete, so it's time to move onward in to the salon. The last big job finished in the wheel house was to mount the settee table and the large counter top.

Most every time I show up to work on the boat, I have a small armload of parts or material hauled from the storehouse in the barn. Sunday, before I applied the last coat of urethane on the counter top, I took a couple of hours to clean and re organize some space. Just about every cabin is overflowing with material, parts and tools. But since the salon is the next and last really big wood working project, I had to make room in there. Still to be completed in the salon before the room can be sheathed is to run water lines for the fresh water flush toilet and associated sink along with turning the three 1 1/2" waste lines down in to the lazarette. A few wires  need to be pulled along with deciding on where to mount the stereo, but no real big work has to be completed before sheathing can begin.

The electrical panel in the wheel house is fully functioning, but still needs some work from the engine room to call it a wrap. I have the 80 amp three battery bank charger installed and connected to the house battery bank, but since the engine and generator batteries are not installed, those two connections need to be made. I've decided upon a location for the battery switch's so I'm able to move forward with fabricating the starter cables along with fabricating the battery switch panel. Because I'm sort of bouncing between the engine room and the wheel house before going full tilt boogie in the salon, I need to get the battery box built in the engine room. I keep having moments where I a tool could be laid across the battery posts or something metal like a square could fall and land on the posts, so I need to get the box finished to protect the batteries. Having the DC system fully functioning is one more item I want off the list before I can begin sheathing the salon. 

The salon is a fairly straight forward sheathing job as all of the time consuming wood working details have already been dealt with. The exhaust stack is covered. The up and down bound stairs are sheathed and trimmed. The fridge and microwave nook are installed. Given that the tricky stuff is finished, I'm going to go out on a limb and say I'll have the room sheathed by the end of April. A lofty goal, but one that needs to be attained.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting closer

This is the first weekend  I've been able to get in to the boat yard now that they're back on summer hours, and I feel like I'm starting to get somewhere. I got a fair amount accomplished this weekend, and am almost at the point in the wheel house where my attentions can move elsewhere.

The first item off the list was to do the instrument panel over. I had edge glued some boards together for the first instrument panel, and I was not real happy with how it looked. The edge glued panel was to wide, and was already showing signs of movement. The layout of the gauges was messed up, and once I saw a crack in the wood develop, that's all the motivation I needed to saw it up and toss it in the stove.  I used cherry plywood for the new panel, and edge glued some stock to it to hide the cut ends and give it a bread board edge look. Because of ply being more stable, I was able to get a little tighter on the instrument layout, and ended up having quite a bit of room left over after installing three of my panels.  Yet to be installed is a chart plotter, a floscan gauge, a depth finder, and a bank of switches in the available space I have left. If I end up being unhappy with the cherry plywood instrument panel, I'm going to go with black plastic laminate, although I  think this panel will work.

The next order of business was to install the door that house's the electrical distribution panel and the panel itself. I built the door large enough to be able to add sub panels or another panel below the main panel. The door is my basic style and rail door using a 1/4" cherry plywood panel, and cutting all the parts on my wood shaper.  Because the door is so large, three hinges were required to hang the door. I can tell you without a doubt,  that having the electric  panel hinged has already paid off in spades in regard to how easy it is to work on. It really is nice being able to quickly open the panel, have the back of it right in your face, and sit on a bucket and land wires.

With the panel now mounted, and having all the parts to land some wires, getting things hot through the panel became my next task. The boat is laid out with all the AC conductors coming from the port side, and all the DC conductors coming up the starboard side. I built a bulkhead perpendicular to the panel door around the fresh air duct to give myself a place to land all of the AC and DC conductors. The bulkhead was built on the hinge side of the panel door to keep accessibility to a maximum. All the conductors land on either a buss bar or a terminal strip depending on their function. Commons and bonding go to a buss, loads to a terminal.  From the buss bars or terminal strips, the wire makes the jump from the panel using a flexible, tinned marine wire. Once I had the wires straightened out, and the buss bars and terminal strips laid out, things started to fall in to place and the work moved at an easy quick pace. My thought is that by having buss bars and terminal strips to land all the wires , adding, moving, trouble shooting, upgrading, and  maintaining all our circuits should be relatively simple.

The panel is built for two AC shore power sources having two AC buss's. The panel also can be fed via our generator or an inverter along with the DC source. Because of wanting to feed one buss with inverter loads, and only having one shore power cord, I used some jumper wires on my load terminal strip to hot three circuits using two breakers. I have all the lights hot, all my receptacles, and my air compressor.  The jumper wires are no big deal and are a common method, but I am pretty sure ABYC allows for no more than four wires per terminal. It's big time sweet being able to see ( via the panel gauges) how much voltage is coming aboard, and how many amps are being used.

Now that the panel is at the point that it can be used and easily finished as the project develops, I decided now was the time to get some more heavy work finished with pulling the battery cables from the engine room to the wheel house. The 12 volt house bank sits in the engine room and with the DC panel in the wheel house, a heavy cable was needed. Over the summer I had purchased two 100' rolls of 2/00 cable. Buying 200' of seems like a lot, but I still have to fabricate the leads for the three battery banks, land the starter cables. I'm of the school that it's cheaper to buy 10' too much vs being 2' short.  I spent the extra money and purchased battery cable vs the more common welding cable. Welding cable is good stuff, but battery cable is  better, and it's a fact that fittings crimp better on battery cable. From the wheel house to the engine room, I have three 1" flexible conduits, and three 3/4" flexible conduits installed. Deciding to save these conduits for future use I hole sawed a new three inch hole in the floor next the the conduit, then installed a grommet to protect the new cables. The battery cables are ready to be landed on the panel, but I need to do some work in the engine room to land the cables to the batteries.

Since I was in the cable pulling mood, I went ahead and pulled the cables from the wheel house to the engine room for the main engine and the generator. I use a 9/12 UF ( nine conductors, 12 gauge, direct bury) wire for work often, and I have quite a bit of scrap lengths at the shop, so that's the wire that got used for this job. The main engine uses 10 wires, so I taped a red 10 gauge wire to the 9/12 for the battery conductor on the main engine. The generator only needs seven wires, but since the 9/12 is 12 gauge wire, and I wanted a 10 gauge for that battery line, more red # 10 got taped to this conductor  too. Wanting to be able to stay on task, I landed those two conductors on terminal strips under the instrument panel so once I run down a few more parts, connecting the main engine panel and the generator panel will be quick and easy. Using terminal strips in this way will also make adding another helm for a possible future fly bridge will be more easy. Because the generator only needs seven wires, and I pulled 10, I now have enough wires already run to the engine room for the bow thruster solenoid valve, and that's a nice added bonus, and one less thing I'll have to deal with.

The wheel house is starting to look good, and I can see the day soon approaching when I can jump back in the salon and start sheathing. This nice bit of wheel house work I did this weekend found me burning through 50 -  #10-12 heat shrink forked terminal ends like it was nothing. So before I can really call it a done deal, I'm going to have to source some more parts. I'm going to look at it a hard this week, but I do believe I can now install the counter top and get some color and finish on the last bit of wood.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

More wheel house

I should probably start by saying I'm going to stop crying about the winter that won't end. I know it's close to giving up the beast, but after the 6" storm we had two days ago, and lows in the single digit this week, it's fighting to the bitter end. The high today was around 26 degree F, but with the sun gathering strength, the cold air temperature can no longer sustain the snow, and it's quickly receding. Given the air temperature is still below freezing cold, having the boat facing south, along with the strengthening sun, heats the inside of the boat up quickly, and I really don't have to run the heater at all.

I finished trimming the windows, and also got some color on the wood. The window trim is basically a house style detail being a 1/2" x 2 3/4" casing, a 3/4" x 2 1/4" stool, and a 1/2" x 2 3/4" bonnet under the stool. All the reveals are a 1/4".  It's a simple look, but I think it's legitimate.  

Some more progress has been made in the wheel house, and I'm inching up on getting the wood work completed. The layout was finalized, and more compromises were made. We were pretty dead set on having a 240 volt clothes drying machine and a 120 volt clothes washer, but in the end, having two units just took up too much space. In the space where the clothes dryer was going to go, I built a base cabinet with two large  drawers, and two doors underneath. Because the drawers are so wide, I used 3/8 plywood for the bottoms vs the usual 1/4". I'm planning on the drawers being used for paper charts and other things navigation.  The drawer fronts are not installed yet as I just  fitted the boxes in place.
Just aft of the new base cabinet is the opening for the compact LG washer/dryer combo unit. Out of all the units I looked at on line, the LG units have the best, most consistent reviews. I'm a little leery of it's ability to dry clothes with only 120 volts, so I have it in the back of my head that a decent working clothes line might be in order... probably something on the roof running off of the mast.

The large opening starboard of the instrument dash area is where the electrical distribution panel  is going to go. I had some sort of cut twice/measure once thing going on and screwed up the door that houses the electric panel. I found out this mistake today as I was fitting all the shiny parts I've made in the last week.

I have the wheel house counter top fabricated and dry fitted in place, but not not yet installed. Before the top gets installed,  I need to land all the wires on the bulkhead behind the distribution panel door. I used THHN for the primary wiring behind the walls, and will land all that on terminal strips. From the terminal strips, to the distribution panel, I'm using a flexible, tinned, marine wire. I have about 90% of the boat wire pulled to the area under the dash, and landing it with the top off is going to be  huge vs lying on my back. I realize I'll still be doing some wiring while laying down, but I want to get as much done while it's relatively accessible.

While I was fabricating in the barn last week, I decided to make the panel that finishes covering the dry exhaust/intake stack. Because the stack is such a large fixture, I decided to make this panel a raised panel. A large, flat piece of plywood just didn't feel right. The cherry veneer plywood is for sure nice material, but in my opinion, is a little too perfect. The air dried cherry I am using oozes character, and really puts the plywood to shame in regard to interest.  Being in the center of the room and such a visual element, this large raised panel looks spot on.

Here's to the coming Spring.