Friday, December 30, 2011

Port lights

I have seven port lights on the boat and all of them are fixed, non opening lights. The reason I decided to use fixed lights were for two reasons. Reason number one was the designer of the boat was not to keen on opening lights given how close to the water line the port lights would be ( about 3' amid ship, 4.5' on the forward light), and the other reason was for cost savings. The cost savings are a result of me fabricating the port lights and not buying commercially made lights. Including the 1/2" tempered glass, gasket material, and screws, I have less than $250.00 in building all seven port lights. This small amount of money is encouraging, but hopefully is not something that will bite me in the ass years down the road once we start using the boat.

My primary concern with fixed port lights is of me having cut off ventilation to the cabin area of the boat. Because the port lights are fixed, I had to pay closer attention to how I was going to keep the air fresh and flowing in to the cabins. The kids cabin has a 20" x 20" ocean hatch along with two 5" dorade style vents. The hatch will be open when possible, and the dorade style vents will be operable more often that not. The thing I like about the dorade/cowl style vent is that we can leave them open while we are not on the boat so fresh air continues to circulate. The kids cabin also has 12 volt fans. The master cabin has two 6" dorade/cowl style vents and two 4" dorade/cowl style vents. The master cabin also has 12 volt fans. The lower cabin area has a dedicated, marine style, 12,000 btu air conditioning unit.

I recessed the port lights in to the hull 5 1/2" which made the lights flush with the interior trim. I really like the the way the recessed light looks on the exterior hull, and I also like the flush look of the interior trim of the light. The recess of the port light was fabricated using all stainless steel. Given that I was going to bolt the glass to the hull using a clamp ring, and how difficult it was going to be to not mar the metal flange, stainless was the only material I could use to insure that no rust stains would originate from the port light. With the flange of the port light so close to the interior trim, having the metal sweat was another big concern for me. I painted the flange with insulating paint, and also installed a closed cell gasket on the interior face of the flange. The wood trim rings then covers the gasket and flange, so all you see is glass and wood.

To give the exterior recess a more refined look, I flared the recess out 7 degrees. The 7 degree flare made fabricating the recess spigot a bit of a challenge, but once I figured out the cuts, the job was fairly simple. The port light recess spigot consists of five parts: the flange, the two end piece's and the two center piece's. The two end piece's are what make the 7 degree flare, and in order to help the weld up go easier, I bent the end piece's on a jig I built to work on my log splitter. I also built a jig for welding the spigots so all the spigots would be identical. All of this work happened a few years ago, so all of the above post is a re cap.

The current job regarding the port lights was getting the glass installed. All through the port light building process, I had made and save templates of the various parts. Having the templates in the shop has saved me the time and hassle of having to re figure everything and allows me to easily fabricate parts like the 14 additional gaskets I had to cut to get the glass installed.

Each piece of 1/2" tempered glass is held in place by a stainless steel clamp ring. After I fabricated the clamp rings, I sand blasted them to help the paint stick to the rings. The ring is bolted to the spigot flange using (14) 1/4" stainless machine screws and nyloc nuts. There is an 1/8" closed cell foam gasket glued to the flange using contact cement, the glass, and then the stainless clamp ring with another 1/8" closed cell foam gasket glued to the clamp ring. So, basically, if you can envision a glass sandwich of gasket flange, glass, and gasket clamp ring, you can sort of see my design. I did not bolt any of the port lights to any of the interior timber framing, rather all the lights are bolted to the flange only. In my eyes, this was critical to not allow any wood movement to cause nuts and bolts to loosen. In the bathroom, I did use four longer bolts to bolt the trim ring to the port light flange as there was no other way to fasten the wooden trim ring.

Installing the glass was a two person job. One person on the outside dealing with the parts install, and one on the inside holding the nyloc nuts so the screws could be torqued. Even though I used a jig to weld the spigots together, the flange is not perfectly flat. The lack of flatness is not hatefull, maybe .080 across the length of the 19" flange, but it's possible presence gave me enough concern to be careful in how much torque I used while tightening the screws. I torqued the screws enough to start compressing the gaskets, and no more. The nylon nuts will prevent the screws from loosening up. While the flatness of the flange is really not an issue, I did not want to get all gorilla on the screws and risk cracking the glass. Because of the outward camber of the glass, I applied a little bit of contact cement to the glass and the flange gasket prior to installing the glass. I then pressed the glass to the gasket to hold it in place while I positioned the clamp ring and pushed the screws through. The gap between the clamp ring and the spigots sides is a respectable 1/8" - 3/16", which I will calk later, once I figure out what kind of caulk I'm going to use. A clear caulk would probably work, but I'm going to look in to tinting some caulk the same color as my paint. I haven't decided if I will caulk the glass to clamp ring joint yet. I feel very good that these lights will not leak and will be robust enough for off shore use. To test the quality of the seal we made, I had my son inside the boat and I used the shop air compressor to blast air at the port light from outside the boat. Using a smoking match, we could see no signs of air getting past the seal we made.

Because of how the lights are framed, I decided to paint the spigots before installing the glass. I gave each spigot a good scuffing, and repaired some dings I made from carelessly throwing debris out of the port light opening. I'm using PPG's industrial line of paints on the boat and have decided to use an acrylic urethane. The urethane is a high gloss with good toughness ratings and abrasion resistance. The thing I like about this paint is the ability to be able to get back in to the paint for repairs. I really would have preferred to have the whole hull painted, but I'm not ready for that stage yet, and won't be until late spring or early summer. Seeing the first bit of shiny paint on the boat was a big time boost to my morale, and has really got me motivated to get to the stage of being able to top coat the whole hull. Because I painted the spigots before the hull, I have a parting line to deal with around each port light. For painting,I taped the light off 1" away from the spigot. When I paint the hull, I'll wet sand the parting line I just created flush with the primer, then tape back towards the spigot 3/8" or so. I'll then have to wet sand that now new parting line flush with the top coat I just applied and buff. I'll have more parting lines to deal with due to the way I intend to paint the hull. If I can get another person to help with the spraying, I might get away with no parting lines other than the port lights.

All the port light glass is now installed, so I can now permanently install the wood interior trim rings and give them a coat of urethane. Now that the glass is installed, the difference in sound is amazing. I can no longer hear the radio that plays in the shop, and my son and I had to almost shout to communicate with him on the inside of the boat, and me on the outside. I'm happy with the way the port light project turned out, and I'm very happy to have another big job checked off of my list.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bilge pumps

To date, I have three bilge pumps on board. Basically, one bilge pump for each of my three water tight compartments. One pump in the cabin area, one pump in the engine room, and one pump in the lazarette. The pumps in the engine room and cabin area are 1 1/2" discharge, 3700 GPH Rule pumps with Water Witch sensors for the switch. The pump in the lazarette is a 1 1/8" discharge, Rule 1500 GPH. I have also made provisions in my hydraulic circuit to have on board a hydraulic pump rated @ 11,000 GPH. The hydraulic pump will be plumbed in to the engine room and forward cabin compartments, and I will direct which compartment it is to pump out via a valve and manifold. The 11,000 GPH hydraulic pump is a two inch discharge. The pumps all have an automatic float switch along with a manual switch. The pumps will have a control panel at the helm that alarms when water is high and an indicator light telling me if the pump is running. It's pretty easy and inexpensive to install an event counter on the pump, and that might be another handy device to have on board.

On past boats I've owned, bilge pump access has always been one of my pet peeves, and production builders seem not to care about ease of access. On this boat, I've tried to make all systems components within easy reach, and have avoided burying components to a point that maintenance becomes difficult. The bilge pump in the cabin area and lazarette are extremely easy to access and I'm happy with their placement. The 3600 GPH pump in the engine room is a different story, but I think I came up with a good solution to make this pump easy to service.

Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I would have moved the main engine forward in the boat by 8 or 10 inches. I placed the main engine as far forward to the center of the boat as possible, leaving the engine 8" off of the main bulkhead. That 8" separation gives me enough room to remove the belt guard bolts and be able to service/replace the serpentine belt on the front of the engine. The problem is that 8" really does not give me enough room to access the bilge pump which is under the engine, on the port side, and up against the bulkhead. The real problem is that the bilge under the engine mounts, is over 24" deep, and making pump connections will be extremely difficult at best. The other issue complicating this job is that all the hydraulic lines for the steering, bow thruster, and anchor winch penetrate the water tight bulkhead in this area, so access is not only tight, but it is crowded. The hydraulic lines received the premium real estate in the bilge and penetrate the bulkhead at a high elevation which makes them relatively easy to connect.

The solution I came up with for the engine room bilge pump was to make a bracket on a post and mount the pump to that. The pump mounting post then screws to the bulkhead wall. I installed plywood on both engine room bulkheads, and that decision is paying some dived-ens given the amount of equipment I've attached to the bulkheads without worrying about hitting a nailer. The flexible 1 1/2" bilge pump discharge line is already connected through the bulkhead before I lower the pump in to place. I make the pump to discharge connection while the pump is out of the bilge, make the wire connections, then lower the pump on it's bracket in to the bilge, and bolt the bracket to the bulkhead with four screws. Removal or installation of the pump takes less than a few minutes. The thing I like about this way of mounting the pump is that if I event suspect the pump has a chance to get oil fouled due to work being done in the engine room, I can easily lift it out of harms way, do my work, then easily and quickly replace it. I have about five or six hours in making the bracket and tweeking it, but for me, this is time well spent. I know the older I get, the more difficult it is going to be to cram myself in tight places, and being able to easily service this pump will make life on board much more user friendly. Now that I've had the pump in and out of the bilge a few times, I'm totally happy with this set up as it's a breeze to make the pump connections while the pump is sitting on the engine room door's threshold.

For the lazzarette pump and forward cabin pump, I fabricated some stainless steel brackets. The pump base bolts to the bracket and the pump snaps to the pump base. I tapped threads the metal the fabricated bracket screws to so I could use 10-24 stainless machine screws to mount the bracket. These pumps are easy to access by so no fancy post contraption needed to be fabricated.

I kind of frown on boats that have a rats nest of wire and wire nuts dangling in the bilge for the wire connections on bilge pumps. I decided that I want all my wire connections in a good junction box, so that's what I did. For me, it's all about future maintenance and not having to contort myself for basic service work.

I don't have the hydraulic crash pump installed and probably won't have it for a few years. I've made all the plumbing preparations for the pump in regard to the bulkhead penetrations, and the hydraulic circuit. This pump, more than likely, will not get installed until we get the boat in to the gulf a few years from now.

The engine room bilge pump and forward cabin pump discharges along side the water tank fill manifold on the port side of the boat. The discharge lines loop 12" above the discharge port then drop back down to the discharge port. The discharge port is 12" above the water line.

I'm using a drippless seal for my prop shaft, so I'm planning on a dry bilge in the engine room. Given the boat is steel, I feel as having dusty bilge's is a realistic goal. And while I feel as if I will probably never use my bilge pumps, I want a good installation that is easy to service and maintain so when the day comes that the pumps are needed, I can rely on my end of the work as not contributing to a failure.