Monday, December 29, 2014


The last two months have been occupied by getting work done on the house, and with a few house projects looking good, I found a bit of time to delve back into the boat.

Having accumulated some parts for the mast over the last few months, I felt I owed it to myself to do some work  fabricating the mast. The mast will be used for hoisting our tender to the roof along with any other heavy item we might want to lift. The radar dome and some other electronic gear will find a home in the mast. The mast will also support the future paravane rig along with a possible steady sail.
The mast is being fabricated out of six inch schedule 40 aluminum pipe with the boom being four inch schedule forty aluminum pipe. The six inch mast will be deck stepped with a fore stay and two shrouds on both port and starboard. Because their will be no back stay, two of the shrouds will be aft of 90 degrees to on both port and starboard, working with the fore stay to hold everything up. All the heavy framing and reinforcing was done on the super structure during the build.

The mast will be pinned to the step using two 1.25" stainless pins. The load bearing pin will support the mast with heavy bushings welded in to the mast while the locking pin will just lock through a bore in the mast. Because the mast will have the ability to quickly be laid down, clearance needs to be left under the mast between the mast and deck so it can pivot. While there won't be much of a compression load on the mast until a paravane rig is installed, I still plan on creating easily removed solid blocking under the mast to deal with future loading.

The first order of business was turning the bushings for the load bearing pin that will be  used in the mast step. The pins are 1.25" SS, and like I said above, the bushing will be welded in to the  mast. For bushing stock I found some heavy walled tube with an ID of 1.23" and a wall thickness of 3/8". Realizing the bore of the bushings are going to distort due to welding them in the mast, I found myself guessing at how far over I had to bore the bushings. Settling on .006 ( six thousandths ) over I have a feeling in my gut I'll have to re bore after the welding. The bushings are 1.5" long.

The next item to be fabricated is the joint that allows the mast to pivot up and down along with left to right. I think the proper name for this part is called a mast car. All the parts were made on my lathe including boring the 1.25" round bar to create the 3" long tube for the part. The leaf for the part was cut from 1/2" stainless plate and was TIG welded to the tube. Having bored the tube to a final dimension of .003 over ( the pin is 3/4") I was not surprised when the pin was not fitting well after I welded the part. Chucking the part back in the lathe to clean up the bore was expected and I ended up having to bore about .003 from the bore to get back the nice fit I had before the weld ( I'm sitting here wondering how I'm going to clean up the bore for the mast step bushings after that weld).

The hinge ears for the boom are fabricated from 1/2" aluminum plate. I notched the 4" boom to accept the 1/2" hinge ears using a circular saw and cleaned the notch up with rotary burrs and disc grinders. The bores for the hinge pin was drilled in my mill and reamed to a final diameter of 3/4". The hinge pin was turned to .001 under for an nice fit. Because I don't have a spool gun, all the welds are TIG, and required heavy clamping, and lots of tacking to keep alignment true due to the high heat TIG creates.

Once I can get back in to the boat yard ( their closed until the 5th) to measure the step, and how long the boom will be, I'll cut the boom to length and begin welding in the bushing for the mast step. Depending on how creative I get with the aft handrail on the roof deck, I can almost handle a 13' tender. 12' will be a better fit, and I'm pretty sure that's the size tender we want. That being said, the boom will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 14' long. The beam of the roof is about 15' 8", so that leaves me about 6' 2" of boom to unload a tender with a beam of 5'.

As of today, the plan to do all this hoisting is with two electric winches. One winch for the load, and another winch for the boom. 2000 lbs electric winches pull about 100 amps under full load. Instead of trying to run heavy cables to the winches, I'll probably build a battery box and locate it next to the mast step. We could have a small charger in the wheel house, and run leads from the wheel house to the winch battery to keep the charge.
So far this is a fun project and like all things boat build, much more work than I'd anticipated. I have to do some research on cable and cable connectors to source some more parts, but that shouldn't be to hateful. I can for sure say it's been nice getting to do some lathe work and TIG welding on nice clean metal.



Saturday, November 29, 2014


This post is really not boat building related  unless one considers that I  heat our shop with a wood boiler.

For years now, I've been splitting my wood the old fashioned way. I saw it, and the kids get paid to split it. In a typical year, we burn about five cords of wood. Because of the work I do, I usually get paid to haul it off someones site, so we usually have an ample supply of 12' long logs.

A friend of mine acquired this wood processor that operates from a skid steer loader, and offered to rent it to me for a weekend. This year, we purchased a new Kubota SV90 compact track loader, which was just the right sized machine to operate this heavy duty attachment.  As you can see, this wood processor, picks the log up, saws it, then splits it through a six way wedge. After a small learning curve, I had the machine dialed in and in five  hours of working  it, I processed about six cords of wood. It should probably be mentioned that I didn't really break a sweat or strained by back.

We already have most of our wood for this year split and ready to go so this recent bit of work is for next season, or it will allow me to crank the  heat up in the shop. Either way, I got a huge monkey off my back quickly and for next to nothing in cash laid out.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Haul out

As I stepped out of the house early the other morning, I noted how quite the fall woodlands is vs the summer season. Gone are the summer song birds who's chatter fills the woods from the moment the night scape fades. The sound of the dormant season is of the nuthatch and chickadee with their husky calls. For some reason I think of and older lady bartender, withe her bar room baritone voice when I hear these birds.... the laugh of too many Marlboro's and cheap scotch whiskey.  Why that bird call reminds me of this I can't say, but what I can say is that this subtle change in the surrounding woodlot keeps me well aware that the cold months are soon upon us and it's time to haul Gragodeo out for the first time.

I would have much preferred to keep her in the water over the winter. Having coffee in the wheel house on a winter morning, while looking out on a harbor scape sure did sound appealing, but my wanting to see how the below the water line hull fared during her first season was more important. I'm happy to say that the hull looked good, with no sings of electrolysis or failure of the barrier paint.  The only below the water line issue I saw was where I did not get a good enough scuff on the barrier coat to give enough tooth for the anti foul to be able to bond. On advice from the boat yard paint guru, I'm going to spot sand the areas where the anti foul was blown off by the power washer and re coat those areas only.

The prop is the other below the water  line area that's going to get a hard look. As I posted some time ago, I'm getting a high pitched sound at certain RPM's . Between 1100 and 1650 the sound is most pronounced. There's really no reason for the stern tube bearing to be making this noise as the bearing was  machined correctly, and the alignment is spot on. Now that she's on the  hard, I looked closely at the bearing, and found no signs of wear or any play in the shaft/bearing. The prop was purchased from an on line dealer and is a Taiwanese or Chinese import. After searching out this harmonic issue I'm having, I'm starting to think I have a case of whats commonly called prop sing. Prop sing is where the edge of the prop is somewhat defective and causes a harmonic sound similar to one rubbing a finger around a fine wine glass ( only louder). The fix for this is to machine a 45 degree chamfer on either the trailing edge or the leading edge. This can be done in field or by a prop shop, and I think I'm going to have a prop shop look at this for me. I want a professional to measure the prop and tell me what I  have in regard to quality beginning with the bore, and ending withe the blade tips. I went the cheap route when this prop was purchased so now is the time to see how expensive my cheapness actually is.

The cruise down to the haul out yard was done with my 17 year old daughter on a drop dead gorgeous fall day. I recorded a short video of our "three hour tour" so that when the winter blues has found me, I'll have this nice video reminder of a great day to cheer me up.

There are some big projects that need to be done on the boat build this winter to get her to a more finished state, but they will have to be worked in with some renovations we'll be doing on the house. My goals for the boat build this winter are to install the mast and boom so we can carry a dinghy on the roof. Complete the hydraulic system so I don't have to  hoist the anchor by hand next year and also have the bow thruster operational. The air conditioners are on board, but have not been hooked up, so that's a biggie on the lists. While I'm up on the lid working on the mast, I also want to fabricate the  hand rails for the salon lid.

The next weekend will be spent winterizing her, and after that a few projects around the house need to get finished. We have plans to take a few extended cruises next season, and getting my list checked off is going to be tight given that my launch date is only seven months away. Sound familiar?


Monday, October 6, 2014

An update of sorts

During my absence from the blogging on my boat build, I've come to the conclusion that's is a darn tough thing to get work done on a boat while it's in the water. While the sun's still making it's late afternoon descent, we find ourselves on the foredeck sitting in comfy chairs, using the shadow of the Portuguese  bridge to keep the sun off our skin. As the sun starts to duck behind the western hills of the Ohio River, we move to the aft deck to see how many shades of purple the setting produces this particular night. Maybe we'll see the solitary Loon that's called this part of the river it's home while it searches for the last meal of the day. Either way, it's easier to watch the river slip by than work on the boat.

While I do love the idle time, I still like to keep buys albeit at my own pace, so I have been getting some smaller projects off the list. The decks took a beating from welding the super structure on along with the myriad of other work I had to do, so I was glad once I got more paint on them. I gave the decks a good scrubbing using scotch bright pads and warm water, then hosed them down. A day later, after they were sufficiently dry, I rolled on the same acrylic urethane I used for all my exterior paint. The paint is pricey at $175.00 per gallon, but worth every penny in my book as it's proven to be tough as touted. The only problem is it's also about as slippery as a paint can be once it gets wet. Next spring, we're going to put down a non skid deck paint of a slightly darker color. Along with getting the decks final painted, I also was able to paint the weld zones where the super structure welded to the hull.

The wheel house trim is 99% complete with me having fabricated the faux beam that runs down the center line of the wheel house and also is the chase for getting wires to the mast. I say 99% complete because I still have to build a small cabinet above the companion way.

The blue sea distribution panel is 100% operational, with all the functioning breakers labeled and all the blank spots covered with blue sea blank covers. I should say that this panel is one of my most favorite pieces of equipment on board, and has been nothing but great to work on. The way the panel is back lit along with the back  lit labels, it's reassuring to glance at it during the night and be able to quickly see the state of things.

I finally finished wiring the automatic charging relay a few weeks ago, and while we're only taking short day trips, I'm totally happy with how it's working. The engine room ventilation fan pulls about 10 amps, and before I had the house bank connected to the alternator via the ACR, I always kept my eye on the house bank anemometer. The house bank is big enough where that 10 amp ventilator isn't going to kill it in a day, but it did give me something to think about. Now that the ACR is wired and working, it's nice to glance down at the house bank meter and see amps going in vs being drawn out.

The composting toilet in the lower head has been disappointing, while the Raritan fresh water flush in the salon day head has been stellar. We have to many bodies on board for a composter to effectively, so next spring it's going to get replaced with another Raritan.

The PYI drip-less seal has been a good piece of gear as our bilge's are dusty. I've never owned a boat or been on a boat that has as dry of bilges as we have. I've heard about dry bilge boats but I've never really seen one until our steel boat. It's big time nice and easy to have dust in ones bilge vs nasty, funky, water.

I wish I had given more attention to cabin ventilation. Because the air conditioner is on board, but not hooked up, we've had to rely upon using fans to get fresh air in to the below deck cabins. I have one axial fan pulling air into our cabin, but will have to add another over the winter. It would be for sure nice to be able to adequately ventilate our cabin passively, but the way the boat is designed makes it difficult. The 300 cfm axial fan does a good job, but another will be needed. We  have two  marine air conditioners on board, but they're not operational yet, so total comfort will wait another season.

My only real complaints about the boat are the lack of headroom going from the salon to the wheel house. Ducking through this area is second nature to us, but I do have to warn friends on board to watch their head.  My other complaint is the steepness of the steps leading down to the below deck cabins. The headroom in the boat is great, and getting down to point B from point A is the whole rise over run thing that's just another compromise on a boat.
A few things we added that were not on the original design was the day head in the salon which has turned out to be a great amenity, and one I would ask any one building this model to consider. Another add I did on my own was making the aft deck larger by moving the aft bulkhead forward one station ( 30"). Having an aft deck large enough for a grill, four chairs and a small table make the boat that much bigger. The salon is still very large and easily accommodates our crew, so this move has proven to be a success.

Our harbor closes down in three weeks, and I've already scheduled to be hauled out the first Monday in November. The boat build will pick up steam again once she's on the hard and Winter finds us. Projects for the winter are to get the hydraulic system up and running. Fabricate the mast and handrails for above. Complete the marine air installations. Cabinets for the engine room. Shelves for the lazarette. Add ballast forward. Raise the generator exhaust outlet pipe along with the aft water line paint. Figure out what the noise is coming from the stern tube bearing ( Vesconite ).

Like I was saying a few short months ago, I need another year to finish her up, and realistically a bit longer. We're already planning a two week cruise for next summer, wanting to take her down to Kentucky lake, so I guess I'll be rushing around again next spring trying to get all the things I did not get competed over the winter so she'll be ready for a May launch. Deja vu all over again.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Shakedown cruise

Gragodeo is for sure not cruise ready, but it was good to have some fun with the kids, spend some time on the boat and start to get a feel for how she's going to perform.

One of our favorite spots to anchor in the Ohio River is in a town called Manchester, which is about 70 miles up river from where we harbor. The attraction of Manchester are the islands which are part of the Ohio River Island wildlife sanctuary park. This part of the river is truly a gem, and should  not be missed by anyone traveling the Ohio River.

With Manchester as our destination, we loaded all six of the kids, kayaks, the inside dog, and our wet bike, collected the dock lines and made for Manchester. All the pre flight checks took longer than I expected, and by the time we were ready, the morning was fading. Having been off of the water for three seasons, I cant tell you  how good it felt to be watching our stern wake on the pond still Ohio River.

The first thing I noticed about how the boat cruises is how quiet it is. All the insulation seems to have paid off. I have a decibel meter on my phone, and checking levels in the wheel house found us with 64 decibels. If I closed the windows, the decibel readings fell to 60. The same level of decibel is in the salon, and a bit higher at 67 in our cabin adjacent to the engine room.

After our over heating event on the trip up from Washington Marine to Skippers, I'm a little gun shy regarding trusting the cooling system. Even though it's her second trip out after bleeding air from the cooling system, one can't help but being apprehensive. I was happy to see the temperature gauge holding good @ 190 degrees after the first hour of running her @ 1700 rpm. I found myself heading downstairs to look inside the engine room door about every half hour. My "looking through the glass" checks were to see if all looked good, verify no water on the sole, and check the temperature of the engine room itself via the thermometer we have stuck to the inside of the door.

After two hours of running Meldahl lock came in to view. Even though I'd done radio checks before this day, I was concerned about our new radio. Two  miles from the lock, I called Meldahl on 13 to say good morning and to inform him we were an up bound pleasure craft requesting to pass through their lock. We were happy to hear the lock master reply telling us to "keep it coming" as he'd make the small chamber ready for us. By the time we got to the end of the lock wall, the doors were opened and with the green light lit, we idled  into the chamber. Having not been through the locks in a few seasons, all were a little rusty on how best to get secured. We've always used our mid ship line, and today was no different. Having a fender tender on the bow was important as we did not know how the boat would land against the lock wall. Now we know where she'll hit, so placing the fenders will more secure in the future. 45 minutes from calling the lock master to exiting the chamber... you cant beat that type of service.
Once out of the lock approach, we bumped  her back up to 1700 rpm and settled in for the five  hour run to Manchester. The boat tracks straight as string. Sitting in the bar stool captains seat, I had to only apply minor touches to the wheel to  hold course. It seems that one is able to hold a course for 3-5 miles on river before choosing another course to make a bend. For the most part, the boat would hold course for at least this long, and once I got the feel of her, I only had to touch the wheel to alter course through the long bends. She steers great.

Noting the mile markers, and paying attention to our GPS on our radio ( we don't have a chart plotter or dedicated GPS yet) we were averaging about 7.3 knots @ 1700 rpm. We were headed up river against a slight current, and pulling a jet ski, so I guess this is an OK speed. I'd been a bit happier if we were getting hull speed at this RPM, but I think we're a bit under pitched, and there's not much I can do about that this season.

Five hours later, dropped the Danforth in to the silt bottom at Manchester Island to begin our weekend. Once we were settled in, the kids started getting toys in the water and life was good.

After four days anchored having done a few boat projects and depleted our 300 gallon water capacity it was time to head back down river. A lone fisherman stopped by in his john boat to talk about our boat and ask a bunch of questions. We spoke with him for about 20 minutes before we pulled the anchor. It seems everywhere we go, we find  ourselves answering questions about the boat. Because of  how different she looks compared to other boats in our area, fellow boaters are very interested. We even met a husband and wife up at Manchester who knew us from one of the boat forums I participate on. Super nice folks, and I hope our paths will cross again. Life on the water is as good as we remember it to be, and we're happy to be a part of it again.

Heading down river with the lone john boat fisherman following us taking pictures with his Iphone, I was happy to see our speed had increased to 8.7 knots @ our now familiar 1700 rpm. We were now going with the current, and it was making a difference. Even though we ran the generator hard in Manchester, I started to make an attempt at figuring our main engine fuel burn on the way up. It appears we burned about two gallons per hour, using around 17 or so gallons on our 70 mile run. We'll dial those number in more closely as we get familiar with the boat.

The weather this weekend was a little unsettled, and no sooner than we were loving our 8.7 knots, the wind picked up to 20, and stayed on our nose the whole way home. The river picked up a healthy chop, and for almost all of the day, was white capped. In our previous 30 Carver, this would have made for a somewhat bumpy ride, but in Gragodeo, we hardly noticed the chop. Passing on coming push boats and their 36" roller wake they throw, we would have had to steer into the wakes in the old Carver, but now we find ourselves ignoring the wakes as she hardly even notices them.

The trip down was perfect being out of the wind and comfortable in the wheel house 8' above the water. The locks were busy, and we  had to hold position in the stiff wind for half an hour as we waited our turn. The rudder and steering are extremely responsive, and now that I'm starting to figure out prop walk, we had no problem waiting in position.

The wind held strength as we approached our slip space, and would be on our stern pushing us as we attempted to parallel park in our space. Because of the wind, I decide to call Joe at Skippers to see if he could catch us. We're getting better at bringing her in , but with still being new to us, a stout breeze pushing us in the wrong direction, I was  happy to have Joe help us.

Shutting her down, and cleaning up went quickly, and we were soon walking up the dock with our laundry to our car. She's for sure not "ocean ready", but we had a good first shake down cruise, and there are just a few small issues to look at. One day, she'll be ready for the sea, as we now have the starting at the beginning thing out of the way. It seems so long ago that I was talking to my friend Bill after just having unloaded 40,000 lbs of wheel abraded and CNC cut metal off of a flat bed trailer.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

In to the great wide open

Gra-go-deo... Gaelic word meaning forever love. The name's not painted on the transom, but a bottle of champagne has been busted on her bow, so it's official in our book.

Preparing for getting her in the water found me working late in to the evening's for days prior Wednesday. No matter how one tries to approach getting stuff done, it all takes time, and there's just not enough hours in a day to get everything completed. So for the last few days, the focus shifted to getting her float ready.

As per recommendations from the designer, I loaded 300 gallons of fuel on her and a good guess at 1/2 of her water capacity which is around 150 gallons ( I"m guessing 300 total gallon water capacity). When It came time to load water, I didn't have a 5 gallon bucket handy to try to  measure the flow rate of the boat yard's system, so I had to guess using my home made water tank level monitoring system. The basics of this is that I installed a "T" in to the water pick up line where it heads to water pump along with two valves and a clear tube stand pipe on the water tank side of the "T". To check the water level, I close the valve to the pump, open the valve to the clear stand pipe, and loosen the cap ( to get rid of the air lock in the clear tube. More on air locks later) so that the tank water level can be visible in the tube. I'm proud to say that the site tube worked great and I was easily able to guess the water level as I could watch it rise in the tube. The only problem I had was that I forgot to dope up the lower threads on the site tube, and when I closed the valve, the water in the tube trickled in to the bilge and collected at the bilge pump. This little bit of water in the bilge had me believing I had a water tank leak until I noticed the empty  tube... big relief. Along with water and fuel, I placed 2300 lbs of ballast in the designated area to save from carting it down the dock at a later date.

The fuel went in to the boat good. I had a truck bring me the fuel and the driver was apprehensive as most boats  he fills cause him grief. The flow rate on his truck was capable of 50 gallons a minute. The two inch fill pipe I used along with the 1" vents allowed the driver to quickly fill the 300 gallons with no spill or burping of the tanks at all, and he commented it was one of the best boat fills he done. I put all 300 gallons of fuel in the port tank to get the driver of site quickly, so I had to use the transfer system to move 150 gallons to starboard, and the system worked great moving 4 GPM. I started a log of fuel and transfer amounts, as I have no fuel gauge, and will have to rely upon transfer log data and a measuring stick to monitor fuel.

Launch day came quick, and I was doing some critical work up until that morning. I invited an engineer friend of mine to help me with the launch duties as Shanon had her hands full with the kids and other family members.

A few problems with picking the boat arose, but I can't say that it was unexpected as no one has ever picked this boat before. The wheel house sits forward and it order to get the slings under the bow far enough, the travel lift was too close to the brow on the wheel house. As she was being lifted, she swung forwards, and the brow hit the travel lift,  slightly bending the brow and one of the horns. She had to be put down to re position the slings, and tie the slings off as to not allow the front sling to let the bow slip out and have her drop to the ground. The damage is minor, and can easily be repaired. I will say that if it were a fiberglass boat the damage would have been more as I think some plastic would have cracked giving one a few day repair. In the case of our boat, a little persuasion on the brow along with a few brush strokes of off white epoxy paint and no one will be able to tell. The air horns are inexpensive Ebay finds, so no big deal on that part. On a project like this, things happen, and that's just the way it is. Gregg at Washington felt more bad at this than I did as they take pride in what they do, and they don't hit boats as they move hundreds a year around their yard.

Watching her drop in to the water found me a bit nervous along with relief. A bit part of my life was being verified and I was happy our family was together to watch this. Other than myself, no one in our family has seen this type of operation, and they were in total amazement watching "the boat" being picked like a toy and lowered in to the water. I took pictures as she touched the water, but I was more interested in getting on board to check for leaks.

The area for leak checking were the PYI dripples shaft seal, the bow thruster tube, the depth sounder transducer, the engine room sea chest, the rudder post, and the holding tank discharge sea cock. Making a big day even better had no leaks found and everything was bone dry.

Stepping back on to the dock to look at the water line was a little disappointing seeing her down on the water line on the stern. The designer told me this model launches stern heavy, and he was for sure right. The swim platform looks good being about 16" out of the water, and the bow looks about perfect. I'll talk to the designer in the next few days to get some insight and find out exactly where we are sitting.

Putting her in and out of gear a few times found the transmission working as it should, so we moved her from the lift pit to the dock. The next few hours found were spent cleaning up and doing a few jobs such as commissioning the generator.

What I really should have been doing was putting a load on the engine to see how the temperature was going to hold. I had topped off the cooling system weeks ago, and had noticed after a few days, the coolant level in the site gauge would drop, so I added more coolant. Knowing we did not have a leak, I figured there was air trapped in the keel cooler, and it would work it's way out once we got her to operating temperature and coolant was circulating. The problem with my thinking was I forgot about how pumps can sometimes respond to air inline, and get air locked. This problem reared it's ugly head two miles from Washington in the form of the high temperature alarm screaming at Shannon while I was in the engine room checking things out. One side of the cooler pipe going in to the hull was hot, and the other side was bone cold as a stone... no circulation... probable air lock.  After shutting her down, throwing the anchor, and adding coolant, we decided to limp back to Washington. Watching the temperature gauge hold steady at 190 while turning 1200 rpm, we changed course and decided to head to New Richmond. We had ten miles to go and were making 5 knots, so once the over heating danger had subsided, it turned out to be great little cruise, and a great way to decompress. 

This boat for sure does not handle like our 30 cruiser, and parallel parking it between two other boats found me calling Joe at Skippers to come down and grab our lines. Our first attempt at getting the stern to kick back to the dock had me discovering just what "prop walk" is. Besides prop walk being a odd name, it's darn frustrating. Docking did go off without a hitch, but the learning curve has found me again.

I'm typing this on the morning after and find myself happy beyond words. A few bugs have to be worked out, but she's in the water and ready to begin finishing. The boat build for sure will continue on through the summer but with a much improved view. As I was alone last night shutting things down, I  heard some strange noise.... water lapping against our steel hull...perfect.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'm running out of places to stack my tools

Late on Sunday afternoon I had just nailed in the last piece of shoe molding, and after surveying my build, I sort of realized I had nothing else to nail up. I had nothing else to rip, and nothing else to cross cut. The next thing I did was throw every piece of lumber off the boat to be hauled away in my truck ( well almost every piece... I stashed a few bits in the engine room). Once the lumber was off the boat, I hauled the table saw off the boat and placed it under the hull, covered with a tarp. Shannon had just spent five  hours giving the below deck areas a thorough cleaning, and along with the left over building material and the lumber I just threw off the boat, we had a very full load for my service truck. Throughout the build I've always had this fear of not having some piece of building material, so I sort of hoard left over material, and today was the day we realized 90% of it had to go. 

I actually have decided to some time soon make a list of things I need to complete in order to launch. Lots of little things have been getting completed along with some big ticket items. I can officially say my bilge pumps are wired, and I have the picture to prove it. I guess I should clarify this a little and admit that two of the three pumps are wired. The engine room bilge pump along with the pump in the cabin area are complete. The pump in the lazzarette is not wired because it's not purchased. The two pumps I have wired are big pumps being Rule 3500's. I had to wire these off the the battery switch panel as these breakers are always hot even if the house bank is turned off. I did have to install 25 amp breakers for each one of these pumps. Using #10 wire, I wired these two pumps to the wheel house so I could see when and if they come on. A pump control  panel seemed to  make sense and the Sea Dog panel appears to be what I was looking for. The panel has a manual and auto mode along with having an audible and visual alarm. If the switch is inadvertently left in the off position, and water rises up to the alarm float, the alarm float along with alarming, will turn the pump on.

We have a few intake and exhaust pipes I had to deal with in regard to insect screens. Using a slice of PVC schedule 40 and cross cutting the slice creates an internal clip that works great holding screen in. You'll have to fool around with how much to remove from the slice,but when you're finished, it gives a nice clean look that's easy to get in and out, holds the screen great, and doesn't corrode.

Because the finished flooring is now complete, we were able to move in the reclining love seat. I've been on too many boats that did not have at least one comfortable seat, and I for sure did not want our boat to be one of those. The recliner sort of buries the book case, but you can still get to the shelves, and that's a small price to pay for a super comfy place to sit.

The counter top fabricators finished the granite tops, and there's not a bad thing I can say about this. Because we have so much wood in the salon, we decided to do away with the wood top on the book case, and use granite. This little detail changes the way this area looks, and is a much appreciated improvement. The guy who made the templates for the fabricator knew what he was doing, and the tops fit like a glove. The installers did a top notch job and we couldn't be more happy. Before we started the install, I had told the template maker we had to glue the tops to the cabinets. True to that conversation, the installers showed up with the adhesive needed to do the work.

We decided to go with an under mount sink, and I'm glad we did for the one reason of being able to fabricate a cutting board that will fit exactly in the sink.

As I've said before, in order to do this boat launch thing the right way, more time is needed on my part to make this launch happen. I keep going back to needing about another year. If we put off the launch to much longer, we're at the end of the summer, and at that point we should just keep her at Washington and finish her up righteous over the Winter. It sure would be nice to have her in the water being 100% complete with nothing left to do... I mean it's only time, right?



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Started ballast

Anyone who's thinking about building a boat, take some advice from me and don't wait until a few weeks before your anticipated launch to start pouring your ballast.

I don't think I could have picked a worse day to start pouring lead ingots. At noon today the temperature in the shade was 94, and the dew points seem to be in the 70's making for oppressive humidity. I consider myself a pretty tough guy regarding manual work as I'm in decent shape, and I've been doing physical work all my life. I have  no problem admitting that today's task of pouring lead ingots kicked  my ass.
The design of the boat calls for 4300 lbs of ballast  under the forward sole. For our ballast, I'm using lead that came from the demolition of an MRI machine. The material is as clean as can be, and with each lead shingle weighing 30 lbs, it's relatively easy to handle.  I must have messed up somewhere at some point, because I only have 3000 lbs of lead on my site. I could have sworn I had 4500 lbs, but I now know for a fact that I'm going to be lite.

Having a skid steer loader at our place made this nasty job a wee bit easier. Moving the lead from the storage area to the melting area was made easier with the loader as was handling the fire wood and moving the freshly pour ingots in to the shop for cleaning up and weighing.

I made a melting pot out of a piece of 12" pipe and framed a stand for it to sit on giving me room for the fire. Lead melts fairly easily, but it helped immensely by using my back pack blower to force feed the fire. The melting pot comfortably handles 200 lbs of lead.  The pour spout is a 1" nipple welded into the melting pot with a 1" 90 and a short length of pipe to get the material to the molds. Before I pour, I have to use a propane torch to heat the pour spout so the lead from the previous pour can be melted in the spout.   I made two molds to try to  help speed things up. Each mold contains six ingots, and once the mold is full, it weighs about 100 lbs. After a pour is made and the lead has set up enough to pick up the mold, I drop the mold forcefully into a spare bucket for the loader to part the ingots from the mold. The problem is that if the lead doesn't part on the first throw, picking up the 100 lbs mold a few times gets tiresome.

Using a circular saw to cut the thin piece of lead between each ingot is how I process the ingots prior to weighing each ingot. I write the weight on each ingot so I can keep track of how much lead is going into each ballasts compartment.

I  now know I'm going to be  lite on the ballast, so the question is how will this effect my launch. Out of the 4300 lbs designed, I think I'm going to end up with 2700 - 3200 lbs installed for launch. Because the boat is going to spend the rest of the season on the Ohio River ( about as tame a mill pond as one can find), I think I'm going to be OK. If I was launching at the Ocean or Gulf, I'd feel a lot less comfortable being lite, and for sure would not try to go off shore without the designed ballast.  I'm going to run this scenario past the naval architect and see what  he says.

For some reason, I thought I'd get all this ballast poured in one day. Today's pour netted me 1300 lbs of ingots.  


Sunday, July 6, 2014


As much as we wanted to put off installing finished floors, the last two days found me installing the Cork flooring in the wheel house and salon. The flooring down below in the cabins is going to be carpet, and it for sure is going to wait until we go through some sort of sea trials and a few shake down cruise's.

We've committed to the last week in July for our launch, and with the launch date rushing upon us, I started to finalized a few more systems. AC power comes on board from shore via two 30 amp service cables and is distributed via two AC buss's in the main on board electric distribution panel. During construction, I've been using an extension cord to power the on board distribution panel and as a result, I have loaded up one AC buss. Because we intend of having an inverter along with our generator, I want all the inverter loads on on AC buss, and all the heavier loads on another AC buss. This way, when an inverter is added, it should be a fairly simple upgrade as all the correct loads will be on one buss. So today, I took an hour of time and switched all the heavy loads like the battery charger and air compressor to the correct buss, and move the fridge and microwave to the other buss. The real reason I did this is because I had left over Chinese food for lunch, and I wanted to heat it  up in the microwave without using an extension cord. The other big ( heavy is a better description) was to mount the two 30 amp isolation transformers. Each transformer weighs 75 pounds so I doubled up the plywood on the forward wheel house bulkhead to help spread the load out some. The forward bulkhead is stout in it's own regard, but having another 3/4" of plywood to give the lag screws something to bite into made sense. The transformers are not wired to the AC system yet, but this is a simple job that will take about an hour of time.

The flooring we chose is a natural Cork plank measuring 5 1/2"W x 36" L. As of right now, there's nothing bad I can say about Cork flooring. The stuff feels great under foot, it's sustainable, supposedly extremely durable, has great insulating and sound deadening values, and was a breeze to install. We chose a floating floor vs a glue down floor, and again I could not be more pleased. The floor is designed to be installed over a foam underlayment that adds  more sound and insulating  values to the floor. The underlay is also designed to help the floor from not moving. It is recommended to leave an expansion gap along the width of the floor, and I just used 1/4" plywood between the flooring and the wall to hold the floor firm while I did the install. Once the installation was complete, I removed the plywood spacers.

Because of the expansion joint, I'm going to have to trim things out with a shoe molding. I'll contact my lumber guy in the morning and see about having some Cherry  milled in to a clover profile. I've not measured, but it won't take  much, and I'd guess 100' should do it.

I held all the cabinetry case work up off of the metal floor, by about a 1/2", and that elevation turned out to be barely enough. I was cutting things a little too close. All the drawers and doors are good for clearance, but in the wheel house, the door under the wheel is clearing by less than a 1/4. The fridge is also going to be a tight squeeze regarding height, but it too should go. We'll know soon enough on the fridge, as it's supposed to get delivered sometime on Tuesday.

Now seemed like a good time to get rid of the construction grade steps going from the salon to the wheel house. The steps are 26" wide and have 12" treads with 5 1/2" risers. In regard to steps, that's about as good as it gets regarding the ratio between rise and run. Because of how much room I'm afforded with the steps, we decided to  hinge them to make a decent storage cabinet for either canned goods or bottled water. I'm going to guess, we'll be able to fit two case's of bottled water under the steps. I milled the lumber for the steps in the barn early this morning, and spent most of the morning building the steps before family duties called me away from the boat. Granted there's no finish on the steps yet, but the color difference between the aged Cherry and the freshly milled stock is quite a difference.

Of course there's still a boat load of work that needs to be finished prior to launch, but getting the floor down really gives us a sense of finish. The counter tops are being fabricated and once their completed, the  level of finish will be where we want. There are a few critical jobs that have to be completed prior to  launch, and one of those is the ballast. I've built a melting furnace, and have my molds  welded up and have a few ingot pours under  my belt figure out what I need to do. I have two molds that each form 5 ingots. I have all the lead I need in the form of lead sheathing from an MRI demolition job, and weather permitting I'm planning of pouring ingots all day next Sunday.  I don't know if I'll get all 4500 lbs of ballast poured, but I think I'll be able to get the lions share done, and hopefully enough to safely launch her.

How will she sit on her water line? Hopefully, we'll find out soon enough. In  case anyone is curious, the anti foul is 2 1/2" above her drawn water line.