Elbow grease

by Chuck March 5, 2005

Like most of my projects, this one with the mast is lingering on and on. I finally used the excuse of listening to Prairie Home Companion to go out and get some work done.

I started by buffing the rest of the rubbing compound off. I just had the lower 1/3 of the mast to do, so it didn't take very long, even though the rubbing compound had hardened up, well, hard. It took a lot of elbow grease, but eventually it was all gone. When I finished I had a quandry. The rubbing compound was gone, but the mast looked awful. White streaks, swirly marks, and even fingerprints.

Only one thing to do. I got the rubbing compound back out and did the whole mast. Again. This time I started at the bottom and worked my way to the top, so I would do my best work where it's more likely people will see it. I paid attention to keeping the pad loaded up with rubbing compound, kept my fingers out of the wet compound, and made sure I got everywhere.

This time, I went ahead and buffed off the rubbing compound right away. Sure was easier when it hadn't had weeks to set up. When it was off I surprised to see that the mast looked pretty darn good.

To keep it looking good, I broke out the California Wax that I used to use on the black Daytona. I put a thick coat over the whole mast, then buffed it out. Once again I was surprised, the mast, while not looking brand new, looked at least like it was cared for.

Overall, I'm pleased with the results of rubbing and waxing the mast. Now if only I could get the new blocks on, which is why the mast is sitting in the barn in the first place...



Stolen moments

by Chuck February 16, 2005

It's been hard to get out to the barn to work on Odysesy's mast. By the time I get home from work, get through dinner and cleaning up, help the kids with their homework, and encourage them to get out their notebooks and do some writing it's 8:30 or 9:00 before I have time to get out and do.

And by then it's friggin' cold outside. Not to mention the alley of the barn can be a wind tunnel, so if there's any breeze blowing from the west it whistles right through the barn and any coat you happen to have on.

But tonight I stole a few minutes between feeding the horses and chopping the wood for the fire to talk to Dana and to buff the polishing compound off about 2/3rds of the mast. It looks a lot better where I've buffed it. While it's still not the deep shiny black I imagine it was when it was new, at least now it's a shiny grayish black instead of a flat greyish black. I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like once I get the wax on.



Cheeky blocks

by Chuck February 12, 2005

I headed into Everett today to pick up new blocks for the top of the mast. I needed two cheek blocks, one for the main halyard and one for the topping lift, and a standard block for the jib halyard.

The original blocks were undersized and very old and worn out. I picked up a couple of Schaefer cheek blocks with sheaves about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Those are about half again as big as the originals.

I picked up a Harken bullet block for the jib halyard. It has delrin bearings, which makes it spin remarkably well.

It'll be interesting to see how the new blocks will improve sail handling. I'm hoping that the new main halyard block will make it easier to hoist the main all the way to the top of the mast track. Because the halyard block is out of line with the mast track, as the sail reaches the top of the mast it starts to bind in the track and stops going up. With the new blocks I hope that the friction in the blocks will be enough lower that the hoist will be higher before it binds.

Anyway. Next I need to learn how to attach the cheek blocks with rivets. I bought a rivet setter and stainless steel rivets to put the blocks on with. I need to get some Tefgel or something like that to keep the two dissimilar metals from reacting and causing corrosion.



A day of success

by Chuck July 25, 2004

The stars aligned for me yesterday, and I was finally able to finish some of those fussy little projects that have been hanging around on the boat.

Friday I stopped at the hardware store and bought the nuts and bolts I needed to finish installing the new cam cleats and fender hangers. It was murderously hot, over 95 degrees, and my brains were leaking out my ears after having cooked inside my motorcycle helmet all the way from work, so it only took me two tries in the store to buy the right set of nuts and bolts, but I finally managed.

I also grabbed the power plane and the palm sander and took about an 1/8-inch off the end of my rudder stock so the tiller can slip over. Just a little quality time with a varnish brush and the tiller will be ready to go.

It was a pleasant way to spend an evening. One of my co-workers reminded me last week that it can be just as enjoyable to spend an evening working on the boat as it is to spend the evening sailing. In this case, she was right.



The blade is done

by Chuck July 17, 2004

I went to Coast-to-Coast today and bought a new 50-grit belt for the sander to replace the one I tore last night.

Once I had the new belt on, it only took about 5 minutes to finish shaping the blade. I can't decide if I wish I had the new belt earlier, or if I'm glad the old belt wasn't quite so quick to cut through the wood.

Then I got out the palm sander and spent an hour or so sanding the gouges left by the belt sander out of the wood. Now it's off to Ron's as soon as I can for the finish work.



Progress on projects

by Chuck March 7, 2003

The weather is crummy on Saturday afternoon, so instead of cleaning up the horse's paddock in the rain, I decided to put a little time in on Odyssey.

First, there is an old broken up block from the original main sheet system on the port side (the starboard one was gone before I got Odyssey). It's ugly, non-functional, and I want it gone. I don't want to unscrew the padeye it's connected to because I'm not sure how I'd get it back on, and the padeye will be useful if I ever install a tiller tamer. I try to use a hacksaw to cut the loop on the block, but the stainless steel block is stronger than the teeth of my hacksaw (need to remember to buy new hacksaw blades when I go to the hardware store).

Not one to daunted by mere details, I break out the power tools. Ron, my father-in-law, gave me an angle grinder for Christmas. He intended that I use it to clean up rust on my trailer and/or my keel, but he isn't around. About 10 minutes later (get the grinder out of the box, laugh at the fractured English instructions, put the grinding wheel on, get an extension cord, plug everything together, then start cutting) the block is bouncing into my trash bucket. Success.

Then I get Katie to help me rebed the bow fairleads. As usual with things put on by this person, the fairleads are bedded and have a backing plate. He just chose to use galvanized screws instead of stainless. I broke the bolts loose, cleaned up the deck and the fairlead, then re-bedded with Life Caulk and fastened with stainless screws. Having Katie to help makes this go much faster, she stays below and puts the washers and nuts on, I stay on deck and turn the screws.

Next, one of the mast base blocks for turning halyards back to the cockpit is on backwards. How the original installer missed that, I'll never know. The nuts are just finger tight(!), so I remove them below, then go on deck and pry the block off the deck. No bedding. Argh! There are two other base blocks and three turning blocks that match this one, so I check. No bedding there either. Turns out there was a person who used high-quality parts (Harken blocks), stainless bolts, etc. to put parts on Odyssey, but was too lazy to bed them properly. Disgusted, I tape the deck, bed the fitting in the right way, then tighten the nuts. Katie has had enough for now, so I put off bedding in the other blocks 'til later.

Finally, I decided to fill the holes in the port side of the transom, where it's still solid. But that's a whole other entry.



Current projects

by Chuck March 2, 2003

Replacing the running rigging: Sailnet had a great sale on rope last month, so I bought 130 feet of StaSetX to replace the 3-strand nylon main and jib halyards that came with the boat. I'm hoping that the new halyards will make it easier to get a good hoist on the sails and improve performance.

Replacing galvanized bolts on the lifeline stanchions: At some point the stainless steel lifeline stanchions were removed and put back on with galvanized bolts. Rust streaks down the sides of the hull are the most visible result, but I've always been terrified that one of my kids would come up against the lifelines and the bolts would give way. After I removed the stanchions, I also found they had been bedded with silicone, which is a leak waiting to happen. I cleaned the old bedding off, cleaned the rust stains off the stanchions, and bedded everything again with Life Caulk and put in stainless bolts, washers and nuts.

Cleaning up the stern: The previous owner put two drop-down outboard motor mounts on her stern, I removed the extra one. The one I wanted to keep was held on with two stainless bolts and two galvanized bolts, so I took it off too to renew the bedding and bolts. There were also a pair of corroded and bent bow eyes on the stern, several mounting holes for antennas filled with silicone caulk, and I noticed that the three bolts holding on the bottom rudder gudgeon were corroding. When I pulled the port motor mount, I discovered the transom was delaminating underneath the mount. Black, foul smelling liquid started running out when I pulled the bottom rudder gudgeon. The starboard side of the transom is basically a big osmotic blister. Which leads me to my next project...

Reparing the transom of the boat: The easy part will be filling all the extra holes in the stern. That's just filling the holes with epoxy putty. The hard part is deciding what to do with the delaminated section of the transom. I can either shoot epoxy into the void and hope it holds, or I can take the delaminated section off, dig out any bad core, and re-build the whole thing with fiberglass.



Privacy in the cabin

by Chuck August 10, 2002

When Odyssey came home after we bought her the forward starboard bulkhead was loose on the v-berth. At some point one of her previous owners had removed it.

Unfortunately, this bulkhead provided two things, privacy for the person using the head, and support for the wiring going up to the mast step. My two women on board wanted the privacy when using the head, and I wanted the support for the wires back. (Joey and I can use the privacy too, I suppose.)

Putting the bulkhead back in was simple enough, I grabbed four of the screws and trim rings I have laying in my spares box and just screwed it back in. Katie helped out by putting the wire ties back around the mast wires, and in about 15 minutes the whole job was done.



Showing off to Rich

by Chuck August 3, 2002

For years Rich and I have talked about getting boats: fishing boats, sail boats, wooden boats, plastic boats; it really didn't matter, we talked about boats. The second person (after my father-in-law) that I called to tell that I'd bought a boat was Rich. Showing her off was great.

While he was here, I had him help me raise the mast and we lifted the pop-top and put the cover on for the first time. I'm pleased with how much space there is inside the boat when the pop-top is up, and also with the amount of light and air that you get. One of our concerns about spending the night on the boat is how closed it would feel with the hatch boards in place, but with the pop-top up and the cover on, it doesn't feel close at all.

Of course, nothing like this goes unpunished. In order to snap the pop-top cover on, we had to remove the galvanized handle that was staining the back of the pop-top. The previous owner put it on so he had a secure handhold while motoring in heavy weather, but I wanted it gone. Not only was it ugly, rusting and staining the fiberglass, but I usually managed to catch my toe on it when going up on deck. Rich made short work of the bolts once we had the proper tools (two 10-inch Crescent wrenches). The bolts broke, the handle came off, and the whole works went over the side into the garbage can.

That was the bright side. On the down side, we found that several of the cover snaps were missing or not working, and that the zipper was corroded shut on one side. A little bit of coaxing got the zipper working, but the snaps will need to be replaced.

The scorecard for today:

Existing maintenance tasks completed:

  • Pop-top cover put on and tested.
  • Handle removed from back of cover.

New maintenance tasks added to the list:

  • New snaps needed for pop-top cover.
  • Remove rust stains from pop-top.
  • Find a lubricant for plastic zippers and use on pop-top cover zipper to keep it from corroding again.



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