Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bridge surgery. Patient resting comfortably

This was the weekend to open up the flybridge steering console and see what was going on with that tangle of wires and connectors. We needed to add the radar power and antenna cables and connect the chartplotter's GPS output to the radar's GPS input. We simply couldn't tack on more wiring to the mess that we found under the bridge console. So, we did some surgery. Almost all of what we cut out was unused, apparently the function of adding accessories over the years and not taking out the associated wiring. The photo shows some of the junk we took out, not including 6 feet of 16-2 marine cable that was coiled up behind the console and was used to connect the horn button on the lower station with the one on the bridge. That cable was shortened and mounted neatly under the console. We also provided wiring for the horn air compressor. That will go in next weekend. Air horns rule, especially if you have ever owned the winpy electric horns.

When we finished, everything including the radar, worked, so we haven't lost our touch.

Next we'll have to drag some antenna cables from the flybridge down to the lower steering station, where we'll install a second VHF radio and an AM-FM-CD player. This area, shown in the photo, has a nice little storage area to the right of the steering station that was probably intended for charts. The previous owner used a sazs-all to cut holes in the bulkhead to mount a bilge sniffer and some other piece of equipment. We've made an attractive mahogany face plate to cover the old holes. In that, we'll mount a the VHF radio and the AM-FM-CD player. We test-fitted it this weekend and it fits perfectly. The VHF marine radio we'll use was on the boat when we bought it and the AM-FM-CD player is on its way via an Ebay seller.

Having some trouble finding a place to mount the radar display, since there isn't room for it on the top of the bridge console that doesn't obstruct our line of sight. We have an idea for that, however, but it may take some digging to make it happen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Replacing the stripes

This weekend we concentrated on just three tasks: Repainting the accent stripes around the flybridge, straightening out the outdated and poorly installed wiring on the bridge and mounting the radar antenna.

Mounting the radar antenna was fairly straightforward, although it took the better part of three hours. We removed the electric horns (which didn't work anyway), put the mount in place and marked the mounting hole locations. We applied masking tape and drilled through the bridge, after which inserted the stainless steel toggle bolts. The radar mount bolted in place fairly easily. Then we put the antenna on the mast and bolted that down. Dragging 30 ft. of antenna cable through the hole in the front of the bridge was time consuming.

Frances arrived and began painting the two accent stripes. That went well, although there are a few spots that need more attention. As we left on Sunday afternoon, it looked pretty good.

The wiring on the bridge took a little more time. In fact, much of Saturday afternoon was spent lying upside down under the upper steering station studying what I would consider sloppy and questionable wiring that had been made over the years. It took a while to figure out just what all those wires and connections were for.

Silverton's original wiring plan was quite simple. Two large multi-conductor cables (one for the port side and one for the starboard side) run up from the lower steering station and the circuit breaker panel. All connections were made at the bridge instruments and the two ignition switches. For instance, the -12 VDC system ground for each side was connected to the brackets that hold the two tachometers in place. Cheap, simple and easy to install. However, over time electrical accessories were added on the flybridge: a VHF-marine radio, a Judson engine synchronizer and a spotlight, among others. Since there is a limit as to just how many extra connections can be added to the terminals on the ignition switches and instruments to get needed DC power for these accessories, the previous owner simply tapped into the existing cables, eventually leaving a rat's nest of mis-matched wires and taped-together splices. For example, when an older depth sounder was replaced with a new fish-finder, new wiring was tapped into the old and the old equipment's wiring simply left dangling.

On Sunday, all of that was removed on the starboard side, yielding about 20 feet of of various size wire and more than 30 splices. New wiring and barrier-type terminal strips were installed to organize and fuse everything properly. That included DC connections for the radar, a new VHF marine radio and the GPS/Chartplotter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Picking up the pace

We've picked up the pace a little since the boat came out of the water about a month ago. We now have a number of projects going at once.

Using a heat gun, we stripped off the tape along the boot top. The tape looked terrible but it took four hours to get it all off and then wash the adhesive off with acetone. Once we have masked that off, we'll paint on a new brown stripe.

Removed the old antenna hardware from the sides of the flybridge. Nothing on this boat comes off easily. We fabricated two new brackets for the radio and GPS antennas and will mounts them soon. These brackets will keep the antennas from slapping on the sides of the bridge enclosure when we are underway and look a lot neater. With the help of some Internet research, we put together a high performance VHF radio antenna that will be connected to the radio on the bridge. More about that later.

We removed the 5,000 lb. pull-out sleeper sofa from the salon. It wouldn't fit through the salon door so we took it apart first and then tossed the pieces over the side onto the ground. Sorry we don't have pictures of this but we were too busy dragging all the pieces to the cockpit. The sofa went to the dumpster. That alone will probably help to our fuel mileage next summer.

All but two of the cabinet doors have been refinished, repainted and reinstalled. We are searching for a new latch assembly for the door to the head. If we can't find one, we'll clean up the old one and reinstall it.

The wiring under the helm on the flybridge was fairly messy and that's no surprise in a boat this age. Over time, old electronics equipment was replaced with new but the old wiring was left. We removed many old disconnected cables and will soon clean up the rest of the wiring. We've found a mount for the radar antenna and will be securing that soon on the front of the flybridge. Unfortunately, it is impossible to reach under the inside of the front of the flybridge far enough to to put nuts and washers on the bolts that will hold the radar antenna mount in place. That slowed us down until we found some neat stainless toggle bolts called "togglers." It looks as though those will work but we'll have to see.

This boat originally had accent stripes around the bridge and the trunk cabin. Most of them are gone but it is easy to see where they were. We think that the stripes break up the all white fiberglass and we are going to put them back on, this time with good quality paint and not the cheapo tape that Silverton used (not that we could find that tape today anyway).

Frances is probably the best masking tape applier in the Western world. She is precise and really gets it right. We've included a photo of her at work on the front of the flybridge. No, it wasn't really that dark.