Monday, December 28, 2009

The "To-Do" list

We caught a break in the weather last weekend and that enabled us to finally get some things completed. In fact, we didn't really need the electric heater in the salon as we have for the past few weeks.

We've been working towards getting the communications (VHF radios, radar, GPS, etc.) wired and mounted and now, we are almost there. We've fabricated and installed a mount for the Standard Horizon GPS/Chartplotter on the bridge. That is complete and wired to the Furuno radar.

We made up a platform to hold the radar display and will finish that this week and install it next weekend.

While we had everything opened up, we snaked wires from the lower station stereo to the corners of the saloon, then up through the floor to free-standing speakers that Frances provided.  Snaking wires in this boat is really an effort, meaning that I have to crawl down under the deck, snag a wire with a long pole, draw it in and then do it all again for the next wire.

While I was running new wires, I cut out another 50 feet of what appeared to be old, unused speaker wire. Why would anyone leave all that stuff hanging? No idea, but it's gone now.

It was fun to flip a switch on the stereo and have the salon filled with music. Right then, we were glad that we spent the time - two weekends - that made that music possible.

Tonight, I devised a list of things that we want to get done between now and when we go back into the water in April or early May. There are 17 things on the list; some take one-half hour and some take a whole weekend. There are 16 cold weekends left. We need to plan our time carefully.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Silverton Owners Club

Like most mass-produced boats, Silverton has a web-based "club" populated mainly by Silverton owners. We belonged to the Chris-Craft Sea Skiff Club for years and met many nice Sea Skiff owners there.

For people like us who have never owned one of these boats before, the club is a real resource.  There are a number of members who own Silvertons as old as ours and older. Once I began posting questions, I found that several members had done exactly what I was doing - updating wiring, removing poorly installed parts and revising and modernizing plumbing - and knew exactly what I was talking about. In fact, several of these people appeared to be superb craftsmen and had accomplished more than I would ever attempt.

The Silverton club website isn't very fancy and it looks somewhat outdated. However, it is inexpensive ($35.00 per year) and has probably saved me more than that in the first month after I signed up.

I often wonder if the boat manufacturers ever monitor these affinity-based websites and make product improvements on what they learn from them. I'd guess that the answer is that some do sometimes and some don't.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lower station electronics

This weekend we continued the wiring and installation of an AM-FM CD until and a VHF marine radio in the storage area just to the right of the salon's lower steering station. The wiring inside this compartment was, like a lot of the wiring of other electronics added by the PO, pretty messy. We found 12 volt DC cables, tapped from the wiring behind the lower steering station, secured in the this little compartment with two household-style insulated staples. There was also a snarl of bilge sniffer cables and about 20 feet of speaker cable that didn't seem to go anywhere. Almost all of that was removed and we started over again.

The refurbished Jensen stereo we purchased on Ebay for $69.00 is actually a car unit so we needed to simulate a vehicle installation, where the radio's memory is connected to 12 VDC permanently to save preset stations and the time-of-day. To simulate the vehicle's ignition switch, we mounted switches in a small utility box and mounted that inside to compartment so it wouldn't be seen with the sliding doors shut.

We also provided new wiring for the cigarette lighter/map light, which was already there and the marine VHF radio that we inherited with the boat and had now become surplus.


We cut a piece of 1/8-inch mahogany plywood (finished with five coats of varnish) to make a faceplate to cover the old holes. The electronics fit as planned and  before we left, we fired up the stereo, temporarily connected to external speakers, and it scanned for stations and seemed to work perfectly.


Next, we have to fish the speaker cables under the salon floor to the spots that Frances has determined would be the best location for them.

You may wonder why I'm busy installing a stereo in the salon when I should be doing more important things out on the deck, on the bottom or in the engine area. The answer is that it is cold here and we have a small but effective electric heater that I turn on when on the boat. In an hour or so, that makes the salon warm enough to to work in.  Don't worry.  I'll get to the other stuff soon enough.

Dragging down the cables

The focus of this weekend was twofold: find a place to mount the radar and GPS-Chartplotter displays on the fly bridge where they wouldn’t block the view of what is directly in front of the boat while underway and run two cables from the fly bridge to the compartment next to the lower steering station.

First, the displays. There isn’t much room on the bridge console to mount anything, although there are dozens of holes where the previous owner (PO) must have tried. We tested mounting the radar display directly in front of the steering console and the GPS Chartplotter to the right of it but it was apparent that the radar would make it difficult to see what was directly in front of the boat without having to stand up. Not good.  Lobster pots appear out of nowhere and we need to keep a good lookout for them even while seated at the helm.

The solutions came after much measuring. For the GPS Chartplotter, we fabricated a small “L” shaped bracket that will be mounted on the right side of the helm console.  It will be below our sightline but still close enough to reach to set waypoints. For the radar, we came up with the idea of mounting the radar display on a 24” high seat pedestal, mounted to the left of the steering console. We’ll have to fabricate a top for the pedestal, but right now, it looks as though it will be at the right height and be close enough to work the controls on the display. We ordered a 24-inch pedestal and spider today, so we’ll soon see if this works out as planned.

The two cables we needed to run from the bridge to the lower steering station became quite a lot of work. One of the cables would be RG-58AU coaxial cable from the starboard VHF radio antenna and the other, a cable from the bridge-mounted AM-FM antenna. The goal here was to have good AM-FM reception from the AM-FM-CD player in the salon and the other was to have a second, standby VHF marine radio down there.

All of the wiring and control cables in this boat run down along the starboard side of the fly bridge and down through a pipe to the starboard engine space. We found several cables from a long ago disconnected bilge sniffer and we used one of those and an unused transducer wire on the bridge as pilot wires. We taped the new cables to the old ones, and then went below and pulled the new wires down. Amazingly, that actually worked, although it meant pulling down a foot or two of cable and then going back up to the flybridge and forcing a few inches of cable into the pipe. I certainly got my exercise doing this routine about 30 times that afternoon.

While doing all of this, lying down behind the starboard engine, I found lots of disconnected wires so, between pulls on the new cable, I cut away lots of old wire including, oddly enough, part of an extension cord that had no use that I could figure out.

Next weekend, we’ll mount the lower station VHF marine radio and the AM-FM-CD player and wire them up. Hopefully, we’ll hear some tunes.  If we do, it’s off to the next project on the list.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finished stripes on bridge

Well, here is the unmasking of the bridge stripes.

The painter used Frog painter's tape and is not 100% pleased with the result.  I overlaid the sections of the tape, as fellow painters would, and there was some seepage where the overlays were.

For the taping of the cabin stripes, I may choose to go back to the painter's tape with the blue hue...Any comments or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Now I must return to the job site and touch up this bad boy, with an X-acto knife and a tiny brush.  OY

The Romanian Dinette

Since Act Three did not come with a dinette section, and the crew has no plan to convert the bunk area into such, my mission was to come up with an alternative...

While trolling aimlessly through a consignment shop (used stuff and antiques), I stumbled upon an unusual drop leaf table. In my spatial, if not fertile, imagination, I knew exactly where and how this table would work on the boat. It met all of our criteria, such as being big enough to fit 6 people for dinner (2 will have to bring their own chairs) and plenty of space for Mad Dog and Dogette to spread out the Sunday NY Times. The only thing I need to get, as a centerpiece, is a piggy bank to save up for the paper...

Before I made the $75 purchase, I made a quick call to the captain for input. His and my opinion of drop leaf tables, in general, is that we have never met one we did not like. I dashed over to the counter and quickly wrote a check before another customer, who was just in the store, returned to make her buy. Apparently, the thwarted purchaser did not have a car phone (HUH?), so she had to find a land phone to authorize her purchase. SNAP! I did feel bad, for a nanosecond.

Stats: 3' x 1' (closed); 3' x 4' (one leaf); 3' x 7' (2 leaves). Note the storage area for 4 folding chairs. Item was made in Romania.