Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas day

While Frances prepared the Christmas turkey and the house filled with the smell of good food, we decided to accomplish a few things we were saving for a day just like this one.

A few weeks ago, we brought the ladder to the fly bridge home with the goal of refinishing it.  We had previously disassembled it set aside all of the hardware.

One evening last week, we sanded the flat portions of both sides of each step with a palm sander. Today, we completed hand-sanding the rounded edges and the grooves that were milled into the top of each step. With the steps prepared, we lined them up on our basement workbench and applied the first of what will be five coats of Sikkens Cetol Marine Light.  We refinished the bridge steps in a similar way on Mad Dog, our 32 ft. Chris Craft Sea Skiff, and after three seasons of heavy traffic, the Sikkens looked as good as new.

While it is a time-consuming process to apply five coats to each side, it appears that we can get one coat on each side, each day.  If that works out, we'll be ready to reassemble the ladder in about a week.

About the time the turkey went into the oven, we cleaned the stainless brackets that hold each step in place and added a coat of good quality wax to each one.

We also had the shelf from under the vanity home for rehab.  We had removed it to gain access to the area behind the vanity so we could run hoses to the new toilet.  The shelf was pretty nasty.

We disassembled the teak trim, sanded the 30-year old stains off each piece and sanded and repainted the shelf itself, a piece of 1/2-inch, 6-ply marine plywood, that was as true as the day Silverton made it, despite having cleaning supplies and other bathroom junk piled on it for more than 30 years.

We set the shelf on our secondary refinishing station, also known as the dryer, and applied a coat of the same paint that we used last year on our deck.

We made some room for the teak trim pieces that surround the shelf so that we could apply Sikkens to everything at one time. Three coats for the shelf trim should be plenty.

Sunday... the day after Christmas
The weather looked bad here with snow approaching but we ventured down to Portland to see what we could get done, anyway.  Our electric heater in the boat took a while to get the cabin up to 40 degrees and we slid the car into the shed to keep the snow off it until we were ready to go.

We began by mounting the new Rule SuperSwitch bilge pump float switch just forward of where the old one was located. Then we screwed down the mounting plate for the new Johnson bilge pump. Interestingly, the hole centers for the Johnson pump mounting plate were exactly the same as the ones for the old Rule bilge pump. That saved drilling more holes in the fiberglass in the bilge. We snapped the switch in place and then did the same for new Johnson pump.

Now it was time to figure out the rat's nest of old wiring that ran the old bilge pump.  There were numerous butt connectors and splices and we cut all of those out. Using a test light, we determined what wires were used for manually operating the pump or allowing it to activate via the float switch.  We've decided to rehab the wiring connections in that area, now that we know what's going on. No sense in doing things half-way.

At that point, the the snow was beginning to blow and we decided to leave and get home while we could.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eight more hours invested

We got in about eight hours on the toilet project this weekend and we hope, saw the last of the really difficult task of routing the holding tank hoses under the shower floor to the back of the vanity. With the proper 1-1/2-inch elbows in hand and our trusty heat gun, we were able to connect both the inlet and outlet hoses to the holding tank.  For the inlet that meant making a 90-degree turn and then running the hose through a stringer.  I know this photo looks scary with the dirty bilge and all the loose wiring but we've since cleaned a lot of that up.  We also removed the old bilge pump and float switch.

This old pump, a Rule Model 10, actually worked although we found the float switch was loose. We decided to replace them both, since we are going to rehab all of the wiring to the pump and float switch. We ordered a new Johnson 2,200 GPH pump and a new Rule float switch. Just another Christmas present for the boat that no one will ever see but will make us feel a lot better.

After getting the inlet and outlet lines connected to the holding tank, we ran a section of 5/8-inch plastic vent hose from the holding tank, under the floor and connected it to the 5/8-inch through-hull fitting behind the vanity.  Of course, the vent fitting on the holding tank is 1/2-inch NPT, and we thought we had a 1/2-inch thread-to-5/8-inch hose barb fitting but we didn't, so we ordered one of those too.

Our planning is getting better. During the week, while looking at what we'd do this weekend, we noted that we also needed a wire to supply 12 VDC to the toilet and three wires from the tank to the Snake River holding tank gauge. So, before we pulled the vent line in, we taped a short section of 12-volt cable and a section of 4-wire cable that we had in stock to the vent hose. When we pulled the vent hose through, out came our wires with it.

Again, this looks somewhat sloppy but we'll make everything nice and tidy as we make the final plumbing connections back there.

From now on, the order in which we do things is important.  Before we finished connecting the big hoses from the toilet, we needed to mount the syphon-breaker assembly.  That's simply a 12-volt solenoid that opens when the flush button is pushed, allowing water from the boat's cold water lines to enter the toilet.  We mounted the syphon-breaker on a piece of plywood and added the electrical connections and both the inlet and outlet hoses, since doing that after this thing was mounted would be extremely difficult.

Finally, the first hose that will go to the toilet appeared.  The holes were already there from the old gravity toilet. Guess we'll have to cover the small hole in the center since we won't need that one.

Next we installed the foil strips used by the Snake River gauge on the holding tank and wired them to the cable we had fished in earlier.

Before we left, we removed the wood platform that used to hold the maserator, sanded it and applied some paint. It really doesn't serve any use now that the maserator is gone but it does make a good spot to secure the wiring.

The white hose visible in the photo carries cooling water to the air conditioning compressor.  We'll route that out of the way and also get rid of that rat's nest of old wiring.  Luckily, we know where all those wires go.  We'll tackle that next Sunday.  We're taking Christmas day off.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frances to the rescue

The new toilet saga continues. Last weekend, we drilled holes to run sanitation hose from the area behind the vanity, under the head floor and out into bilge area where the new holding tank is mounted.  We succeeded to getting one hose almost all the way into the vanity using a pilot line made out of #12 solid copper electrical wire, but try as we might, it wouldn't go that extra 12-16-inches that we needed. The hose we're using is 1-1/2-inch ID Dometic OdorSafe sanitation hose.

Frances volunteered to help on Saturday and that's just what we needed. With her pushing and twisting the hose from the bilge and me pulling on the pilot line inside the vanity, the hose finally slid in far enough. Frances also suggested that I wrap my pilot wire around a ratchet extension to form a handle. That helped a lot.

These photos show that first hose in the bilge and finally, behind the vanity where we wanted it.

While she was there, we decided to tackle the other hose, this one the waste line from the new toilet to the top inlet on the holding tank. That necessitated pulling out an old hose, which, surprisingly, came out without much trouble. We used the same technique as before:  We started by fishing in the pilot line and then, working together with Frances pushing and twisting and me pulling on the pilot line, the hose finally appeared from under the head floor in the vanity. This picture shows both hoses, finally back where we wanted them.

We began with 12 feet of sanitation hose which, based on some rough measurements, looked like enough.  We cut the 12-foot piece in half with a hacksaw but once both hose sections were in place, neither end could be trimmed with the hacksaw because of a lack of clearance.  Frances suggested using a cut-off wheel on our Dremel.  I immediately rejected that idea.  More on that later.

Today, with Frances off boat duty, we tried connecting the line to the bottom of the holding tank.  For now, that line only goes as far as the back of the vanity where it will eventually connect to yet another section of hose that will run the the pump-out fitting on the deck.

A word about this hose. First, from the research we did, this hose is supposed to be the best and it ought to be at $9.00 per foot. This is heavy-duty hose with a wall thickness of almost 1/8-inch. It's "flexible" to a degree but is very difficult to work with, especially since it is shipped rolled up and once cut, holds that curve very tenaciously. It is supposed to absolutely contain waste odor, forever. We hope to God it does because this is a project that we don't ever want to repeat.

Today, we trimmed the end of the hose, which enters the bilge area just above the holding tank. Using a heat gun on "high," we managed to soften the hose enough to get it aimed directly at the 1-1/2-inch elbow at the bottom of the holding tank. We heated the end of hose and tried to slip it onto the barbed elbow. No luck the first time we tried this or the second time but eventually, after applying a lot more heat, the end softened enough so that it could be forced over the barbs on the elbow.  Not easy.  It took an hour to finally get it in place.

Once that was done, we decided to try to connect the other hose (waste from the toilet to the holding tank that you can see at the top of the photo above) but found that the bilge space was too confined to be able to cut it with a hacksaw. Did we reconsider Frances' idea about using a Dremel cut-off wheel?  Yes we did, although we didn't have a Dremel with us. We'll have one next weekend, though and we expect that it will make the precision cuts in the hose we need.  Thanks again, Frances.

Not having the Dremel with us made us stop and look at all the other things that have to plumbed and wired behind the vanity.  Working behind the vanity is a problem, since we can just squeeze through the vanity door opening and once in there are very limited as to what we can do. We removed the old toilet vent line from the thru-hull fitting and measured for a new one.

The vent fitting looks little green but seems to be sound.

That nasty looking old T-fitting is connected to the hose to the old pump-out fitting on the deck.  That's going to have to go too.  Not looking forward to pulling that old hose out and putting a new one in.

We also sized up where the syphon-breaker assembly for the new toilet will be mounted and measured for the lengths and sizes of water hose that will be needed. We also measured for the installation of the flush-control buttons for the new toilet. That was time well spent because once the sanitation hoses are finally connected back there. we'll have a lot less room to run the fresh water line to the toilet and the vent line to the holding tank and the wiring to the flush-control buttons.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Plumbing the holding tank

We know this isn't a very exciting title for this chapter of the Silverton 34C blog but describes what we've been doing this past weekend.

In the last chapter, we had the holding tank's location decided.  This week we built and mounted a plywood base for the tank and then, using a 2-3/4-inch hole saw, cut a hole in the stringer immediately next to the holding tank so that we could run sanitary hose from the fitting on the bottom of the tank, under the floor of the head, exiting in the vanity.  That involved drilling though fiberglass, two sections of 3/4-inch plywood and another skin of fiberglass. It took a while, to say the least.  Here are the holes (one for the sanitary hose and one for the holding tank vent hose).

Once we had the hole drilled, we used a long section of 16 gauge solid electrical wire (you can see it in the photo) as a snake to see if we could find the opening in the floor behind the vanity. No luck. We hit yet another stringer that apparently runs fore-and-aft under the head.

We had to think about that for a while. We decided to cut away a little more of the plywood floor behind the vanity and when we did, we could feel the stringer and if we forced our head and shoulders through the open vanity door, we could actually see the it.  The opening in the floor was just big enough for a conventional electric drill (the battery powered one wouldn't make it) and with a new hole saw blade in place, we slipped the drill down under the floor and cut a new hole. Here it is with our electrical wire snake happily showing.  The plywood you see at the top of this photo is actually right under the head.

Eventually, the sanitary hose from the bottom of the holding tank will pass through hole we drilled, then though the second into the opening behind the vanity and will be connected to new hose that runs to the deck fill. Here's the old hose to the dick fill.

Next we have to deal with the the new hose that will connect the output of the new toilet to the top of the holding tank.  There is an old hose in place that ran from the old head to the maserator and we intend to pull a new hose in as we pull the old hose out. That will be a two-person job.  The bilge compartment where the holding tank is located is separated from the new toilet output hose by yet another stringer.  We lined things up and drilled a hole though that stringer. If everything works out properly, the waste from the toilet will exit via a new sanitation hose, go under the head floor and come out just aft of the new holding tank. With an elbow, it will go through the hole we just put in the stringer and directly into the holding tank.

The bridge ladder

Our bridge ladder looked pretty shabby and after looking at it for a summer, we figured out how to take it apart and refinish the teak steps. It's really quite well designed.  Each step is held in place with four Allen-head set-screws and four small square threaded stainless washers.

Once the set screws are loosened, the  steps slip down and off the stainless frame.  This is what they look like once removed from the frame.

We numbered them since we have no idea if each one is exactly alike.  Once the stainless bolts that hold the teak steps to the end caps are removed, the parts are lined up for cleaning and the steps for sanding a refinishing.

We've found that it's useful to have several boat projects going on at the same time: one on the boat and another that can be taken home.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who designed this boat?

We'd love to meet the person who designed our Silverton and perhaps invite him or her to visit and explain just why certain things were done the way they were.

Let's begin with the plumbing.  If you've read previous posts, you'll remember that we are replacing the old Mansfield Traveler toilet with a new one. We solved the problem of mounting the new toilet that is just 13-inches high by mounting it on the base the from old toilet to boost it up to regular "sitting" height. Lucky we saved the base of the old toilet..

This weekend we began removing some of the old plumbing and found some very sub-standard waste hose even given that is is more than 30 years old. The plumbing connections were all made inside the vanity and I'd say that "sloppy" would be a compliment. Pulling out all these poorly designed connections and replacing them will take many weekends.  Here is a picture of where we'll be working well into the first of the year - under the vanity.

The elbow you can see in this picture had a hose on it that was connected to the discharge fitting on the old head. I had just removed it. The other hoses are for fresh water to the old toilet and a hose to an unused seacock that must have supplied sea water to the head sometime in the past. Why would anyone leave 2-3 feet of extra hose stuffed back there?  Maybe it wasn't Silverton.  Perhaps it was the previous owner.  Either way, it's sloppy and considering that one of those hoses went to an unused seacock, fairly stupid.

Then there is the shower sump. The old one was mounted so far up under the floor that it was impossible to reach. This wasn't the doing of the previous owner. This was Silverton. They probably installed it before putting in the floors.  How were you to open this thing to clean it?  How were you supposed to get to it to replace it, as we are doing?  Impossible!  So, we pulled up the carpeting and cut hole in the floor right over the shower sump.

Since we're on everyone's case today, let's mention the Rule Shower Sump. It's a plastic box with a removable top that contains a strainer, a small bilge pump and an enclosed float switch and it's not cheap.  To begin with, the mounting flange on the bottom of the sump is so narrow, that it is impossible to use a power screwdriver to drive screws straight down to mount it to the fiberglass hull. The Rule sump has a variety of inlet sizes; and you need only open the one.  We opened the 1-1/2-inch port but when we went to connect it to the 1-1/2-inch outlet hose that runs to the through-hull, we found that the Rule was just a hair over the 1-1/2-inch inside diameter of the discharge hose. Cute. It won't fit and hanging upside down trying to make that connection isn't fun. Imagine paying some marina mechanic $65 an hour to install this thing?

On Sunday, we brought down our trusty heat gun and gave that old hose a shot of high heat for about 60 seconds. It relaxed enough so that after a couple of tries, we could slip it onto the 1-1/2-inch fitting on the shower sump.

Here's a picture of the shower sump properly connected and, although you can't see it here, leveled and screwed down. We poured pink antifreeze down the shower drain to test it and it worked.  We also bolted some wood supports in place to hold the access hatch in place. We'll have to add one more on the right side but we ran out of time today.

Looks OK, and will be invisible once the carpet is rolled back in place.

As it turned out, we spend two valuable days replacing a shower sump that Silverton should have located where it was more accessible. Luckily, we have more energy than Silverton had intelligence when they designed this part of the plumbing.

The wiring for the bilge pump is another story.  This rat's nest has dozens of old connections.  All of this will be replaced. We'll also replace that old bilge pump.  Let's call that work for one weekend.

While we were at it, we dropped the new holding tank in place and measured for a piece of plywood that will support it and keep it from sliding side-to-side and fore-and-aft.

We originally thought that we'd install a large holding tank under the cockpit, outboard of the starboard engine but the plumbing issues (running sanitary hose from the head to the cockpit) and the fact that we'd have to remove the outboard exhaust manifold on the starboard engine to get the holding tank in there made us re-think that. Instead, we have chosen to install a smaller (14-gallon) holding tank under the hallway outside of the head. We bought a holding tank from on Long Island.  The tank was made by Ronco Plastics in California and from what we saw, they are a major supplier of water and holding tanks. I'm glad we settled for this size tank because it just fits through the opening in the floor.

We also had to make some decisions regarding how we dispose of waste. We cruise in waters that are all protected from on-board discharge of waste so we're designing this system to be absolutely legal; there will be no way for us to pump waste overboard.  That simplifies the plumbing somewhat but we'll still have to spend many weekends drilling big holes under the floor outside of the head and snaking hoses.

This isn't going to be fun but we'll get it done

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter projects: Really getting started

It's time to roll up the carpeting and get going on the two big projects: a new head and holding tank and replacement of the old Norcold refrigerator.  This weekend, we had a retreat that we had to attend that used up most of Saturday but on Sunday we headed to Portland to see what we could accomplish before it gets really cold.

The plumbing under the floor outside of the head was really a mess, with lots of wiring tacked together for the bilge pump and plumbing pipes running from the old toilet to a macerator and seacock.  There is also a completely unused seacock and thru-hull fitting that at one time must have supplied sea water to the head for flushing purposes. All of that had to go to make room for the new holding tank.

Removing that old seacock in a confined space was a challenge since there wasn't room to really get in there and push on it. We eventually were able to break it loose with a large set of parallel-jaw pliers held tight with a hose clamp. Then a tap or two with a hammer and off it came.

We then used our Shop-Vac to suck out the remaining bilge water and the debris that had collected down there over the last 30 years.  The macerator also fought us every inch of the way but it eventually came out, too.  We left the old waste hoses in place since we'll probably need them to snake the new sanitary hose in for the holding tank.

Frances was busy removing the last of our stuff for the winter so we put the hatch outside of the head back in place and began to figure out how the old Norcold refrigerator could be removed.  We found that it was held in place by four 2-inch stainless screws concealed by four small black plastic plugs. Two screws came out OK but the other two were blocked by the fridge door, so we removed that and then backed out the remaining two screws. Then, we pulled up on the front of the fridge and it came loose from the floor were it was stuck by mainly old gunk and dirt.

There was very little room to move the fridge once it was clear of the counter but we managed to lift it out and up the stairs and out the door onto the deck.

It's interesting that the Norcold has the refrigerant coils and part of the compressor mounted outside of the cabinet.  The new fridge has everything mounted inside, which will give us some extra room for air circulation once it is mounted in the space under the counter top.

With he Norcold out, we now have access to the rear of the AC circuit breaker panel, which will be handy as we add some outlets over the winter. Note the usual ultra-neat Silverton wiring.

The cavity were the fridge goes is also where we can access the air conditioning unit.  We always wondered how they got that thing in there.

The new fridge arrived in just two days and Frances plugged it in immediately to test it. The dimensions are prefect and it will slip right into the space available under the counter. Note that in the bottom photo, there is something on the shelf of the fridge.  It's chicken. That's Frances' ultimate test meat. "If the chicken doesn't rot, it's a good refrigerator."  I think it came out OK but so far we haven't had chicken for dinner.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More on the toilet project

Today, we devoted ourselves to removing the old toilet. The old unit was a Mansfield Traveler, a head that was widely used in Silvertons, Luhrs among other boats and in lots of RVs the late 70s and early 80s.  This was before no-discharge zones so manufacturers could get away with the simple design the "Traveler" offered. The toilet was mounted on a 9-gallon holding tank.  To flush, you pressed a pedal on the side of the toilet.  That opened a clam shell-like valve in the toilet and released fresh water from the on-board supply to flush the waste down  into he holding tank. The clam shell valve was supposed to be air tight, so gas from the waste stored directly below wouldn't find its way out. At discharge time, you either used a pump out facility or you actuated a macerator mounted below the floor and that pumped the shredded waste overboard.

Obviously, that left a lot to be desired and that's why we undertook this project now.

Here's the old toilet in place (which was fairly easy to remove in one piece) and then a shot of the area where the head had been mounted.

Before heading to the dumpster, we disassembled the old head because we need the old holding tank to use as a base for the new toilet. The old holding tank-base won't be used to store waste. It will simply be a fiberglass box used to raise the new head to the proper height.

The bowl portion of the old head came off easily but the assembly below that wasn't so accommodating. So, we took it home for a closer inspection.

These bolts held the mounting flange under the bowl to the tank.  They refused to come out. The nut and bolt would simply turn together.

We decided that the only way to remove them was to cut them off with our Dremel.  That required a trip to Lowes to buy some Dremel Reinforced cut-off blades.  Those blades went  through these old plated brass bolts and nuts like butter, although we ended up cutting down through the top of the bolt and then the nut, splitting them in half. In an hour, we had them out.

Then we pried the gasket loose, leaving us with the old holding tank that really needed to be cleaned. Ugh! Thirty years of crap!

Once the old tank base was clean, we test fitted the new Jabsco Silent Flush head to the old holding tank, which would now be its mounting base.  What a surprise, it fit!  In fact, it appears that all these heads have the same 7-1/4" mounting base. Learned something again.

We'll have to find a way to mount the new head on the base, perhaps using toggle bolts of some kind.  Have to give that some thought.

Removing the old head and putting in a new one is to us, a complicated project and one that we can only really work on over the weekends. During the week, we'll make drawings and we have included one here. Sure, it's crude but sketches like this help us figure out what parts we need and in what sequence things have to be done.  They also helps Frances understand what's going on and that's necessary because she is fully involved in anything that we undertake on this old boat.

Sometimes Frances will say to me, "Why are you doing it that way?" and you know, more often than not, that's a very good question..

Friday, November 12, 2010

The toilet has arrived

We must be getting old to get excited about the arrival of our new head.  We shopped all over and finally found the best price at an Internet site.  The Raritan Silent Flush arrived two days later.  Perfect shape, quite a thing to pick up and examine. Really good workmanship. Frances approved of it wholeheartedly so we took out the directions and started our installation drawings.

First, we'll have to install a new holding tank under the floor outside of the head. As part of that, we'll be cutting a access hatch in that same floor (thanks, Rob for suggesting it) so we can reach the shower sump.  Once the holding tank goes in, the shower sump would be behind it where we won't be able to reach it in case it needs repair or cleaning.

It look like a 14-15 gallon holding tank will fit in that space.  The plumbing - all with 1-1/2" sanitary hose - should be a nasty job to say the least.  The hose, at $6.00 a foot, isn't very flexible and it requires the use of a heat gun to get it soft enough to accept fittings.

Then there's the task of routing the outlet hose of the holding tank to the pump-out deck fitting. There's a piece of old, black hose going to it now and we're hoping we can use that to pull the new sanitary hose up to the deck fitting. The deck fitting itself is El-cheapo original equipment so that will have to be changed as well.

The toilet itself is only 14-inch high (they all are, apparently) so we'll be mounting that on the holding tank base from the old toilet to bring it up to a comfortable height. The toilet also comes with a syphon-breaker assembly, which is basically a solenoid that keeps water from the toilet from syphoning back into the fresh water supply. That's a hefty enough electrical draw so that we'll have to provide new wiring for it.  Just one more little detail, but we'll get it done.

Then there's the refrigerator replacement. The old Norcold works but the door seals leak pretty badly and parts are hard to get so that is going to go.  To replace it, Frances found a compact-sized two-door refrigerator-freezer that is meant for household use. All of the compact marine and domestic refrigerators of this type are approximately the same size, so it will fit.

Another interesting note: all marine refrigerators like the Norcold, are 110-volt appliances. They are "marinized" by adding a small inverter built into the back of the unit that changes 12-volts DC from the boat's batteries to 110-volt AC to run the compressor.

It's amazing how much you learn when you begin to research these things.

So, with that in mind, we've developed a plan to "marinize" our new refrigerator. We have a large empty space under the salon floor right behind where the refrigerator is installed. In that space, we'll install a 2,000-watt inverter supported by two 12-volt, Group 27 batteries wired in parallel. We'll charge those batteries with a new marine battery charger that we just happen to have.

Our calculations show that those batteries should keep the 'fridge going for more than 24 hours without being charged. A  24-hour cruise, for us, is not on the horizon, so for a typical cruise of say, 6 hours, we will be fine. Once we dock and plug in again, the batteries will be recharged in a few hours.

If we anchor out, then we'll just have to be a little more careful about opening and closing the fridge door. It appears that a weekend at anchor (our limit, I think) is still well within the capacity of this system.

It's certainly possible to charge the batteries using one of the engines while under way.  That requires an isolator and while a its cool thing to do, it just might be more than we can handle this winter.  We learned last winter that the to-do list has to be reasonable. Next summer will be a good test of the design.