Saturday, January 29, 2011

Measure twice, cut once

Luckily, we brought a shovel with us when we went to the boat today.  The marina driveway is down to one lane with very limited parking.  We spend a half hour shoveling a path through a snow pile just so we could get inside the shed where the boat is stored.

We removed the stuff that was stored in the area under the cabin floor and crawled in to take a look.

There's a lot of space down there. In fact, the only thing there is the control unit for the air conditioner. The spot where we want to mount the inverter is on the wall behind the work light in the photo.

Unfortunately, that plywood wall has a nice big bolt head sticking out right where the inverter will go.

So, we'll have to add some little shims to the base that holds the inverter so it will clear that bolt.  That duplex outlet on the right was where the old Norcold refrigerator was plugged in, but now it will power the battery charger in the inverter.

The inverter will be powered while underway with two 12-volt Group 27 batteries wired in parallel. The space that you see in that photo is big enough for me to crawl into but, it turns out after measuring, that it isn't high enough to drop a Group 27 battery into a permanently mounted battery box.  We'd need at least another eight inches of height to do that.  So, we'll build two plywood fixtures that will hold the two batteries in place.

While we were there, we took some time to investigate where we'll put the new 110-volt AC outlet that will run from the inverter.  The inverter has two outlets (served by a transfer switch) and we'll use one for the new fridge.  No sense wasting the other one so we thought that we'd put a duplex outlet somewhere on the starboard side near the lower steering station. Not a lot of space to fish wires and make a nice neat installation, in fact, there is almost no space near the floor behind the white panel below the radio.We'll have to think about that for a while.

We've ordered the battery cable and connectors from Del City and this week, if it doesn't snow more than a foot or so, we'll make some platforms that will hold the batteries in place.  Let's see: the inverter cost $400, the battery cable and connectors another $63 and the two batteries $85 each.  Nothing cheap about making an old Silverton the way you really want it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A little too cold, even for us

If you're following our blog from someplace other than New England, you should know that this is how our driveway looked this past Thursday after we used the snow blower to take off another 6 inches of snow that fell upon 2 feet from earlier in the week, not to mention the other snowfall in early January which was a 10" accumulation!  Our four-lane driveway is down to two lanes now and it has been cold (20 degrees today and 7 tonight). It will be June before all the accumulated snow melts, but by then we will be boating.

This weekend our goal was to finish the last of the toilet project by replacing the waste deck-fill.  That is a two-person job, but after looking at the predicted temperatures for Saturday, we decided to move on to something we could accomplish at home.  We did visit the boat and plugged her in to charge the batteries at least overnight. The thermometer inside the boat showed just 12 degrees.

Back home, we began the next major project; installing an inverter to power the new refrigerator and other small 110-volt AC appliances while underway or at anchor.

A few weeks ago, we bought a 2,200-watt inverter with a built-in transfer switch and battery charger.  It's made in China (like virtually everything , it seems) and is marine approved.  We paid almost $400 for it and although we had studied the specs carefully, when it arrived it was bigger and heavier that we expected.  No problem.  Big and heavy is good for an inverter .

Our plan is to mount the inverter and the two Group 29 batteries that will power it while underway in the large space under part of the salon floor. We access this area by picking up a carpeted hatch that is just aft of the lower steering station. This area really is big, running across underneath the cabin to the area just behind the galley. It's separated from the rest of the area under the salon by a fiberglass-over-plywood wall that runs athwartships.  Don't you love nautical terminology?

Rather than use valuable floor space in this storage area, we decided to mount the inverter on that plywood wall.  That would require designing some kind of wood fixture that would hold the inverter against that vertical surface, but knowing what it's like down there in somewhat restricted space, we wanted a mounting fixture that we could mount on the wall and then slip the inverter onto it.

Between trips outside to clear snow, we designed a 3/4-inch plywood base for the inverter that would allow air circulation underneath it and permit us to screw the mount into the fiberglass-plywood wall and then slip the inverter over the ten bolts that stuck out of the mount.

(If you are still reading at this point, you are a dedicated boater!)

Here is what this inverter mount made of scrap 3/4-inch plywood ended up looking like on Saturday evening:

Those strips of 1x1-inch molding that hold the inverter up over plywood base need to be through-bolted to the plywood base but the alignment has to be perfect or we won't be able to slip the inverter over those ten bolts once we are laying in the storage space during the installation.

Our solution was to mount the inverter, tighten down the mounting nuts and then apply good quality wood glue between the 1x1 strips and the base.  If everything works as planned, tomorrow morning we should be able to remove the he mounting nuts, pull the inverter off and then through-bolt those 1x1 spacers to the base.

Sunday dawned cold and after reading the Sunday New York Times (all sections but sports) and enjoying a great omelet prepared by Frances, we went downstairs and removed the inverter from the mounting fixture. Nothing moved; the glue held perfectly. Next, we drilled holes in the spacers, bolted them down, recessing the bolt heads so we would be able to mount this thing flush to the wall.

Looks like this will work.  Of course, we had to paint it and once dried, it looked OK for installation, perhaps next weekend.

While we were at the marina on Saturday, we were given two nice battery boxes, brand new, with all the mounting hardware, by a sailboat owner who wanted bigger batteries than would fit in these boxes. Thanks to whomever you are.  That saved us a few bucks.

On Sunday, we had to visit PRM again to unplug the boat.  While there, Frances took some photos.

Our boat is in the shed behind that ancient Ford truck

The Connecticut River is frozen solid...

Back at home on Sunday evening, the view from our bathroom window showing the roof icicles merging with the snow on the roof slope was definitely photo worthy.

Back to work next weekend, if the weather cooperates.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Wonderful Weekend, Off-duty with Manny and Rhoda Silverton

No boat parts list, no little drawings, no freezing on the boat for us this weekend.  Instead, we ventured off to Williamstown, Mass on Saturday morning, despite the warnings of snow showers. The drive up was beautiful, made even more so by the lack of boat talk. Our destination was the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, known to people who love museums and all that they offer as simply, "The Clark."

Frances had done her usual great research and found us a place to stay at what we remember as the old North Side Hotel, right across the street from the Williams College campus. That venerable property is now the Magnuson Hotel and while it wasn't exactly five star status, it was clean, warm and perfectly acceptable, especially at $59.00 per night.

We checked in and then drove a short distance to The Clark.  We've visited many times in the past but always find fascinating new things as well as old favorites at this beautiful art museum. The current exhibit is a showing of etchings, wood cuts and engravings :

The strange world of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)

We had seen an exhibit of M.C. Escher's woodcuts  (20th Century) at the New Britain Museum of American Art, back in November with Carol Ann and Rob, but that's another story...

 The Clarks built the marble museum building shown on the right in 1955 to house their extensive and exquisite art collection.  Over the years, the museum expanded with the large building shown at the left.

For us, one of the best things about this museum is the use of windows in most of the galleries. It is wonderful to see a priceless Gainsborough or John Singer Sargent right next to a window looking out over the Clark's untouched 140 acre campus.
 (Frances' favorite is John Singer Sargent's 
Fumée d'Ambre Gris, 1880)

Fumée d'ambre gris was Sargent's major souvenir from a trip to Tangier in the winter months of 1879-1880. The painting's non-narrative structure and monochromaticism, as well as its mysterious ambiance, ensured that it was repeatedly singled out for praise at the Paris Salon later that spring.
With this representation of a North African woman infusing her robes and senses with the musky perfume of ambergris (a resinous substance extracted from whales and considered an aphrodisiac as well as a guard against evil spirits)

One surprise was Gilbert Stuart's iconic portrait of George Washington which is owned by the museum:

We spent the afternoon at The Clark and then did a quick tour of North Adams in a dark and gloomy snow storm. No problem with the roads, though. The folks in this part of western Massachusetts really know how to keep the roads clear and safe.

With cocktail hour upon us, we returned to our room at the Magnuson.  OK, the drapes need work but it was a very cozy spot on a cold night. Mysteriously to us, the photo of the burgundy gauze curtains doesn't show the same horror in the picture as in person...Interior decorating notwithstanding, there were no errant hairs on any of the linens, and no rodents or  bugs...We would recommend as long as ambiance is not a concern.  (Warm and clean!)

We went to the hotel desk to get the location of the ice machine only to find that it had been disconnected for the winter. The manager, an Indian gentleman whom we immediately named Patel, asked if we needed ice to keep our medication cold.  No we, told him, we just wanted to make some cocktails and knowing that, he gladly emptied his refrigerator's ice supply and gave it to us. That ice was perfect for our kind of "medication."

Patel also gave us a menu for the Water Street Grille.  Frances checked them out by phone, made a reservation and we were all set for dinner.  This is a college town and Williams College was in session, so dinner reservations, as it turned out, were necessary.

We were getting a little silly after a long day and decided that for this trip we would rename ourselves Manny and Rhoda Silverton.  Somehow, our new names seem to fit perfectly.

Manny and Rhoda had an excellent dinner at an extremely reasonable price and we left the Water Street Grille right before a party of about 30 was to be seated. Just in time!

We slept very soundly and neither Manny nor Rhoda dreamed about the next or current boating project, so this weekend break was well worth it.

On Sunday morning, we went next door to the Williams Inn for breakfast, after which we loaded up and began the ride home down Route 7.  A few miles down the road, we stopped in the driveway of the Mount Greylock Regional High School to take this picture of what the local kids see every day on their way to school.

A little farther down the road Frances, er, I mean Rhoda, took this shot of fences in the snow in front of a farm.

We arrived home and soon the boat project began to creep back into our lives. As we wrote this blog, Rhoda was in the next room, busy refinishing the swim platform steps.

Next weekend, Manny and Rhoda Silverton become a fond memory as Bill and Frances go back to wrap up the boat toilet project. It was a great weekend, however, and it gave us new energy, ideas and almost too many laughs and half_snaps!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The best seat in the house

Despite the snow, we made some good progress this weekend. God, it was cold on that boat but after an hour or so with the electric heater it was warm enough to be productive.

With the bilge wiring and plumbing finished, it was time to bring the toilet in and test fit it.  If you've been following this blog, you may remember that this is a new Raritan Quiet Flush toilet mounted on the former storage tank we saved from the old Sealand Traveler gravity toilet.  We lugged the toilet in from the cockpit where it has been waiting for the last two months and put it in place.  Amazingly, the discharge house lined up with the old hole in the vanity.  We didn't mount the seat but the toilet looked pretty nice to us.

For some reason, Raritan made the discharge outlet a 1-inch fitting when everything else in the waste plumbing is 1-1/2-inch so we had to add a little piece of 1-inch hose and a 1-to-1-1/2 inch coupling.  That also meant three hose clamps where we would only have needed one if the Raritan toilet had a 1-1/2 inch discharge.  Just a small thing, but it would have been neater without all those extra hose clamps.  The white hose seen curving up in the photo is the water supply to the toilet.  We trimmed about an inch off the end, heated it up with our trusty heat gun and on it went.

The Raritan head comes with a double switch assembly that allows for a variety of flushing modes and it has to be connected to 12-volts DC, the maserator on the back of the head and the siphon breaker. We removed the toilet to make more room to work and drilled the two 1-3/4- inch intersecting holes in the vanity needed to mount the switch assembly.  While we were at it, we also cut a small rectangular opening in the vanity to mount the display for the Snake River holding tank gauge.

We put the toilet back in place and using the cables that we had previously pulled up from the bilge, wired both.  Together, these switches required about 16 crimp fittings.  We made the wiring as neat as possible, slid the two switch assemblies back into the holes in the vanity and drilled some very small pilot holes before screwing them down permanently.

Then, we sat down on the toilet (no seat yet) and pushed the "flush" button. Hearing the toilet motor come on was music to our ears. No "real time" testing right now, because there is nothing in the water tank but soon, we'll dump (good word) some anti-freeze in the water tank and try a real-time flush.

Next weekend, the Captain and Commodore are  going to spend some time together doing nothing boating related. We've worked on the boat every weekend except one since it came out of the water and we need a break. Weather permitting, we will be heading up to one of our favorite museums (Sterling & Francine Clark Institute), in Williamstown, MA

Oh, the ladder from the swim platform to the back of the boat is looking pretty good.  It now has three coats of Sikkens on it and because it's out in the weather, it will get at least three more.  The steps have been sanded between coats and it's looking great.

The remainder of the plan for the winter includes removing the swim platform and refinishing that too. We can't do that until all the projects inside the boat are complete since once the swim platform is off. we really can't get up onto the boat very easily. We'll figure that out when the time comes.

Our list of things to do before spring launch is now a little shorter. Somehow, I know we'll get them all accomplished.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When we're not doing boating stuff...

...we work for a living and that takes us to some interesting places.  Today, we hosted a meeting for about 150 little kids (and their moms) at the West Hartford library.  Did all those kids show up to hear about our Silverton?  No, at that age, they have much more fun interacting with two icons that seem to interest kids, generation after generation.

Tough not to like your visitors when they pay this much attention.

We do the publicity for the skating versions of these two famous characters in Southern New England and this event was what is known as a "meet & greet" to enhance ticket sales. It really works and they are fun to do.

There is a somewhat creepy element to a blog like this and we should explain it.  As we type our blog, Google saves our words every minute or so. Google is looking for key words (and images) that they can match to advertisers who might get hits on their websites when their ads are displayed on our blog.  Normally that isn't much of a problem, but with this post, mention of the show or the characters above is not permitted by those who hold the copyrights without their express permission. And, quite understandably, they guard that copyright closely.

As a consequence, if this chapter of  "Silverton 34C" disappears, you'll know why.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rat's Nest Revisited

Before we could put the hatch back down in the hallway outside of the head, we went to work on the jumble of old wiring that used to operate the macerator and the old bilge pump and float switch.  Apparently, whenever the PO had any wiring done it was at the cheapest possible hourly rate and/or the lowest competency level.  This is what it looked like after we removed the macerator.  The white hose is from the raw water pump for the air conditioning.  The other hose actually isn't part of the plumbing but carries wiring for the vanity and the port side of the v-berth.  Check out all those butt connectors!

The AC wiring inside that hose was in very good shape and since it had never been altered, we chose to leave it as is.  We cut out most of the remaining patched-up wire and replaced it with new marine-grade wire with shrink tube ring terminals and where we absolutely had to, shrink tube type butt connectors.  Because we like things organized for both troubleshooting and future expansion, we made all of our connections at a 12-position terminal strip.  Each connector was liberally coated with electrical grease to prevent corrosion.

Incidentally, we had several of these terminal strips in stock our garage. We liberated them and a lot of other electrical parts years ago from an abandoned 1961 36-ft. Chris Craft Constellation that was due to be crushed. You never can tell when you might need parts.

Of course, we drew a wiring diagram first.

Here's what the renovated wiring looked like.  The new Johnson 2,200 GPH bilge pump is at the bottom of the photo. The Rule float switch is forward of the pump, under the shelf holding the terminal strip. Just below the pump is a little remaining bilge water, frozen solid. We would like to have cleaned the AC hose and the walls of the stringers but it was much too cold to attempt that for now.

The wiring shown provides power to shower sump that is forward of this area, the toilet flush control switch which will be mounted in the vanity and the Snake River holding tank gauge, which will also be mounted in the vanity. The wiring also preserves the functionality of the helm-mounted bilge pump switch that allows for automatic pump activation via the float switch, a manual override to operate the pump at will and curiously, the ability to be able to turn the pump off completely. Why anyone would ever wish to turn off a fused bilge pump circuit is beyond me, but that's how Silverton did it.  We'd like to correct that but doing so would mean disassembling lots of the existing wiring at the lower helm and it's now January, so we have to be careful to start projects that we know we can complete before spring launch.

The electrical wiring and connectors that we use come from Del City in Milwaukee. We're only mentioning them here because they are a terrific source for many electrical parts that marine stores charge so much for. You can order what you need on line at very reasonable shipping charges but you'll need their catalog to do that accurately. (Their catalog is a veritable dictionary of electrical parts, by the way.) They are at or 800-654-4757. Del City is an automotive and marine wholesale source and they have minimums so don't bother if you only need a few small parts.

We're now trying to have at least one project that we can do at home, evenings, during the week in addition to our weekend work on the boat. We finished rehabing the ladder to the fly bridge and it came out really well. Today, we took off the small folding ladder from the swim platform to the deck and brought it home.

 This will be a little more of a challenge since apparently, we can't get the steps off due to the welded mounting points at each end. We'll get it done though because Frances is the best applier of masking tape on the planet.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reassembling the ladder

The Sikkens went on the ladder steps each day beginning on Christmas and by New Year's day, we were ready to reassemble the ladder. We don't know who designed this ladder but hopefully they weren't working by the hour. The construction and the way the steps are held fast to the stainless frame is really quite original.  Taking it apart was fairly easy.  Putting it back together was, well let's say, interesting.

Each teak step has two stainless end caps. Steps are held to the end caps with three stainless machine screws on each end. The underside of each end cap had threaded holes to accept the machine screws. Here's what one of those end pieces looks like.

 The end of each end piece accepts a small. rectangular piece of stainless stock, threaded to accept an Allen-head set screw. It tightens down against the railing with an Allen wrench.

Here's the end cap in place showing one of those little Allen-head fittings. You have to assemble this bottom down, or the little set screws fall out.

Slide the railing through (not easy) and it looks like this.

Eventually, we managed to slide the frame through all five ladder steps and their end caps and had half the ladder reassembled.

We should mention that when reassembling the ladder, we reversed the mounting of the steps: the old bottom step, which was more worn and weathered, became the top step where is gets some shelter from the cabin roof. We swapped them all so that only the third step was in its original position.

Sliding the other side of the stainless frame in place was definitely a two-man job and Frances took over here.  It needed only a few taps with a hammer to get the frame to slide through all five steps. We tightened up the Allen set screws and our ladder looks like it's ready to go.