Sunday, March 27, 2011

Top of the swim platform

As noted previously, this week we flipped the swim platform over and began applying Sikkens.

This side had really been abused over the years and it certainly wasn't installed by Siliverton.  The side that fits against the boat was cut very crudely to fit the curve of the transom, with a few dips here and there. The previous owner drilled numerous holes to mount things and the stainless brackets that hold the platform are after-market, although perfectly acceptable.  Sometime in the past this swim platform was also sanded (more than once we'd guess) with a sanding disk and that was done without removing any of the hardware that was bolted to it.  As a result, there were many little platforms where something was mounted and lots of nicks, scrapes and gouges.  Our belt sander eliminated many of this old damage but not all, since some of the gouges were deeper than we cared to go.

As we saw on the bridge ladder steps, the grain on the teak turned up sharply after the application of the second coat of Sikkens.  We hand-sanded the entire surface with 100-grit sandpaper and folded the sandpaper over the 1/8-inch edge of an old piece of molding to sand the grooves that were milled between the teak planks.

Once the sanding was complete, we vacuumed up the debris and then went over the entire surface with our dampened white socks. (You have to be a regular reader of this blog to know exactly what that means.)  That took up a lots sawdust that the vacuum didn't catch.

To finish off the day, we applied the third coat of Sikkens on the now smooth swim platform.  The quality Control Department was called in to check our work.

Besides working on the swim platform we also went down to the boat, although on Saturday it seems so cold inside the shed that cleaning our house seemed like a better alternative for the rest of the afternoon. Before we left, we hooked up a 30-amp battery charger to our new inverter batteries. (Boats are supposed to be unplugged from shore power when the owners aren't there but we usually leave the boat plugged in to charge the engine batteries on Saturday and unplug on Sunday before we leave.)

We needed to put a big charger on our two new inverter batteries because, several weeks ago,  Bill inadvertently unplugged the boat on Sunday afternoon without first turning the inverter off.  I should also mention that I had two 100-watt work lights on and plugged into the inverter outlet in the salon when I left. Usually, once I unplug the boat anything I have left on, goes off.  Not this time.

Once I unplugged the boat, the inverter turned on, keeping both work lights going.  It stayed that way for six days and when we arrived the next Saturday, we could hear an alarm sounding.  The inverter had shut down and both batteries were badly discharged.  Once we plugged the boat back in, the inverter began charging the two batteries but with just 10 amps available from the inverter, it would have taken three days or more to bring the batteries back. Since we have to unplug the boat on Sunday when we leave, there wasn't much alternative but to bring down a higher capacity charger on Saturday, connect it to the inverter batteries and leave it on for approximately 18 hours.

That worked as planned.  When we arrived on Sunday, both of the inverter batteries were charged and on "float" mode, according to the charger. We reconnected the batteries to the inverter and everything worked as expected.  No alarms and the transfer switch in the inverter worked perfectly.

This won't be a problem when the boat is in the water and plugged into the dock power but it was a learning experience. It seems that 200 watts for six days exceeded our designed battery capacity. All we want is to keep the fridge going for an 8-hour boat trip.

If you haven't fallen asleep reading all this detail, then you must love working on boats as much as we do.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Swim platform half done

As promised, we spent an hour each evening so far this week applying a coat of Sikkens Cetol Marine Light to the bottom of the swim platform  (That's the part you'll never see unless you are diving behind the boat.) That side seemed like a good place to experiment with very old, weathered teak.

The first coat disappeared into the teak leaving some surface color behind.  The second coat built up nicely. At that point, after allowing the second coat to dry overnight inside our heated basement, we noted that the Sikkens had turned up the grain on the teak to the point where it felt very rough. We hand-sanded the entire underside of the platform with 100-grit sandpaper and, after vacuuming up the loose stuff,  wiped off the residue with clean wet cloths.  We took one pass at each section of the teak, wiping up the sanding dust, and then moved on to a new clean cloth. It took eight passes to get the teak clean.

Nerd note: We re-purpose old white athletic socks to use for things like this and for polishing. They work great, although we don't know why we ever bought them. We never wear white socks.

With the teak really clean, we applied and third coat and then, each evening, a fourth and fifth. Looks OK at this point and tomorrow, we'll flip it over and start the process again on the top, the side you'll see when it's mounted on the boat.

The top side may require a little more work, since that's the side that has been exposed to sun salt and foot traffic all these years.

The edge, which you can see in the photo, looks just OK. It's fairly smooth but the bungs show, especially in the back. We'd still like to have some trim for that surface but since we can't find anything nice, I guess this is the way it's going to be.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Swim Platform

The swim platform, now home for rehabilitation, looked pretty shabby.  Lots of nicks and scrapes, extra holes and on the underside, a nice coating of green mold under the grime.

We removed the vinyl rub rail and began hunting for something similar to replace it with. Internet searches turned up nothing even close and a long call to Kevin at Jamestown Distributors netted only that flexible rub rail that would be suitable for the 1-1/8" edge on our swim platform isn't made any more.

Kevin knew exactly what we were looking for but had to end our call with, "Today, most swim platforms are made from fiberglass and they don't bother with rub rails like yours.

We also posted the question on one of our favorite boating websites where we were roundly criticized for even considering vinyl rub rail on a swim platform.  "Just finish off the edge of the teak," we were told by a number of posters. "It will look great."

Frances concurred with a "natural edge" on our old swim platform so we began by replacing the missing bungs along the outside edge of the platform, now that it would be visible. A length of 3/8-inch dowel from Lowes cut into 1/4-inch pieces worked great and we glued them in place.  The 28 small screw holes that used to hold the vinyl rub rail in place were filled with glue-tipped wooden match sticks.  That should give you a clue that we owned wood boats for a long time.

Saturday morning was marginally warm enough to put the swim platform on our back yard picnic table (on which only birds, squirrels and raccoons ever dine).  We fired up our belt sander and went to work.

Six 50-grit belts on our 3"x21" sander (and about four hours) and the swim platform was almost ready to go.  The underside of the platform was particularly nasty to sand because of the mold and accumulated crap that had built up there over the years.

The plan is to apply five coats of Sikkens Marine Light to each side.  That worked great on our bridge ladder so we'll do the same thing here.

Just a thought about teak, if you are old enough to remember.  When I (Bill) was a kid hanging around the docks in Brielle, New Jersey watching the boats come in from a day of fishing, there would be big billfish to be weighed.  The teak decks on those boats often were stained with fish blood.  Before the crew could leave, the teak decks were cleaned with a big stone that looked like a brick.  Someone would polish out out the fish blood stains using water and that abrasive stone.  Once dry, the teak decks were almost white.

Just a memory. Sikkens will work just fine for us.

On Sunday we tackled the detail on the top of the swim platform.  The boards aren't flush at the surface but have grooves milled into them to make the platform more attractive.  We'd sanded the surface adequately but the grooves between the individual teak strips needed extra care.  We folded pieces of sandpaper over a small section of 1/4-inch plywood and went at each groove.  An hour and a lot of energy later, the grooves were free of mold and old varnish, or whatever the PO had put on the the swim platform.

Now we were ready to apply at coat of Sikkens, the first of five. We set the swim platform up in the basement on two milk crates, applying the Sikkens to the underside of the swim platform first. It takes a lot longer that we thought to do one side of a 9-1/2 ft. swim platform!

Later in the afternoon, we mounted the plywood pieces needed the reinforce the boarding ladder and the Weaver Davids that hold our inflatable. We coated each piece with System 3 Epoxy and left them to adhere to the swim platform.  They will be bolted in place so this was just an extra step.

Here's the swim platform at the end of our weekend.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Henderson Method

We had a lot planned for this weekend but Bill had to work on Saturday accompanying the press at "Monster Jam" at the Arena at Harbor Park in Bridgeport. 1,500 HP trucks that can jump up in the air to the delight of about 5,000 kids. Pretty cool, as it turns out.

On Sunday, we were going to attempt to do what we had planned for over two days: move the new fridge from our front porch to the boat and install it.  That would mean removing the inflatable from our swim platform first and putting it on the cockpit.  The fridge weighs about 75 lbs and we discussed how the two of us would get it up almost 6 feet onto the swim platform and then up and over the transom into the cockpit.

Frances took charge of how we'd do this and she made a drawing of her plan.  As the day went by (and everything worked exactly as she had planned) we came to call this "The Henderson Method."  Here's her drawing:

What's not in the drawing is that Frances determined that we should wrap the fridge in a heavy blanket first so we wouldn't damage it.  That's what we did, and we brought along along a hand truck and a short step ladder.

Following Frances'  plan, we unloaded the fridge, put it on the hand truck and brought it back into the shed next to the stern of the boat.

Then we used the short (6 ft.) stepladder to make a ramp up to the swim platform. Just put the fridge on the ladder and the push it up the ladder using it as a skid. Amazingly, it slid up the ladder after giving it a dozen or so big pushes and soon we had it on the swim platform.The Henderson Method was working perfectly.

Working together, we picked it up and put it on the gunwale. Bill balanced it while Frances jumped into the cockpit. There it was. On the boat.

We brought the fridge into the salon, unwrapped it and re-mounted the doors, which we had removed to save a little weight.  We moved it down the stairs into the galley area and Frances slid it in.

Plug it in and everything works.

All good so far so we decided to push our luck.  Our original plan was to also remove the swim platform and take it home for refinishing so we thought, what the hell. Let's do it. 

Knowing that it would be difficult to get back on the boat after the swim platform was removed, we took all of our stuff off and then began the task of unbolting it.  Not a pretty sight under there.

The four stainless brackets that hold the swim platform were were secured to the platform with very old bolts and nuts each topped by a rusty castle nut.  The castle nuts broke apart and the nuts holding the platform backed out.  Once the swim platform was loose, we picked it up and put it in the back of our station wagon.

By then, we were getting tired and headed for home. Once there, we moved the 9-ft, 6-inch platform (weighs close to 100 lbs., we'd guess) into our basement work area for refinishing.

All in all, The Henderson Method served us well.  We got a lot done and without Frances' ideas, would probably still be standing around trying to figure out what to do.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Scratch another one off the list

On Saturday, we didn't have a lot energy to work on the boat so we picked up the bridge enclosure sections from Dan at Frank's Auto Tops and Seat Covers, did some errands and dropped off the bridge ladder on the boat. Long story concerning the ladder but it's finally back on the boat and this time it fits to mounting brackets.

On Sunday, the task was to run coax cable from the salon-mounted TV to the cockpit so that we wouldn't have to run the cable TV wire through a window, as we did last summer.  We thought this would be an ideal one-day project and that's about the way it turned out.

We had a 50-ft. length of coax and once unwrapped, cable like this had a mind of its own, coiling and snarling at every opportunity.  We began behind the lower steering station, where we drilled a hole in the wall behind the steering station.  That allowed us to push one end of the cable into a closet that is located next to the upper berth.  We drilled another hole that allowed us to pull the cable through the closet and out into the shelf area next to the upper berth.  We connected the new cable to a coaxial switch, just in case we ever need to also connect an external TV antenna.

The new cable is the one on the right. The cable on the left is connected to our TV.

Next we fished the cable from behind the steering console down to the compartment under the floor (where we mounted the inverter).  That compartment has an access plate that, when removed, gives access to the bilge area next to the fuel tank.  We used a six-foot length of molding with the coax cable taped to the end of it, to push the coax cable all the way through the bilge into the engine space, right in front of the starboard engine.  We were able to reach the cable (just barely) and pull it into the engine area.  Then it was a  matter of pulling and routing the cable across the boat in front of the engines to a spot behind the water heater on the port side.

Then we mounted the utility box (not marine, but who cares?) below the shore cord inlets and using our high-tech snake, pulled the coax cable up.

Once we had the cable up and through the hole. we smeared the connections with electrical grease. The open access plate seen above allowed us to reach down and guide the connector at the end of the cable through the hole.

We vacuumed up the work areas and, with the rain drumming down on the roof of the shed, took one last  picture of the completed installation. Elapsed time?  About five hours, which means that we should never try to make a living doing stuff like this.