Sunday, February 23, 2014

Time to get this plumbing project back on track

The cold and snowy weather has kept us from working on replacing the water heater and the water lines. Saturday, we headed off to do some much-needed errands, the first of which was to visit Defender Marine in Waterford and get the new water heater.

Before we left, we downloaded the manual for the water heater we had selected and found that the manufacturer recommended installing a magnesium anode in place of the supplied drain faucet. Defender had that too, so we shelled out $22.95 for it. The water heater itself is a Seaward Model F-600, 6-gallon capacity, which is the same size as our old heater. That cost $274.99. We also needed a check valve for the cold water input line and Defender had a simple Shurflo check valve that will do nicely for $15.99.  $333.91 later we left with all of our stuff.

This water heater is actually round but is enclosed in this galvanized rectangular steel box. We think we'll prime and paint the box before we install it.

The two 1/2" nipples shown at the bottom of the water heater are for heating the water underway by routing engine coolant through. We had these on our old water heater and never connected them.  After completely re-plumbing the cooling systems on both engines a couple of years ago and rebuilding the heat exchangers with excellent results, we'll just cap those nipples and call it a day.

Besides, even after a seven hour cruise with our old water heater, we always had hot water. Better to leave well enough alone, as far as we're concerned.

Sunday: Getting the remainder of what we need
By this winter's standards, Sunday was an almost tropical day: no coat and we didn't even turn the electric heater on. First step was to buy the 1/2-inch reinforced water hose. We measured first and it looked like approximately 24 feet for the hot and cold water lines so we bought a 50 ft. box of Trident hose from the boat yard at $1.50 per foot.  

When we take the old hoses and fittings out, we may be able to re-purpose some of the hose clamps but just to make sure, we bought a box of a dozen Number 4 stainless hose clamps. We probably own 200 or more stainless hose clamps (but none this small) and we never knew they were numbered by size. One more thing we learned doing a winter project.

 The "T" and "L" fittings we had ordered were there so we packed up our stuff and waded through the mud/snow and took it all back to the boat.

The first part of the hose installation will be from the engine space to the storage area that is below and just aft of the lower steering station. We took everything out of that storage space and removed the access panel. That's where we will pull the hot and cold water lines up.

We'll have to drill two 3/4-inch holes next to that opening for the two water hoses, then route them to the right towards the galley. Sounds easy but it will probably be a pain in the butt.

We opened the box the Tident water hose came in and found that the hose was tightly coiled and a stiff as hell. We'll never be able to fish even a 12 ft. section of it that far without relaxing that hose. We brought the home were we will stretch it out this week in room temperature so we can work with it.

We spent some quality time down behind the engines to identify all the hoses and how they are routed. It should look a lot neater once we finish this.

We documented our Saturday "day off" going to Defender with some video. Once we left there, we visited our summer marina and ran into our dockmate  Bob Caise, who kept is boat in the water this year. He was clearing snow from his boat. Norwich looks wintery but still one of our favorite places.

The end of the video is our usual shot of the Connecticut River. Still lots of ice, but it is rapidly breaking up.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The snow is making us a little nuts

Here it is February 15 and we haven't accomplished much in the way of boat work. If you know us, you're probably as sick of the snow as we are, but we just have to bitch a little.

This is how bad it is: We often fire up our little Acer boat computer and just look at the charts. Today we turned it on so it could suck up the never-ending Windows 7 updates (there were 17) and charge its battery. A couple of weeks ago, we spent a cocktail hour planning a route from Norwich (where we dock in the summer) to New London Ledge Light. We'll probably never use it but at least it had something to do with our boat.

Act Three Boating factoid Number 1: It is 15.3 miles from the turning basin in Norwich to New London Ledge Light and that trip requires 33 course changes if you stay in the channel all the way, which we do. Is this stuff fascinating or what?

The old boarding step is finally finished. We stripped the steps completely, treated them with CPES and put seven coats of Sikkens on the tops of the steps and three on the undersides. We also polished up the aluminum frame and replaced the rubber feet.  It's ready to go back to the boat when we can get to the boat, whenever that is.

We also refinished the cutting board that fits into the top of our electric stove.  Frances uses it mainly to hold her dish-drying rack and we noticed that it had picked up some discoloration that may have been mold. That's also ready to go back aboard.

The next refinishing project can be seen on the right in the photo above. It's our fold-up table that we use a lot for dining in the cockpit. It is really beginning to show wear from being left out in the sun and sometimes rain so Frances is going to take charge of bringing it back to life.

On Saturday, we had to spend some time on home maintenance rather than dive into the boat's plumbing project. Our 1970s era Ariens Snowblower broke its drive belt cleaning up after the last snow storm and from the forecast, we knew we were going to need to get it going again. We went to Lowes for some other stuff we needed and took the opportunity to look through their somewhat disorganized selection of drive belts. After comparing about 25 of their 1/2" belts, we found one that was an exact replacement for the one we needed. Another hour installing it (difficult to do with gloves on) and the old Ariens was ready to go. Just in time, it seems.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Finally figured it out...

We haven't been able to devote much time to the boat over the past two weekends because of the cold or work-related obligations. We weren't looking forward to this weekend because it is still cold. As you can see from the photo above, at the turn in the Connecticut river between Middletown and Portland, the river is completely frozen, although south of here, it is partially open.

We understand that earlier this week, the Coast Guard cutter "Bollard" came through to open the channel and they were moving right along. When they churned through the ice at that speed, it created a wake of ice across the river that snapped off five of the boatyard's pilings. They are $1,100 each, installed. Expensive week for Portland Riverside. No word from the Coast Guard about compensation.

It was 24 degree in the sun when we got to Portland and inside the boat it was an indicated 24 degrees, although it felt one hell of a lot colder inside that metal shed. In fact, it was too cold for us to get any real work done even with our electric heater on. But we weren't too cold to think.

What we are trying to accomplish
Our goal is to replace the hot and cold water lines from where they enter the boat on the port side, forward to the galley and then to the sink and toilet in the head. Part of that effort is to also replace the old hot water heater, which we have already removed.

We've been stuck on how to access the hot and cold water hoses and even more precisely, how do we free them up so that we can use the old hoses to drag in new ones? We've disconnected them at both ends but they run under the salon floor in an area that is completely inaccessible to us and they won't move when we pull on them from the engine space or from the galley.

If you step though that sliding door, you will be standing on a hatch. Today, we took that hatch up to see if we could get at the water hoses. Here they are, way out of reach, between those dusty old passive vent hoses.

That metal thing in the photo is a lifting eye for the 220 gallon aluminum fuel tank. The clearance between the top of the tank and the underside of the salon sole is about eight inches. Yes, in case you're wondering, the brain trust at Silverton Engineering put the tank in and then glassed the salon liner in over it. 

As we were standing there looking down into that hatch opening, we thought of something. The fuel tank isn't right up against the hull on the port and starboard sides. There's a foot or more of clearance. There's no way to get at that space on the port side, but the starboard side has access from both the engine space and from a storage space located under the lower helm. That's were we ran the new control cables last winter. We spent lots of time fishing speaker wires, antenna lines and other stuff right down that space. So, why do we have to use the old hose routing?  Why not re-route the new water hoses through that space on the starboard side?

If we knew how to insert a light bub icon, we'd put it right here.

We closed the hatch and opened the hatch under the lower steering station. Nice big space. There's even a plywood panel that you can remove to access the area next to the fuel tank. From there, the new water hoses can make a turn, pass through a hole we'll have drill to for them and then, they are behind the fridge. Lots of room back there and once the hoses make one more turn, they are under the galley sink. Perfect. We'll just cut off the ends of the old water hoses and let them stay down there where the sun doesn't shine.

The run from the galley sink to the head is trivial. Only one bulkhead and we can get to that from under the vanity. God knows, we spent lots of time there when we installed the new toilet and holding tank a couple of years ago.

OK, now we know what we are going to do. If the weather moderates a little, maybe we can get started next weekend.  If you think we're a little odd enjoying this stuff so much, well, that's the way we are.

Before we left, we shot some video of the yard. Nothing exciting here but it does help us revive our old editing skills.

On Sunday, we looked up the various plastic water fittings we'd need to begin this job. Looks like the easiest way is to use 1/2" ID Polyester reinforced PVC tubing that is meant for this purpose and reacts well to our heat gun. We can make nice neat turns with 1/2" OD nylon elbows and split the cold water lines were necessary with nylon Ts. All this stuff is fairly cheap and I can order it through the boat yard and save a little more money.

We'll also need a 1/2" check valve for use at the cold water inlet of the new water heater. The one we took off the old water heater wasn't in very good shape. We found an exact replacement in the Port Supply catalog so we'll order a new this week.

While we're messing around with the plumbing under the galley sink, we also gained good access to AC unit, which has always worked fine. We did notice that the fins that cover the heat exchanger were completely covered by accumulated dust. We vacuumed all of that off so maybe the AC will cycle less often next summer.

While we were in there, we also gained access to the AC drain. Silverton's solution (or whoever installed this AC unit) was to drain the AC condensate into the bilge. During the really warm months (with Frances living on the boat), the AC produces enough water to cause the bilge pump to come on perhaps as often as once or twice a week (or maybe more).

Silverton's solution on newer boats is to route the condensate to the shower sump. Nice idea, but the shower sump on our boat is a long way forward and decidedly difficult to run anything to. We've seen some venturi fittings that can be put in the AC cooling water discharge line to suck the water out of the drain pan. We'll have to think about this issue and see how difficult it is to get to the discharge line.

Nothing is easy on a boat.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

We hate working on weekends but...

... sometimes we just have to.

We do public relations work for Sportech, Inc, the company that operates the 15 OTB (off tack betting) locations in Connecticut. This weekend, they opened their newest venue, this one in Windsor Locks, Conn. We shot some video of what the new facility looked like. In fact, we did that on Friday and on Sunday so with editing time, there was no time for the boat.

$3.5 million builds a pretty impressive restaurant.

On Sunday, Frances cooked up a new kind of pancake, made with corn meal and corn. The prep area was really inviting.

and the result was perfect. Pancakes with tomato, onion and other toppings. We experimented with a couple of others and, they were delicious.

Next weekend we go back to boat plumbing.