Sunday, January 31, 2016

Small boat projects resume

Last Sunday we were running the snowblower and a week later, it's 50 degrees. You have to love New England.

This weekend we got back to some small boat projects. The first was to reinstall the back panel on our bridge enclosure. The zipper on it had come loose and Frances took it to a person we call "Canvas John." He won't let us give out his business name because he has more than enough work but Frances has befriended him. He replaced the big zipper on that panel for $40 and even returned the old zipper to show us why it couldn't simply be sewed back in place.

When Frances picked up the repaired panel, Canvas John  mentioned that the best stuff to clean the plastic windows is 210 Plastic Cleaner and Polish. Figuring that he must know what he's taking about, we looked it up. From their website...

"210 Plastic Cleaner and Polish the professionals’ choice for protecting and maintaining isinglass, plexiglas and vinyl. Anti-static, anti-fog and non-streaking. 210® Plastic Cleaner/Polish seals the pores in all plastics, leaving a protective coating with UV inhibitors to prevent browning and hardening. Provides plastics with a clear, lustrous look."

Sounds pretty good to us and we're going to try it. Defender Marine, Pep Boys and, of course, Amazon has it at about $16. 

But today, we wanted to clean the window part of the panel before reinstalling it. We used Plexus, which makes the plastic window very slick but doesn't really last that long.

 Then we drove down to the boat and reinstalled the bridge enclosure panel with its new zipper.

 At least now, the bridge is completely enclosed again. The boat may be in a shed but that doesn't mean that the dust and dirt doesn't blow through.

Then we went below to check out out how our sink cover fit, No exactly what we wanted, but close. We'll keep sanding. We never realized how complex the top and sides of a stainless sink were. You can see how well it fits, or doesn't, in the video.

We always like to check out the river before we leave. Today, you could wear a short-sleeve shirt but the river still had some ice floating down. A little more than a month until spring, but we'd guess there is some substantial winter weather still ahead.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow instead of boating

Not that there was much snow. We might have gotten 8 inches but there was a lot of wind and it wasn't much fun to be outside.

Frances did what she often does during the cold weather, she cooks. Not wanting to deter her in any way, Bill stayed clear of the kitchen and spent some time learning how to operate his new video camera. Then, as the house really began to smell great, it seemed like it would be fun to use that new camera to shoot some video of Chef Frances and that's what we did.

Disclaimer: this camera is professional grade and complicated and we we haven't quite mastered it yet. We can see that we definitely need extra lighting in the kitchen and Frances needs her own microphone but, we had fun making the video and learned a lot at the same time.

As we think we mentioned in a previous post, we've become very interested in in the twice-weekly email messages from the New York Times' blog called simply Cooking. We've attempted a couple of the recipes with some success and now have a couple more that we'll try next week. It can be found here, it's free and if you like to cook, it well worth reading.

A couple of weeks ago (remember when it was 50 degrees?) we did some needed maintenance on our old Ariens snowblower. Thanks to that, she started right up and we cleared the driveway. Magically, our long stretch of sidewalk was already cleared, thanks to our young neighbor who really wants to run his parents' snowblower. That young guy cleared all the sidewalks for blocks and you could tell that he was very happy to be in charge of that machine.

The winner of this weeks "Best Boat Idea" contest
You won't be surprised to learn that the winner is Frances! Yep, while Bill is sitting around making sketches and lists, Frances had carefully checked out every photo we have taken of the berth area in preparation for painting and rewiring. This week, Bill got an email from Frances while she was at home with this photo and a simple one-line question: 

 "Just a suggestion, we might want to consider painting the underside of the upper bunk"

Yeah, well, with all the wall covering painted and the trim refinished, I guess it would be nice to also refinish the underside of that bunk, since that's what a guest would be looking up at while in bed.

Lesson learned: don't turn Bill loose with a can of paint unless he is under strict supervision.

Here's the video we shot on Saturday evening.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Measure twice... or maybe three times

We spent another couple of hours on the boat to charge the batteries and the get answers  to some of the questions that arose as we prepared to refinish the "guest berth" walls and now, electrical wiring.

We mentioned previously that we wanted to make an insert for one of the two sinks in the galley. We got the rough measurements last week and we used those to cut a cardboard pattern. Now we needed to get the corners right and we traced a pattern of the corners using another small piece of cardboard.

We know there's a tool for copying that radius but we don't have one so we traced it from below. After a couple of tries we got it close and we transferred the corners to our cardboard pattern.

As we also mentioned before, we're going to make this insert out of a piece of butcher block that was at one time, the top to a marine princess stove. It's amazing what we can come up with from our stock of old boat stuff.

Anyway, we have only one chance to get this right so taking a little extra time on it is worthwhile.

With the sink insert measurement out of the way, we went back to the guest berth rehab project. When we studied the photos from last week's disassembly, lots of questions came up and today was a good time to take some more photos for planning purposes.

For instance, Where exactly will the new reading light for the lower bunk go? The conduit shown in the photos covers the 12 volt power wires for the reading light in the v-berth. (The light shown up near the ceiling is battery powered and will be removed.) Do we find power for the new reading light in that circuit and if so, we'll have to hide that behind another section of conduit. We can do that provided the conduit is mounted in a way that it doesn't interfere with the raising and lowering of the top berth.

Yes, measure twice and cut once, as they say.

All of that wall covering will be painted so the lengths of conduit will not be anywhere as obvious as they are now.

New new reading lamps are flush mounted and wired from behind so we'll have to figure out how to accommodate that.

We removed the old POS plastic reading light from the opposite wall. The power wires were connected with electrical tape, something that, for us at least, has no place on a boat.

That wall is a mess with lots of tears in the wall covering, orphaned holes and a few stains. We can fill the rips and holes as we did in the galley and once painted they will disappear. If we mount a new reading light where the old one was, we'll have to rewire it so that operates independently of the cabin lighting circuit where it is currently connected.

There is also lots of other stuff going on with that wall.

This shot shows our TV folded out but normally is is folded back against that wall. The red bungee cord holds it in place when we're underway. The antique reading light in the upper left will go because it's not in a place that a guest could use and it is behind the TV when it's folded back against the wall.

The dangling wires (cable TV and power) will be hidden behind surface-mount plastic conduit and will go through the wall right under the door to that little locker. We'll have to leave enough slack in those wires so the TV will still be able to swing out.

This seemed like a simple little job for the long winter months but like everything else on an old boat, the more you dig, the more you see things that should be fixed and done correctly.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Digging into the guest berths

Since winter really hasn't started yet, we put on our old clothes and headed for the boat. Our aim was to clean up the wood trim in what we call the guest berth area and see how difficult this thing will be to take apart.

Once the cushions were removed, we were left with two platforms made of what looks like 5/8" plywood. Those are covered in brown paint and aren't in bad shape at all. We scrubbed the grunge off of the wood trim and then tried to remove the screws holding the base of the lower berth in place. One last screw out of eight will require a little more persuasion but we'll get it.

Our interest in picking up that long piece of plywood is to see if we can add a pull-out step. We're still working on that design.

While we were there, we measured the size of one of our two galley sinks. We'd like to make an insert for one of them that would increase our counter space. We have an extra, fairly nice, butcher 
block style top from a Princess marine stove. Cutting and fitting it into the top of one of the sinks will take careful measurement. Right now, we know it's 10" X 14". Getting the corners right will be the challenge.

Good things to eat
We're not "foodies" by any means, but we do enjoy cooking together and love the things suggested by The New York Times Cooking website. Thinking that it wouldn't be above our pay grade, this week we tried Rigatoni With White Bolognese, shown here. Our review? Delicious! Cooking time for us was somewhat longer than we expected and we would have been happy with something a little smaller than rigatoni, but it was good!

If you think this doesn't have anything to do with boating, think again. We met Sam Sifton, the guy who edits the The New York Times Cooking, many years ago in Greenport, Long Island where we were docked. He invited us and a lot of other people to his backyard pig roast. It was, well, a lot of hungry people and one pig. Tasted good to us and we had fun! We've followed Sam's career at The Times ever since.

Frances was on a roll in the kitchen and that's always a good thing. On Saturday night, she whipped up one of our favorites, Chicken Piccata. It's always fun to watch her reduce a huge pile of spinach and a lot of other things to wonderful sauce in which the chicken is cooked.

We could say that Frances cooks like this only during the dreary winter months but actually, she also turns out dishes like this on our boat during the summer.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Painting and refinishing: The planning phase

Our first boat-centered New Years resolution was to refinish the guest berth and the v-berth areas. When we came up with this, it looked relatively easy, especially when compared to replacing the heads on one of the engines as we did ;last summer. This weekend, we went down to take a close look at what this will entail.

The picture above shows the guest berth area with the upper bunk up in place. The bunk shown is hinged so that it folds down, making the lower bunk into something like a big sofa. Here's that same upper bunk, looking aft.

The black object on the right is our TV, which is stored against the wall but swings out and around so it can be seen from the cabin. That "thing" on the wall in the upper left is an example of the great lighting that Silverton furnished back in the day. The electrical cord is just from one of our temporary portable lights.

The old light will be replaced with a new LED reading lamp like this one.

 The walls in the boat have a fabric-like wall covering. We successfully repaired and painted that material in the head and the galley last summer. The plan is to do the same thing here, in the same color. That color, not reproduced very faithfully by our little camera, is shown on the door to the hanging locker in the upper left of the photo.

The walls don't look bad in the picture but there are some holes and all of the walls in this area could use a good cleaning prior to painting.

Luckily, we do have access to 12 volts behind this reading light so additional wiring for this light may not be needed. Read on to see why this may not work.

The lower bunk will obviously have to be removed prior to cleaning and painting. That chrome post is one of two that hold up the upper bunk.

We're also going to add another one of those LED light here on that forward wall after painting but the new light's location is somewhat limited since we have to leave clearance for the upper bunk to swing up and down. We'll also have to find a way to run the wiring to it.

Looking aft, the lower berth is a little easier. That chrome thing is a halogen reading light installed by the previous owner, we assume. That will also be replaced by one of the new LED reading lights.

Obviously, we aren't going to this much work without refinishing all of that teak trim and when you crawl in there and measure, there's a lot of it.

There are also a couple of conveniences we'd like to build in while we're at it. First, this whole guest berth area is really dark even on a sunny day. The overhead hatch is dark tinted glass and there is not  much light coming in through the port light. It would be nice to have an easily reached switch that would turn on all four of these new LED lamps and that's going to take some thought and a lot of extra wiring.

Also, the upper berth is very difficult to get in to. One has to step on the edge of the lower berth and even then, boosting one's butt up that far isn't fun for a guest, although it is kinda fun to watch. We have an idea for a pull out step that would really help. No design yet but we're working on it.

So far, we have $200 worth of new LED reading lamps and some paint. The energy to put this all to work is also about there. It should be a fun project, just like everything on this old boat.