Fitting Out (Year 8):

Date Discussion
April 2017 I usually start a new chapter of this tome around April 1st each year. I've tried not reading anything significant into the choice of dates, but it's hard sometimes to ignore the irony. In fact, it first started because the hull was turned "right side up" on 5th March 2010 and that signalled the start of the "fitting-out" process. Hence the start of the fitting out description chapters around each April 1st.

Nothing foolish about that! Now, building a boat, that's another subject...

25 Apr 2017 The "cliff-hanger" at the end of the last thrilling episode was the fitting of the stern tube. A couple of the remaining supports have been glassed in and it is now all quite stable. The shaft still lines up properly with back of the gearbox and I can turn it easily by hand, which given that it's running through four bearings, proves that they must be more or less, in line.

The stern tube goes through the area under the bed, which is to become the aft ballast or trim tank. Now the tube is in, the tank can be progressed. It needs lots more glass and epoxy yet to seal it and a lid with an inspection hatch or two as well. The rudder pintle will sit on a length of stainless steel that goes back forward from the rudder to attach under the bottom of the tank area, but that hasn't been made yet because the dimensions were not able to be finalised. That can now be done, which will make a bit more work for C.E.&A. engineering and my friend Phillip Mathews.

Working in the bedroom now, just for a change, the top and bottom rails for the wardrobe doors are now fitted. The bottom one is simply a length of timber with a slot "routed" underneath so that it sits securely on the frame underneath. The top rail however has a number of complications. The first is that it has to be straight to match the tops of the doors, but of course the roof above it is curved. So, it has a filler panel on top to attach it to the roof and fill in the curved gap. The top rail also has a slot routed in its lower side to hold a length of aluminium "U" channel in which the locating pins for the tops of the doors run.

The search for a workable range hood design is still continuing! I bought a couple of new fans, but when they arrived I realised that they were too small - very careless... I ordered another of the proper size and that has now arrived, but I'm still not sure that it's a good solution. More tea I think...

The remaining exhaust fan for engine bay has been installed together with its 75mm PVC piping. It now draws air from the very bottom of the area underneath the engine. Let's see if we can't keep those pesky petrol fumes out. I originally purchased three TMC bilge blowers and when I installed this one and tried it out, it was extremely noisy. I've had the unit for quite some time and probably don't have the receipt anymore, so there was little choice but to take it apart and "have a look". There wasn't anything obviously wrong, but some additional oil seemed to work wonders, which is distressing at one level, because it's supposed to be a "sealed" motor. Hmm.

There is now only some 75mm pipework left to complete the bilge blower installation in the main petrol tank locker, and then that’s finished. There is still the small matter of building the electronics needed to control them all, but hey - put it on the list.

The next job in the bedroom is to install a proper floor. I can move around quite easily without it, so it hasn't been a problem thus far. However, there are some under-floor things to finish off first like the plumbing and the exhaust system. To that end, I re-fitted the copper part of the exhaust system to the engine and then could position the rubber exhaust hose and muffler.

The muffler will be at the forward end of the system adjacent to the engine, to avoid heating the floor somewhere else less convenient and to keep it below the water line to ensure that it stays full of water. This should keep it cool and make sure that it works as well as it can. The goose-neck riser in the copper part of the system is above the water line, so it shouldn't be possible for cooling water to backflow into the engine.

Holes for the 50mm rubber exhaust hose were then drilled in the underfloor frames and the two very last hull frames could then be installed under the sundeck steps and glassed in place. The hose can now make its way all the way back to the transom. There will be a join in the hose under the steps for convenience and to use up all the available hose. At $50 per metre, it's not to be wasted!!!

I described the raw water reservoir in some detail earlier. The raw water inlet goes through a fairly coarse "leaf basket" filter, but that's not enough to protect the domestic pressure pump. A finer, 50micron, filter is necessary as well and it seemed prudent to put one on the drinking water pump as well, so two appropriate filter units have been purchased. They have removable and washable stainless steel elements and also some very ordinary looking connectors as though they were intended for garden hoses. Still, they are called "Jabsco Connectors", so perhaps they will be OK.

I acquired a set of AGM batteries for the boat what is now several years ago and they were second-hand then! They have been on "float charge" via a fairly up-market four-stage solar controller and solar panels since then, but I started to worry that they may now be past their "Use-By" dates. So, I decided to test them.

To create a meaningful load, I unboxed my very expensive 3Kw pure sinewave inverter and connected it to a 1.5Kw electric heater. The whole system lasted about 20 minutes before it shut down on an under-voltage alarm. At least that works although the result was a bit disappointing really. However, after thinking about it for a while, it is actually not unreasonable. A sudden and consistent discharge rate of over 150 Amps is a big ask!

So, I dropped the load to about 400W by using the system to heat my kitchen Crock Pot, which made a very convenient test load. The battery voltages all stayed within range and nothing got hot - well, except for the Crock Pot of course...

In this test, the batteries supplied more than 30Amps for a full eight hours, which is excellent. That's almost 250Ahrs, and although there should be 500Ahrs available in theory, but that depends on the discharge rate of course. Anyway, the result is absolutely fine and a bit of a relief really, I didn't fancy having to shell out for new batteries just yet!

18 May 2017 The end of April every second year sees the SA Wooden Boat Festival held in Goolwa. It is a very well attended and popular event. The heritage paddle steamer Marion usually attends, which as Skipper, kept me away from boat building duties for almost two weeks - lucky me!

Enough enjoying myself - back to more mundane things. The new frames installed under the sun-deck stairs have had 90mm holes cut through them to allow for the exhaust hose. The holes were coated internally with epoxy to seal them and then had to be very well sanded to avoid chaffing the rubber.

Once the route for the exhaust hose was known, the floors that will go over the exhaust pipe could be planned. This involves a 50mm wide strip of plywood glued to the hull to form a ledge for the floor panels and also to avoid creating a "hard spot" at the ends of the new frames. Ledges around the other three sides have been made up from 50x50 square lengths of plywood laminated up from scrap.

The floor will ultimately be the bottom of a cupboard under the sun-deck stairs that will be accessible from the corridor between the saloon and the bedroom. The access door shape is still to be decided. Heat from the exhaust should not be a problem since it is a "wet" system and the temperature didn't rise above 55 degrees during testing.

Another piece of plumbing yet to be finalised in the engine bay is the carburettor air intake. I decided long ago that the engine should draw air in from outside the hull rather than breathe its own fumes internally. There are two reasons for this; the first is noise and the second is safety. An engine sucking in air is quite a noisy process and whilst the air cleaner suppresses that to some extent, piping air in from outside is better. Engines can "back-fire", which can produce a flame out of the air-intake. It is much better to have this piped outside where it cannot start a fire in the engine bay. There is a spark arrester in the air-cleaner as well of course, but belts and braces together are safer!

The air cleaner, which was taken from a Holden Torana because of its low height, has been significantly modified to allow the attachment of a 75mm fire resistant plastic hose. The hose in turn is joined to a plywood trunking built into the side of the hull that allows access to outside air through a plastic grill.

The subject of fire prevention is always a "hot" topic (pun intended), on a petrol powered wooden boat! So, I was intrigued by an item on the TV recently introducing a new type of fire extinguisher. It is a ball, a bit smaller than a football, that has a heat sensitive outer case. If the ambient temperature rises above a certain point the whole thing literally explodes releasing a significant quantity of fire retardant powder together with masses of carbon dioxide to displace the oxygen and starve the fire. The combination of the three elements, i.e. explosion, powder and gas is remarkably effective. At present they are ridiculously expensive, but before the boat is launched, buying a couple might be a very wise move.

Having finally remembered to take mechanical tools such as spanners and sockets to the boat shed, it was time to finalise the engine alignment with the propeller shaft. The provisional alignment was done using light beams and mirrors (no smoke with the mirrors - promise), and it has turned out to be surprisingly accurate. The front of the engine had to be moved 3mm to port and the front engine mounts raised slightly. The alignment was then checked with a set of feeler gauges and was found to be just about perfect. All the bolts were then tightened and the system pronounced "Ready to go". The centre steady bearing has been packed with grease, but the stuffing box is still waiting for the appropriate stuffing to be installed and then it too, can be grease packed. The shaft is bolted up lightly, but the Woodruff keys for the keyways have temporarily "gone missing". They have no doubt been put somewhere to keep them safe, but they'll turn up!

The shaft alignment will need to be re-checked once the boat has been in the water for six months or so. This is to account for any flexing and settling of the hull structure, which may make a difference to the alignment.

With spanners still in hand it was also a good opportunity to re-install the components that had been removed to facilitate the engine installation. Such things as the exhaust front pipe and the water jacket cover plate. The carburettor, which has been professionally re-furbished with new jets, needle and seat and gaskets etc. was also re-installed.

One of the next jobs in the bedroom is to line the walls. However, the side decks must be installed before doing that, whilst their undersides are still accessible for gluing and painting. The side decks are straight on their inboard side for the length of the bedroom and bathroom and can be installed as a single 4800mm piece of plywood. Naturally, since sheets of plywood are only 2400 long, separate pieces have to be scarfed together to make up the length. Since I was scarfing bits and pieces, it was a good opportunity to use up some of the plywood off-cuts around the place. The pieces cut out from the coach house sides for the windows were very useful when trimmed to about 200mm wide and all joined together. The port side deck is made and installed and looks very handsome. The starboard side is made and ready for installation.

Now the propeller shaft is installed, it is easier to see what space remains in the back of the gearbox area. This space has to accommodate various pumps, filters and taps and it remains to be seen what can fit where. One item that has to be there is the filter box for the shower and hand basin grey water. It has a coarse filter that has to be cleaned periodically and having it together with the other filters makes some sense. It needs to be raised from the bottom of the boat both for convenience and to make sure that it will reach all the plumbing connections. So, a set of small frame pieces, which will also provide additional support to the boat's bottom have been made up and are being glassed ready for installation. Grey water will leave the boat through the transom via a fitting that looks like an exhaust pipe, actually it is a match for the real exhaust pipe which is on the other side of the boat. It will look like twin exhausts from the back, but nothing is what it seems - necessarily...

The raw water reservoir has been completed for some time, but it has been bothering me that the flange that holds all the plumbing connections is somewhat flimsy for its new, rather unorthodox role. After all, it is only a simple threaded 150mm PVC end cap and I had to remove what small reinforcing mouldings there were on its underside, to ensure that the connections could sit properly on a flat surface and not leak. A solution suggested itself in the form of a circle of 12mm plywood glued completely over the outside of the cap and have the plumbing fittings go through both layers. Whilst epoxy doesn't really stick to PVC, the nuts on the fittings will hold it all together and I can wrap some glass tape around the outside to both seal it and provide some additional strength. A much better arrangement I think!

Another job that has been "lurking" around waiting for some inspirational solution is in the bathroom or more particularly in the shower. It turns out that the acrylic sheets used to line the walls expand significantly with temperature. This means that on hot days and presumably therefore in the presence of hot shower water as well, the acrylic panels "bow" and lift away from the walls here and there because they fit together too tightly. The solution is to provide an expansion gap in the corners of the shower and wherever two acrylic sheets meet.

The problem is of course that they are all installed already and cutting a groove as an expansion gap deep in the inaccessible corners is a problem. Having discounted various possibilities, a desperate solution came to mind. Use a 9" angle grinder with a metal cutting blade - sounds "butcherous" in the extreme, doesn't it? Well, it did to me! How could you possibly control such a cumbersome tool in such close confines where the slightest error will be glaringly obvious for evermore! Scary!

Actually, the angle grinder does have a speed control, which helped a bit, but taking my courage in both hands, well the angle grinder anyway, I attacked my very expensive and fragile acrylic sheeting with great trepidation. What a great idea it turned out to be! I cut a neat 3mm gap in all the corners where the acrylic sheets meet, which I will fill with silicone in due course like any other bathroom. Actually, the corners of the sheets guided the tool really well and not once did it go off line or make any horrible marks on my lovely bright royal blue acrylic sheeting! Love it when a plan works - it makes up to some extent for all the other times when... Well, you know.