Restore a Sailboat - December 2018

WelcomeI reflect on my wife's comment a few months ago. She said, "With all of this work you are putting into this boat, none of it shows."  I'm pretty sure it was a compliment.  I think.

Where the boat is stored for the winter on shore on a cradle, it has a gravel/sand ground. Tracking through it, climbing the ladder to get up on the deck makes a lot of dirt on the deck.  So I decide I will only go to the boat if the ground is dry, snow covered or frozen.  I have a half dozen projects for the boat to do in the workshop, so I spend a lot of my time getting those items built/repaired to take back to the boat to install this month.

191. Last winter I did a project and forgot to include it in completed tasks. I added floor lighting. This was something I added to a C&C 43 we had years ago after seeing it on the new Thomas 35's at the time.  Here's the backstory - when I put them on the C&C 43, the first time they were used was after my Mom, Dad and I had gone out to dinner. When we returned I was first on board and flipped the switch at the top of the stairs and went below.  Then my Mom came below and said, "Wow, what sexy lights."  Two minutes later my Dad comes down the ladder and says, "Oh look, sex lights!"  Thereafter they were called Sex Lights.

Reality being what it is, while racing these were great. The switch was just inside the hatch, you turned them on before going down the ladder and could see where you were going, the lights are not bright enough to blind the people on deck, especially the driver, for watch changes it was enough light to get ready, and find a snack or drink.

On this Ericson 35, I installed four of these lights with one in the forward cabin, one across from the head, one in the passageway by the stove, and one shining on the stairs, with the switch at the top of the stairs.  I guess we're back in business with the Sex Lights!  Tested once in summer, they did the job providing soft light to move around the interior of the boat safely whether standing up, or heeled way over.

192. As a few windows were leaking, having been smeared with silicone caulk in the past and still leaking, my father put FlexTape over the windows and surrounding paint for the Chicago Mackinac race.  I told him not to do it, the right way is always the better way which would be to rebuild the windows with new gaskets. He said there wasn't time and proceeded. There is no known antidote to removing FlexTape adhesive. The manufacturer recommended a few, which didn't put a dent in it.  I finally developed a 3-step system that was very slow: 1. Heat with heat gun and with spatula scrape the bulk of it off; 2. Heat again turning the spatula 90-degrees to the surface pressing down hard and scrape off the remaining layer; and, 3. Heat again and wipe the light residual with a paper towel and lacquer thinner.  If it cools a little in any of these stages, it doesn't work.  It took about 10 hours to remove 8' of tape residue.  It's all gone now, forever.

193. One side of a clasp on the boom cover was missing when the boat was bought, the other piece disintegrated this year. I order a new clasp and sewed it on.

194. The brand new mainsail this season worked well, when it came to take it off for the season, we pulled the tabs to pull the Velcro out of the batten pockets to get the battens out, then the pull tab ripped off and the Velcro stayed in. Inspecting what occurred, the thread used (lots of cross stitching) was simply too light and broke in many pieces.  I used some heavy duty waxed thread, sewed on the two that ripped off, and double threaded the two that haven't ripped off......yet. This will not ever be a problem again.

195. Having worked on used boats since 1975, I do particularly like a clean floor below and a clean deck.  Spotless you might say.  Somebody tromped something below, I suspect it was the engine mechanic. Nothing removed it, not soap, not lacquer thinner, nothing. With the small crosshatched non-skid getting into each little divot is not fun, but the only way to get it clean. I use an awl, and scrape hard enough to loosen the dirt, soft enough not to scratch the gelcoat.  Then vacuum up the dust, and a wash down with lacquer thinner and a scrub brush.  A few hours and the floor looks like new.

196. Added a full time hot wire to AM/FM radio so the radio remembers the station you were on when last turned off, and can program radio stations, time, etc.
197. Added an indicator light when the fresh water pump runs. Why? On a prior boat we had a newbie on the Mackinac Race who went into the head to shave (no one shaves in the Mac!) and left the water running in the sink the whole time. We put 1.5 gallons per person times 2 days in the water tank for drinking, teeth brushing, and rinse off dishes. He used a lot of the water. So I added an indicator light in the cockpit and we were amazed at how many people just let the water run (and they got yelled at each time which was really funny).  This year, a hose fell off the water pump on this boat and pumped 40 gallons of clean water into the bilge in the Mackinac Race draining the tank.  That did it, I had to put an indicator light on this pump too!  Done.
198. Added inline fuse for full time hot wire to bilge pump.
199. Tightened loose bolts on lazarette hatch.
200. Added the name of the boat onto the horseshoe life ring. Got it custom off Ebay for $6 and it was really a great quality product.
Time to pop the champagne cork?  200 projects completed!  Nah, I've got some major projects coming up that I'm in the middle of.
201. Installed a new engine gauge panel with a Carbon Fiber/red Kevlar surface. It started with taking the 42 year old panel never having been maintained out and filling some old holes and epoxying on the new surface. Then putting a ring of tape around the edge and pouring 3/16" depth of epoxy to make it look like glass. Re-drilling the needed holes, then a light sanding and spraying a clear coat UV preventive coating. Then taking it to the boat for installation.  I thought it would take 45 minutes to install the engine panel, it was 3 hours to install:
  • The surrounding area around the panel was dirty and with drops of varnish. Scraped off the varnish and cleaned the area.
  • All terminals were heavily tarnished after 42 years, so I put a wire wheel into the Dremel and polished everything to a shiny brass. Corrosion to 12V is a big enemy. Any time you can eliminate corrosion/tarnish/rust, you make large gains in function.
  • There'd be a long wire (plenty long) with a 4 inch extension on it. This would be three connections: long wire going into terminal, short wire coming out of terminal, then the ring fitting on the end of the short wire.  3 places for corrosion or bad connections. So I'd cut off the short wire and put a new ring terminal on the end of the long wire - now 1 connection.
  • There were spade terminals (forks) that I replaced with ring terminals.  If a nut loosens a fork falls off right away, whereas a ring terminal stays put and will probably keep working.
  • The tachometer had no light in it, ordered one online and it works. The light in the ammeter had a piece of speaker wire that was heavily frayed. When I removed the panel this wire broke in two. I rebuilt the light socket soldering a good red wire on it, then epoxied it back into shape.  The third gauge light was good.  All are lighted and now all work.
  • On the backside of the gauges are brackets to hold them on, except one didn't, it was just pressed into the hole.  I made a bracket that now holds it just like the others.
  • I tugged on all of the crimps, old and new and thought it was all good.  Just as I was putting the panel on to screw it in the final time I see this wire sticking out.  What the? It was a wire to the one originally good light, but I guess I didn't give that one a tug and it just fell out at that moment. I crimped a new terminal onto it and screwed the panel in.
  • And of course, eliminated the ammeter which was where wires were burned last winter not allowing the boat to start, which also eliminated 2 more connections that weren't needed.
The backside of the panel no longer looks like a bowl of spaghetti, it looks like there is less than 1/2 of the wires before (not really that many less, it just is well organized, extensions gone, untangled, and clean).
So that's how a 45 minute project turns into 3 hours!
202. Cleaned excess caulk off head window.

The next owner is really going to enjoy this boat.

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