Petestack Blog

10 February 2019

Two weekends, one photo

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 6:49 pm

Not much to see here, but winter Fly work continues…

A fortnight ago, worn down by weeks of long phone calls trying to resolve luckless issues with new mobile and broadband contracts, I took the whole weekend off and nothing got done. But Twig was here last Friday (delivering plywood in the snow!), Saturday and Sunday as well as Wednesday, and I’ve been working on my own this Friday, Saturday and Sunday to keep making modest progress. Twig’s got more wiring and stuff fitted as well as the heater pump and water tank vent, and we also got the fuel tank and port steering compass back in while we were both here.

So my work this weekend started on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning with a practice run at my speaker enclosures, and testing my plans with scrap ply proved a wise move when mistakes were made (don’t cut out the line for the speaker outer flange!) and lessons learned (like build a wee jig to get things clamped more accurately for the final glue-up). Need to cut the holes fractionally bigger because the speakers won’t quite sit all the way down, but think I can now make a good job of the real ones, which will also be epoxied together rather than Gorilla-Glued (done for speed here):

Other small achievements this weekend include more filling and sanding in the heads and forecabin (now ready for Treadmaster pending a little more sanding on Monday or Tuesday evening), shimming the insert on my table saw to get it just where I want it, tidying the workshop yet again, measuring/templating/drawing the shape required for a custom protective strip across the bottom of the companionway, extracting the mains cables from the starboard compass cutout and getting the compass cleaned so we can refit that one too. It doesn’t sound a lot, but even ‘little’ things take time and add up. Oh, and it seems any bright, low-angle light (February sun this side of Kinlochleven!) can get through the topsides carpet lining, so it’s not just in snow (which is now away)!

27 January 2019

Things right and not right

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 12:12 pm

Last weekend Twig and I got some tricky Fly jobs done in lining the parts of heads, forecabin and coachroof where the liner’s stuck directly on (there are removable panels elsewhere) then refitting the companionway bulkhead facing, and were quite relieved to get through this lot with things looking good and no major mishaps. But some things turned out to be not quite so right when I returned in Tuesday’s snow to take the photos…

The heads and forecabin linings are fine when fitting and gluing the carpet to these tricky 3D shapes could so easily have gone wrong, but note that the edge above the heads door isn’t finished yet:

There was a small damp patch below the bottom right corner of the heads window (see the darker patch there?) that needs checking out because it’s a new window:

And you can see bright light off the snow getting through the topsides carpet (like the deckhead problem we resolved by painting first) to the lower left. So, while not planning to sail the boat through snow (!), I may still have to put up with some of this for summer sailing till I get the (exterior) topsides painted?

The bulkhead facing looks great in the photos but, despite two machine screws through the grab handle holes to line it up, is now firmly bonded a couple of millimetres below where it used to be. Not the end of the world, but still needing some thought in places. And, for those who’ve seen the cut on my forehead this week, the clamp to the left in the first photo is the one that attacked me when I ducked through the cockpit cover!

The most obvious problem (even if not obvious in my resized photos) is the porthole cutouts no longer being concentric, but I think that can be disguised with new liners where I’ve found a place that makes them for a reasonable price and can do iroko for a decent match to the teak. Not all of the screw holes line up and the compass cutouts are also slightly out, but will probably all be close enough, and I was already considering fitting a protective strip across the companionway bottom edge where it takes the most wear, but probably don’t have to for cosmetic reasons because the mismatch doesn’t look too bad there. Hindsight says we should have pushed the facing hard up under the hatch rails and used more screws for lining up when some of the holes through its thin plywood are slightly ovalled, but hindsight’s a wonderful thing when it’s firmly bonded with epoxy and Sikaflex and what could have been a ‘perfect’ job has turned out merely ‘OK’! :-/

13 January 2019

More bits and pieces

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 5:42 pm

While Fly work’s obviously no longer progressing at late December/early January pace now I’m back at ‘work work’ for the new school term, it’s no way grinding to a halt either with various bits and pieces on and off the boat still getting evening and weekend attention…

The battery box(es) actually went back in on 2 January, but I’ve just caught up with the photography today. It was a surprise to discover expensive, striped, cabin sole plywood when I stripped the paint from the lid back in August (?), but I’m guessing it got used as the piece needing to be cut from the original sole there anyway:

Other ongoing projects from the first week of January that you don’t see here include stripping the pilot berth structures of flaking paint (something I’m only doing outside when I’ve got both daylight and mild, dry conditions) and engine alignment (done by Twig). But I’ve got some work done on the tiller (which we’d removed to get the engine through the pushpit) this weekend, making a wee repair where the exposed end grain was suffering. Think I might finish that by epoxy-coating where I’ve chamfered the corners and a bit down the sides, but not till I’ve got some mixed up for another job:

The restored/improved chart table is all done apart from some new catches to hold it shut and a folding leg for the non-bulkhead end. While I was tempted by sprung ball catches, I’m going to fit magnetic ones because the dimensions suit better and and they’ll be much easier to fit. It used to have two horrid wee hooks on the outside, but I’m fitting catches to the inside front edge (there’s plenty of room for the charts):

Here it is in the stowed/upright position. The teak handle (which I found in a box of bits stashed in my loft) replaces an ugly alloy one. There’s also a cushion to go back where you see the slightly lighter wood and two screw holes:

And here it is as you’d use it (well, not on the floor!). The fiddles (edges) to stop things sliding off are new; it doesn’t need one to the right because there’s a bulkhead there, and the left ones have been left partial to fold up over the nav. station shelves:

Finally (for now), I’ve been fairing the surface ‘craters’ (mostly legacy of the 1999–2000 keel repair) in forecabin and heads prior to sticking down some new Treadmaster. The first pass has been sanded and I’ve done a second where necessary, but can’t sand that till Monday or Tuesday evening:

1 January 2019

Flying into 2019

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 6:30 pm

So it’s 1 January, Fly relaunching year, and the refit continues apace…

Last Thursday (27 December) we got the engine back into the boat (handy things, six-part mainsheets!), and Twig got it bolted down and connected to the new battery cables on Saturday:

The day we did the engine lift, we also managed to fit new Vetus mushroom vents to replace the tired original vent lights, where the transparent part of one was already cracked/leaking (from memory perhaps from a physical blow?) and the other surely just a matter of time:

Saturday also saw a wee hiccup to the interior lining programme when we cut a piece of carpet to line the heads deckhead and started gluing it up there, only to discover that light was shining through it in the most unpleasantly uneven mottled mix of semi-translucent GRP deck and intended carpet white-grey! So we took it straight down again to ponder a solution, which pretty well had to be blocking the light with paint. It was a surprise because we’re getting next to no light through the already-lined topsides, but the decks have different thickness and composition and it’s taken me two coats of grey primer to achieve 100% coverage, doing the second coat with no light in the boat so I could track down all the ‘leaks’, and adding about half a kilo of otherwise pointless weight in the process. The finished lining will be the lighter grey of the wasted piece visible bottom left of the first photo:

Now, you might wonder why we hadn’t noticed the problem before we got to the glue, but we were working from a paper template and knew the piece would fit, so hadn’t thought to hold it up dry. As to whether I’m really happy with ‘next to no light through the already-lined topsides’, well, yes… it is almost none and will be none when I get the (exterior) topsides painted next year or the one after, so no need for more paint in the boat there!

The new stereo is also fitted (that’s just the corner of the protective film looking a bit funny at its top right corner) and, after long deliberation about what speakers to fit where when space for them is tight, I’ve decided to build custom enclosures for 4-inch round full-range units at the top corners of the main bulkhead (where I used to have smaller, plastic car-speaker-pod-type things). What I’ve designed to fit the space (which really stops at the starboard-side grab handle) luckily comes out at near as dammit the optimum 2-litre volume for unported enclosures for the units I’ve ordered, and should be quite straightforward to build from 6mm plywood:

The battery box is ready to go back in after restoring from probably the most water-damaged visible wood we’ve kept to something semi-respectable. While some of the staining (small black marks) resisted oxalic acid and wire brushing, I’m happy enough with the result including my nice round inset piece where there used to be a misshapen ex-socket hole in its aft face:

But refitting the battery box isn’t just about the box itself when support rails for the cabin sole and exposed areas of the keel bolts and their plates needed recoating first (these metal parts also needing cleaning to recoat). So that’s got done alongside the deckhead paint job, although the keel bolt/plate job’s spread from the old year to the new after I didn’t think to thicken the resin first time and had to revisit that today:

The new diesel filler is also in, with the battery box first on the agenda for tomorrow.

26 December 2018

Two months’ work in twenty photos

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 4:54 pm

Last time I blogged (a month ago), you got the No-photo report (with photos), so today I follow up with ‘Two months’ work in twenty photos’ (which may just be twenty-one!), starting with what I’d already described and partially shown there:

The overhauled seacocks are back together onboard, and new heads, water pump, water filler, galley tap, chart table support block and replacement galley shelf edges all fitted. The folding chart table (which you won’t see varnished and refitted for a while because I’m currently concentrating on immovable bits) has gained a nice teak handle I found in my loft, and I’m also replacing the ugly alloy handles on the heads door with teak rings. The nav. station bulkhead has cutouts for switch panels and stereo, and varnishing the permanently-attached interior woodwork is nearly done, with just a couple more coats to go next weekend before we can get rewiring and relining the boat.

Which, since you’ve already seen the new galley shelf edges and refitted seacocks, properly starts with the heads and, as promised, the cardboard mock Jabsco (which I made to check the standard unit would fit and we didn’t need the compact):

Next, the water pump, filler, other galley stuff and chart table support block (with thanks to Peter Watt for the iroko for the shelf edges and block as well as some other parts we’ve yet to make). Note also the new hull lining (about which more below) visible here and in the nav. station shots:

The two sections of the folding chart table are nearly finished, with five of a probable six coats of varnish to the outside surfaces done here and the sixth completed since taking the photos this afternoon (some woodwork has received up to nine or ten coats, but I’m treating six as my baseline for most things). Note the new handle on the main body and fiddles on the lid:

And here are the teak rings set into the heads door. You’d normally fit just one of these for a locker door, but I’ve used two back-to-back because both sides will show, cutting down the insert tubes to fit them to the 12mm thickness of the door. Now just waiting for some more teak filler to fill the remaining unwanted holes before varnishing:

Twig’s fitted the switch panels, run most (all?) of the necessary wiring through conduit, and made a tidy job of connecting switch panels to fuse box. The third cutout in the bulkhead is for the stereo, which we’ve got but haven’t fitted yet:

We’d decided long ago to re-line the boat with 4mm polypropylene carpet instead of something like the original ‘Mural Mousse’ (some kind of vinyl-type thing?), and went for two-tone grey, choosing the slightly darker shade (‘smoke’) for the topsides and lighter one (white-grey) for the coachroof sides and deckhead (NB Fly’s current bunk cushion covers are the same blue-grey herringbone pattern as my sofa):

And the darker grey is all done bar some finishing of edges etc., with Drew Mcfarlane-Slack coming up to get it started with Twig, then Twig continuing with some assistance from me:

The engine bay has been cleaned and awaits engine refitting:

And the new heads window is done at last, completing a clean sweep of previously leaky forehatch (2011) and main windows (2016). This was made by Twig in my workshop with my tools on Christmas Eve, which we’d chosen as cold but dry, but turned out so cold we had to put up a second ladder because the decks were untenably slippy:

So much work has been done and much continues, but we’re undoubtedly starting to see the fruits of all that endless careful preparation, which takes up so much time without things necessarily looking better. On which note, make no mistake, this is (internally at least) a total refit I’d guess to be pretty well equivalent to building the boat from the original kit. There are some things there we’ve not had to do, but other non-kit parts (i.e. original Hunter structure) we’ve had to repair or rebuild. But have to say I’m sitting here looking at the photos I took today in the boat I’ve spent so much of the past eighteen months working on and thinking just ‘wow!’ :-)

25 November 2018

No-photo report (with photos)

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:32 pm

I keep hoping to get some photos to show Fly progress, but prefer the non-flash photos and don’t get much light to work with in November, especially by the time I finish work (day job) during the week or boat work at weekends. So here’s what you might get to see soon if I get the chance…

The overhauled seacocks are back together onboard, and new heads, water pump, water filler, galley tap, chart table support block and replacement galley shelf edges all fitted. The folding chart table (which you won’t see varnished and refitted for a while because I’m currently concentrating on immovable bits) has gained a nice teak handle I found in my loft, and I’m also replacing the ugly alloy handles on the heads door with teak rings. The nav. station bulkhead has cutouts for switch panels and stereo, and varnishing the permanently-attached interior woodwork is nearly done, with just a couple more coats to go next weekend before we can get rewiring and relining the boat. But she’s also starting to eat money, with loads we need to get on now ordered or getting ordered. I’m trying to avoid adding up the total project cost even though I could check my records to arrive at a pretty accurate figure, but think it could well end up more than the boat’s ‘worth’. But then she’s going to be better after all this onshore neglect followed by refit than when I bought her, and priceless to me as my much-loved boat I know well enough to trust like no other, so the key words in that last sentence are ‘well end’. Or more appositely ‘end well’! :-)


So this was supposed to be the ‘no-photo report’, and still is for November, but then I remembered I’ve got some already from late October taken just after my last blog. So here you go (but I’m keeping the one of my cardboard mock heads to show alongside the fitted genuine Jabsco!)…

21 October 2018

Two-month summary

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:40 pm

While it’s been a while since I last reported on Fly progress here, things have still been happening and I’ve been saving up photos for a report. I’d planned to keep all the mast step rebuild pics for a complete account of that, but have decided just to publish anyway because I wanted to get something out. So what you see here might also include progress with the galley, water tank and seacock renovation, but it’s mostly about the not-quite-finished mast step (which should never sink into the deck again).

This mast step has been a recurring problem. When I bought Fly nearly 20 years ago, she was fitted with the wrong mast base, which turned out to be a keel-step fitting for a larger (?) section. So I replaced that with the right plate, which subsequently bent and dished into the deck. So I repaired what voids I could find and fitted another (presumably setting it on the visible bed of epoxy and microfibres as part of the cure), which went the same way. While it was probably stable enough where it sat and wasn’t going to dish any further, it was both ugly and still causing concern, so this time we set about eliminating voids and suspect material on a more comprehensive basis before starting to rebuild the whole thing solidly:

And that’s basically how it stands now, with the plinth nearly ready for flattening/levelling and stripping/repainting, but needing one more epoxy day first. But this is autumn in Lochaber, with Lochaber autumn weather, so sporadic work on the mast step is necessarily interspersed with other ‘inside’ jobs like working on the galley (note the newly-refitted sink etc.), water tank (inspection hatch and skin fittings done), seacock renovation (these things were both solid green and practically welded together with crud!) and chart table refitting (sorry, no photos just now, but that’s also looking good):

Should hopefully have more to report soon with wood cut today to make galley shelf edges, chart table support block, helmsman’s foot rests etc. and orders looming for new heads and electrics switch panels, so watch this space?

12 August 2018

Jigsaw pieces

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:24 am

Having got about as far I can with on-boat work till I can check everything with Twig, I’ve been turning my attention to some of the removable pieces stored in my workshop. So now reporting progress with the chart table and forecabin bunk boards, and it does feel like the pieces of the jigsaw are starting to come together even if there are plenty more (battery box, heads door, pilot berth sections, saloon floor, headlining panels etc.) still to ‘fit’.

When we tested the folding chart table (first photo) for fit between original main bulkhead and replacement nav. station bulkhead, we discovered that it had never sat right. It folded up parallel with both, but folded down (to use) so far out of parallel with the main bulkhead that Twig couldn’t stand it any more than me! But we couldn’t rehang it straight with the existing lugs because the boat geometry just didn’t allow it, so had to drill a new pivot hole in the main bulkhead and adjust the pivot points on the chart table lugs. Now it folds up straight and folds down straight, but it took the best part of an afternoon months back to get this right, and I’ve just caught up on the associated lug surgery (see the two pieces I’ve cut off) and varnish stripping. We’ve also discussed adding fiddles to the lid and fixing a teak strip to the main bulkhead to support the forward end of the table when it’s down so it can hang on one (aft) cord instead of two, and I’ll need to replace the horrid little hooks and eyes that held the chart table shut after having to file the heads off almost slotless steel screws to get the catches off for varnish preparation.

I wasn’t planning to strip the forecabin bunk tops (second photo) back to bare wood, but the paintwork was in such poor condition over large areas that it quickly became a no-brainer. I’d already got the smallest one sanded (retaining much of the paint) for repainting before the middle one changed my mind, but it really wasn’t a lot more effort to strip them all completely despite finishing off three old nylon flap brushes and two-and-a-half new ones in a mere six hours or so! So now considering varnishing or resin-coating instead of repainting because (while not perfect) I think they’ve come up well enough for either.

In other news, the new hose for the pressure washer came yesterday and I’d better order some more flap brushes for jobs yet to be done. I’ve also gone through c.40 dust masks in 13 months (so c.40 days of paint or varnish stripping) and am well on the way to killing a third 240V drill with last summer seeing off both my old Black & Decker and the locally-bought Einhell (all I could get) that lasted just days, and the bearings on their basic Makita replacement undoubtedly the worse for wear now after so much work since. Hopefully that one will see out any remaining stripping jobs, but I guess they’re just not designed for constant sideways pressure!

8 August 2018

Cavernous hellholes of peeling paint

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:43 pm

No more!

You have to read that with the title because, one week and approximately 41 hours of work after I described Fly’s cockpit lockers as ‘cavernous hellholes of peeling paint on dirt on paint on dirt still awaiting a good clean back’, they’re just about ready (bar some minor filling etc.) to recoat with something more practically durable. Some surprises along the way, not least discovering that the plywood bulkhead we’d decided to strip to resin-coat appears to have had a very thin coat of resin (now gone) under the paint all along. But it’s a moot point when the paintwork was both terrible and not coming off without it… perhaps I might with hindsight have considered trying to sand and repaint that part without going right through, but then I’d never have found out and it’ll do no harm to treat it again our style. Also still planning to tidy up the wee bit of paint on the bulkhead up beneath the centre locker (ex-outboard well) floor before coating, but think that’ll be quick and painless enough when I work out how…

You might also notice a pretty cursory attempt to clean the surrounding deck area for the photographs, which was never going to be thorough just now but became even less so when the pressure washer hose burst and I had to order another one. Not that it’s easy to do some bits (e.g. the side decks a bit further forward) with my temporary roof in place anyway!

2 August 2018

What I’ve learned about nylon brushes

Filed under: Sailing,Uncategorized — admin @ 9:41 pm

Last year, when I started stripping that infernal flaking paint from Fly’s internal hull surfaces, I quickly settled on a electric drill with (mostly) nylon brushes for the job. And equally quickly discovered that some of the most useful looking ones were effectively useless! Nylon cup and pencil (aka end) brushes just melt out in no time, especially if you angle them and/or raise the speed at all (NB all brushes are being used within their recommended speed range because my drill’s not capable of turning faster). Flap wheels aren’t man enough for most paint-stripping jobs although I’ve come back to them for varnish, of which more anon. So my staple has been 4″ orange (coarse) wheels, which have been great on glassfibre but need (even) more care on wood. And I thought I’d learned everything there was to know about orange nylon wheel brushes till something I wrote just days ago proved I hadn’t. I prefer to use them perpendicular to the surface being stripped because they last much longer if you do, but found myself angling them to take the old glue and paint from the forecabin deckhead, then had to keep them angled to avoid grooving the resin. But today I discovered that this grooving is caused not by using the brushes perpendicular (which I’ve done successfully many times) or carelessness (when I’m really pretty careful), but by using them perpendicular after they’ve been reshaped (bevelled) by using them at an angle. And trying to reshape them by angling the opposite way just compounds the problem. So I had a brainwave and trimmed the offending strands back perpendicular with some snips, and all was sweetness and light again. Or perhaps not, because eight hours of non-stop paint stripping can never be described as sweetness and light!

So what of those flap wheels, of which ‘more anon’? Well, I’d been using the blue (fine) wheel brushes for stripping varnish off wood, for which they’re excellent if fast-wearing where the orange ones are really too abrasive, but the blue wheels more than doubled in price overnight while I had several sitting in my Amazon basket waiting to buy and never came back down, with similar apparently permanent increases everywhere else. And, while I was prepared to write off a blue brush in a morning’s work* at less than £6 each, I’m just not tempted at nearly £15! So here was me stumped when I’d been depending on piles of them to make a good job of the wooden surfaces of which I still have plenty to do. But then I remembered the hitherto rejected ‘puny’ orange flap wheels, and have since found them nearly as good (can be used with similar impunity!) as the blue wheels for the job.

*They don’t wear down in that time, but the strands quickly start splaying out to a broader edge that doesn’t strip the varnish so cleanly and easily.

Anyway, enough of that! What have I been doing with orange wheels today?

What you see in the first three photos is what you can do to a cockpit locker if you work non-stop for about eight hours. It’s not finished, but getting there. I was originally planning to try knocking off just the really loose paint (see final pic of port locker for the state of these things!), but soon discovered there’s really no satisfactory halfway house. The wooden bulkhead is to be epoxy-coated like so much else I’ve stripped of dying paintwork, and probably the whole lockers too now. And, yes, the outside of the boat’s filthy even though I cleaned it again last year before building the Noah’s Ark roof over the main hatch!

Nylon brush summary from one year and hundreds of hours use:

  • Orange wheels are the most useful overall as well as the most robust, but too abrasive for some softer surfaces and can be compromised by using at an angle. Also impossible to use in narrow spaces and/or where flat surfaces meet at acute angles (obtuse angles are fine).
  • Blue wheels are excellent for stripping varnish from wood, but currently unattractively expensive.
  • Orange flap wheels are a useful substitute for blue wheels at a saner price.
  • Cup or pencil/end brushes of any colour are wasted money when you can destroy them in five minutes.
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