Petestack Blog

28 April 2019

Taking the roof off

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:39 pm

20 months ago, I built Fly a proper little roof so we could work inside with the hatch open in any conditions. Today I finally took it off when it became more hindrance than help as I sought to get the decks properly clean for the first time in eight-and-a-half years, and here’s the result after a similar effort to October 2010’s six hours of hard scrubbing:

So that was my Sunday, with Saturday spent mostly on workshop sorting and reorganisation, but I’ve also had a ‘production line’ going weekday mornings and evenings (before and after work!) to get pilot berth bases, heads door, cabin sole skirtings and forecabin bunk board trim varnished, and seen here on day one (Tuesday):

22 April 2019

Bumper Easter Fly blog

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:33 pm

Last April (just over a year ago), I wrote:

It wasn’t a great winter for Fly. Consistently cold temperatures, flu and other things contributed to losing most of December, January, February and March, so we find ourselves coming into spring well behind a logical projected schedule from the summer and autumn.

But it’s different this year when so much work since suggests expectations of a 2018 launch to have been optimistic at best. Having stopped last summer just to paint the house external woodwork and make a quick sea trip to Stornoway (my ‘summer holiday’!), I think I’ve worked on Fly pretty well straight through every holiday since (October, Christmas, Easter) as well as most recent weekend days and evenings. A veritable slog, but no question that it’s all coming together now and we’re surely just weeks from the water even with Tuesday’s new school term to keep me from constant boat work…

So here you see the pilot berth bases, which I’d started stripping outside one strangely fine and un-chilly day over Christmas before waiting months to get back out to continue making the mess I didn’t want indoors. Now there’s a bit of a pilot berth saga here because Twig had taken them away years ago to measure up, possibly replace the tops (which the terrible paintwork suggested might be suffering) and then repaint, but his new paint had subsequently started flaking disturbingly back off. So we concluded that something was historically wrong there (no primer?) and they had to be stripped right back, which meant more work for me with numerous awkward inside corners making those bases absolute pigs to do, but the finally-revealed wood surprising us by its excellent condition:

So I was able to get most of the surfaces epoxy-coated like all the other bunk tops etc., leaving the teak-faced fronts (which show when the folding sections hinge up for access to the lockers within) for further sanding and varnishing. And here they are just coated with wee reminders that (at that stage) I’d forgotten to round off two corners I meant to do for a revised fit:

So that was the bases, but the folding sections still needed stripping, which was fortunately much quicker and easier at a single day’s work rather than a good four:

Next up we have some new wood parts I’ve made for the cockpit, with nice, big, teak traveller support blocks to replace decrepit undersized ones made of who-knows-what and iroko helmsman’s footrests to replace thin strips that provided support for nothing (all these things having been removed three years ago to stop the last of the serious deck leaks). So here you see some templating with the spirit level pretending to be the traveller, followed by test-fitting of the actual blocks as well as a dry-run for the footrests and a dining table Deks Olje job on the whole lot. The traveller blocks weren’t drilled yet because the holes for the old ones were all higgledy-piggledy and I was waiting to establish new positions along a line from Twig’s laser:

Now the new traveller blocks fitted beautifully with their new screw holes, but we ran into an unexpected problem with the footrests when the aft-most screws turned out to be disappearing vertically into the cockpit bulkhead and had to be set in epoxy with microfibres rather than done up with nuts. But it’s a good solid job either way, with the excess sealant being trimmed off and the new wood taking up some further oil after these photos were taken:

Two further things worth mentioning here are that the Lewmar 7 spinnaker winch you see out of place in the first pic above needs replacing because its centre stem has broken, and the gelcoat repairs to the recesses for the original short traveller supporting the longer one across its centre were made because it was marginally too long for its space before we rounded off its lower corners to prevent similar damage after refitting. But here are the new parts again with a fine satin sheen today:

Some history of the mast step repair (waiting since the autumn for weather to finish) can be found in my 21 October blog, but here is the plinth flattened and finished at last. It took two further passes of epoxy and some hard graft with a large/long block, 60-grit paper, straight edge and level gauge to get it flat, but it’s now both flatter and closer to level across the boat than ever (hence the conscious sacrifice of some gelcoat) as well as completely solid inside:

And of course it looks nice too now even if that’s technically less important:

Finishing the nav. station/chart table area starts with two potential ‘banana skin’ jobs I’m pleased to get done, which were trimming/chamfering the lower shelf’s fiddle to improve clearance for the chart table lid and sticking trim up the main bulkhead corner:

Next, we had to fit the table with its final spacers for me to bond in the socket for the chart table leg, which I’ve done where the leg wants to go most of the time despite (like so many things on boats!) not sitting perfectly square. So I took up the port-side cushions to see how they fitted with the leg there (NB you don’t actually lie over the gap between leg and bulkhead, but with your head to this side of it when the bit under the chart table’s just for sitting/lounging around) and, yes, I’ll admit to lying on the bunk and dreaming for a few minutes when that was done!

Having cleared the Deks Olje from the dining table, I was able to get back to varnishing small parts (it’s what dining tables are for, right?):

And we got my protective strip (made to my template by Mr Stainless) fitted to the companionway as well as the grab handles back on:

So why didn’t I get the hatch rails oiled when I did the washboard rails? Two reasons… needing drier conditions with their front ends not sheltered by my temporary roof, but more importantly having a long-desired repair (also requiring dry wood) to make to the port one first. This side had always been broken (possibly hacked off to accommodate the hatch garage Fly had when I bought her), and some heart-in-mouth moments ensued as I got started and had to cut out more than originally planned after routing into the screw well to the side of where its plug said it should be (note my two supposedly ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ pen lines!):

Still quite surprised a router can do this, but the screw head wasn’t exactly below the plug!

Here you see the new piece made and ready to glue when I work out how to hold everything where it should be, with this end of the existing rail better held down after springing up when the screw was removed. I’ve left the new piece tall deliberately because the top’s easy to take down later:

Here’s the glue-up after testing dry-fitting of my wedge-down and clamping methods. I left the countersinking/plug cutting for later so it couldn’t break out the side of the new piece before glue-up:

Two days later, a satisfying result is revealed with some shaping/sanding still to be done down the outside. The new plug’s offset to clear the edge of the rail and cover the old hole, and the second plug further along replaces the ugly grey filler we discovered to be covering a historic hole drilled in the wrong place!

So here’s the final shaping and multiple coats of Deks Olje done today… can’t totally disguise the repair, but it’s structurally sound, prettier than it was, and a satisfying improvement overall:

To finish by summing up other unphotographed happenings, the mast and boom sheaves all turn, the halyards etc. are clean, we’ve started servicing the winches and are also thinking about the trailer. There’s external cleaning, polishing and painting (mostly antifouling) to be done, but it’s starting to feel like a regular annual fit-out (remember those?) with that familiar anticipatory feeling somewhat magnified 14 years since it last happened! :-)

7 April 2019

Speakers’ corner(s)

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:45 pm

Twig was here today, so we started with the tricky two-man job (one to hold and one to do!) of fitting my speaker boxes, and what a satisfying result after the three-month gestation of these things:

Might add that they work too, as tested with the new batteries also going in and America from West Side Story filling the boat from the first station we tuned in to (NB that’s the newly-fitted VHF, and not the stereo, whose heatsink you can see protruding through the bulkhead to its left, in the second shot):

While the eagle-eyed might also notice the new barometer, reinstalled grab handles and completion of the fixings for the lining panels, the most significant other thing achieved this weekend was my tuning the fit yesterday morning for the porthole rings, which now just require varnishing on their visible faces before permanent installation:

6 April 2019

Fly refit interim index

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:19 pm

Now replaced by final version.

5 April 2019

Four weeks solo

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 10:42 pm

Think I’ve been working alone weekends and evenings for four weeks now while Twig’s been busy with other things but, while some outstanding tasks still require both of us and/or his expertise, this also means I’ve had the run of the boat to get other stuff done without us getting in each other’s way. And, since I’m now both on Easter holiday with plans for a concentrated push and expecting him here tomorrow, tonight seems a good time to sum up my remaining recent solo work…

To start with refitting the galley pole, this was mocked up with scrap plywood to establish trimming lengths, angles etc. to get everything as tidy as possible, meaning not quite perfect (so what is?) but where it wants to go and as good as it gets without moving the existing immovable top socket! The two lines just about visible on the top piece of plywood in the second photo are measuring the supposed slope of the top cut, with another line in the fourth photo marking the height of the bulkhead hole. It was necessary to trim the top to get the holes through pole and bulkhead to line up properly, hence the thin packing piece at the bottom which has since been replaced by a purpose-made socket block:

And here’s said block (right) along with another (left) I made for the chart table table leg with some further pics of the finally fitted pole. So the block’s epoxied in and will need chiselling apart if I ever need the pole out again, but I’m OK with that because it’s both secure and destroyable if absolutely necessary, and the deckhead lining panel can be dropped down the pole without removing anything:

Another completed epoxy job you can’t see here except in passing (last two photos above) because I’ve not specifically photographed it was stripping and coating the backs of the bunk fiddles, which had been on my to-do list for a long time but finally got done because it had to be prior to affixing these new blocks. But I’ve not glued the socket for the chart table leg yet because we’ve still to fit the correct spacers either side of the table before I can mark its precise fore-and-aft position.

Most of what I’ve still got to show here is trim, trim and more trim, with tidying up of lining carpet rough edges and/or securing of loose ones taking much Evo-Stik, acetone (mainly for cleaning fingers to avoid transferring more glue than absolutely necessary to the wrong places!) and patience to accomplish. What you see is by no means perfect but, with few second chances to position or adjust anything, I’m happy enough with it overall:

Finally (for now!), here’s a single not-so-helpfully-lit photo of the washboard rails cleaned and treated with umpteen coats of Deks Olje D.1, but think I still got umpteen more on (or rather in?) the next day after finding it still ‘active’ (i.e. wet-on-wet). The hatch rails have also been cleaned (pending repair of one) for oiling along with the tiller and (still to make) helmsman’s footrests and mainsheet traveller support blocks, but these are all I’ve got finished so far:

24 March 2019

Trim on

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:33 pm

A slightly artsy title here (both punning and recalling instructions to racing crew), as well as not completely true when nothing like all the trim’s on yet, but perhaps marginally better than ‘More Tricky Stuff’, which was all I could otherwise think of…

Finishing things properly takes time! Most of what I’ve been doing here (and continue to do) requires as much thought as doing, with the consequences of mistakes potentially spoiling things rather than icing the cake. Take the tracks for the galley doors, for example; I’d glued the bottom track to line up with the shelf edge trim, then took it off and pushed it back to the fiddle before taking it off again for a complete dry fit with top/bottom tracks and plywood props in lieu of doors that finally told me where it needed to go:

So my third and final attempt to fix the bottom track set it against the fiddle at the aft (right) end but spaced to a constant distance from the shelf edge (not quite parallel with the fiddle) using a piece of 4mm ply as a kind of feeler gauge to replicate the dry fit:

And this was what I wanted despite leaving a wedge-shaped sliver of space between track and fiddle that I’d like to fill with something. But I still had to get my (now finished and varnished) shaped wood strip on right and trim the galley doors to fit, so two more fiddly and quite nerve-wracking procedures to replicate what’s easy to mock up with no screws, glue or irreversible cutting. And I’m happy with the result although still considering a couple of things (probably some quality double-sided tape to fix the top track which is currently just a snug push fit in its mounting strip, and maybe trimming the edge of the left-hand door where the main bulkhead’s not quite square, but not rushing into that when it would be so easy to spoil it and I can also think of reasons not to do it!):

I’d been planning since we lined the forecabin to trim the exposed, difficult-to-finish-neatly, bottom edges of carpet with webbing tape, but couldn’t be sure how that would go till I tried. And the answer is OK, but it takes time and eats Evo-Stik! Which isn’t that easy to spread economically on narrow porous surfaces you want to cover but not overrun (the spray glue used for most of the linings goes far further but is less practical here as well as less good for really firm edging), with my 250ml tin virtually disappearing between gluing down some obvious loose edges and fixing my tape, but I’m both relieved and pleased with a job well done and have another two 500ml tins on the way assuming that’s more than enough for everything I’ve still to do:

Might add that I’ve also been busy with other ‘little’ things you don’t see here, but have neither photos to show nor motivation to explain everything; there are other small wood parts taking shape and/or being varnished, screws on order where I don’t have quite all the ones I need to fix them all and, well, just more than enough going on to keep my head spinning and dominate my ‘free’ time! ;-)

17 March 2019

Tricky stuff

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 9:57 pm

While I’ve spent many hours (most weekday evenings and all weekend) on Fly since last weekend’s blog, more of that time’s probably been spent thinking through tricky stuff and making sure I get it right than actually doing. So no prizes for speed with what you’re about to see, but still considerable satisfaction on not only avoiding most of the potential banana skins but also making a good job of some tricky parts…

Let’s start with my new mount for Fly’s top galley door track, which brings the tracks properly parallel by allowing for deck rise and camber when the standard method of fixing doesn’t. To do this I had to establish both angles and cut some test pieces to try in place, knocking up a taper jig for the table saw along the way and working out how to cut the angles for rise (about 10mm over the galley width) and camber (6° rather than the 10° you see set up in the first two photos) in separate passes because the saw blade tilts the wrong way to do both together, but happy to say I’ve got this piece dead right:

Next (well, not actually next because I also made some other small parts you don’t see here) we come to my folding leg for the folding chart table, which looks so simple when done, but isn’t because you have to consider:

  • What length should it be to keep the table true when you’re working with one corner unsupported?
  • Where should it meet the bunk top fore and aft and where should it be attached to the table to keep it vertical in both planes?
  • Is it going to be strong enough (fit for purpose) both in itself and how it’s attached?
  • Will it fold up neatly out of the way?
  • What happens if someone knocks it from an unexpected direction?
  • How do you hold all of this where you want it to jig it up for drilling?
  • And did you get it right?

Now, what you see here isn’t quite finished because it still needs corners rounding, varnishing, a longer bolt, penny washer between leg and table, and a locating socket bonded to the bunk top, but I think I did OK:

Two more things worth noting about the chart table before I forget are that 1. I’ve fitted my final choice of catches (toggle latches from China as the most attractive and size-appropriate option turned up by hours of Googling), and 2. I can’t remember whether we’d previously noted that the new lower nav. shelf restricts the lid opening angle to c.45°, but it doesn’t really matter because that’s probably far enough anyway and we can get quite a lot more by chamfering the bottom of its edge piece if necessary!

And so to yet more speaker enclosure tweaks. I wanted to add cosmetic trim pieces (same way I still plan to finish most visible lining edges) to the corners between coachroof sides and main bulkhead to cover the port-side wires and some over-neat starboard-side finishing, which wasn’t difficult at all:

But then had to tweak the outside bottom corners of the speaker boxes to fit the trim, which could so easily have resulted in messing them up now, but didn’t:

And that’s about it for now, except to show you bottom galley track fixing, take two, where take one had assumed I needed to fix the track as far out as possible for vertical doors to clear the top shelf at the main bulkhead end, but I’d not liked what I got so reevaluated carefully:

10 March 2019

Things to see or just talk about

Filed under: Sailing — admin @ 8:57 pm

Quite a lot happening to Fly since my last blog, but it’s not all on camera yet so there’s some you can see and some we can just talk about…

Two weekends ago we got all but one of the new headlining panels done and most of them up, but only one covered outside before the Saturday rain drove us inside to work in more awkward conditions (NB old panel standing up and new one flat on the ground):

So the following four photos come from the Sunday (24 February), when we were able to take the glue spraying back outside (note the mix of old and new panels again):

And here are the main cabin panels in place (most of the others only went up this weekend):

Also happy to note that the new panels are much lighter than the old, with some of the saving coming from slightly thinner ply (3.5mm instead of 4mm), but the bulk of it from the new lining carpet being significantly lighter than the old ‘mousse’.

Before fitting the new panels we also reseated the six coach bolts for the pilot berth hanger eyes, replacing the suffering original plywood spacer disks with more robust plastic ones I made weeks (or maybe even months!) ago:

My made-to-measure porthole liners (from Midland Chandlers) for the companionway bulkhead have arrived and are going to look great, but still await varnishing and fitting:

Last weekend I was on my own with only one full day available, so got stuck into building the speaker enclosures I’d previously prototyped with the jig I’d built (and now fine-tuned with thicknesses of tape) after learning from that experience. Which, despite now knowing how to get things right and not mess them up, I’d guess still consisted of about 90% thinking to 10% doing as I planned my cuts from a single, small, and very finite, piece of reclaimed teak-faced ply and so on:

These then got attachment brackets (lugs?) added and their backs epoxied (for speed over varnish) before applying multiple coats of varnish to the outsides over the past few mornings and evenings:

Leaving just some clever carpet trim (seen here testing on one of the prototypes) required to ensure the best possible fit to the boat when there are various issues (e.g. my 30° front panels crossing the main bulkhead tabs at half height) conspiring against perfection even after careful adjustment from the prototypes:

But, as suggested by my blog title and opening paragraph, there’s plenty more been happening you can’t see here because I’ve not got it all photographed yet… like all the new deckhead panels (including the heads, which never had one before) and interior lights (finished today) in place. Some mild frustrations this weekend because I was necessarily limited in what I could do while Twig got wired in to testing electrics etc., but I did get the bottom track for the sliding galley doors back in, and have a lengthy list of small wood parts to make and tidying up jobs (lining trim edging etc.) to do while I’m on my own:

[Edit, 12 March 2019: took that galley track back off tonight to redo after changing my mind about its best alignment, but no problems doing so when it was stuck down with contact adhesive.]

19 February 2019

Long weekend progress

Filed under: Running,Sailing — admin @ 9:07 pm

It’s half-term weekend, so I’ve had Monday and Tuesday off school and four days to work on Fly, with Twig joining me for three of these. Already struggling to remember exactly what we got done on Saturday, but think we played a little with my table saw set-up before mounting the heater exhaust outlet fitting and spending most time on the fiddly task of templating and cutting the Treadmaster for the heads and forecabin. Then I took the chance to join Glencoe Hill Runners’ ‘Two Lairigs’ run on Sunday before returning to finish preparing the Treadmaster bonding surfaces before we stuck the stuff down yesterday (note the advanced holding-down technology!):

After Twig left yesterday, I built my jig for the final speaker enclosures, which you see first taking shape last night then demonstrating usage this morning with the better of the two practice pieces I made without it and my original cardboard template. Yes, it’s only a jig, but get this right (which I have!) and the otherwise tricky glue-up I struggled with on my practice versions becomes child’s play:

We also put much effort into the heater installation yesterday and today, but I’ve just a solitary photo to show because we left one part bonding (the air intake where it goes through the aft bulkhead) I couldn’t risk disturbing through getting too close or diving into the cockpit locker:

At some stage we got the starboard compass refitted to match the port one done last weekend (both showing dark here because the outside covers are on):

And we finished up today by making the first four replacement deckhead panels and PVA-coating them ready for lining carpet (still another five to make, with the smallest – for the heads – being a new addition rather than replacing an older one):

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)!

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