Saturday extra

So we had an extra day this week.

The house battery bank box got the last bits coated in epoxy.

I finished the vertical posts that the corridor and cockpit sides will fasten to. These got coated in epoxy and fastened in with thickened epoxy. They will also support the horizontal beams that the house battery bank will sit on.

Finally, we put the first coat of paint behind the saloon cushions.

Very pleased with the progress this weekend.

Holiday progress day 15: the end

Just eating a black eyed bean curry from our multi cooker. Then heading home.

The cockpit floor is fitted, the main drain hoses are test fitted. We just need some hose adapters 32mm to 50mm and then we can connect the forward drains.

With very straight 50mm drains the cockpit should drain superfast, we are slightly concerned that small children might get sucked out with the torrent 😉 So we will add a small step halfway up back of the cockpit. That will also help our knees a lot.

We also had a big sort out of the forecabin which had become a messy dumping area for tools and bits. That allowed us to check our anchoring plans (and happy they will work). So we removed the very old, rusty, anchor windlass and a couple of other bits.

We also did some measuring for our aft cabin plans and again happy that they will be an improvement.

So, despite all the named storms, and the impact of COVID-19, we have had a good holiday and made a lot of progress towards being ready to launch next spring.

Holiday progress day 14: oh no more cockpit work

Today Jane finished two important tasks on the cockpit drains project.

First, she filled the last gaps in the joints between the new lips (upstands) and the old grp lip & flange with thickened epoxy.

Then she painted the bottom of the cockpit floor.

Meanwhile I was removing some trim in the saloon which was stopping the cushions fitting properly.

Then I started on the replacement forward drains. Had to make some backing plates, cut for a flush fit and clean a century’s dirt.

These are ready for hoses. Before that we have to paint around the large aft drains; fit the rubber sealing strip and bolt down the cockpit floor.

This evening a gentle walk into Beaumaris for fish and chips. Absolutely worn out now.

Holiday progress day 13: yes more cockpit work

We are getting very close with the cockpit after today.

The epoxy work for the aft cockpit drains is nearly finished. After drying overnight we should have just a few little bits to fill with thickened epoxy to make sure that the lower lip if fully sealed (where it tucks under the old grp lip and flange).

With the lip bits are now fixed in place (to both the cockpit floor and to the drain area) and the area around the white skin fitting filled with epoxy so there should be nowhere for water to collect.

As you may be able to see our resin has gone a bit jelly like and so isn’t mixing as smooth as it was (don’t know if this is shelf-life or temperature or what). We are nearly at the end of a big bottle, so as it seems to still set hard we will use it up on areas where the finish isn’t too important (and hopefully ones not critical to safety).

I have managed to get both of the old drains out ready for new TruDesign skin fittings.

If we can’t finish them this holiday we will simply seal them up for the moment.

We also had a big delivery of shiny bits today (sadly FedEx left only parcel 1 of 2 so not everything).

Here is the PSS Pro dripless seal and the refurbished bronze flange it will fit to.

Here is the Aquadrive (thrust bearing and CVT that allows for the motor to be on a different alignment to the propeller shaft).

Then we have our motor mounts.

This evening we had a really nice socially distanced BBQ on the beach with the members of the NWVYC we cheated slightly as we don’t have a BBQ. So we ran a power extension cable from the boat and setup our Induction Hob on our workmate 🙂 It was very effective 🙂 Anyway it was lovely to see people and chat about boat refits (and other topics were permitted).

Hoping dry weather continues so we can get the cockpit watertight.

Holiday Progress day 12: more cockpit drain epoxy

Pretty horrible weather today until about 3. With the wind from the North and heavy rain it meant that the cockpit wasn’t a good place to try doing epoxy work. Especially as work was on the floor that needed to be out of position.

So this is where we are at with the drains. I got the lip a bit wrong so will fix that tomorrow.

This is the floor which has to end up being sealed from water by the lips .

I’m pretty happy with how this is turning out. By the time it is finished I think it will look like it was always there.

Holiday Progress day 11: Tips

No actual progress today (unless you count going into Bangor to update my phone contract and getting some food from Aldi).

So instead a few random tips

  • If you are lazy, like us, and take washing up home to do in the dishwasher, then don’t forget to bring it back with you!
  • LED strip lights that can use either a cigarette lighter or mains plug are great when you have no working wiring in your boat.
  • If you are doing a boat refit in the UK then top priorities are stopping leaks (remove fittings you don’t need ashore and fill with sealant, windows, hatches). Stops everything else from getting ruined. Then good bed cushions.
  • Keep all yoghurt pots, great for epoxy work.

Holiday progress day 10: New cockpit drains

Wow, a dry day! So we made excellent progress on our cockpit drains.

First, we fitted the TruDesign through hulls, which the TruDesign seacocks will screw onto. We have followed their advice and epoxied them in (so in theory they are as strong as the hull itself). We sanded back to the gelcoat all around then hole. There is thickened epoxy under the flange and around the thread as it goes through the hull. As the “mushroom” sticks out from the hull we (again as advised) used the thickened epoxy to create a fairing to smooth the water flow. It isn’t brilliant but we have a lot of work to do later and will improve it then.

On the inside the backing plate was epoxied in at the same time.

Then we started on the drain from the cockpit. First, Jane was clearing off the remains of the sound insulation from the bottom of the cockpit floor.

Then I cut away the wood reinforcement so that we can add lips to seal around the new corners.

These are the lips that will be fitted to the cockpit floor.

Then I was making progress on the new corners that get the new drains fitted in them.

These will be both bolted and epoxied into place and around the drain it will be filed to level with the old edge with thickened epoxy. This is roughly what it will look like when done. (but coloured consistently and I’ve now rounded/smoothed the cockpit cutouts.

So, we just have to do all the epoxy work (which will depend on how bad the rain is tomorrow).

Then we can remove and replace the original drains from the front of the cockpit (which will end up connected to these under the floor). They are very solidly glassed in so that won’t be quick and easy to get them out and not have to do a lot of rebuilding.

Holiday progress day 9: Electric Motor reliability

Well not much progress today because we nipped home last night as our old Diesel engine was being collected today. The forecast had also helped make the decision with another storm coming through.

So rain nearly all day for the time we were in Manchester, rain for the journey back to Beaumaris and rain most of the evening.

The key progress is emotional, with the sense of freedom from having an engine sitting in our trailer, waiting to be sold. As we were driving back we were remembering all the expensive work we would have had to do in order to get what was a good engine working.

  • The survey required the raw water seacock to be changed. That was bonded in so thoroughly it needed cutting out with a hole saw. Possible with the engine in (although the two cockpit drains would have been much more difficult).
  • the survey warned that the cutlass bearing was worn and that the stuffing box needed to be repacked. We found that the propeller side of the coupling to the gearbox needed to be cut off (and so would have needed a replacement). We also found that the propeller shaft is too long to slide out because of the skeg, so we would have had to lift the engine for the propeller shaft to come out under it, that would have meant cutting off the rusty original engine mounts and replacing them.
  • the survey warned of a leaking fuel filter, would we then have found that several of the valves in the various fuel lines were seized and would we have felt we needed to add inspection hatches to the fuel tanks, replaced all the fuel lines and thoroughly cleaned all the system and all the fuel? As we did that we might have noticed and been concerned about the very rusty fuel vent fittings and the condition of the fuel filler hoses.
  • In this process would we have noticed and dealt with the rusty paraffin fuel tank for the boat heater (that failed and spilt paraffin everywhere just as I arrived at the recycling centre).
  • When would we have taken out the hot water calorifier (heated by the engine or by a mains system condemned in the survey) that was buried behind the paraffin tank, under the rusty fridge compressor and under the unreliable water pump? Because when we did take it out, we found it rusty and leaking out of sight.

In short, because everything around the engine wasn’t replaced with the new engine, we would have had large costs to get afloat with this engine and far more over time to get it to a point where it would be reliable with the many problems with the setup diesel supply (particularly water in the fuel and no way to get it out, modern problems diesel bug growing due to the use of bio-diesel and no way to get it out, old sludge in the tanks causing blockages in the pipes before the filters).

We are more and more glad that we took the plunge and decided to go fossil fuel free from the beginning rather than first fixing what we had. So we have not spent any money on fixing the diesel but all on preparing for where we believe all yachts need to be going – fossil fuel free.

Again we have been watching more YouTube videos and seeing more people having problems with diesel fuel, the old idea that diesel engines are this magical safety device because they are always reliable just isn’t the case for lots of people. Also the amount of nasty, cramped, smelly maintenance and the impact that has on sea sickness and morale needs to be acknowledged more openly in the sailing community.

Obviously, at the moment we have very little to be sure of in terms of the reliability of our electric motor system, how dependable will it be. However, from all we have studied so far we are quite confident. We will have a good installation of a brushless motor, that will be in as dry a place as possible, with potential backup batteries and tools/spares for making cables.

We have come to realise that the Rival 38 centre cockpit has a number of really good features for a reliable electric motor installation.

  • the bilge is really deep and large. So even if we get a lot of water on board it is going to be a long way from the motor or the batteries, we have made this so it is visible for checking as well as making it possible to access the pumps and hoses (initially we are fitting both an automatic large capacity electric pump and updating the original manual pump)
  • the motor compartment is not accessible from the companionway steps (but instead from the corridor to the aft cabin). Very often these steps lift up for access but that also means there is potential for water to get into the motor compartment whether it be from spray or people climbing in with wet clothing etc
  • the motor compartment is large enough so that our batteries, motor and controller can be right next to each other, so short cables that we cann easily inspect that don’t go through bulkheads where they can get damaged or through bilges where they can get wet.

We are also implementing a few things they we hope are best practice to help with the reliability

  • The motor is brushless for no maintenance and high efficiency. It is air cooled to keep our moisture (we will need to monitor temperature and might need exhaust fans)
  • All our battery banks are going to be in boxes that are watertight from below with a top that means any drips from above will not make it in. Build from epoxy coated plywood with a strong timber frame that does not allow battery movement but does allow air circulation for cooling.
  • The motor frame will have a watertight undertray and a lid that directs any drips clear of the motor.
  • Our batteries that are connected in series will have automatic battery balancers to ensure they are evenly charged. Those in parallel will have huge busbars and identical cables for equal loading.
  • We are over specifying all our battery cables and have a full size professional crimping tool to make the best possible connections.
  • Most of the batteries (5 out out of 8) have a bluetooth BMS and I will be monitoring this automatically from our Raspberry Pi system
  • All our solar chargers, battery balancers, battery monitors are from Victron with bluetooth capability so we can monitor them from their app and from the Raspberry Pi system
  • The SignalK system on the RaspberryPi will allow us to add a number of sensors to monitor temperature, humidity etc of everything, so we should know if there is a problem in any battery, bearing, motor, motor controller etc
  • We are installing a dripless seal for the sterntube. This should minimise maintenance and the chance of any salt water coming into the engine compartment.
  • We are installing an Aquadrive. This absorbs all the thrust from the propeller which means the engine and the bearings are free from these loads. It also means that the alignment of the motor is not critical. Both these mean that the motor will be on very flexible mountings so there should be much less vibration in the motor frame as well as in the boat. That should help avoid things shaking loose.
  • We plan to install an automatic dehumidifier for the motor compartment so keep the air in and around the motor plus electronics as dry as possible.
  • The cockpit floor is removable for lifting diesel engines in and out. All our electric stuff is small and light (heaviest individual items under 40kg). Even the motor in it’s frame is under 70kg and we can put it in the frame in the corridor next to where it will go. So we will use a more secure sealant on the cockpit floor, it would be possible to get it up but not as easy as it has been.
  • We will have a much more sealed bulkhead between the motor compartment and cockpit locker. So when you put wet ropes, fenders, sails in there it will drain into the bilge directly and not splash through lots of holes.
  • We are re-routing the vent for the main water tank so it doesn’t go through the motor compartment (reduce chances of water ingress)
  • The boat does not have a working electrical earth at present, we will make sure it is implemented and tested to protect the systems from galvanic corrosion.
  • All new composite cockpit drains and seacocks should reduce condensation and with much higher quality hoses should be more watertight.
  • We are not in a rush and so we can take the time to build it up slowly, carefully and with clear layouts and documentation
  • As we are doing all the work ourselves we know how it is installed and how to maintain it

Despite all that there are still some risks:

  • The biggest is the motor controller, the wiring is complex (for us, fortunately we can bring in our son who is an electrician). Also they are programmable and we don’t have the tools to reprogram it (particularly for regen but potentially also for things like throttle response and max revs)
  • We don’t manage to generate enough electricity to charge the batteries enough (separate updated blog post on generation to come)
  • We do something stupid with one of the expensive components so we need to spend a lot of money replacing it (eg shorting a battery, wiring something wrong).
  • Something we have not thought of

Compared to our lack of understanding of diesel engines this feels like a comfortable place to be 🙂 We think that overall we should be more reliable than diesel, better to live with and because of these be both more convenient and safer than a diesel engine while obviously being incredibly better for the planet.

Holiday progress day 8: saw day

Had a quiet day with another storm due tomorrow. So we didn’t do much apart from rest and a nice gentle walk.

The only thing job was to cut up as much of the wood that we have brought to make it easier to store.

This is what the results are, all sized and named. Nearly all of them are for around the motor compartment. Motor battery boxes, new bulkheads separating off the corridor and the cockpit locker from the motor compartment.

Some are going to be very tricky to get into position!