Thursday, June 7, 2012

Keel Breaker

Lead chopping with a 3.5 hp Poulan
A chainsaw really does work great for cutting up old keels.  Plus the lead "sawdust" generated from the process will make a great thickener to create a heavy epoxy slurry to help hold the big pieces in place.  The forecast for this weekend is looking better and better, which means we might make some big progress on Creeky.  Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, since we are stuck on this big ol' powerboat and can't afford to run it around the harbor we've been taking the time to go do some little things ashore that we've been missing.  We took Ivy to a farm stand that has a little petting zoo yesterday:  She got to pet a goat, and she was thrilled.  This morning, when we read her little book about goats she kept petting the goat pictures.  Cute kid.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Simultaneous Projects

So, the lead in the keel isn't the only thing to be done.  We have all our thru-hulls to be added as well.  This is a project I'm very proud of, due to the innovation of the "seachest".  A proper seachest is a giant hole in a boat (usually a working vessel) which leads to a big cabinet full of seawater.  That big cabinet then has all the thru-hulls leading off of it.  I'm doing a variation on that idea.

This is a picture of 3 of the 4 thru-hull backing plates that will exist in Creeky (below the waterline).  These three are in the aft cabin, under the bunk, in their own compartment.  They are made entirely of fiberglass, no wood to rot.  This compartment (our "seachest")will be entirely watertight and sealed.  If any one of these three thru-hulls ever lets go, the compartment will fill with water and that will be the end of the story... thats it... no drama, no leaking boat, no sinking boat.  Pictured are: 1" intake for heads and sinks, 1" outlet for grey water, 1" intake for engine raw water coolant.  That's it.  The forward head will also have a 1" outlet for blackwater.  Those will be our 4 thru-hulls, and no more.  I love this setup.  So little to worry about.  If we are taking on water, it has to be one of these two simple places.

Today, I cut a new access panel in the forward berth cabin sole.  This gives access to add the singular forward head overboard outlet, as shown in the picture.  I didn't get a picture yet of the glasswork I did, but I think it looks fine and should suffice as a good solid backing block for the marelon seacock (no bonding required!) .  I'm happy with this setup.  This compartment will also give access to a depth sounder, someday.....

In general, the these projects are coinciding well.  On short days I do little bits of thru-hull stuff and     whatever else needs to be done.  On long days I do lead ballast type stuff.  I'm pretty sure we'll be in the water before this winter.  Time will tell, but so far so good.  I am confident.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Lead Containment Bulkheads [Determination]

This whole lead ballast installation is some tricky business.  There is no exact recommended weight for our boat because the boat was designed to be home finished with whatever rig and design you choose. 8000 pounds is a good starting point for boats this size, and it may even be enough- there are other Creekmore 45's that were built with 8000 and did just fine.  Henry also added 600 pounds bolted on along the bottom in a deeper keel modification that he made.  So, our plan is to install 8000 in two compartments.  The bulk of the weight will be in the forward compartment, which puts most of the weight amidships as it should be.  But then we want a smaller compartment a bit further aft.  This aft compartment can be left sort of open topped and will function as a trim compartment which we can add to.  The very aft end of the keel will be left open as a deep bilge.  Thus, the plan will be to launch the boat with 8600 pounds and adjust from there over time.  I'm guessing we'll end up around 10,000 when all is said and done.

It takes Determination to finish a project of this magnitude.  In this case, it quite literally takes "Determination", an old weekender runabout that was stripped of all its parts and then slated to be taken to the dump.  I had decided against building the containment bulkheads out of wood because I don't want to use something that will rot and leave a giant void where there should be strength.  Solid fiberglass walls are the next best choice in my humble opinion.  So I cut some panels out of poor old Determination's hull.

I used cheap foamboard from a craft store as templates.

Then I sketched the templates onto the side of the hull.

A short while later, with the help of my trusty DeWalt sawzall, the Weekender had given its donation to the cause :)

I took one panel from each side of the boat as it seemed to work out best that way in terms of getting nice flat panels with no molded grooves or anything.

 The fully cut panels had gelcoat, decal stripes, and even a bit of bottom paint on them.  The next step was to use my new angle grinder and take them down to a workable level for adding new fiberglass to them.
 Here are the panels all ground down.  I got that angle grinder from Harbor Freight Tools for $15 and seriously couldn't be happier with it.  I knew it was a sketchy prospect to buy such a cheap power tool, but that thing runs like a bat out of hell.  Even if it dies at this point I've already gotten $15 worth of use out of it.

Here I am test fitting the panels in place inside the keel.  The forward panel (stage right in the picture) is getting thru-bolted to an existing floor support (I think those are just called "floors" in proper boat terms but I'm not entirely sure).  The aft one is screwed in the corners to the mounts for the v-drive.  All the bolts and screws are really just overkill as these are about to be fiberglass tabbed in like crazy. 

Before I can begin tabbing, I need to create some sort of fillet.  A fillet is an soft angle where the bulkhead meets the hull.  It provides a softer corner for the glass to take shape in and it spreads the load out so that we don't get stress cracks at the joint.  I used spray foam, waterproof window and door sealant.  I wracked my brain trying to figure the best sort of closed cell foam and for the cost and workability I just couldn't find anything better.  The pic above is the foam sprayed into a line where the aft bulkhead is going to be.

The forward wall in place.

The aft wall in place.

Both walls in place.

What I don't have pictures of right now is the process of grinding the foam back to make a nice concave surface instead of a bulbous foam chunks you see above.  What a nightmare that project was.  If I ever do a similar project again I will NOT use spray foam.  The grinding process made an unholy mess.  Our last post titled "Onward" has a picture of me mid-grinding.  Everything in the boat was yellow with foam dust and it took FOREVER.  Gross.

 Above are the two walls nearly complete.  It was too messy of a process to really take many pictures during it.  It also took about 3 days of fiberglassing, which is sad considering how little these things look in pictures haha.  This was a HUGE project to me, as these walls are so integral to the structure of the ballast system.  These things have an enormous task in life and I'm happy to say that I'm quite confidant in their structure.

 This picture just gives a little perspective on the working space.  The new bulkhead you can see is the forward one.  I spent a lot of time down in that little hole.  Luckily I had help one day.  Somebody to mix epoxy and hand me things is a fantastic advantage.

 Sadly, I don't know my fiberglass cloth weights.  I have a ton of cloth I picked up on craigslist... just a midweight basic cloth.  I used that as a base layer covering both sides of the panels and then using 12-14 inch tabs to attach the whole mess to the inside of the keel.  Then, at the Defender warehouse sale I picked up some seriously heavy duty bi-axial cloth with stitched matte.  I used this heavy biaxial on top of the cloth, using the matte as the middle layer.  I did this on both sides of each panel.  So each panel, front to back has "Heavy Biaxial, Matte, Cloth, the panel, Cloth, Matte, and Heavy Biax again".

The finished aft compartment.  Soon to be full of lead. The aft bilge is on the very left edge of this picture.  

The finished forward bulkhead and part of that compartment.  I added two extra giant tabs of cloth just for the heck of it since this wall will be holding so much lead.

Overall, I'm very happy with how the project turned out.  Now I've moved on to the task of cutting up all the old lead keels we've been collecting.  Once I have them all cut into a pile of manageable sized pieces it'll finally be time to install all this ballast.  I'll be stacking the bricks into the keel as compactly as possibly, like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle.  The remaining gaps will be filled with lead shot, and lead shavings mixed with epoxy.  We've got about 10 gallons of epoxy waiting for the project to begin.  When all is said and done this keel should be very nice and extremely solid.  Good progress.