Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Annnnnnnd....That's a Wrap

(Ed note: sorry for the heavily maintenance-oriented and long post. Life right now is pretty much about boat maintenance so if you're not into it, my apologies. It is unfortunately a huge part of owning a boat.)
As I mentioned in the previous post, we've been making an effort to achieve the holy grail of cruisers - the Dry Bilge. In Kintala, that's a particularly big challenge. Water comes down the inside of the keel-stepped mast when it rains, after having been given access through the sheaves at the top. Both the 40 and the 20 gallon water tanks vent into the bilge if you fill them to the point that you can actually tell they're full - by hearing the water rising in the fill tube. For some reason the 79 gallon tank doesn't vent into the bilge. Go figure. The fridge drains into the bilge - not a huge amount of water except for when I defrost it. The anchor windlass has a hole that the chain goes down that pours water into the chain locker which then goes into the bilge. Then there's the leaking rudder stuffing box and the spewing raw water pump, both of which added their contribution to the water level. This summer gives me a good chance to try to pair them down, one by one. The mast will always run water when it rains and nothing can be done about that. The water tank issue is difficult because there's no way to tell if the tanks are full until you hear the water gurgling in the fill tube. So over the next few weeks I'll be tackling the ones that can be fixed.

The one thing that you learn quickly about boat projects when you buy a boat is that no project is a project unto its own. They are all intertwined, all tangled up, and no matter how hard you try to tackle just one thing, you will without any doubt end up dealing with three or four other projects before you check it off your list. Part of our Dry Bilge Project was getting the fridge to drain into the shower sump box. The other day I temporarily routed it into our existing box, but it was our intention to change our box out to one of the newer, sealed plastic boxes that most boats use today. Over the past few weeks there's been a lot of discussion about where to put it, from where to power it, where to pump the water out, and access for cleaning. It had to be below the level of the fridge drain so that the fridge water would drain in there, and since one of the projects on my list is to replace the bilge pump with a new, fancy low-profile one, it gave us an opportunity to move our old bilge pump to a secondary position for a backup. Our old arrangement had the shower sump and bilge pump sharing a thru hull at a T fitting. I wanted that thru hull to be dedicated to both bilge pumps, and the shower sump to go elsewhere. (Are you feeling like musical chairs yet??) After a lot of thought I decided to use the old air conditioner thru hull for the sump box. I also decided to remove our old sump box and place the new one in its spot but much lower, leaving room to install a modified old sump box above it that would provide room for another case of beer when traveling to the Bahamas (score!).

The old sump box removed from its spot in the bilge
Our old sump box was fiberglass, huge, and had no sealed top. The floorboard hatch was the only top for it and it didn't seal well. Inevitably, the sump box would fill with nasty, soapy shower water and begin to smell. Funky smells in a smallish living space are not welcome. I tried various ways of cleaning it, but it still eventually won. It was also a ridiculous waste of space since it only accumulated about 4" of water before the pump kicked on, leaving more than a cubic foot of box unused. On a boat, a cubic foot of storage is gold.

Looking down into the old sump box. The visible block was where the
old switch was mounted that activated the pump under the galley sink.

First up in the project steps was to route the drain line to the old air conditioning thru hull. When we pulled the old a/c out, we routed a hose from the intake thru hull directly to the outflow thru hull so that in the even that the thru hull lever was accidentally opened, the water would drain right out of the boat. I needed to remove that hose, plug the intake thru hull, and install the new drain hose for the sump box. I loosened the hose clamp from the elbow fitting on the intake thru hull and when I pulled on the hose to remove it, the elbow fitting broke in half. Just fell off. It was completely corroded and had we still been using our air conditioner, we could have easily flooded the boat. Check  your thru hulls people, especially any bronze or (heaven help you) brass fittings on them. That thru hull will have to be replaced the next time the boat is out of the water but for now, since there's half a corroded fitting stuck in it, we have epoxied it closed.

Once the drain hose was routed, I needed a mounting option. Digging through our scrap wood box I came up with enough old teak pieces from various jobs to fashion a set of mounting blocks that would level an angled surface into a flat surface for the sump box. Since my only saw is a sabre saw, it took most of a day to cut, sand, glue and screw the mounting blocks. I then coated them with a coat of fiberglass so they wouldn't rot in the bilge, and then glassed them in place. By the way, if  you think the mixing ratio sounds a bit hot, trust your instincts and adjust it. Glad I did because even 1/3 less hardener and my cup was still too hot to touch.  It was a new resin for me that I'd never worked with so I was thinking I should trust the tech specs...wrong.

It's hard to tell in this pic, but the top of the box is about 10-1/2" down
leaving lots of room for a modified storage box above it.

While I was waiting for the glass to bake off, I removed the old sump pump and inline filter from under the galley sink and ran the new wire to the bilge. With the old pump removed, I added a splice fitting in its place in the hose so that the new bilge pump will have a hose to drain from. By the time I got that finished, the glass on my mounting blocks was hard and I was able to fasten down the box. Because of the position of the box in the bilge, I had to drill a hole in the other end of it and install another plastic thru hull to attach the fridge drain. The head sink and shower hoses and the outflow drain hose all attach on the forward end. The fridge drain on the aft end. With the hoses all attached and the box mounted on the new blocks, all that was left was the wiring. A couple of waterproof heat-shrink butt splices later we now have a fancy schmancy, new, sealed, funky-odor-free sump box. Score again!

Tomorrow I'll cut the old sump box in half and put a new bottom on it to use as the storage box above the sump box. I was going to do that today, but I decided that one should have a tested, functioning shower sump before destroying the old one that could be reinstalled if need be. You know, the old burning bridges thing...

And now, as a reward for any of you who actually stayed with me to the end of this post, here's another amazing pic I found I had forgotten on my camera card of the storm we went through in Blackburn Bay a couple weeks ago on the way up here. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for the insight. It's inspiring to see both of you maintaining, fixing and improving Kintala (and other boats...). These 'good old boats' can soak up a seemingly infinite amount of effort. I feel like my 1974 Cal 3-30 could easily occupy me 40 hours a week - it gets a few at best. :| I'm sure a few months will make a huge difference to Kintala's sea-readiness!