Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.

2016-11-30

Travelling plans

Somewhat similar to this, the "old-style non-CB Harken track (supplied until 2002)"
As mentioned previously, we have a new mainsail, updated nav lights and both a beefy vang and mainsheet. The missing upgrade was the traveller through-bolted to the deck. We had been using the one that came with the boat. an elderly Harken model that had no blocks for traveller control lines, but rather had just a set of spring-loaded pins that could center the car on some part of the track, but not quickly and not easily under load. In fact, although it was cambered nicely to the curve of the deck, I considered it a bit dangerous in anything but light air in terms of finger-crushing potential and the likelihood of forceful boom movement.
This is the "MT-2" traveller from Garhauer. Beautifully made, and no nonsense.
Evidently, I knew that I would one day have to tackle this deficient bit of kit, as I ordered from the redoubtable Garhauer firm a beefy traveller way back in 2007. Better late than never, I suppose, and the upside is that the Canadian dollar with which I paid for it was worth about 20 cents more in that year than currently. So I have that, which is nice.
Some random tools of the "most resorted to" kind. Yes, that's blood on the spanner. I'm not fooling around.
I got a warm feeling from the Garhauer company almost immediately. Their very plain, "cheap seats" booth at the Toronto Boat Show is usually manned by the company president, who wears suspenders and seems well past retirement age. Their gear is, however, opposite of what a racer would favour: all heavy, mostly metal and easy to service, their blocks and other line-handling gear are all over Alchemy at this stage. Speaking of "service', however, I was most favourably impressed, lo, those many years ago, when the firm's fabricator in small-town California, Guido, phoned me in Toronto from a distant suburb of Los Angeles, where the Garhauer factory sits buried among carpet remnant outlets, donut shops and other single-storey sheds. I guess that's how they save money. Seems to work for them. Anyway, Guido, and I have to stress this, the man who was actually fabricating my traveller that very day, asked me if I wanted 1/4" or 5/16" holes on four-inch centers. Well, I didn't really know, but I figured even then "bigger traveller, beefier fasteners", so I said five-sixteenths would do the trick. Apparently, Guido phones a lot of people when the crumpled carbon paper he's handed by the guy who takes the money at the boat show finally reaches him. Still, all credit to the Americans, who are very good with customer service in a way often lacking in my passive-aggressive homeland.
Some surface corrosion, but pretty good under the insulation
First job was removal of the old traveller. We lack a whisker/spinnaker pole track on the front of the mast and this might find a use there. Second job was removal of the insulation and clean-up below. I slapped on a few coats of rust conversion product and it did some good. A few more and I'll lay on galvanizing basecoat and epoxy topcoat before I restore the insulation. Frankly, I need to confirm my sealing job.
The tape is to keep the deck-side paint from dripping.
After cleaning up the deck, we laid down zinc-heavy galvanizing paint and then more or less matching top coat. The barrier effect is more important than the colour and we will be redoing the non-skid at some point.
Mrs. Alchemy, a daub hand with a brush.
The paint didn't entirely dry overnight as it was at the limit of its temperature range, but a watery southern exposure helped. A bit.
She advances, masking
A couple of coats later...not bad. Recall that a large traveller will be covering almost all of this.

Yeah, that crappy box on the binnacle's getting binned.
The next step was  to fabricate stand-off, or "bridges", to support the traveller at either end between the bolt heads and the underside of the deck. Because I am cheap, I had kept the HDPE I used to create framing standoffs for my pilothouse opening portlights (which have yet to leak a drop in five years). The trick would be to measure the distance from underside of the first three bolts inbound from either side and to make an angular cut with a bandsaw to match as closely as I could the camber, or curve, of the deck.
This stuff is amenable to power tools, but take your time. It can melt.
The trick was that the boat is not currently level. She's pitched forward about three degrees and to port about two degrees in her cradle as a result of a windy day in the slings and maybe the half-tonne of lead pigs as trimming weight in the forepeak...
"Making a list" has a different, secondary meaning aboard.
So I temporarily "pinned" the traveller at the center two bolt holes. Guido's work was very, very close. I had to widen just a single hole, beyond redrilling all the 1/4" existing holes to 5/16" to accommodate the new, larger bolts. 
Prior to final fitting, this is the "starboard bridge". The dots are where the bolt holes go.

The fabrication, done with table and chop saw, drill press and belt sander, took some time, but worked well.
From the top. Yes, I had to redrill the end one. Lucky I have so much 4200.
After further tinkering, and after overboring all the holes in the deck to 5/16",I went for a "dry fit". This confirmed (for the most part) that I was in the fastening zone.

The grooves hold beads of sealant. It all helps.

After careful, if unavoidably messy, application of sealant, I put it all together with Mrs. Alchemy wielding a screwdriver above and me, with nuts, washers and a big socket wrench, below. And two family band radios, and with each bolt numbered, so I could tell her when I was ready to dog down. We are hauled out next to an airport: it can get very noisy.
Partial success!
The technique was to "butter" the bridge bases with sealant and to put a wrap of it around the bolt threads about halfway up the bolt's length. This wrap is meant to fill the hole of both the traveller bolt hole and the passage through the HDPE bridge, leaving the protruding bolt end down below largely clean. We actually achieved this much of the time thanks to all the backing plates and deck gear I through-bolted on Valiente. The sharper-eyed among you will note that 10 bolt hole remain open...we tarped up the work for the next not-freezing day. Others of a more sail-handling bent will note that the traveller's cam cleats and car appear to be reversed; they are facing not aft to the rear of the boat and the primary and secondary winches, but forward, toward the companionway.

This was an entirely deliberate choice based on ergonomics. Most of the time at sea while on passage, we will be under sail but with either windvane or autopilot engaged with the steering duties. This area is already filled with various sheets and control lines and the traveller is used less often and usually in the context of mainsail tweaking. The exception to this is of course a surprise squall or sudden wind shift which can load up the main and cause uncomfortable or even damaging heeling. In that case, the ends of both the traveller car control lines and the mainsheet itself are "to hand" from the pilothouse; the main can be spilled very quickly, after which the autopilot or vane can be adjusted to the new conditions. The control lines, which are 20 feet a side of 3/8" Dyneema core, can be coiled on the otherwise empty bridgedeck. It's no big deal to operate them from behind the wheel if needed, but reducing deck clutter at that helm is important. I am considering adding a third pair of winches back there so I have a pair for warps, drogues and stern anchor use, another idea that's a blast from the past. More currently, I'm also installing a second throttle/shifter in that area. So it's going to be a busy place!
Moorings never sleep, and neither does their rust. On duty with "the Committee".
The warm day we sought came soon enough; it's been an unusual November, and after belting out to Johnson Plastics for some Delrin rod in the right (1.5 inch) diameter, I repeated my earlier technique of measuring angles and heights and made what are essentially heavy-duty spacers or sleeves for the mounting bolts. Fitting them required a bit more precision and I had to angle the drill a touch in one spot, but Guido's work was excellent when done nine years ago. I'll learn shortly if the rain keeps out.

Water can slosh underneath the "support posts" and if I get a leak, I'll know fairly quickly from which hole.
My wife did the same deal and after three hours of fabbing, trimming, fitting, more trimming, sealing and more blood (Delrin can be sharp), the actual bolting down took about ten minutes.
Starboard side. I think I prefer a straight traveller. It's something to grab.
Now, the tarp seen above will still cover this until I'm sure I will have no leaks. I also have no need to reeve the line until spring. I also need to coat the interior before replacing the two inches of insulation (and running leads and other cabling along the underside of the deck; see "SSB"). But I'm pretty pleased seeing this long-purchased gear in operation. I hope to spill the main with renewed confidence.
Some careful razor work required to get the excess squish away.

Pleased with the result. Now I need to put the mast back.











No comments: