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2017-03-23

Seeking an outlet for the bright ideas, some of which are in my head

The new galley light

Because seeing how much bitters and nutmeg is being added to the rum is essential
I acquire boat gear when I see it on sale like cat ladies hoard...well, cats. Genco Marine had a few shelves of superannuated stuff off their main floor and I got this SS gooseneck halogen for five or ten dollars, I can't remember. Installing it in the galley with a few millimeters to spare for the microwave door was pretty straightforward: I just tapped into the existing 12 VDC panel in one of the galley cabinets and tidied up the run with a few hangers.
There a few of these around the boat. It makes things easier if I only have a short run to do.

The new tool


Electric screwdrivers: I've had a few, and they've often been a disappointment due to either weak motors or poor endurance on the batteries. So far, this one from Home Hardware is a light-duty champ. As will be seen below, I've been doing a lot of wire runs and fastener work in tight places, and this has been very handy. It's got a lithium-ion battery that charges rapidly as well and despite its paltry 8-volt motor, it's got reasonable enough torque to drill brass screws into solid wood.
More moves than a caffeinated gymnast.

Head games


I was asked recently by a fellow sailor about our Lavac head. Frankly, I haven't paid much attention as we winterized it some time ago and haven't been using it.
Rest, my precious! Soon, soon...
When we last did, however, deploy it in earnest, we were reminded it's a very nice bit of kit. The key is its simplicity: its only moving part is the Henderson pump mounted on the bulkhead: do your business, shut the gasketed lid, and pump; a vacuum forms and empties the bowl either to the holding tank or overboard.
The handle points away from the direction of the flow, so it's set, as is required, to "holding tank".
Water is then drawn in from the sea. You have to get the hose heights right, i.e. know where your waterline is, but that's straightforward, and if you are on the lee side, you can draw in less water for less dramatic pauses.
The head sea water feed is teed off the standpipe seacock and up to the waterline, The level of the bowl's contents matches it. Five strokes of the pump does the rest.
Now, the previous (or original) owner cable-tied some AC conduit to the water feed for the Lavac. I find this slightly dodgy and when we update the hose, I will reposition and separately mount the AC wires above the hose. Peace of mind, and all that.
The rarely viewed head exit port and Marelon seacock.
It's good to see the more-or-less hidden parts of the boat. The paint looks pretty good and while I've found some rust in spots, it's minimal and will be dealt with when it's warm enough to paint, which I hope is in a month.
It strikes me that now that we are sailing, I might wish to surround that rather critical hose with some sort of anti-chafe where it passes through that counter.

'Peak power

A long-time ambition to supply both AC (for tool use) and DC (for lighting) to the forepeak workshop has seen some progress despite some inexplicable previous owner finds and a lot of deconstruction. Another long-time ambition, as some of these photo will reveal, is to get a small inspection camera with a fibre-optic lead. If I can see into the multitude of nooks and crannies on our steel boat, I can spot spots of rust before they take hold and can better plan future wire or hose runs.
Overexposed (well, you try taking a decent shot inside a dark cabinet at about 25 cms. without being able to see the viewscreen), but you can just make out some previously run 10 ga. AC conduit to the forepeak, untimely cut some time before us.
It's nice, frankly, to be getting started on the optional stuff, like lighting in lockers and inside cabinets. I'm finding work that is clearly adequate, but which I may gradually upgrade to what I think will last longer at sea and for the duration. Here's an example:

Overkill on the gauge to the terminal strips, underkill on the crimp quality.
You might assume from the colour of the wire (and its relative beefiness) that this is an AC lead. It isn't: It's mismatched DC leads that are powering a fluorescent 5 watt seaberth light. It's very low-draw, but I dislike the decision to have four crimps in what should be a 45 cm. run to the terminal strip.
No, sir, I don't like it, even for a fixture I will retrofit with LEDs the first time it flickers funny.

I would also customarily sleeve any crimp connectors like this which I did need to make with adhesive heat-shrink tubing to minimize moisture ingress and to strengthen the crimping job. Lastly, I would tie this off to both better support it and to act as strain relief; it needn't be elaborate That lead's just waiting to fail.
Good: Foam-glued closed-cell panels and intact paint. Less good: Grandpa's speaker wire, interrupted.
In order to get at the AC line that manifests in the forepeak, I had to see where it went. That involved disassembly of the starboard seaberth surround. The condition back here, which I've never explored, is generally sound; cabling is partially tied to small-diameter grey PVC pipe lengths (containing some 'orphaned' DC runs as well as the DC runs for the saloon forward bulkhead lights) and clean installation of panels and decent, thickly applied two-part paints. Which is nice for us. I will leave this open until I've finished the DC runs, which may involve fishing new, smaller gauge wire (thanks, LEDs with tiny draws!) in case closer inspection reveals places needing paint.
Usually, this is very shippy cherrywood slats.

The AC-to-forepeak saga involved crimping 600 voltm three-conductor, stranded and sheathed 10 ga. marine grade cable to the end of the existing run, for which see above in a cabinet looking futile. I emphasis the "marine cable" part because I still see older boats with Romex house-grade cabling from the '70s. Here in Toronto, we are in fresh water; odds are it will work, but tinned, stranded marine wire can take a lot more flexing than cheaper solid wire that is fine for houses (you'll know what I mean if you change a wall outlet in an old house), but will tend to harden and fracture (and corrode) on a damp, moving boat. As for crimping, I follow the guidance of the recognized sage, "Maine Sail", on the topic, as budget allows. I have some of the tools pictured here and I use them all the time. Anyway, I stripped and crimped new wire to that found in situ, and puzzled over how to get it through three bulkheads to the relevant AC panel in the pilothouse.
The nature of a custom-built boat is always going to be a little ad hoc, but labelling these leads would have saved me some trouble.
Job one is to exit the new lead out of the cabinet above the holding tank to the space behind the cabinetry in the head. It holds towels and related shower stuff, but there's an access panel and two terminal strips on the back of it. The work is tidy and confused and nothing's labelled. That will changer. It's a busy area: the black hoses are the fuel tank vents, which will eventually be rerouted to the centerline onto pilothouse rooftop goosenecks. As for the wire lead itself, it got secured via cable tie and hanger to that wood panel in the upper right of the photo when I had tested the circuit.
The metal pipe is the duct for the heat pump that does cool and warm. That DC lead is not secured properly.


There's some sketchy decisions in view here: The anti-chafe hose for the AC is OK, but I don't actually know how hot that pipe gets and I wouldn't want to risk melting it. The DC run looks both prone to chafe and unsupported. The nylon hose acting as a support for the AC is just jammed into the hole in the bulkhead that contains the heating/cooling conduit. The good news is that the lower hose can take the "new" run from the forepeak and that the rust I can see here is minimal and easily reached with a paintbrush.
This is behind the starboard cabinet in the head. That wire just visible was also hung.
The access panel in the head, plus the slightly dubious if convenient hoses plonked in the holes made for the A/C pipe, made pushing the AC lead fairly straightforward, even if I was working by feel. One of the upside of our boat is that for all its eccentricities, and there are quite a few, access is generally easy and logical. Removing this panel revealed a few rust streaks, but again, nothing not easily fixed. It is about the most damp part of the interior, after all.
At last, the pilothouse: At least the A/C pipe is insulated here, quite close to the MarineAir unit.
I had about three feet to spare, some of which I was later able to pull forward into the forepeak. I shut down all AC shore power, snapped off the charger/inverter and got to work. I started at the "far end", because while cool today, the light was ideal. Recall the forepeak earlier today didn't have light save for what fell down the hatch.
I try to be careful not to nick the interior wires. I am not always successful.
I started by stripping the outside cover and the individual wires to the lengths specified for the 20 amp GFCI outlet. I spec'd this for 20 amp 120 VAC, because it's conceivable that I will do some light welding in the forepeak and the inverter can handle it.

I then labelled the run and put the plastic outlet box with its own strain relief over the run. After securing the wires to the outlet, I would back off the white-covered part outside of the box.
While this outlet isn't "marine", I doubt any of the outlets are, you know, stainless steel. In this box, however, it's protected and non-conductive, which is nice on a conductive boat.

I continued by putting heat shrink over the end of the white cover and clear heat shrink over the paper Dymo label. So far, this has had good results elsewhere aboard.
This is one of those times I'm glad I run a separate 12 ga. 50-foot extension cord to the boat's deck. I walked it forward and was able to run the heat gun without an issue. On Valiente, I had to run the Honda 2000.
I then attached the wires. Two holes are provided, but really, the way the screws turn, you should use the lower on the left-hand side and the upper on the right (hot) side, or so it seems to me, if you want it to curl around the bolt shaft and then get clamped down.
Why, yes, this is my filthy cycling in winter boat coat now 20 years old.
Connected up and shrunk down....

This is connected to the "line" side. Were I to have for some reason a second outlet off this one, I'd use the "load" connectors down by that yellow strip.
...and boxed up. Back to the pilothouse, heat gun and extension cord in hand.
In addition to finding an appropriate spot for this, I may box it in wood to make it look less crappy. I'm only a part-time barbarian.
I removed the appropriate panel. Previous owner work with nasty crimps, mine with heat-shrink crimp bodies and further heat shrink. The last "15A" breaker was available. If I want to go up to 20 amps, I have a breaker for that, but I don't really need to do that unless I really want to weld. I have no power tool aboard that draws more than 10 amps, so this will do.

This is when kneepads come in handy. Write your own jokes.
Same strip, crimp and shrink process, only here I use fork terminals.
That extra three feet of lead meant I could do this part standing, which was nice. I'm working on the helm seat.
Yes, I know "red" is a DC positive colour (or used to be) and "black" is DC negative, but who cares? It's what I had and that's the limit of my wiring OCD.
Crimped and shrunk and ready to be screwed down. Note that I need considerably more uncovered wire here to maneuver around the back of this fairly crowded panel.
Ignore the awful sole. It's getting replaced with teak and holly Lonseal or equivalent.
Done. Before screwing it back, I had to test the circuit. On with the shore power and on with the AC master switch. Then, the fatal flick...
And it was good.
Success! About two hours of wire securing, clean-up and restoration followed and this is still somewhat provisional.
Yeah, you try to find a label that says "forepeak"!
I have some slack I can use to bring the outlet over to the port side, but for the present I'll just tack it to the bulkhead until I can better secure it before launch. I hope to solve the DC issue by then, too, and then I can really start using the workshop as a workshop and just a place to throw fenders and stow line.
Now that I can see down here, I see it's a mess.

Bonus deal!

Shackle-lacka-boom-bah.

Thanks to BD Jones of the Dock Six media empire, I heard of a great deall on stainless steel shackles at Lee Valley, of all places, I'm happy to share to my Canadian readers. I went to the downtown Toronto outlet, as one does, and got two rings of "D" shackles and one of the horseshoe type....and the guy at the counter said "wait a minute". He brought out a second horseshoe type (top of photo) that had one shackle missing and...just gave them to me. So "free SS shackles" was worth the pedal to King St. West. At these prices, I can use them for lanyards on favourite tools, flag pennants and the biggest ones are fine for dinghy painters. SCORE! (Also couldn't resist the Soviet-era-looking padlock at the bottom...it's got such a weird key it might just work!). I later ran a magnet over them and they are definitely stainless steel. To quote Seinfeld, they're real...and they're spectacular.Thanks again for the tip, buddy!