Monday, March 9, 2015

Dirty Old Boat Gross-Out Stuff

Well it's finally happened.  I knew that going to a 'post-every-Monday' format would catch up with me sooner or later.  And today it has.   For the past three posts we've managed to fit some funnish type activities into our week.  And we've had some nice tropical photos as a result.   The week before last we managed to get ourselves invited on a sunset sail, and that pretty much saved you from all the DIY stuff last Monday.  Well, today the luck ran out.  This post is going to be about how I spent my week since last Monday.  And it ain't pretty.

Oh we can start with 'pretty'. Sure.  That's easy to do.  Probably a good idea to start you out easy before I get into the ugly stuff later on.  We get some version of this ocean view sunrise scene every morning.   This one was taken just about  three hours ago, in fact:

This past week has been very close to what's become typical for us lately.  That means that basically I spend most of the daylight hours working on our old boat. This has been going on for most of the past year and we've really stepped it up lately.  We've been refinishing the interior of the boat as well as working on all the of the various systems on board.  And it's a lot more of a challenge than we ever anticipated.  In fact I feel pretty safe in saying that if we had known how much work this boat needed back when we bought it, we wouldn't have bought it.

We've been painting the interior using an acrylic enamel paint that seems to be pretty sturdy stuff.    I posted a photo a month ago-the last photo in this post-that didn't really show the color of the new paint very well.   The color of the new paint didn't show up well basically because I was somewhat clueless  about the white balance part of digital photography.  So now I've figured it out, a little.  This is a step/stool I made for one of the engine rooms.  It has white primer on the left and the new interior paint on the right.  NOW you can see the new color.  I hope.

I'm partially color-blind so I'm not the right person to describe  colors to people with normal vision.  I hope this photo is accurate.  I think some of it will depend on how your own display is set up.  It's a buttery cream color.  Very close to the original color.

 We're having to remove a lot of fixtures and bits and pieces as part of this refit.  Sometimes pieces come apart in my hands and I don't always understand why.  This happened with a couple of light switch mounting plates this week for example.  These were two wooden blocks that spaced these light switches out away from the bulkhead (wall) to make space for the wiring.  When I removed them to recover the wall they fell apart.  So I had to make new ones.  First I just copied the ones that broke, using a nice piece of ipe wood that a friend gave to me.  We've been evaluating ipe as a possible material for our new interior work. Just as I finished chiseling out the opening for the light switch, the wood split.  I tried again with red oak salvaged from the old Gilley's restaurant at the old Leeward Marina with the same result.  It split.   This  took the better part of a morning.  I didn't really feel like experimenting further so I used my typical overkill approach and increased the size of the switch plate and changed the material to  plastic.  The original wooden part I was copying is there on the left.  Split.

So two light switch covers cost me half a day.  This is because I just simply cannot buy them. And replacing custom made pieces means another custom made piece, which means I'm the one who has to make it.  At least these Starboard ones should last a while.   I finally figured out that the originals were probably split from the day the screws were first tightened and the pressure of the screws held them together.  They fell apart in my hand as soon as I removed them.  The new plastic ones will be easier to keep clean, and the oval design matches the shape of the companionway doors on the boat.   It's a theme I might just continue with for other decorating doo dads.  And these are not going to split.

We're finding a lot of this kind of thing during the retrofit.  Bad fixes, poor repair workmanship, questionable decisions.   Since this has now pretty much degraded into another Twisted Sheets retrofit post I'm just going to continue onward for the Boat DIY people out there.  And I know you're out there.  I hear from many of you, and very much appreciate it.   For the rest of you, I guess this would be a good time to bail out of this blog post and go find some pretty scenery somewhere.   Because this is about to get ugly.

I'll start out gentle.  The wiring.  Oh, it's not gentle when I get the back of my arm across 110 volts from exposed wiring.  And this has happened dozens of times already on this boat. It just happened again this week.  The previous owner decided he wanted alternating current in one of the cabins.  So he spliced the orange extension cord into the boat's ac electrical circuit like this:

This is  just how I found it, by the way, without a cover plate The connections are crimp lugs that are bolted together, and insulated with brittle, cracking paper masking tape.   I know paper is a decent insulator, until it gets wet.  Personally, I would have done this way differently.  And I will.   But this is only one small example of hundreds.

No kidding.  Look at the condition of the connectors and wiring on the left side of the main helm circuit and control panel:

I have to fix all of this, by the way.  My plan is to buy a nice ac dc circuit board panel, two Yanmar guage/key sets, and redo the whole thing.  Just takes money, and time, patience, and a willingness to learn.   I don't often seem to have all of these ingredients together on the same day.  Oh, here's another factor I wanted to show you electrical types out there.   I was trying to trace some wiring I was removing and I stuck my camera up under a section of the console to see if a photo would tell me what was going on.   This is what the wiring looks like, lying on my back looking upward into the helm console :

Now, consider this.   Every single wire in this area that was supplied as original with the boat was either red, or it was black.  No other wire colors.   Every wire and cable in this photo that is NOT either red or black was added by someone during the 30 year history of the boat.  Some of these are connected at both ends, some at one end, and some not at all.  There is no wiring diagram or manual.  Notice the split wood around the holes drilled in the left side wall there?  ALL of those wires were added by a budding electrician of some kind.   Those splintered holes are not factory installed.  Neither are the gray, green, white, or orange cables. I suspect the same guy who uses masking tape instead of 3M for insulation.

 I can tell I'm losing the rest of you but that's okay.  I'll get back to the pretty photos next week.  THIS is how I really spend 75% of my waking time here, seven days a week.  For those disappointed in this weeks' lack of tropical photos, please check back next Monday.  Meanwhile, back at the boat...

We continue redoing the interior, having stripped the boat back to bare hull inside.  I've come up with my own lights and other hardware for the hanging lockers (closets).  As you can see, I'm really getting into my work here.  Yes, I realize that pun means it might be time for the old Gringo to finally come out of the closet....

It's actually a pleasure working in the newly recovered sections.  The hull liner we chose  is a fairly plush one.  It's the same stuff Airstream uses in their travel trailers, oddly enough.  Its made from polypropylene.  Doesn't absorb water, or odors or stains in most cases.   The down side is the hull prep work.  Oh my.  This is what I've been doing for 8-10  hours per day for three days running.

Not all of the hull gets the liner.  Much of it is getting the new paint.  What started out as a problem for me actually became a convenience.   The problem was when I was cleaning up the painted sections of some lockers for the new paint.  I was hoping that all I would have to do would be clean and rough sand it.  But nope.  Previous owner painted over dirty walls.  And this is in an area that is tight for a big person to work in.  The doorway I'm leaning through here is 24 inches wide. I have to turn my shoulders to get through.  The deck where I have to sit is similar sized.  And the area I am working in is behind those slots where the light is shining out.

Inside you can see what's happened to the old paint.  It was put on over dirty walls. And it didn't stick well.  What appeared to be a smooth surface fell apart when I poked my finger at it.  It was just thin paint that had come away from the bulkhead when it dried and shrank.  You can see the old mold and mildew on the surface behind the loose paint.   I guess it was a temporary solution for someone, but now we're left with the job of making it right.  Or if not right, then at least a whole lot better.   Sometimes in the Land of MakeDo, a whole lot better is the most one can hope for.

And one's arm falls asleep with numbness often when it's draped over the wooden sections to work inside a cupboard.  All the loose paint has to come out.  And the ancient mold then has to be scrubbed off the original fiberglass. After all these years of aging behind a coat of paint, the smell of the mold and mildew hit me  like falling face first into a bin full of old mushrooms.  It's all being scrubbed with a vengeance. Scrapers, wire brushes, and then I'm using tri-sodium phosphate and sanding sponges after the wire brushes, if anyone is curious.  Leaves it ready for painting.  With extreme prejudice.

I'll wager that many of you would consider that a reasonably dirty job. I used to be like that, too.  But not any more.  I now know that cleaning off paint and old musty mushroom smelling fungus is not all that bad compared to some of the things that old boats suffer through.

This would be a good time for me to warn the readers that this has finally gotten down to the ugliest part of this post.  Some would find the rest of this downright disgusting.  I know I did. So, if you don't want to see and think about some disgusting stuff, this would be a good time to bail out here, too.  If you made it this far. Hey, I'm a firm believer in truth-in-advertising, here. Tropical life is not all Corona commercials from the shady hammock, ya know.

I told you much earlier about us removing the holding tank from the boat. This was in a post last year.   We replaced the marine plumbing with composting toilets.  No more holding tank, and hoses.   We pulled all that out.  But there were still traces of that installation in the boat.   All the plumbing for the previous toilet system ran up through this locker.  I am not going to detail the details here, as I think you'll figure out most of it on your own.  Lets just say that La Gringa had upgraded our replacing this old hull liner to being a very high priority.  I pulled the corner of the old liner down this far, and had to stop and go outside and get some fresh air.  I'm going to leave it at that.

The original hull liner color was revealed when I lifted up a tag that had been here since the boat was built in 1985.  Please don't ask me anything about the rest of those stains...

...or the odors revealed when the foam rubber was flexed as I pulled it loose.  The colors here were originally yellow foam, white glue, and buttery cream fiberglass.  Any other colors you can see are subsequent issues. I think my mustache filter was the only thing that saved me. I'm still having nightmares.

And as bad as the upper section of foam rubber was, the lower section was much worse. See why I no longer consider mere paint chips and mildew to be particularly onerous?     Dark is bad.

That blue stripe on the left is a copper strip, grounding the chain plate to the ocean, by the way. Those familiar with the normal color of copper can see that it's oxidized a bit here inside the boat.   Reckon that ever got wet, somehow?  Ah oh. This is what that Holmes fellow might consider a clue.  So, looking directly above it I see the pump out fixture and the holding tank vent.  Oh my. Don't look at this if you've got a weak stomach.

Or at least, if you DO look at it, don't think about it very deeply.  This is a good time to take  shallow superficial thoughts.

This is  looking directly up at the underside of the deck. Hoses were attached to these fittings.  Hoses leak. This would have been a source of numerous leaks and pump out mishaps over the decades.  I told you not to think about it too much!!

Nature's Head should use this photo in their advertising campaigns.   Anyhow, this had to come out of the boat.  No doubt you will be seeing some photos of my new deck plate covering that hole in the weeks to come.

I'll bet you can understand why I needed to take frequent breaks for fresh air during some of this refit.  And I'll also bet you're ready for some fresh air yourself right about now.  SO, here's a photo of Bob's new staircase for a totally abrupt change of subject. We needed one, don't ya think?

We really like the stone work here.  I showed you how they were cutting this into the little limestone cliff in previous posts, and now the railing has been added.   There is a planter there near the top that will be filled with bougainvillea or some similar growing thing. I think some lighting is next on the agenda.

I usually try to close these updates with a sunset photo.  But this new weekly format has kind of caught me unprepared to have fresh ones every Monday.  Back when I was posting about once a month, getting a single useful sunset photo in a month was pretty easy.   That changes when it's only a six day stretch.  Especially when we've been spending more of our evenings on the boat.  Most of our sunsets lately are from  South Side Marina.

We were home early yesterday.  I had just come out of that ugly locker, and as you might imagine I was heading straight for a long hot shower and scrubbing with a bucket of Lava volcanic pumice soap and a long handled wire brush.  Just kidding.  It wasn't made out of wire.  It was some kind of stiff nylon.   Just felt like wire.  I'm finally clean but I scrubbed most of my sun tan away.  Didn't I used to have freckles?

But what this windy closing is all about is that I didn't get a sunset photo this week.  I was all primed and ready yesterday afternoon, but all I got was a rain shower coming my way.

Next week I should be able to show you how nice these lockers look when I'm finished.  Unless something interesting happens in the meantime.   You just never know, in a place like this.


jschieff said...

I am astonished at how horribly the boat deteriorated over the years. It seems like there will be very little original to the boat save the hulls by the time you are finished, if you do finish. The wiring looks like a nightmarish mish mash.

At least when the boat is done, it will be just what you want. And you will know every inch of the boat and every detail of the boat's systems.But that is small recompense for the ddreadful delivery trip to your home port and for the months of grinding, unpleasant work to get it in usable shape.

Good luck.

wyattsailing said...

LA and I feel for you guys! Those were some tough pics... I am going to have to quit complaining about the cleaning we are doing to get our Genesis ready to sell!
On the bright side, just think how nice your boat is going to be when you get finished! And you will know it down to every last nut, bolt, and hose! That will be invaluable for you in your cruising life!
Impressive parting shot! I love seeing brewing rainstorms on the horizon...especially when we are safe at anchor!
Say hello to La Gringa and Dooley the Wonder Dog!

Your used-to-be cruising friends,
LA and Susan

kristine barr said...

What a job! The wiring alone would discourage me. Does TSP kill mold spores as well as bleach? Hope so, because I'd sure hate to hear that the mold came back on your new paint.

krugger3 said...

All is not lost, at least in all that mess you hade some like-new shiny stainless steel hardware to look at
Thanks for the Blog.

Unknown said...

I've got a Catalac 9m that had wiring like that. My advise is don't let the smoke out, it seriously spoils you day :-)
Cat Ballou