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Topics - deLight

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Systems / Insolating, UV tolerant, Machinable Material
« on: May 27, 2020, 04:42:48 am »
I am building a solar cockpit cover for my '33. I built a stainless steel frame an made 160X160X3mm modules with a 156X156mm solar cell, terminal block and Schottky diode mounted on 3mm foamed PVC.

After I made 100+ modules and installed them in the frame, I discovered that the foamed PVC warped (de-stretched) badly when exposed to hot sun for a period of time.

I need to make a whole new set of modules. Any suggestions on an appropriate backing material?

Engines and Drive Train / Replacing the Prop Shaft on a 33
« on: February 06, 2020, 01:05:44 pm »
My prop shaft, cutlass bearing, etc. needs replacing. I am in North Africa with the boat in the water. I would like to know all of the parts - shaft, cutlass bearing, tube, stuffing box, whatever parts that may need replacing. So I can get the parts in advance and not be out of the water for months waiting for needed parts. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, Max

Systems / Lithium Battery System
« on: January 10, 2020, 07:48:57 am »
Has anyone tried updating the house system to Lithium batteries? I have nearly finished my solar cockpit cover and since my batteries are not up to snuff, am thinking about a Lithium system. I have ordered parts from China to construct a 750 Whr battery for testing. Charging via solar, engine and shore power. Discharging via 12v system and 110v inverter. Max

Systems / Hard to Pump Toilette
« on: March 17, 2017, 02:27:39 pm »
Toilettes - Always an interesting topic.

My toilette has been hard to pump for years. I kept a bottle of oil in the head and would squirt a few drops in after every couple of uses.

A few months ago, I let my toilette get exceptionally gross. I normally use vinegar to knock the calcium build up off the bowl. I decided that simple vinegar was not going to do it this time so I bought some dilute Hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid in the US) to use. The toilette being extremely gross, I poured in about 8 oz of acid and some hot water and pumped it out to coat the pump, joker valve and exit pipe with acid. I then added 8 oz more acid and filled the bowl with hot water.

I went away for a while and let the acid do its work. When I returned, a toilette brush easily removed all remaining calcium and stains from the bowl.

After using the toilette for a while, I noticed that it was no longer hard to pump. Hmmm. I decided to experiment and let the toilette get really really gross (That's my story and I am sticking to it.) And repeated the procedure. It worked and I have not had to use any oil to lubricate the pump.

My theory is that there was calcium build-up on the walls of the pump tube which made it hard to work. The strong acid cleaned the pump of the calcium build-up and the pump now works freely.

Of course over time, I do not know what problems I am introducing by using a strong acid. But, in the meantime, I am enjoying an easy to pump toilette.


Interior / Custom LED Lighting
« on: June 01, 2016, 11:57:23 am »
I have started to install custom LED lighting in deLight. Light fixtures are a nuisance. The light is great around the fixture and not so much in the shadows. I had a couple of tube lights strung around the main salon on they provided a nice even light albeit not very bright and highly inefficient.

I decided to replace the tube lighting with custom LEDs. This is a sequence of 3 posts starting with a simple solution ending with a complicated but very nice and very efficient solution.

Note: You need good soldering skills and access to a milling machine. Otherwise, this custom LED lighting project is prohibitively expensive.

The objective  is to replace the brown sponge trim tube in places where we want light with a white plastic tube with LEDs. I used 20mm POMC white plastic tube milled with 2 flat sides at 90 degrees to fit in the corner. A 5 mm channel was milled down the center for wiring. 5mm holes for the LEDs were drilled approximately 3.0 cm apart. See sketch.

 For each piece I measured the exact length and allowed 2.0 cm at each end. then figured the number of holes needed - (Remaining length/3.0 cm). Since we are going to use groups of 3 LEDs, we need to have a multiple of 3. Round the number of holes up or down to be divisible by 3. Calculate the hole spacing by taking remaining length divided by the number of holes minus 1.

Simple calculation: 9.8cm piece (9.8cm -2.0cm - 2.0cm) = 5.8cm,  (5.8cm / 3.0cm) = 1.93, Round to nearest multiple of 3 = 3, Hole spacing is 5.8/(3-1) = 29mm i.e. holes at 20mm, 49mm and 78mm.

Use the milling machine to accurately place the holes. In deLight's main salon, there were 10 pieces with hole spacing between 28mm and 34mm. As long as the holes in any individual piece are spaced identically, the eye does not notice the difference piece to piece.

Next step is to make the LED triplets. I purchased Cree 2500K color temperature LEDs for an incandescent like color. The higher the color temperature, the more white the LED. i used the individual plastic tubes as a fixture to solder 3 LEDs and a 270 Ohm resistor together. Remember each segment may have a slightly different hole spacing.

Insert the triplets into the segment and wire the negative ends together and the positive ends together using the milled channel.

This is the simplest LED setup. 3 LEDs and a resistor wired directly to your battery DC supply. This circuit powers the LEDs with 20ma at 14.4v allowing for battery charging without damage to the LEDs. The downside of this circuit is the lower the battery voltage, the dimmer the light. At my chargers 13.2v float voltage the LEDs receive 15ma. At 12.6v, battery fully charged - about 10ma. Efficiency (Power to LED / Power In) is about 60%

I use this circuit in lockers and storage places that are routinely accessed while attached to shore power. Next, I will describe using a DC-DC converter to have full brightness no matter what the battery DC voltage is.


Interior / Remote Thermostat
« on: May 15, 2016, 07:33:30 am »
One of the issues I have had with cool weather on the 33 was the inconsistency of my heater. I always used a simple space heater with an internal thermostat. I had to place the heater in the middle of the salon to get reasonable temperature control. I always wanted a remote thermostat so I could place the heater out of the way and still have consistent heat where I wanted it.

Last year I found a wireless remote thermostat on ebay which had a 15A relay in the base unit. I purchased it from China. It had all of the standard "smart" thermostat programming. Two daily two temperature settings plus settings for Saturdays and Sundays. The wireless thermostat runs on a couple of AA batteries and the base unit runs/switches 120v or 240v.

I built a box with an outlet that plugs into a wall socket for the base unit. (I am currently using it for 240v) It is necessary for me not to permanently mount it as I have learned from experience that all consumer grade electronics must be properly stowed for a passage. (I use a lot of slide-lock bags.) Salt saturated air in a storm tends to eat electronics exposed to it.

The remote thermostat worked great over the winter. I no longer have to get up and turn down the heat. A simple press of a button does it. I programed it to bring up the heat in the morning so making breakfast is much more comfortable. It comes with a stand for sitting on a flat surface. I also made a wall mount in the salon for it. It has been a useful gadget for deLight.

Engines and Drive Train / Hairline Crack in Heat Exchanger
« on: April 27, 2016, 04:32:22 pm »
I thought that I would document a weird problem. 14 years ago, not long after I purchased the boat, I noticed the engine heating up and very little water coming out of the exhaust. Troubleshooting quickly lead me to the heat exchanger.

When I disassembled the heat exchanger, I noticed a large chunk of salt nearly blocking the raw water input. I chipped out the salt, rodded the tubes and reassembled it. It worked fine. I mentally filed the large chunk of salt in strange and unsolved boat mysteries. (It is a pretty large mental file)

Fast forward 10 years and I am embarking on a passage. I have the police, customs, friends and others standing by to see me off. When I try to start the engine, the starter justs clicks. Strange, I ran the engine for quite a while a couple of hours earlier as part of my pre-voyage check out. Quick troubleshooting in front of a large audience lead me to the ground lug on the engine that was corroded and not making good contact. I cleaned and reassembled the connection and the engine started fine. I noticed the connection was damp though. Which was unusual because the position of the lug in not exposed to water. I filed the damp connection in the (growing) strange and unsolved boat mysteries mental file.

Last year, the engine was heating up and the water coming from the exhaust was reduced. I have been here before. Off comes the heat exchanger. Once again, a large chunk of salt is nearly blocking the raw water input. I cleaned out the salt, rodded the tubes (they were in good shape) and noticed stress cracks in the end caps of the heat exchanger. I got my favorite machinist to make me a couple of nice thick stainless steel replacements, then reassembled and installed the heat exchanger.

As I had two new end caps, I ran the engine to carefully check for leaks at the heat exchanger. I noticed dampness at the fitting for the raw water input. I wiped it dry. After a few minutes it was damp again. I checked and tightened the hose clamp. It still got damp after a few minutes. After a couple of hours of head scratching and testing, I discovered a very fine hairline crack where the raw water input fitting was brazed onto the heat exchanger. i had it repaired and no problems since.

I can now clean out a couple of things from my mental list of strange and unsolved boat mysteries. The large chunk of salt that kept blocking the raw water input was the result of the water pump forcing salt water through the hairline crack which caused the salt to precipitate out -- much like the membrane in a desalinization system. The other thing that I solved was the damp lug on the engine. The ground lug on the engine is directly below the raw water input to the heat exchanger. Whenever, I ran the engine a little salt water would drip onto the lug causing the dampness and corrosion.

Something that you are not likely to ever encounter. It was a freak albeit interesting problem to solve.


Systems / 220v to 110v Converter
« on: April 21, 2016, 01:39:20 pm »
As many tales begin, once upon a time.... I decided to take deLight to Europe. One of the issues to deal with was the difference in electrical power. Europe is 220v 50 cycle while the US is 110v 60 cycle.

Since all of the deLight's continuously used item were 12v, my idea was to buy a 80A battery charger that ran on both 110v and 220v, install a minimal 220v system (battery charger and a few outlets) and use my 1200w inverter to power my intermittent 110v electrical requirements (power tools and kitchen appliances).

I purchased a conversion kit with electrical adapters, plugs, etc. designed for travelers. In this kit was a 1500w 220v to 110v converter. It was a small square adapter so I took it apart to see what it was. It was a simple TRIAC circuit exactly like a lamp dimmer set to 1/2 brightness. Hmm... I could use this for my water heater instead of replacing the element.

I set all of this up and tested using a 240v outlet at the marina before I left. Everything worked fine. The little TRIAC converter nicely provided power for the water heater, the 80A battery charger and 1200w inverter provided 110v whenever it was needed. I was ready to go!

Well, I decided to cross the North Atlantic, Halifax to Horta, in October -- 28 days - 27 of which were storm rigged. I arrived in the Azores wet and exhausted. I plugged the boat into shore power and discovered that neither the battery charger nor the 1200w inverter had survived the trip. No power for my tools to repair them either.

After a few days in a B&B to recuperate, I purchased a 1500w transformer to replace the 1200w inverter and returned to a normal life. The little TRIAC converter was working fine so I had 110v power AND hot water.

Trouble -- The subject of this post -- started not long after. The little TRIAC converter was made for intermittent use on things like hair dryers. Powering a 1200w water heater for an hour or more was not what it was designed to do. It would overheat and blow its fuse. So, I whacked out a big chunk of aluminum heat sink from my dead 1200w inverter and mounted the little circuit board and TRIAC to it. By this time, I had added a small 220v electrical panel to the boat and I replaced the circuit breaker I had used for the water heater with a switch and fuse.  I figured that the circuit breaker was too slow to protect the TRIAC by itself. A fast blow fuse would work.

Success -- for a while -- occasionally (every few months) the fuse would blow for no apparent reason. I decided that the problem was probably the TRIAC. It was rated for 15A and I thought 10A continuously in hot weather was maybe too much for it. So, I bought a 25A TRIAC and the next time the fuse blew, I replaced the TRIAC. The more powerful TRIAC had a higher gate current so I had to replace the resistor and capacitor with different values. I had a good stock of resistors and used a couple of capacitors from my junk box.

It worked fine -- for a while -- The next time the water heater quit (a couple of years later), I went to check the fuse, it was blown and and the fuse holder crumbled when I took it out. I purchased a couple of 0.1uf ceramic disk capacitors to replace the ones from my junk box which I considered questionable. I put them in and modified the circuit slightly to improve its stability.

A couple of years ago, the fuse and fuse holder were again blown and crumbled. I replaced them and changed the resistors so that the voltage output which read on my meter as 100v was reduced to 70v. As I thought that the problem might be related to the capacitors not being temperature compensated, I ordered some 1% film capacitors to replace them.

Last October shortly after I returned to the boat from a summer away, the fuse blew and the fuse holder fried. I went to replace the capacitors and discovered a cold solder joint on one of the capacitors. I decided that was the problem and just fixed the solder joint.

This morning, I awoke to the smell of burning electronics. Guess what -- my nose lead me to the fuse holder on the 220v electrical panel. I burnt my finger when I touched it. The fuse holder was cooking but the fuse was not blown -- badly warped but not blown. Again I replaced the fuse holder. I replaced the ceramic disk capacitors with the 1% film capacitors. I reduced the measured output voltage to 50v and replaced the 15A fuse with a 10A one.

I am going to order a diac as it is the only component (of the 6) that has not been replaced in the 10 years I have been dealing with it.

What I do not understand is:

Why does the fuse holder get hot and burn up without blowing the fuse? When the water heater is running, the fuse holder is slightly warm to the touch. I would expect it to be. There is contact resistance in the fuse holder and the fuse itself has a little resistance.

If it is a temperature issue, It should happen whenever it gets hot. It seems to happen when it warms up although having a year or more between incidents makes it difficult to remember the exact conditions in which it happened previously.

A mystery!

OK, In my previous posts I wrote about things that have worked and stood the test of time. The TRIAC converter sort of worked but definitely did not stand the test of time. I only continue to deal with it because I purchased and installed a 1500w transformer. In hindsight I should have installed a 2500w transformer. There is not physical room where I mounted the 1500w transformer to replace it with a 2500w one without major rework.

Besides, life would be boring without a few mysteries to solve.



Systems / Dock Water Connection
« on: April 08, 2016, 08:56:08 am »
Connecting your boat directly to the water on the dock is DANGEROUS. You can just as easy sink your boat with fresh water as salt water. Never the less, like your onboard propane, properly managed it can be a fantastic convenience.

Things to consider:

Limit the amount of water from the dock. Use a pressure reducer to both limit the flow of water and reduce the pressure on the boat plumbing and fittings.

Check if incoming water will overwhelm your bilge pump. Let the water free flow into your bilge and see if the bilge pump can handle it.

Carefully inspect your plumbing. Make sure all hoses are good and the hose clamps are not corroded and tight. I recommend AWAB 316 Stainless Steel hose clamps.

Maintenance is important. If you find the slightest leak. Fix it and fix it properly. Nearly all leaks start small and grow with time.

Always turn of the dock supply when you leave the boat for more than a few hours. I turn off the water on the dock and open the galley sink faucet, which drains directly overboard. That way, if someone should accidentally turn it back on, the water will simply flow through the hose into the boat and out into the sink to the harbor. No pressure would be applied to the system.

Disconnect the system from the boat if you leave for a few days or more.

If your are strict in your care and maintenance and use checklist when you leave the boat, you will have no problems. If you are lackadaisical, do not connect it to the dock water as you will SINK your boat. I have used dock water for 15 years and never had any serious problems. Yes, I have had numerous leaks to fix. It is the nature of plumbing to deteriorate over time.

Other safety features I have are:

An ultra-bright LED which illuminates the entire salon every time the bilge pump cycles. That way any unnoticed leak becomes quickly noticeable.

High decibel bilge alarm which sounds if the bilge pump is ever overwhelmed.


Hull and Rig / Chain Plates - Re-bedding
« on: April 06, 2016, 08:56:41 am »
When I re-did the hull/deck portion of the chain plates, by necessity I had to remove the chain plates. They needed work anyway since rust stains were emanating from the rub strake where the chain plates were secured.

The first step was to remove the brass strip from the rub strake and gain access to the screws securing the chain plates to the boat. In a few places the wood inside the rub strake was rotten. After I removed a chain plate, (I only did one at a time) I used my Dremel tool to clean out the rotted wood and prep the hole for a new bolt. I also drilled a hole in the top side of the rub strake so I had access to the hole from above.

I put in a hex bolt that went from just below the surface on the rub strake to the inside of the boat. As always in my standard construction technique, I cast that bolt in place with chopped fiberglass and epoxy with wax on the threads. Now each position for a chain plate bolt had a solid plug of threaded fiberglass completely through the hull and rub strake to secure it.

I took the chain plate to a machinist who heated it and we bent it to better conform to the shape of the hull. Before final assembly, I used fiberglass cloth and chopped fiberglass and epoxy behind the chain plate to create an exact conforming bed on the hull.

Everything was assembled with silicone caulk on the threads and all joint to prevent crevice corrosion from salt water. Use nylon locking nuts like the original.


Hull and Rig / Chain Plates - Hull/Deck Joint
« on: April 06, 2016, 08:34:01 am »
Like all CSY owners, leaky chain plates were my nemesis. I considered Ron Sheridan's solution of outboard chain plates and did not like it for two reasons. (1) The windward performance of the 33 is abysmal to start with and adding more width to the rigging would only make it worse. (2) In order to install the chain plates in there original location something had to be done about the rub strake. Ron eliminated his on Memory Rose, but I find the rub strake invaluable in my "dock by braille" method.

I looked at a few production boats who have their chain plates well inside the hull and used those observations as my inspiration. The objective was to create a sandwich with the external hardware connected to the shrouds and a internal hardware connected to through the hull with a water tight connection through the deck.

I had a machinist make identical pieces from 6mm SS angle. One piece would have a hole for the rigging above the other piece would be welded to the shortened existing chain plate below. And a backing plate for the hull/deck joint sandwich. 4 bolts went through both pieces and the backing plate to secure the upper piece and backing plate in a water tight joint and allow for tension adjustment with the existing chain plate.

In keeping with my standard construction technique, I drilled out the 4 corner holes to 5/8" and by inserting and aligning the bolts from below cast threads using epoxy and chopped fiberglass completely through the cap rail, deck and hull. Be sure to wax the threads so it is not permanently installed backwards.

After carefully, measuring and welding the shortened existing chain plates to the below angle piece, I assembled the entire mechanism using silicone caulk on threads and joints to assure no salt water could enter and cause crevice corrosion. Nylon locking nuts should be used.

While I only have 5 years and a couple of thousand miles on this solution, I am confident of its effectiveness.


Hull and Rig / Hex Bolts vs Clevis Pins
« on: April 04, 2016, 07:41:30 am »
When I was looking for a boat, many boats showed their huge bolt cutters which conveyed with the boat. The bolt cutters were to be used if you were de-masted and needed to cut away the rigging. Others said that you should never cut away your mast as you will need it to jury rig something to get you to port. I eventually settled on a CSY which had no bolt cutters.

I tried to envision taking a set of bolt cutters out on deck in weather which was violent enough to tumble a CSY. I was sure that I would either impale myself or lose the bolt cutters overboard. I thought that I should have a simple way to release the rigging if needed and be able to preserve the usable rig, especially the Sta-loks as they would be very useful in jury rigging a temporary setup to get me to port.

I decided to see if hex bolts with a clear shank would work. My logic was that I already had wrenches which could be used to disassemble them and I could  probably handle them laying on a pitching deck in a storm. So, I decided to buy some hex bolts and nylon locking nuts and give them a try. I used a die to thread the clear shank so the hex bolt and nut to exactly fit the rigging as needed.

The only downside that I could think of was crevice corrosion of the threads on the bolt and nut as they would be exposed to salt water. So, I coated the threads on assembly with silicone caulk to keep salt water out.

I have never been de-masted, so I cannot tell how useful an idea it is in that situation. (I hope to never know.) I can say that I have disassembled them several times over the past 15 years without any problem. The silicone caulk worked to keep the threads clean and easy to turn even when exposed to months of salt spray.


Hull and Rig / Re-bed Stanchions
« on: April 02, 2016, 02:17:04 pm »
I discovered a seepage from one of my stanchions which I  re-bedded 15 years ago. When I first bought the boat, everything leaked. There wasn't anything which attached to the deck which did not leak. I spent the next year getting the boat habitable and the next 3 years chasing leaks in the lockers.

One of the projects was to re-bed all of the stanchions. What I did was remove the stanchion then drill out the 4 corner holes to 1/2" completely through the cap rail, deck and hull joint. I then filled the holes with epoxy and chopped fiberglass allowing for the epoxy to seep into the voids. After the epoxy was well hardened, I drilled and tapped completely through for 1/4" machine screws.

I enlarged the main post hole so that I could line the hole with several layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy. (This is because I have had big problems with water getting into the hull deck joint and flowing until it finds a way into the boat.) The fiberglass lining on on the hole prevents any water in the joint using the stanchion hole to enter the boat.

Finally, I painted everything with white epoxy because it looks good, reminds me of what I finished and stains easily when seepage starts to occur. Then I used copious quantities of silicone caulk as a sealant on the base and threads of the stanchion and screws. I put washers, lock washers and nuts on the 1/4" machines for good measure.

I decided that it was a successful project because it lasted 15 years and took me only 2 hours to refresh it.


Systems / Dehumidifier
« on: March 30, 2016, 02:04:31 pm »
After completing the Halifax to Horta portion of my Atlantic crossing, I spent the winter in the Azores. Winter in the Azores is cold and damp. I, like all CSY owners, have to deal with the disadvantages of an unlined boat -- mainly condensation. In the 5 years before the Azores it was a nuisance. In the Azores, it was intolerable. It would literally rain inside the boat from condensation. Not to mention mold everywhere.

I decided to install a dehumidifier. It was one of the easiest projects I have done. A little plumbing to drain the water into the bilge and a strap to secure it while sailing. The benefits were enormous. A pleasant dry comfortable boat with no mold to clean.

Since leaving the Azores, I have not used the dehumidifier as much. But, it is always there ready to turn on whenever it is cold and damp. It was well worth the minimal investment of time and money.


Systems / Automatic Bilge Pump
« on: March 20, 2016, 08:00:44 am »
I thought that I would document projects that have stood the test of time. Before any passage, I always clean and inspect the bilge to make sure everything is 100%.

15 years ago, I installed a removable automatic bilge pump system. It uses a screw PVC coupler and snaps into a couple of clips for easy removal. There are two float switches. One float switch is attached to a toilette ball which makes it adjustable and keeps it out of the muck. The other float switch is attached to a high decibel alarm which sounds if the water level ever gets above the bilge pump. It has never sounded except for testing.

The automatic bilge pump is wired using a barrier strip for easy removal and re-installation. I considered a connector for even easier access but discarded the idea as connectors and bilges do not mate well.

 I have serviced it many times over the years and consider it a successful project.

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