Saturday, May 14, 2011

Work starts on aft and cockpit lockers

With the help of my son, James, during a visit in mid April, most of Little Grace was rubbed down. The areas left untouched are the outer hull and the rubbing strip.

For a long time I have set the ladder up like this; now I realise it makes sense to turn it the other way so the pushpit acts as a handrail! I'm slow but I get there eventually.

However hard we and subsequently I have tried it seems impossible to get all of the old paint down below off . Every time I think it's done and what is left is good more flakes appear.

After vacuuming and cleaning everything with Hempel's pre-clean (good stuff) I'm ready to progress to the stage where it actually feels like I am getting somewhere. This is not least because the coating of dust from all the sanding (40 and 80 grade) and abrading has been removed. Sanding had been done by hand, and three types of electric sander, which was used was dependent upon suitability for the different areas. Where necessary paintwork was abraded using a wire brush and Wolfcraft and Mirka fiber abraders attached to the electric drill (mains powered). This was all in addition to using a number of paint scrapers.

These fiber brushes are brilliant time savers,
I have several varieties.

Photo taken spring 2010.
The feeling of getting somewhere is also because I will, at last, be adding something instead of removing it. One of the big things I want to add is a proper gas locker. In 2010 I kept the gas bottle in a sealed box. I removed it from this and put it in the cockpit, attached to the cooker using a flexible pipe, when required but that's not very convenient or sexy.

A previous owner has added gas piping from the port cockpit locker to the cabin. The owner I brought Little Grace from used this but just put the gas bottle in the cockpit locker, which drains straight into the bilge. I don't share his death-wish so I will set the new locker up so that it vents through an existing aft fitting. I corked this last year (literally) as there is nothing attached to it.

As the aft drains/vents are there it seems sensible to think that the person who did the major refit and added the gas pipes had a self draining/venting system but there is no evidence of it. There is a bilge pump but its vent is on the starboard beam, as is the vent for the electric bilge pump, so the mystery remains.

As adding the gas locker is a big change I decided to start work at the aft end of the boat, which will allow me to work on the cabin as the various stages are drying.

Aft hatch removed.
The gas locker will go in the port cockpit locker, where the original piping is.

Last year I decided the aft hatch is the wrong way up. The fenders are kept in there and to get them in it is necessary to get down low to push or pull them under the hatch lid, which impedes the tiller if it raised too high.

So I have removed it and it will go back in the other way up so the lid folds down onto the deck. We will have to be careful to fold the catches back to avoid breaking them by putting pressure on the lid once it is on the cockpit sole but it should make access much easier and will not get in the way of the tiller.

To bind the remaining paint and seal the wooden struts to protect them from sea and rain water brought in on the dock lines etc. I coated everything up to the waterline in thinned epoxy. Then I rebuilt the glass-fiber sheathing or added it where I thought some was required using epoxy.

It is said that if wood is not dry enough (not more than 12% moisture) it will rot if it is sheathed in epoxy. I decided it was make or break and went for trying to make the existing structure more robust and waterproof. Where there has been water in contact with the wood in some low lying places I am hoping the fact that I will only use epoxy, with or without glass, up to the line of the cabin sole will mean that moisture can escape further up and from the side facing away from the bilge. Little Grace has been dry under her cover for some time and has been baked in the sun for nearly two weeks, so we shall see what comes of it.

Sheathing in epoxy and epoxy and glass-fiber in the lower part.

I also added some glass-fiber to the join of the hull and the transom.

The existing drainage hole leading to the bilge was small so I enlarged it and added two more, one leading to each of the cockpit lockers and from there into the main bilge, my logic being that water can drain even when the boat is heeled. I sheathed them using small overlapping strips of glass-fiber. My hope is that if I can get the water to drain away efficiently and, in  effect, have a glass-fiber tray in the bottom of the boat the wood will no longer be vulnerable.

The next stage is discussed here