Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Ditty Bag

After a fair bit of a search, I managed to get Heavy Canvas (ebay) and natural look polyester rope, sail makers needles, and waxed twine (Jimmy Green Chandlery).

So I se about making the ditty bag from "Sail Makers Apprentice". I had a few goofs, and I could not easily source brass thimbles, so I just whipped the cringles instead.

This is what I ended up with.

Given the length of time it took to make a simple canvas bag, I am quite glad that I simply bought my sails rather than tried to sew them up by hand.

It was very hard to make up a grommet in polyester the size of the bag. Retwisting the strands as you go is a must.

You also need to use some sort of bobbin to wrap the whipping thread around or it will take all day to do cringles and loops.

I am considering waxing the canvas so that I can actually use it rather than just have sit on a shelf. It's full of sail sewing kit right now. Hopefully I won't ever find myself needing to make repairs to get me home. I also think that I will get a big roll of self adhesive sail repair tape too.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Rope Grommets

S'funny I work with pretty high tech stuff. so I play with old tech. Everything from Furnaces to wooden sail boats.

I was reading The Riggers Apprentice and I came across Grommets. Nylon Rope is a poor starting point, but it was the only three strand I had. It simply does not hold it's lay, and it unravels faster than a middle east peace accord.  I did soak it in a mix of water and hair gel -  not sure that helped much, but  it smells odd now. I also tied off each of the three strands with constrictor knots to stop each strand unravelling. The small one was my first try. I should have tapered the strands as I tucked them.

I did taper the strands on the second one, it came out a bit better.

A copy of The Sail Makers Apprentice just arrived, so I have reading material for a few weeks.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Casting a new handle for a bilge pump.

The cockpit sole is removable, but not easily, so the pump can't go on the sole, nor under it.

I need it somewhere I can get at it while sailing, so I can pump and sail. Ideally on either tack, but that's asking a lot.

And sadly I bought a whale urchin, without a removable handle.

The pump will sort of fit in under the benches, but the handle sticks out. The original handle comes across the body of the pump... Not the direction that I needed.

 Annoyingly the 2 pivots are different sizes, you can't reverse the handle.

But since I have a furnace for casting aluminium or bronze, I measured up and made a new pump handle. Obligatory warning here, liquid aluminium is going to mess you up something special if things go wrong. If you want to play with molten metal, you need to do a lot of learning. if at first you don't succeed, perhaps foundry work is not for you...

I used a hot wire cutter to make up the shape in expanded polystyrene (sorry no photo). This has a sprue of polystyrene attached, and it gets coated in plaster except for the very top. It's placed in sand with the sprue sticking out the top. You pour in the molten aluminium and it vaporises and replaces the polystyrene. Let it cool and you have an aluminium widget the exact shape of the polystyrene. I drilled holes for the pivots, and drilled and tapped a hole for the handle.
The handle is made of wood, with a 10 mm stainless bolt screwed up inside it with the had cut off afterwards. Drilling a 75 mm long hole up inside it is a bit fiddly.  I don't have a drill press so this was all done by eye.
The whipping helps reduce the chance of the handle splitting in use. The thread is 10 x 1.5mm so quite course, and it goes through 25 mm of aluminium, so it should be plenty strong. 

This is how it looks now.  I need to build a small platform under the seat to hold it just in the right place for the handle not to hit anything at either end of it's range.

If I polish it up, a lot of work, it will come out shiny and silky to the touch. I will probably get things working and then decide not to bother polishing it. A little metal paint may well suffice.

I could have bought a handle, and the pivot, but that would have cost silly money for something that I made up in an evening. Since it's solid aluminium, even with my less than perfect casting skills, it's vastly stronger than it needs to be.

It's not perfect, but it pumps just fine.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Bits and pieces

I'm toying with the idea of remaking my mast. It's heavy and not quite straight. A birds mouth oval might be just the trick. Lighter, better looking, a diverting project.
On the other hand that does mean managing 20' long staves dripping in epoxy. And I have only got a small garden to work in.

In the mean time, I added a "Huntingford Helm Impeder" to The Lady Caroline. I have a simple loop in the cross string which I can pop over an aft cleat, and I can make the other end fast to the other aft cleat.  I now have 3 monkey fists hanging off or around my tiller.

  • The yellow will pull the rudder up. The basic design is here, page down a little.
  • The red will pull it down and lock it with a pop-cleat, so it will release if I ground it. 
  • The blue will tension the helm impeder so the tiller can stay put.

I also put together a couple of simple stands to go under the stern of the boat while she's on the trailer. These are simple A frames, with a hinged leg attached in the middle on one side. An eye bolt, some cord and a cleat prevents them from popping open on me. Some plywood pads spread the load. The pads are held in place with a simple rail screwed all around the underside. The rail allows them to be easily positions, but not to slide out.

With these under the stern, I can walk to right aft while TLC is on the trailer. That far back, gives me enough leverage to raise the mast by hand, instead of using an A-Frame and a block and tackle. This should take 10 to 15 minutes off rigging TLC. The simplicity of it also reduces the risk of the A frame slipping and the mast coming down with a bang.

I've looked really hard and I cannot see an easy way to add a way to row. The rowing seat would have to be on top of the Centreboard Case. I'm not sure that I want that amount of constantly changing stress there. Also, that would leave the block for the main sheet between my legs as I rowed.

I am thinking of trying a sculling oar instead. I am not quite the purist, and I'll use the outboard if need be, but if that were dead, having some sort of something would be nice. And it might be nice to have something less noisy for when there's not wind, and I'm not in much of a hurry.

And finally, I'm about 3/4 through the Lugworm Chronicles. This is about a couple who took their Drascombe lugger by trailer to Greece around 1970, spent the summer living on the boat as they sailed around Greece, then wintered there, to sail back to the UK. It really is quite incredible, especially given that they did this before you could simply pop into a ATM anywhere in the world, before you could ask google to translate everything, and before you could pop up a website to get a decent weather forecast in the language of your choice.
It's well written, albeit sometimes it does feel like you need an open map beside you as you read. I'd recommend it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

First Carburettor Strip down and Rebuild...

I really should have photos on this, but I was up to my bits in... well little bits.

My Suzi DF 2.5 was quite unwell. She has only run for a bit, but she's spent 2 winters sitting in the shed. At first I could not even turn her over, but (with the kill cord removed) I spun the prop and then pulled the starter, rinse repeat until things freed up. I guess it just took a while to get oil all around it.

Then whoopee, she started.

But only with full choke, any attempt to touch the throttle, or take off the choke killed her dead.

Googling arrived at the realisation that the carb was probably gunk city. So a quick look at youtube and this video amongst many gave me a place to start.

One €10 can of carb cleaner, and a couple of aluminium foil trays to put the bits in, a set of socket spanners, and a few screwdrivers (including some quiet small ones for the jets) and it was time to open things up. (Nitrile gloves are good too, carb cleaner fluid is pretty harsh.)

There was less gunk than I expected, and I was starting to loose faith that this simple cleaning would make any difference, until I started on the jets. Remove and clean them one at a time, then you don't have to figure out which one goes back where!

The two main jets were fine, but the pilot jet was clearly not. It's hidden away under a screw - how does anything get in or out? Clearly something does. The pilot jet was completely blocked. No light at all. I left it sitting in carb cleaner while I had lunch, then gently poked it with a very fine needle. Eureka. I saw the light.

Then the "put it back together game". As I disassembled it, I'd "looked back" to see how it would go back together. Pictures might have helped, but for the DF2.5 it's not that complicated.

Moment of truth, Choke, Pull, she lives.
Kill the choke, she dies. Oops, not enough throttle. Try again.
Choke, Pull, alive.
Some throttle, kill the choke, she's still running,

I wound the throttle in and out, and she revved up and down, Just Peachy.

I'm not sure what that would have cost me at the local Suzi Marine supplier, but it would have been a trip out, and another trip to collect, and I can't imagine getting away with less than €75?

But now I know a little more about engines. I suspect that this will be an annual event given how tiny the pilot jet is. Pictures next time....

How a Carb works...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sailing in Clare

After spending so much time building a boat, I have learned that it's much easier to steal an hour or three to work on the boat, than to steel an entire day to go sailing. But on this trip to Clare with the family, a day presented for me to go sailing, by myself.

The sea is a very different place, with tides and proper waves. At first I found a lovely place to launch from, Bell Harbour, only to find it dries for a good portion of the tide. Also, as you come out to the sea proper, the entire body of water funnels through a small channel. Not a place to be in a small open boat unless you are within an hour of high tide.

Ballyvaughan however has a slip, which is good at all time of the tide except the lower end of the springs. It's quite steep, but there were a few local lads, who were kind enough to help me getting The Lady Caroline down, and back up again later.

Now I have built a boat, and sailed it once or twice, but sailing is still a learning thing for me. I really must remember to close the self-bailers before launching the boat.

For single handing, I need to add some sort of rudder lock. I also need to learn to heave too, but given that there was a short steep swell, and at times I was close to picking up a bath full of sea water over the side, it seemed the wrong time to try that out.

My little Garmin showed my speed, which I tried to use to see how setting my sails affected things, but with the swells and the gusts, it was quiet hopeless.

TLC did just fine. I did not fly the Jib, since I am still learning, and she does not point so very well without it, be we managed.

On the way out, when I hit the worst of the swell, my course was taking me directly parallel to the waves. This was a quite a lot less than fun, so I fell away a little, and then headed back up into the wind so that I was crossing the waves enough to keep things stable.

On the way back I came in along the coast a little more to avoid the worst of the swell, that put the shallow sand banks between me and the rest of the Atlantic.

My plans for the next trip are to try heaving too, try anchoring, and if I can sort out oars before then to see how I manage at rowing a little. TLC has a 6' beam, so she's won't be an easy row, but we should be able to manage.

Sailing In Clare

"The cold rain makes it hard to see where the barren rock that passes for soil meets the bleak grey cloud. If this is summer what fell shadow must be cast on the soul of any man exiled to spend a winter in Clare?"
- Me, after a week in Clare in August