Saturday, May 19, 2007

Blowing My Own Horn

Flybridge Horn Switch, 5/19/2007

Our horn was connected only to the switch at the lower helm. We do most of our piloting from the flybridge, so I really needed to get a second switch wired in. There was a momentary (i.e., push-button) switch already in place on the panel, but it wasn't connected to anything.

To connect the switch, I ran another 16 AWG positive lead from the fuse panel in the wheelhouse up to the flybridge switch, and from the switch to the horn. At the horn, I used a 3-way butt connector to connect both switch wires to the horn's positive lead.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New Old Posts

I'd like to turn this blog into a complete maintenance record, so soon I'm going to start adding new posts for the various restoration and repair work that I've done over the past year. I'm planning to backdate them to the actual completion dates, so if you're interested, come back and check the blog archive on the left for posts between 5/2006 and 4/2007.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Water Heater, 4/29/2007

This tank and mess of hoses is our new water heater installation. We've never before had hot water on a boat, so we're thrilled!

The old tank was badly rusted and leaked when we tried to fill it. While we would have loved to have repaired that immediately, we had bigger fish to fry last season, so we just bypassed it and lived with cold water.

On our Cape Dory 28, the tank is installed under the aft part of the port side bench in the saloon. It's pretty tough to get down in there, particularly to the back side of the tank where the rear mounting screws are. So, Michele did the hard work, crawling into the deep recesses of the engine room where I couldn't fit, to remove the old mounting screws and fasten down the new tank. Fortunately, we were able to lift the tank up through the storage opening in the bench, and lower the new one through exactly the same way.

One cause of rusted water tank is that whenever water spills on the mounting surface, the metal casing sits in it, rusting away. We tried to combat that situation by getting a stainless steel tank, and by mounting it on rubber washers, eight total, to lift the tank slightly off the surface. If water spills or drips onto the surface, at least it won't be sitting directly in it.

The mess of hoses you see in the picture make for a complicated installation -- somewhat more complicated than necessary, as a matter of fact. Generally, there are four connections: water in, water out, engine coolant in, and engine coolant out. (The water heater is electric, but also has engine coolant connections that let coolant pump through a heat exchanger, heating the water whenever the engine is running.) We complicated the matter by including a permanent winter by-pass connection (the white hose). When winterizing the boat, we can just flip a valve on the bypass hose and drain the tank instead of filling it with non-toxic antifreeze.

This was definitely one of the more frustrating projects for me. First, some hoses needed re-routing, since the connections on new tank were in different position than those on the old tank. Some of the fittings were stripped or crossthreaded, so I needed to get new connectors. Then, I couldn't seem to get them all to stop leaking. Every time we tested the system, something leaked, requiring one of us to climb down there, disassemble it, and start again. Finally, we got advice from Michele's father, who suggested that we simply weren't using enough teflon tape on the connectors. He was right on, too. On our final attempt, we really layered it on thick, and that did the job.

Overall, it was a tough chore, but the reward has been well well worth it. We love having hot water on the boat!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Key Requirement

Wheelhouse Key, 4/30/2007

You'd think that having keys duplicated would be the easiest task on the list. But when you're dealing with a 20-year-old skeleton key for a boat whose builder no longer exists, it gets a little more complicated.

The wheelhouse on our Cape Dory takes just such a key, and unfortunately, the prior owner had only one. The folks at the local hardware store looked at me kind of funny when I presented it and asked for a copy. The nice man at the key cutting machine kindly suggested consulting a locksmith. I did, and he looked at me kind of funny too.

I spoke with some other Cape Dory owners, and one identified the blank for me as an "Ilco 53B". I was able to buy a few (well, four) of these on Ebay, and returned to the locksmith. He was skeptical, and offered 2 things: 1) to try to cut it for me, and 2) no guarantee. It didn't work. The main problem was the key is thicker than the original, and won't fit in the lock.

Here's the original:

Other than that, it's not really a complicated looking key. I since found a drawer full of miscellaneous blanks at the hardware store as well, and one of them looked pretty close. I decided to have at it with a dremel tool, and see what I could do on my own. After a reasonable looking attempt, I took a grinding stone to one of the Ilco blanks, and worked that one down a bit as well.

The results:

The top one is the Ilco, and the bottom one is what I found at the hardware store (also shown above on the keyring). It only took a year. Let's hope they work!