Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bedding Compound

What is the best bedding compound?

I have used Boat Life caulk in its various colors ever since I have owned a sailboat. It does a fine job.  However, I always make a mess and the stuff is a bear to clean up. Boat Life makes a solvent that can be used for cleanup called "Release." It is very good at cleaning up the mess, and also for removal of bedded fittings. However, it is hard to find and expensive.

In surfing the net for the past few weeks getting ready for this restoration, I ran across a number of articles lauding the use of butyl tape (the grey sealer used for mobile homes, campers, and some home applications) as a marine sealant. There are a number of terrific positive testimonials, and a great "how-to" that I found on sailnet, by a great on line tutor, MaineSailor. His bedding how-to is at http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/rebedding_hardware. He has several other tutorials on his site, and all are worth a look if you do your own boat maintenance. Based on my net research, I resolved that I would give butyl tape a try.

I bedded my port chainplates with it. It was a pleasure to work with. I think it will do a good job (above the waterline).

But I got to thinking and second guessing myself, and posted a query to the Norsea Yahoo forum to see if any of the dozens of experienced and helpful folks on there had used butyl tape and had good results. Based on their comments, it seems that Dolfinite is a stronger preference. Dolfinite is a marine bedding compound with a long history of positive results. It appears to have consistency that allows easy cleanup similar to butyl compound, which is a bit like silly putty. It should be a lot less messy to work with than Boat Life.

I ordered a quart of Dolfinite from Jamestown Distributors and it's due in next week. I'm going to use it on the starboard chainplates and compare it to the butyl tape for ease of use. I'll post the results of my comparison.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fuel tank ripout and installation- ready to start

Talofa Lee's in-keel fuel tank
The fuel tank on the Norsea is in the keel under the engine.  You can see the tank in the photo (the hammer is laying on the tank top). The forward end of the tank is constrained by a fiberglass bulkhead.  Two part expanding foam is poured around and under the tank to hold it in place. Epoxy is poured on the top of the foam to seal the top. The shaft has to be removed (or pulled all the way aft) and the athwartships engine room access door facing above the shaft flange has to be cut to allow the tank to be jacked out after the foam is dug out and the fiberglass bulkhead is removed.

Tensie Mae's fuel tank removal
This picture shows Tensie Mae's fuel tank partially
"dug out" last year.

Tensie Mae's fuel tank
almost ready for jacking out

This shows the fiberglass bulkhead forward of Tensie Mae's tank almost completely removed.  Removing the bulkhead is the hardest part of the removal.  It is tough and the work area is small.  I had to break it out one small piece at a time using small saws, pry bars and hammers.

Tensie Mae's original fuel tank
This is the tank after removal.  The tank walls had holes ranging in size from silver dollars to pin holes, and the walls were very thin and porous over much of the surface.

Tensie Mae's new fuel tank

This is the new tank prior to installation.  It is encased in epoxied fiberglass cloth to prevent any moisture from reaching the aluminum tank sides and causing corrosion.

Tensie Mae's fuel tank--finished at last!
And this is the finished product on Tensie Mae.  If I can work hard enough, and long enough, and don't run into any snags, this is what Talofa Lee's tank top will look like in about three weeks.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Electric bilge pump discharge & stbd cockpit drain
With most of the ripout done, I have to establish priorities for Talofa Lee's restoration work.  I've been thinking about priorities a lot and have made a few lists and sequenced the work on those lists. Never having done this before, I'm sure I'll make some mistakes in sequencing.

I also have to prioritize the work by vitality. I can't shortchange any system that contributes to seaworthiness or safety. The rig and rigging have to be to scantlings.  The hull and deck have to be full strength and as leak free as practicable in heavy weather at sea.

Another way of thinking about and prioritizing what I have to get done is systematically...that is, prioritize by what needs to be done on the electrical system, on the plumbing system, on the potable water system, on the navigation system, and so on.  I have to develop those lists.

One of the keys to prioritizing is to decide on the boat's end state.  I haven't done that yet in several areas...auxiliary propulsion, the electrical system, galley systems including refrigeration, and plumbing.  I like the idea of electric propulsion, but I can't get past the need to house four 150 or so pound batteries to have enough readily available stored energy, and the necessity to carry a generator to recharge them (regenerative charging isn't enough charging capacity).

Also, I have to decide how many projects I can have going on in parallel.  Most of the individual work items will have several linear steps, and drying times, curing times, delays in shipping of components and other factors will interrupt their timelines.  With only me to do the work, and my limited brainpower, hands, and time, I'm going to have to be careful not to start too many things at once.

Two high priority items that have to be done very early because they limit other work so greatly are re-installing the chainplates and replacing the fuel tank.  The fuel tank is on order, and due to be shipped from Norsea on 26 January.  It will take me at least until then to get the old one out and the in-keel hole prepped for loading the new one.  Two side stay chain plates also have to be replaced because of cracks.  I am waiting for word from Norsea on a schedule for delivery of them.

So...the primary things on my work list for this week will be pulling the old fuel tank, and re-installing the chainplates that are in good shape.  I'll put the other chainplates in place as soon as I can get them from Norsea (or a local fabricator if Norsea can't supply them).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Wading into the work

Between August and early January, the following work was completed.  Work was sporadic for a variety of reasons. Altogether, I spent about 90 hours, unassisted, throwing things out, pumping tanks, removing the engine and mechanical systems, removing things to gain access for inspections, cleaning, doing inspections. Primary tools used were screwdrivers (manual and electric), wire cutters, a sharp knife, a reciprocating saw, and SAE and metric wrenches.  

All of the loose items were removed from the boat.

The water was all out of the bilge, fuel pumped from the fuel tank (the fuel was, surprisingly, very, very clean, with no water in the fuel, indicating that the fuel tank is intact), and potable water tanks drained.  The tank has some severe pitting corrosion on its top, and I will replace it while the boat is torn apart since it will likely corrode rapidly due to the salt water in the foam adjacent to the tank.

Mast, boom, spreaders, and standing rigging and terminals were fine at preliminary inspection.  The mast and boom fittings need to be removed, some corrosion dealt with, and the spars repainted. I flushed the standing rigging with fresh water, and sprayed it, especially the turnbuckles and end fittings, repeatedly with WD-40.  Existing running rigging was inspected, washed in fresh water, and is fine.  The sail suite is good to excellent, with only a few seasons wear, and older spare sails are fair to good.

I removed all the overhead liners to expose the underside of the deck for inspection since they were all damaged and mildewed.  I removed the teak pukas on the cabin sides in the forepeak to allow all the paneling strips on the cabin sides in the main cabin to be removed to gain access to chain plates.  I removed the rotting carpet from the aft cabin sides.  There was little evidence of the wood deck house core having been wetted. There was no evidence that the port lights have leaked past their bedding or seals.

I ripped out all of the electric system except for the wiring that is embedded in the cabin top for interior lighting. I removed the minor hardware throughout the boat that was used for hanging miscellaneous items. I removed all cabinet doors and associated hardware. I washed down the boat interior with fresh water, brushing all surfaces to remove salt residue.

I removed the engine and transmission, and the exhaust system.  The exhaust hose wire was rusted and the hoses required replacement.  The shaft coupling was heavily rusted, and the shaft end inside the coupling is rusted as well.  Both will need replacement.  The shaft is snug in the cutlass bearing, so the bearing is probably fine.  The rudder is a bit loose in the gudgeons and pintles.   I removed the Cold Machine refrigeration unit which had been located high in the footwell of the starboard bunk in the aft cabin on a plywood platform.  The bunk plywood under the machine is in bad shape because the machine sweated and water dripped in that area during use.

Many of the boat's systems are long overdue for overhaul.  Hoses for all plumbing were dry and brittle, and internal wire in cockpit drain and exhaust hoses was rusted and weakened.  I removed it all. The boat had no head or holding tank plumbing, only a portable toilet.  It was, of course, removed and discarded.

All exterior brightwork was long overdue for attention.  It has some pretty deep grooves due to weathering, and must be sanded and heavily oiled to restore it.  All hatches need rebuilding.  Teak handrails on the cabin top are weakened, and bronze fasteners are corroded and brittle.  Teak rub/trim strips on the cabin sides need replacement.  Teak cap rails are damaged in a couple of places and new teak will have to be "let in" to replace sections.

The rudder cheeks, tiller, and bow platform are all in good shape, needing only cosmetic attention.  Stainless steel lifelines are rusted and the wire is brittle.  Two stanchions were bent when the boat was re-floated, and the gelcoat has been crazed at the foot of one of the bent stanchions.  I will need to inspect this area further.  The bow and stern pulpits have minor surface corrosion.  The boom gallows frame is fine, and the gallows wood needs attention. The aft starboard chainplate was bent slightly during re-floating.  The fwd and aft starboard chainplates have micro-cracks at one carriage bolt hole on each of the chainplates.

All running lights except the tri-color masthead light are damaged/corroded beyond repair.

The mast tabernacle is in great shape.

I removed numerous topside fittings that obviously needed re-bedding.

I ripped out all of the cabinetry on the starboard side of the main cabin from the ice box to the companionway.  It was all damaged...delaminating between plies.  This area included the ice box (the top of which had been modified to accept a double burner alcohol/electric stove), double SS sinks, and the refrigerator. The stove was not salvageable.

All through hull fittings were given a preliminary inspection.  They all need to be re-worked, because they are were not installed with sea cocks, but with in-line ball valves installed on the thru hull fittings, NPS threads to NPT threads.


Wading Through the Mess

The exact cause of Talofa Lee's sinking was never determined. Initially, a lightning strike was thought to be the most probable cause. No evidence of a strike was found. Secondarily, a thru-hull fitting, perhaps the paddlewheel speed sensor, was considered because her hull had recently been scrubbed by commercial divers. That fitting was found to be intact. No other fitting below the water line was the obvious cause. The teak plywood backing block for the thru hull for engine seawater cooling supply was severely rotted, indicating a long standing minor leak at that connection, but no conclusion could be drawn regarding that being the cause.

Talofa Lee sank to her cabin sides before she settled to the bottom. The deckhouse top and rigging were not submerged. She was refloated using drums and moved to a small shipyard to await insurance survey. She was not completely de-watered until after her survey (about three inches of water and oil covered the saloon deck) and no one was allowed to take action, such as clearing the engine and transmission of sea water until the survey was complete. This exacerbated the damage.

Main cabin after removing all loose items
Sitting in the hot Florida sun for two months with wetted upholstery and carpeting, and standing water in the boat, caused significant mildew and mold. Unpainted plywood delaminated in many areas. Corrosion-resistant fasteners corroded. Solid wood trim pieces swelled and a few cracked.  Painted plywood in general suffered no ill effects.

Electrical systems were destroyed. The positive battery posts on both installed batteries were vaporized by high current when the battery terminals became covered with salt water. All wiring was severely corroded. All electronics were destroyed.  The stove was not salvageable, nor was the 12V Cold Machine refrigeration.

The Yanmar 2GM engine was frozen and would not rotate.

Mildew on varnished surfaces in the main cabin

Companionway steps with oily residue on deck below

Mildew on bulkhead and corrosion on fittings

Electrical panel

Head deck

Cockpit clutter while de-cluttering boat for dryout

About 20 percent into removing things for boat dryout

Talofa Lee

Talofa Lee enroute from Florida to Alabama
Talofa Lee just prior to "barning" for repairs
In late April of 2010, S/V Talofa Lee, a 1978 aft cabin Norsea 27, sank at her berth in Sarasota, Florida.  She was re-floated, surveyed, and written off by the insurance company as a total loss. Her owner bought the salvage rights in the hope that she could be restored and put back to sea.  In July of 2010, I bought Talofa Lee from the owner, transported her to my home in South Alabama, and began evaluating her needs to allow restoration.

Tensie Mae just prior to launch in 2010

The Norsea 27 is a well-designed, well-found, and well-built boat, capable of round-the-world passages in fair weather and foul.   I have owned another hull of this design since 1983, and had recently completed a number of restorative projects on that hull, S/V Tensie Mae.  Several of the projects I completed on Tensie Mae were quite complex, and the experience I gained readied me to take on restoration of Talofa Lee.  My primary resource in completing the projects on Tensie Mae was the internet, especially the Yahoo-based Norsea 27 forum, where a running discussion of sailing and maintaining Norseas has been going on for about a decade.  I am indebted to all who have posted there for their insights and advice.  In their spirit, I decided to do this blog to document the restoration of Talofa Lee.  By doing so, perhaps some other sailor will get an idea or two from the blog, or maybe even make a comment that could help me as I work on this project.

I am beginning the blog with this purpose statement, and will in the next few days try to bring it up to date on my progress so far.  Most of the progress so far has been destructive, tearing things out of the boat.  I have some key decisions to make before I begin restoration, and will try to highlight how I reached those decisions.  Finally, I will document the technical study, physical effort, tools, parts, money, and advice I receive as I move along.

I am not trying to restore her to showroom status.  I am trying to make her seaworthy...robust and tough, with a view toward keeping things simple, safe to sail and maintain.  And I have a somewhat limited budget. I would ask any readers who happen to run across this blog to keep those things in mind in their comments. Of course, any constructive comments you may have, or encouragement, would be well received.

Thanks for reading.