Monday, May 29, 2017

So, how does it row?

The Glen-L Utility is actually quite easy to row, and I'm definitely happy that I put the oarlocks on it. 

Now, a little caveat: Although it is fairly easy to row, it is not what you'd call a "rowboat". Rowboats tend to be proportionately narrower, with a rocker in the hull, and glide through the water smoothly and easily. This is a planing-hull boat designed for outboard power. It is first, and foremost, a power boat.

That being said, you can raise the motor, put the oars out, and row with relative ease. You won't be the fastest rower on the water. Someone in a canoe will be able to run circles around you. And, if you have to row for a long distance, you're in for a workout.

But, if you like to motor your boat to your favorite little secluded cove on the lake, turn off the motor, and row around in the peace and stillness... this boat fits that role beautifully. In fact, I've done that very thing with my daughter aboard, and still dragging the outboard motor through the water, without it being much of a chore to row. On a large pond, or a small lake, you may not even need a motor at all.

Being a fairly wide boat, you'll need long oars. I bought 6-1/2' oars, for two reasons: That is the longest length that I can easily stow onboard, and that was the longest length available locally (at Bass Pro Shops.) They work pretty well. If you're expecting to row your Glen-L Utility frequently, you'd probably be happier with 7 or 8 foot oars.

Happy Memorial Day!

Monday, May 22, 2017

A simple remedy to the rowing issue

Simple things usually work best. That's what I believe, anyway.

So, when I was trying to decide how to remedy the problem of the oars hitting the side of the boat and getting knocked out of the oarlocks, I looked for the simplest possible solution.

The goal was to raise the oarlocks enough to give the oar adequate clearance over the sheer... without having to move the oarlock sockets and drill more holes in the sheer clamps.

This is what I came up with:

Half-inch spacers that I made from scrap mahogany. These raise the oarlocks about as high as possible, while still leaving enough of the shaft in the oarlock socket for the whole thing to function well.

It's not a perfect solution, as the oars do still rub against the side of the boat slightly — that is, if you're rowing from the rear thwart. From the forward thwart, (which is a better rowing position, anyway) the oars clear the side of the boat just fine. For as little as I expect to be rowing this boat, I believe this arrangement will work just fine.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lessons learned from rowing

Earlier this month, I had the Utility at the lake, and was bringing it back to the dock. Just for fun, I shut the motor off and used a canoe paddle. I found the boat surprisingly easy to maneuver this way.

Of course, the water was calm and there was no wind that day. 

Nonetheless, I was intrigued. A few days later, I decided to finally buy a set of oars & try my hand at actually rowing. 

The Glen-L Utility has a fairly wide beam for it's length, so in theory it would benefit from rather long oars (like 8 feet or longer). I bought a set of 6-1/2' wooden oars, because that is the longest oar that can be easily stowed onboard. Yesterday, I got to try them out.

So, "How does it row?"

Unfortunately, I can't give a fair answer to that question... not yet, anyway. I need to change a couple of things before I can give it a fair assessment. 

I will say that you can indeed move a Glen-L Utility through the water with a set of oars with relative ease. It is not, however, what you would call a "rowboat." Someone in a canoe could easily run circles around it.

That's okay. I wanted a power boat that I could also row occasionally. This boat fits that description quite well. 

But, I ran into a problem. 

Back when I installed the oarlocks, I used a set of Perko edge mount oarlock sockets. Due to the sharp inward angle of the hull along the sheer line, I installed the sockets on the inner surface of the sheer. I did this for two reasons:
  1. I didn't want to risk driving the vertical screws through the side of the hull.
  2. The 90° angle of the mount would not make contact with the hull if mounted on the outside.
Installing the Perko edge mount oarlock sockets.

The 90° angle of the base seemed better suited to the inwale.

The unfortunate result of this, as I found, is that the oar must be used at a rather shallow angle when rowing. Otherwise, it will easily hit the side of the boat. This becomes a real problem when you need to get the oar deeper in the water, because the sharper angle causes the oar to get knocked right out of the oarlock. This happened multiple times, and was extremely frustrating.

This is why you don't want to install an oarlock socket on the inside of the sheer.

That's not the boat's, fault. It's mine, for installing the oarlock socket on the inside of the sheer. So, until I decide on a way to fix the problem, I don't think I can give a fair assessment of rowing a Utility. But otherwise... so far, so good.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring maintenance on the outboard motor

A few years ago, I was at a big retail store to buy yet another lawn mower. I was complaining to the sales guy that lawn mowers these days are such junk, and that I hadn't gotten more than two or maybe three seasons out of the last 4 mowers I'd owned.

He asked me: "How often did you perform regular maintenance on these mowers that kept falling apart?"

I let the words sink in slowly, as I tried to grasp the concept.

"Never," I replied.

He smiled and said, "I think we may be on to something, here."

From that day forward, I have become a believer in regular maintenance for small engines. You can bet I've made a point to take good care of that expensive outboard motor I bought a few years ago. 

Last weekend, I did the annual spring maintenance on the outboard to get her ready for this year's boating season. 

Here's a quick overview on basic maintenance for a Nissan Marine NSF8A3 8hp motor. (It is a re-branded Tohatsu MSF8A3 8hp 4-stroke.)

Draining the oil and the gear lube:
This step was actually a little easier this year, since the motor is bolted to the boat and is up a little higher. It was particularly helpful in draining the gear lube from the lower unit, because the fill and vent screws were easier to access.

The transom saver was a big help in holding the motor in position while the gear lube drained.
Last of the gear lube, trickling from the lower unit.

Refilling the gear lube:
The procedure for this still seems a little odd to me. It's messy, but it works. For those of you who haven't done this before, basically you pump the gear lube into the lower (fill) hole until it starts coming out the upper (vent) hole. Then you replace the vent screw first, followed by the fill screw.

Re-greasing the prop shaft:
I had actually been looking forward to this part since last spring, when I learned a little about propeller pitch. I wanted to see what markings might be on my prop to indicate what its pitch actually is.

Cotter pin, prop shaft nut, and washer all removed from the prop shaft.
The propeller easily slid right off.
The only marking I found on the prop was "F7." This probably indicates the 8.9" diameter, 7" pitch prop that comes as standard equipment on Tohatsu-manufactured 8hp 4-stroke motors.
Old grease on the prop shaft.

Prop shaft wiped clean.

Several websites recommended this Quicksilver 2-4-C for re-greasing the prop shaft.

The re-greased prop shaft.

Refill the oil and replace the plugs:
I didn't bother taking any photos of this part. Basically, you re-fill the oil incrementally until it reaches the desired level on the oil dipstick. You have to be careful, because it's easy to over-fill. (Then you have to drain the oil & waste it, and start all over. Best to just take your time.) Changing the spark plugs is simple & straightforward.

Other things:
As this is still a very new motor that has seen minimal use, I have not yet replaced the water pump impeller. These should be replaced as part of regular maintenance, and I plan to start doing so next spring.

Also, this motor has a very simple in-line fuel filter that can be removed and rinsed. I haven't actually done that, yet, simply because there haven't been any symptoms of problems in the fuel line. I will probably remove and wash it next spring as well.

Here's to a happy and safe boating season, everyone!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Tedious Tale of Zip Frame #2 — part four

After installing the shims, it was time to shape the floor member of Frame #2 to its proper dimensions. 

This took a while. I used a Stanley Surform plane and a sanding block, working a little at a time. I frequently checked my progress against the construction drawings. I also used a straight edge to ensure that the surface was straight.

Shaping the floor beam

Once that was done, I drew out the gussets on scrap pieces of 1/4" Meranti plywood.

Drawing out the gussets

Once the gussets were cut and sanded, it did not take long to have the frame 3/4 assembled. I still need to epoxy all these parts together. Then, as with Frame #4, this frame will have to wait until I buy another mahogany board or two for the deck beam.

Lap joint with single gusset, just like Frame #4

Chine notch cut with a saw. (Note that I may need to add a shim to the end of the floor beam.)

The Slow Saga of Zip Frame #4 — part six

I had so much fun countersinking those 1-3/4" screws, I decided to add two more.

This gave the side members of Frame #4 a nice diagonal pattern where it is screwed all the way through the lap joint.

I learned my lesson from the port lap joint, so on the starboard joint I was very vigilant to make sure all surface-to-surface contacts were solid.

Starboard lap joint

Epoxy cured, and clamps removed

I also bought myself a 3/8" plug cutter, to try my hand at installing bungs in those countersunk holes.

Bungs installed

The bungs were easy enough to install. For my first attempt at trimming them, I used a chisel to shear them off. This didn't go so well. The bungs broke, as much as they were "sheared." This left a slight indentation in the bungs that was below the surface of the frame. They kind of resembled screw heads.

First attempt at trimming bungs

For the other side, I used a saw. This worked MUCH better. The saw trims the bungs quickly, and it does not take long to sand them flush with the rest of the wood.

Second attempt. Better.

For the time being, that's about all I can do on Frame #4 until I buy more mahogany to build the deck beam / dash board.

Bolting the motor to the Utility

Last New Year's Eve, I decided it would be a great idea to celebrate the day by drilling holes in a perfectly good transom. 

The purpose, of course, was to prepare for bolting the Nissan outboard motor to the boat. 

After the holes were drilled, I coated the inside surface with 2 layers of epoxy, using a Q-Tip. When I tested the bolts for fit, it was so snug with the epoxy that I decided not to bother with any additional sealant.

First bolt is through, on the starboard side.

Second bolt is through, on the port side. I used 3" stainless steel bolts, washers and lock nuts.