Sunday, August 12, 2018

Holes in the boat

Last time I took the boat to the lake, there was just too much standing water in it. That's just the reality of storing a boat outside — especially a boat with no drain holes.

That's just too much standing water.
So, I decided to install some drain tubes. The first step, of course, is to drill holes through the bottom of the transom. 

With my patron saint, Clark Griswold, looking over me... I took my new 1-inch hole saw, and things went very, very wrong.

"Dive! Dive! Dive!" No, I'm not building a replica U-boat. Ugh. What a mess!

Let's back up a little.

The obvious place to start was a cutout I'd made on what was originally intended as a sole support. I had left this gap for the very purpose of adding a drain tube if I ever chose to. So, I placed the flared end of my Moeller brass drain tube in position, and marked the area to be drilled.

Here, you can see the brass drain tube, the 1" hole saw, and the space for the hole.

Marking the location for the hole.

The initial cut.
I placed the drill bit at the center of my mark, and started drilling away. Once the hole saw made contact with the wood, I tried to make sure the saw was perpendicular to the transom, and began cutting.

The hole got deeper, and deeper, and I kept waiting for the drill bit to exit the other side of the transom. Then, I began to think: "What if this doesn't come out where I want it to?"

Amazed at my own wisdom, I stopped cutting, took the saw part off of the drill bit, and drilled all the way through — just to make sure it came out in the right spot. Guess what?

The first exit wound.
I reassembled the hole saw, and held it in position at the back of the transom. I immediately realized that if I continued with this cut, I would actually drill through the bottom edge. This would not only mean a hole in the bottom of the boat, but no place for the drain tube to be flanged on the outer side.

There was NO WAY this was going to work. So, I relocated the hole saw where the hole should be, and began drilling inward from the outside.

Relocated pilot hole.

Almost through.
Once the hole was all the way through the transom, it looked like this:

The center of the NEW hole, relative to the position of the first one.

Here's the drain tube placed into the NEW hole. Not pretty... but workable.
The next step was to cut away a portion of the sole support on the other side of the transom knee. I was thankful that I'd made a removable base for the bilge pump. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to reach where I needed to cut.

Bilge pump out of the way, and initial vertical cut made.

Cautiously cutting the notch with my Porter Cable multi tool.
Now that experience had taught me the wisdom of drilling from the outside in, I started the second hole (okay.. third... whatever!).

I measured and marked the spot for the pilot hole, giving myself a little added room to clear the transom knee on the inside of the hull. This time, the pilot hole was in the perfect location.

What could possibly go wrong?

I ran the hole saw right into the starboard transom knee, scalloping away a portion of it.

Although the hole was in a technically functional position, there was absolutely zero clearance for the flared end of the drain tube.

— Now, in retrospect, I could've made this work. How? By simply not flaring the inner end of the drain tube. I could've made the seal with copious amounts of thickened epoxy. Sure, it wouldn't match the look of the port-side hole, but this side is hidden behind the bilge pump, so it wouldn't really matter. I wish this had occurred to me at the time. But, to quote the classic Asia song... "It was the heat of the moment." —

"No problem," I thought. "I'll simply widen the hole from the inside outward, and fill in the gap as needed later."

But there was a problem. The width of my drill would let me get the hole saw nowhere near the center of the original hole to make an "adjustment". So, I placed it as close as I could, and started drilling. What I wound up with was:

One elongated mess of a hole on the inside...

...and almost two completely separate holes on the outside.

Naturally, this would have to be fixed before I could proceed with my "adjustment."

I've actually seen other boatbuilders fix problems far worse than this one. So, I knew I could fix this. But how?

For starters, I took a slightly larger hole saw (1-1/4" diameter), and cut a plug out of some 2" thick mahogany scrap.

Then I packed the pilot hole with some heavily-thickened epoxy. I liberally coated the inner diameter of my transom mess with the same mixture, as well as the outside of the plug.

Then I tapped it into place with a hammer.

Don't say it. I know what it looks like.

Once all that mess cures up, good & solid, I'll find a way to finish "adjusting" the hole. The boat's name is Perseverance, after all. I don't give up.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

More Utility updates

In the last post about the Utility, we left off mentioning some updates I had planned for the boat — specifically including a way to mount the trolling motor without cramming it up against the outboard.

It took a while, conjuring up all sorts of design ideas, until I finally decided on a simple and easy solution. I decided to make a removable bracket for the trolling motor that would simply bolt to a piece of blocking on the inside of the transom.

Here it is, mounted on the boat:

The removable part simply bolts on to the blocking inside the transom with two stainless steel carriage bolts, and wing nuts with lock washers.

The bracket allows the trolling motor to be mounted sufficiently far away from the outboard so that it is easy to use. Here is a back view with the trolling motor attached. You can see wood filler on the bracket, as I'm still in the process of finishing these pieces. I plan to bright finish them so they accent the painted parts of the boat.

Back at the lake, with the trolling motor bracket removed. The blocking is still unfinished

At the lake on another day, testing the bracket in actual use for the first time. (It works very well.)

Here is the removed bracket, with a couple layers of epoxy on it. I'm still in the process of finishing these pieces.

A couple of other new additions:

I made some simple steps for the trailer. This makes it much easier and more comfortable climbing into the boat while it's on the trailer. I made these from leftover scraps I had laying around, tread tape, and some 5" galvanized bolts with lock washers.

I decided I needed a small cooler that is color-coordinated with the boat. The aquamarine on the cooler isn't a perfect match for the sea foam green on the boat... but I think they go together okay. These little Igloo Playmate coolers are great, (and inexpensive). A Yeti it is not, but for a day's outing on the water, it gets the job done.

Today, when I took the boat back to the lake, I saw far more water inside it than I wanted to see.

It has been raining a lot lately. The boat cover I bought does a good job, (particularly with the plywood half-cover I made, but it's not exactly watertight). 

When I saw how much standing water had been sitting in the boat for a few days... I seriously reconsidered my view on transom drains. I think I'm gonna install some.

I'm planning to add a plywood floor in-between the seats.

I'm also planning to relocate the battery from the front of the boat to underneath the rear seat. This will make it much more accessible when using the trolling motor. 

Hot coffee on the lake, early in the morning. Perfect.

On the subject of finishing the trolling motor bracket... I decided to also make some cosmetic improvements in the boat. A lot of the fit and finish on the inside of the boat is... well... let's call it "utilitarian." I'm sanding away epoxy runs, etc, and doing a little touch-up paint. Since the boat is stored outside now, I'm just doing small sections at a time rather than take on the whole interior at once.

A bit of surface sanding on the port side of the transom.

Taping it off...

One coat of paint...

Two coats of paint...

A little more touch-up paint, and the tape removed.

Hopefully, these updates will improve the overall look of the interior.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

It's not fair

So what's there to do with the Zip while I wait on more mahogany? You guessed it... start fairing.

This is how I started fairing the keel at Frame #2. The 1/4 inch plywood guide reflected the angle of the bottom of the frame. Then I used my belt sander to continue that line through the keel. Still a long, long way to go... but it's a start.
Initial fairing of the keel with a belt sander.

Finally sanded the front of the keel down to match the curvature of the stem.
Front of the keel ...
... back of the keel.

Slowly but surely fairing the bottom of the transom and the floor battens.

A few Utility updates

Over the weekend, I finally had some time to make it back out to the lake. I left before sunrise to get on the water early & avoid the searing mid-day heat. While the early morning sun was still fairly low, I was also hoping to find a little shade.

On this trip, I also wanted to see how well my electric trolling motor would do with the Utility.

And here's my jammed-together mess. There is not much space on the transom where I can clamp the trolling motor. I knew handling the boat with this arrangement might prove awkward. It was.

Found a shady spot and tried out my new "anchor-in-a-bag."

While running the trolling motor, I locked the Nissan in its raised position to reduce drag.
I was actually surprised at how well the trolling motor moved the boat around. It won't plane, of course, but the near-silent operation is great and the highest speed setting will propel the boat comfortably. The limitation is short battery life. In a fairly short cruise, my battery power went from 95% to 35%.

All the while I was on the water, I kept thinking about several changes I want to make with the Utility. There are several. I got around to some of them on Sunday.

This is the plywood "half-cover" I made to go underneath the boat cover I bought. Its purpose is to prevent the fabric cover from pooling up with water & sagging down into the hull. The 3/8 plywood was starting to sag a little bit, so I added some 3-foot wood strips to give it more rigidity. I had a bunch of nylon webbing laying around, so I used some to make basic handles for lifting the piece & moving it around.

I also had a bunch of 1-inch wide velcro laying around. I used the "loop" part of it on the inside edges to reduce the scratching of the paint on the gunwale.
Here's the half-cover in place on the boat. There is a cutout in the front for the cover's "tent pole." 

I finally put a quick-clip connector on the nylon strap that holds the battery box in place. This is MUCH easier to use than the cheap / awkward / confusing / infuriating buckle that came with it originally.

There are still several more updates & changes I want to make on the Utility, including some transom modifications so I can more easily use the trolling motor (which I enjoyed) and some improvements to the floor.