Monday, July 25, 2016

Bilge pump installed

I have finished installing the bilge pump, wiring, and drain hose.

Here, you can see the wiring from the bilge pump to the switch, as well as the drain hose.

Best practice is actually to use a smooth hose, rather than a corrugated hose like this one. However, I just bought this one in a kit, simply because it was easy and convenient.

The kit came with a through-hull fitting. However, with a low-cut transom on a boat this small, I did not want to drill a hole in the hull. I simply routed the hose over the top of the transom, and secured it with two plastic 3/4" plumbing clamps from Lowe's.

Rule Rule-Mate 500 Automatic Bilge Pump and Rule 3-way Switch, Style 41
Another view of the pump and switch arrangement.

I routed the wires with self-adhesive Kwik-Klips from Ace Hardware. I hated drilling holes through the frames to route the wire!

This is a Rule bilge pump switch, style #41. It has a fuse holder for the 3-amp fuse that protects the Rule-Mate 500 bilge pump. The red wire goes to the positive terminal on the battery. The brown and brown/white wires attach to the "Auto" and "Manual" terminals on the back of the switch. Ground wires from both the pump and the switch are connected to a common ground wire, (black), that connects to the battery's negative terminal. The switch's red light comes on when the switch is held in the "Manual" position, but not on "Auto." I assume the light only indicates when the pump is actually running.

Wiring to the battery.

Next step is to epoxy-coat the inner diameter of these holes I drilled.

Another view of the pump & wiring arrangement. I wish the wires were less visible, but I don't know how you could easily hide them in an open boat this small.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Utility christened.

I had been debating on how many coats of varnish to put on the boat. When I finally ran out of varnish completely, I decided that would be a good stopping point.

So, after I let the last coat of varnish sit for a couple of days, it was time to put the name decal on the transom.

Taping the decal into position

Backing removed; decal and premask pressed down meticulously with a plastic keycard

Premask removed
The decal came all the way from Saskatchewan.  I had ordered a material that I felt most resembled actual gold-leaf paint — "22K Florentine Gold." Yes, it was a little expensive. But, the folks at were easy to work with, and they produced what seems to me a high-quality decal. The font preview / design interface on their website was a fun and convenient tool to use, not to mention a great selling point for their services. 

So, how many coats of varnish are there on the boat? Six coats on the deck, seats, and quarter knees. Five coats on the transom, and three coats on the battery mount and switch panel. In all, one entire quart of Pettit Z-Spar Captain's Varnish 1015 from Boaters Plus. (That includes a fairly high percentage of waste, due to my inexperience using the stuff).

What remains to be done? Well, I'm slowly learning that you're never really "finished" working on a boat. However, the last major remaining task is to finish wiring the bilge pump. This will also involve drilling and water-sealing a couple of holes to run the wire through.

Lastly, I may go ahead and bolt the Nissan outboard to the transom. The last couple of times I went to the lake were pretty rough on my back... taking the motor off of its stand, putting it in the back of the SUV, taking it out again, putting it on the boat, taking it off the boat, putting in back in the SUV, taking it out again at home, and putting it back on its stand....

Sure, it's not real heavy as far as outboard motors go, but all that strain on my back is a bit much.

Maybe I'm getting too old for this ship.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

4th of July weekend and the "one that got away"

I know. It sounds like the opening line of a fishing story. Well, not exactly...

Earlier this month, I joined ACBS and attended my first ACBS boat show. A couple of people there had some beautiful old Mercury outboards. 

Not long afterward, I decided I'd start browsing eBay regularly, to keep my eyes open for a motor to put on the Zip. I'll need one, eventually. And with plenty of time to browse, I thought it would pay to stay vigilant for a good deal.

I hadn't necessarily intended to put an old outboard on the Zip. However, those old motors sure are pretty, and cool... especially the old Mercs. 

As I was browsing, one jumped right off the screen at me — an absolutely stunning 1966 Merc 500. 50 horsepower, and a short shaft to boot! Not only that, but this motor appeared to have been meticulously cared for. I entered my bid, and kept up with the auction all week. I actually had the high bid on the thing, right up until 15 minutes before the auction closed. Then it QUICKLY got too rich for my wallet, and I was out.

It was gone.

It got away as quickly as that monster catfish I almost caught as a kid. That fish was HUGE. Just as I was pulling it ashore at my grandfather's pond, it swished and splashed violently, broke my line, and swam away. (It was hard to tell in the tidal wave of murky pond water, but I'm pretty sure that catfish flipped me off before swimming away.)

But, I digress...

Bidding on that old motor got my mind pretty heavily on the Zip. So, over the weekend, I decided to take a break from my varnishing work on the Utility, and start cutting transom parts for the Zip.

Zip transom frame and motor board, cut from 4/4 rough-cut mahogany.
The Glen-L plans show the transom drawn to it's aft-most (and therefore smallest) dimension. The instructions recommend cutting the side frame members at a 10° bevel, so that the interior surface of the transom is slightly larger than the aft surface. Similarly, the instructions recommend cutting the underside of the transom frame at a 12° angle, to accommodate the 12° rake of the transom.

Some people do it that way. I used a different method, called "step and fair." Basically, you cut the side and bottom of the plywood part of the transom at 1/8" oversize. Then, you cut the side and bottom surfaces of the frames at 1/4" oversize. When assembled, this creates a "step" profile that you simply fair away.

Here you can see the side of the transom frame is 1/4" wider than the drawn lines on the plans
While I was at it, I also cut the floor member of Frame #4...

So, here is the latest update on Zip parts:

Current Status of Zip Parts
Stem & Breasthook Assembly2 coats of epoxy
Frame 5-1/2Forward face has 3 layers of epoxy. Rear face has 2 layers.
Frame 4Side members cut and notched for sheer. Floor member cut & notched for keel; (keel notch needs to be widened on 1 side)
Transom KneeCoated with 3 layers of epoxy
Transom FrameSide frame members cut 1/4" oversized on outer side. Motor board cut. Floor frame member cut 1/4" oversized on bottom side. Top members cut 1/4" oversized on outer side.
TransomTransom drawn onto 1/4" BS1088 Meranti plywood.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...

I'm making a little more progress on the boat, but not everything is going as I expected.

Sanding the transom.

First coat of varnish on the transom

First coat of varnish on the transom

More varnish on the seats (4th coat), and varnish on the battery mount & switch panel.
1st coat of paint on the bilge pump mount.

2nd coat of paint, pump base epoxied on, t-nut installed.

Completed bilge pump mount.

Completed bilge pump mount.
Bilge pump mount is held in position by one stainless-steel eye bolt.

A lock washer on the eye bolt keeps it in place.
So far, so good. But, now the "Ugly" part...

Back in April, when I attached the deck, I was rather disappointed with the fitting between the deck and the intermediate deck beam. Although the fitting disappointed me, I'd have to say that the deck has proven strong enough, nonetheless. I've climbed across it a couple of times while getting the boat back on the trailer.

Still, I wanted to fill the gap, just for my own peace of mind. For this purpose, I had bought a pair of empty caulking tubes. The plan was to put thickened epoxy into the tubes, then squeeze the epoxy into the gap as a filler, using my caulking gun.

How did it go?

I don't use the word "fiasco" lightly. However, that's the only way I can describe what happened. In spite of the fact that I snipped the end off of the nozzle to allow for flow of such a viscous mixture, the only place where epoxy went was out the back of the tube, and all over my caulking gun.

I don't think any epoxy even made it into the nozzle.

As you can see, the only place epoxy went was around the stopper, out the back of the caulking tube, and all over my caulking gun.
I can't imagine what caused this to happen. Granted, I did not check to see if the tubes had some kind of seal on the inside (what sense would that make?). I can say that I won't be trying this method again.

Maybe I should just leave the deck well enough alone. As I mentioned, it is strong enough. There's a saying in this neck of the woods: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."