Monday, May 4, 2015

Pram overhaul - Part 1

After 4 years of abuse my pram has begun to show some wear. The primary problem, and the one that has forced this overhaul, is that the bow has begun to pull apart. This is mostly due to me towing her, in rather rough seas, to Digby last year. Basically, the smashing on the waves began to pull the bow right off! Although, my new boat has davits, I expect I will still tow her a fair amount, so I wanted to reinforce the bow so that it would survive another few years of beatings.

Note: The pics below are all taken after demolition, an initial overall sanding and some general filling repair. It isn't actually as f-ugly as it looks.

I decided, that rather than putting the bow back together with the existing stringers, I would rather replace them with a stitch-and-glue style corner joint. I have successfully used this style of building previously and I know that it will be way stronger once I have a bunch of epoxy and fibreglass tape jammed into that seam.

I also decided that I would reinforce the sheer of the bow, and reinforce the seat to bow joint to give it more strength.

The overall goal here is to make the bow as bulletproof as possible.

Bow stringer removed and sanded
I removed the sheer, the front ribs and the top of the seat. Since the seat had been cut around the rib, I used the existing seat top as a template to make a new one without the holes left by the ribs.

To hold the bow and side panels in place, and keep the epoxy from dripping through, I used duct tape.

The wonders of duct tape
  Since I was doing the job, I figured I should also deal with a bit of rot that I had in the aft of the boat. The back starboard stringer had a middle section showing some rot. Rather than scarfing in a repair piece, I decided to stick with the stitch-and-glue idea and replace that whole length with epoxy and tape as well. I did both sides for symmetry.    

Rear stringers removed and sanded

I removed the two bow stringers from behind the rowing seat, to the back seat.  A chisel made quick work of it.

Filleted and taped

I sanded the areas to be epoxied, down to wood.

I used West System epoxy and silica filler to create the fillets. A bunch of plastic disposable spoons made the filleting easy. Once the fillet epoxy had kicked off I added 4" bi-axial tape and whetted it out thoroughly.

To be continued....

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Cat came back

Platinum Cat Heater - Model 6P12

The built in heater on our new-to-us boat, Shackleton II, was one of those nice-to-have features that we were excited about. So we were disappointed when we couldn't get it to work.

Since this was one of many systems on the boat that I was unfamiliar with, I initially thought that it was operator error. But, after some digging, and posting to SailNet forums, I was confident that I was doing it right. It apparently really is as easy as turning on the power and turning up the thermostat. But it still didn't work.

I dug around and figured out that the heater is from a company called A&L Enterprises. I reached out to their generic email address and received a quick response from Arnie. He explained that the model I have is an antique from the early 80's. I wasn't optimistic. Surely if it was that old it would be unserviceable.

Arnie proceeded to send me several manuals, service updates, and detailed troubleshooting instructions. After a bunch of back and forth I solved the problem. The fan blower was rubbing on the housing and causing it to fail. Happily I now have a great working heater!

The service from A&L Enterprises was exceptional. They could have easily told me that it has to be replaced, since it was so old, but they didn't. When I do need to replace the unit, I know where I'll be shopping.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Knots - Handcuff knot


Finished handcuff knot
Handcuff knot

As the name implies, the handcuff knot can be used to bind the hands or feet of your adversary. It is also known as a "hobble knot".  It isn't very practical but it is sure fun! It is a Slip Loop type of knot.

With my Scout group this knot is always the first one that I teach when I am introducing knots because it is easy to make a game of it. It gets them interested in the subject of knots (which can be a challenge). What kid doesn't want to capture a friend with handcuffs as part of a cops and robbers game?

Tying the knot

Animated handcuff knot

  1. First, make a butterfly shape with your hands, with the rope hanging across the middle of the thumbs
  2. Slide your hands apart a bit
  3. With your right hand fingers, pick up the rope on the left hand and pull it up and through. Keep the bight of rope between your fingers!
  4. With your left hand fingers, pick up the rope on the right hand and pull it up and through. Keep the bight of rope between your fingers!
  5. Now finally, pull the two bites apart and let the loops form in the rope.
  6. Hold the two working ends tight so that the handcuff stays tight. 
The knot can be locked by tying a half hitches around each of the loops using the working ends. This is also referred to as a "Fireman's chair knot".

The game

The game that we played with the handcuff knot is basically a modified version of freeze-tag. The object is to capture all of the "robbers" as quickly as they can. 

Pick a few kids to be the "police" and give them rope (approximately 1m long).  The police need to tag a robber and then the robber has to freeze for the count of 5 seconds. If the police can't tie the knot in 5 seconds the robber gets away and the police need to untie the rope and start again.If the robber is captured they are out until the end of the game.

As the kids get better at tying the knot you can reduce the number of seconds they have. Believe me, they will get very quick at it!