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Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Ground Tackle... Projects

September 2003 --
Gee. Finally.

This is a Maxwell 1200. It's way over sized for the boat, but I want to be able to raise a big anchor with chain rode by myself, against a 3 knot current
and a 15-20 knot breeze.
That's definitely going to happen in local conditions.

'By myself' means not having a bow/helm team.
It's great to have help, but I don't want to need it.
So I plan on breaking the rules and hauling the boat up with the windlass. The boat has a 44 pound Bruce and 240 pounds of chain -- multiplied by 3 means a 850 pound max load. An 800 would have worked
but it's upsized to be safe.

Darn, that's a big hunk of metal up there.

I didn't go for an integral chain pipe because
A) I want the windlass mounted behind
the bulkhead at the back of the anchor locker
B) I want the windlass to handle more than one rode.

Next, the sides from 3/8 inch exterior grade plywood.

After cleaning it up and taping off the area,
all the holes were sealed with thin West Epoxy to get them thoroughly wet and ensure they were well sealed.

Don't forget to tape off
any holes underneath!

Sailnet gave me a good deal on the windlass, and it sat in the living room for months while installation details were worked out.

I made a deck pad out of prefab fiberglass from McMaster-Carr. It's one inch thick to raise the windlass and give the chain incentive to fall down into the locker, as well as keep deck wash away from anything that might leak.

It just sat around the paint room
for months, so it has many coats of paint.
Hopefully I won't have to paint it again.
(knock on head.)

Upon removing the headliner in the V Berth I discovered a strip of plywood glassed under the deck to stiffen it up. That's a kink in the plan!
It's structural and it's right in the way.

To make the windlass hole extra strong,
it's packed with epoxy putty that's reinforced with chopped fiberglass
from Tap Plastics.
(You can also use Kitty Hair from EverCoat.) After the chop was thoroughly saturated, I added colloidal silica to bind it all together and make a thick putty.

Then it was injected back under the deck with a big thick syringe. I ended up just mashing everything back in there with my fingers (using latex/vinyl gloves.)

Here's lifting out
the deck plug.

The bottom of the deck is left in place for now,
so it was important to just break the bond between the balsa and the skin. A single 4 inch hole was too strong to break, but concentric circles allowed the plug to be removed without wrecking the deck.

After carefully measuring to find the center of the deck, and to make sure that the bottom bolts will easily clear the interior bulkhead, I drilled a single hole at the exact center of the big hole.

Then I turned the hole saw upside down on the mandrel, and fit the center drill bit down into the hole. This aligned the deck plate perfectly, and made it simple to use the deck plate as a jig for the bolt holes. Fortunately I have a lot of extra 1/2" bits,
so they kept everything aligned during the drilling.
Dowels would have worked, too.

It isn't drilled all the way through.
Just into the balsa core.

One of the bottom bolts comes through into the deck reinforcement.

Arggh. This couldn't be a worse spot.
It's not in the
wood, just into
the fiberglass tabbing.
This will complicate things in a big way.

A quick dry fit.

This is going to look great!

Well, I have a week to chew on it.

This little tool from home depot is really handy. Maybe I'll try to incorporate the reinforcing bar into the whole assembly, or maybe not, but it might be good to know what the shape is.
You need to gather all the information you can, within the time frame,
before making a decision.

I've always used my Handy Dremel Tool to route out core around deck holes...
but I'm out of 1/2" drums and
don't want to run to the store.
Besides, a hex key will reach farther back.

These are the two holes
for the deck switches.

It's a windlass.

It's on the foredeck.

Eventually, It *will* Leak.

Might as well plan for it.

It's a hot day (80 F) and the whole thing has to be built up in layers to keep it from kicking too fast and cooking. That would make it weak, and make any small bubbles in the epoxy expand and crack the epoxy.

The switch holes don't need as much reinforcement, so I just built them up using thinner layers of epoxy putty.

It took all day to build up the plugs, waiting about 1/2 hour between
layers of putty.

The hot day helped,
as it made
the epoxy kick
pretty fast.

The trick was to wait until it kicked but was still 'green', then add another layer. The wait kept the putty from hitting critical mass and turning into a smoking bubbly mess.

Here's the big hole at the end of the day.

If I were sure I'd be drilling it back out soon
it would just have the edges packed. But I'm not sure when I can get back to it, and don't want a hole on the foredeck.

Pretty, isn't it!


September 13, 2003 --
This day went out of control. First I cut through the epoxy plugs. That took over an hour. My hole saw is dull.

The plan is to grind part of that reinforcing bar away and grind the bottom of the deck (relatively) flush. I set this big fan up in the hatch, and closed the V Berth door and sealed the area.

This created enough positive pressure so that that 90 per cent of the grinding dust went up and out the hole.
It was great to watch. Of course, the fan was only 4 feet away, so some of the dust was sucked back in and
the V Berth was still consumed in
a maelstrom of toxic dust. Hey, it's a fiberglass boat.
Better living through chemicals, etcetera and so forth.
I wore goggles and a respirator, which was a good idea, because the remaining 10 per cent
was still pretty nasty stuff.

With the underside clean, I attached a 3/4" marine plywood backing plate, using a super thick epoxy paste to fill any gaps between the deck and the plywood, then cut a hole in it.
This area is now 2" thick.

More on the backing plate in a little bit...

After cutting out the holes
for the foot switches,
I overdrilled the screw holes.

To mark the spots I just drilled small holes through the switch plates
into the deck pads, then
transferred that to the deck.
Easy enough.

I made these deck pads out of 1/4" fiberglass from McMaster-Carr.
It just didn't look like there was enough good surface area under the switches
for a good layer of caulk.

Then the overdrilled deck holes are filled with a thin epoxy paste using a syringe. I sucked the thin stuff back out with another syringe, then packed the holes with a thicker putty of epoxy and colloidal silica.

Then it was covered with wax paper, and the mounting screws stuck in a plastic bag with some PAM (any oil will do.) The oily screws were then stuck into the epoxied holes, using the deck pads to keep them straight.

Here's the marine ply 'backing plate.'
It happens to be teak veneer, because that hunk of wood has been sitting in the garage for years and I'm tired of looking at it.

Naturally, next month I'll suddenly
find a place to use a nice piece of
3/4" Teak Veneer plywood....

Earlier in the week, I cut the scallop
out of the edge to accommodate the existing reinforcement, and sealed the whole thing with thin West System epoxy.

The idea is to have a nice flat surface parallel to the deck, that also is well attached to the deck to spread the windlass stress load out across a large area. This will do the trick.

I made a super thick putty of West System epoxy and colloidal silica, and propped it up there. I wanted a super strong putty that would handle compression loads, since the underside of the deck is bumpy.

Epoxy may not have been the best thing to use, since it was very hot (95 F) this particular day. It was really tough to get the epoxy paste made up before it kicked in the cup, and making a batch big enough to cover the entire plank was impossible.

My first batch kicked in two minutes, and I had just enough time to stick it in a bucket of water before it started smoking.
Gee, that sorta looks like it's showing a finger..

Fortunately, I had a couple of backup cans of epoxy inside the boat, and stuck them in ice water for a bit to cool the stuff down.

It took about ten pumploads to get a 1/4" slather around the area of the hole. After sunset, when the temperature started to cool down, I went back and injected a super thick paste along the edges where ever there was space to stick a syringe in. There were plenty of spaces, and it took another 20 syringes worth. Each syringe holds about one pump's worth of epoxy, so there's a lot of epoxy filling gaps and forming a bond between the plywood and the deck.

When it was all over and I was cleaning up, I discovered a
4 square inch patch of hair on the left side of my head
that was epoxied together.

I hate it when that happens.

There was a moment of panic while considering
the impact on my professional working life.
Dousing my head with Acetone or MEK really wasn't an option.
I have big ears, so a crew cut was a horrible option.

Fortunately, I had a bottle of 'replacetone' from TAP Plastics on board. It isn't so horribly toxic -- in fact the worst warning is that it will cause irritation similar to household detergents.
It doesn't make epoxy evaporate like deadly solvents will, but it does make uncured epoxy congeal and emulsify.

So I combed it through the goop and clogged up a comb with the gunk, then ran up to the marina showers to rinse.

It worked, and I don't look like Dagwood.

Maybe it'll kill me someday, but I'll just add this to the list.

If I were to do it again, I'd look into Marine Tex or 3M Fiber Reinforced Putty.
However, this is probably stronger and will take a compression load better.

I used my Handy Dremel Tool to create a big countersink around the bolt holes in the pad.
With this much Polysulfide caulk in there, it will take six months or more to cure.
Plenty of time to work itself in and around.

Maxwell provides a close-cell foam gasket to set under the windlass.
It looks like neoprene.
That's cool, but I like caulk.

I set a very thin bead of LifeCaulk on the inside edge of the gasket to help it adhere to the windlass and pad.

Barry from next door helped to do the actual windlass install, inserting the bolts while I offered up the motor assembly from inside.

I packed the bolt holes with LifeCaulk and then
cranked down on them.

Once all the parts were put together,
I was shocked. This thing is big.

Well, I need it.
It'll take some getting used to.

After doing the running rig and deck layout
I was sure I'd created an ugly monster,
but that turned out to be nearly perfect.

I have a feeling this will be the same.

If I had to do it again, I'd probably make the deck pad 1/2", as I did my initial drawings for an 800, and the 1200 sits a little higher. (If it turns out to be a problem
I can grind 1/2" off this pad --
all the hard work is done.)

The switches are set in LifeSeal, which is a Silicon/Polyurethane caulk. The plastic looks like it might be a polycarbonate, so I didn't want to risk using a polysulfide caulk.

Hmm. It looks uneven in the picture, but looks fine on the boat. Or maybe I'm just not that picky at the moment.

Then the big plate was covered with LifeCaulk and set in place.
The bolts are just tight enough to set it in place and compress the lock washers. In a few months I'll go crank down on it.

The caulk gooshed out all over, which is good. Inside the deck, I cleaned off most of it and just smeared the rest around. It can't hurt, and when it's dry it will help reflect light to see up in there.

it really looks nice.

The motor is out of the way.

Of course I have some work to do to replace the headliner and make things pretty again.

I also wonder if it should lean about 5 degrees forward, as the long run
from the bow rollers pulls the rode down a bit. I hadn't planned on that.

Oh heck, it's fine. I'm going to replace the bow rollers anyway,
and can tweak the angle then.

January 2004 --the wiring.