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Monday, August 31, 2009

Engine Shop

Spent the day with Sam at our "engine shop" putting together what will be our main engine for the boat. Sue and I picked up the gearbox in Oxnard, along with a water cooled exhaust manifold, turbo, marine bellhousing and flywheel, and some other odds and ends. I had stripped the engine down to the bare block last week. I also pulled the oil pan and timing cover, and gave everything the once over. All looked good, so today we started putting things back together. We replaced the front and rear main oil seals (just in case), new gaskets all around, and started prepping for a fresh coat of Cummins white engine paint to match the clean new gearbox.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Picking Up Gearbox

Last week Peter & I drove down to Oxnard, located about 60 miles north of LA, to pick up the gearbox and some extra parts. We knew it would not fit in our Honda Civic so we switched cars with our neighbor Tad Thompson who has a Toyota minivan. Thanks to Tad we were able to cruise down the 101 & I-5 in air-conditioned comfort.

It was nice to get out of town if only for a couple of days. The drive down the 101 was nice, especially where it parallels the ocean. We got to Oxnard around 3:30 and went straight to the shop. Tony was helpful & knowledgeable and threw a lot of information at us. His staff was easily able to load the gearbox into the van (with the help of a forklift) and within an hour we were on our way.

We decided to stay overnight at a local hotel. Though the room was hot and the ceiling fan was noisy, the pool and the hot tub were nice perks. We took in a soak & then headed to the harbor for dinner. Afterwards, we walked out on the beach. Amazing how different southern California waters are to those in the north – much more tranquil.

The next day we headed back north. We needed to go back to Vallejo to drop the gearbox off & Pete did a great job of getting it out of the van with the forklift. All items were delivered safely to the room in 515 where Pete is cleaning & converting the engine.

More to come later - SP

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Aft frames and deck longitudinals

Aft Frames are going in. Jesus made a few adjustments to make sure all the frames and bulkheads are true. Also did a pressure test on the first keel tank to check the welds. Fore deck stringers are in so I climbed up and took a shot looking forward from the area where the wheelhouse will be. Also took a close up of one of the welds. Jesus and his crew are doing an excellent job with the production work. Its a shame to cover up those nice welds with paint...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Taking Shape

Starting to look like a boat. All the bulkheads and frames, from the engine room forward, are tacked in place. Today we put in #39, the aft engine room bulkhead. Very windy, so it took a lot of wrangling to get this one in place. Climbing around inside the “cage“ that is formed by the frames, you can really get an idea of what the inside space will be like. Next week we’ll be heading down south to pick up the gearbox and some other engine parts. When I get back from that road trip, it’ll be my job to get the engine and gearbox assembled, painted, and ready for installation. The main engine is a 12 valve 5.9 Cummins diesel from a wrecked 93 Dodge truck. Found it on Craigslist a while back. Very low miles and a very desirable model for our purposes. More to come soon…

Monday, August 17, 2009

Three bulkheads

Three bulkheads went up today... #3(collision bulkhead), #9, and #30(forward engine room bulkhead). Bracing seems to be holding up well against the afternoon winds... we'll all sleep a little better once we get the rest of the frames up and tied together into a more rigid structure.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ready to put up frames and bulkheads

A few picks from our progress this week... Stern tube has been tacked in place and lined up perfectly. All the frames and bulkheads are now finished and the stem is tacked in place. Jesus made a scaffold from our scrap pile. This will be set up straddling the keel to provide a platform for handling the frames and bulkheads as they go into place. Today we did a test run with the bulkhead at station #9 (9 feet back from the stem - or forward part of the hull). Really gives an idea of the scale of the boat. This bulkhead will form the forward wall of Sams cabin. In front of this will be a storage area, then another full watertight bulkhead (known as a collision bulkhead) just behind the stem at station #3. #9 will probably be the first to go in next week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stern tube and rudder tube

As I mentioned before, the pipe for the stern tube and rudder tube arrived last week. One very heavy 20 foot length of half inch wall 4.5" steel pipe. These pipe sections support the rudder shaft and the propeller shaft which will both be made from 2.5" stainless alloy.  First job was to cut the pipe into the right lengths. The pipe was too heavy to carry around the shop (even after we rough cut it into pieces with a cutting torch) so we had to get a little creative with the final cutting setup. Ended up using the forklift to hold the pipe in position, and moved the liquid cooled metal cutting saw outside to cut the finished ends. They came out perfect- nice smooth, straight ends all around. 
Since the 4.5" pipe didn't make it to the wheel-abrader to get cleaned and primed like the rest of the steel, Sam and I spent Monday sandblasting the finished sections and painting with a good zinc primer. This should keep these parts rust free until the final coatings go on.
The last picture shows one of the solid bulkhead being moved. Our boat will have 4 bulkheads dividing the hull into 5 watertight compartments. This is much safer in the event of flooding as the water can be contained to one area of the boat. There are just a few more frames to finish building, then they will start going up to form the shape of the hull. 

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Building Bulkheads and Frames

Things are moving along nicely with the construction. All interior welding in the keel has been completed, and keel tank tops have been fitted. Jesus and his crew have also been busy building up the frames and installing stiffeners on all the bulkheads. Once these start going up, the idea is to move along quickly so they can all be tied together into a rigid structure that will hold up to gravity and our regular afternoon westerlies. 
Bottom photo shows the parts that will become the rudder. I had the enjoyable job of drilling out the holes for the 3/4" bolts that attach the rudder shaft flange to the top of the rudder, and the bolts for the palm bearing that supports the bottom of the rudder. This involved drilling through 2" of steel, but is necessary so that we can remove the rudder for maintenance without dropping the rudder shaft out of the boat. Tomorrow, Sam and I will be working on sandblasting and priming the stern tube and rudder tube which we cut from a single length of pipe. This material is 4.5" schedule 160 pipe with over  1/2" wall thickness- about the heaviest piece of pipe I've ever seen. Should outlast us all... 

Wild Ride

Had an interesting adventure last Thursday...
Last week we came to the conclusion that we would need a big pile of raw steel angles, channels, square tube, etc. for fabricating supports for the bulkheads and frames as they went up. When the longitudinal stringers go in, they will tie the frame structure together nicely while the hull is plated. Until then, the frames and bulkheads will be sitting on top of the keel, unsupported in the winds (which have been consistently blowing just about every afternoon at the build site).  So where to find a pile of steel stock in good shape for not a lot of money?
Craigslist came to the rescue. A steel construction company in Sacramento was closing out a warehouse and needed to get rid of a large lot of uncut steel in the dimensions we were looking for. Made the trip up on Thursday last week with Jesus and his truck, towing a 14' trailer.
Jesse, whose family runs Titan Steel Construction, helped us back the trailer into the shop next to the pile. Jesus and I then hand loaded (no forklift!?) all the steel (about 6000lbs) onto the trailer and with Jesse's help, secured everything with chain binders and straps.
After we found our way back to I-80 heading back to Vallejo, things started getting interesting. Somewhere north of Fairfield, the road started getting really bad. Then it got really, really bad.
Then it got worse. I'm not sure what CalTrans is up to these days, but they are certainly not working on the truck lane on I-80 north of Fairfield. As our truck and trailer bounced over the huge bumps and gaps in the road surface (all the asphalt had been stripped off) with alarming regularity, we began to feel an ominous motion in the trailer behind us. The regular bumps in the road had set off some kind of oscillation in our trailer that was compounded by the heavy weight of the load of steel. Soon the trailer was swinging from side to side like a pendulum and this motion was increasing. Now the weight of the trailer was starting to pull the back of the truck from side to side. Jesus was only doing about 50mph but he had to fight the wild swinging of the trailer in order to slow down enough to pull over. Just as I was sure we were going to jack-knife across the two right lanes and spill our steel all over I-80, Jesus managed to find the shoulder and stop the truck, burying his right rear wheel in the dirt in the process. The outside right tire was slowly going flat and the trailer was still sticking out into the truck lane, so we decided we better get out of there. We crawled along the shoulder to the next exit and assessed the situation. The load had shifted enough, that we thought it best to take everything apart, repack, and resecure. Then after a hearty lunch of potato chips and gatorade from the gas station, we found a Big O tire shop down the street that was able to fix the tire. We had forced about 2 cups of gravel and dirt under the wheel rim and into the tire when we went into the shoulder, and this had caused the tire to go flat- good thing the truck had dual rear wheels. Back on the road, we made our way (slowly, with great care, and much concern over repeating our prior highway acrobatics) down to the first Vallejo exit and took city streets back to Mare Island. Unloaded and went home for a stiff drink...