byon 02-07-2013 at 05:32 PM (1009 Views)
This took longer than expected, often felt like the dive-into-the-bilge-to-repair-the-batteries sequence in the movie "Das Boot", and featured two fairly classic goof-ups which made me laugh at the time.
Thelonious was in above-average condition when I bought her in November, but the one job that stuck out was the pedestal base. The original owner, who I think owned the boat from 1985 to 2011, must have watched his aluminum Yacht Specialties (YS) pedestal slowly disintegrate, building the base up from time to time with bondo, then finally covering it with a mast boot injected with foam. Here's what was under the boot.
There are occasional old YS pedestals for sale, but in the end a friend who was rebuilding an airplane recommended a machinist--"it's a tube, just put a new base on it." I found myself in the hands of Keith, who runs Findlay's Machine Shop in West LA. Machinists are in whatever subgroup of humans that includes sailboat owners: they like to fix things, are capable of wonder at how the universe works, and need problems to solve. He took a half-inch plate of aluminum, found a tube that would sleeve the pedestal, and welded it together without visible seams. I provided a careful template of the holes in the cockpit floor, the orientation of the wheel, and the original SS bolts so he could countersink for them. Total cost: $400, which included a rebuild of the wheel-to-sprocket assembly to remove all play (new keys alone made a big difference)
I painted it Brightside white, after two coats of Pre-Kote, brushed and sanded with 220. The compound curves had cast grave doubt in my mind as to success with rolling and tipping, and I have already complained here somewhere that life would be easier if they'd just put Brightside in a spray can. Well, they do. Or, we can. Those 8-dollar Preval paint sprayers work quite well for a job like this. I thinned the Brightside about 30 or 40 percent, and after five coats the result was just about professional. That I am not in fact a professional will become very clear, soon.
Pedestal work fairly cries out for changing the old Morse cables for throttle and shift. This was less trouble than expected, although the connections hidden inside the pedestal do tax the imagination. In my case you can pull the cable up about six inches for the view attached above. On the 32-3 at least, connecting the other ends to transmission and throttle wasn't hard. Measuring the cables is difficult until you have them in hand, but new Teleflex cables are an exact match. The run of the cables must be gentle, with no bends sharper than the recommended radius. Let them lie as they want to, when possible. They cost only about $50 each--well worth it for instant butter-smooth operation of pedestal-mounted engine controls.
Like everybody else who has done this, I sent my (Globemaster) compass off (to Ritchie) for rehab. After $200 it came back nice and shiny, with new card, fluid, rose and plastic base. Installing it made me scratch my head. The compass mounts on a plastic YS collar about two inches high, which houses the Fuel and Shift levers. The Fuel lever turns 90 degrees to push the throttle ahead. But the shift lever has to turn 180 degrees --push and pull, for forward and reverse. This makes the control arm stick up above the collar--where it interfered with the bottom of my rebuilt compass. Ritchie must've put a new underbody on the Globemaster, because it fit before I sent it off. But the plastic isn't structural, so I stuck a screwdriver up there to break away some space.
The result was mineral spirits running down my arms and into the cockpit. I'd just punctured the brand new diaphram. Feel stupid? Turns out, though, that it's easy to replace a compass diaphram. Drain and save the remaining fluid, order a new diaphram from Ritchie, and pick up a rather small bottle of Compass fluld from West Marine for a rather large $15. Use a turkey baster to refill the globe through the screw hole in one side. On a cool day it was easy to get the last bubble out. Ritchie walked me through the disasembly-reassembly sequence, which is easy enough but not obvious from the outside.
To raise the compass up an inch, I needed a spacer to match the diameter of the controls housing. Starboard seemed an obvious choice, but how to make a perfect circle? The answer is a router on a homemade "compass" jig. A jigsaw would work, but a router makes a perfect edge. Google "router circle jig" or similar.
Pedestals like mine commonly use a sprocket-chain-cable rig to turn a quadrant on the rudder post. Simple enough, and in my case installed at the Ericson factory. Meaning the cables were swaged within the quadrant, meaning one swage has to be cut off to disassemble, meaning a long reach with a hacksaw blade (unless you have the sense to own a bolt-cutter, which we all ought to have on board anyhow in case the mast goes over the side). I reassembled using ss cable clamps on the cut end during an afternoon of grunting curses upsidedown in the stern lazarette. Success!
With the new Teleflex (ex-Morse) cables sticking out of the unfinished pedestal like Martian whiskers I decided to motor around the harbor to celebrate. The slip was very tight, no room for fenders, concrete barnacle wall on one side, other folks' self-steering gear protruding off sterns on the other, but I am extremely good at this stuff and thought little of controlling shift and throttle by pushing the cable wire ends while steering backwards in a brand-new-to-me yacht. One learns, when as experienced as I am with some 20,000 miles offshore, many ahem dinghy trophies, and a wonderful personality to boot, to take it slowly so the admiring crowds can get better photographs.
What the hell is going on? One inch from the barnacle wall! Now sideways across the lagoon, climbing on somebody's transom to fend off! Could this boat have an offset prop shaft? Oh, torque--that's it! Must correct. Get up some speed and then neutral-- wait, not working, turning the wrong way again! Fend off!
Yes, I failed to cross the steering cables inside the pedestal. All helm commands were therefore reversed. At half-a-knot speed, I can tell you, that is impossible to deduce from sensory input. Only stuck crosswise in the tiny slipway did I start to laugh, realizing what I'd done. Idiot! I had studied an old YS diagram of the steering system which showed uncrossed steering cables. Later I saw that that the quadrant in the sketch was installed facing forward. Mine faces aft. Well, I eventually figured it out.
I had a new 1" ss rail guard made for $100 by Railmakers in Costa Mesa because I was unable to get the old rail tubes off the YS connector plate. The stainless and aluminum had gotten to be very good friends in 27 years, and nothing could break their bond. I sawed off the ends and made a Starboard shelf to connect guard to pedestal. It bolts onto the remains of the old plate. It will be a platform for instruments, or maybe a cupholder or two.
Two months, two laughable mistakes. That's pretty good, for me.