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Kenneth K

Last Year's Winter Projects

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And so it goes with owning a boat. As in these are “winter projects” from last winter; things I’m just now finishing up months later than planned. The winter list was something like this:
- Alter sail cover to fit around Dutchman and add bird-proof netting underneath,
- Revamp compass and teak base,
- Re-finish and repair damaged bilge cover-plates and mast trim rings.

I contracted the sail cover work out over the winter, so that was completed on time and ready to go last spring. The rest of the projects I’m only finishing up as we speak.

Sail cover: I had to have slits/zippers added where the cover slips over the Dutchman control lines. I also came up with the idea of adding cloth mesh to the bottom of the cover to keep birds from nesting there. One edge of the mesh is sewn into the lower, starboard side of the sail cover. The port edge hangs free, but has grommets placed every 6-12 inches along its edge. I string a small piece of line from the head of the flaked main sail to the aft end of the boom. Short tethers hanging from this line and provide a place to attach the grommets to. The mesh then drapes below the sail and fills the open void at the bottom of the sail cover. I thought this was preferable (in terms of ventilation and keeping the sail dry) to sewing a zipper all along the lower opening of the cover. I’ve had no birds or nests under my cover this year since adding the mesh.

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Sail cover with bird netting

Repair compass and teak base: It seems like most Ericsons came with either a 5” Ritchie Globemaster or a 5” Danforth Express as the binnacle-mounted compass. Mine has the Danforth. Pre-purchase, the surveyor declared my compass “unusable” because of the 2” bubble under the dome. I found some humor in that. Although the bubble was a bit annoying, the compass, of course, still worked fine. I thought he’d have shown more insight to comment that the compass was unusable at night, due to having an inoperable light bulb. I decided to fix both problems. While I was at it, I might as well refurbish the cracked and weathered teak trim ring the compass sat upon (with the Danforth, the trim ring is required to provide clearance for the gearshift lever, which rises above the steering pedestal in reverse gear. It appears the Ritchie does not have this problem).

Both compass shops I spoke with wanted about $300 for a compass rebuild. One shop told me the bubble was NOT likely due to a leaking diaphragm, which seems contrary to conventional wisdom. The only visible signs of leakage I noted were from the fill screw-plug. I purchased two pints of fluid and an LED bulb assembly from one of the dealers, re-filled and firmly re-tightened the fill plug. So far, so good.

The teak base turned out to be a little more time consuming. The fore- and aft- end-grain faces were badly weathered and cracked. When I removed the piece and took it inside, the cracks widened until it almost split in half. After a few days, the cracks shrunk a little bit and stabilized. I pulled one of the cracked faces together (using hose clamps strung end-to-end to get the required 7” dia), glued the crack, and screwed/epoxied a brass screw in place for good measure. Since the natural tendency for the shrunken wood was to crack and pull apart, I didn’t want to try to pull-together and glue the other side under tension, too; I figured it would just separate again. Instead, I made a saw cut along the naturally occurring crack, then cut a second, mirror-image cut in the shape of a wedge. Into the wedge I fit and glued a wedge-shaped piece of ebony scrap wood. I figured the wedge shape, which happened to be right under the center-line of the compass, would resemble a lubber line similar to that on the compass. Several coats of Epihane’s satin varnish later, I was pretty happy with the results. The original base had been given a liberal coat of silicone on both sides (to keep water out of the steering pedestal)—maybe that’s why the PO wouldn’t remove the teak to maintain it. I used 6"-7” o-rings as a seal instead. I attached one o-ring to the bottom of the compass case and two o-rings (one cut into sections) to the bottom of the teak pad. The o-rings should make both the compass and the base removable for winterization and future maintenance.

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Original Base and Bubble in Compass ........................ Ebony Insert

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O-rings on Teak Base............................ Finished Product

Still in progress: Bilge cover plates and mast trim rings..... maybe a post for a later blog.

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Updated 10-04-2018 at 08:21 AM by Kenneth K

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Maintenance and Mechanical


  1. Loren Beach's Avatar
    I also have a blog entry about the rebuild of our compass. It was great to have it restored (and then adjusted). The new LED light is now working well and is a big improvement.

    Interesting details in your #5 picture. You must have an Edson pedestal since it has those nifty engine control levers. Original instruments, looking very well kept.
    And, those opening companionway doors... Wow. that's an upgrade I hope to get around to one of these years.

    Thanks again for sharing.
  2. Kenneth K's Avatar
    Thanks Loren.

    The swing-open doors were the "perfect" upgrade (ie, they came with the boat). I keep them on throughout the sailing season and then curse the 4 hatch-boards throughout the winter.
    Updated 10-11-2018 at 10:26 AM by Kenneth K