Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sweating the (very) small stuff- Rigging Update

Sunday morning, nothing going on, but the yards closed.. what to do?

Had an hour or so this morning with nothing going on, so I decided to poke around the box of hardware I pulled off the boat. Tackled a couple of the really tiny projects that I would probably usually save until last minute.

Headknocker: For those that haven't sailed on Shields, they have a couple unique rigging bits. One of my favorites is the mainsheet adjustment. Unlike nearly every other racing boat out there, the Shields mainsheet cleat hangs off the boom, on the aptly nicknamed headknocker. Adjustment is made direct from the boom, sometimes with 2 or 3 people pulling from the rail. Also, most headknocker setups use this Nash trigger cleat, which allows you to ease the line by pulling straight back on the clear. This opens the jaws, and lets you do small adjustments kind of like a ratchet. Ours was ok, but the Nash cleat was jammed , and I'm not so crazy about the sheave. Like most things, the cleats respond well to being taken apart and cleaned. I happened to have a spare spring, which was good, as one of ours was strangely missing. Also odd was the lack of an eyestrap on the cleat, but luckily I had one as well. The sheave is a plain bearing plastic sheave, which I'll replace with a ball bearing sheave as soon as I find one that fits. I had one that went on 150, but for the life of me can't recall where it came from.

Cunningham: You know it's really a slow day when someone makes a post about the cunningham! There's actually a couple details here that are indicative of how I want to rig this boat. The original blocks were ok, the line was disgusting and there was a wire pennant going to the hook. While I'd like to put some nice tiny carbos on here, I don't want to fix what isn't broken.Details: top pennant is 1/8" New England Endura 12. Plenty strong, if I carried smaller I'd use that. Although they're heavy I decided to reuse the hook on the top for sail changing convenience. The control line is just a small length of Swiftcord from my line tails box. The line's been reeved with the blocks at right angles. For any 4:1 or higher purchase using side by side blocks I find this works great; avoids tangles and friction from the lines crossing. I didn't splice this line as it's totally unneccesary for the loads involved, and a proper splice would bulk up the line. The most interesting thing is the soft shackle on the bottom. I'll use these wherever possible on this boat. This lets the block articulate like a swivel shackle, but is less weight and definitely higher on cool factor. Here's another shot of the type of soft shackle I like to make:

These are made with an unstitched bury splice at one end, and a stitched knot at
I also pulled the sheave boxes from the main and jib halyards. Class rules and the mast dictate that you use these Schaefer boxes with a combination wire/rope groove. This boat had one very new sheave, and one that was very worn and probably original. The old wire/rope halyards really do a number on sheaves, and I wasn't sure if I could clean up the groove enough to use a new tapered halyad. After a good bit of sanding the surface was nice and smooth and ready for reinstallation.
I wanted these perfect, as a sheave worn by wire will absolutely slaughter a tapered halyard if not prepped right. One of the common customer service issues I have is with people changing their wire/rope halyards to fiber. Before I make the halyard I always ask about the sheave condition and point out that it probably needs sanding at the least. Lots of people listen and check/fix the sheaves. More often though, they say "oh its fine" without having any idea what its actually like, it just doesn't seem that important to them. Sometimes they're right, and theres no problem, sometimes they call me back hoping I'll replace the ripped-up halyard for free. I've seen some truly nasty looking sheaves, usually after someone wants to know why their halyards look like they've been attached by sharks.

Anyway, thats a pretty weak update, so I'll post this prospective paint scheme. My graphic skills suck, but Bill at loaned me his line drawing for testing paint colors, and even returned the lines to one design configuration, thanks Bill!
I really like gray boats, and haven't seen a Shields done that way yet. This probably won't happen until next fall, due to money/time/temperature concerns. The topsides and deck don't look great, but I'd rather put time and money into speed and strength, and I can live with an ugly boat. For a season anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Keel Update

Quick stop by the boat today, as I had some actual work to do on customers boats.

Sanded off the old fillers on port side now, looks very good. Need to clean up the low spots and I can apply fairing compound.

Hrs 3

Not going to be able to finish up the keel by christmas, as the yard closes on thursday for a few weeks. Drag!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Keel Work/Soy Strip Update

Made great time taking the bottom paint off the keel, and began sanding/smoothing the keel out. Glad I'm taking the time to do this. It would bug me knowing there were flaky pieces of patchjob hanging off my keel. Even if it makes zero difference to actual speed, i'm one of those people that sails better knowing I've done my prep work. Whether it's wind checks before the startline or cleaning the traveler track, I go faster when the details are in place.

Tried Soy Strip on the bottom paint, expected the cold to make it less effective. Pleasantly surprised to see that it works great, even in 40deg! I had a halogen light on it for about a half hour, and it still scraped right off. Here's the least fascinating video ever, showing how easily Soy Strip took off my VC17.

Scraped off some of the lousy patches from the keel. Like most 40yr old boats, it's got quite the melange of different colors and substances. Brown VC, blue gelcoat, gray lead, white primer (?) red god-knows-what, yellow what-the-hell putty, green chewing gum (i think) and many more.

Started sanding the stbd back edge. Feels great so far. Boat is getting quicker, I can feel it. Here is yet another thrilling keel photo. Hours: 6 today (+3more friday sanding stbd keelside)

Decided to give myself a deadline of getting the keel finished before christmas. May be unreasonable as I've got a few big projects on customer boats. A mast track, a mast step, new furling and repairing this gem:
This boat made a nice wrap on their halyard, and nearly unwound their headstay. The furling line was broken, which makes me that the line breaking possibly saved this boat from losing it's headstay. The scary thing is, I took a look at this boat before this happened. They had a totally different problem that required going up the rig. Before I go up rig's I check all the shrouds, pins etc. Their chainplate pulled out of the deck when I shook it! For that and a billion other rigging faults I strongly cautioned them not to sail the boat, to drop the rig and have a glass guy fix the chainplate bulkhead, while I looked over/fixed the other problems. Argh. Please listen to me when I sound serious!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Merry Christmas from Shields 88

Wasn't planning on doing a Christmas special, but Shields 88 has it's own ornament (s)!

We picked up a tree (most of one anyway) for our apartment, and while putting up ornaments I discovered someone had made an official Shields 88 ornament: a glass globe filled with... teak dust?

Niki remembered my promise to take 200lbs of weight off the boat, and measure it the whole way. Including the dust. Well, she seems to be keeping me honest, as we've got 1oz of teak dust with a holiday theme!

Funny girl. She sails too. And sands things.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Epoxy in cold temps/Wood2

Went back today to check on the fairing strip epoxy job. The yard is at a pretty constant 30 now, which is too cold for an easy epoxy job. To make it work, I warmed the surface first, kept the epoxy pot warm, and had space heaters and lights going under a tent.

Came back today in order to post cure the epoxy. Postcuring is heating up gelled/cured epoxy to complete the curing process. It's supposed to make it stronger, and in our case, finish off the cure.

The epoxy from the other day had cured, and was hard/firm. I heated it with a heat gun, for about an hour total. Once it was warm to the touch it smelled like wet epoxy, so I assume it was curing.

Stopped by to look at Shields 45, which has new owners. They're in the middle of similar projects to mine, and are currently stripping the bottom.

After the brief visit to the yard, we went to the shop to continue sanding the teak interior pieces. Going very well, almost done. We did a test spot of interlux teak oil, and generally like the way it looks. I'm a little concerned about the slip factor.

Total hours: yard 1, shop 2/2

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Fairing Strips on

Hooray, one more unfun job done.

Originally the Shields came with bronze fairing strips at the back edge of the keel. These covered the gap between the keel and rudder, and acted as a base for fairing compound. Nearly every Shields I've seen has cracks around the strips at the end of the season. I imagine this is due to a)fairing compound not sticking well to either side of the bronze, and the bronze expanding and contracting with temperature.

The solution to this is to replace the stips with fiberglass. I used the cape cod strips, but you could use any piece of fiberglass or G10 better yet.

To remove the old ones I started by trying to take out the 40yr old silicon bronze screws, which strip quite easily. It would take hours to extract all the screws (theres about 16 per side) but it takes about five seconds to grab the bronze strip with a vice grip and tear it off the screws. This is the most fun part of the job. 1hr

Once thats off you've got 30 some holes to fill (I overdrilled and shot epoxy with 404 in) and a surface to clean up. On 88 the surface needed a lot of scraping and sanding to remove the old putties and fillers. 3hr

Next came the fitting of the strips. This is harder than it sounds, as the top end of the strip has to be cut pretty precisely, and the edges have to be beveled. If not, the top of the strip will show a gap where it meets the rudder skeg. In addition,the after edge of the keel is not a straight line, so you either have a gap or shape the front edge of the strip. Also annoying is the #10 half inch self tapping screws I used tend to strip heads when fitting, so I got to extract about 5 of the little bastards. Upside is I got to try a few new screw extractors. Downside is they don't work any beter than the old ones. Really tricky was countersinking the screws correctly. The strips are thinner than the head of the screw is tall, so you have to countersink them slightly into the glass. This is easier once you've set your countersink to the right depth, but it's still easy to go too deep (screw doesn't grip strip) or too shallow (screw head is proud of strip) This part of the job was the most irritating and took about 6hrs

Today I did the last bit and attached the strips. Prep was important. I wrapped the rudder in 6mil plastic to keep it from getting glued. I could have used thinner, but experience tells me that the thin stuff will shrink and melt when heated. Since the yard is now in the 30's I have the whole boat tented, and warmed with a space heater. Additionally, I warmed the surfaces with a heat gun until it's hot to the touch. I used West epoxy with the fast hardener, and lots of 404 and 406 adhesive fillers. Super critical: keep the epoxy warm! I set it down on the ground for a few minutes and it got sludgy and difficult to work with.

The strips are bedded down with the thickenend epoxy, brushed with epoxy on the mating surface then attached with screws. Quite a bit of epoxy came out of the seams, but I figure better that than a void. I kept the heat on with a space heater and 700w halogen light until I left the yard. Hopefully it stays in the 40's inside my tent for a while tonight. I'm returning tomorrow to post cure it with a heat gun. Attaching the strips took around 4 hrs.

To do this again I would budget around 15 hrs including cleanup and heatup. Hopefully his means no cracks to fill at the end of the season.

Next step is to remove the paint from the keel, as I've decided I may as well fair the whole keel at once. Slightly more work, but this means I don't have to work around existing bottom paint. Looking forward to it!

Monday, December 3, 2007


In order to take a full job off the huge task list, we pulled and started sanding the interior wood from Shields 88. It's pleasant to have a nice straightforward job for once.

There's quite a bit of wood on these boats, you don't realize how much until you have to take it all off! Theres about 65' of 1x1" teak for the toerail, about 30' of thin x 5" teak for the coaming, 4 floorboards and 2 benches. The really special thing about 88's teak is that it seems to be original, so the wood we're messing with has been around for 40 years!

As we found it, it was mostly in ok condition. It was complete, but a bit gray/black, and the birds of Canal Street Marina had definitely labelled it. We took the benches and floorboards out to the shop to sand/oil the whole mess.

Niki was along for the ride, which certainly made getting it off the boat easier! While not too heavy (although I considered ways to lighten it all...) it's awkward to move a wood bench around, under tarps, down ladders etc.

Anyway, here's the photo's to prove we did work. If these aren't convincing, theres about 1 gallon of teak dusk in the shop vac you're welcome to.

Niki enjoys sanding. She really does. Too bad she works or I'd be setting her to paint prep and going out for coffee all day.

Side by side comparison between the benches. The woods really high quality teak, which I suppose was common at one point. Sands out to a really nice orangish color. Kind of makes me wish we could leave them bare, and keep them inside! They're getting oiled before going back. Not for a second did we consider varnish, as neither one of us feels the shine is worth the work.

What else is going on? Fairing the whole keel now (sigh) as there are a few previous patches that have lousy adhesion. Going to strip it, fill/fair, interprotect and VC17. All of this has to be done with heaters and lights since we're in the unheated building. Looks like we might keep the boat this year, for cost/time/temp issues, but that will free us up for doing more important things, like the bottom and rigging. We've got a new main and jib on the way, which is probably the biggest speed buy we can make.

Coming up soon is finishing off the keel, then starting on the bow repair, forward hull/deck tabbing and then someday I can do what I actually know how to do and rerig the boat.