sailing homepage : trip reports : summer refit : cushions & dinghy

Sep 9-10: Cushion foam cutting, winch assembly and greasing, folding dinghy wheels

The short week after the long weekend was a nice rest from boatwork, and we got a lot done! During the week I managed to tear apart the two main Genoa winches, which very obviously have never been maintained. Never. The grease must have been the original grease placed in the winches in the 1970s.

I used the technique that Jim, the Mechanical Engineer at Centellax, recommended, and a tool from my motorcycle racing buddy Ray. Sorry Ray, it's not that sharp anymore.

Petroleum solvent cleaner


Winch disassembly with Ray's tool

Sara helped, we got the winches apart and gave the internals a liberal soaking in petroleum solvent. I guess this is 'carb cleaner' stuff; it's wonderful. Grease, even 30-year old grease, doesn't stand a chance.

Sara helping with the foam cushions


Sara not helping anymore. Sara tired.

When Lewmar (or originally Barient) recommend that you use a 'liberal' amount of winch grease, I thought they meant it. Maybe they do, but after reassembling the winches, we discovered it wasn't possible to turn them! I'm hoping that once they're fastened down we can crank on them and distribute the grease inside. I really hope I don't have to take them apart again. (side note: later it turns out everything is fine)

Liberal amounts of grease


Winch disassembly method

Along with the boat work, Sara and I are also moving out of our little rental place in Santa Rosa. I guess I should say this was the weekend we STARTED moving out. We vacate at the end of this week. We have a lot more stuff than we remembered!

Saturday we spent tearing the house apart, sorting everything into four piles: Store, Donate, Chuck, and Boat. Clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff, everything. It's nice to have a forced cleansing moment, but it's stressful; we're out of time to do things right.

We dragged our less expensive furniture out onto the street, where it was immediately snapped up by our Junior College student neighbours. We've never met them before, but they somehow knew free furniture was available and came running over. After they took the crap, we invited our friends over to forage.

Michele took our fancy adjustable two-bulb standing lamp. Beth took some potted plants. Steven got the motherload though: our kitchen table, four chairs, my beautiful flat-screen TV, and the most important steal of all: my Xbox. I was trying to convince Sara that we should bring the Xbox with us. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful.

Packing and moving out!


Sara taking a break

We also spent about two hours working on cutting foam and stuffing the new cushion covers Sara's mom made for us. Ed came over and helped us tear apart the old hard-backed cushions and prep them for the new foam and material.

The hard-backed cushions, which are the folding backrest for the two benches in the cabin, were put together with about a million staples. I guess that's the way to do it, but replacing the foam and material is a miserable experience. Getting all the staples out is crazy! Ed and I had serious wrist repetitive-motion injuries at the end of it. And that was just from the staple removal process, sailor.

Cutting the cabin bench back cushions


New V-berth cushions are cut!

Saturday night was a nice break - we went into San Francisco with Michele for our friend Briana's birthday. Lots of sangria later, Michele dropped us off at the boat on her way back up to Santa Rosa. We slept well, but I'm really looking forward to having the V-berth cushions done and installed. They're going to be sooo comfortable.

Sunday dawned early with no fog, which was nice, and we got to work. We cleaned up a bit and installed the dinghy wheels. It turned out that we needed starboard offsets to mount the wheel pivot system out from the dinghy transom. The offsets meant that the old mounting hardware was too short.

Earlier in the week, Mike had introduced me to the wonders of McMaster-Carr. They have a simply fantastic website, with an easy-to-navigate database of parts. Are you looking for a 6" long bolt, made from stainless, in 1/4" diameter, with a non-standard number of threads per inch? You can get it with four different types of bolt-head, and see a drawing of the part before you buy.

We've made a total of four orders so far. Each ships from stock. The parts arrive the next day at a shipping cost of ~$5. Just unbelievable! These guys rule.

Dinghy wheels finally installed


Wheel bolts ground down

Getting the wheels installed took an hour or so, and dremeling off the end of the nuts took another hour. Dremel cutting wheels are so fragile! One little twitch of your hand and you're flinching as the wheel explodes and shoots fragments everywhere. I found one magic wheel though, and it lasted for three of the eight bolts. The other five bolts ate an average of two wheels each. Stainless is strong material!

Sara's sister has just moved to San Jose, and she showed up just before 11AM to see the boat. Sara and her then took off for their cousin's baby shower. Ugh. Babies.

Mike showed an hour later and we test-fitted the anchor roller and windlass. Everything is perfect, we just need one or two more special parts from McMaster-Carr. He spent some time using an expensive single-purpose tool to do exactly what we needed to do. Tools are cool.

Mike and the anchor roller


The bowsprit and the router

Mike and I then spent a good deal of time trying to figure out the stupid instrument mount. We want the GPS/chartplotter/radar display to be right at the helm, but the mounting options aren't good for the older binnacle we have. We've been shopping around for parts and assembled a bunch of different options. It turns out we can make it work, but we need just one more custom-made part from the guys at Celeri.

This brings me to a new topic: everyone we've been working with to get parts made, fixed, coated, or cleaned.

Mike and I have been frequenting Celeri's Welding and Fabrication shop in Santa Rosa, a mile or two from where we work. These guys built the stainless-steel rails, bent them to our specifications, welded on the fittings, and made everything look beautiful. They also did a ton of work on the stainless anchor roller. Major kudos to a top-notch group of guys.

Welded to perfection, our custom anchor roller


Frank Celeri Jr., proprietor

They recommended I talk to the folks at Vaider Powdercoating in Rohnert Park when I brought in the rusty exhaust manifold pipe. I dropped the part off last week, and Jeanie had it sandblasted and double-coated with a high-temperature moisture-resistant epoxy. It's another beautiful job that saved us from having something custom built.

Old rusty exhaust and water-mix fitting


Sandblasted, double-epoxied by Vaider

Next is, of course, Jesse and his crew at West Marine Rigging. These guys finished something like ten different jobs this past week; big stuff like the lifelines and building a new steering cable/chain, and little stuff like rewiring our spinnaker/whisker poles. They also tuned our rig, installed a boom topping lift, replaced a few halyards, and will be finishing with a new boom vang installation this week.

These guys are great, everyone is excited about the project, and it's not just a job for them. Frank Jr. from Celeri drove down to Vaider to check out the powdercoating of the exhaust tube. Jesse has made something like four different trips to the boat, and voluntarily re-did some work he didn't think was done right.

Jay from CyclePro


Jesse (crouching) from West Marine

Then there were hundreds of others who went above and beyond the call of duty to do the right thing and help us out. Jay at CyclePro in Santa Rosa is a great example. He helped us determine that the chain we needed for our steering system was incompatible with peened-links, and then hooked us up with some master-links for free. How cool is that? Jay and CyclePro rock.

Well, that was the weekend. More moving this week and next weekend - we'll be living on the boat in just five days! Ugh.