Engine Love in the Fall

It’s been a couple of months since I have written about Satori. The last sailing trip was in October, for Race Your House. Between September and October I had some of my favorite days on the water. I did a solo run down to Blake Island to raft up with some friends, then did a little spinnaker run to prepare for the only race Satori has been in since I bought her. Now that it’s blowing gales and snowing in the mountains, I have a little break to talk about project season.

Satori and her crew sailing in the Race Your House Regatta
Satori and her crew sailing in the Race Your House Regatta. Photo by Mark Aberle, copied from Off the Coast of Ballard.
Race Your House 2015 - photo by Gary Peterson
Race Your House 2015 – photo by Gary Peterson

The first topic is the jiffy reefing system. I’ve never been a fan of how she’s rigged. You generally want to be on a starboard tack when reefing the mainsail with the existing setup. Otherwise you’ll be on the leeward side of the boom when pulling the clew cringle down. Usually when you’re reefing the wind has picked up enough to buck the boat bit. The first reef isn’t too bad, but the second reef is a ride that is better suited on the windward side of the mast when reefing. I decided to focus on the engine this fall and winter, and since Satori was out of commission I could also work on her boom. The day after the race, I took all of her sails down and put them in a dry place until I’m finished. I also took the boom off and stripped all of the hardware off so I could work on it alongside of the engine project. I plan to add winches and run lines to both sides of the boom, through rope clutches to make reefing much easier.

Showing a single reef with the clew cringle crossing over to eliminate the friction caused by the sail bunching up under the reefing line
Showing a single reef with the clew cringle line crossing over to eliminate the friction caused by the sail bunching up under the reefing line. This will be eliminated with the new setup.

Satori’s engine was installed by Stewarts Marine here in Ballard. The day the owners motored away with the new Bukh DV 36 was on June 6th, 1986. By June 2016, Satori’s engine will be thirty years old. When I bought Satori, she had a little more than five-hundred hours on the engine which is not much at all, but she was showing signs of severe corrosion on the starboard side of the engine. This was from weeping of seawater due to worn seals on the impeller water pump, and some poorly sealed hoses. To recap the amount of work I have already completed… The original water lift muffler had some pinholes that was causing it to corrode. The old Racor filter looked a bit old and I wasn’t able to find any replacement filters any longer. The original fuel lines were also starting to leak due to plastic fittings wearing out and hose that was at it’s final days. I addressed the fuel lines first. Later I added a new muffler. I lost part of the summer sailing last year due to an oil pipe bursting. I placed an order from Bukh for the new parts, which took the better part of a month. Since then I have only replaced the oil and fuel filters, plus made an attempt to reduce the corrosion by spraying solvents onto the effected area. I’m sure that addressing it sooner would have been better, but I put other projects in front of the line until the fall weather settled in. Now that we have periods of monsoon rains and cold temperatures, I can finally address the issues once and for all. Instead of just replacing the water pump, I decided to replace the entire cooling system and service the parts that remain in good condition. It may seem hard to believe but I am really enjoying this project.

Showing the corrosion and original oil pipe prior to repair in 2014
Showing the corrosion and original oil pipe prior to repair in 2014
Engine block and mount prior to cleaning the iron oxide
Engine block and mount prior to cleaning the iron oxide
Beginning of the clean up project
Beginning of the clean up project with attempts to extract the rusted bolts.

I started by removing all hoses, rubber end caps, pipes, heat exchangers, water pump, and anything else related to the cooling system. I was a little concerned that I would not be able to find replacement parts, but I was relieved to find all of the parts available in the US and UK via mail order. The first thing to address while I wait for parts delivery is the corroded engine mount. The bolts attached to the mounting bracket were heavily corroded, and possibly bonded to the engine. I began scraping and brushing away the iron oxide until I could see the shiny steel underneath. I started to turn the first bolt head, but it would not budge, and ended up stripping the bolt even more. While I was working on the engine mount, I decided to take a look at the front engine mounts to see the difference. When I looked at the bracket I realized that the bolts had completely sheared away, leaving the bracket disconnected from the block. This was an unexpected situation and needed to be addressed immediately. I removed the front mounting bracket which revealed the sheared bolts. Fortunately I had enough space to work on drilling out the bolts. Over the next week I proceeded to drill out the first bolt and remove it with an extractor. The second one would not come out with soaked aero-kroil or torch, so I drilled it out and tapped it for installing a heli-coil. I double stacked two coils and added Loctite to keep the bolt torqued down.

Engine mount sheared bolts
Engine mount sheared bolts
Using an extractor to remove a sheared bolt
Using an extractor to remove a sheared bolt
Cleaned mounting bracket and new bolts with heli-coil
Cleaned mounting bracket and new bolts with heli-coil

After the unexpected distraction I moved onto the oil coolant pipes, front mounting bracket, and heat exchangers. I brought them into a machine shop so they could soak everything in a hot tank. Hopefully it would strip most of the paint off and clean the steel parts a bit. In hindsight I should have just used  phosphoric acid to clean them due to the expensive price of $45 for bathing. I took the parts to a wire brush on the end of a drill to bring the parts down to mostly bare metal again. After seeing the oil heat exchanger transform into a shiny brass lantern, I bought some high-temp clear paint to allow the brass to keep shining. The coolant pipes and engine mount were painted red after a coat of ospho for converting the surface oxide to a ready-to-paint surface . I was able to work another corroded engine block bolt out and replace it as well. I ordered some new custom hoses, heat exchanger end caps, and put the water pump on order. The turn around time is apparently a month and a half before the pump is delivered to the parts dealer here in Seattle. Until then I’ve decided to clean up the engine and repaint part of it where the water pump has caused severe corrosion. I have also decided to find a drain for the stainless steel water lift muffler. I received a brass plug when I had the muffler fabricated, but that has since corroded severely. After only one and a half years I’m already repairing the plug to allow the seawater to drain easily into the bilge. I will keep working on preparing the engine for painting by removing corrosion, and cleaning the surface back down to bare metal again. Some areas will receive just a little touchup paint, but others will be prepped with ospho and then painted over with a couple of coats of red krylon rattle can paint. I sent the oil in to have analyzed so I can keep an eye on the level of iron and calcium in the oil. I should have a good sense of the amount of degradation that is to be expected with the piston compression based on how fast it’s loosing metal. Three samples over the next year can tell me how much I should be concerned.

Cooling system parts after removing from the engine
Cooling system parts after removing from the engine
Oil heat exchanger before cleaning
Oil heat exchanger before cleaning
Oil heat exchanger after polishing
Oil heat exchanger after polishing
The seawater heat exchanger looks surprisingly good considering the age of it. Not much needed to get this cleaned up.
The seawater heat exchanger looks surprisingly good considering the age of it. Not much needed to get this cleaned up.

The next phase will be removing the rear mounting bracket, and getting it repaired or replaced with a new one. Once the engine is cleaned up and painted around the engine mount, I can install the bracket and put the cooling system back together. Although I won’t have repaired all of the corrosion, I will be more confident that it will not continue as it did. The rest of the engine could be cleaned and touched up over time, without worrying about any further damage. It’s a serious challenge to decide where to stop repairing. I have heard several people suggest pulling it out, but that would cost me a considerable amount of money. If I removed it I would need to have someone transport it to somewhere I can work on it. I would need to pay someone to give me the space to work on it, plus a daily rental charge for the engine stand. If I keep the engine inside of the boat I have all of the time that I need to get the engine done. There will be other projects down the road to address some of the foreseen issues. I only need to decide what will be acceptable to leave as is until I have more downtime to address the next corroded part. Hopefully when I post about the engine project completion it will still be 2015. I don’t expect the boom to be finished by then, but that’s okay. I’ll motor to weather and run with the foresails.

The caliper and micrometer are invaluable for taking measurements for getting replacement parts.
The caliper and micrometer are invaluable for taking measurements for getting replacement parts.

The Sail Bag

I’m fortunate to have Schattauer Sails so close to Satori’s mooring. It’s been a couple of years of planning and execution to get Satori’s new sail plan and rigging in order. My previous post discussed the new loose footed staysail, which is a major improvement to her rigging. One of the pitfalls of having a hanked-on sail is bagging and stowing the sail. My old bag for the jib had a zipper to secure the sail once it was bagged, but it never closed easily. On occasion when a new passenger would come sailing with me, I would initiate them by asking them to bag the jib and tell the remaining crew to watch while they struggled. After about ten minutes they would simply give up, unable to figure out how to close the bag. I must warn you to stay away from zippered sail bags. When I finally had the staysail setup to fly, I contemplated on how to build a new bag. On the sea trial with the Schattauer brothers, they brought along an old cotton canvas bag that their father Franz made many years ago. I asked them to show me the proper way to bag a sail. I know, you’re probably thinking something this simple should not need instruction. I must remind you that bagging a sail in lumpy seas is downright tedious and exhausting. The technique they employed was to get a proper flake of the sail, like the mainsail. Once you have the folds and the sail is down, you can fold once or twice inwards to prepare for the bag. Then you simply stuff the sail into the bag without concerning yourself with ensuring the sail stays folded or organized in any way. Here’s the kicker… once you’ve got the sail in the bag, you then try to secure the fasteners by holding the bag together. Not as easy as it sounds. I decided to engineer a bag with compression straps to make the process much easier. I give you the SSS Bag.

Satori's StaySail Bag, a new approach to sail bagging.
Satori’s StaySail Bag, a new approach to sail bagging.

While the original design copies the Franz Schattauer sailbag, it also adds a modern approach to the design. I’ve copied some of the concepts from outdoor gear designs for backpacking and climbing. This reduces weight, makes it easier to close the sail bag, and adds durability where it matters. First, lets take a look at some of the key features of the original bag. The most important part is the shape of the bag. The bottom (furthest aft) part of the bag is a reuleaux triangle shape, meaning the sides are curved. You can see this in both images and the pattern is an exact copy.

Franz bag bottom shape
Franz bag bottom shape
SSS Bag bottom shape showing webbing tabs to secure bag to lifelines
SSS Bag bottom shape showing webbing tabs to secure bag to lifelines

To get the shape, I simply traced the original pattern. The zigzag stitching is because the entire inside of the bag on the end is reinforced with Top Gun fabric. I simply traced a smaller footprint of the pattern and sewed it into place before attaching. The inside seams use a 1″ binding to hold the seams together and protect the seam stitching from abrasion. The next modification is only slight. I use the same tabs for securing the bag to the lifelines, but instead of using canvas, I simply use webbing with a piece of binding to hold the grommet from pulling away from the hole. This only adds a little more strength to the grommet and an extra minute to sewn in the binding.

Original tab sewn into the seam of the sailbag
Original tab sewn into the seam of the sailbag
Preparing the binding
Preparing the binding
Insert the binding through the grommet
Insert the binding through the grommet
Fold the binding away from the direction of pull
Fold the binding away from the direction of pull
The tab on the end of the SSS Bag showing the extra reinforcement for the grommet sewn in place
The tab on the end of the SSS Bag showing the extra reinforcement for the grommet sewn in place

Next is the halyard connection. Franz was a sailmaker by trade so he simply used a grommet to secure the bag to a halyard to keep the bag off of the deck. I also like having the bag elevated to keep it off of the windlass. Again, I used a strip of webbing secured to both the top of the bag and the end of the bag. I also used a stainless steel D-ring for the halyard connection.

Original halyard attachment on the Franz sailbag
Original halyard attachment on the Franz sailbag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag

The very bottom of the bag could possibly collect with water and cause the sail to mildew, so I added a couple of grommets to allow the bag to drain. I also lined the inside bottom seam with Top Gun fabric, and used binding tape to protect the seams from abrasion. The bottom edge of the bag, which either makes contact with the stay or the tack pennant is reinforced with polyester webbing. This prevents the edge from abrasion. The top of the bag also has the same webbing edge reinforcement. Both sides of the bag opening are lined with additional fabric. The side which is in contact with the forestay is Top Gun fabric, while the outside fold has an extra layer of white Sunbrella fabric, which is a little softer and easier on the sailcloth.

SSS Bag showing the webbing edge reinforcement
SSS Bag showing the webbing edge reinforcement
Detail showing the inside bottomfold of the SSS Bag
Detail showing the inside bottom fold of the SSS Bag
SSS Bag bottom drains and seams
SSS Bag bottom drains and seams

Although the original shape is almost the same as Franz’s bag, perhaps the biggest improvement is the closure system. Most if not all sail bags seem to expect that you pull the edges together to close the bag. This is perhaps the most time consuming task, as well as frustrating as hell. I decided to add more overlap on the bottom of the SSS Bag and compression straps to make closing the bag a snap. Here are the step-by-step frames:

 Step 1, Bag the sail enough to get the top webbing strap around the forestay

Step 1, Bag the sail enough to get the top webbing strap around the forestay
Step 2, Secure the next two buckles and fold the head of the sail off to the side
Step 2, Secure the next two buckles (middle and bottom) and shove the head of the sail off to the side inside the bag
Step 3, raise the bag using the halyard to desired height. then pull straps tight until the fasteners line up.
Step 3, raise the bag using the halyard to your desired height. then pull straps tight until the fasteners line up.
Satori's StaySail Bag, a new approach to sail bagging.
Step 4, secure common sense fasteners, then tie off the top of the bag to the forestay, and finally tie the sides off to lifelines to prevent swinging
Step 4, Tie off the bag to the forestay using cross wraps to ensure that water has a proper path to drain through the bag
Step 5, Tie off the bag to the forestay using cross wraps to ensure that water has a proper path to drain through the bag
End of the bag secured to lifelines
End of the bag secured to lifelines

So there you have the SSS Bag (Satori StaySail Bag). I’m grateful for being able to copy such an awesome bag, and make it better than the original with my own enhancements. I’m very pleased with the size of the bag, the overall shape, and it should work very well when it’s time to put the sail away. Thanks Frank and Axel for loaning me the pattern and allowing me to copy it for my own use. I can tick yet another project off the list.

Loose Footed Staysail

When Frank was drawing lines for the new sail plan, I had him assume that the staysail would be loose-footed. That was about a year ago and since then I’ve been sailing a sloop rig. It’s been great except while reaching and running in winds above twenty knots, or when the winds are light and the jib will not pass through the stays without going forward. There has been a few occasions where the staysail alone would have proven very useful. Once heading north from Watmough Bay north, I saw thirty knots of true wind. The jib was reefed down to about forty percent and Satori did not do well with this sail arrangement. The clew of the jib is up high, so the effort is in the center of the triangle and too far forward. If I had the staysail I would have rolled up the jib, raised the staysail and enjoyed a comfortable and safe run with a light helm without weather or lee. I’ve been waiting since April for a long spell of good weather in between other projects to install the new deck hardware. I’ve gone over the steps in my head, consulted others about the process, and finally built up the courage to drill the fifty holes needed for the new hardware.

When I began researching how to install bolts into a fiberglass deck, I had seen several different methods employed to do this. First off, I did not want the core exposed to possible water leaks. I also wanted to be able to remove the hardware without much work. If a sheave broke, a winch failed, the track was compromised, or the rope clutch was damaged, I want to be able to remove it and replace it without having to drill new holes or patch a rotted core. I also wanted to keep the cabin looking good with bronze, brass, teak, etc. I talked to a lot of people about the different methods on how to approach this project. Bud Taplin has been through just about every repair on a Westsail and suggested that I do not drill through the deck but simply tap into it. I didn’t like that idea because of the possibility of exposing the core to rotting, but it did give me more ideas about thru-bolting. I also inquired about how to make an epoxy plug that would hold on it’s own. Eventually this evolved into what I think is the best way to install hardware that may take high loads from severe weather.

Satori running under staysail in 20-30 knot winds
Satori running under staysail in 20-30 knot winds

 

The first step is to line up all of the deck hardware on one side and use a spare line to check for routing. The cheek block will need to turn the line and create a straight line to the rope clutch. I decided to allow for an additional rope clutch if one day I decide to add a halyard or other line to the same winch. That meant the rope clutch would be offset a tiny bit so two lines would lead to the winches properly. The winch handle needed to clear all obstructions, specifically the dodger frame and sliding hatch, so the winch was placed so I could do a full rotation. Once everything was in place and lined up correctly, I used a pencil to draw an outline of the hardware and fill in the bolt holes. Once the lines were drawn on one side, I used a ruler and caliper to determine the position of everything on the other side using existing lines and points on the deck. Again I traced the outline,  filled in the holes, and prepared to drill the holes. I started with the tracks by drilling a pilot hole on one end, just to see where it would come through on the other side. Once I found the location inside, I used a countersink bit to open the headliner plywood to prevent splintering of the top laminate. Next was getting a hole on the other end of the track drilled. Because the tracks were raised in the middle and curved a tiny bit, I made sure to use the same track and kept track of which side was forward so the bolts would later line up properly. Again I went below and countersunk the headliner. I then used the same pilot hole to drill a 5/16″ hole, which allowed me to install a bolt to hold the track in place. Next I placed a weight on the center of the track to flatten it due to the slight camber, then drilled a 5/16″ hole on the other end. Placing an additional bolt in the end hole allowed the track to be lined up for each additional hole. Using the track as a guide, I could drill the remaining holes. I followed the same procedure; pilot hole, then countersink the headliner, and finally drill to 5/16″.

Headliner countersunk
Headliner countersunk

 

Drilled holes ready for epoxy
Drilled holes ready for epoxy

 

Epoxy filled holes ready for curing
Epoxy filled holes ready for curing

 

Once I had all holes drilled, I went back through and drilled to 3/8″. Then I used a keyhole bit on a Dremel to route out the plywood core to create a gap to fill and strengthen the epoxy plug. This also prevents any water that may leak into the hole from rotting the core. The next step was plugging with epoxy. I used West Systems epoxy with a resin filler to thicken it. The consistency needed was crucial. Too thin and the epoxy would run into the headliner foam or escape through the backing tape. Too thick and the epoxy would either have an air pocket, or it would not fill the hole entirely. The correct thickness allowed the hole to be filled completely from the headliner, through the core, up to the gelcoat. First I added blue masking tape to every hole inside the cabin on the headliner. Then I went back up to the cabin top, mixed the epoxy and started filling the holes with a syringe. Once it began hardening, I allowed it to cure overnight.  The next day I prepped the cabin again to collect the resin from dusting the interior. I then found a sleeve to center the drill bit so the hole was not accidentally drilled offset, thus creating a problem screwing down the hardware. The sleeve was just a plastic tube that the carbide drill was stored in and fit the track hole perfectly. I began with the ends again, lining up the track for the additional ten holes. I only drilled the starting hole, which was centered in the plug hole and down to about a centimeter. Then I drilled the remaining holes once the track was removed, through the deck and headliner. Then swapped the bit and used the drill to tap the hole for threads. Once I had the first hole drilled, I repeated the steps on the opposite end and then used the drill to screw down the track for the remaining ten holes. Using the sleeve I started the remaining holes, then removed the track and finished the process of drilling and tapping. The final step was to countersink the hole to allow the butyl tape to fill in the gap between the track and threads.

Staysail deck hardware installed
Staysail deck hardware installed

For every piece of hardware I follow the same procedure. In the end I had forty-eight epoxy reinforced, tapped holes. The remaining task was bedding the hardware. I used butyl tape as the bedding compound. I’ve heard great things about butyl tape due to several reasons. It’s easy to work with, like working with silly putty. It seems to do an excellent job at sealing for decades if done properly. Finally it’s easy to remove if you ever need to for whatever reason. All of these combined benefits makes it better than any other liquid compound on the market. Ideally when bedding hardware you will create an even surface and expose the holes enough to prevent the compound from catching on the bolt when you’re screwing it in. Also it’a a good idea to build up a small amount under the bolt head and again at the top of the threads so the countersink portion will completely fill. If you really want a tight seal, you can also add a layer to the threads. I decided not to do this so if there was leaking from the hardware bedding, I would see it coming through the cabin top instead of remaining inside of the hole, but not penetrating. Although it’s entirely epoxy in the hole, I still do not want standing water inside because that will eventually cause the bolts to rust and since they are hidden I will only see the issue if I pull a bolt. For finishing the bolts inside of the cabin, I decided to use all bronze fender washers, lock rings and cap nuts. The fender washers and lock rings are easily found at Fisheries Supply, but there seems to be only one online supplier for the bronze cap nuts. I could have used brass but I did not like the polished look at eye level, plus it looks much better.

Staysail track bronze fender washers and cap nuts
Staysail track bronze fender washers and cap nuts

 

Staysail first time loose footed
Staysail first time loose footed

 

Staysail tack pennant
Staysail tack pennant

 

Retrospective:

I was initially scrutinized by some pretty harsh internet personalities for even considering tapping the deck, without using backing plates. It seems that no one likes the idea of depending on the threads alone to prevent the hardware from pulling out. The cheek blocks, rope clutches, and winches are under shear loads but many folks were concerned that because I did not have composite or metal backing plates that the hardware would pull out. I did attempt to try to calculate the potential loads using whatever information I could find. Dave King provided some force numbers based on the square footage of the sail. He also provided expected loads with specific wind speeds, and the forces applied on a flogging sail. I also looked at some data provided on the pull-out strength of epoxy when tested as a plug in a wooden block. In the case of the bolt strength test, every bolt was glued in place but others have suggested that tapping with machine threads would only reduce the strength by a small amount. There is also compression loads to consider, there the bolt will be pulled horizontally and the top of the plug would compress forward, the bottom compress away from the shear load. This is exactly why I decided to bolt through with epoxy. It provides a compression sleeve to increase strength with the added benefit of sealing the plywood core. With all of these considerations, it was obvious that tapping alone may produce an insufficient amount of strength if I was ever caught offshore in a gale. Fender washers and cap nuts will certainly suffice for the tracks, even if there are two bolts are simply screwed down without backing. I am confident that they will suffice for any potential load that the staysail or storm jib can produce. The winches and rope clutches have a turning block to reduce the loads placed directly on them. I am not certain of the reduction but it should be enough to eliminate backing plates to prevent the winch bolts from pulling out. Fender washers should suffice for all of the thru-bolts and deck hardware with the threaded epoxy compression sleeves. If I were to have used a liquid bedding compound, did not plug and reinforce with epoxy or tap for machine bolts, I think there would be argument for single backing plates on the deck hardware to spread the loads. Also if I were flying a genoa of three-hundred square feet on this hardware and were racing, pushing the limits of the hardware I would consider a completely different strategy. I’m not racing and the sail will never be large enough to cause these kinds of loads. The storm jib is half the square footage of the staysail and perhaps in hurricane winds I may see the tracks rip out and the winches shear. Let’s hope I’m smart enough to avoid winds above forty knots so I will never know the breaking strength of any of Satori’s rigging and hardware.

Three sails, three sheets to the wind
Three sails, three sheets to the wind