Trailer Maintenance

I’ve been working on the trailer while the boat was hanging in my shop. I built a platform to support the keel and keep the trailer from scraping the paint off when I launch. I also lowered the side bunks and moved them ahead a bit. After the platform was built, I took the wheels off to repack the bearings and change the dust covers for some Bearing Buddies.

I’m glad I did because I was greeted to a handful of rollers spilling out of the hub when I took the wheel off. This trailer is pretty old and I don’t think the bearings have ever been replaced. Anyway, I bought some new A-4 bearings, packed them, and got the wheels installed again.

Next I stapled some bunk carpet to the new platform. There’s a wooden block that supports the keel’s rocker up forward under the carpet. I added a jack too, so I don’t have to move the trailer with a dolly or the winch handle. The red bow stop is new as well, the previous one was a black rubber roller that left black marks on the bow. Hopefully this one doesn’t make my boat look like I ran over a scuba diver.

And finally I got the boat back on the trailer. I’ve bedded all the fittings that go on the deck which was a job. You don’t think it should take that long to bolt stuff down but it does. It didn’t help that I had to remake the backing plates because I put the originals somewhere for safe keeping… I still need to clean and paint the inside of the boat before I can put the inspection hatches in.

And of course no project would be complete without uncovering more problems than you started with. The trailer lights have quit working, even though they’re only a year old. They’re LED and I always unplug them before backing into the water, so I think there’s a corroded connection somewhere. I’m getting 1.5 volts measuring between the trailer ground and the plug. There’s a complete circuit but I guess there must be too much resistance somewhere for the lights to work. Anyway, I’m thinking about running a dedicated ground line to each light and changing the wire nuts to those heat shrink butt connectors. Either that or make some clamp on lights and remove them when going into the water. Whatever I do, I don’t want wiring the trailer to become a yearly thing!

Odds and Ends

When I built the boat I didn’t take the time to over drill fastener holes and then fill with thickened epoxy. So as I have been epoxying things I’ve started working on the holes. I also shortened the oarlock pads since the bolts didn’t actually land in the doubler underneath the deck. That was a measurement error on my part in the rush to get the boat ready for a vacation. Here’s how to enlarge an existing hole with a Forstner bit.

I’ve never been happy with the slot in the end of the sprit that catches a loop of line in the sail’s peak. So I filled it with a block of wood which I’ll smooth down and then drill a bee hole though. I’m planning to have a long length of line tied into the peak which will go through the bee hole and down the sprit to a cleat. That should make it easier to get the sail rigged.

The hard rubber rollers on my trailer have started chewing up the edges of the keel, so I hoisted the boat off the trailer with a chain fall so I could get under there to sand and epoxy. A strap around the main thwart almost perfectly balances the boat, and a line to the bow fitting keeps it from nosing down. I’ve also started painting the bare spots to build them up a bit before I paint everything else.

I’m hoping to have the boat done by the end of the month. Hopefully everything will go well and I’ll be sailing soon.

Mast Partner Progress

I got my aluminum mast partner back from the powder coater recently and dry fit it to the boat. I’m using four 1/2″ bolts to hold it on, so I drilled some 9/16″ holes in the bulkhead and sealed the wood with epoxy. Hopefully I can start painting and reinstall the fittings soon.

First of three rounds of epoxy to seal the bare wood and inside of the holes.

Testing the mast partner

I did have a bit of a disaster before I could dry fit it… I managed to get a bolt stuck in some left over powder coating down in the threaded hole. So I drilled it out with a left hand drill bit, picked out the threads, and then chased the threads with a tap.

Milling the bolt down flat so I can have a good starting point for the drill. You can use calipers to find the center point, but I usually just eyeball it. With a small diameter spotting drill you can get within .010″ without too much trouble.

Sometimes the stub of bolt will come out if you drill aggressively with a left hand bit.

All’s well that ends well.

Side Bench Improvements

We’ve had a few days of decently warm weather lately so I’ve been able to make some progress on the epoxy work. I’ve added oak ledgers to the thwarts to carry some side benches, overdrilled and filled the fitting holes with thickened epoxy, faired out the area for the mast partner, and added a doubler to the centerboard case to carry a pair of cleats for the downhaul and snotter lines.

The ledger on the forward face of the sternsheets had to be split in half to clear the flange on the inspection hatch. I’ve temporarily screwed it on with deck screws while the epoxy cures, but I’ll later remove them and fill the holes. I tried to give everything a smooth shape so hopefully it won’t be too hard on the back if I rest against them.

Looking forward, this one is fastened so it is flush on the bottom with the thwart. I’ve placed them so a 3/4″ board will make a flush sleeping platform.

Here’s the plywood doubler that will take the downhaul and snotter cleats. I’ve also smoothed out the area for the mast partner with a skim coat of thickened epoxy.

Here’s the updated todo list:

  • Rebed all the fittings
  • Install the mast partner
  • Make side benches
  • Paint everything
  • The keel is getting a little chewed up from the trailer rollers
  • Build a flat bed on the trailer so the keel is supported better
  • Repack the trailer bearings
  • Possibly lower the spring weight on the trailer.

Winter Maintenance

Spring is coming so it’s high time to get the boat ready. I’ve built a new mast partner out of aluminum which is currently off being powder coated coated green. You can see more pictures of building it here.

I’ve also repaired the splits in the mast which happened at the same time my mast partner cracked. I kerfed the problem areas with an oscillating saw, saturated the gap with neat epoxy, and then troweled in thickened epoxy until it was full. While I was at it I got the mast closer to round and shortened the snotter cleat to a minimum.

And finally I’ve been busy varnishing. It’s too cold out in the garage so I took over the living room while my wife is out of town. I put 8 coats on the mast and 2 on everything else since the varnish was in pretty good shape. Don’t mind that half finished breakfast nook in the background that my wife wants!

There’s still quite a bit to do on the hull, but I need to have warmer weather to do some epoxying and painting. I need to:

  • Over drill all the fitting holes and fill with epoxy before redrilling for the fasteners
  • Rebed all the fittings
  • Install the mast partner
  • Epoxy a pad on the centerboard case for a snotter cleat
  • Epoxy ledgers to the thwarts for side benches
  • Make side benches
  • Paint everything
  • The keel is getting a little chewed up from the trailer rollers
  • Build a flat bed on the trailer so the keel is supported better
  • Repack the trailer bearings
  • Possibly lower the spring weight on the trailer.

A lot to do!

Cracked Mast Partner

Recently my wife and I went on a week vacation down to Hatteras on the Outer Banks. I took my boat along with some grand ideas for sailing adventures, but it just didn’t work out. Most days had thunderstorms and rain, and the one day that was clear we changed locations since our neighbors were loud. At the second location I had to park my boat outside and with all the rain we had I probably bailed 50 gallons of water out every day. I also learned that the hatches aren’t totally watertight. I’m sure they’re fine in a capsize, but not with water sitting against the seal all day.

At the end of our vacation I noticed the mast partner had cracked as well as one of the staves in the hollow birdsmouth mast. I had the same problem with the mast partner in 2019 when we went down to Ocracoke, but I attributed it to poor workmanship when I originally built the boat. But now I’m beginning to suspect it has something to do with the wood moving around the incompressible bronze belaying pins. I usually keep the boat garaged and I’ve seen no evidence of cracks all summer and I’ve had the boat out in some rough weather.

The mast partner is a lamination of two 3/4″ yellow pine boards with a layer of 6oz fiberglass in between. The grain is fairly large and the fiberglass is along the neutral axis so it’s really not doing much. Either way, I’m not going to try repairing it again since it’s clear the materials aren’t up to the task.

I do metalworking for a living, so I’m planning to TIG weld up a new partner from aluminum and have it powder coated. Maybe green, maybe white… not sure yet. It’ll have four belaying pins welded on and possibly an integral bullseye for the snotter so I can run it back to the cockpit. I think it’ll have threaded studs welded on that go through the bulkhead to be secured with nuts and a backing plate. And I’ll probably mill a shallow groove all around for a wad of butyl tape to keep the water out.

I’m done messing around with dead tree carcass! haha