Monday 11 July 2011

Low-buck Project of the Week #2

     "All men are brothers, until the day they die."
                                           -Randy Newman

     I am short.

     The cabin house on Whiskeyjack  is not.

     This presents a challenge if I want to see over the house and sit while steering.   The weather cloths of the dodger provide excellent spray protection and shade, but  unless rolled up, they make it impossible to see around the house while steering, unless one leans wayyyy out over the coaming...
     ... which means I can no longer reach the wheel.  Because I am short.

     So, in short  (*rimshot*), I can see while steering, or sit while steering, but not both.  This presents a problem for one as fundamentally lazy as I.

      However, problems usually have solutions.  Being fundamentally cheap in addition to fundamentally lazy, I figured there had to be a low-buck solution.

      This is what I came up with:

      The solution would be a  removable raised helm-seat.  I thought about buying a ready- made fishing boat seat and pedestal, and simply installing a socket in the cockpit sole, but rejected the idea due to a) lack of storage on board for when the bulky seat is not in use and b) lack of room in the cockpit- adding a big honking seat would do us no favours.  So I did some measuring and figuring and headscratching and decided to hang a seat from the transom.  I built the seat itself during my low-buck frenzy documented a couple of months ago in these august pages-  now I have to tackle how to install it.
   The seat needs to be removable, but it also needs to be able to support my fat ass husky self.  I thought about fabricating folding wooden brackets, cutting slots, installing sockets, but rejected each idea.  I decided to browse the catalogue of one of my favourite chandleries, Lee Valley Tools (  ),  and espied my solution-  shelf brackets!

     These ain't your wimpy bookshelf brackets, though- these are for racking lumber.Each bracket has a capacity of 240 lbs.  More than ample, even for one as ample as I.  One warning- they are powder coated steel, but not stainless- in a salt-water environment they will rust when scratched or nicked, but I figured that in our seasonal sailing, freshwater environment they should hold their finish for a few seasons.  If not, it's not a big deal to paint them from time to time.  At less than $16 for two brackets and two standards, it's not a big gamble.

    Of course, to through-bolt the standards that the brackets hook to, I need to install backing plates. I'm no engineer, but, taking a wide wild-ass guess, simply screwing screws into the fiberglass  isn't going to be strong enough.  Bolts are the way to go.  I soaked six 2" x4" x1/2" pieces of plywood with epoxy, laid fiberglass cloth on front and back, then installed tee-nuts.  Plenty strong.

     Now, because these are backing plates, I have to find a way to install them on the back.  I am going to have to create a hole in the aft end of the cockpit large enough to get my backing plates, and my arm, in to anchor everything.  Then I need to find a way to make that hole either disappear or look like it has always been there.
   Ta-da!  Deck plate to the rescue!

   Okay, that covers the purty part, how do I handle the dirty part?  I have to make a six inch hole.  In a boat.  On the dock.  The unserviced, no water and power dock.  I don't own a fancy set of cordless tools- you know, the six piece makita kit with a cordless drill and circular saw and reciprocating saw and driver that would be perfect for household projects and boatwork, and it's only a few months until Christmas, so I'm just putting this out there, y'know, if anybody was wondering what to get me...
(shameless hinting ends now)
   I DO have a cordless drill.  Looks like I have to turn my drill into a saw.  Luckily, I know how, thanks to Don Casey.   In his great book, "This Old Boat"  he explains how to build a jig for creating large round holes with a drill.

So, I make a jig out of a piece of scrap, carefully measuring the radius of my deck plate so that the hole is straight-up Goldilocks- not too big, not too small, but juuust right.

     I find center, conveniently marked by a reflector, whose lack of purpose makes me suspicious that it covers a hole already existing.

  I install my jig, install a drill stop on a drill bit (so I don't drill into any wiring or hoses,) and start drilling.  Or sawing.  Or whatever.

   A half-hour later,

   I had a hole, into which the deck plate fit perfectly!  Yay, me!

   (For those smart- alecks pondering why I didn't simply buy a 6" hole saw for my 6" deck plate, and chuck it up to my drill, here's why- a 6" saw is too small for the diameter of the flange, and a 6 1/2" is too big, and a 6 1/4", if you can find one, is big bucks, and only available off the shelf at the closest big box store, which is 45 minutes away, plus the five minute walk down the dock- so, I could spend almost 2 hours in time, $15 in gas and $60 to buy a tool I might only use once for 5 minutes, or I could accomplish the same task in less time for free.)

  Ten minutes later I had the standards installed and the seat mounted.

 It fits, it works, and, as an added bonus, it gives us one more table in the cockpit.  We sea-tested the seat on Sunday afternoon, pounding through confused chop, and it worked great as a seat, and as a leaning post and as a table when the chop calmed and we served crudite in the cockpit.   Now we just need to make a cushion for it, to match the cockpit cushions.  We have the material, but not a sewing machine that can handle it.

Total cost, including cushion materials:  $48.

 (Purists, old salts, those whose sensibilities are offended by solutions that do not come from a chandlery, please take note of this disclaimer- Don't try this at home.  This solution works for us- your results may vary.  No stainless tube, teak or carbon fiber was hurt in the execution of this project.)

   Thanks for taking the time to check us out.  Please feel free to "Talk the Dock!"  Link us, follow us, or just tell your friends.

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