January 2012 Archives

Hit the deck!

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Soñadora's teak decks have had a hard life. Until the late 90s, she was in the wet Pacific Northwest. Then we brought her to MN, where any moisture in the deck over winter would freeze and expand, causing splits in the deck. We kept her covered over winter, but that doesn't prevent the boat from freezing. Still, we didn't notice any major damage to the decks due to this.100_8442.JPG100_8444.JPG

Over time, teak will wear down and dry out to some degree. Also, the caulk between the boards will crack with age and simply come out of the groove between the planks. The teak plugs put in over screws will also wear down exposing the screw heads. Planks will 'cup' and expose the grain when they age. This is exacerbated if harsh chemicals or firm brushes are used to clean the deck. 

Our deck was exhibiting all of these characteristics of aging. One major job during the refit is to recaulk the deck. This requires all deck hardware be removed (as much as you can anyway). I had to remove the jib track and deck fills. I polished a couple of those fills and they sure do look nice! Then, the deck needs to be sanded.

First I tried using a RO (random orbital) sander, but that was hardly making a dent. I then switched to a belt sander with 50 grit paper and that was the way to go. My decks are pretty thick, so I wasn't too concerned about removing too much wood. Hopefully this will be the last time anything like this will need to be done!

Then, with everything sanded, the Fein Multimaster will go to work with the caulk blade and 'scoop' out the old caulk. I've played around with this tool a little already and it is really going to make the difference between getting this job done by end of Feb or end of May.

I hope to have this job done by end of February.

Music to the Ears

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I've always been a fanatic when it comes to music. I'm one of those people who feels there's always a soundtrack playing in the background of my life. I listen to music as much as I can. I cherish my 15 min. commute to/from work as it gives me time to blast the tunes in my car without anyone whining about how loud it is. Surprisingly, the sound system in my 2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is pretty good. The Wrangler isn't what you would call 'acoustically friendly' so a 'good' sound system can be hard to put together, but it works for me. At work, I usually annoy the crap out of others by working with headphones on most of the time.

We currently have a fairly basic system installed. The P.O. (Previous Owner) had installed a CD player along with ADS box speakers. The box speakers are fried. The paper cones are pretty much toast. On top of that, little fingers thought it was fun to push in the domes. These speakers have been a PITA. Anyone sitting near them has to keep their head low so they don't bonk themselves. And on the port side, there's a locker that can't open completely because the speaker is in the way. I performed a mild upgrade when the CD player finally died. I installed a USB capable stereo and added Dual DMS655SM surface mount speakers in the cockpit.

Now that I'm restoring our sailboat, one thing I wanted to accomplish was to install a fairly substantial sound/video system. I am not kidding when I say I've been researching this for the better part of a year.The current system we have is OK. In fact, others in my family would say it's perfect. But I feel this is an opportunity to really have something nice to listen to when on board. Some of the units I considered were:

  • Lowrance Sonic Hub (which would have required other Lowrance equipment)
  • Clarion CMD7
  • Sony CDX-H910UI
  • Fusion Marine
  • Kenwood KMR700U

I finally settled on the Kenwood. I felt that it had the most flexibility for its price. The others were either too expensive (Fusion/Lowrance) or just did not have the features I was looking for (iPod connectivity, Sirius capability, RCA inputs). There are two components to this device: the controller unit and the main 'brain'. This is nice because it allows the main unit to be installed somewhat remotely. The controller unit flips down and there's a place where you can connect and store ipod and memory stick. There's also a rubber gasket included to make it water proof for external installations. Ours will be nice and dry down below.

Additionally, I will be attaching the SC-C1 Sirius Receiver unit.This comes with a cable that looks a bit like an S-Video cable and connects directly to the main unit on the KMR-700 U.

Another nice accessory is a wired remote control. Up to four remotes can be connected. We will have one in the cockpit for sure and maybe one in the v-berth.


For speakers, I only had two criteria: great sound at low volumes and good looks. I considered speakers from all the major manufacturers. I have always had good luck with Pioneer speakers, but honestly I was looking for something a bit classier. A lot of the typical car audio speakers seem to be geared towards the Fast-and-the-Furious look. I narrowed the list down to Inifinity, Boston Acoustic, Focal, Rainbow, and McIntosh. I finally settled on the McIntosh MSS630. In the makers listed, these are near the top of the middle XL_MSS650_D.jpg(some Focal and Ranbow speakers are in the $1200 range). I don't know who actually makes McIntosh mobile audio speakers, but they have a very good reputation. They may not have the low end that other sets have, but I can make up for that with a powered sub.

Ideck18dr_RCA_12volt_television.jpg will also be adding video by installing a 19" LCD/DVD combo. The prices on these 12v units have dropped significantly. While many sailing purists may see this as sacrilege, I see it as another way to enjoy time spent on the boat. We will not be using it while under way and in fact will most likely only be using it while at the dock. We enjoy watching movies on the boat. In the past we used a laptop. Not bad, but it was a hassle as the screen is a little too small for many people to gather around.

I found this great site called 12v Travel that has all sorts of cool 12v devices. The TV I'm looking at is the RCA DECK18DR.




I'm pretty excited about this. Unfortunately, I have a zillion other things I need to do before I can get all of this installed. Plus, I want to be sure it's done well. If you were to see how I currently have my aft speakers installed, I'd be excomunicated from the Church of Sailing.



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The new year brings a new resolve to get more done on the boat. Spring will be here SOON! One problem I encountered is my obsession for polishing all of Soñadora's metalwork.

At first, back in the spring I was simply going to clean up the brass, bronze, and stainless hardware. However, by 'accident', I managed to clean up a piece of bronze too well and I noticed how shiny it became. At the time, I was using a wire brush and a small cloth polishing wheel in a drill. The polishing wheel came with 3 sticks of some kind of compound. Wasn't sure what that was for, so I didn't use it. Even with less than adequate tools and little knowledge of what I was doing, I still managed to polish things up a bit.

All of the bronze hardware was covered in the greenish brown patina that is common for bronze that is weathered. Weathered bronze actually looks pretty nice and I really didn't have a problem with it, but once I got a taste for how shiny bronze can get, I really became obsessed with it.

My first attempts were on the oval trim for the opening ports. I wasn't sure how to even go about it. I tried using some chemicals including acetone, brass cleaner, and rubbing compounds. Nothing like that worked so I took a mechanical approach. I grabbed the angle grinder and a sanding disk. Well, that was way too aggressive! Sure, it immediately removed the patina, but it also left deep scratch marks.

Next, I tried a coarse wire wheel on a drill. That worked too, but again, too many scratches. Next, I tried a fine wire wheel as well as a wire cup. Much better. It still left marks, but they weren't as bad. I then took my Fein with a 240 grit sandpaper and that took out all the scratches. But now, even with the fine sandpaper there were swirl marks. Using the drill and the polishing wheel, I tried to remove the swirls. I wasn't sure how to use the polishing wheel. At first I put some rubbing compound on the part015.jpg and hit it with the wheel. That sort of worked. I wondered what those sticks of compound were for. At first I tried applying it to the surface of the part (I laugh at that now!) That sorta worked too, but not great. Maybe on the wheel? Fired the drill up and put some on the spinning wheel. No major improvement. Then, I clamped the drill in a vise rather than attack it directly with the drill.

Then I finally decided to use my awesome internet sk33lz and hit teh google for help. That's when I came across the guys at Caswell Plating. Oh MAN what a goldmine of information for the polishing obsessed! I ordered up some polishing wheels including a sisal wheel and two sewn fabric wheels. I also ordered more rubbing compound sticks. After reading the Caswell site I finally understood what the compound was for and how to use it. I found a number of videos on YouTube that show how to polish and buff. The most striking to me are those showing how guitars are polished. Check out this guy finishing a Larrivee Bakersfield Part 1 and Part 2. No way I'm going to get to that level, but I did at least see how the compound is used. Of course, I don't need anything as heavy duty as that equ018.jpgipment.

With videos like that, combined with guidance from Caswell, I was able to really get this stuff to shine! My process now is to sand using a flip-flap wheel attached to the drill. The drill goes into a vise. That gives me a lot of control over how the piece is sanded. Then I use the Fein to do a finish sanding on the part. From there, I start using the polishing wheels. I converted my bench grinder to work as a polishing machine. On one end, I have a sisal wheel for doing the 'cutting'. This along with some black compound takes out the swirls left from the Fein. The finish is pretty shiny at this point, but it's still a little dull. On the other spindle I have a cloth wheel. I polish the part on that wheel using white compound which does a light cutting. The finish at that point really gives it a 'wow' factor. I would like to get a second unit and have additional wheels there. I could then go one step further with the polishing by using a polish only compound that does no cutting.

But then again, I really should get to putting the rest of the boat back together!

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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