Tuesday, January 19, 2010

7346 Re-Finish/Re-Rigging Article

Better late than never. Hope you Enjoy:

Introduction


I bought my boat, USA 7346, in August of 2007. The boat was well priced, had a relatively new mast, and new Waterat HA foils, so I determined it was worth the trip to Colorado to buy it. The trip did not go as smoothly as predicted. The front dolly support broke on the ride home which dropped the boat on a trailer cross member causing significant damage. Learn from my lesson and never rely on anyone else’s trailer to be road worthy. Expect the worst and be prepared with tools, some wood, padding, and plenty of tie downs when you pick up a boat for the first time!

So this boat is very unique. It is what is commonly referred to as a wood-look Waterat. It could easily be mistaken for a Lindsey to the untrained eye, but it has a few features that make it far superior in my mind: Full honeycomb core seat tanks and foredeck, a full 8” Waterat launcher tube, and standard Waterat CB trunk dimensions all make this boat pretty ‘standard’ other than the looks.

From what I can gather, this boat has seen more time on the water than just about any boat you will see at a major regatta. The boat was born in the spring of 1981, and was delivered to its original owner Macy Nelson. Along the way the boat had a sex change, the wood veneer deck was removed, then replaced. This boat had been through a lot when I got it and since then I have put it through even more.



After buying the boat, it was quickly obvious that the boat needed major rigging refinement. Most of the systems did not work properly and did not have the correct range. The boat only resembled the normal Waterat rigging, but nothing really worked well.

I spent the fall and winter of 2007 working out the kinks in the rigging systems, replacing wire with line, and making the in place systems work better. The boat was working fine, but not great. The last day of mid-winters was nuking and the boat seemed to handle it well. All systems were working to their fullest potential. I don’t know why, but it was at this regatta when I decided that I wanted to do a major re-finish/re-rig of the interior of the boat.

My original thought was that I would sell the boat before anything of this magnitude would have to be done. I guess I should have listened to Jesse Falsone when he told me to steer clear of wood-look boats entirely. I was a senior engineering student at U. Rhode Island and I knew that this would likely be the last time in my life where I would have more time than money. So I figured , why not?

The Plan

My main motivation was to simplify the controls and limit the amount of hardware in the new rigging setup. The boat weighed in at 134 kg at 2007 NA’s, or “minimum weight” according to the previous owner, thanks! I figured a lot of this weight was the sweet black paint job over the previous yellow, and the new addition of the beautiful wood veneer on the foredeck. Those items would have been a bit lower on my boat work priority list, but to each, their own.



All of the above photos copyright Photoboat.

The seat tanks were the area of the boat that needed major re-finish work. The epoxy was splitting and they just looked awful. The floor had also been painted white at some point without sanding off the original “desert sand” flavor Awlgrip that comes on all Larry boats. I had come to the conclusion from my limited 505 experience that I do not like the standard Waterat controls led to the seat tanks. I find that you need to pull them up instead of out, which is awkward while hiking. I also don’t like that you can run out of line on one side of the boat if you are not careful, especially with the vang. It also seems like it takes a lot of hardware and fasteners. The goal for the new layout was a clean look with minimum fasteners and hardware.

The Prep

If you want specifics about the prep/refinish process, write me an e-mail and I can help you along. Otherwise here is a brief summary of what I did:

After removing all the hardware from the interior of the boat, I began the long and awful months of sanding and scraping. Prepare yourself if you ever plan to do this. It sucks. I mean this is the most horrible activity you can ever subject yourself to. Just when you think you are close to done, you find that it takes you another couple of weeks. I took the tanks down to bare wood, except the tops that were going to be painted I took down to the last layer of glass. I took all the paint off the floor, the CB trunk sides, the CB cab and the center area in front of the diagonal bulkheads. I also scraped/sanded all the epoxy off down to bare wood. A lot of this was done with the boat on its side or upside-down



If you want to do this right, you need to remove all the old paint and epoxy and it takes a long, long time. Here is my advise: pay someone to do this for you. Make sure that you trust their workmanship, because going to fast can cause serious damage by removing to much material. I would also steer clear of the heat gun, you don’t want it to affect the floor laminate or any bonding while trying to melt away the epoxy.

All the old holes were filled in and the idea was to start with a blank canvas.

The entire prep process took me approximately 3 months of work. It is tough to estimate the hours I spent, and frankly I don’t want to. Just remember that you really have to want to do this.

The Mock-Up

At this point in the process I rigged the boat! This may sound crazy, but this is the #1 tip I would recommend to anyone who is nuts enough to do a project like this. The idea was to drill all the holes and install all the hardware in order to mock up the rigging systems before the paint had been applied. This allowed us to make mistakes with far less consequence. Drill a hole in the wrong place? Simply fill it in and try again. This way I knew exactly where everything was going to go and that it was going to work properly. One weight savings plan was to have blocks tied-in instead of using an eye straps on the cap and through the gunwale. These holes were over-drilled and filled with an epoxy/silica mix. Then the actual hole was re-drilled through this plastic slug and all the wood remains sealed. Some holes through the wood rail were done using G10 tubing sourced from McMaster, instead of the over-drill/fill/re-drill method.



Make sure that you spend the time in this stage of the process checking and double checking all your lead angles and hardware locations. This is your change to change something and still end up with a clean professional finish. At this stage I added some reinforcing pieces made from 3/8" marine grade plywood to stiffen the back end of the CB cap and the diagonal bulkhead where the shrouds turn aft. Again, I wouldn't have know that these areas needed to be reinforced if I hadn't mocked them up.

The Re-finish

Even after the worst part of it was over, applying epoxy and paint still sucks in its own right. I followed the Gougeon Brothers literature like The Bible and it yielded great results. The guys at Gougeon even have a tech line. If you are unsure about anything, they will steer you straight. All the wood got three coats of neat epoxy applied by brush and roller and tipped off with a section of foam roller cover. The seat tanks got 6 oz. glass on the tops where they were going to be painted and 4 oz glass on the parts where the wood was to stay exposed. This glass layer is the key to durability on clear coated wood. I wanted to make sure this was bomb-proof because there is no way in hell I am ever doing this again.

Next, all the clear coated epoxy got 2 coats of Clear Interlux Perfection Varnish, rolled and tipped with a badger hair brush. This stuff is very overwhelming so make sure you have a nice 3M painting respirator or you will die. Work with a partner if possible.

I chose Interlux Perfection Cream for the CB cap and the tops of the seat tanks. 2 coats rolled and tipped yielded a great finish. 3 would have looked amazing, but if weight is an issue you need to make it work in 2 coats. I chose Interlux Perfection Red for the floor and the sides of the CB case. I know this is pretty lame after Morgan and Trevor did this for 8854 and then Garth did it on 7093, but I liked the look. I did this step with the boat upside-down on high saw horses so that I could stand under it. This made the sides of the cap a breeze and keeps you from dripping red on the freshly painted tanks. I used the Interlux non-skid additive. Make sure you do a test first to see how grippy you want your floor. I ended up using more than the label called for. It is also possible to use too much so that the paint doesn’t roll on well.



I have to say that this was my first time using a 2-part polyurethane and the Interlux Perfection was very simple to use. It is definitely more of a hassle than a "one-pack" paint but this stuff has an amazingly hard finish and is designed for rolling and tipping. I was very pleased with this product and would recommend it highly. Also, Interlux will tell you that you need to use their primer. I called Gougeon Brothers about this and they said that it is not necessary if you are trying to keep the weight down. Their 105 resin with 207 hardener is designed to work with basically any 2-part polyurethane paint or varnish.

The Re-Rig

After I did the last coat of non-skid on the floor I was so glad that the long road was finally over. I could finally get to doing what I actually enjoy. After doing such and in-depth mock up, I rigged the boat in approximately 3 days. It took no time as most holes were already drilled, other than the few things that were going to go on the seat tanks or be installed using wood screws. of course the refinement to the rigging is an ongoing process, but the major rigging went very fast.

Here is a breakdown of the systems. Note that all the controls have been reduced to 3 main “loops” or pairs of systems. A continuous loop has less tenancy to get tangled in stuff or tie itself in a knot:

Shroud/Forestay Loop:

The shroud and forestay controls are one continuous loop that is led to the back of the CB cap. This setup has become increasingly popular since it was originally implemented on “Dumptruck” by Peter Alarie. Remember with this setup that the more evenly matched the two systems are in total purchase, the less the continuous loop will “grow” as you rake back. I think it is good to have them slightly mismatched so that the loop gets a bit bigger in breeze making it easier to adjust from the rail while hiking.



Vang/Main Sheet Loop:

The centerpiece of the vang system is the custom Harken swivel base. I got in on an order of these that was placed for a Star manufacturer last year. The vang control line comes out of this cleat and is tied to the tail of the mainsheet which is sheeted directly off the boom. This forms another continuous loop so that you always have the mainsheet and vang in your hand while hiking. This system is high powered and has very little friction. It is easy to adjust from a hiked position and you will never run out of throw. Another goal was to move the bottom attachment points lower on the mast base than the standard Waterat system. This is done with one eyestrap on the mast and a custom billet fitting that goes in the mast step. The lower these are on the mast the greater the mechanical advantage.



Ram Down/Cunningham Loop:

This is the other loop that the skipper adjusts while sailing upwind, although not nearly as much as the vang/mainsheet loop. These are both generally eased off downwind and pulled on again at the leeward mark, so its convenient to have them together. The crew can easily release both when releasing the trap twings which are directly adjacent.



Gybestopper:

The gybestopper is a direct copy of the Waterat V-block developed by Larry Tuttle. This project was previously outlined on the Fleet 13 website and generated a lot of interest. I modified the design to not protrude from the CB trunk with the control line exiting the side of the case.



Autotwings:

These are the same idea stolen from Carl Buchan’s 8792 and Trevor Bayliss’s 8854. They are kind of a compromise in light air but worth it for the simplicity. Note that there is no guy adjustment. The guy length is determined by the knot when it is tied to the sail. I have some marks on the tail end of the sheet so that I can tie it in the correct location.



Buchan String/Auto Kite Halyard Release:

This is the same old idea with a slight variation on the implementation. See the pictures below.



Boom Internals/Pole Downhaul:

I used a modified version of the "Team Spot" outhaul/flattner setup. The pole downhaul is inside the spinnaker pole. There is a knot on the line to adjust the positive stop. The goal was to take one more thing out of the boat for simplicity. Also, the attachment point splits and leads into the boat on both sides. This system utilizes the windward/active autotwing line so the downhaul always makes a straight line to the windward side of the boat. This one you may have to see in person to understand.



It has been about 18 months since I finished this project. I have made no major rigging changes with the exception of slight refinements and line changes. The boat has survived NA's at the Gorge, Worlds in San Francisco, and many 20+ knot practices in Chicago with no breakdowns. A new Proctor Cumulus Mast was rigged for the boat in Fall 2008. Jib Sheet "outhaulers" and a carbon boom/spinnaker pole were added in Summer 2009. Double poles will be the next upgrade, check the Fleet 13 Website for info on that project when it happens.



All of the above photos copyright Erik Simonson/Peter Lyons. Marine Media Alliance.

The boat weighed 132.7 kg at worlds. According to Macy, "The boat was never light", and the original measurement certificate dated 12/8/1982 says 130.4 with no correctors. The weight situation on 7346 is not ideal, but there are other elements to my game that need improvement before this is a big concern.