Nuts! (Well, bolts, anyway) - Or, Making a Splash.
- Hi, LogListers!
First things first - we're trying diligently to get this boat in the water
(thus the "splash" part). While that day will arrive, it seems to
constantly be moving off into the distance, slightly, as we approach it.
More on that below...
The current thing driving me nuts - I've been reinstalling the transmission,
yet again, in order to finish the drive line. It had come out, after having
been installed after the replacement of a plate we'd broken by backing down
over a mooring line (don't ask - but we didn't invent the maneuver; it was
perfected early in the Morgan 461 history as proven by a 1979 review of the
type), in order to take the transmission off for checking as we prepared to
redo our drive line. I don't think I have spoken of this in any of the
prior stuff, but we're replacing our drive shaft and associated hardware
between the transmission and the propellor. In the course of doing that,
we'd done a lot of checking out of various components, and one of them was
Once the transmission was out, I took advantage of that easy accessibility
to repaint it, as well as to paint the new plate which replaced the one we'd
broken. That went relatively smoothly, as did the repainting and reassembly
of the pulleys and power take-offs on the other end of the engine, which had
been removed for refinishing well over a year ago.
Earlier this week, however, as I was assembling the transmission and
transmission mounting plate, I was dismayed to find that one of the 6 bolts
which secured the mounting plate to the transmission turned freely (well,
freely with a wrench, that is) in the transmission.
That doesn't mean that the bilge of our boat has turned into a strip joint -
but it did mean that the threads in the case of the transmission, which used
to hold that particular bolt, were stripped. Well, that's a bit of a
nuisance, but not incurable. But I forgot to mention that this plate had to
be put on the transmission about 30" down in the engine bilge, at about a 15
degree angle from straight down, because there were other things in the way
preventing lowering the plate and transmission as an assembly - and it
weighs about 60 pounds.
So, I fetched it out again - after first reaching down to remove the other 5
bolts I'd carefully coated with Loctite so they wouldn't fall out under
vibration - and commenced to trying to remedy the problem.
Unfortunately, it was a metric bolt - and one would not want to drill out
the plate - which meant that we had to try to make new threads INSIDE the
old stripped ones, and the particular tool used to do that wasn't commonly
available in the metric size we had. Fortunately, a technique and piece of
gear exists to do that - but the diesel mechanics in the yard gave me the
wrong set, and after carefully reaming the offending hole in the
transmission, tapping new threads and installing them, the bolt would not go
Not to worry - I found a (unfortunately) smaller bolt which matched up to
the threads they'd provided me, and decided that it would have to do, as to
redo the hole would be very much more difficult at this point. Back down
the engine room hole with the transmission, on with the plate, and I get
into position over the motor to hoist it yet again onto the housing into
which it all fit.
Up she comes (gorilla arms help, sometimes!) and it all fits nicely, if very
snugly. However, as I commence tightening bolts prior to installing
Loctite, in order to make sure the transmission plate was seated properly,
one of the bolts spun. NOT AGAIN!
Well, yes. Not only again, but again and again. Three of the six bolts'
receiving threads in the plate on the motor (to which I was bolting the
assembly) were also stripped! I wonder when I'd have discovered all that
insecurity, had I not taken it all out to get the transmission checked
So, out come all those bolts, and the transmission and plate assembly gets
lowered (yet again) to the engine bilge pan. (The engine bilge pan is a
separate bilge keeping oil out of the water which is normal at the bottom of
the boat.) Tomorrow I'll take off that (engine) plate and have ALL of the
bolts' receivers redone with proper new replacement threads, as the bolts
are exactly the size of the holes in the transmission plate, and can't have
the receiver threads reamed out to a larger size.
Meanwhile, as some of you have seen in the "Sunsets and Animals" list, we're
addressing the literally hundreds of blisters on the bottom of our boat.
Nearly all of these, it turns out, are botched prior repairs, whether from a
very obviously badly done "peel job" (where they take off the outside skin
of the underside of the boat, dry out what's uncovered, and recover it with
epoxy resin), or prior attempts to repair the blisters resulting from the
apparently hurried job which was done originally. We, however, are doing it
right - regardless of how long it takes - as we sure don't want to do it
Without going into the gory details, however, it's a very nasty job, with
bottom paint (which keeps sea life from taking up residence on the bottom)
toxins flying, fiberglass shards in every pore and orifice not covered or
filtered, and - at last count, 800 - holes to be filled with new fiberglass
and epoxy resin. Of course, that has to be sanded out to smooth and any
minor faults filled with epoxy filler - which also has to be sanded out to
However, in the end, we have a smooth bottom. And, we're very pleased to
say, the port side ("left" to most of us) has gotten its waterline coated
twice, and the rest of the bottom has its first coat of bottom paint. We're
using ablative paint, which is designed to slough off (ough?) as time goes
on, leaving, eventually, a bare bottom. In the meantime, critters and
vegetation trying to attach get copper in their system, as well as an
anti-slime compound, keeping them off. The alternative is hard paint, which
leaches its toxins, killing the critters, but the paint remains, causing a
buildup. That buildup, in a smaller boat than ours, as related to us by a
yard buddy, can amount to more than 250 pounds (on his boat) which
eventually has to be removed, as he did, weighing it in the course of
hazardous waste disposal. Hard paint users are faced with removal at some
point, regardless. Ablative users are faced with trying to time the
application of new paint to beat the time when there isn't any left.
So, we're going with an initial two coats (with more at the waterline and on
the rudder) in blue, and finish with the same in black. That way, when the
black wears off, we'll see the blue and know that we'll soon have to redo
the bottom. Well, maybe not SOON - the under coat should last as long as
the top coat - but we'll have notice, and some means of gauging how long
we'll have. In the meantime, the work on the starboard side ("right," for
most of us) continues. There's still major work left to do before we can
paint that side.
So, while Chuck, Lydia and Sissie, along with the occasional other help from
Jason, continue to work on making that side beautiful, I'm continuing to
make it possible to put the boat back in the water. That day is
approaching, even if it's only two steps forward, and one step back.
In addition, I've continued to put away all the tools and other toys that
guys play with, sort of simultaneously. I've managed to winnow down over 40
years' accumulation of tools and supplies to several large plastic bins.
Now I'm putting all that remains into effective systems.
I've finished my mechanical set - it's what I've been using on the engine -
and I'm thrilled with it. It's compact, very complete, easy to access, and
easy to store or carry (despite its weighing 50 or so pounds). Still to
come is a marine plumbing set, a carpentry set and a drill-and-grind set.
However, I'm continually amazed at the amount of storage our home has.
Stuff of all sorts keeps disappearing into their new storage homes - and I'm
nearly finished - but there's still lots of space left. In the end, we'll
have easily retrievable tools, hardware, spare parts, emergency gear, and
much more, all well sorted, labeled, and readily at hand.
So, splashdown is still an ephemeral event - we don't know when it will be.
The work on the bottom has delayed us many weeks. We're hopeful of being in
the water in the next few weeks. Once we have our hull shape restored by
the support of the water, and our drive line realigned, we'll start our sea
trials. The good news in all this is that the weather for sailing will have
improved markedly in that time. Already, the breezes are starting to come.
By that time, they'll be pretty consistent, and we'll actually get to sail
during our trials!
So, soon, we'll be issuing invitations to come on sea trials, and later, to
come cruise with us as we head to warm waters east and south...
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"And then again, when you sit at the helm of your little ship on a clear
night, and gaze at the countless stars overhead, and realize that you are
quite alone on a great, wide sea, it is apt to occur to you that in the
general scheme of things you are merely an insignificant speck on the
surface of the ocean; and are not nearly so important or as self-sufficient
as you thought you were. Which is an exceedingly wholesome thought, and one
that may effect a permanent change in your deportment that will be greatly
appreciated by your friends."- James S. Pitkin