Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Battle of the Bolt

Oh yeah!  I almost forgot.  The blog.....  Sorry for our long absence!  

What have we done since August?

Well...  We bolted the keel on! Like most everything else in this crazy project, it was a challenge and full of lessons, mistakes, and finally, success.   
Here's one of the smaller bolts, happily in place.  All the bolts were counter sunk into the floor, and once they were tight, we filled the holes with epoxy, so the floor is fair and level again.  

We salvaged what we thought was a one-inch diameter bronze bolt from an old boat.  It was the largest bolt we had, to complement the six 3/4 inch diameter bronze bolts we made.   We threaded the ends of the bolts, bought round bronze washers and nuts, made square bronze washers.  It was an expensive endeavor- silicon bronze ain't cheap.  For the washers and nuts alone we spent $120-  so you can imagine how happy we were to have that 1 inch diameter, three foot length of bronze to use for our leading bolt. 

 We rolled the keel beneath the boat, (with the help of Dylan- Cody's brother, who is becoming a leading expert in working with our large chunk of lead), lined it all up, and knocked the bolts into place.  We managed to get the proper torque on all the small bolts (80 foot/pounds), but when we went to torque the big bolt, something was wrong.  We needed to get a LOT of torque on this one- 200 foot/pounds.  Somewhere in the process, the bronze nut fused to the bolt, and we couldn't get it to turn without turning the whole bolt.  Cody thought if he could weld the nut to the bolt, we could torque it from the bottom.  The welding didn't go well.  And it didn't go well because the bolt isn't bronze.  It's brass.  And brass isn't nearly as hard or strong as bronze- and we couldn't rely on it to support the weight of our keel.

So, the next day, I was at the shop by myself.  Cody had tried to knock out the brass bolt the night before, and it wasn't budging.  I thought I'd give it a shot- who knows?  Maybe the bedding compound needed some time to set up, or loosen up, or cool down...  The length of the bolt was buried in the deadwood, with the rest in the lead, so why it was stuck was a mystery.  

The carnage.  You can see the burn marks from the welding attempt. 

 I pounded on it with our mini sledge, and screamed at it and pleaded with it.   One of my blows broke it loose,  surprising me.   I could only get out about 6 inches at a time, because it would hit the floor.   Once I had that, I would go down below and cut off the bolt from the bottom.   I repeated this process several times, until I had most of it out.  Then it got stuck again, somewhere around the keel.  Cody managed to get it all out later.   

Victory!  The offending brass bolt on it's way out.  

Replacing the brass bolt with the bronze one went pretty easily.  It knocked in smoothly, and torqued well.   Whew!  Today, the keel is in place, firmly attached, and  mostly faired and primed.  

What else have we accomplished this month?
I’ve painted the sheer stripe, and embellished a bit. 

It's a dark navy, the same color as the boottop.  

The boomkin bracket. 

Cody’s been doing a lot of metal work.  He’s made the bracket that holds together the boomkin- (which will attach to the backstay),  the gudgeons and pintles that attach the rudder, the plates that connect the tiller to the rudder.  Metal work is not his favorite.  It’s stinky and hot and difficult to get just right.   Today he’s working on the stanchion brackets, and the outboard mounting plate. 



The (mostly) finished products!  The rudder hinges, and the boomkin bracket! 

Cody has laminated up the tiller- a beautiful combination of Douglas fir and Mahogany.

Smile, Cody! 

All shined up!  

I’ve given the decks a good sanding and removed the epoxy drips, the excess caulking,  and a few saw burns.  I’ll probably sand them once more once we’re really and truly done, but they’re looking good! 

I’ve painted the floors, and will lay the nonskid strips today.  At first we went with a copper color- trying to somewhat emulate the wood, accentuate the copper countertops, but it just looked too orange.  So we instead went with a brick red, which I really like.  It makes the wood stand out, and it’s much darker than the orange was, so it should be easier to keep it looking clean. 

It's not quite as dark as it looks here- it's so hard to get the light right down at the shop!  

We’re planning to give our notice to our landlords at the shop on the first, which means we’ll be out of the shop on November first.  We’re really hoping to get the boat out a week or so before that, so we can have some room in the shop to finish some more wood work, (like the bowsprit, maybe the boom…) and to be able to clean it up and sell some of our tools.  Anyone looking to buy an old drill press?  

Don't get too excited- once the boat is out of the shop, we still have some work to do.  The mast, and the bowsprit, and all the rigging need to be figured out and assembled!  But then, maybe, just maybe, we'll get to go sailing. 


  1. Thanks for the update, it's about time geeeeeze. You two rock and the boat is looking amazing.

  2. This update makes me so happy. She looks awesome!! I especially like the picture of Cody "smiling".... :) Love!