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Project Log:  Saturday, November 6, 2010

The first order of business for the day was to lay out some of the old floorboards in the cabin so I didn't have to stumble around over the cross members and awkwardly-shaped bilge areas.  I'd pretty much decided that I'd not be reusing these original pieces in the new cabin, so I didn't mind using them as a temporary construction platform.

I'd always planned on removing the original fuel tank, at a minimum to gain access to the areas beneath and behind. I'd been postponing the job for a while because I figured the tank was full of fuel and/or water from the sinking, and I needed to arrange some containers into which to drain the fuel.  I'd no way of telling exactly how much might be in the tank, so I assumed I'd need to provide for up to 60 gallons of waste.

With some plastic drums on hand, earlier in the week, during some down time from another job, I'd set up my little siphon hose, hoping to start the drainage process.  The easiest place to connect the hose was directly to the remaining copper fuel supply line, so I clamped my hose in place, ran it out through one of the through hull holes in the bottom of the boat, and into a plastic drum.  The siphon hose features a primer bulb in the middle, so I used that to start the flow.  It took a while, but eventually I felt fuel pressure.

However, the siphon never started; the pump immediately lost whatever prime it had had, and no matter how much I squeezed the bulb (which I did during slack periods over the next several days), I couldn't get the flow started.  I played with the siphon during the remainder of the week, but it was not until Saturday that I really had time to address the problem.


I thought the problem might be in the means of connection, so I cut off the remains of the fill hose that I'd left in place during an earlier stage of dismantling, and stuck the siphon hose into the tank that way.  This still didn't work, and eventually I began to suspect that maybe the tank was pretty empty.

The old tank featured a deep cylindrical drain sump at the forward end, which was equipped with two plugs.  Obviously using this drain might be the easiest way to drain the tank, but since there were no valves or other means of connecting a drain hose, I hadn't initially planned on trying to drain this way, lest I make a mess of fuel and funk in the bilge.  But I needed to check now and see if there was fuel in the tank.  I didn't want any surprises when I released the tank's mountings for its removal.

With some trepidation, I installed a small plastic container beneath the drain, and slowly wrenched open one of the drain plugs.  A bit of oily water came out, then stopped.  So I tried the lowermost drain, with a similar result:  water only, with just a bit of fuel:  a total of about 4 oz. of liquid.  Clearly, the tank was empty, which was a pleasant surprise.


The tank was ostensibly held in place with tabbing along both sides, but it was clear to me that the tabbing had long ago separated from the metal tank. The tank was also constrained by a wooden A-frame at the forward end, which frame provided necessary support for the mizzen mast step directly overhead.  the frame was held in place with tabbing at the base of the legs, as well as some tabbing at the top end.

To remove the A-frame (and therefore the tank), I first unbolted the mast step and removed it.  Then, I cut through the legs of the frame just above some square pads upon which they sat (and to which they were fiberglassed), and removed the frame.  The tabbing securing the gusseted top end of the frame, and which extended out onto the underside of the deck above, came away with minimal effort.


Next, I used a small pry bar to loosen whatever remaining bonding between the tank and the tabbing on the sides, and then levered the tank up and forward using a larger crow bar, till the tank was free and clear in the engine room.

The tank was surprisingly heavy, and since I was nursing (sort of) a recently-diagnosed back problem, I couldn't lift the tank up and out of the pilothouse.  So I rigged up a block and tackle system that allowed me to raise the tank easily to cockpit level, after which I could muscle it out and up onto the aft end of the cockpit; later, I'd figure out how to get it off the boat, where I could open the large inspection port for a look inside, and also better determine the exterior condition of the tank.  I thought it likely that I'd replace the tank, however.


With the tank out, I cut away the protruding tabbing and removed a cross support.  While I was at it, I also cut away a small bulkhead on the port side, the purpose of which had only ever been to close off the aft end of the nasty little quarterberth that had been located outside of the pilothouse in the original configuration.  Since this useless, space-wasting berth wasn't part of my rebuilding plans, removing the little bulkhead provided better immediate and future access to things like the cockpit scuppers and other areas beneath the cockpit.


The fuel tank removal exposed the final hidden area of the boat:  the narrow little area around the stern tube, which I'd never been able to access sufficiently before.  The aft end of this area was full of mud, which I could now dig free and pull out into the exposed portion of the bilge forward of the shaft area for disposal.

Tomorrow, I planned a dirty sanding day, and would take care of cleaning up the last area of the hull beneath the cockpit.


For now, though, I moved on to some other tasks.  It was time to consider the future tankage options in the boat, and see about getting the tanks built.

To begin, I built a quick cardboard mockup, using the maximum dimensions, of a holding tank/treatment system I was contemplating using.  I liked the idea of treatment (despite the inherent complexity of such devices) because I don't like being beholden to shoreside waste pumpout facilities, nor, in an ideal world, would I prefer to pump untreated waste overboard. 

The Raritan Hold 'n' Treat system incorporates a treatment unit (Electro Scan) with an integral 15-gallon holding tank, so the system can contain all waste in no discharge zones (NDZ), then discharge the treated waste when appropriate.  I thought this might represent an interesting option.

The overall dimensions of the unit (26 x 18.25 x 18.5) were relatively large--too large, it turned out, to fit through the 16.5" wide opening into the forward cabin, although the actual unit wasn't a rectangular box like my mockup and might be more easily adapted through smaller openings.

However, it appeared that, with some modification (which was already under consideration), the overhead hatch opening would be large enough to pass the unit, so I got past the first hurdle; I was already considering installing a slightly larger, and newer, hatch here in place of the original finger-severing bronze one that I'd removed.  For now, though, I simply collapsed the cardboard mockup to get it in the forward cabin so I could see how it might work in the space beneath the berth, and in conjunction with the water tank further forward.


Our new forward cabin would feature a full-width berth, with no open center section or floor space, so the entire space beneath would be available for tankage and other storage.  It appeared that there'd be plenty of room for the Raritan system whether I installed it longitudinally or transverse.  There'd be other factors at hand, however, so my decision was not yet final.  But in concept, the Hold 'n' Treat would work here.

I made some quick measurements forward of the cardboard mockup, and determined that I could create a larger water tank than originally installed as well. Though the depth of the tank would be still limited to about 16" in order to fit through the passageway, I could extend the tank aft by some amount, greatly increasing its potential capacity thanks to the ever-widening space.  Eventually, I settled on a 9" extension, bringing the tank's overall length to 36".

To determine the full dimensions of the larger tank, I put the old tank on the floor and used a straightedge to extend the angled sides out, drawing pencil lines right on the floor.  Then, I measured the new aftermost width, of both top and bottom, so I could make up a decent drawing for the tank manufacturer.  Earlier, I'd come up with the same measurement off a simple scaled drawing I'd prepared, but it was nice to see it confirmed in this visual way.

Next, I measured up the old fuel tank, noting its dimensions in order to obtain a quote for a new, identical one.

Because of the reconfiguration of the engine room and adjacent spaces that I planned, there was space available against the hull on both sides of the engine room, outboard of the main space, in the spaces previously occupied by both quarterberths in the original design.  These empty, underutilized spaces just begged to be filled with new tankage.  I spent some time working out a few basic aspects of the potential tank spaces, mainly to determine where longitudinal bulkheads would go (more or less in the same place as the original port-side longitudinal bulkhead), and how high the tanks should extend. 

With these basic criteria thus determined, I measured up the overall size of the space, which I'd use to design a pair of tanks for each side to contain both fuel and water.  Later, I'd use all my measurements from the various spaces to design, and obtain quotations for, the new tankage.

Note:  These photos showing the potential tankage space outboard of the engine room date to October 27, 2010.


With a bit more time in the day, I made another attempt at the Treadmaster removal, beginning where I'd left off on the foredeck.  I'd equipped my planer with some plain high speed steel blades, versus carbide, but was disappointed in the performance.  The new blades quickly dulled, and progress was minimal.  However, I managed to at least partially remove much of the remaining material from the foredeck, and I figured this represented my last attempt before turning to other tools as I sanded and prepared the entire deck for repairs and paint. 

One last piece of hardware remained:  the old manual windlass.  For whatever reason, I'd postponed its removal for a while, but now it was time to unbolt and remove it.


Total Time Today:  6.5 hours

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