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Project Log:  Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Over the past couple weeks, as time allowed, I'd been working in the background trying to sort out a few of the boat's new systems, specifically the heating system and steering.  I'd no idea how many hours I spent researching online and otherwise, stealing 10 or 20 minutes here and an hour there, but it was probably significant if tallied up.

In the event, I finally managed to put together, with significant assistance from a helpful vendor, my complicated order for the diesel heater.  I chose a Webasto TSL-17 hydronic boiler and two hydronic fan heaters (one for the pilothouse and one for the main cabin), along with a long list of additional components required to install the system.  Ultimately, this boiler would be available to heat not only the cabin, but also the domestic water heater (which would also be heated by the engine when possible).  There was no overall hurry for its installation, but it seemed likely that I'd want to begin installing certain components sooner than later, and it made sense to have everything on hand. 

As of this writing, I'd not yet received my order, but once I get into the nitty gritty of the installation I'll provide suitable detail here.  There was no getting around the inherent complexity of the system, but in the end this had been the most serviceable choice for heating the boat.


Similarly, I researched and specified the hydraulic steering system for the boat.  I chose hydraulic steering because I thought it made the most sense for this application, and also largely because it would allow me to install an outstanding and convenient hydraulic autopilot, which was really the driving force behind the decision.  I selected a Seastar system from Teleflex marine, and ordered the requisite helm unit, heavy-duty brass steering cylinder, Kevlar hydraulic hoses, and a few related components required for the installation of the steering and eventual autopilot.


The steering research necessarily led me into the realm of autopilot research, which, in turn, led me necessarily into the whole new world of navigation electronics.  Though I was aware of the basic advances in technology, I'd not actually shopped for electronics for more than 10 years, since outfitting my last boat, and there was a substantial learning curve.  I'd purposely not looked much at the advances over the years, as things were changing so fast, and at the time I didn't want to tempt myself with an upgrade to my old boat that I didn't need.  But all along, I was looking forward to the chance to outfit the new boat with the state of the art when the time came.

Since the networking of electronics was now de rigueur, my inclination was to stick with a single brand for all aspects of my system; even though various brands can also be interconnected, I preferred the idea of an integrated system from one company, whether it mattered or not.  As amazing as the technology was, I wasn't a techno geek, and in the end I wanted reliable function over form. I was willing to buy the best, but wouldn't spend for features I didn't need or want either.

This was fun, if overwhelming, and I had a lot to learn.  I had pretty much narrowed down my autopilot choice to Simrad, and this company had other offerings that looked good to me as well, particularly the brand-new broadband radar system, which I'd never heard of before stumbling upon it during autopilot research. 

In any event, I made no decisions, and had a long way to go to decipher the various choices and, eventually, decide upon the overall system that made the most sense for this boat.   One problem with integrated systems is that one can't make one choice without it affecting everything else, so in order to choose an autopilot I also had to choose the rest of the system--or at least it was much smarter to do so.  What I did get out of my research was the salient information about the general compatibility of various manufacturers' hydraulic autopilot pumps and the Teleflex steering system I selected, and for the moment this was enough.

In between all of this, as time allowed, I managed to get some real work done too.  Over a few days, I applied several additional coats of varnish to the plate rack and wire chase panel, ending with a coat of rubbed-effect satin varnish.

Also, I applied two finish coats of white enamel to the engine room plywood panels.

The multiple fuel and water tanks on board would require manifolds to select which tank to draw from.  To this end, I ordered some machined aluminum manifold blocks, into which I installed brass ball valves and other fittings to select and route fuel supply and return, as well as water supply from the three tanks.  Earlier, I'd found some pre-assembled fuel manifolds online, but was able to source individual parts for significantly less cost.

I assembled the three manifolds one afternoon, taking about 45 minutes to complete the process.  To give more room for the valves, I ordered manifolds with additional outlets, so I could better space the valves; I filled the unneeded holes with threaded plugs.

In these photos, the hose barbs and end fittings (inlet and a plug at the opposite end) are only loosely threaded into position for show, since I'd have to lay out the manifolds' installation before determining from which direction the inlet would come, for example, and whether I needed any 90° fittings for various hoses.

I thought those manifolds were really cool, and would give me years of pleasure.

Fuel Supply and Return Manifolds

Potable Water Manifold

Total Time Today: 2.75 hours (plus undocumented research time)

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