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Project Log:  Friday, November 4, 2011

Beginning the day without clear and significant direction, I fussed about with one of the plywood engine room panels and several components of the fuel system.  All along, I'd known that I wanted to install the fuel filters--a quick-change, 75500MAX dual turbine filter unit from Racor--at the forward end of the starboard engine room, where they'd be easily accessible not only from the engine room itself, but, more importantly, from the vertical engine room hatch leading into the main cabin.  I thought this access would be handy if I needed quick access without disrupting the entire pilothouse.

To this end, I determined the mounting location for the filter.  Although with the pilothouse sole removed I'd have unfettered access and unlimited clearance from above for servicing the filter (which I anticipated would be the most likely scenario), since I had ample room I chose to mount the filters low enough on the panel to allow the requisite 4" clearance above for element changes, so that it would be possible to change the elements without necessarily removing the sole panels above.  This also left sufficient room beneath the filter bowls for drainage; I planned to replace the plugs with valves for ease of use.

With the basic mounting decisions made, I marked the mounting hole locations and drilled six holes, which I tapped from behind to accept 3/8-16 hex screws.  Along with a bit of epoxy, the threads would hold the studs securely, so that (in theory, anyway) I could install and remove the entire filter assembly without needing access to the back of the plywood panel.


For a while, I played around with various locations for my fuel supply and return manifolds on the aft portion of the plywood panel, but decided I needed to wait till I was actually running fuel lines to determine where they should best be placed; I could install them much later in the process with screws from the engine room.  Instead, I simply installed the panel in the engine room, as much to get it out of the way as anything.  For now, I also left the filter assembly off and would attach it later, but the studs were in place and ready for whenever.

After some thought, I determined that my next course of action needed to be the pilothouse.  It was time to design and install the new side panels (aka longitudinal bulkheads) that would finish off the space, and which would also allow me to complete the interior paneling (I planned to line the pilothouse in wood, as I had the rest of the interior), as well as configure the storage and mechanical spaces outboard of the panels, in the area above the saddle tanks on both sides.  This would be valuable space for both basic storage (particularly tools, spare parts, and engine items), as well as additional systems installations.  My brief time playing with the fuel system mockups on the panel revealed the fact that certain systems installations--notably the potable water system, with its multiple inlets, water pump, accumulator tank, and more-complicated-than-I'd-like plumbing to incorporate the water heater, a filtration system, and supply to the head and galley--would require some of this extra space.

In a way, it was only logical that I continue with the "major" interior structures in this way, now that the interior basics were in place in the saloon and forward cabin, but the reality was that there were several other chores I was also thinking about, including, significantly, the cockpit reconfiguration and propane locker, which I briefly touched upon a while back.  But getting the pilothouse interior squared away, at least in a rough sense, was necessary for most of the engine systems--like the steering system, fuel system, and the engine installation itself--and other interior-related systems, like the heating, water system, and, not insignificantly, various navigation and electronics planning and installations.  Nothing on a boat occurs in a vacuum.

During an earlier stage of construction, I'd laid the basic groundwork for the upper portions of the pilothouse, so the initial layout of the two bulkheads was fairly straightforward.  These photos show the spaces I began with.


I'd already installed--long ago--a support cleat at the forward ends, which cleat was crucial to the layout and installation of the engine room bulkheads beneath, and these cleats, along with the existing bulkheads, determined the positioning of the new bulkheads.  However, I needed to install support cleats at the aft end, where the bulkhead would meet the aft side of the pilothouse.

With a level, I extended plumb lines up from the existing cleats beneath, and cut hardwood cleats to fit as needed.  On the starboard side, some existing original fiberglass work created a lumpy surface, so I omitted the cleat over that area, using two shorter sections as needed.  After preparing the surfaces, I installed the cleats with 3-hour curing epoxy adhesive, using hot glue to hold them in place while the epoxy cured.  On the port side, I was able to use a bar clamp at the bottom end as well.


While I waited for the adhesive to cure sufficiently, I took care of some odds and ends in the cabin, beginning with the galley sink drain hose.

I installed a pair of friction catches on the refrigerator compartment lid, to hold it securely in place when closed.


With the varnish on the electrical/plumbing chase complete, I installed some placards and the propane control panel, and put the panel into position for my own enjoyment.

By now, the epoxy had cured enough that I wasn't worried about jarring the cleats out of position, nor about getting too much goop on myself or the patterns I'd need to create for the bulkheads.  The bulkheads would be essentially rectangular, but the aft end of each required scribing to the shape of the fiberglass.  For each side, I made a template from scraps of 1/4" plywood, kept on hand for such an event.  Once I'd achieved the required shape for a close fit at the aft end, I measured forward to the existing bulkhead, which gave me the overall length required.

From here, it was straightforward to cut the panels for each side.  I left them full-height (48"), which brought them to just beneath the level of the dashboard, as planned.  This was more or less how the original cabinetry in the pilothouse had been configured (on the port side, at least; in my case I was essentially duplicating this to starboard in place of the original awkward settee).  The final details of their height, or shape, would work themselves out as I went forward. 

I thought the panels seemed high, and indeed they were currently higher than what had been there originally, but there was time to figure out exactly where they should end; in any event, I knew the panels had to extend beyond the "jog" in the pilothouse (seen in the photos of the open space above), and also high enough to support a narrow shelf.  Beyond those criteria, however, there was leeway to shorten or otherwise modify the tops of the panels.  All in due course.



With the basic panels cut to size, my next task would be to lay out and create any openings for locker access or other storage needs.  This would be a dynamic process, as certain decisions relied upon upcoming installations, but in the meantime I'd be able to continue with other aspects of the pilothouse construction.

Total Time Today:  6.75 hours

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