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Project Log:  Sunday, January 22, 2012

During the first part of the day, I built a simple mockup of a possible overhead box to hold the two sailing instrument heads and VHF radio.  Using life-size printouts to simulate the units, I sized the front of the box no larger than needed.

Space above the pilothouse window was tight.  I'd have to be creative with the box to make it work in a space that was smaller than the minimum required height of the box's face.

The controlling feature of the overhead box in its current configuration was the depth of the VHF radio behind the front.  To simulate this, I built a little box in the shape of the radio, and glued it in the appropriate position behind.  The box was actually a bit larger than the true depth of the radio to ensure the final version would have ample room for wiring connections.

With the "VHF" in place, I determined that I could angle and should the front of the box 10° down (I first tried 20°, but this angle caused interference between the "VHF" and the top of the box).  Then, to help the sides of the box clear the top of the window frame and minimize the bulk of the box, I angled the bottom of the sides, tapering them towards the back as much as possible given the required clearance of the "VHF".


I glued on a top, then temporarily installed the mockup above the center window in the pilothouse.  There was no way to avoid having the box extend beyond the overhead hatch opening.


Obviously this represented only a very rough idea of what I might install, and at a minimum there were some manipulations required.   This box was down and dirty.  I'd have to clip the lower forward corners to clear the window frame once installed, and any final version would be more smoothly integrated, radiused, etc.

In many ways, this location made a lot of sense, but I didn't love the protrusion, and the space available was tighter than I wished.  I could streamline the depth substantially by taking the VHF radio out of the equation and installing it elsewhere, such as in the vertical face of the steering console.  I don't think I used the VHF on my last boat more than once over the past five or six years, other than listening to the weather (I can't stand the thing), so I suppose I don't care where it's installed from that standpoint, but if I do need to use it I'd prefer it was easy to use the controls, change channels, and so forth, so the overhead location makes sense there, and ultimately I expect the overhead box will either contain all three items as shown, or everything will end up somewhere else entirely.  I'd mull it for a while.

Moving on, I decided it was a good time to install the support cleats for the overhead in the pilothouse.  Before doing so, however, I had to lightly sand the surface, just to scuff the original laminate and slightly clean it up.  I'd not done this during my major sanding stages a year or more ago since at that time, there was no pilothouse floor structure, and no way to reach the overhead.  In the time since, there'd probably been unlimited opportunities to sand it, but for whatever reason I'd not done so.

Taking about 15 minutes, I sanded the surface lightly with coarse discs, then vacuumed and solvent-washed.


Next, I laid out for the cleats,  Beginning with a full-width cleat just aft of the large overhead hatch, I found that my desired 16" on-center spacing (as much for convention and continuity as anything) worked out quite well both forward and aft.


Finally, I cut and installed the 1/2" plywood cleats, using the same technique I'd used in the main cabin earlier, using polyurethane adhesive and temporary screws.  The short transverse cleats on either side of the overhead hatch needed bracing to push them into the required curve, as I didn't think the small temporary screws would hold them adequately; fortunately, the dashboard beneath made bracing easy.


Total Time Today:  3.25 hours

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