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Project Log:  Saturday, June 9, 2012

Earlier in the week, I lightly sanded the steering platform tabbing to prepare it for the work ahead; this took care of the rough edges and fibers.  Then, later, I applied a coat of high build epoxy primer over the new fiberglass and nearby fillets.  One part Interlux paints, such as the Bilgekote I planned to use to paint out the after steering room, have a problem curing over epoxy that's too fresh, so to get around this I normally would wait a couple weeks or longer before applying it.  In this case, I knew I'd be too impatient for that, as I wanted to paint the space soon and complete the steering installation.  The 2-part epoxy primer would provide the required tie coat to allow me to paint sooner than later.  I left the top of the steering cylinder platform unprimed since it was unneeded there, and I didn't want to obscure my layout marks.


After checking the fit and operation of the steering arm and cylinder once more, I drilled the boltholes for the mounting bearing/bracket.  The instructions called for grade 5 bolts, which weren't available in stainless, so I purchased bolts with a corrosion-resistant black finish (the same as the ones used by Teleflex to secure the  bearing inside the mount from beneath), the best option available in the specified grade. 

I immediately found that I'd miscalculated the length required for the through bolts, so I'd have to order longer ones.  For now, I used some regular SS bolts to secure the mounting base in those areas.  The inboard two bolt locations were inaccessible from beneath, so I tapped the holes into and through the fiberglass backing plate for the bolts.  I had to go at a slight angle for one, as the location was directly in line with the bulkhead above.


With the cylinder now bolted in place--albeit temporarily--I checked the operation of the steering again, looking for any binding or odd noises or what have you.  I was pleased with the operation.

Meanwhile, I prepared for the soon-to-come final mounting of the hydraulic autopilot pump.  I'd be mounting this on some vibration-damping rubber mounts, which I lined with SS sleeves to accommodate the 1/4" bolts.

These preparations highlighted what I'd consider needlessly thoughtless design of the mounting flange on the autopilot pump.  The bolts I specified were fairly long to pass through the fiberglass mounting plate and plywood platform beneath (1-3/4" or so total), plus the rubber mounts (another 3/4").  While the two mounting holes near the fittings side of the pump were fine, I discovered that the little brackets securing the pump itself to the mounting bracket were partially obstructing access to the bolt holes beneath, at least from insertion from a vertical orientation. 

This meant that it was impossible to set the pump in place and install these screws one at a time; instead, I had to insert the screws into the pump mounting flange first, then dangle them over the holes in the mounting platform to get them both started.  This issue could have easily been avoided if the mounting bracket had been just a touch wider, or if these holes had been 1/4" closer to the other end of the pump (and therefore clear of those plastic pump brackets).  The mounting holes had open slots on the sides, but these slots were smaller than 1/4" (the diameter of the mounting holes and bolts), and since the slots opened to each side, even if they'd been large enough the design wouldn't have allowed the pump to slip around both of these semi-accessible fasteners no matter what.

This design made it more difficult than necessary to test-fit the pump, though not impossible.  Was I the only one who found such tiny design flaws so frustrating and unneeded?  This was hardly the first time I'd found such foolishness, and I could just never understand why it had to be that way.

All whining aside, I drilled and tapped mounting holes, and test-fit the pump in place with its rubber mounts.  I didn't drive the bolts all the way home since I'd be removing the pump again.

Down on the bench, I removed the plastic blanks and installed fittings for the eventual hose connections, covering the openings with tape to prevent any debris from getting in.

Thinking through my hose and fitting installation, I realized that I didn't have the right stuff.  The complication was the shutoff valves that I wanted in the lines running to the autopilot pump.  I'd already ordered adapters that went from the NPT threads of the valves to the 9/16-24 compression fitting threads required for the steering hoses, but what I didn't have was a means of converting from the tee fittings to the valves, without using extra lengths of hose.  The tees I had featured three sets of the 9/16 threads, but I needed one leg to have 1/4" NPT threads.  Fortunately, I found these fittings to be readily available, so I ordered what I needed.  So despite all my hopes and plans, I'd not be completing the steering installation this weekend.

After cleaning out the area with vacuum and solvent wash, I painted the after steering room.

In the cabin, I started work on a few sundry installations, beginning with two cherry vent louvers in the refrigerator compartment--one in the countertop, one in the cabinet face.  I'd planned and pre-installed these earlier, then removed them for final finishing and safekeeping till now.  I installed them with a pair of screws each.


I had the vague idea of beginning some water hose runs so I could install and finish up the galley faucets and foot pumps, but the day was far too fine outdoors and, after more than a week of poor weather, I couldn't resist doing other things outside.

Total Time Today:  3.25 hours

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