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Project Log:  Friday, March 2, 2012

I temporarily secured the two half templates of the navigation console, then secured the two pieces together with hot glue and stir sticks, spanning the gap between.  This gave me a full-size template.  I marked the height and angle at the top edge.

With the template as I guide, I cut the final panel from 12mm plywood, allowing space at the bottom for the 1/8" textured black plastic material I was using to cover the short shelf and the various instrument panel surfaces.  With a Japanese-type pull saw, I trimmed the excess plywood away from the sides of the enclosure, flush with the dashboard and the face of the angled panel.


Moving downward, I started the layout for the lower instrument and control panel and the vertical face of the console itself, then cut and installed support cleats accordingly.  The top of this panel was to be flush with the horizontal shelf leading into the nav console, and angled at 20° downward from there, as originally laid out in my various mockups.

Next, I cut a panel blank from leftover scraps cherry plywood, an abundant supply of which I had on hand.


I chose a lightly textured black plastic to cover portions of the console surfaces; the appearance of this material was consistent with the overall appearance of the electronics and instrument panels, and with the overall look I was going for.  I carefully cut pieces to fit the two large surfaces, abraded and solvent-washed the bottom side, and glued the plastic to the wooden substrates with epoxy.  I was unsure how well the adhesive would stick to the plastic, but hoped it would be enough; in any event, various screws and other installations would eventually be holding the material in plate mechanically, so the bond wasn't critical; I just wanted to avoid having the surface material seem loose or cheap-feeling when touched, and thought the bonding would at least be sufficient for that.  I set the glue-ups aside to cure.

Meanwhile, I got to work on the main vertical face of the helm console.  To begin, I installed hardwood cleats on the cabinet sides to support the face, using various layout lines I'd created along the way.  Then, I cut a cherry plywood panel to fit the space as needed.


I removed the solid cherry side panel and milled rounded profiles on the exposed edges as needed, then sanded the panel smooth and clean before screwing it back into place.

Down on the bench, I laid out the major installations on the face panel:  the helm, and two electrical panels.  I spent an inordinate amount of time laying out and cutting the opening for the slim upper panel, as the clearances were very tight and the opening couldn't be simply rectangular because of the position of the six screw holes required to secure it.  Eventually, I managed to get the opening cut as needed, but it was frustrating for something so silly to take so long.

Around this time I also noticed that the manufacturer had put on an incorrect label.  Instead of "Running Lights", there was a label for "Rudder Lights" (whatever those might be; who has rudder lights?).  I hadn't noticed this during my initial inspection of the panels when they arrived a few weeks ago.   There were a few mis-applied labels on the AC portion of the main panel, which I'd already noted and for which I'd already received replacements.


For the main electrical panel, located in the lower section of the cabinet, I'd ordered the panel in a recessed enclosure with acrylic hinged door, and this panel was straightforward to lay out and temporarily install.


Total Time Today:  6.75 hours

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