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Project Log:  Friday, April 18, 2014

Over the past days, I finished up the varnish work on the head door and door frame.



For some time I'd been studying and searching for a shower head system to install.  I needed a handheld shower, but also wanted a mount, both for storage and for shower use as needed.  I didn't want one of those stiff, miserable plastic hoses that can't be tamed.  I wanted it to look decent.  I didn't want to take out a bank loan to pay for it.  I wanted something that wasn't a total piece of junk.  I didn't want 24 shower spray patterns, Amazon rain forest simulators, or any of that.  I didn't think asking for the stuff to be made from metal was a stretch, though as it turned out this was the most unlikely desire of all.

I searched online and at the home centers.  I was left underwhelmed in all cases.  I'm sure some of the systems with $1500 price tags were probably very nice, but come on.  It's a shower.  A basic handheld shower. Why should something so simple be so hard to find in a basic, functional format for a reasonable cost?  Never mind that most things I could find didn't include such niceties as shower mixing valves, shower mounts, and the like--all extra.  Start adding these into the at-first-glance low cost of certain shower heads and suddenly the price ballooned.  Never mind various impracticalities of many of these possibilities, insofar as my particular installation requirements went.  Read on.

Ultimately, inevitably, inexorably, I settled on a compromise.  In the end, after figuring I'd find what I needed through an online plumbing supplier or a big box store, I found the final solution I chose from a regular marine supplier.  The Scandvik system I selected was complete:  shower head (with only a single spray pattern); mixing valve; metal flex hose (hurray); sliding rail-mount system (perhaps unnecessary but I'd come to like the looks of these); and even adapters between the BSP threads on the mixing valve and the NPT threads used widely here.  (I'd run into these BSP threads earlier too, on the water heater, and this had required a very expensive adapter fitting.)  The price was more than it was worth, but more than reasonable when compared with everything I'd seen during my research.

The most important feature I compromised on was the construction material:  chromed plastic.  Pretty much everything I'd physically laid my hands on in the store, regardless of price or number of spray patterns, was plastic.  Fair enough.  I guess I could have had all metal if I'd been willing to pay $500 or more for the system, though since I never looked at anything like that I can't even say for certain.  Such extravagance just didn't seem necessary or even beneficial in this situation.

Anyway.  The system I chose was far from ideal, but would do the job.  My particular installation had certain restrictions, particularly as regards the positioning of the plumbing connections and shower controls/mixing valve.  With the layout of the boat, and the need to hide (of course) the back side/plumbing connections, I had a limited area in which to consider mounting a valve:  that is, just in the utility space beneath the v-berth.  With a solid bulkhead, any penetrations above that point would be visible--obviously not acceptable.  I liked this Scandvik system because it had a pleasingly small valve, requiring just two small holes for installation, and this would work well in the installation zone I had available.

I will say that when I ordered this, I expected the mounting rail to be metal; it was plastic.  This was a disappointment, but upon reflection I decided to proceed.  I could easily enough replace the plastic rail and mounts with real metal if I decided later to become creative and come up with my own system.  For now, I went ahead and installed the sliding rail and mounts.  Because it was plastic, and secured to the bulkhead with just screws, I thought I might well have to install a warning placard not to use it as a handhold.  It would really be fine for its intended service, though.

After various measurements, double-checks, adjusting of existing hoses and wiring in the utility space to make room, and the like, I determined a mounting location for the shower valve/controls.  It was lower than I would ordinarily have chosen, but this was dictated by the height of the berth platform forward, and couldn't be helped.  I tucked it off closer to the corner of the head to keep it out of the way.  The mounting required two 5/8" holes through the bulkhead; I sealed the valve with butyl tape.

After securing the valve with the washers and nuts provided, I installed the plumbing barbs, after pre-assembling some brass barbs onto the supplied plastic BSP/NPT adapters.  Then I assembled the shower head, hose, and on-off trickle valve (allowing the shower to be shut off to a trickle without needing to adjust the temperature and flow), and connected the hot and cold water hoses that I'd run earlier.  This project required minor reconfiguration of the holding tank vent hose, and a wire bundle from another installation.



The shower installation essentially completed the plumbing work, and the head compartment itself.  To truly liberate myself from additional work in this space, I decided to finish up some minor wiring runs, leading to the light fixtures in the saloon and forward cabin that I'd be installing.  Earlier, I'd run the main conductors forward into the space, and provided a terminal block for additional connections.  Now, with lengths of leftover wire, I ran two cables--one into the port v-berth, the other to the forward bulkhead above the dinette--for the eventual lighting fixtures, leaving a tail of wire for the final connections later.


During a much-earlier wiring phase, I'd already run a similar wire stub out for the port aft side of the dinette.

On the starboard side, with a similar terminal block and wiring situation at hand, I ran two additional conductors, for the starboard v-berth and the forward end of the galley.  I planned a final light fixture on the bulkhead at the aft end of the galley also, but I'd deal with its wiring a bit later.



With the work in the head complete, I hung the new head door, a fussy process that seemed to take longer than building the door itself.  Small hardware, tight spaces, tiny fasteners:  Tim's Holy Trinity.  I went simple on the hardware:  non-mortise hinges (3 sets), the same solid brass knob I'd used on all the cabinet doors in the boat, and two roller door catches to hold the door shut.  I planned to also add some regular latch hooks inside and out to "lock" the door from inside when in use, if needed, and also to secure the door from without should it be necessary.  Later, I'd add a handle to the inside of the door, but I didn't have anything suitable on hand yet.  To close the door from within the head while I installed the door catches, I threaded a wire tie through the hole for the outer knob.   




Total Time Today:  5.75 hours

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