Building Logs

Grey tank glassed behind daggercase

Posted by Paul

The next job off the list was to finally glass the grey water holding tank into the boat, behind the port daggerboard case. The tank is already made, all that was left to finish it was to fit a final panel which includes the inlet point and a breather, the outlet at the bottom is already in the tank. So with the last panel and skin fittings fitted to the tank I glassed it into the boat. It is already a very tight fit, it cannot move forward as it is hard up against the bulkhead, it cannot fall any further because it is wedged in between the hull side and the dagger case so the only way it could move was up. So besides glassing it along the underside to the hull and dagger case, I did the same along the top of the tank to stop it ever being able to move upwards effectively locking it permanently in place in the boat. It wont ever come out now. It would need to be cut out and destroyed in the process if it was ever needed to be moved.

One issue I had to solve was how to attached the inlet hose to the tank once it was glassed into place. One way would be to attach it prior to fitting the tank but this proved to be very difficult and much skin was grazed from knuckles trying to fit the tank in with the hose already attached to the tank. There is a small gap between the tank side and the daggercase side, created by the daggercase side having a rope slot inside the case, it makes the cover for that slot protrude leaving a 25mm wide gap behind it to the bulkhead by about 100mm deep and of course it runs the entire height of the tank. The hose into the tank comes up from below the tank through this gap and over the tank to the inlet skin fitting. Getting the hose to stay in that tiny gap whilst refitting the wedge shaped tank into its slot was just not happening. I tried for at least half an hour. You cannot have the hose pinched or squashed in any way. It must be clear and free in that slot and I need to be sure it is before proceeding. It may need to be removed and replaced even if the tank cannot be, and must not be blocked in anyway, even partially, as I am already concerned about the sump pump lifting the water the 1.8 meters to the top of the tank (gravity out the bottom via a stop cock to the through hull in the sump under the bathroom floor on the other side of the bathroom wall).

top of port greyport grey outport stair cupboard template

So in the end, the most effective solution was to fit a garden hose fitting that can rotate within itself to be screwed onto the skin fitting thread. Besides the tank fitting problem of fitting the hose before fitting the tank, the other issue is that once in place there is no way to unscrew the fitting from the skin fitting if the entire hose has to rotate to get it undone. It would be possible to undo the hose clamp from the space left above the tank but behind the daggercase but it would be difficult in that confined space. So with a rotating fitting that pulls the body of the fitting down onto a rubber seal ring as it screws onto the skin fitting thread I have solved all but one problem. I am concerned that it may be possible, although unlikely, for the hose fitting to work its way loose. Vibrations from the daggercase perhaps? So one solution will be to locktite it shut, but that would make removing it should I ever want to switch out the hose very difficult. As I will have an inspection port behind the upholstered lining I will just have to keep an eye on it.

port stairwell cupboard template 2port stairwell cupboard templateshaping port stairwell cupboard top

With the port grey tank glassed the next step to finish this section is to make the curved cupboard furniture (non opening) to fill the space between the bathroom wall and the back of the daggercase. As with the starboard hull the steps have protruded into the companionway a little more than I otherwise would have liked so to maintain an adequate companionway width I will curve the cupboard to match the profile of the bottom step. But the steps in each hull are at a different angle and as a result are a slightly different shape, that is the curve is different. So I must make new templates and a different shape panel to match the steps. I take the shape by tracing the shape of the bottom step onto cardboard and fitting that shape into the space to see that it all works.

shaping port stairwell frontshaping port stairwell front 1

After making the template my next step is to make a top and bottom shelf using the cardboard template as my shape guide. The top is double thickness the bottom is single thickness. And then, using the top and bottom shelf as a guide I made mdf mold panels in order to shape the curved cupboard front panel by glassing it on the mold and having it set to shape, rather than make a flat panel then kerf and glue it to shape. Either way requires fairing but for a panel this small I would rather get close to the shape needed on the mold. I also cut the mdf so I already have both the front and back mold or male and female from the one cutting. Although the shape of the panel is slightly different back and front because of the thickness (16mm) of the panel it is close enough that both molds are close enough. The panel after glassing is still flexible enough to be bent into shape in the fitting process so all I want is a fair surface to minimize the fairing after it is glassed in. There is always going to be some fairing because you will need to fair out the tapes or in this case the bog is removed and when tapes are applied re bogged and re faired. I made the mistake last time of insisting the panel conform to the shape of the mold and ended up with much more fairing work, this time I let it take its own fair line from the natural curve it took so here and there it sat higher than the molds but when forced it would show a distinct angle, so letting it be was much better and in the end the panel faired up much easier. Or maybe because it had been a while since I had faired I again built it up to be harder than it was. Curved panels and furniture is definitely much harder to make than angles and corners, but it looks so good in the boat that I believe it is worth the longer hours they take to build. But I am a bit biased. Would I do it this way again? Yeah, on balance it is worth the extra work.

While that was setting (in the end, as with most fairing, you rarely get it fair first time) each day I got on with other jobs. I bogged the panel wet on wet to the tacking off glass (I only needed to wait about an hour after glassing for it to be touch dry) for a chemical bond, then faired it first time the next day. In winter you cannot start sanding for 2 days, in summer you can sand next day. Its still summer! You are reminded of that when the hand sanding starts. Then once you reach the point where the glass is showing through you run another light bog screed and sand again, then finally a minor hole fill and that just about has it fair.

shower back door and sideshower back dry fitsump shower laundry

I cut the door into the panel in the normal way, having decided on the standard door shape and size. I had toyed with having a different shape door in the back shower wall because it is not a normal door like the rest in the boat. But in the end the fact I am going to be making a mold to pump out door jams with gelcoat already on them to the shape of all the door (they are all the same) made me decide that this would be best for the shower too. The pre-made door jams/trims will clean up the rough edges of the doorways and fill the gaps so that I can use the cut-outs as the doors (the kit cut routed panels make the doors about 15mm smaller than the doorway, the jam will take up about half of this, a trim edge around the edge of the doors also about half and a gap of about 2mm around the door). The reason I mention cleaning up the rough edges is because I did a pretty poor job on the uni rope edge treatment because I didnt have enough elastic bands, in fact I didnt have any new ones, just already used ones and more than half of them broke as I attached them. The end result of this is that the mdf strips I use to keep it pulled tightly into the slot was not so tight and I had bulges everywhere. Not a big problem because I just grind it back to flat and straight and then the door trim will go over it and cover any blemishes. The uni rope on these panels is not so critical in fact is very much optional on non structural non bulkhead walls. The uni rope gives the doorway some additional strength but is not crucial. I just like to be consistent with all the openings. I will repeat this for all of the hatches and ports too.

The third bog layer, which was really only a fill of holes here and there, set and I faired it, using my usual method for fairing the concave surfaces, sandpaper wrapped around half a pool noodle and a crisscross sanding motion including some strokes parallel to the direction of the curve, like a union jack minus the square to the panel direction as this would only cut narrow trenches in the face. These motions are crucial to ensuring you maintain fairness and dont dig new holes, the idea is to knock the tops off the highs until you meet the lows, which should be the cloth showing so that you have the absolute minimum of bog left on. With it as fair as I am happy with (you can never get these things as fair as you would like, otherwise you would be fairing for years) and also because these fronts wont be painted they are going to be laminated so whilst fairing is important, not as important as if I were painting them.

I make these panels slightly oversize so I can trim them back to the correct size and because the edges of glass are easier to trim than get exactly to the edges of the polycore. But I cannot trim much because the panel is a particular shape, and trimming too much one way or another changes the curve points and in effect changes the shape of the panel. Anyway, it fits and this is another moment I find I can stare at the work for some time admiring it. I really like the look of curved panels. They make the boat uniquely my design and to me the curves are what make it beautiful. It is one of the reasons I like the Schionning design, the curves. Anyway, the panel is dry fitted to the space between the back edge of the daggercase and the bathroom wall. I needed to know that there was room behind it to accommodate the plumbing. There is. My only concern now is whether to glue and glass the top down or to have the top removable so that I can get to the plumbing in there at some future time should I ever need to change the hose. I doubt I would ever need to, it is seriously heavy duty washing machine hose, 3mm walled. But you never know. As it is just dry fitted for now I will think about it a while.

curved front port stairscurved front port stairs 1curved front port stairs 2curved front port stairs 3

Once I have glassed this all in I can move on to finishing the bathroom and laundry (the shower is almost done, only the back wall to be glassed in and then a side panel glassed on as I glass the black tank in and fix the plumbing in place). There is also some other plumbing and wiring to go in, about a months work in all should see the laundry furniture and shower done, and a few more weeks to get the bathroom furniture in. And when that is done, there is only some furniture in each of the bedrooms to complete, waiting on the mast posts, before all of the internal furniture work is pretty much done. Then I can move to the rear of each hull and start getting the outboard wells done, then the rudder boxes and then the finally the rear steps can go in.

There are 3 very good reasons why the rear steps going on will be an especially rewarding time for me. First of course is the satisfaction of them finally being glassed in, after all, I made them more than 2 years ago and have anticipated them going in for all that time. Anticipated for more than just the satisfaction of completing something unfinished. I am getting older and climbing into the boat or more appropriately out of the boat is getting harder and harder. I have slipped off the steps twice in the past week, the first time hanging like a monkey one handed as my body fell off the side of the steps. If not for the screw protruding from the side of the steps that dug into my thigh I would have escaped uninjured, but shaken up nonetheless. So the sooner I get the rear steps into at least one of the hulls the better my access and chances of surviving this build will be. And then of course the final satisfaction is that it is only the rear steps going in now that is stopping the guys from starting to fair the boat. I am particularly looking forward to seeing it fair. I know where every mistake and blemish is. Their job will be to hide them all forever!

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