Building Logs

Plumbing copper pipes

Posted by Paul

As I mentioned in my last post some of the work I have outlined in the previous post actually took place in August. Here is the rest of what was done in August. One such piece of work done in the first week of August was the gluing in and glassing of the last pieces of deck panel that would finally close up both hulls. Dean cut the pieces to size, kerfed them (on the outside of the port hull, the inside of the starboard hull, for no real reason, it doesn’t really matter and glued them in. I glassed them the first weekend back from our US trip.

For many years we have known that we would have 2 mast posts glassed to the forward bedroom bulkheads. Indeed we have moved the doors into the wardrobe (port hull) and ensuite (starboard) across to accommodate their new position and built furniture to suit.

However one aspect we had not anticipated was revealed by the engineers. We had originally planned to have halyards (3 in each mast, a main, a spare and a foresail/spinnaker) feed down the masts and into the top of the mast post then exit just above deck level in the space between the bottom of the mast (it must finish above the deck so as not to rub on it or any ropes etc in its normal rotations) and the deck and then be led down the deck to the winches alongside the cockpit on each hull, in other words we would be able to hoist or lower sails from the cockpit. The engineers killed that idea stone dead. They informed us (I say us because there are 3 other boats planning the same rig and we are all having the masts and posts made by the same company). The engineers informed us that the point where the mast post exits the deck is where it will be under the most loads and there was no way we could weaken that point by building in 3 slots for exit sheaves. It couldnt be done, not with a thicker skin on the post there, not with other forms of reinforcement.

Re think time. The options are to have the lines exit the mast above the post and be controlled from the mast, which one of us opted for. You cannot have lines exit a rotating mast and then be anchored under tension to the deck. It stops the mast freely rotating and also winds the rope around the mast which would either pull your anchoring cleat from the deck or stretch or snap the line. There is nothing wrong with having winches on the masts, many boats do, but most of us prefer to have control from the cockpit where possible to avoid the danger of having to leave the cockpit in unfavourable conditions.

Our option was to have the lines led to the cockpit somehow. That somehow was the other option. The lines could exit the mast posts at about a point just below the chamfer panel to hull join. No higher because of load transmission. Fine for me, you wouldnt want them higher, but nor would you want them any lower because this is getting to near the waterline inside the hulls and as I explain this would be problematic also. So after some discussion between the rest of us going for lines led to cockpit we agreed on 600mm above the sole. The mast posts are glassed to the sole, some of you will remember the extra layers of glass I put down for this purpose. 600mm above is as I said just below that chamfer turn. The posts would have exit blocks where the 3 ropes would turn to travel down toward the hull. From here I am going a slightly different path to Mike in Perth. He is leading his lines through the hull to the outside of each hull then down the underside of the bridgedeck to blocks below his winch station in the centre of his cockpit then up to the winch. I on the other hand dont like holes in hulls (I’m sure Mike doesn’t either and am not sure how he will handle this issue but am sure he will have a perfectly sensible solution).

I have decided on running my lines down the inside of each hull, along the hull panel inside copper pipes. Copper was about the only pipe I could find that was polished and smooth on the inside.  I will have 3 lengths of 20mm pipe in each hull, 2 at 1500mm and 1 at 1200mm with gaps between each of about 500mm. There are 2 reasons for this. First the hull flares enough that one long length would mean that the rope would be rubbing under tension along enough of the inside for me to be concerned about rope chafe and ultimate early failure or worse, erosion of the pipes from the inside and eventual wearing them away with the resultant similar end result of lines that have no clear path to run. So breaking them up into smaller lengths means they can remain as straight a run as possible and the flare can be accommodated by changing the direction of the line with a much more durable and replaceable fairlead. The other reason for the smaller runs of pipe is that threading a halyard along a 6 meter long pipe is not an easy task, at least nowhere near as easy as pushing it just 1.5m then pulling it through at a break then pushing it through the next pipe. So by strategically staggering the shorter pipe runs I fix both issues. The rope will have minimal drag on a dead straight run, minimal rubbing to do either rope or pipe any harm and any strain taken by fairleads which are designed and constructed for that purpose. And best of all, the lines are hidden and protected by the copper pipes, mostly inside furniture or under steps etc. So will be out of sight and more importantly not on the decks to trip over or look unsightly and will still control the sails as good as any other method. I couldnt have been happier. Except I wished I knew all of this before I had built in most of the furniture. It now means I have to install these pipes through that furniture.

I thought that way until I started to fit these pipes. It turned out that having to be installed through existing furniture made the job easier not harder. I didnt have to fabricate brackets to suspend pipes, I just had to cut holes in existing panels and bulkheads at the right heights and this job turned out to be much easier than I thought thanks to the angled die grinder as my cutting tool. Where I could I used a drill and hole saw. But where I couldnt the die grinder allowed me to cut a pipe hole easily. The holes need to be oversize because I have flared the ends of each pipe so that the rope does not catch on the pipes, but also because until I have the ropes under tension (which I wont be able to do until I have the mast posts with the sheaves in, glassed into the boat, and I am still not sure when the posts will arrive, they have been expected since December last year, but as I was not in any real hurry I didnt press for them, but now, I am getting to the point where they are seriously holding work up) I wont know the exact positions for the pipes to be glued into the various panels. But for now they are all in place.

The sheave exits will be side by side coming out of the mast post but I decided not to mount the lines side by side as they travel through the hull. The reason is that side by side they protrude out farther than the steps they have to pass by. There is also other plumbing that I have to navigate these lines through but unlike other plumbing and wiring, these must remain straight, they cannot bend around corners even a few millimetres in order to avoid an intersection with some other thing, they get priority of throughway.  The hull side is angled so if I mount them at an equal distance from the hull side they end up being slightly staggered horizontally which is fine, they need to exit the last bulkhead (into the outboard chamber) so that they can travel up the bulkhead side by side so being a slightly different distance on the horizontal plane from the hull side and therefore on the bulkhead works fine. Regardless fairleads mean the lines can go wherever I want to direct them to.

In the starboard hull the steps and furniture were clear enough or at sufficient height that I could mount each pipe about 40mm apart from each other but in the port hull, the step at the chamfer panel also had 2 big conduits because of the traffic that must pass these steps (water both ways, power for 12v and 240v separated and both ways for the 240v) there wasnt enough room for all 3 copper halyard pipes to cram in there with them. So 2 went into the space around the other conduits and the third had to go under the next step down. It meant that the pipes are staggered slightly differently but as I said, with the use of fairleads it really makes no difference where they end up being set so long as the pipes remain straight and as much as possible in line (they could be offset to each other but again this would require fairleads to redirect the halyards and you want to keep this to a minimum for 2 reasons, cost, good fairleads are not cheap and the more you have the more friction against the lines you have. Sails can be heavy enough to lift without the added friction of a bunch of fairleads.

The other thing I needed to be mindful of was keeping these pipes as high above waterline as I could or if I couldnt I would need enough space (which I have) to redirect the lines to well above waterline as they exit the most aft of the pipes and then transit through turning sheaves cut into the last bulkhead and into the flooded outboard well. This is a point where water can enter the boat so the higher the exit sheaves the better. Obviously below waterline would not work at all. I still have to devise a way to catch any water that can enter and redirect it back overboard. In the port hull this is of no consequence because the laundry is a wet area and has drainage, but the area in front of the sheaves in the starboard hull is a dry storage area under the aft bunk, so I will have to find a way to catch and expel (probably a tray, drain, hose with one-way valve and through bulkhead drain back into the outboard well mounted just below that but still well above waterline should do it.

With the halyards pipes in place I turned my attention to another little job that has been annoying me for almost the entire time since the hulls were joined.

With the nose cones shaped and glassed, I had a lot of “scrap” foam lying around on the ground. I used every last bit of my foam in making them and even had to crib a little back by making the ply box tongues that make the noses hollow and saved me the foam I did not have. But one last foam task remains that required foam (well actually there is another but I am just going to have to buy more foam for that – the front edge of the cockpit seating was to be foam so that an LED ropelight can be hidden behind it).

The under bridgedeck stiffening beams have an angled foam end-plate. At the stern these were added to the bridgedeck when it was upside down on the floor before being flipped and lifted up to meet the hulls. But on the curved D section this was not possible until the curve was created (kerfed on the inside). Once created a curved piece of foam needs to be shaped not only to meet the curve of the bridgedeck but also the taper of the beams that looks aesthetically pleasing.

I found 4 pieces of foam big enough to shape into the plugs and set to carving the first one. By sheer luck (I am not very good at such tasks, I just dont seem to have an eye for it) I managed to make a pleasing shape first up and simply made the other 3 match it, that I am OK at. I glued them in place and glassed them the next day, applying some bog over the wet glass after it had tacked off. Then faired them the next day. I think they look ok.


I also managed to get a start on perhaps one of my biggest challenges in this build. Most tasks on the build were pretty straight forward, even though I put many of them off, one, the forebeam for over 6 months for a problem that took me minutes to solve. I have been putting off for many months the last part of the kitchen build. The curved pull out pantry. Not because it is the most complex, not because it is the most difficult to build or in the most difficult spot to get to, but because it will be one of the most visible components and if wrong would be the most obvious of mistakes or poorly made items. I am not the most clean of workers, that is my work is rough but my hope is that with linings and laminates my rough work can be polished. But this curved front slide out pantry will have a huge 1.8meter vertical edge that must meet up with another panel as a join, on a moving platform (the slide out mechanism), which will be on an ever moving platform itself (the boat!).

The first step was easy enough, buy the sliding shelf mechanism. I found one on ebay for $150 and went to collect it. Whilst explaining to the guy what it was for he suggested I pay the extra $50 for the better one they sell, it has an extra basket but more importantly a much more sturdy frame and rolling mechanism. I took his advice.

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