27 September 2010

Wedge Issues

I often thing that 'Boat Building' is the wrong name for what I do. 'Boat Carving' would be more accurate, because I can never seem to get things to fit the first time. I'm always trimming here and shaving there until it finally fits. Sort of.

Building this simple wedge is a perfect example. On the face of it, it seems incredibly simple. Just build a simple wedge, and bolt it on the transom.

Ah, but then God created 'the details'.

The details are what get you, every time.

So, back in NY, I lavished 4 coats of oil paint on my beautifully crafted wedge.

Boring the holes for 3/8" bolts
photo jalmberg

Then it was time to drill the holes for the bolts. I ended up choosing a long ship's auger. I never thought I'd own/need such a big bit.

I drilled the holes free hand, with a bit of help from Helena, who helped me keep the bit square to the wood.

Then I made the bolts I needed from 3/8" stainless steel threaded rod. The rod came in 3' lengths. I just cut off what I needed with a hacksaw, and then cleaned up the ends with a die. Another tool I never thought I'd need! Actually, I needed this tool very badly for a different reason, later on.

Cleaning threads with die
photo jalmberg

This was about as far as I could take it in NY. Next stop, Jacksonville!

After flying down to Jacksonville with 175 lbs of luggage (heavy motor bracket, block of wood, any number of books, clothing for hot and cold weather... it adds up!), my first job was to remove the old motor mount.

This was one of those jobs that was so frustrating, I forgot to take any photos. The old bracket was fastened to the hull with 4 bolts. Unfortunately, only 2 of the nuts were accessible on the inside of the boat. Someone had epoxied some wood over the other two nuts so it was impossible to remove them.

After consulting with some dock watchers, I accepted the loan of an electric angle grinder. This is basically a hand-held grinding wheel. The idea was to use this fearsome tool to grind the heads off the 2 stuck stainless steel bolts. Simple, if you don't mind leaning over the edge of a dock, holding an ungrounded power tool with a dubious cord, while creating a veritable fountain of sparks.

But, do or die, I always say.

I didn't die, and grinding off the heads did get the old bracket off.

Unfortunately, my carefully planned wedge did not fit. It would be too tedious to explain why it didn't fit. But it didn't. Long story short, I had to trim the angle of my wedge to make the bracket fit on the transom. All I had was my Japanese pull saw. The dock watchers said it couldn't be done, but, do or die...

Trimming block... the hard way
photo jalmberg
About an hour of sawing in 90 degree heat did the job. A big carpenter's saw, like the one back in my shop, would have done the job in 10 minutes, but I was darned if I was going to buy a saw I didn't need, and then carry it in the Blue Moon for 1200 miles!

There were about 30 other problems with getting this simple wedge/motor bracket to fit properly, but thankfully I've forgotten most of them. After spending one day getting the old bracket off, and 2 days fitting the new one, I finally had a decent motor bracket.

Happiness in black
No more worrying about my precious Yamaha disappearing into the inky depths of the ICW. The transom would fall of the boat before this baby did. 

I was ready to set sail! Home before Thanksgiving! That's my goal.

Next Episode: Go With The Flow

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  1. John,
    Enjoy reading your blog.

    "After spending one day getting the old bracket off, and 2 days fitting the new one, I finally had a decent motor bracket."

    I guess that is why mechanics are called 'fitters' across the pond.

    And as a 'dock watcher' from at least 1000 miles north, I am wondering about the bolts that were covered over with wood and glass. Did you remove all that and get them out or trim them off and offset your new bracket?

    Always interested.

  2. I couldn't get the jackhammer under the cockpit seat, so couldn't remove the wood and epoxy. Grounding off the heads of the bolts was easier!


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