Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Clipper's Vera Cruise Build

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Water Passage Clean Up

Like all boats, mine has an area that will eventually be a bilge. The bilge, being the lowest point in the hull, is where any water that gets into the hull will eventually collect. As such, it needs to get to a common point so that it can be drained from the boat. That common point is at the aft end in the center by the keel.

There are two 1 inch holes that will eventually have drain plugs installed and which will be used to drain water from the hull. But the water has to get to these points first. How it does that is through a series of holes and passages that allow the water to move from a higher point to a lower point.

Where the battens pass through the frames, there are limber holes cut. These are on the outboard side of the battens and the center keel. Every frame in the boat has these. When the boat is drained, the aft end of the boat will be lowered so that gravity will move the water aft. In order for the water to get past each frame, these limber holes were originally added. You can see a typical example of this in the following picture.

The water runs along the edge of the battens. However, on my boat, because I used butt joints to join the bottom planking, there are backing plates which cover the joints between two skins. How the water would travel and the backing plates can be seen in the next photo. The backing plates are just in front of the fan. Notice that they fill the space between the battens.

Because they fill this space, they are a barrier to water flowing aft. What needed to be done was to remove a small strip from the edge of each backing plate where it interfered with water flow. I elected to remove approximately 3/8" as this provided sufficient passageway for the water and didn't expose too much of the skin join that the backing plates are meant to cover.

Since the backing plates are epoxied into position, I needed some means to easily remove the strip I was cutting off. I elected to use a router with a 3/8" router bit. In order to do that, I needed to have a guide strip to run the router against and a strip to lay on each backing plate to bring the level up to the same height as the adjacent batten. In the photo, the triangular scrap of plywood is over the backing plate which needs to be trimmed. In the second photo you can see how the backing plate is up against the batten side and would prevent water passage.

The router allowed me to quickly cut these strips off the backing plates except for the backing plates right next to the keel. Those had to be trimmed using a multi-tool to cut the backing plate and a chisel to remove the wood. This is because of the angle between the skin and the keel was not parallel to the backing plates. Fortunately, there were only four places where this had to be accomplished.

Here you can see the end result after routering.

Once the water gets to the back of the boat, it needs to travel to the centerline alongside each side of the keel. This is accomplished by limber passages cut on the underside of the battens near the transom. These passages allow water to get past each batten to get to the center.

You can see that in the next photo.

The problem with the limber passages, and the limber holes in the frames, is that when the skins were epoxied into position, there was some epoxy which squeezed out and partially filled these holes and passages. This epoxy needed to be removed so that water can flow and so that the holes and passages can be properly encapsulated with thin epoxy to protect against water damage.

The limber holes in the frames were relatively easy to clean, requiring a bit of chipping with a hammer and chisel to remove the bigger chunks of epoxy, and then sanding to smooth them out.

The limber passages in the battens were more difficult and I had to use a variety of means to clean them out. Here are the tools of the trade for these tasks.

The 90 degree die grinder has the spiral sanders that was used to clean out the limber holes in the frames. The 90 degree drill and the rat tail file were used to clean out the limber passages in the battens. The drill was mainly used to get at chunks of epoxy that the file could not get at. The mirror allowed to inspect the passages and determine where work was still needed.

The rat tail file was modified by heating the tail end over a flame and then bending it 90 degrees. Then a 3/4" dowel rod was stuck on the end to serve as a handle.

It took considerable effort to clean out these passages. In fact, one of them was so plugged that it took me over an hour of constantly working the file in the passage before I was able to freely move it.

I will need to go back and encapsulate these passages with thinned epoxy so that they do not have any exposed wood. This will be challenging, probably requiring the use of Q tips or something similar to paint inside the passages.

All of this has now been accomplished (other than the encapsulation) and I have started working on the next phase of interior preparation. I'll cover that and other things in the next blog article. Until next time, take care.

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