With Jeff and I not working on Friday because of the holiday, we hoped to cross a lot of items off of our list over the three-day weekend. A rainy Friday put a slight crimp on our plans, but overall it was still a fairly productive weekend.
We had actually already been down to Shenny on Wednesday to meet with John the diesel guy. Pegu Club is our first experience with a diesel engine and we know virtually nothing about them. Although we bought Nigel Calder’s book, we thought it would be beneficial to have a pro show us the basics, like how to bleed the engine. By the time John left we knew how to do that, plus we changed the impeller, secondary fuel filter, and belt, confirmed where the zinc was, and received many other tips plus an exploded parts manual. It was time and money very well spent. The diesel is finally starting to look less mysterious.
It rained most of the day on Friday but we had tickets to Shenny’s annual fish fry so we were planning to drive down anyway. Arriving a few hours early, we were able to spray down all of the surfaces with our bottle of Pure Ayre (which smelled like peppermint) and we closed up the boat with high hopes that the odorometer would read zero on Saturday.
The next day, after our obligatory weekly stop at Defender, we opened up the boat and sniffed. It worked! The boat smelled completely neutral. Even Jeff was satisfied. Victory was finally ours! Buoyed by our success, we got down to work.
The main goal for Saturday was to install the backing blocks for our four new seacocks. This was a fairly easy task, made easier by the fact that we had already done it once before on Little Bristol. The key was to make sure that everything fit in such a way that the seacock handles wouldn’t be obstructed by any hoses, bulkheads, etc.
Once Jeff checked the fit multiple times and was satisfied that the placement was accurate, we wrapped the thruhulls with painters tape because they needed to be removed after the adhesive for the backing blocks had set up. Why have them in there at all when we’re simply going to remove them again? Because we wanted to make sure that the backing block was perfectly positioned while the adhesive dried. We also needed to figure out how we were going to keep the thruhulls in place overnight. Fortunately, a boat neighbor told us that there was plenty of wood in the poppet storage area so between that and the 2×4’s we still had from our winter cover, we put our MacGyver skills to work and came up with a good solution.
We decided to use 3M’s 5200 for the backing blocks. We aren’t the type of people who reach for 5200 under all circumstances – it’s so difficult to remove – but we knew that even if for some crazy reason we had to replace the thruhulls again in the future (such a remote possibility that it’s hardly worth mentioning), the backing blocks would still remain, so using the devil’s glue (as it’s known in some boating circles) seemed like a good choice.
Once the backing blocks were in place, we turned our attention to tightening the deck hardware one last time (the same hardware we had rebedded during the fall) which meant a trip into the Pit of Despair (aka the rear lazarette) for me. We were finished soon enough, however, and we still had a few hours left in us so I removed the excess butyl that had squeezed out from between the deck and the hardware, while Jeff finished removing Pegu Club’s old name. The graphics for Pegu Club arrived a few weeks ago so hopefully we’ll get a chance to install them soon.
On Sunday morning we drove down to Shenny with the sole goal of installing our new chainplates. But before that, Jeff wanted to have his first cup of coffee on Pegu Club. We’ve been bringing the cushions back on board and starting to turn her into a cozy home instead of a workspace, and it was time to enjoy it for a few minutes before getting to work.
After we basked in our accomplishment of finally being able to relax in the cabin vs. sitting in a work zone surrounded by tools, we turned our attention to the chainplates. Like the thruhulls and backing blocks the previous day, installing chainplates was a familiar task. We had rebedded Little Bristol’s chainplates so we knew it wouldn’t be difficult. Before we could install them, however, we needed to dig out some wet core.
Bristol Yachts, Inc. used end grain balsa for core material underneath the deck, and any deck penetration means a possibility for moisture intrusion. When we had Pegu Club surveyed in July, the surveyor ran a moisture meter all over the deck and hull (the effectiveness of moisture meters is up for some debate) and also sounded the boat with a mallet. Nothing really came up as a cause for concern, but with a 39 year old boat we knew there were likely at least a few areas where we might find some wet core.
As we rebedded all of the deck hardware last fall, there fortunately wasn’t any sign of water penetration. However, upon removing the port forward chainplate we saw it. Instead of dry wood under the deck, it was a bit goopy.
Repairing wet core can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a big headache, depending on the extent of the damage. It can be as easy as digging out the wood with a bent nail and filling the space with epoxy. Alternatively, it can mean cutting away the deck until you find dry wood, replacing the wet wood, and covering the deck back up.
We had debated off and on what to do about this all winter. Some people feel that if you find wet wood, the only solution is to do major surgery by cutting out the deck. Anything short of that means, “You’re gonna die!”. Others think that if you stop the water ingress, that’s good enough. Jeff was advocating for the latter, and I was somewhere in between.
Upon close inspection on Sunday, we decided that we should at least try to do some digging. Well, let’s just say I insisted and Jeff went along with it. I drove off to West Marine to get a fiberglass repair kit and since we didn’t have a bent nail with us, Jeff used various instruments including Allen wrenches and a coat hanger to scoop out the wood. The angle dictated that he would only be able to dig so far, but by the time he got to the outer reaches the wood had gone from wet to merely damp with some hard pieces thrown in, so we decided that was sufficient for now. We can certainly choose to do some cutting in the future if we want, but it seems that we have reached the outer edges of the moisture – and we are definitely stopping the water ingress – so I suspect we’ll leave it be unless someone convinces us otherwise.
Once Jeff was finished digging we mixed up some epoxy and used a syringe to fill up the voids. I’m kind of pleased with how comfortable we’ve become with the whole process. Before August we didn’t have the slightest idea of how epoxy worked – the whole thing was foreign to us. Filler? Fairing compound? Resin? Hardener? Letting it kick? Now we can go to West Marine, grab exactly what we need, and get to work after a quick refresh of the instructions as opposed to hours of study. We’re definitely making progress.
After we were finished we put duct tape over the hole to protect it from the rain until we can install the chainplate next week, and then we turned our attention to the other six chainplates.
It wasn’t long before our shiny new chainplates were all installed and bedded. Hooray! And with that, another weekend was down. Four weekends to go.