Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A positive outcome and new skills!

Mike and Rebecca, living aboard s/v Zero to Cruising... No wait!  ZTC is for sale! And Mike and Rebecca now live and cruise on s/v Frost, an Amel 53!  Well, because it is a new boat for them, there will inevitably be new projects.  Here is one - replacing a rusted out hawsepipe...  and like the best of projects, completing it gives not only a feeling of satisfaction, but a new skill set...
There are not too many jobs on a boat that end up being easier or quicker than you initially estimate. In almost every case, it’s the exact opposite, and so it was with the project we’ve been working on for just over a week.

It all began with a bit of a rust stain on the exterior of our starboard bow. Inspecting the stain led us to the source, the old rusty hawsepipe in the starboard bow locker. The pipe, which the anchor chain passes through between the windlass and the chain locker, had pretty much reached the end of its lifespan. The exterior fiberglass was cracked in numerous places, and further inspection led me to find that the pipe that was inside it, made of iron I believe, was rusted and crumbling to pieces.

The old hawsepipe was the source of the rust on our hull.

Where as I had initially hoped that I could simply patch over the fiberglass, it now seemed obvious that the only proper way to fix it would be to cut the old pipe out and begin anew. Our friend Ken, who came over to offer his opinion on the job, assured me that he’d be available to help me through the steps. As the days went on, oh, how I bet he regretted that offer!

Of course, while we were at it, why not reinforce the anchor windlass to better deal with our new big Mantus anchor? It’s just a bit more work, right?
First using hammers, chisels and brute force, I removed as much of the old pipe as I could. Later, having borrowed Ken’s angle grinder, I was able to cut the remainder of the pipe and fiberglass out.

We puzzled over what to use to replace the old pipe. Stainless would be awesome but way too costly for such a job. I had read of one Amel owner who used PVC. As it turns out, some friends of friends had on hand a 3 foot length of 3″ diameter fiberglass tube that they no longer had a use for, perfect for our application! Huge thanks to s/v Virtue and Vice for passing that along to us!!!

The photos below illustrate the steps that we went through. The mahogany backing blocks for the windlass, donated and shaped by Ken, were first attached to the top of the lockers using thickened epoxy. The pipe was cut to length and then also fastened in with epoxy, both from inside the locker, and from the underside, accessible from the chain locker. Later, the entire thing was glassed over. I also took the time to add a couple of extra layers of fiberglass cloth to the pipe, adding to its thickness to hopefully give it a few more years of wear.
On that note, will the pipe wear out? Undoubtedly. I’m confident it won’t happen quickly though, and when it does, it will be easy to repair. I’m pretty happy with how the job turned out, and even better, I learned a lot about this type of work from our friend. A positive outcome and some new skills… you can’t beat that.

Waiting for the paint to dry so that we can add a second coat.


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