Monthly Archives: May 2015

Padding the pulpit

I’ve stripped out the interior of Tammy Norie in order to remove all the rotting headlining.  I’ll write a proper post about the redecoration later, but here’s a preview of the mess!

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I was painting during some heavy rain and noticed a leak where the forward light wire comes in to the cabin from the starboard aft pulpit foot.  It’s a leak that would’ve been pretty well hidden by the headlining, forward shelving, etc. and so it’s a good thing I’d taken all that out.

So, time to re-seal the pulpit. Off it comes!

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Way back here in my video “First tour of Tammy Norie” I said that I didn’t like the way the stainless-steel feet of the pulpit, pushpit, and stanchions were bolted straight onto the gelcoat of the deck, and there was evidence of cracking. I did a prototype fix of this to one leaky stanchion back in Wells using plywood. That’s not looking too great now, though it isn’t leaking.

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So I decided to try a different material suggested by Dad — lino!  He had a bit of offcut cushion flooring from our old kitchen. It’s waterproof, resilient, and slightly squishy. I cut pads for the pulpit feet.

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And then bolted the whole thing back in place with a bit of Sikaflex around the bolt holes and the wire from the forward light.  It looks very neat!

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We’ll see how well it stands up to a season of seawater and sunlight.

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Tammy Norie’s new name

When I bought Tammy Norie she had her name rather nicely hand-painted on the stern.

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But the lettering was very worn so I cleaned it off.  Today I’ve finally applied new vinyl lettering.

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Thank you Wild Boat Names for a simple-to-use service!

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LPG outboard hack

I’ve been having some problems with the Honda BF5 outboard engine. Last week it failed to start at all  When Dad and I opened up the float chamber under the carburettor, it was full of white gunk.

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I’m not sure what it is. It looks a lot like salt, but it is squishy and doesn’t taste like salt. We cleaned it out, cleaned the main jet with a needle, and eventually did manage to get the engine to run, but it wouldn’t idle. There’s a second path through the carburettor that’s probably the slow-running jet, and we suspected that was clogged. I took the engine to Hendy Marine at Swanwick and their engineer cleaned the carburettor in an ultrasound bath and fiddled with the engine until it ran OK. But it still wasn’t behaving properly.

This sort of thing worries me because it shows the carburettor is very sensitive to problems, and isn’t easy to fix. I don’t like things that I can’t fix myself. I’m sure I could come to be much better with engines given time, but for now it’s a problem.

Last year I thought about buying a LEHR propane outboard instead. Purportedly reliable and clean, it would also mean that I didn’t have to carry petrol on board. I personally know one person whose boat was gutted by a petrol fire, and I’m really not keen on having it around. There’s also the appeal of having a single fuel for both cooking and propulsion. LPG (propane or butane) is a lot less dangerous than petrol. On Yachting Monthly’s crash test boat they had trouble getting it to explode even when trying their best!

Then I heard that four-stroke petrol outboards could be converted to run on propane. I found suppliers of kits (mostly for generators) and there are even some DIY conversions on YouTube.

Talking to my engineer father about it, it all sounded pretty simple. And the more I thought about it, the fewer parts I thought I’d need to just get the engine running. Finally, I went outside, bodged a connection between the gas bottle and the carburettor, and got the engine to start without much trouble. I immediately did it again on video to show you all.

All that I’ve done here is rely on the gas bottle’s cooker regulator to provide a constant flow of gas into the outlet of the carburretor float chamber, so it’s squirting through the jets into the Venturi. It so happened that the gas pipe fitted over the casting. No extra hardware was required!

Of course there’s a big difference between the engine running and it being reliable and efficient. But I think all I need to achieve that is to add a regulator that is driven by the low pressure in the Venturi. One of these might do it. And I should make a proper fitting that screws into the jet inlet.

If that works I will have made a completely reversible and easy conversion. Watch this space!

Edit: I did some more research and found that a component often used to control the flow of gas into the engine is a “demand regulator” or “demand valve”. This is similar to the valve used by SCUBA divers to suck air from their tanks. This makes a lot of sense since we want the engine to suck gas from the tank in proportion to the amount of air it is drawing in, rather than squirt in a fixed flow of gas. The IMPCOGarretson KN” seems to be commonly used, and there even seem to be clones. This video shows a demand valve mounted on the side of a generator running on natural gas. This does seem to be a large component, possibly sensitive to movement.

The LEHR outboard carburettor seems to have a disc-like valve on the side as well, but it’s much smaller than the Garretson.

LEHR outboard engine carburettor

LEHR outboard engine carburettor

Edit: I checked with Calor Gas, the suppliers of the gas bottle that came with Tammy Norie and discovered that it contains 25 year-old butane not propane as I originally thought. As far as I can tell that doesn’t change things very much.

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A mooring in Fareham Creek

Tammy Norie now has a permanent mooring in Fareham Creek at the Fareham Sailing and Motorboat Club right here:

Mooring maintenance is the responsibility of the club member at FSMBC, so Dad and I rowed out and checked the sinkers, shackles, and chains on under a promising buoy pointed out by Sid, the mooring master. This particular trot mooring had two concrete sinkers about three quarters of a metre across, and some very heavy chain and shackle.

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Tammy Norie will be sitting dry (ish) on the mud for a few hours around low tide, but she’s good at that.

Now I just have to get her in the water!

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Ill health sets back sailing plans

I’ve had several people ask me what is happening with Tammy Norie and my plans for this year.  Unfortunately, I’ve had to reduce my goals quite a bit due to ill health.

Sometime in January my left shoulder became agonising to move for no obvious reason. My GP diagnosed supraspinatus tendonitis and bursitis, prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and referred me to physiotherapy. At this point I was getting almost no sleep, finding it almost impossible to lie down, and being woken in terrible pain whenever I moved. Fortunately, I discovered that I could sleep in a chair with a pillow down my spine, and things improved a bit. Any kind of manual work on Tammy Norie was out of the question, though, let alone sailing.

Three months later and I’ve been diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder (frozen shoulder) and have been told it will take about a year to get better. While my shoulder is not totally immobile, it has very limited movement, and I’ve been warned against “hanging off it” or extending it too quickly beyond where it wants to go, because that is likely to set back recovery further.

When I’m sailing alone, especially in a small boat like Tammy Norie, I’m clambering around like a monkey all the time, hauling lines and anchors, and often saving myself from the bumps and heaves of the sea with my arms. I do not think it is a good idea for me to go to sea alone as I am, since one false move could put me in excruciating pain and leave me disabled far from help.

That means no Jester Baltimore Challenge this year. I had hoped that the Baltimore Challenge would be a good warm-up for the Azores Challenge next year, and so on to the Atlantic Challenge two years later. I really hope that this doesn’t set me back four years!

On top of all this I’ve had not one, not two, but three good friends with mental health problems, and this has not been without impact on my own health. Mental health is tricky stuff, and the main lesson I have learned is that you should consult experienced professionals before trying to deal with it.

Tammy Norie is currently ashore in my parents driveway, where I’m only just starting to fix her up for this summer. Since she won’t be going far offshore this year, I’m reducing my list of jobs in order to get her on the water soon so I can at least enjoy some coastal sailing with friends and family.

I’ll be posting about the work and the launch. Watch this space!

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