SPRAY HOOD – ELECTRICAL PANELS – BATTERIES – IROKO TOERAIL – LAVAC MARINE TOILET
Our new sprayhood was almost ready. We had to try it on!
The shape and design of the sprayhood had to take into account several parameters, such as the height which depends on the position one has at the helm. With the precious help of the upholstery man, we decided where to cut out the windows and where the textile had to be adjusted for the deck fittings. We also included a zip on the middle window of the sprayhood. This will increase visibility and airflow into the cockpit.
Meanwhile, we continued the wiring inside the boat with the installation of the second fan in between the galley and the saloon.
The new main battery switch is situated exactly where the old switches were: under the companionway. It offers 4 positions: OFF-1 ON-1+2 ON-Parallel. This Marinco product has the advanage of including 3 switches in one. At the same time each battery bank is completely isolated without the risk of discharging the starting battery. This was the best solution to avoid several main switches.
We were finally ready to start installing the new Phillipi electical panels. On a small boat like the Contessa 32, we could easily go for less switches but we thought it will be a better long term planning to have some extra empty positions in case we want to install other consumers in the future. In any case, we avoided having more than 3 consumers on each switch and fuse.
The first thing to do when starting a new DC installation is to connect each negative wire to the main negative bus bars. To make things easier, each wire was labelled.
Then we had to connect the positive wires…
After many hours of studying and planning, our new electrical panels were finally installed. The hardest part of the job was certainly to run the wires throught the boat.
The chart table area with the new electrical panels. With this layout, the electrical connexions are much more accessible than before. We also gained a new storage area for books, charts and navigation tools where the old panel used to be.
We invested into 3 new AGM batteries from Victron Energy . Two 90 Amps for domestic use and one 60 Amps as a starting battery for the engine. With this layout, we are probably on the lowest side of storage capacity. But without fridge and with leds for all the lamps it should be more than enough. By making a simple daily diagram for all the consumers, we found out that our major electricity loss will probably be from the autopilot.
The next and last step in the electrical installation, will be to connect the main switch to the batteries and the batteries to the electrical panels.
To make sure that the wires are well protected, a heavy duty circuit breaker was installed between the main positive wire and the panels.
Replacing the toe rail. That was a major work that began as soon as the weather permited us. We had previously asked a carpenter to manufacture the iroko profile according to the new design. Apparently that wasn’t so easy because of the L shape of the new toerail.
We had to fit the six different iroko lengths with clamps in order for them to start taking the shape of the boat. They were left like this for a few weeks.
Every morning and evening we would bend the woods a bit more, depending if the weather was humid or dry. Needless to say that on very dry days we avoided tightening up the clamps.
The most difficult areas to bend were on the widest part of the beam. On those spots we had to gain cm by cm every time we felt the wood ready for more pressure. We experienced that iroko is actually a type of timber which is not bending easily. On the other hand, it is certainly the best timber if you don’t want to use teak because it is too expensive. After all, iroko is well known as “poor mans teak”.
The last two pieces on each side of the stern, were left a bit longer to make sure we could later adjust the junctions between the different pieces.
At the bow, things were a bit more complicated because the two sides had to be adjusted to the steam head. Several small cuts were done at the end of the profile were the stainless steel meets the wood.
The tiny gaps left in between the front toerail and the gelcoat were later filled up with marine sealant.
While waiting for the toerail to take shape, we had the hand rails ready to be fitted on the upper deck.
We used 9 stainless steel screws on each side. Those were traditional countersunk woodscrews, 5mm x 50mm with a head of 10 mm. The original screws which we removed the previous winter, were made of marine bronze. For the new toerail and handrail we had the option of using again this material. But after carefull consideration we decided that stainless steel screws will be easier to fit, since bronze is a soft metal making the screwing procedure more difficult. Actually the slot at the head of the screw can easily be damaged when under pressure.
As shown on the photo below, basic tools were used for this job. The holes were done with a drilling machine, but every screw was fitted by hand. Extreme caution was needed because the gelcoat has a tendency to crack if the hole has not been drilled properly.
Here again, we had to wait a while for the 2 iroko handrails to flex and adjust to the curve of the boat. The best days to apply pressure on the wood were when the weather was warm and humid.
On rainy days, we continued the interior jobs. It was now time to fit our brand new Lavac toilet.
We chose to go for a Lavac instead of a Jabsco for three reasons.
Firstly: this is the type of toilet which was originally fitted on the Contessa’s 32. Secondly: Lavac toilets have a much simple mechanism with less things to go wrong. Thirdly: the Lavac is provided with a pump which can also be used as a manual bilge pump.
The manual pump was screwed on the back of the toilet were it use to be. The holes were identical !
Two dimensions of hoses were used: 3/4 ” inlet and 1 &1/2″ outlet. We also added an extra small vent on the inlet hose to avoid any siphon effect when heeled. On various spots, we protected the outlet hose from abrasion with insulation and duct tape.
The toilet was finally through bolted on the new bottom made of ply and epoxy.
And “voila ! “…. our brand new heads…. department.
Last thing but not least this month: the tiller. After sanding and giving a closer look on the old tiller, we discovered that there were 3 major cracks at the base. Therefore, we decided to order a new tiller from J.Rogers, repair the old one and keep it as a spare.