Saturday, 27 September 2008

Refit Week 4 - Steelwork Completed

Its just on a month since we sailed into Phuket Boat Lagoon, and three weeks since we hauled out of the water. On deck we've been concentrating on steelwork - changes and additions to improve the boat and reduce maintenance in the future. Inside the boat we've started painting - with the lockers empty its a pefect time. Two coats of Jotun Penguard high build primer and two coats of Jotun Hardtop polyurethane and our old cupboards start to look like new again. As you can see in the photo at right, Ley just loves painting....

The guys from Mr.Nop's stainless steel fabrication business have been working very hard. They've fabricated beautiful new pulpit and pushpit railings and completely rebuilt the stern fuel locker in 316 stainless steel. This area was previously fabricated from timber, which was bolted and glued to the steel hull, and it was always a source of rust and maintenance work. Now its fixed and there forever, and our aft railings run forward past the cockpit for additional security.

We've also improved a number of the hard point areas on deck, the ones we didn't tackle in our last refit 8 years ago. This basically involves welding thick 316 stainless plates into the deck, drilled and tapped to take our fittings. Because the holes don't go right through its impossible to get any leaks. The plates are faired into the deck and painted over. Last refit we welded shut 210 (!) holes in the deck, and fitted these welded blocks as hard points instead. For this refit the count is only 53, but it still feels good. The tough one was the mainsheet traveller - 24 precisely drilled and tapped holes in a 10x50mm 316 stainless bar, curved to match the roof of our steel dodger. The guys were having trouble tapping into the hard stainless bar, until Ley's father Ray suggested using Carnation Condensed Milk as a lubricant and cutting compound. I'm sure they thought we were crazy when we brought the can out to them, but after the first hole they'd changed their mind - it really works. All the big 316 bar and plate stock has to be ordered from Bangkok, but things happen pretty quickly here and the job is virtually done.

Our PowerDive hookah gear gets a lot of use cleaning the boat, but its often needed quickly if we pick up a net or line on our propeller at sea. Getting the gear setup on deck in the middle of the night at sea proved kind of frustrating, so we're installing it inside the boat permanently. A fixed airline will run to a new stainless stell compressed air socket at the stern - now we can just throw a switch and plug in a hose to get underwater quickly. We've also put in a new stainless penetration for our aft deck shower hose, and added a welded hardpoint for a pasarelle at the transom. The cost of all this is not insignificant of course, but even with Mr Nop's best "creative" margins in play it is great value, and the local workmanship is outstanding.

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