Locked and Loaded

After a good home cooked dinner (second major spousal gift of the day), it was a couple hours in the garage dressing out the boom for duty tomorrow. The new outboard end sheave box, and the mast-connect toggle system came out great. Reefing the three clews will be much better this time around.

Stepping it back to the morning, Raf the trucker showed up early! Minor snafu about “no honey, when he says cash that doesn’t mean you can write a check”, and who knew you can get 2grand in Benjamins from the ATM now? The mast ended up sharing with three crew coach boats, a jet ski, a new MotoGuzzi and a small Harley. This guy takes great care of the products and his clients. What a huge relief that was.

The Bay Marine project manager forklifted us off that trailer on to mast carts and we were sent to fetch Ravenswing while they worked another rig and the dock cleared. It was about 11:30 when we actually started unpacking, cleaning and dressing out the bare mast. Jeanne brought the parts I had left on the kitchen floor, then continued on to Alameda where the Harken mast head sheaves were being erroneously delivered to the Bay Marine (Svendsens) headquarters instead of their Richmond boat yard. Thank goodness they were found same-day, and we got those three halyards in. Jim, Carlos and I finished at 4:30. And that includes numerous employees coming over to talk about what a ‘bad ass mast this is’.

For Keith and RickW, here’s the red loctite on the huge Wichard standing rigging shackle. Then lashing with 1/8″ amsteel dyneema. Look how nice the hound turned out; after I left CompEng the owner Ted made a perfect press-fit steel bushing to exact fit the shackle pin. Another element of how everything on this mast is top shelf.

Now a product plug for SailTimer. This 100% solar powered and Bluetooth wireless anemometer (wind station) creates an always-on NMEA1803 signal every second, including its own internal gps. This means the unit doesn’t care at all about mast rotation! The workmanship is fantastic – the cups look very strong, the balance is extraordinary and sensitive. I hope it works as well as it looks on the ground. For $350 it does not come with a display, but you use your phone/tablet/e-reader/chart plotter with the app of your choice. Skipping that whole rotating mast compensation issue is totally worth it.

Ok- mast and boom are ready for the 8am crane appointment. Figuring a few hours to get the main and jib back in place, we hope to sail Ravenswing tomorrow afternoon. If any locals want a maiden voyage reprisal, plan on getting to our normal Marina Bay dock by noon, and call me in advance. Otherwise, let me know when you want to go out; we’ve got a lot of pent up sailing to do before the winter rains come.

I-80 westbound

Yea, the mast is spending the night in Nevada and we’re on track for a 10am delivery in Richmond on Tuesday. The weather has been perfect for mellow fall sailing, and we just hope it stays for another couple weeks.

At the boat, the solar system charging the lithium battery bank got up to a full 14.2volts charge today, once we dialed in details like the Peukert curve, absorption voltage, and efficiency rating. The Victron BMV712 is run via a Bluetooth app, making the custom configuration very easy. The hard part is deciphering and deciding what you want with your LiFePO4 batteries. Now with full charge we’ll start using the chart plotter and radar for the first time, and if that goes well, get into testing the fridge. All of these things were installed two years ago and have sat unused!

More delay-busting: Jeanne and Leslie made octopus curtains back in the Santa Rosa shop. I finally rigged up the hold-em-up lines. that’s got to be the lightest curtain rod possible!

And even though I’ve had a year to modify the boom, of course it’s getting its final paint just a day or so before installation. Monday eve will be final details fitting, like finding a new outhaul anchor point and adjuster.

We did succeed in cross drilling the 1/2″ sheave pin and 5/8″ gooseneck-toggle pin for 1/8″ cotter pins. Various old drill bits, and a new titanium one, failed and had us worried about this tiny task. But these $3 cobalt tip ones, and the drill press set down to 250rpm, made it easy. Also helps to have finally bought real cutting oil.

Tomorrow will be a big job of organizing and orchestrating the mast stepping and re-rigging. I want a smooth Tuesday/Weds, and we’re REALLY HOPING the Harken people sent those 3 masthead sheaves out late last week via a priority service. It would suck to sit at the boat yard with the mast but not be able to step it!!! We’ll know with some Monday morning phone calls.

Whip it good

“Crack that whip. Step on a crack- break your …”. Yea, you’d get Devo stuck in your head too if you did 20 or so of these tonight.

All the halyards, new lazy jacks and reefing lines got various splices and end treatments, and are now ready for the mast next week.

The truck was loaded in Massachusetts on Monday. Things got a bit behind so our delivery has moved to next Tuesday.

Stepping the mast might also be contingent upon a couple of hardware items that haven’t shown up yet. Always something!

We accomplished all the solar wiring and the MPPT controller is in “bulk charge” mode working to bring the lithium battery bank up from its 8+ year hibernation since the cells were manufactured. As the sun was setting today, with one full day on the four 100 watt panels, the system was up from 13.15 volts to 13.40. A long way to go, but we don’t have a proper 110v charger yet so I’m thinking the solar approach is ok. these two were no help that day, except for occasional scaring away of seagulls

We’re marching through smaller jobs, getting it all ready for next Tuesday.

And if you need a friend, this guy is waiting at the candy store in Old Town Sacramento…

It’s a date

Monday Oct 22 – the mast arrives at Bay Marine in Richmond! It’s being loaded on a car/toy-hauler trailer this Friday in Massachusetts, sharing a ride with three Stillwater rowing crew coaches’ boats. We’ll need just a couple of hours to run in the halyards, attach the standing rigging and bolt on the new wireless wind direction/speed instrument, then the crane lifts it aboard. Jim is coming down from Oregon. Carlos thinks he can make it. Anyone else want to stand up the new stick and hank on those sails? The goal is to go sailing Tuesday 10/23.

I’ve got about 10 days now to get all the sailing gear details sorted. We’ll record those for you …

The old mast’s wimpy gooseneck was tossed, and you saw the massively stronger setup on the mast a few posts back. Back at home now the boom inboard end is being modified to fit. We came out of Composite Engineering with a beefy hard-anodized aluminum toggle. The boom needs internal structures to receive that.

PS – vac baggers: Comp Eng draws all their stuff down to 30inches mercury after meticulous wetout or infusion of resin. I’m not going to worry anymore about oversqueezing parts. Press it in nice and tight!

With both G10 blocks bonded and carbon-skinned, we lined up under the drill press for a 5/8″ boom articulation pin.

With everything test fit, we bought a new carbide Sawzall blade and started shaping.

Without the mast, I’m having to look back at the photos and approximate measure as to whether or not I’ve rebated away enough of the boom end for vertical and lateral swing. There’s a little more grinding to do tomorrow (curve marks in last photo). We’ll go ahead and paint it as is, and hope no further cutting is needed after it’s fit to the mast.

Gotta say, pretty darned relieved not to be driving cross country right now to fetch the big stick! Got a pro doing it.

Shiny grey

Our team back in Mass. is rocking on. Photos show they’ve final trimmed the foot, sorted out the diamonds placement and they’ve got the sail track 200+ holes drilled. Jeanne and I think the paint looks fabulous.

Bummer that this is not going to fit into the 53′ container. We missed by about 4″. So we’re scrambling on other options. Might be a road trip after all.

Any builders following this on the I-80 corridor? Maybe a drop in visit from Team Ravenswing should be arranged :)

Goo & paint

It’s good to have deadlines. The shipping container for the mast has to be loaded next Friday. My flight home is tomorrow evening. So it’s been a super push to get this stick finished.

Here’s how we made the spreader reinforcements.

Large strips of the flattened out carbon and glass braid span the leading edges, tying both sides together. And it’s the same across the aft edges, with some rebating below the saitrack strip area so the braid buildup doesn’t hamper mainsail raising.

Thursday I did the external reinforcements of the forestay / capshrouds hound.

That’s 3 layers of 11oz carbon twill at 0-90 perpendicular to the mast, 3 more at 45-45 in the direction of pull, then two of the heavy double braid ‘primary straps’. I’m leaving those visible in the final paint job.

Friday night and Saturday morn included final shaping of the masthead, and precision drilling for the masthead sheave pins.

And during all these finish steps from Tuesday to this morning (Sunday) I’ve been doing all the fairing work around the final fabrication stuff.

And suddenly Sunday at 1pm it was time to roll in to the paint booth!!!

CE’s owner Ted was jamming at the other end of the shop on the big 12 Meter boom, so we stopped for lunch and talked through how I should work the primer. He got the equipment going, demonstrated for a few feet, and handed over his spray gun…

I shot two coats of primer, and tonight went around filling pinholes and blemishes. Interesting they had me do that with simply some of the leftover un-thinned primer that had been set aside to begin curing in a pot. About two hours after spraying, the little pot yielded gooey paint that you trowel on just like a thin fairing putty. The advantage is that tomorrow these buildup patches will sand just the same as the rest of the surface.

Tomorrow I hand the project back to Composite Engineering’s Will and John to finish the painting, drill and bush the hound-hole, install the foot insert, drill & tap the 200 Tides SailTrack clips, make the 11/16″ masthead sheave pins, and coordinate diamond wire install with the riggers. They’ll be rushed to get it all done and in the container by Friday.

Honestly folks, I’m beat. When Keith and I wondered about me coming here to help once the spar was out of the oven, I had no clue it would be three straight 80-hour weeks as the primary fabricator and project manager. But in the end, Ted said this evening we did a great job creating “a century-lasting mast” that will make the boat perform at its best. We won’t be able to wear this one out. I know it’ll all be worth it wherever Ravenswing is on the planet and we can look 54′ up in the air with total confidence. It’s been 13 months now Jimbo; soon we will be sailing again.

Now it looks like a mast

We showed you the completed spreaders about a week ago. Their attachment to the mast had to wait for foreman Will, over on the other big project in the shop (more on that later). Our spreaders are a little tricky to mount, needing both a twenty degree sweep-back and an off-level tilt to accommodate our desired 5 degrees of mast rake (how much the mast leans back from vertical on the boat). All of this gets accomplished with custom wedges on the band saw to cope the spreader roots to the mast wall, and jigs to get the sweep right. Because I spent most of three days building them, I could barely watch while Will cut them to fit the mast. But all his calculations and jig prep paid off. Tonight they are barely tabbed on. Tomorrow we’ll do significant connecting reinforcements. And as both Keith and I have ripped carbon spreaders from a big mast before, yes they will certainly get uni-strapping that connects them around both the front and aft walls.

Last week I built the foot insert and was going to wait until it was installed to show you. But we decided to hold off further in case the lower diamond terminals need better access. So here is the unit that will transfer the load from the mast walls into the rotation ball on deck. If you knew our first mast, that six-hole pattern at the bottom is where the same steel cup will be screwed in to the mast. Here’s the view the halyards will see – very clean access around this foot piece, and ZERO protrusions into this mast above the foot all the way to each halyard’s exit. No wires, no cross bars, no bolt heads. Our design goal was a totally clean inside to minimize any halyard chafe on extended ocean passages.

Now a bit of shop politics. Back in June we discussed the bad schedule slipping and the two projects still in front of us. One is a 60′ mast for a charter boat under construction. Luckily for us, the Coast Guard approval has not yet come through on those plans, so we got bumped ahead. The other project is the boom of an older America’s Cup 12 Meter class boat that is currently for sale. That boom is using the same carbon spools as ours, so they were braided back to back. Composite Engineering agreed that if I came to work here they could epoxy-resin-infuse ours first since it would need more finish work. And because ours was infused the night I traveled east, I offered to help infuse the boom so I could see the process they used on our mast. Turns out, the boom’s infusion was much more complicated because its fabric layup changes significantly along that spar, compared to our relatively uniform mast spar. So for you infusion veterans, this means three separate plumbing circuits all had to be managed in one big vacuum bag. One, because once it goes into the autoclave and the whole thing goes to 44psi, having separate vacuum circuits becomes irrelevant. (They shut the vacuum circuits down once the autoclave reaches its own high pressure). In a couple of these photos you’ll see the resin spreading into the peel ply. Notice it go from dry (light green) to fully wet out (dark green).

As the rookie, my job of course was epoxy mixing boy. Don’t spill, nitwit!

Once the bosses were sure all fabrics were infused with resin (there was quite a dance to manage on/off timing of three feed and vacuum circuits), it was time for high pressure and heat curing.

CE ramps their epoxy up slowly( they find this best for eliminating trapped air bubbles), so this was 120F for two hours then a trip up to 275F or so and we left it for the night. It’s all computer programmed, both heat and pressure timing. Because of the multi circuit plumbing, and some VERY heavy carbon layers near the boom vang, we went with extra resin and expected the resin traps to catch the wicked-out excess. The pot closest to the central plumbing picked up it’s full share!That’s wasted money (excess squeezed out resin) but very much calculated into the project management of risk-reduction; you must avoid dry spots in the laminations at any cost.

I said ‘politics’; that includes horse trading. So that the skilled guys could work on our spreaders, I offered to unpack the other customer’s boom. Those disposables (that wick away the excess epoxy) are significant muscle work to remove on these big projects.

And because they’ve taught me with the Sawzall on carbon, I cut the three foot by 5/8″ precision main sheet slot in this thing today, including nice radius edging and line exit ramps. On Monday this boom is headed to this boatYou can search it on Yachtworld where the description says the motivated seller has pumped $1.5mil in to Enterprise but will let her go to you for $800k. I didn’t know those numbers until AFTER taking the Sawzall to the thing. Whoa.

I put in about ten hours on that boom, all of which meant the top guy didn’t and he worked on our mast instead. Horse trading.

Tonight finished up at 9:30 with the first wave of carbon laminations on the primary hound. Photos on that maybe tomorrow.

Getting close – hopefully shooting on primer this Friday.

PS – Jim, I don’t think you need to fly out. I’m working a deal with a local boat builder to share a 53′ rail/truck container next week heading to Los Gatos rowing club and to our Richmond boat yard. So I’ll be flying home and hopefully we just open up the big box on the California end. Stay tuned…