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…

Bitching about the longboard

So because we’ve waited so long for this mast, I’ve had to eat crow on some earlier proclamations. Like the one where we ceremonially burned the long sanding board used in fairing Ravenswing’s main hull, because I said “I’m never doing that crap job again”. Somehow it ended up as working Sunday alone in one of the country’s most innovative composites shop, long boarding the mast we don’t even own yet. Geez.

At least foreman Will taught me a neat trick last week. that’s a cardboard packaging strap formed into two handles and a drag section. Think “dragging the infield” after the third inning. You spread your fairing putty quickly, working it in to the surface with the spatula. I’m working with 175gram batches, which spreads out to about ten linear feet on one side of the mast. The drag tool evens out the filler and removes the spatula lines. Here’s a look at the first pass on the port side.

This is starboard, which got its second coat fills this evening.

there’s also some handwork shaping around these hardware areas.

Tomorrow I’ll grab the long board again and attack the starboard side. After that it’s a 12″ disk sander air tool. It makes short work of smoothing large surfaces.

Goal is to get to primer by Wednesday, but that would mean the spreader installation gets completed by Weds morn. Also on the punch list is external reinforcing for the nose to make it the actual forestay hound, and for Will to finish shaping the masthead including precise drilling for the masthead halyard sheaves. The guys also have to make the three big pins needed for the sheaves and main halyard 2:1 terminal.

Some of you were probably anxious to see that nose piece slid home. All went well Saturday morning, even though I was working solo. all Sat afternoon went in to fitting the mast foot. That included over 30 threaded taps for the 5/16″ screws, plus the 8 in the nose piece. Led to rather sore wrists. The foot is ready for final installation but Will asked me to wait until we get the lower terminals for the diamond wires sorted out.

RickWS and Kieth – small change in plans, ie we’re not doing a carbon rotator arm out the front. In the nick of time I remembered that our retracted daggerboard head would conflict with the rotation control arm. So instead we’ll use the old mast’s stainless steel one, this time mounted facing forward. It’s on pivot bolts so it will just swing up to clear the dagger when stowed.

I met a boat builder here yesterday who makes rowing shell / crew training boats. He needs to ship three of them to the Bay Area around Oct5. His will go in a container and he knows how to arrange for 53′ intermodal boxes. That will fit our mast. A truck here would take it to the cross country railroad line in NY, bound for Oakland. I’m all over that one this week!

Griffin asked today what color we’ll paint the mast. I assumed the same light grey from before. But he suggests going bolder. The boom needs a repaint too, so it’ll be matched. Hmmmm, please feel free to send in your votes. But know that CE pres Ted already vetoed black – he doesn’t want his carbon work absorbing that extra heat.