Boatcraft & Fitting-Out

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Adding a Fused Terminal Block (Pub. No. 7740)

The electrical system of any boat should be protected with fused circuits. Most likely this protection already exists on newer boats with built-in electrical systems that service engine and non-engine instruments, lights, and accessories. Owners of older boats, or of craft that have inadequate wiring for the instruments or accessories that may be added, can update their boats’ electrical system by installing fused terminal blocks.

3 page(s)

$3.50
Installing a Battery Selector Switch (Pub. No. 7741)

If you use two marine storage batteries to serve your boat’s electrical requirements, it is convenient to arrange them so that they both can be charged by the engine’s alternator or generator. Most likely, you will also want to use either battery as a standby for the other. This project suggests an arrangement that permits you to charge both batteries from a common source of power—the engine’s generator or alternator.

2 page(s)

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Checking a 12-volt System (Pub. No. 7742)

If properly installed, the electrical system on your boat should not give you any trouble throughout the boating season. And, it can continue this unfailing service season after season provided it receives routine maintenance and a seasonal check-up. Maintenance of storage batteries is treated as a separate project but here, however, let us consider the circuits, connections, and other elements of the electric system.

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Care of Batteries (Pub. No. 7743)

The storage battery is one of the most abused components of an automobile, according to battery manufacturers. This is likely to be also true for the storage battery in a boat. The “normal” life of a battery in a car is three years, but few batteries lead the “normal” life. They are, to mention some abuses, overcharged or undercharged, lack proper fluid levels, are left unattended for long periods, and become corroded. With proper care, however, a marine battery should last longer than the automotive battery because of its heavier construction. And, five years is not unusual for the lifespan of a marine storage battery, providing it has received proper care.

4 page(s)

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Charging the Battery (Pub. No. 7744)

Charging the battery is automatically done on boats equipped with engines that have alternators or generators, but this does not automatically relieve the boat owner of problems associated with battery charging. If, for example, the craft is not operated frequently, or if the time of operation is so brief that the battery does not receive a full charge, sulfating of the battery’s plates can take place and considerably reduce the lifespan of the battery. This type of undercharging can produce a hard, coarse, crystalline-type of sulfate on the plates that does not readily convert to normal, active material. It also can set up strains on the plates that can produce buckling when the battery receives a sudden or prolonged charging, as on a long trip, or by an alternator or generator regulating system out of adjustment. The buckled plates can pinch the separators causing perforations and an internal short circuit.

2 page(s)

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Installing a Sonar-Type Depth Sounder (Pub. No. 7745)

Being able to know what lies submerged beneath the surface of the water probably would have saved legions of sailors and their craft in the thousands of years man has been going to sea in ships. Submerged rocks, jagged reefs, treacherous sand bars—all have taken their toll of men and boats because skippers were not aware of such hazards to navigation until it was too late. Shoal waters are the graveyards of vessels that came to grief because they were off course with no instruments so those aboard could discover the error.

3 page(s)

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Installing a Transom-Mounted Depth Transducer (Pub. No. 7746)

A transom mounted transducer for a sonar indicator or depth sounder is probably the most popular because it does not require cutting a hole in the boat’s hull, something many owners are reluctant to do since it could affect a future sale of the boat. The transom mount is efficient when properly installed, but it may not work quite as well at high cruising speeds as a through-hull mounted transducer. The procedure for installing the through-hull and inside-hull mounted transducers are outlined in Data Sheets, 7747 and 7752.

2 page(s)

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Installing a Through-Hull Mounted Depth Transducer (Pub. No. 7747)

Better high speed performance of the depth sounder is one important advantage of through-hull mounting. When mounted properly, there is less likelihood of bubbles or turbulent water flowing across the face of the transducer, causing inaccurate or confusing signals on the depth sounder indicator. Obviously, the throughhull mount is a permanent installation since it involves cutting a hole through the bottom of the boat. It also may require use of fairing blocks to compensate for the deadrise (angle of slope) of the hull bottom. So, the installation must be well planned beforehand.

4 page(s)

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Build a Proper Battery Box (Pub. No. 7748)

If a storage battery aboard a boat tips over in rough seas, the cables could tear loose, a dangerous situation if the battery is used to start the auxiliary engine. Or, even worse, the battery’s terminals might short out against nearby metal objects and start a fire. For safety, there are a number of important requirements for installing batteries aboard a boat. A battery should be installed in a battery box that has a tight-fitting lid to prevent metal objects from shorting the battery terminals. The box’s lid should be vented to allow hydrogen gas, a by-product of charging, to escape. The box should restrain the battery from moving more than 1 inch in any direction and be lined with a material that is impervious to battery acid. And, the box must allow the battery to be placed so that it is convenient to measure cell condition with a hydrometer. To construct a safe and convenient battery box that could be stored under the cockpit seat locker next to the cockpit or cabin bulkhead, follow these steps.

3 page(s)

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Care and Repair of Sails (Pub. No. 7749)

It pays to keep your boat’s sails neat, clean, and in good repair, not only for the sake of appearance, but to prolong their life. Polyester, which is used in practically all sails today—except for nylon spinnakers—is a durable material, but not impervious to salt, sun, abrasion or mildew. Before putting them away, saltwater sailors should hose down their sails anytime they have been exposed to salt spray. Salt absorbs moisture and encourages mildew which can discolor even synthetic fabrics. The use of strong soaps and detergents should be avoided. Alkalis can make polyester cloth more sensitive to the weakening effect of ultraviolet light. Acids do the same for nylon.

4 page(s)

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How to Build Convertible Berth-to Seat Stowage (Pub. No. 7750)

Almost any boat, no matter how well-designed, can be improved to meet the special needs of its owner. Many smaller cruising craft have ample bunk space in common, but not very adequate seating space below decks. This can be important for a cruising couple who do not need four bunks, but do need a place in the evening to sit, read, and relax. Or, when friends are aboard and the weather is inclement, it is nice to be able to go below deck and have sufficient seating space for everyone.

4 page(s)

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How to Make Seat Cushions (Pub. No. 7751)

The long cushions used on some boat cockpit seats are unwieldy to handle, especially when you want to stow them. If permanently left out, they can fade, get soggy, and are at the mercy of indifferent birds. This problem can be solved by making smaller sectional cushions that are much easier to handle, stack, and stow out of the way. It is even nice to have a handy cushion to put behind your back for reading or sunning on the foredeck. You may also want to make fitted cushions to provide more comfortable sitting space in other areas of your craft, such as the top of the engine box, bait box, foredeck, storage box, or for bunk backrests. In addition, cushions made with closed-cell or monocellular foam material can provide an extra safety factor. They do not, of course, take the place of personal floatation devices and are not U.S. Coast Guard-approved, but they do float and are readily available if ever needed.

2 page(s)

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Installing an Inside-Mounted Depth Transducer (Pub. No. 7752)

Theoretically, there are so many advantages to mounting a depth sounder transducer inside a hull that one wonders why all transducers are not mounted this way. For example, the inside-hull mount avoids the need to cut a hole in the bottom of the boat, and because nothing is hanging down from the transom, there is no drag or resistance in the water. But, there is a problem with the inside-hull mount. It will not work on some boats. To work satisfactorily, the inside-hull mount requires a boat that has a single-layer fiberglass or aluminum bottom. Few bigger boats have this. Double layers of fiberglass, foam cores, wood cores, or hollow cores in the bottom construction of a boat prevents the transducer’s sound waves from penetrating and returning to the transducer properly. A wood bottom also is unsuitable for this type of mount. There is, however, an easy way that you can check to see if your depth sounder will work and if it will, here are the instructions to mount it.

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How to Build an Easy-Access Cupboard (Pub. No. 7753)

Serving food on the open water is not without its hazards. A stack or two of dishes and cups on a cupboard shelf with the cupboard door slightly ajar is always likely to end up at your feet. One device for making a very secure plate and cup storage cabinet for your boat’s galley is to replace the cabinet doors with a cutout cupboard cover panel that offers easy access to dishes and cups, but prevents them from tumbling out in rough water conditions.

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How to Make No-Spill Lift-and-Pull Drawers (Pub. No. 7754)

In rough-water cruising, the drawers of cabinets can slide open and spill their contents over the floor of a boat’s cabin. Lift-and-pull cabinet drawers, however, prevent this and end problems with drawer latches that fail or stick. Due to the vast differences in cabinets, it is highly unlikely that any specific dimensions provided would fit the cabinets on your boat so you will have to substitute all dimensions to fit your requirements. To build a lift-and-pull drawer for a cabinet, follow these steps, substituting dimensions that suit your situation

3 page(s)

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How to Make a Vertical Storage Drawer (Pub. No. 7755)

In or near the galley of many boats, there often is unused or wasted space between cabinets and a stove, sink or refrigerator. While such space is much too narrow for a cabinet, a vertical storage drawer can fit, adding additional shelf space. This project is building a vertical drawer with four shallow-tray shelves ideal for storing knives, forks and spoons, and other kitchen equipment. And, if you wish to omit the first and third shelves, it makes a good “grog” locker. All material used, except the drawer’s face panel, is 1/2 inch wood that can be pine, mahogany or marine plywood. The face panel is 3/4 inch mahogany. By using a face panel for the drawer, construction is simplified and the need to make rabbet and dado cuts, except for notches to fit shelf side braces, is avoided. To build a vertical storage drawer, follow these steps.

3 page(s)

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How to Make a Removeable Stove-Top Counter Top (Pub. No. 7756)

Work space in the galley of a small or medium-size cruiser is always in short supply. But one place where you can make more functional use of the space is the stainless-steel lid on a galley stove. When the stove is not in use, it usually is a handy spot except that it is a slippery surface with rounded edges. And, it is not recommended that you place glasses or other objects on the lid if its surface is wet or if the boat is moving. A quick project, however, can make the steel galley stove top a very usable space, particularly when entertaining. Basically, the countertop is a 3/4 inch teak or mahogany board with holes drilled for holding tumblers. This glass-holder is mounted with screws to the rear portion of the tilting stove lid. The front portion of the countertop consists of edging screwed onto the steel lid to keep hors d’oeuvres and other snacks safely corralled.

2 page(s)

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How to Make a Dish and Mug Rack (Pub. No. 7757)

On many larger craft where seagoing meals and snacks are served often each day, there usually is sufficient counter space aboard and a need to keep dishes and mugs handy for use. Here are two simple building projects that do the job: a filing rack for dishes, and a vertical stack rack for mugs.

3 page(s)

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How to Make an Overhead Chart Rack (Pub. No. 7758)

In a small cruising boat, life is more livable if good use is made of all available space. One place where there is usually some unused space is the spot over a dinette table. A hinged chart and magazine rack can fit snugly against the cabin overhead when not in use. Sitting at the table, the latch can be released to let the rack swing down for easy access to charts, magazines, and other items, including navigation instruments. The rack hangs over the middle of the table out of the way. Similar overhead lockers can be made a little deeper and in different dimensions to fit in a boat’s galley, head, or over bunks. They can provide ready access to all sorts of items. This rack, which can be made of mahogany or plywood, is designed as a shallow 2-5/8 x 12-1/2 x 26-3/4 inch box. There is one off-center divider to allow a larger place for tabloid-size charts or magazines, or two regular-size magazines, side by side. The other compartment holds regular-size magazines. Shock cords keep the contents from tumbling out when the rack is opened.

2 page(s)

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How to Make a Bulkhead Chart Holder (Pub. No. 7759)

Many boats have an outside cabin wall, or bulkhead, that makes an ideal place to mount a chart holder for the helmsman. Or, the chart holder can be mounted on an inside cabin wall if desired. It is easy to make such a chart holder with a simple three-sided frame and a sheet of acrylic. Several charts can be slid between the clear plastic and the cabin bulkhead. The one on top is not only visible, but the plastic surface can be used for plotting courses with a grease pencil or marking pen. When the weather is rough, the charts remain safe from wind, rain and spray.

2 page(s)

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