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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Electric Motor Install 3.somethingsomethingsomething

Finally a nice day and we managed to get some work done in getting the wheel ready to mount.
Everything you see that isn't red (yet) is carbon steel and has to be painted.

We used the nice weather to do the last of the touch up painting and to get some rust preventative paint (which mercifully matches the wheel) on all the steel parts that aren't stainless, those being the driveshaft, flanges, and pillow blocks.

We also got the motor mounted.  Here it is covered with plastic while we finish painting.

Here you can see the pillow block bearing, driveshaft, and connecting sleeve all painted.

The beast is now ready to install.
So today I'll install two strong eye-bolts to the wheelhouse frame for the support chains (we'll start with line until we're sure of the length) and then, hopefully (tide and wind cooperating) we'll get this puppy on and working over the weekend.

Wish us luck.

More shortly.....one hopes.

M

Monday, October 15, 2018

Of composting toilets and rain

No, we haven't forgotten about you.

We're still sitting here halfway through the paddlewheel installation, but every day this week it's either been raining, thinking about raining, threatening raining, just having rained, or too windy to get anything done.  Hopefully, after today, we'll have five or six days of decent weather and can make some progress.
Magellan is REALLY bored with all this rain.

It's life on a boat.  You deal with nature.  It's part of what we love about it, but it can get in the way sometimes.

In that regard:

I've noticed of late a LOT of interest in the Composting Toilet/Urine Diverter/Toilet build info posts.  I mean, rather a lot.  Would you guys be interested if we put together a little Ebook combining all the information we've learned from the start of the original Floating Empire on composting toilets and their care and . . .um. . .feeding?  We'd probably stick in on kindle or somesuchwhat for download.

Let me know in the comments if its a go.

More shortly, I promise.

M

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Electric Motor Install 2. i forget

So, rather racing to get a bit ahead of hurricane-induced rainstorms and wind (shouldn't be too bad here, but we will get wet Thursday) we did manage to get the frame and the wheel mated and all the keys in their respective keyways.

Port side, with the platform for accessing the kayak.

Starboard side.  Motor mounts at center.
I have to admit, I was really pleased.  Gail and I picked up the wheel and frame and spun the wheel.  It just kept going and going.  So the bearings are good and we've obviously got them aligned properly with the shaft.

So tomorrow will likely be a waste. Friday we'll still have some winds but it's likely the rain will be done and we can do the last of our touchup painting, then, hopefully with some help, we'll try to get her on Saturday or Sunday.

If you're in the path of Michael, stay safe.  It's a big storm.

More shortly

M

Monday, October 8, 2018

Electric Motor Install Pt. 2.3.4

Okay, due to some really unpredictable weather, some minor health issues (okay, we broke a pair of glasses), and some general ennui, we've not exactly been surging ahead, but we have made some real progress in the installation of the wheel.

Okay, so I'm never happy with how fast these things go.....or realistic about how fast they CAN go.



Getting the driveshaft keyways aligned is a bit tricky.
We got the drive shaft in to align the flanges that connect it to the wheel.  It's a bit tricky as the keyways in the flanges and the keyway in the drive shaft all have to align, but we got it to work.  Hopefully when we go to put it all back together, I can do this without a sledgehammer.  FYI the driveshaft and flanges, like the motor shaft, are 7/8" steel with a 1/8" keyway.

The frame assembled and laid out with the driveshaft and pillow blocks.
We got the frame for the wheel assembled and fitted the pillow blocks and shaft to it.  You can see, it's not symmetrical.  The motor hangs off the starboard side of it (to your left in this picture.)  The larger framed space on the right will be a sort of swim platform to help get on and off the kayak.  It also will help counterbalance the weight of the motor.

Today, if the rain holds off, we'll get a bit of the last bits of painting done and get the whole thing assembled, looking for an installation tomorrow or the next day.

Weather and ennui permitting.

Stay Tuned.

M

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Electric Motor Install, Pt II, the Wheel

So yesterday we completed the paddlewheel (the test one, anyway).  The wheel is 3.5 feet in diameter and has six two foot buckets (paddles). 

Cutting the sides of the wheel.
The lumber bill at the moment looks like this:  One sheet of 3/4" exterior plywood, three 1" x 8" x 8' clear boards for the buckets, 3 treated 2" x 4" x 8's for the frame, and a piece of 2" x 2" x 8' for the blocks to support the buckets.

No, this is tragically not a lost Calder sculpture.  It's the blocks that will support the buckets (paddles)
Multiple coats of a good exterior paint starts the paint process.
aaaaaaand paint all over the damn place.
laying out a hexigon to align the buckets. 
So we used the quasi reliable radius method to lay out six equidistant points on each side rim and then struck a line connecting them to be able to mount the bucket supports evenly.

Blocks in place.  Note that each side must have the blocks on the opposite side of their alignment marks than the other.  I got paranoid about this, checked it five or six times, STILL got it wrong and had to remove and replace the blocks.  Take care.
Here is the beast assembled:


So today we will fit the drive shaft to the assembled wheel and begin assembling the frame that supports it.

Stay Tuned.

M

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Keeping it Together

So, I've a lot of pictures and text and so forth on the new paddlewheel construction, which I'll post in a day or so, but--not at all based on anything I saw on the docks yesterday, mind you--this has been on my mind.

So, after thinking about this a bit, watching my slipmates, especially the newbies, deal with their boats and the water, I thought I would pass this along. Here are six, potentially disasterous things you can easily avoid on the water. Take them to heart and you'll be a lot less frustrated, I promise you.

First: The “Three Point Rule” is paramount. Whenever moving on, or getting off or on the boat, keep three points of contact at all times: two feet and a hand, two hands and a foot. . . avoid if at all possible stepping off the boat with both hands full. It's a formula for a fall. Boat decks can be slippery. Boats move, often suddenly and unexpectedly. Make sure you're ready and capable of coping with that if it happens.

Second: This is a boat, not a baseball field. Don't toss things unless there's no other option. In my time living aboard I've seen keys tossed from boat to dock (they missed, prompting an expensive locksmith visit and the even more expensive replacement of a wireless car key set), along with cell phones (they smashed) and a whole host of caps, floats, plates, tools, and assorted detritus, all of which either currently resides on the bottom below the docks or floated off downstream. HAND things off, and insist on the recipient saying “thank you” (an old Boy Scout trick) acknowledging they've got control of the item before you let go.

And in that regard: If you've got your cell phone, keys, etc. in your pocket or in your bag, you are unlikely to drop them off the dock. Wait until you hit dry land before you just HAVE to begin texting aunt Edna. I've seen some amazing juggling acts with keys and phones as people whip them out on the dock only to lose control of them.

Third: TURN OFF YOUR DOCK WATER WHEN YOU LEAVE!. I know of three boats now that sank, not because of leaks, but because the fresh water line from the dock was left on and a fitting broke aboard, filling the boat with water.

Fourth: Never, EVER wind a line around your hand when you're pulling it. You won't be able to let go quickly if you need to. I've seen hands smashed betwixt boat and dock because they were pulled down by the line they were holding and couldn't let go.  I actually learned this one working for years in the theatre, working in what's called a "hemp loft" stage. . . .ropes and sandbags.  I've seen more than one stagehand literally jerked off the ground because they couldn't let go of a line connected to waaaaaay too much counterweight.

Fifth: It's a boat. You're outside a lot. If you were camping, you'd wear sun block, bug spray, hats, sunglasses. . .all things to protect yourself from the elements. You need to do that on board. Reflection off the water can blast you with sunlight you aren't aware you're getting. Wind and salt can sap you of hydration, heat can do likewise. Pay attention to your body and what your surroundings are doing to it.

And Lastly: It's a boat. I know it doesn't happen often, but you can sink, you can fall overboard, hit your head, and drown. The ocean demands respect, and you forget that at your peril. Pay attention and you'll have a lovely time. Fail to and you may get an emergency room visit. . . .if you're lucky.

Nuff said.

M

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Electric Motor install Pt. 1.7.4.Grrrrrr

The haul and hang.

So on a rare (lately anyway) sunlit day and in our right minds and everything we loosed Tesla's Revenge from the docks and the marina used the bum boat to take her to the lift well.  Thanks to Florence, we had LOTS of water in which to float.

On pulling the boat out of the water, there was, indeed, quite a bit of growth on the prop and propshaft, which we promptly removed.  Then we turned the prop by hand, and low and behold, it turned!
There wasn't TOO much growth on the hull.....honest


But what was that weird noise?  There was a bit of grinding--expected that with the cutlass bearing out of the water--but there was also this bizarre ping-ing noise, like a spring or something being plucked.

So we got out the ladder and I climbed up into the boat and then down into the all-too-familiar depths of the motor space.

Did I mention at any point that electric motors are torque-y as hell?  I mean, most gas motors hit their torque peak around 1500 rpm, but an electric. . . . an electric hits it essentially at 0rpm.

So when I crawled under I realized that the reason that the motor had seemed labored was that it was, indeed, turning the propshaft even with the zebra mussel and barnacle growth on it.  It was also turning the stuffing box, the stuffing box bellows, and all the clamps:  the whole damn assembly had been rotating.  The "ping" sounds I had been hearing was from the loose ends of the hose clamps going round and round.  It was a wonder we weren't taking on water apace.

On further examination we realized that a former owner had shortened the drive shaft by several inches to facilitate mounting a different motor and transmission.  That unfortunately left too little room to mount the pillow block the system really needs to be in alignment.

So we put the thing back together, and got back in the water.

Aaaaaaand we're back to square one.

So, after considering the costs of what we would need to do to make this work with the existing drive, we've decided to go back to plan A).  To build the sternwheel we originally wanted to built.  I currently have all the parts, bearings, and fittings, and will have the wood at the end of this week.

Wish us luck.

more very shortly.

M

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Electric Motor Install part I.5

Well, just to give you guys a little update, here's what's happening with the install on our electric drive system. 

4.7 KW motor with coupling adapter
So our new motor mount, the motor, and the coupling adapters went in with a lot less grief than I'd expected.  We loosened the packing nut on the drive shaft as per youtube, hooked up the wiring, and fired the thing up. . . .low and behold, it worked!  It turned beautifully. . . .for about 12 seconds.  Then something in the motor controller fried and that was it. 

sigh....

So we ordered a new one, waited till it showed up, installed the thing, and tried again. 

It worked as well.  But we noticed that the turning of the prop shaft was somewhat. . .um. . labored, and that the new unit was heating up rather quickly.  I crawled back under the cockpit and tried to turn the shaft and it took all my effort to be able to move it at all.

Not the idea, folks.

I re-loosened the packing nut. . .rather more than I was comfortable with.  Same result.

So something is binding the propshaft, which leaves us basically four options:  1) it's out of alignment.  Possible, but having messed with it, nothing I did seemed to help it turn better.  2) The packing gland is still too tight, which is also possible, but I'm leery of backing it off any more as the water flow into the boat is about as much as I'm comfortable with.  3)  We've been in the water, not moving, for a year now.  This area has a lot of Zebra mussels.  It's possible we've just got a lot of growth on the propshaft, cutlass bearing, and in the prop shaft log that are inhibiting movment.  or 4) the prop shaft is bent.

Okay, so I thought the best way to eliminate #3 would be to go down and look, so I found my mask and went into the water to see what the situation might be.

The situation was dark.  No, I mean that literally:  our hull is black, we've a lot of duckweed growing around the slips in the marina, and since it's been raining, there's a lot of crap in the water.  I couldn't see a damn thing.

Ah, well. . . .

So, next week we're doing a haul and hang to see what the prop looks like, pulling the boat over to the well and putting it up on a sling so we can work on it out of the water for a few hours.  That should tell us quite a bit.

Stay tuned

M

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Be careful out there.




We are, happily, well north of where this thing is supposed to hit, but please, PLEASE if you're in it's path don't get all macho on us an decide to "stick it out".  If you'll note, this thing is likely to slow down when it hits the coast and to pound NC/SC's coastlines for a full THREE DAYS.  Either sail out of it's way, pull your vessel, or go get a hotel room.  Either way, be safe.

Feel free when this is over and we see what has happened to the barrier islands to send a poisoned pen letter to those NC legislators who, in 2012 made it literally illegal to consider this kind of thing in zoning and planning because it "got in the way of development".  Bah.

Be safe.

M

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dining Aboard


This happens all the time: someone takes one look at our boat and pipes up “Guess you guys eat out a lot, huh?”

um, not really.

For the record, we rarely eat out. We're former restauranteurs, and we both love to cook. We cook a lot, and elaborately, and we literally NEVER go for fast food. Why would we? The food we make is so much better (and, of course, healthier and more interesting) than anything any drive-through could offer.
A small galley doesn't mean we cant get interesting.  These are stuffed baby eggplants with a Northern Indian spicing.

The misconceptions about cooking aboard continue to amaze me.

The Galley of Tesla's Revenge has a single burner propane stove. We have a small freezer, a cooler, a small smoker that we use sometimes up on shore, and not a lot of storage space for foodstuffs. Yet, for all that, we manage to crank out of plethora of soups, stews, exotic pot dishes, frittatas. . . a whole range of healthy and interesting dishes despite—and sometimes because of—the limitations. We roast our own coffee. We make our own butter, brew our own Ciders and Ginger beers. We do more in house—and easily and more economically—than most folks with vast kitchens would dream of doing.
Keep your cooking space uncluttered and your tools handy.

So here, gentle reader, are our suggestions of how to make the most of a small galley. As a note, this applies as well to your camper, apartment, or dorm room, just sayin'.

First of all, let go of the idea that you have to do long term menu planning. The lack storage means—rather happily—that you'll be doing a lot of “market shopping,” that is to say, buying what you need for the next few meals, driven by what is local and in season. All that makes for a healthier, tastier diet, and a greater local knowledge of the area in which you're docked. Introduce yourself to your local butcher, your fishmonger, your local farmstand. As a Livaboard, you have a built in interesting story, and folks are generally happy to be part of that. Is there food growing wild near your moorage? We've found crab apples and raspberries and mulberries, dandelion and day lily (not to mention fish and crab, but that's another story entirely) growing happily for the taking near the very heart of the marina. Build your meals around what you find, and let the ingredients shine, adding to them stable staples that you CAN afford the space to store: pastas, grains, nuts, and the like. We don't have a lot of foodstuffs in stowage, We DO have a ton of spices, herbs, sauces, flavorings, and we make liberal use of them.
You'd be amazed what  you can do aboard.  This is a hard cider in the making, made from foraged crab apples.  It was amazing.

Do your prep up front for as many of the dishes as possible so you don't get in your own way. Take the time to think through the process of preparing the meal. What will take the longest to cook? What can sit for a bit and what has to be served right off the burner? What can be brought up to temperature and left aside to continue to cook on it's own (residual heat is your friend). What can be cooked in the same pot, at the same time? It's like a puzzle, like the kind of reverse engineering you have to do when blacksmithing or doing ceramics, and it really rather adds to the enjoyment of preparation.
Compact, versatile tools like stick blenders can stand in for a host of single use kitchen appliances.

In that regard, think of meal components that can be rolled into other meals. Cooking country ribs? Get enough to cook an extra that can be part of a frittata or salad the next day. Your sauteed veggies for lunch can be the basis of a stew for dinner. Think in terms of components rather than meals and menus.
Spectacular food is just a matter of being willing to experiment. . . .that and a good wine merchant.

Don't crowd your galley with a lot of single-use gadgets. Buy good knives, good pots and pans, and make them work (Almost all our cookware is cast iron. It holds heat well and lasts forever, despite the weight). Some compact appliances (I'm a big fan of stick blenders) can do the work of several single use kitchen toys. If you're not using it, get rid of it and use the space for more spices, dried fruits, or another bottle of really good wine. Set up the work flow with the galley sink and your stove and work surfaces so it's comfortable and efficient and so you're not having to do gymnastics to get past one another just to make lunch. It's amusing to watch, granted, and can make for some fun Youtube videos, but after a while saying “excuse me” every six seconds begins to pall. Set up your space so you can work largely from a single position and you'll be a lot happier.

Also get to know some of your slipmates. Sharing dishes in a potluck can make for some great meals, some great friends, and a lot less effort and expense on everyone's part.

And, finally, remember, you objective is your own enjoyment. Food is social, food is entertainment, food can be history and culture and wonderfully reckless experimentation. Let it happen.


More shortly
M