Last update, January 27, 2003
This section has been archived.
Details and basics change little.
Maintenance and Refitting
Two prominent sailors once agreed that success is in the details. This dummy can assure you of that and most of the details are in preparations. It has been called diligence and often is a drill a step above standing in line for a game ticket. Neither is fun but leads to it.
Your attitude and confidence during sailing is enhanced when you attend, pamper and fret with your boat. When you know that you have done all that could be done the rest is on you for skill and management. That is the way it should be.
"Why does he always start with batteries?" Because they are the highest incident of failure at the lake and it should almost never happen. Diligence among big boaters is that all batteries are removed and stored in near controlled conditions (garage) and cycled once a month. They will live long and you will prosper. Toy boat batteries are not so intensive but NiCad's require process. You know the cycle process so get them up to speed and check their shelf life, it is like their temperature. If you have a 15 to 18 hour charger, you will need several days to know what is dependable. NiMH only need charging to have them checked. If you use a good quality fast charger on these, continue the charge 30 minutes after full is indicated.
A good battery pack will loose less than a half volt in a month. If they are checked immediately off a full charging, they should read at least a volt above the rating. These are indications of a strong pack with all cells pulling their share.
Now is a good time to review any needs that you have for the radio gear. It is now recommended that jib trim and rudder servos be metal geared and 100 to 130 torque.
All your electronics should be removed from the boat, inspected and cleaned. Use compressed air (canned is good) on the winch and make sure the wire leads have not been working to cause a break. Treat it with Aeroplate and let it drain a bit. It will now run under water...no lie!
The servos and receiver are to be treated as well as the power switch and servo plugs. reassemble everything when drained. Install the equipment in the boat and operate it. Now you are protected from corrosion and failures due to water. Because Aeroplate is an oil you are lubricated too. Don't you feel slick, now?
How is your inventory of crystals?
Transmitters, other than cleaning, are left alone in the cabinet. We do not mess with them here. Are you thinking of upgrades? Think hard for a good TX in 75 MHz is almost non-existent. Yes, there is the Ace Nautical Commander but it is borderline (mainly because of the company) and is way overpriced for what you get. So, your thinking hard will have to include conversion. Live with it, we will never have the status of airplanes.
Now is the time to change winches and/or drums if you have been thinking of doing so. It gives you the time to adjust and learn the movements. It is a time to become familiar with the touch on the stick. All of this is part of the mental feel. Hanging weights on the sheet lines with the rig off does wonders to seeing and recording.
While the radio gear is out of the boat go through the lines. It is generally thought that if a line is in good condition with no signs of fraying they should be left alone. While this may go with the adage of what is not broken, new lines and loops can fail till seasoned. If you are diligent with inspections before each event much will not escape you. However, if you have had repeated failures to one item study the reasons.
If you have had problems with the topping lift line catching on the jumper spreaders, fix it right. Tensioning of this line is doable and reliable. There are several methods but the one shown here works. However, any system that will not lift the boom at rest with 1.5 pounds of backstay tension can work. The bungee and knots need to be free of snagging.
How is your tensioning bungee of the sheet line system in the boat. Most are changed at the beginning of the season. If you disconnect them after a regatta and leave your sails out hauled at a regatta when not sailing, it will last the season.
Turnbuckles and Threads
If you do not have broken strands on shroud wires, leave them alone. However, disassemble the fastening and adjusting parts and clean or replace as needed. Steel parts like the DuBro rigging coupler rust. So does the inside threads of a clevis. Dip and drain the parts in Aeroplate and reassemble. When you stand the rig, readjust and lock them.
Don't forget the adjustors on the rudder linkage. Go through the same process including the metal collar on the tiller.
New sails are not always needed. You will have to be the judge of that. Just remember, all sails of the same type and sailmaker are not the same. If you have a set that is performing well for you and growing old, consider the need for change. You may not like the new one as well.
An inventory of rigs is mainly because one does not want to compromise with certain race conditions. That is to say one does not want to overlap sail conditions but prefer more narrow ranges. If you want to be all that you can be, you will carry a B rig to every event whether it be Charleston or Mount Laurel, Elon College or Lake Norman; even just for once a season.
Check every line. If they are fine, leave them alone.
If you are wanting to make changes, think clean (drag), light (weight) and simple (whatever breaks...how fast can you change it?)
If you have re-decked or done any work around the boat with resin or glues, this is a must. It would astound you what flies around in the air and resin products are attracted to other resin products. Run you fingers over the hull and you will see. Acetone will remove most of it that is of a filmy nature, however, sanding will be needed if heavier.
A season of sailing will produce nicks along the seam of the exterior keel, on the bow and along the sheer at the gunwale. It has also been found that gel coat will chip out of the seam in time. Scratches along the sides are also popular places to look for irregularities. Also in time the hull itself will change and such inflections can be noted when running the fingers lightly across the surface. These can become a problem not solved with sanding but replacement.
A new deck will produce fairing needs along the seam of the deck to the hull flange. These can be block sanded with 150 grit then moving to 400 after the smoothing starts. Run tape along the hull to protect the gel coat finish. This same exercise can be used on the hull seam repairs, filling and general fairing.
Chips, scratches and resin contamination can be attacked with 400 grit as a flat sheet with the fingers. Some scratches here have been treated with clear dope and/or clear nail polish, then sanded.
The final sanding of the hull should be with a very fine grit like 1500 or 1600. It is a concentration thing of feel. You may feel irregularities in the hull but there is not much you can do with them unless you are up to cutting through the gel coat with heavier grit and painting the hull. (Or, like one boat owner out of Atlanta that skipped the painting and called the boat Spot.)
Many older fingers feel little, like string and #080 screws. However, the mind acquires the feel of fingers moving over a surface and it is surprising the notice of irregularities. Besides, sitting with the boat in your lap is a good time for bonding and the sport psychologies of competition.
The Other Things
While you are there remove the rudder and clean the shaft. Run a pipe cleaner through the sleeve with Acetone on it. Re-lube with dielectric grease, reassemble everything and meticulously adjust the rudder at home in the shop. Everything good takes time. Here is a hint:
Lay the boat in your lap and caress the hull. The tip of your fingers will note any lack of fairness to the surface. Sand lightly with 1600 grit in a single sheet layer, do not double it. Your fingers will feel the hull better through a single sheet. If you have dimples, ripples are lumps that can not be sanded, you are on the waiting list for a new hull.
Are you leaking water? Of course you are, it is a boat. But how much and where do you think it is coming from? How is the seal at the deck hardware? A leak there will ruin a deck too. Have you ever light checked you deck seal at the sheer? Ah, the hatch!
A deck replacement is a major refit and one that needs to be thought out. It is not so much the job but what else can be done when the hull is open. It is not like starting over as sub-structures and decking go along quite well. There are things like the sheet line system, bungee line routing, internal antenna routing, compression strut designs and electronics board alterations. These are not likely viable projects with a deck on the boat. It is one of those projects that you will have planned before the last race of the season.
Yes, it is the details and maybe add some attitude as well.
January 27, 2003 - Hull fairing is added.