Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Peek at our Sleek New Teak

Moitessier is finally starting to look like a boat again (at least temporarily).  With the weather the way it was this time of year down here, Frank finally convinced me to let him start our deck project.  The fiberglass on the cabin tops had finally come down in moisture content low enough for us to feel comfortable going forward with the project.  Initially, we had planned on glassing over the inset panels and applying a nonskid finish, this made sense until we did a little more research.  Because the panels were inset a 1/4", the cost for the materials to glass it in turned out to be way more than we had originally anticipated.  The cost coupled with Frank's lack of experience with glasswork caused us to rethink our options and at least look at teak as a possibility.  After calling around to a bunch of lumber yards, we quickly realized that we needed to look elsewhere if we were to do it for a reasonable price.  We decided to get in touch with a teak deck installer in the hopes of purchasing their offcuts, and after talking with the guy about our situation, life story, etc, he agreed to let us come look through a pile of the rejects. The company itself, The Teak Hut, specializes in prefab decking for multi-million dollar yachts and their "rejects" turned out to be just what we were looking for.  The boards had a variety of flaws which included a slight sweep to the grain, darker mineral deposits, pin-sized wormholes, or boards that were just too short.  These flaws were barely noticeable to our unsophisticated eyes, and to us, they were downright gorgeous, especially at $2.50 a linear ft!   Hard to believe that people would get their panties in a bunch over such minor defects.  Working with The Teak Hut was simply a pleasure.  Roberto, the representative we worked with, was extremely helpful and proactive about getting us what we wanted.  When we arrived at the facility, he took the time out to give us a tour of their operations, allowed us to pick and choose the boards we wanted out of the reject pile, and even managed to get us a couple of "scratch and dent" boxes of fitting epoxy at a discounted price.  We also spoke with a technician (can't remember his name now) that was able to give us some professional advice on how to best go about this project.

Teak Hut's facility

Prefab deck in the making

Being as frugal as we are, we tackled the ordering of the wood in the most precise way possible.  We started by making paper templates of each one of the panels to be laid with teak.  We then drew and measured out all the boards and meticulously listed the boards from longest to shortest.  This was very time consuming, but because of this, we were able to figure out the EXACT linear footage we needed for the project and were able to greatly minimize our wastage.   When we got the boards home, we measured and catalogued them by size.  We then took the first list and played puzzle maker.  For example, a 62" board would give us 2 10s", a 12", and a 30".  We did this until every board was accounted for.  All in all, believe it or not, our total wastage could fit into a gallon sized ziploc, less than 5 linear ft total, not bad considering we were working with 474.66 linear feet cut into 136 boards!

prep work

Total waste!

After all this was done, we had 2 lists.  One was our lumber inventory, which accounted for each board and the lengths that would come out of that board.  The second list was the list of panels and their required lengths.   From this, we were able to pull the boards required, cut them their specific lengths, and shape them to fit the space.  We used 5mm spacers (which The Teak Hut gave us) for our caulking seams.  We covered with clear packing tape so they wouldn't get stuck in the epoxy during final glue down.  The boards were cut and shaped using a jigsaw, a miter saw, and a random orbit sander for the radii, and Frank cut cardboard into templates for some of the more complex shapes.  It took a little less than a day per panel.

Cardboard corner template

After all the boards were cut, fitted, numbered and labeled, it was time for glue down. (Note: Numbering and labeling turned out to be very important as it made laying out of the boards very straight forward which is important especially when racing epoxy cure times).  We sanded fair the topsides of each panel, cleaned the panels and the boards with acetone, and laid down a 6 oz layer of fiberglass cloth to prevent the previously epoxy filled screw-holes from ever migrating out or taking on water.  As the West System epoxy started to kick and became tacky, we then laid on the Teak Deck Systems Fitting Epoxy (very hard stuff to work with, the consistency is comparable to really sticky, thick taffy) so as to create a chemical bond between the two.  We used a Spackling trowel to make sure that the fitting epoxy was evenly spread. We held down the boards using various bags of anchor chain, and let the epoxy cure overnight.  After this, we popped out the spacers, and taped out the outer edges of the panels to create a clean outer seam, and caulked using a borrowed electric caulking gun (this tool was the biggest lifesaver of all!) and Teak Deck Systems SIS 440.  After the caulk was cured in another 24 hours, it was simply a matter of sanding the panel smooth with the random orbit sander and some 50 grit sandpaper.


6 oz glass

Fitting epoxy

Anchor chain in bags to weigh it down

After caulking

At the end of the day, we ended up using 480 linear ft of teak, 34 tubes of caulk, 1 3/4 gallons of fitting epoxy, a roll of packing tape, 400 5mm spacers, 4 rolls of painters tape, a package of razor blades, a package of dixie cups, 2 packages of popsicle sticks (for stirring), 7 measuring cups for the fitting epoxy, 11 yards of 38" 6oz fiberglass cloth, 8 rolls of paper towels, 100 pairs of latex gloves, 3 trowels, 20 sanding discs, 30 sheets of notebook paper, and a partridge in a pear tree.  This cost about $2600 in materials, about 78 hours of actual labor, and 25 hours of prep work (including calculations and organizing) over the course of a month and a half due to working around weather windows. The quotes we researched ranged between $15K-$20K for this job had we hired it out, so doing it yourself and buying the rejects is definitely the way to go, and to be honest, it really wasn't that hard compared to other jobs on a boat.

The biggest lesson we learned from all of this is that preparation really goes a long way in determining the quality of the finished product.  All in all, start to finish it was one of our smoothest endeavors thus far.  We are extremely pleased with the results as it transformed the look of Moitessier from being a derelic to now just being a boat that needs the side decks done (cosmetically, that is), which we are now looking forward to tackling (those will stay nonskid as originally planned).  It's always rewarding to do jobs that you can physically see the end result.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Heads Finally Up

Apologies again for they huge delay in updating, no excuse this time, I'm simply a slacker.  A lot has gone on since I've last posted.  Our head is finally back in with all new Trident 101 hoses.   This has been the bane of our existence for quite some time.  After the whole holding tank debacle, we moved forward with the project using Dometic Sealand Odor Safe Plus hoses.  We had originally done a tremendous amount of research on which hoses to go with, and after reading that these were best of the best in terms of low potential odor permeation, we decided to splurge and ordered a 50 ft roll.  The project was a real pain in the ass!  The hoses were really difficult to bend, and the space that it needed to traverse was tight to say the least.  They were so rigid that you needed to heat them up with a heat gun (without burning them) just to make a 45 degree bend and getting them onto the fittings was a wrestling match.  In short, it took about 2 days to install before we were able to test them, and that's when the fun really began.  When we first tried it out, no matter how much we wrenched on the hose clamps, we had leaks at every fitting.  We tried everything, including heating up the ends and clamping with all our might, we even managed to snap a few of the hose clamps in the process.

A hose should not be clamped this tight and still leak!

Long story short, after a bunch of back and forth between Dometic and the distributor that we bought it from, we were able to figure out that we managed to buy the batch that was over spec.  What happened was, the ID of the hoses is supposed to be 1.5" to fit over 1.5" fittings, well after measuring with our calipers, we discovered that they were in fact 1.6", on normal hoses this would not have been a big deal, but since these were so rigid, they could not be compressed enough to make a watertight seal (at least not with our Lavac head).  Dometic tried really really hard to not believe this even going so far as to suggest using silicone lubricant to stop the leaks, when on the website it specifically states that you shouldn't use silicone anything on these hoses...DUH! Can we say last ditch effort?  After a month and a half of extreme persistence while trying to convince them that it certainly was not user error, we finally were able to extract a refund and purchase new hoses.  Never again would we buy from Dometic, they even had the nerve to make us send back the used batch to "test" and see if they were actually over spec.  No word yet on that, but we did make sure to not clean them out before shipping, so perhaps that's why?  Bad customer service and flat out denial that there could be anything wrong with their product lead us to a new supplier.  With the Trident hose, our only issue was that the OD was slightly larger than the Sealand, which was already a tight fit, but all in all working with the Trident was much easier and we haven't had a leak yet.  No more peeing in a bucket, could we ask for more?

Sealand odor safe plus hose

Trident 101 hose

How many tools does it take to install a head?

The big black snake

Finally finished