No. 93 - June 1991

THE SOLAR PANEL ON MOONDANCER BY ARDEN WAITE - COWICHAM BAY B.C.:

 

The commercial solar panel I use was old before I obtained it and I've had it on Moondancer almost as long as I've had the boat. I'm so use to it being there I can walk by and won't remember seeing it. It is about 43" long, nine inches wide and about 1 1/3" thick. The panel is mounted on an aluminum frame that is constructed so as to bolt to others side by side. These are normally wired together in a parallel circuit to charge batteries at a mountain top radio repeater station.

 

Where I work they had 12 panels, bolted together. Radio equip­ment improved over time and the batteries overcharged so they dis­connected six of them. The day came the extras were removed and I asked the electrician what was to happen to them. Luckily Moondancer was the recipient of one of them. I was sure the aluminum would corrode and the rest of it looked rather fragile. I was wrong on both accounts. Years later, still on deck it looks the same. A few strips of foam weather-stripping under it and across the front deck has become its home. Much salt water later - I've seen it encrusted in salt and stepped on, even if I do try to avoid it, it's still as good as new.

 

The holes in the aluminum frame allowed me to use some 1/8" nylon cord to tie it rearward from each rear corner to a life line rail. Then tied from one front corner up around the mooring cleat and back to the other side. There it sits, summer and winter silently doing its "thing". A blessing! A piece of automotive 16 gauge wire leads from it to the anchor well. This wire is tough enough to leave under the anchor well hatch - not necessary to cut a groove. A small two wire plug and socket is mounted high in the starboard side of the well. From there the wire is led down to the battery and electric panel.

 

The solar panel puts out about 18 volts but very low amperage.

But enough to keep the battery up for normal summer use, even on a two week trip using the auto pilot all the time.

 

ALSO FROM ARDEN WAITE #989 - ADJUSTABLE BACKSTAY:

 

While most members that have wanted an adjustable backstay have done the conventional thing - that is, installed a split backstay using some form of block and tackle to "squeeze" the inverted "Y", thus tightening the backstay along with the forestay. But there are other ways. Perhaps even less expensive ways.

 

Arden's is one such way. One extra chainplate was added an equal distance off center to port as the standard one is off to starboard. The backstay is now centered.

 

A six part boom vang style block and tackle is then attached to the port chainplate. A flexible stainless steel cable has been swaged, to the head of the adjusting gear and rove through a block attached to the lower end of the shortened backstay. From there, back down to the starboard chainplate.

 

The potential weakness of this system is that, should one of the blocks or swages fail, the backstay could be lost. Arden has solved this by installing an extra cable from the starboard chainplate to the shackle above the top block.

 

SERVICE DEPARTMENT - WATERPROOFING (PART 2) BY JOHN CHARTERS:

 

In part 1 we covered sealing the cockpit seats, bilge pump and drains. There are a couple of other ways water can find its way

below. Through the hull deck joint and via the ports.

 

We have discussed the hull deck joint and the rubrail before, but one thing bears repeating. NEVER REMOVE THE RUBRAIL! If you wish to inspect the hull deck joint, just peel the rubrail off, leaving it attached at the bow and stern. It is most unlikely water ever enters at either the bow or the stern, so leaving that area un-inspected does little harm.

 

Depending on when your boat was built, the way the hull was joined to the deck, varied. Later models were joined by machine screws and sealed with Morebond, a semi-flexible bonding agent. Earlier boats used different methods and materials. Some were fastened with monel pop-rivets and bonded with Fiberglas or a similar resin. Regardless, if your boat is a few years old and especially if you have been bashing into other boats, brick walls and other immovable obstructions, you may have broken the hull deck seal. Then when sailing in a good wind, with the rubrail under the water, some of that water is bound to get in.

 

If you suspect that this is the case, as mentioned, peel rubrail off and examine the joint. Chances are you will be able see If the joint has been broken. Clean the area with acetone remove any loose bonding or bedding material, then re-seal with your favorite caulking compound. I like Life-Caulk by Boat Life. You may prefer Sikkens or one of the other newer caulking compounds.

3M's #5200 would be a good alternative. Silicone is probably not the best choice. If the gap is extra large, it may be a good idea to add another machine screw or two. Tighten after you have applied the caulking, not before. Then put the rubrail back and check the other side.

 

Nothing is this world is ever permanent, including hull deck re­pairs. When you consider how much pounding and stress your boat is subjected to, it is a wonder boats don't leak more. Part of your annual Spring maintenance should be to check the hull deck joint.

 

Speaking of rubrails - yours may or may not be fastened to the boat with little self-tapping screws on the underside. Obviously, these will have to be removed before peeling of the rubrail.

 

Now, about the ports. If your port splines (that's the gray rubberlike gaskets that seals the plexiglas to the aluminum frame), are old and cracked, it may be time to replace those splines. Give Eric Spencer a call. From memory, 24 feet is enough to do all six ports. Eric also has the sponge rubber inner seal, if that needs re­placing.

 

Water can also get in between the aluminum frame and the fiberglas deck. You may be able to get away with just forcing caulking between that frame and the deck with your finger. Possibly not. It may be necessary to remove all those screws that fasten the frame to the boat and carefully separate the frame from the deck being most careful not to bend the aluminum. Clean, re-caulk and reinstall.

 

But, please resist the temptation to re-do all the ports unless you are quite convinced that they are leaking. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" should be your guide to all boat repairs and mainten­ance. I am a great believer in leaving well enough alone. And the older the boat, the greater the chance of breaking something while trying to remove it. It is amazingly easy to strip threads, sheer off bolts and bend stainless steel fittings. What often starts out to be a simple job can end up being a nightmare. And although Eric can supply most any part for a Tanzer, there are a couple of fittings that are no longer made or available. Aluminum port frames, for one.

 

Although not too likely, rain can get in via the various through deck fastenings. Once again, I am reluctant to suggest you remove each and every nut, bolt and screw unless you are absolutely sure is a leak. I do, however, suggest you remove that chain plate and re-caulk the chain plates. Good luck!


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