Friday, November 29, 2019

Updating the Dodger - Construction

New Dodger Construction

Finally making some progress on the dodger canvas construction.

Initial canvas cutting, several pieces:-
  • Top
  • Aft pocket
  • Front (not including the window panel) - 8 pieces
  • Forward pocket
  • Aft Tail
That went well. A couple of notes: The sailrite video shows some edges being cut with scissors, and others cut using a hot knife, most of the scissor cut edges (zippers, binding ends) were later sealed using a hot knife and some left fuzzy as they would never be seen. I detest those fuzzy edges, so I use the hot knife whenever I can, if I do have to use scissors, I always seal the ends with the hot knife.

Again, the Sailrite video shows cutting notches for the center alignment marks, I just make a 1/8" cut with the hot knife, again, no fuzzy edges.

Then it was time to sew those pieces that were complete.

The Front panel (in which the front window will be zippered) will take a lot of strain as it holds the front window and the fronts of the side windows. I doubled up the Sunbrella (hence 8 pieces in the list above). Each of the front support strips that run from the top to the deck are two layers of Sunbrella and they were sewn first. Then the Port & Stbd Front Top Corners were sewn with the support strips sandwiched between them. 

I added binding to the inside edge of the Front panel, but was not pleased with the result. The binding was sewn through the edge of the panel, but the edge did not go all the way into the middle (fold) of the binding and at this stage I'm getting picky so I removed the binding and did it again.

Here are some pics that explain this:

Pic of Binding

This shows the canvas was not pushed deep enough into the Binding tape

Some of the binding was sewn better than other parts. To remove the binding, I used a single edged razor blade, it only took a few minutes to remove the binding, about another 15 to remove the threads from the binding itself - picky picky!

This shows how the canvas flows through the binding attachment when the canvas is held close to the entry point of the binder.

Notice how doing so, pushes the canvas away from the exit of the binder, resulting in the binding being applied closer to the edge of the canvas than is ideal.

If you zoom in, you'll see that the canvas has moved away from the right hand presser foot which is right by the edge of the binder.

The goal is to get the canvas as close the center of the binding so that the stitches are well away from the canvas edge.

Here's I'm concentrating on ensuring the edge of the canvas is pushed into the binder near the exit rather than the entry point.

Note: When sewing a concave edge, the canvas will naturally get closer to the entry point, ie. closer to the binding as it enters the binder - When the canvas is being pushed into the binding at the exit point.Pic of Binding with edge depressed

I used a new piece of binding tape when re-sewing it to the canvas. When the binding is close to the edge of a piece of canvas that has concave curves, it will require a longer length of binding tape than when it's sewn closer to the edge. Also, the binding is sewn much stronger when it's away from the edge of the canvas.

Hope this helps.

Sewing Tricks and Tips

My Sewing Tricks and Tips

Three years ago I purchased a Sailrite LSZ-1, a Zig Zag Walking Foot Heavy duty sewing machine because I knew I would have to get a lot of Canvas work done on our boat and it seemed cheaper to learn to sew than to pay someone to do it. - Nothing against the Pros that make a living from doing great work, I just didn't have the spare cash to pay that much, my labor is a major part of my value.

Basically, I've been learning to sew for 3 years, and hopefully have many more years to get even better.

Many mistakes have lead to some simple tricks and tips that I thought might help someone else, so here goes.

Tools: Invest early! When you get a tool and wonder how you ever managed without it, that's when you realize that you should get the tool as soon as you can. Some of my tools that I wish I had purchased earlier.
  • Quality Sewing Machine - I broke a cheap white machine trying to sew through 4 layers of Sunbrella. 
  • Sailrite Industrial table and Servo motor: I cannot say enough about this addition. It gives me the ability to move the needle so slowly that I can move the needle by as little as 1/16" of an inch. Remember when you first learned to drive, jerky jerky because you couldn't move the throttle finely. But then you got it. The Servo motor gives even greater control. 
  • 4' and 6' Straight edge Rulers. Best low cost purchase ever.
  • 6" x 24" Clear Acrylic Ruler - The first time you use this will hurt your shins - kicking yourself for not getting it sooner
  • 1.25" Swing away Binding attachment - they are not cheap, but they are a must. I got the 1.25" model because I detest skinny binding. So anything that needs a binding gets 1.25" binding!
  • Sailrite Canvas Patterning Ruler - there are other things to use to draw lines parallel to a marked line, but this is really good. 
  • Sewing Gauge ruler - sometimes, the Patterning ruler won't do it. 
  • Chalk Cartridge Pen Set - For canvas work, chalk is the way to go, this Cartridge pen set lets me write and mark the canvas. Don't press too hard - you'll figure that out within 5 minutes of using it.
  • Triangular Marking Chalk for Canvas - sometimes it's better, especially for marking the edge of a piece of canvas when it's laying over a tube or bench seat to be covered.
  • Hot Knife - Don't get a cheap one! It's used on every single project that is made from Sunbrella.
  • Scissors - Don't get craft scissors! They need to cut 4 layers of Sunbrella - Imagine the Bound edge of a double layer of Sunbrella - 1st choice is the Hot Knife, but sometimes you have to cut it. 

Work Space: Facebook has a very active community of people that Sew on Boats (look up SOB on Facebook) and there are a lot of folks that do their sewing where they live on their boats. For me it's in my garage, the same place I keep all my other project stuff.  It wasn't until I wanted to make a project out of White Sunbrella that I realized the risk my grubby floor might have. So I scrubbed the floor and now regularly vacuum the floor.

As my tools grew, I realized the benefit of having a tidy work space - not my norm - Now when I get supplies or tools, I find a neat place to store them, or I make a home for them. eg. I found a bunch of old chain boxes from Home Depot and used them to hold Zippers, Threads, LSZ-1 tools, Fasteners, Webbing buckles, etc. I made a holder for my Splicing kit, purchased a Harbor Freight partitioned case to hold my Grommet tools and supplies, made a canvas holder for my Snap-rite fastener tool and supplies.

Sewing Tips:
Measure carefully, make templates, account for errors in marking, double check - Measure Twice - Cut Once.

Review before applying basting tape. Basting tape doesn't grab Sunbrella very well unless it's pressed with either a Canvas Measuring rule or, a fav of mine, a wall paper hanger's Roller. But it really sticks well to Zippers, especially when pressed with a rule or roller. It's a pain to get the glue off of the zipper flange.

Before sewing: Every time that you start a stitch, check - Stitch length, Needle left/center/right position AND that the Presser Foot is lowered - you'll remember that one the first time you get a bunched  up spiders nest of thread bound up around the bobbin and on the underside of your project, worse a bent needle or even worse, damaged bobbin assembly. Lower the Presser Foot!
I now check all of those when I am about to put my foot on the power pedal.

Prewind a load of bobbins with the thread you are using - buy extra bobbins! If you do not have a pre-wound bobbin and run out of lower thread mid seam, you'll have to stop the stitching and wind a fresh bobbin - I have a 4" tall pin on my sewing machine table that I load up with bobbins wound with the thread I'm using for the project.

Before starting a stitch on a long seam that's going to be visible, make sure there is a fully loaded bobbin installed. It's annoying to have to do some reversing, which is very visible, mid seam.

Use an edge guide to keep the stitch parallel to an edge. I purchased 10 Badge Magnets from Amazon and use them as edge guides as well as holding canvas surfaces together. 

Go Slow! It's not that difficult to sew fast, the difficulty is in keeping it neat. Figure out how to go slow, there's a pride in seeing a neatly sewn seam that makes the time taken worth while.

Clean the Needle - When you sew using basting tape ( I try to keep 4 rolls on hand) the glue sticks to the needle, the thread sticks to the glue, the results can be irregular stitches, broken threads ( think visible restarting the seam) and even broken needles. I keep a tub of Chlorox wipes at hand to wipe down the needle.

Clean the eye of the Needle - Wiping down the needle to remove sticky glue residue might not clean the eye of the needle. I use a Needle Threader to clean out the eye of the needle.

Oh! The Sailrite machine uses a different style of needle from most domestic machines, the groove along the length of the needle should be on the left side of the machine. I drew a silhouette of the needle on the top of the machine to remind me which way the needle is positioned. It really mucks up the sewing if the needle is the wrong way around. The silhouette shows that the scarf where the bobbin hook passes is on the right (towards the driving wheel end of the machine)

Clean up as you go -  those little tails of thread, that you snipped off after completing a seam, can get caught up as you sew the next stitch - and, if there's a furry rug of thread snippets on the floor, that could lead to a Slip and Fall accident. Just have a bucket that you can drop the ends after cutting them rather than let them fall to the floor.

Lighten Up! - wherever you sew, make it bright! I have an LED lamp attached to the machine, LED strip lights on the ceiling, LED Strip light on the wall and another over my work bench. Being able to see the results of your work is a whole lot easier when you turn the lights on.

Folding tables are great - I have two 6' x 30" tables, one folds. If I didn't have the room for 6' tables I would get a couple of 4' even narrow if that's what would fit the work space. But they are a huge boon. Rather than struggle with a large piece of canvas trying to get it neatly into the machine, being able to support it on a table or two makes life so much easier.

That's it for now, I'll update this page as I figure or remember other tips and tricks.

Enjoy your sewing.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Updating the Dodger - Material Review

Material Review

I will have to update the 1st post in this series as I have updated the materials list significantly.
Having gone around this buoy, I would recommend making the templates before ordering the materials as some of the requirements were not realized until I started cutting the Canvas.

So, the changes:
  1. My original guestimate of the amount of Binding required was much less that reality. The Front and Side windows will have their top and side edges made out of binding, so I added another 40' of Bias Cut Binding.
  2. Initial plan was to use Vinyl for the anti chafe strip along the aft edge of the Dodger, my original order included 1 yd of Blue Vinyl, but reviewing the Sailrite Chafe protection video, it should have been Naugahide. Added 1 yd of Navy Blue Naugahide
  3. The front window will use nearly all of the panel of Stataglass #40 gauge window material, so I need to add 2 more panels, one for each side. Sadly the side windows take up just over half of the height of a panel, so no choice but to add a whole panel for each side. So Add 2 Strataglass #40 gauge window panels ($440 )
  4. My original Zipper size calculations were a little off, so added 4 new zippers.
All this came to over $600 Wow!!!

Working on the Aft end of the Dodger Top.
Trying to wrap my head around the aft edge.
Currently, I'm considering the layers as shown below.
Practically, the first stitch would be through the aft most edge of the Chafe Protection Strip, through the hemmed aft edge of the Sunbrella top, the two layers of the 'Tail'and the seam mark on the Pocket (Red)

That is:

  1. Chafe Protection Strip
  2. Top hemmed edge
  3. Seam mark of the two layers of the tail
  4. Seam mark of the Pocket
Then a second stitch about 3/8" up from the first

The final stitch would be at the front edge of the Chafe Protection Strip

Material Layers of Aft Edge of Dodger Top around the Aft Dodger Frame Tube.

I have already applied the Zipper to the Aft tube Pocket, but I'll take advantage of the Sailrite Support before I proceed.

Brian from Sailrite responded first thing this morning. My guess was good. So I can start sewing the back end of the Dodger on Friday, after Thanksgiving.

But today, I was able to construct the forward window support panel all except the 96" zippers that should arrive Monday.

I also finished the Aft end of the dodger components. The Pocket is complete with it's zipper, the Tail is complete except for the binding - I'll hold off doing that until the sides panels are ready and I can run the tail binding all the way forwards.

So far:

  • Top Panel is cut out
  • Front Panel is cut out
  • Front Panel inner binding is complete
  • Aft of Top Panel Tail is compete bar binding
  • Aft Top Pocket is complete
  • Forward Top Pocket is complete

Friday I'll start on the side panels.

Feel good about progress today. Understand, that between sessions of sewing I go back to the videos to make sure that my progress is heading in the right direction. I screwed up twice today making the tail, it was easy once I reviewed the video.

Moving on. At the end of the day, I cleaned up my workshop (garage) and Peggy asked that I finish the cover for our casual seat under the front window, where our adopted cat likes to loaf. It only took 12 minutes to cut a piece of fabric to size and sew the corners. Stretchy fabric is awesome! Indoors at least.

Hope the Cat likes it!

More Friday. Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Updating the Dodger - Refining the design

Refining the Design

Anyone that has watched the Sailrite video knows that it's normal to make minor adjustments to the design during construction. Well, that's true here for me too!

After cleaning up the Top template and the Front template, we discussed the cockpit venting aspect of the design. A bit of explanation is due here.

When we are at Anchor, most of the time, the boat will point into wind, unless water current is more powerful and then it's a guess which way we'll be pointing. Most of the year here in South Florida, and certainly in the Bahamas, it gets pretty warm when sat in the cockpit if the front window is fully closed. Our old Dodger design did not have a designed vent option, so we typically would unzip each side of the front window and fold it back leaving about a foot of vent on either side.
Dodger Old Design with Front Window folded open on each side.

The Front Window Zippers each began in the middle of the top.

We discussed the options to improve on that method of venting the Cockpit, one included adding a Smile, a U shaped, zippered opening in the middle of the front window. That seemed like a better solution. After waking early the next day, it occurred to me that all we needed to do was install the Zippers from the lower edge of the window to the top center. That would allow us to unzip from the top middle and fold down a portion of the window. Thinking through the concept, it would also improve visibility if the window was fogged up, with the added benefit that the opening would be the full width of the window.

Dodger New Design with Front Window folded down (open) from the top

We took the templates back down to the boat today, I was curious whether I could adjust the two back support bars to be at similar angles to each other. Turns out that was no hassle and worked out great.

With the Dodger frame set up, I held the Side Window Templates in place with some Pony clamps and adjusted the lines on the template. My concerns was that the lower edges of the side window templates were a little off line. They were! But that's why it's ok to remeasure everything, and make adjustments, just like they do in the Sailrite Video.

The initial template markings took nearly 3 hours to complete, add another hour today. In addition, today's review of the templates has given me some concern that the front window template might be a tad off and that it's not easy to establish a really good template markup due to the lower front edge of the front panel strips is really difficult to establish. My solution is to make up the Top Panel with the attached front window surround and side strips, the two side panels and take them all down to the boat for fitting. At that time I'll make a template just for the Front window panel, it should be a lot easier because the Side strips will be held in place.

One other thing I considered was adding 2 more tubes to the Dodger Frame. Whenever I'm on deck, heading back to the Cockpit, I'm always concerned that I may put some weight on the canvas Strip that holds the Front Window in place. By adding the two Forward Safety Grab rails, one on either side of the Dodger frame, that would give anyone going from the side decks back towards the cockpit something to grab before getting to the Dodger grab rail. Safety is a big factor for me and Peggy always supports safety upgrades. The two grab rails would be about 45" long, going from the existing Dodger grab rail, forwards and down to just aft of the cabin top wooden grab rails.

Dodger re-design including Forward Safety Grab Rails

Ok, now it's time to do some canvas work. A quick markup of the reviewed templates for the side panels and then out with the Hot Knife.

Well worth the trip down to the boat today! I also had the chance to clean off some of the glue residue from the shipping tape that was stuck to the Dodger Frame. My personal favorite goo remover is Goo Gone.

A quick few spritz' on the metal tube surface and spread around with my fingers, leave it for a few minutes, about 5 is normally plenty. Then rub off the goo with a rag. If there's a lot of goo to remove, a second treatment might be needed. 

It easily took the Glue goo left by the Shipping tape on the Dodger Metal Tubes and the on the Fiberglass Surfaces. Less than 15 minutes to clean it all up.

Now I'm Off to do some canvas.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Updating the Dodger - cleaning up the templates

Cleaning up the Dodger Templates

Someone asked me why I'm going into so much detail about this project, the answer is pretty simple: By making dozens of drawings, graphics and asking lots of questions, I'm actually getting down to the detailed design and construction process. I'm learning more about doing a complex project like this just by writing about it. If you want to learn something, teach it!

NOTE! All the pics and graphics can be clicked upon to view them full size.

Here's my review of the pieces that make up the completed Dodger

Dodger frame

Sketch of the Dodger Frame, the aft support is only shown on the Stbd side, but there is a second on the Port side.

Dodger Top Panel

The Top Panel has side strips that will attach to the ridge that's on the Cabin Top in front of the Companionway cover plate.

The Front Window Panel will zip into this panel and the side window panels will zip into it on each side.

Dodger Side Window Panel

Sketch of the Stbd Side Window Panel, there will be a single zipper that extends from the Aft top corner of this panel all the way forward and down to the front tip of this panel.

Dodger Front Window Panel

Sketch of the Front Window Panel.
This panel will be attached at the top and sides with two zippers. Each starting at the top center of this panel and reaching all the way to the side strips and then down to the Front Lower Edge.

The bottom section of this panel will be Sunbrella lined with Shelter‑Rite® White 61" Fabric

The top and sides will be 1.25" Bias cut Binding Tape used as a facing tape.

The Cut outs for the Running rigging lines at the lower edge will be edged with Leather.

I spent hours watching the Sailrite Videos, and then more trying to figure out the correct layering order. Using the Sailrite online Chat feature, I discussed the issues with their very helpful support team and the last one suggested that I email support with the questions.

Then I spent about an hour making up the following graphics to help explain my doubts and in the process, answered my own questions.

Here's the graphics I sent to Sailrite Support.

Dodger Front Panel Lower Edge Layers
This shows the layers that will make up the Front Lower Edge. It does not show that there will be Snaps installed along that lower edge, but it does show the Binding covering the Sunbrella Outer Fabric and the Shelter Rite Lining. The Strataglass will be sewn to the Sunbrella and the top (left in the pic) egde of the Sunbrella will be turned under and resewn. On the underside of the Front Lower edge, the Strataglass will be edged with Bias Cut Binding tape laid flat, it will cover the joint of the Strataglass and the Shelter rite lining.

Dodger Front Panel Zippered Top & Side Edge Layers

This graphic shows the layers that will form the Zippered Top and Side edges of the Front Window Panel. the lower end of this panel will have the same layers as the Front Lower Edge (previous graphic) as will the lower edge of the Side Window Panels.

Dodger Front of Top and Side Strip Layers
This final graphic shows the layers that will form the front of the Top Panel and the side strips. The lower edge of the side strips will use the same layer order as shown in the graphic (2 up from this) 

This graphic shows that the Sunbrella will be edge dwith Bias Binding Tape and the Zipper will be enclosed, out of the Sunlight. This same layer form will be used for the Zipper that extends from the aft end of the Top Panel all the way to the front, lower edge of the side panel.

Having figured out the layers for the construction, it was time to clean up the templates.

The Sailrite video show using 'Sand Bags' to help manage large templates and pieces of fabric on the work table, here's mine. They only took about 30 minutes to make all three.

Slightly smaller than the ones Sailrite describe. These are made from 8" x 16" offcuts of Sunbrella fabric and scraps of Dura Skim patterning material.

Here's my work space. I purchased a 2nd 6' Folding table just to handle this project, I'm sure it'll be used for many more.

The template on the tables in this pic is hanging off the far end by about 4 feet! and it barely fits across the two tables.

I have been working to clean up the template lines, mark the zipper locations and figure where I'll need to cut the templates and where I'll need to join them.

Just getting this part done has taken several hours.

I really understand why professionals charge so much for making a dodger, it's a lot of work!

Making progress, next it's time to start marking the fabric and cutting things out.

Update: After emailing back and forth with Sailrite, Eric Grant replied (recognize the last name?), he recommended that the Zippers around the front window panel be sewn to the Inside of the panel rather than the outside.

So here's the updated graphic showing the Front Window Panel Top and Bottom Edges

Dodger Front Window Panel Top and Bottom edges

Obviously the graphics are not to scale, but this pic shows where I'll be placing Snap-rite Buttons and Sockets to connect to the existing Snaps that are installed from the previous Dodger, there might have to be a couple of additions, any that are not used will remain in place rather than have to try and repair a hole.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Updating the Dodger - Creating the Template

Creating the Template

With the Modified Frame installed, time to make the template.

Heading down to the boat armed with:
  • Dura Skim - more than enough material
  • Double Sided Basting Tape  - new roll of 3/8"
  • Reinforced shipping tape - plus a spare roll
  • Grease Pencil (black)
  • Sharpies - Red, Blue, Green, Brown
  • Tape Measure
  • Note pad

Anyone doing this project on a DIY basis, should watch the How To Videos on at least several times and then again a few more times. It's the concept that we're trying to figure out.

I'm planning on taking at least 2 hours probably 4 to create the template. Sailrite suggests we should use the shipping tape on the tubes as it's easier to remove than trying to remove the basting tape from the steel tubing. We know that works from making our Binnacle and Wheel cover.

The design of the dodger is not yet cast in stone, or should I say, not yet cut in Sunbrella. We'll figure that out when the template is securely in place. But the basic concept is to have four parts. Top piece that covers the top of the frame and a little way down the sides, below the grab rails. Port & Stbd side windows, and Front window. I'm using 40 gauge Strataglass, which should give us really good visibility and long lasting protection from UV. We want to have a way to vent the underside of the Dodger, either by folding a side panel out of the way or rolling up a segment of the front window.

All of the Strataglass will have Sunbrella covers underlined with 'Evolution Block-it' fabric to prevent scratching by the covers. We expect to leave the forward cover on when the boat is at the dock. The side panels will also have covers, but more for storage than when at the dock - we need Sunlight to get to our Solar Powered Vents that are under the Dodger.

The Top panel will be held in place by Zipped pockets. The side panels will be zippered to the top panel and snapped along their lower edge to the cabin top and cockpit combings. The Front panel will also be zippered to the top panel and snapped to the front of the covered area. We haven't yet decided on whether to use a single front window or a 3 part window. If we go with the single front panel window, then to vent we'll unzip from the side panels. If we go with the 3 part window, we'll have a roll up center pane which will be zippered to the top panel and the sides of the front panel. It's really a mater of how it looks and how we see them being stored below when needed. Trying to keep it simple is our goal, but the 40 gauge Strataglass requires a larger minimum diameter when rolled. It's delivered on a roll that is about 2" diameter. We'll see how this goes. I was tempted to get the 30 gauge window material, but we really like the clarity and durability of the 40 gauge.

So, how did it go?
Shipping tape and Basting tape applied to
Dodger Tubing

Reinforced Shipping tape along all the tubes, along the lower sides and along the front of the cabin top ridge.

This uses a lot of shipping tape and even more Basting tape.

But this only took about 15 minutes to complete.

The completed template overview.

It took about three hours to complete the template and we have decided on the style.

The top is going to reach about 2" below the grab rail.
The front panel will have a strip of canvas at each side that will form the connector to the side panels. It will have cut outs for the lines that are led back to the cockpit.
The front panel will also have canvas for about 6" up from the deck ridge on the cabin top, with shaped tabs where the Quad Spinlock line clutches are located. the lower edge of all panels will be lined. The front window will be zipped into the front panel along the top and down the sides of the front panel.

The Gib sheet will run outside of the side panels

The sides will zip to the top and reach down to just below the combing and aft to the new aft support bar deck hinge.

The aft edge will not be attached to the support bar, that will allow boarders to grab hold of that bar. Instead, the aft edge will be secured with tension straps to the bar.

Lower edges of Side panels to clear the Catalina 34 Logo.

The lower edge of the side panels will be snapped to the sides of the combings, and shaped to rise over the Catalina 34 Logo and run just aft of the side windows.

Side panels to clear the side cabin windows.

Despite the many snaps that already exist, we will probably have to add a few to prevent the side panels flapping against the surfaces.

Front corner of the Side panels will need snaps

The front lower corner of the side panels will need a bit of sculpting to make sure they match up nicely with the front panel.

Shore power cut out needed on Stbd side panel

The Port side panel will need a cut out for the location of the Shore Power connector.

I plan on using a straight edge to straighten the lines before using the template to mark up the Sunbrella Fabric.

Top aft rail hinge connecting Aft support bar

Boo Boo. The aft connector for the support bar on the Port side is above the old tension metal strap and the Stbd side is below the tension metal strap.

I should have noticed that when creating the template. If I lower the connector to below the metal strap, that will require that the lower deck hinge is moved aft but right now both hinges are equally distanced from the winches.

I checked the measurements and the straps are the problem, they are at different heights on both sides. So this is not a problem

Top of Front Panel

We were pretty pleased with the tension we were able to set into the template material (Dura Skim)

I marked the center line of the top tube onto the Top panel, and then applied more basting tape before setting the front panel template. Then marked the center line of the top tube onto the front panel.

We stood back and reviewed the template and decided on the position for the windows

Visibility should be greatly improved. With the Frame set at this height, 7" higher than before, and with the modified front panel design, we can see forwards much better. Peggy can see under the Dodger and I can see over it if stood up straight, and under it if relaxed. Looks like we have a plan.

Tubes after removing tape

It was easy to remove the four template pieces, but the shipping tape decided to really grab the stainless steel tubes.

We'll have to go down to the boat just to clean off the residue.

As it happens, we'll also do some plumbing to repair a dripping leak from the hot water connection to the faucet in the head - not my favorite place to work! It's Cramped.

All in all though, today was a good day, I'm very pleased with the templating process, watching those videos on line from paid off big time.

Next step is to clean up the lines on the templates, decide where to have the edges and hem allowances.
We'll add a zipper to the aft edge of both side panels for future enclosure attachment.

Making progress.

Won't see you on the water for a few weeks. Now is the exciting bit - making the panels.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Updating the Dodger - Installing the modified frame

Installing the Modified Frame

Back down to the boat this morning to install the modified Dodger Frame. As expected, it was about 3" too tall. It took about a half hour to setup power (dock power failed) and cut off 3" from each side of the dodger extensions. So the additional height ended up being 7"

With the aft frame tube setup so that I can see directly beneath it and forward of the boat, the forward tube was a few inches lower than the aft tube. I fixed that by reducing the side grab rails by 1.25" and then finished the frame reinstall.

Now that the frame was back in it's correct position, it was time to mount the aft support bar. This is intended to replace the line that was used to pull back on the Dodger frame while the canvas was snapped down from the front of the Dodge frame to the cabin top. With the aft support bar in place, the line is not required and I have total flexibility on how to connect the canvas at the front.

Stbd side Aft Frame Support Bar installed.
FYI, the Combing is nearly 1" thick FGRP.

The aft support bar makes a huge difference when boarding the boat into the cockpit, much better than the piece of line that you can still see in the picture, that will come off tomorrow.

We ran out of time on the boat today, but only have the Port side aft support bar to install tomorrow. If we get that done early enough, then we can make the template. all those hours of studying Sailrite's how to videos is paying off.

Had hoped to get the template done today, but it took about 3 hours to get the frame installed. It always takes longer on a sailboat 😉

The aft support bars are 28.75" between cap ends.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Updating the Dodger - Modifying the Frame

Raising the existing Dodger Frame.

We're modifying the Frame in order raise the top of the Dodger so that Peggy (5'6") can see under it when stood at the Helm. It also has to be high enough that it does not obscure my (6'0") vision forwards. And it has to be low enough that the boom will not touch the top when the sail is slack, topping lift loose, Vang and main sheet taught.

Cut the Frame extender and Internal splints

2 x 12" 7/8" dia. Internal Splint Tubes
2 x 10" 1" dia. Extension Tube
I had an old 7/8" Bimini Frame that I have cut bits from for various projects over the past 8 years, and it's the right diameter for the splints. I used a 4" angle grinder with Metal cutting wheels to cut  2 pieces of 12" length. They will get inserted inside the 1" Frame tube and the Extension, then they'll get Riveted into the existing Frame. The Extension tube will probably be about 7" but I'll cut them to 10 inches and check the Boom clearance, then trim their length to fit.

From the 6' of new 1" SS tubing, cut 2 pieces of 10" length, these will become the extension of the main dodger frame, joined with the existing tube using the splint cut as mentioned above.

Remove the existing dodger canvas. 

We have done this several times, some for cleaning and restitching, and other times as part of our Hurricane preparation - Note to self: New Dodger canvas must be removable for Hurricane Prep.

This is a pic of the current Dodger, note how the leading edge of the canvas is responsible for the forwards tension, the thin line at the back of the side window provides the aft tension. Also note the Dodger Tubes are wrapped in a Boat Blanket material to stop the windows getting burnt in the South Florida Summer Sun.

Remove the Grab Rail and reconnect it to the inside of the dodger - the grab rail sets the distance between the Main (aft) and Forward Dodger tube rails.

Add the Frame extension.
Internal Splint Tubes inserted Loosly into Extension Tubes

Pretty simple, at least that's my vision on this part. Just disconnect the lower Cap end from each side of the Dodger frame, Insert the 10" length of tubing into the Cap ends, insert the 12" Internal Splint into both the new extension and the bottom of the old tube.

Reconnect the Cap end to the Deck Hinge and check the height of the Dodger for Boom clearance.

Cut down the new extension tube to get to the correct height.

Once the extension height is correct, Drill the tubes and splint for Riveting. (New Titanium Drill bits!)

Internal Splint & Extension Pop Riveted
with Stainless Steel Rivets.
To make life easier, I drilled the tubes on my home Drill Press. 
3/16" Drill with Extension in Drill vice, easy.

Pop Riveted the Splint to the Extension, solid!
The other two holes will be drilled down at the boat, I don't intend to bring the frame home just to drill 4 holes.
Finally, Attach the Stainless Steel Rail Mount Hinges to either of the Dodger side rails just below the Grab Rail attachment bolts. These will eventually be part of the connector for the new tubes that reach from the back of the new Dodger down to a new deck hinge. These tubes will replace the current piece of 1/8" cord that pulls the dodger frame aft. So the new Dodger will have a sturdy rail for crew to grab as they exit the cockpit.

Stbd side of the Dodger Frame before Modification

Close up of the Stbd Side Deck Hinge before Modifying the Frame

The Extension Internal Splint would not fit inside the
ends of the Frame. So, removed the Dodger Frame from
the Boat to take home. It hung over the back of my F150

The Outside Diameter of the Splint is just larger than the
Inside Dia of the Frame.
Hence the slot along the length of the Splint.

The Splint was still a really tight fit even with
the Slot, Here the Splint has been cut to 3.5" 
1st side Extension fitted. It's a really tight fit.
No need to rivet the Extension in place.

Considering I cut the Extension with a hand held
angle grinder, it's a pretty good fit.

Extension fitted, End Cap installed.

With the Extensions and End Caps installed on both ends of the Dodger Frame, it's time to take it back to the boat and adjust the length of the Extension with the boom in it's lowest position.

Plan is to head down to the boat on Monday to make that adjustment and to create the template for the new Dodger.

We'e hoping this goes pretty quick, but will probably take a couple of weeks. At least at this time of year (it's November 17th 2019) it's pretty cool in my Garage where I do all my sewing.

Let's see how that works out.

Making progress.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Updating the Dodger

It's due! Time to replace the Dodger

This project is going to take some time: It's the most challenging I've tackled so far. It's expensive - at least $650 (by my initial calculation, but look at the Materials page of the spreadsheet below)  dependent upon materials choice. And it's complex compared to everything I've sewn so far.

Why update it?
Old Dodger with 2 year old side windows.
Note front window folded open towards the center for ventilation.

Much of the stitching is failing, it no longer fits well - many of the snaps can no longer be used (material is probably 10-20 years old and has shrunk) and, most importantly, the top of the dodger is directly in Peggy's line of sight, so she has either to sit at the helm or stoop to see under it. I can easily see over it, but I still have to duck coming out or going into the cabin.

Step 1: Decide on the features we want.
  • Dodger height increased - at least 6" but it can be raised as much as 7.5"
  • Front window panel center opening for ventilation
  • Add Dodger frame struts to replace existing lashing from aft of top to combing.
  • Wear strips on Aft top edge of dodger (existing canvas has suffered for not having this)
Step 2: Raise the existing Dodger Frame.
  • Add a Frame Extension to the bottom of the existing frame.
  • Basically I'll remove the lower end Cap end of the main Dodger frame tube, insert a internal splint and add a new piece of 1" SS 316 tubing to the bottom and replace the end cap. Then make any adjustments before templating the new dodger (have to make sure the Boom will not touch the dodger when the sail is fully raised and the topping lift is slack)
Step 3: Follow Sailrite's example concept of templating the new canvas & windows

Step 4: Get down to the construction process - I'll detail that as I go.


Those prices are after a 10% discount as I purchased them during the Annapolis Boat Show special.
I had some of the binding left over from previous projects for Eximius, and a couple of yards of the Sunbrella and a couple of the zippers. 

With all of the materials at the ready, it's time to start on the project. But 1st, I need to go earn a few boat bucks!!! I'm sure I'll have some material left over, but still had to pay for it. It had better turn our really really well!!

I'll add new posts with pics as we (Peggy will have to help with some of the work - it's much easier to move all of this stuff around with two people involved, besides, this is catering to some of her needs (being able to see out of the dodger when it's raining)  ... at least, that's my story.

Existing Dodger - new side windows, bottom edge does not
reach the studs except for the front, the rear tensioning line
is not strong enough for someone to grab hold and they do!
The Grab rail is one of my additions, it's a huge help so they
will be incorporated in the new design.

Note the lower edge is not snapped in place. The Dodger tubes
are covered in boat blanket and the window was new a couple of
years ago, the old windows were crispy from being burnt by
contact with the tubing in the hot Florida Sunshine

The existing Dodger does not handle the running rigging lines
that now come back to the cockpit, the new Dodger will.

See you on the water!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Something Broke on the Boat

Does something have to break every time we take the boat out?

We took the boat out to Lake Boca a couple of weeks ago and noted that our Anchor light was not working, as things that could go wrong, this is not a biggy, but it does mean I need to go up the mast.

Ok, so I should have checked the circuit breaker 1st, but they rarely go bad. It didn't!

After recovering from the weekend, we both went down to the boat intent on fixing the Anchor Light.
Up the mast #1
With a Trip up the mast to see if it was just the Lamp or the wiring or the fitting. Turned out the fitting was in pieces from Sun Damage and the LED lamp was damaged, probably got wet while lit.
Mast Cap. The block with the empty connector is the old
Wind Transducer that was broken when we purchased
Eximius. The White cable under the connector is the
Anchor Light wire that slipped inside the mast.
The old Anchor Light was sealed with Silicone, but the
Lens had dozens of cracks and several missing bits
probably due to UV damage over the years.
Up the mast #2
After getting a replacement Light fitting from Boat Owners Warehouse on State Road 84, we went back to the boat the next day. I was sore from the day before, my Bosuns 'seat' is webbing and not at all comfortable, today I could not get my butt up the mast due to the discomfort and finally gave up to go and get a decent Bosuns Chair. Down to West Marine off State Road 84, I found a Harken Bosuns Chair for $229 - Wow! But it's nice and should be comfortable. Back to the boat and in no time I was up at the top of the mast.

It took about 20 mins to install the new Lamp Fitting and prepare the wire ends for crimping to the old cable that came out of the top of the mast. First I tested the light using the wires from the mast and it worked fine, I even got the polarity of the lamp the right way around 1st time!

With the Lamp installed, I just needed to attach it with Crimped Butt Joints. Fully prepared, I had the butt joints and heat shrink tubing in my tool kit. with the cables prepared for crimping, I reached into my tool bag for a Butt Joint and Crimpers. Putting one in the Crimpers, I reached up for the supply wire - Where did it go? Oh S@%t! the wire had fallen down inside the mast, absolutely no chance of retrieving it! Grrrrrr. back down the mast, go home and figure out the process.

The following weekend, without an Anchor Light, we went up to Sunrise Bay to anchor among 12 other boats from the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club (HISC) and I used a temporary anchor light for the weekend. We purchased a pair of Dinghy lights at the Annapolis Boat Show a year ago, so I just used one of those secured to the Backstay as our Anchor light. It's Bright and easily lasted the whole night long. During the weekend, I was able to pull the fallen Anchor Light cable out from the base of the mast. I also confirmed that there were two unused cables, an old VHF cable and the old Wind Transducer Cable (our New Transducer is Wireless). The VHF cable was already cut off just outside of the base of the Mast.

Back to the Boat  today (Saturday) and Backup the mast. My Neighbor offered me a used Full Fall Arrest Harness, which is just what Harken instructs users of their Bosuns Chair to use.

With Harness attached to a safety line, and my Bosuns chair attached to a climbing rig (a couple of Prussic knots), Tool bag attached to a pull up line, my phone, and wearing my Ear Tec headset, Peggy assisted me wearing her headset while working the Main Halyard Winch (safety line was the Halyard), I headed up the mast.

Once at the top, I pulled up on the old VHF wire and the attached Anchor Light cable, luckily the two passed together through the hole in the top of the mast.

Within an hour of leaving the deck to go up the mast, the Lamp was connected, insulated and tested. We were good to go.

Of course, the tool bag hoisting line got snagged on the furled jib sail and the old VHF cable got snagged on the Radar Reflector and the spreaders, but I was able to free both and retrieve them.

Once back down on the deck after Peggy lowered me via the Main Halyard winch, we checked the Anchor Light, Steaming and Deck Lights, all working great!

Time for a lunch break, clear up and head home. We're ready for our next trip out on Eximius.

Eximius, she is Special! 😏