Saturday, September 25, 2021

Autopilot Upgrade - Wiring the System

Upgrading the Autopilot Power supply

Our existing Autopilot was badly wired when installed before we purchased the boat Six years ago. Now that we're replacing the Autopilot with a new Raymarine EV-100 system, we're making sure that the power supply is up to spec, all of the other cables are new.

The Autopilot Control Unit (ACU-100), the Electronics and Wheel drive motor of the system, requires 7amps 12v DC power. Separately, the new Raymarine SeaTalkng network Backbone requires 3 to 5 amps. 

The Electrical Control panel on Eximius is planned to be rewired later this year but we'll take any opportunity to upgrade the electrical system before then.


The Electrical Control panel has a 15amp breaker for the Autopilot. With a total of a max of 7amps, I'll replace existing 15amp breaker with a 10amp breaker.

The existing wire from the breaker to the Autopilot is #16 and the round trip distance is about 30 to 40 feet. The Correct wire size for 7 amps along that length of wire is #10.

Of course, the probability is that the -ve cable to the old Autopilot is also a #16 so that will have to be changed out for a #10 also. I installed a -ve Bus Bar adjacent to the engine a couple of  years ago, however, the planned upgrade to the Electrical panel includes having new -ve bus bars inside of the electrical panel housing. There is a -ve bus bar in that area, but it's just not suitable - and has far to many wires terminated at the bus bar. I'll install a temporary -ve Bus Bar near the panel.

So, we're going to pull two Red #10 (+ve) and a Yellow #10 (-ve) wires from behind the Electrical panel, aft into the Bathroom, aft again into the area behind the aft berth stern bulkhead then to the ACU area along with all of the other wires from the Navigation system (GPS, NEMA2000, Radar, and VHF, Echo Depth Instrument). 

In an earlier post I covered the rewiring of the instruments at the Helm Nav Shelf, so all of the instrument cables now exit from the deck down into the aft berth.


The existing electronics requires 2 fused connections supplied via the Aux GPS Circuit Breaker. Another two fused connections to be supplied via the Autopilot Circuit Breaker.

I have just ordered a second fuse block (see below) in order to provide a neat install of all four of those connections.

These blocks have a transparent cover and have 4 individually fused connections, however, I expect that only two of each will be required.

There will be a seperate Terminal block for the -ve connections.


Those fuse blocks will be mounted on the Aft Bulkhead close to the ACU. 

RANT Time!
Ok, I understand that electronics manufacturers need to make the cables long enough to suite a wide variety of installations, so the cables can be quite a bit longer than required. HOWEVER - they should have a note on the installation instructions suggesting that the cables should be trimmed to a length suitable for the installation. I've seen so many installs of Boat Electronics where the installer has coiled up the wires and left them loafing about somewhere behind the various panels on the boat. Today I pulled out 6 cables each one at least 15' long that could have been as short as 5' Grrrrr! I spent over an hour figuring out which cables were no longer required and could be removed in their entirety. At least I got them all out.    But then I started on replacing the power wires for both the Garmin Echo depth finder and the Garmin GPS - I knew they were bad, but had no idea how bad! Tomorrow I'll work on replacing those cables.

RANT Off!

During a conversation with the Raymaine Tech support, I learned that there should only be a single power connection to the SeaTalkng Network backbone. My plan was to add 12v DC to that backbone. However, as they also clarified that the SeaTalkng backbone is basically identical in function to the NEMA 2000 backbone and that if they are going to be connected it should be via a SeaTalkng to NEMA 2000 (which Raymarine refer to as 'Device net') via a backbone connection and not a spur connection. That means that the 12v DC that is already provided for the NMEA 2000 network will also power the SeaTalkng backbone. One less power supply to worry about. That means that the 2nd Fuse block noted above will only provide power to the ACU-100 and not to the SeaTalkng backbone.

Down at the boat yesterday, I was able to remove a few unwanted cables (because they went nowhere and had no power on them). It required that I remove the Aft Bulkhead in the Aft Cabin, not too difficult. The port side bulkhead of the Aft Cabin also came out just to allow more access.

It will take a bit of effort to sort out the remaining cables. The Data cable from the Radar Unit cannot be cut and has about 30' of excess cable. Probably because the Radar Dome has the option to be mounted up the mast.




The bare wire connections that have to be made to the ACU-100 are the type I try to avoid, but there's no getting around it on this device. However, I can terminate the bare wire ends with Ferrules.

The ends of the bare wires that extend beyond the ferrules will be cut off. That leaves a nice and strong termination to clamp down with the Screw in wire holders of the ACU-100

Those ferrules will be used on the bare wire ends of connections for the SeaTalkng Spur cable, the Wheel Motor Power, the Rudder Position Sensor and the Power cables.

Some of those wires are just 24awg, imagine how fragile they would be if the bare wire ends were simply inserted and screwed down into place.  The kit was cheap from Amazon, worth every penny.


The old power cable for the old Autopilot is a two wire sleeved cable at the Autopilot end, but the other end is not sleeved and is not the same cable. So that whole wire has to come out as mentioned above. Sadly, the cable passes from behind that aft panel in the Aft Cabin up to the side of the Port side Cockpit locker - that means the locker has to be emptied - it's crammed! Probability is that I'll find a join in the cable that is slavered in liquid tape - I really really detest that stuff.

Anyway, while getting this part of the project done, Peggy found another leak in the cockpit, she was scrubbing it down after all the groty work I did earlier this week. The to Aft Cabin port lights are leaking. Another project, but for now I have applied Butyl Tape to where the outside port light flange attaches to the side of the cockpit seating. Another post for that.

At this point we're ready to run the power cables, 30 mins to empty the port side cockpit locker, another 30 to pull the old cable out (and the other defunct cables), same again to the the cables all the way from the 12v Control panel. Replacement should be  quicker as there'll be room in the loom cable ties for the new cables after pulling out all of the old cables.

That's Monday's job.
This project does seem to be taking a whole lot longer than expected, what's unusual about that, but we are spending time getting rid of the failed equipment and wiring. If we were installing this from scratch it would take a fraction of this time.  Oh well! Boat projects tend to do that.

Update: Here's the schematic modified after talking with Raymarine Support



Had to take a break on this as we found a couple of leaky leaky bits around the cockpit to aft cabin windows, that lost us two days.

Back on task, I removed the wooden bulkhead between the aft berth and the fuel tank in addition to the bulkhead between the aft berth and the water tank, all in order to get access to the jumble of wires that are behind those panels. So far I have pulled out another 40' of poor quality wire, bad connections and wrong sized wires.  By Saturday we had the wires pulled all the way into the main salon, just a couple more feet to go in order to get them out from the tangle of wiring behind the electrical panel. See the pic at the top of this post.

It's Labor Day Weekend, so we're doing family stuff until Tuesday, plus I'll get a bit of Canvas work done to bring in some boat bucks. Plan is to head down to the boat on Tuesday morning with the hope of running the new wiring from the circuit breakers to the fuse blocks close to the ACU and the GPS/Echo instruments.

Just in case you're wondering! Yes, we're ready to get the boat out as soon as this work is done! Working on the boat is fun and fulfilling, but we need water under the keel time.

Update Thursday Sept. 9th.
Down at the boat yesterday. Peggy spent most of the morning scrubbing down the deck, it's a constant challenge. With the power cables ran from the Cabin thru to the After berth, I was able to sort out the mess of wiring above the aft water tank. While at it (yep, another bit of project creep) I pulled the wire for the Echo Depth finder's transponder from it's old route into a much shorter and neater route which allowed for the additional wire to be coiled up neatly. Here's a pic of the current state of the wiring behind the aft bulkhead.


NEW PIC HERE


Sadly I could not find the adapter cable I had purchased from Amazon that joins the NEMA 2000 backbone to the SeaTalkng backbone - we spent way too much time searching for it. A new cable should arrive Friday. Saturday we'll go down to the boat and should complete the wiring at the Aft bulkhead, connecting the ACU and the Backbones. That should leave just a few more steps.
  • Replace the Wheel Pilot with the new one.
  • Complete the cable management of the wiring from the aft berth all the way to the main cabin.
  • Connect the Positives (Red #10) to the two circuit breakers
  • Connect the two Negatives (Yellow #10) to the -ne Bus bar at the back of the electrical control panel.
  • Test everything before doing the sea trials.
Well, Saturday was a huge success. I completed the looming of the cables in the Port Side Cockpit locker, removing about 30 old zip ties that were really not doing anything. Then completed the wiring in the aft berth, that's the cables going to the ACU, the SeaTalkng backbone connection to the NEMA 2000 backbone. Installed the Negative terminal block and connected the -ve from the ACU power connection, the -ve from the Echo depth instrument and the -ve from the GPS power connection. Then the +ves to the two fuse blocks  - 1 for the ACU and the other for the GPS & Echo Depth. Ran the ground wire from the ACU to the fuel tank grounding tag (the fuel tank is grounded to the engine) Basically got all of the wiring in the aft berth complete.

So the plan on Tuesday is to go down to the boat and run the wires from their entrance into the cabin (that's inside the sliding door cabinet above the Nav Station) and connect +v's and -v's as mentioned above, at that point we should be able to test the electronics. WooHoo!

Of course, life gets in the way! On monday the roofing company is due to arrive at our home to start work on replacing the roof and Facia. We're in Florida, so that work needs a bit of personal supervision, the last company we used 20 years ago did a carp job and had to re-do some of it due to failing an inspection. Now I know what to look for - and I'll be looking!

We may get the boat out in a week or so, won't that be sweet!

See you on the water - soon.



Sunday, September 19, 2021

Replacing the Coolant Hose on Universal M25-xp Diesel Engine

Replacing the Coolant Hose on our Universal M25-xp Diesel Engine



The short hose from the Coolant tank to the Thermostat housing appears to be breaking down near the thermostat housing. At first I  thought it was corrosion of the housing but then realized it's more likely the hose is deteriorating near the hose clamp.

Talking online with buddies on the C34 forum, they confirmed it would be ok to replace the hose with a Silicone hose.

Found one on Amazon and placed the order. It arrived on time and I just needed to spend a bit of time getting the old hose off.

After removing the hose clamps, I used a steel bent point to pull the hose away from the housing and from the coolant tank, only took a few minutes

Cleaned up the housing (Aluminium) and the tank connection (copper) and it was time to replace the hose.




 The new hose has an Elbow, so no need to try and curve it but simply cut the ends to length.

I didn't have any of the non-perforated type of hose clamps handy (not sure where they are right now) So I used the original clamps.

The new hose looks to be a good replacement. We won't be running the engine for at least a week while I complete the Autopilot upgrade project. But I will replace the clamps and then run the engine to ensure there's no leaks.

An easy job. Then it will be time to clean the engine and give it a fresh coat of engine paint.

See you on the water.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Autopilot upgrade - installing the EV-100 Sensor


Installing the Raymarine EV-1 Sensor Core


This is the new EV-1 Sensor Core, part of the Raymarine EV-100 Autopilot kit we're using to replace our existing Raymarine Autopilot - if you have read the previous posts, you know, the old unit is suffering from Alzheimer's - It doesn't know where it's going and keeps on forgetting things.






This is the old Autopilot's Compass unit. It's mounted on the bulkhead with the door to the Aft Berth, the new unit will not fit there.

The new unit has to be at least 1m (3'3") from the engine, other electronics or magnetic interferances.

Also, the top of the sensor puck has an LED that should be visible and is only visible from the top of the sensor puck, so the new sensor has to be about 12" from a deckhead (ceiling) and that really limits it's location on Eximius. We have a couple of meters long SeaTalkng cable to facilitate positioning the sensor from the ACU. In response from Raymarine, the EV-1 has to be a minimum of 1m from the ACU.  We're working on that location issue.

Finally figured out the location for the EV-1 sensor.


That is on the bulkhead between the Galley and the Aft Berth Starboard side.

The Raymarine Spur Cable is connected to a SeaTalkng Backbone via a 400mm spur cable. The backbone cable connects to a T-piece has a terminator on one end and a backbone cable on the other.

The backbone cable is secured to the existing wiring loom above the soffit under the deckhead (behind the teak piece)

I spoke with Raymarine support this morning and a really helpful guy confirmed that I should not connect the NEMA2000 to the SeaTalkng network via a spur cable, but via a backbone connection cable.





This change eliminates the 5 way backbone connector and replaces it with a single T-piece connector.
The result is a more simplistic schematic but it adds about $150 to the project. I should be able to return the unused SeaTalkng to Device net Spur cable and I'll have to sell the additional equipment on Craig's list or E-Bay. 

On yesterday's visit to the boat, I did get the cable for the Rudder Position Sensor secured to existing looms all the way to the ACU and a few of the other cables setup for install. Definitely making progress. The new connectors will not arrive until Friday next week, but I have plenty to get done before then. It does look as though the install will not be done in time for Labor Day weekend, we'll see how it goes. I could get everything else done before the last few bits arrive, so maybe we could sail that weekend. 

See you on the water - really! That's the plan.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Autopilot Upgrade - Mounting the p70s Control Head

 Mounting a Raymarine p70s Controller


The Autopilot Controller for the existing system is mounted on the Starboard side bulkhead adjacent to the Helm Wheel. To reach it we have to bend or sit down to operate the buttons, definitely not the best position for the controller.

This is the New 'p70s' Autopilot Controller. Size wise it is almost identical to the Garmin GMI 20 Instrument already mounted on the Helm Nav Shelf. So I'm making a similar mounting unit.

Sadly, the plumbing business has changed the design of their End Caps for their 3" PVC Pipe. Good news, is that the new end caps are even better. So the new mount is only two parts instead of three for the GMI 20 instrument mount.







The mount is made from 3/4" Starboard and is 6" along it's longest edge (lower left in this pic) and 5" Wide.

The back is made from a 3" PVC End Cap from lowes. $5.35

I drilled out the Starboard with a 3" hole cutter (the internal diameter of the End Cap) 

Secured the end cap to the starboard using 1" #4 philips flat head SS screws.

There's a hole in the lower side of the end cap for the connection to the SeaTalkng cable to the Backbone.





The lower edge of the Starboard is cut at an angle that matches that of the Garmin GMI 20 Instrument so they pretty well match now.

Getting the bezel off of the instrument is a little tricky when the instrument is mounted. I found using a very fine pin Pick it comes off pretty easy.







The finished product, total cost about $10 including screws, Starboard (purchased from Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale by the lb) and the End Cap.

It will be secured to the Helm Nav Shelf using a couple of screws from underneath the shelf into the bottom edge of the Starboard.

Very pleased with this part of the project.

Next part is to install this at the helm and run the cables through the cable glands near the bottom of the pedestal guard. Looks like we'll be doing that on Wednesday.





See you on the water ---- Soon! 

Update - Wednesday August 2021
Well that went well.
This morning I went down to the boat with a plan - reposition the instruments and mount the new p70s Autopilot Control head in it's new holder.


This is the Helm Nav Shelf before today's work.
The Garmin GMI-20 is on the starboard side of the shelf. The GPS mount is centered at the back of the shelf. The Garmin Echo instrument mount is on the port side of the Shelf.

That black line is a zip tie that we use to hold down notes that we keep at the helm like the bridge list for the ICW or the Dock map of the various marinas we visit.

Left side of that picture is forwards, Top is to Starboard and right is aft.








After the work, the GMI-20 is on the Port side and the Autopilot p70s is on the Starboard side.

Not shown in this picture, the Garmin Echo Depth instrument is now located to the Starboard side of the Pedestal guard.

The data and power cables are temporarily secured to the Pedestal guard but are not re-routed to their final position yet. That requires the opening of the cable gland at the foot of the Pedestal guard, pulling the wires up from the aft berth, repositioning them to the shortest side.

When completed the wires will be routed as follows:
Port Side Gland: GMI-20, GPS and Radar Cables
Stbd side Gland VHF remote, p70s, Echo Depth, Autopilot Wheel motor.

First step in that process is to clear out the Aft Berth (our Garage) so that we can get to the old Autopilot's ACU. Remove the old Fluxgate Compass, run new power cables etc. etc. Worth another post.

Again - See you on the Water.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Installing the Raymarine Rudder Position Sensor

Installing the Raymarine Autopilot Rudder Sensor (RPS)

This starts off techy, but read it to the end.



As mentioned in the previous post, the plan is to mount the RPS on the underside of the Aft Locker Shelf Support Beam. 


The RPS arm must be parallel to the Steering Radial Drive Radius when the rudder is amidships. There is a small amount of adjustment of the sensor (it has 3 extended slots in it's mounting base)




Schematic of RPS
Connection to the Steering Radial Drive


The vertical alignment of the RPS and the Tiller Pin has to be within +/- 5º Max. I'll make several Starboard Mounting plates of different thicknesses and use those that are needed to get the alignment within tolerance. I have several thicknesses of Starboard, so this should be easy. 

Well that first layout didn't work. The vertical alignment of the Tiller Pin would move everything down too low on the Steering Radial Drive - there would be huge chunk of starboard on the underside in order to clear the ridges.

Second design: Duh, looks a lot simpler.
This pic shows the underside of the Steering Radial Drive, that hole with the cable poking through is the problem for the 1st design.

Duh - Just make a bracket that can be held in place using the Thru bolt (center of the 5 in the pic) 

Basically an L shaped bracket made from 2" x 1/4" Aluminium Bar and mount the Tiller pin near the end of that bracket. There's a flat surface behind the head of that center bolt, so the bracket should be solid enough. I'll add a few brazed shims to the bracket if needed to ensure it's soli





Schematic of Tiller Pin and Support Bracket

Down at the boat again this morning with a makeshift Tiller Pin Support Bracket, just to figure out the size of the RPS mounting plate. We'll also check the max Rudder Angle, it has to be less than 60º from Center to Port and Starboard. The pic above shows the dimensions


To make the Bracket, I purchased a 24" piece of 2" x 1/8" Aluminium Bar Stock from Lowes. Marked the bar about 6" from the end. With the bar held in an Oven Gloved hand, and a plumbers Butane heat gun in the other, I heated the bend mark for 5 minutes. Then set the hot bar between a couple of garden stepping stones and bent the bar to shape. After cutting the bar to size, drilled the end hole and the Tiller mounting pin holes. Aluminium nuts and bolts hold the Tiller Pin in place, Loctite to keep them there. 

I added the two SS screws and lock nuts to add stability to where the plate is attached to the casting on the bottom of the steering radial drive. Plan is to attach the bracket using the center rudder post bolt, then tighten up on the two stabilizing screws and lock them in place with the lock nuts.




In addition to the Tiller Pin Bracket, I need to make a shim on which to mount the RPS and then mount it under the Port Side Shelf support beam.
1/4" thick Support shim 
I made 2, the other is 3/8" thick


The Install process will be:
  • Remove the Thru Bolt which prevents the Steering Radial Drive from rotating on the Ruder Post.
  • Install the new Tiller Pin Bracket on the bolt and reinsert the Bolt and secure in place.
  • Mount the RPS on the new Shim.
  • Align the shim so that the Pin on the RPS and the Tiller Pin are aligned and the RPS arm, Tiller Pin mount form a Parallelogram.
  • Run the Connector wire from the RPS forwards over the Aft Water tank and then join the loom of wires that reach the APU.

With everything prepped, I just need to get down to the boat early enough to be the heat or late enough for it to have started cooling down. Currently, the daily noonday temp is typically in the high 90ºF :(

Anticipating that I should be able to complete the RPS install in just one more trip to the boat, I'll hold off publishing this post until then.   Tuesday August 10th 2021

Update:  Thursday August 12 2021
Well, after getting all of that prep done, we took a break on Tuesday to get our Vaccinations - not Covid, we did that back in January, no, on Tuesday we got our Shingles Vaccine - shot #1 no biggy. Well, no biggy till Wednesday morning. Couldn't sleep all night and woke up unable to lift my left arm. Ibuprofen did not dull the pain! Wow, it gave me a little insight to what people suffer when they lose control of a limb. So Wednesday was a write off, I was able to steer my electric lawn mower, but very tenderly. So I mowed the lawn single handed.

Thursday almost 100% back in action. Lifting my elbow as high as my shoulder was slightly painful, but I felt I could make progress on this project.

We were down the boat by 10am and quickly got to work. 

Step 1 was to remove the center bolt. This pic shows the two shelf support braces on either side of the Steering Radial Drive. Removing the bolt took some doing, over 1/2 Hour to get it out, glad I'm a skinny guy.  That small USB powered rechargeable battery fan helped me keep my cool.

The bolt was a really tight fit through the rudder post, it needed a little persuasion but there's no room to swing a cat, barely room to tap the bolt with a hammer (of course I had a nut on the end so that the thread was not damaged.)

With the bolt out I took a break. The plan was to divide the job into steps. Step 1 done, got the bolt out.

Step 2  fit the Tiller Pin Bracket.  Step 3 install the Rudder Position Sensor with it's mounting plate. Step 4 fit the connecting stud between the Tiller Pin and the RPS pin.



After sweating for another hour, the Tiller Pin bracket is installed. There was no need for the stabilizing bolts, it's secured really well just using the Center Bolt.

This photo was taken after the install was completed, it shows the Connecting stud already installed.












Peggy had a good idea! Use a clamp to hold the RPS unit mounting plate to the underside of the shelf support braces.

I didn't have a suitable clamp on board, but I did have a velcro strap, it worked like a charm. That probably saved the day, I just don't see how I could have held that mount in place and screwed the plate to the underside of the shelf support brace.

Thanks Peggy.





This shows the completed install. the RPS is screwed to that Green plastic plate which is then screwed onto the underside of the Shelf support brace.

The biggest issue is getting the alignment correct and I'm not sure how accurate it is. This area is really difficult to work in.

The RPS has 3 slots around its circumference, that allows for some adjustments. The Connecting stud also has about 1/2" adjustment due to the two nuts on the connecting stud. 


Now that it's completed, I took this set of images.
But just to give it some context, this job involved quite a bit of Boat Yoga.

Getting into the aft locker / lazarette, takes some doing, but getting down into position in order to be able to reach the underside of the Steering Radial Drive requires a bit more flexibility.

I'm on my second shirt in this pic, the first was sodden by the time I finished installing the Tiller Pin Support Bracket.

Peggy took a couple of pics when I was not looking.







With the Rudder Position Sensor installed, we're ready for the next step. Run the wire from the RPS to the Autopilot Control Unit (ACU) and Install the EV-1 Sensor Core, both those jobs are easy by comparison to this part of the project.

Total time to install the RPS at the Boat -  3½ Hours. Plus the loss of a few pints of sweat equity.

See you on the Water.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Upgrading our Autopilot - Planning

Planning the Upgrade to our Autopilot

As covered in the previous post (Click here to view), we're upgrading our Autopilot replacing the original unit that suffers from Alzheimer's.

I ordered the major parts as a kit from Defender, added the Rudder Position Sensor kit from West Marine and drew a schematic to ensure I have everything.

Autopilot Schematic
Waiting on the SeaTalkng to SeaTalkng Connector



I missed the cable between the SeaTalkng Spur T's It's on order from Amazon. Should arrive tomorrow (Friday 8/6) so the system will be ready to install starting Saturday.

1st step is to install the RPS Rudder Position Sensor - that will be located in the Aft Locker. It will require some fabrication as the Sensor has to be mounted within certain parameters. There's a great how to article on the Marine How To site. So I'm pretty sure that the first visit down into the Bowels of the Aft locker will be an exploratory run, just to figure out how to mount the sensor. The rest of the install is easy, just mounting the various parts and making the electrical connections.



Here's where I'm considering installing the EV-1 the Attitude Sensor. That bulkhead is about parallel with the Helm Pedestal, the old Autopilot ACU is below the Circled area. Would make for a easy location and out of the way if anyone ever slept in the Aft Berth.

Locating it there would also reduce the amount of cable required to connect the p70s and the ACR / SeaTalkng Backbone.

We were down at the boat today progressing the new Cabin Top Winches, the outside temp was 97ºF but with high humidity is was a lot more painful. So no time to check out the location of the Rudder Position Sensor.

At home this afternoon, I did register all of the Raymarine new parts: Wheel Pilot ST4000, ACU-100, Ev-1 and the Rudder Position Sensor. Their site is not that easy to navigate, it's asking to 'Upload Documents' WTF? So I uploaded a pic of each of the Bar Code strips from each of the units. Then asked Raymarine support if I got it right? The Warranty on all of the products is dependent upon getting the Registration right. Now that's a Get Out Of Jail Free card if ever I saw one. Should have an answer in 3 biz days, that will be August 11th. We'll see.

Saturday August 7th. 2021
Took some pics of the area by the Steering Radial Drive where the Rudder Position Sensor will be located.


This shows the distance from the outer edge of the Aft Locker Shelf support beam (2" x 4") to be about 10" from the center of the rudder post.

That 2" x 4" is not a C34 original, a past owner installed them in order to mount a shelf which covers the Steering Radial Drive and improves the storage of the Aft Locker.

I might touch up the finish of the woodwork and the shaft guide post. Probably use the Same epoxy paint that was used for the bilges last January.


This pic shows the distance of the Radius of the Steering Radial Drive to be approximately  8 1/2" inches

The optimum distance of the Rudder end of the Sensor arm is 5.5" 








Looks like I can drill out where marked in this photo. That will allow a plate to be position on the underside of the Steering Radial Drive.  A piece of Starboard screwed through those holes will make it easier to attach the Tiller Pin.






This shows the underside of the Steering Radial Drive where I hope to attach that piece of Starboard.

The underside of the 2" x 4" aft locker shelf support is not quite level with the underside of the Steering Radial Drive. So a couple of pieces of Starboard will allow the Sensor to be mounted (inverted) closer to the Tiller pin, it needs to be no more than 12" from the tiller pin. So that looks very doable.

Might take a couple of trips down to the boat to manufacture and fit those pieces of Starboard.

So the planning so far:-
  • Rudder Position Sensor can be mounted on the underside of the Aft Locker Shelf support - Stbd side. 
  • Tiller Pin can be mounted on a piece of starboard screwed to the underside of the Steering Radial Drive.
  • The ACU-100 can be mounted where the old ACU is currently installed on the Aft Bulkhead of the Aft Berth as shown in the pic above.
  • The EV-1 can be mounted just above the new ACU-100
  • The p70s Autopilot Control head can be mounted where the Garmin Echo Depth instrument is currently located, we'll have to figure out where to move the Echo instrument. The Echo Depth Instrument can be moved to the Port Side Pedestal wing, we'll just remove the temporary cup holder that is mounted there at present.
Next trip to the boat will be to start on the RPS install, it will have to be early in the day as it just gets too hot right now.

We're planning on taking the boat out on August 16th for a couple of nights, it would be nice to have the Autopilot installed ready for testing on that trip.

See you on the water, maybe not even holding onto the helm.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Upgrading our Autopilot

Upgrading our Raymarine Wheel Pilot to a Raymarine Evolution EV-100 Auto pilot.

Our Autopilot has Alzheimer's - keeps losing it's memory and not sure where it's going. Time to upgrade.

After lots of research, despite wanting to have a Garmin Autopilot to match the rest of our Garmin Electronics, they just don't have one that is suitable for our size boat that would fit within our electrical power budget. So the Raymarine Evolution EV-100 it is.

The model I selected is the EV-100 Sail Wheel Pilot. From everything I have read on the subject, it's best to have a RPS (Rudder Position Sensor) attached (link here). Also, the Evolution system should be able to use the data and some commands from our NEMA 2000 network and Garmin 741xs Chartplotter.

Here's our current Helm Electronics setup. The Garmin GMI instrument on the Starboard Side of the 'Navigation Electronics Shelf' is mounted in a DIY holder. It's made from a piece of PVC piping and a piece of Starboard material.

The new Raymarine kit includes a p70s Pilot Controller. I specifically chose the p70s rather than the p70. The format of the p70s is more closely aligned to the Garmin GMI instrument, so if I match the housing of the GMI and mount the p70s where the existing Garmin Echo Depth instrument display is (on the port side of the Navigation Electronics Shelf' ) it will add a degree of order to the shelf. 

We'll have to figure out where to mount the Garmin Echo, probably below the shelf.



The new Autopilot has similar modules to the old system just a more updated / improved feature set.

Just a quick note here. The manuals suck! They don't even clearly identify all of the components of the system because they include the components of several other systems. It takes a lot of reading to figure out which parts of the manual are applicable to the system I purchased.

The Evolution system has:

  • ACU 100 (The Brain)
  • p70s Controller
  • EV-100 Attitude Heading Reference Sensor
  • Evolution Wheel Drive
Optional equipment:
  • RPS - Rudder Position Sensor.
The Kit includes a SeaTalkng Backbone, 2 SeaTalkng T Connectors, 2 End terminators and cables for each of the devices.

Not included are the SeaTalkng to Device net Male connector (connects NEMA 2000 to SeaTalkng) Note: That cable has to connect to a NEMA 2000 T Connector which requires a NEMA 2000 Male Connector. The cable is available in both Male and Female versions.

 I did need to order a few things to go with the kit. The RPS as mentioned, the SeaTalkng to Device Net cable, a spare NEMA 2000 T connector and a 3m SeaTalkng to SeaTalkng cable to connect from the SeaTalkng backbone to the p70s instrument.  Those should all arrive by August 6th. But as Covid is having another surge, it may impede delivery so I'm expecting they will arrive mid August. Fingers are crossed.

Location of the system parts is the first step in Installation. The Raymarine manuals repeat that the p70s should not be adjacent to the Compass and other magnetic equipment. However, every installation that I've seen on YouTube has shown the instrument being installed almost as close to the compass as it could be. At least our location of that instrument should be slightly further from the Compass.

The old Autopilot ACU is located on the Aft bulkhead of the Aft Berth just to port of the Helm wheel cables. The new ACU could be there.

The SeaTalkng Backbone could be close to the ACU but I would prefer that it was not on display and subject to being accidently knocked.

The EV-1 Sensor location is a little more problematic. Away from the engine, magnetic devices or large chunks of metal (like the spare anchor in the Lazarette) or Electrical wiring runs. We've decided that the best option is to go down to the boat and determine where to place it. The existing 'Magnetic Fluxgate Compass' unit is mounted outside of the Aft Berth access door but the new EV-1 will not fit in that location. We'll figure it out.

Lastly, the Wheel Drive is a direct replacement for our existing Wheel Drive, we're only changing it for the new one because I'm sure that Raymarine has made some improvements in the design, mechanical as it is. The new Wheel Drive also has the new Drive Motor - and though I could change the motor out to the old wheel drive, might as well just go ahead and use the new one. I'll keep the old unit until it's considered 'Hording' and then give it to the sailing club's flea market.

The new system does seem to need two power supply points, one to the SeaTalkng backbone and the other to the ACU. I'm contacting Raymarine to confirm that, shouldn't be a problem as we already have a dedicated Auto Pilot Circuit Breaker on the main Electrical Control Panel.

Ok, that describes the system, components and the plan to locate them.


From my previous experience working on Autopilots, the wiring has been an issue, particularly when the wiring was not via a Plug and Socket, such as the Power Supply, motor connection and the SeaTalkng connection to the ACU. The wires are typically far to small to fit properly inside of a screwed connection. 

This Ferrule Crimping Kit should take care of that issue. 
Oh! it has 2000 Ferrules! that should suffice for, well, ForEver!

It was only $30 on Amazon.




There's quite a few projects lining up for Eximius, as the last few bits for this one don't arrive till mid August, it's dropping down the priority list (see the To Do List - Projects tab at the top of this page)

Friday, July 23, 2021

Installing New Winches on Catalina 34 Pt.2

Installing New Winches on Catalina 34 Pt.2

Had an idea. Would fender washers cover up the underside of the old bolt hole on the underside of the cabin roof when I drill the new holes for the new winches?

The existing bolts are secured with 1" washers, spring washers, hex nut and hex acorn nuts. If I replace the 1" washer with a 1 1/2" washers they will probably cover up the old holes adjacent to the new holes.

That simplifies things as matching the finish on the underside of the cabin roof is nearly impossible.


Found washers on Amazon, $24 for 10, found them at the local Broward Bolt for just $4.50+tax. $4.82 such a deal.

They didn't have the new bolts in 316 Stainless, looking elsewhere for those, probably available at ACE Hardware.

Also needs some Epoxy Resin and Hardner.











The old bolts were bent, I'm guessing that was due to poorly drilled holes (not straight / vertical) and I don't have a portable drill guide, so I purchased one of these on Amazon. $8. 




Purchased 10 Stainless Steel 1/4 #20 Bolts from Broward Bolt.
Each bolt will have to be cut to length as all 5 are different lengths.

The original bolts were all bent, not sure why, but it could be that the underside of the cabin roof is not parallel to the winch base plinth.

When I drill the new holes they will be 5/16" to give a bit of wiggle room.

Now, the underside of the cabin roof where the bolt holes exit is not horizontal, but not wildly out of alignment. The new washers have 5/16" holes which should allow enough slack for them to align with the surface.

Purchased 3" x 1/4 #20 Flat Head Bolts to replace all of the winch mounting boxes and a Tube of 2 part Epoxy.

The hole drilling process will be:
  • Mark the new holes
  • Drill through using the guide
  • Route out the plywood core around all of the holes, new and old.
  • Mask off the underside of all holes
  • Mix Resin and fill the holes, let it cure
  • Re-drill the new holes
  • Countersink the top edge of the new holes and apply butyl tape around the holes
  • Apply Butyl tape around the screw heads and the base of the new winch.
  • Push the bolts through, secure with the washers, spring washers, hex nuts and tighten all down.
  • Cut the bolts down to length with my Dremel and secure the hex nuts with the Acorn nuts.

Ok, that's the plan.
I'll take pics and update this post. Should get this done this next week.

Saturday August 7th. 2021

Finished!
It took a few extra trips to the boat. That's because I screwed up (pun intended) when I purchased the new Screws - I should have purchased 3 1/2" Long Screws Grrrr. Worse because the 3" fit the short holes and I mistakenly thought I had cut the remaining screws too short. I hadn't. 

Other than that screw up, I followed the process with only a slight change.  I drilled out the existing holes and the new ones with a 1/2" drill bit. Filled them with Resin, let it set for 24 hours and then redrilled 1/4". Finally I drilled 9/32" to allow the bolts to align a little when the nuts are installed. That worked well.

I figured the the original bolts bent during tightening (over tightening?) as the underside of the cabin top is not parallel to the Winch bases. 

The good news is that the new Fender Washers cover the old holes on the underside of the cabin top very neatly.

Here's some pics of the process.



Old Port Side Winch removed. Base ready to be cleaned up.

The goop looks like old grease from maintainence.

Oh, the Filter holders in the background are just drying in the Sun, it's part of our keep the fresh water system clean. We remove the Fresh Water filters whenever the boat is not going to be used for a few weeks, it's not likely that we'll take it out until around August 16th. A few projects remain before then.









Using a Drill guide to make sure the new holes being drilled into the cured resin are vertical to the Winch Base.

Holes were drilled with 1/8" pilot holes, then 1/4" thru to the cabin and finally 1/2" to just above the cabin liner.
Those holes were then filled with Resin and left to cure for 24 hours. I did use a Single sided razor to clean off the excess resin.











New holes drilled ready to be countersunk.




















Starboard Winch fully installed. 
The Lewmar winches are really easy to service, no tools required, but a very small screwdriver to help ease out the brass position lock segments. 

Next service is due in January 2022.

Really this is an easy project. Important points are that the bolts need to be 3 1/2" #20 1/4" Flat Head Phillips head screws. The washers were 1 1/2" 316 Stainless steel.  

I used a 4 1/2" Cut off wheel in a shore powered grinding tool to cut the excess lengths of the through bolts. Trick - wind a nut onto the screws before cutting, it's easy to use the nut to clean up the end of the screw from the grinding/cut off operation.


Any question about this upgrade? Just make a comment.

See you on the water.



Monday, July 19, 2021

Replacing the Fixed Port Windows

Replacing the Fixed Port Windows on our Catalina 34


The fixed port windows on both sides of the boat are most certainly original, so now 34 years old and are showing it.

The C34 forum has some great advice on the project to replace them.

The Port side aft window has an opening port for the bathroom and the Stbd aft window is actually split into two pieces but installed touching each other. In both cases, the new windows will be single piece and exclude the bathroom window opening. 

Supplies

3M VHB 1" Tape - Amazon

Dow Corning 795 Black Silicone Sealant - Grainger Industries

40 Grit Sand Paper

Acetone  

1/4" Acrylic 4 pieces
Prospect Plexiglas Plastics https://goo.gl/maps/XZKJo1M8mxR9rmAz6
836 NE 44th St, Oakland Park, FL 33334 
19545646820
    • Port Side Forward 39x9 appx
    • Port Side Aft 40x9 appx
    • Stbd Side Forward 39x9 appx
    • Stbd Side Aft 40x9 appx
Image showing Catalina 30 Window Install

The pic above shows the way that the windows are installed on another Catalina model. The concept is the same. However, my install will follow the concept shown by Andy of Boatworks Today (Here's a link to his video online)

Process
Plan is to do this job with a fellow Catalina 34 owner that keeps his boat about 1/4 mile from where we keep ours.

  • Make cardboard template of each window (that's 8 templates for 2 boats)
  • Get replacement windows made at the Plastics company
  • Prepare new windows
    • Trim 1" of protective cover from inside of windows
    • Wipe rims with alcohol
    • Fix (glue) temporary handle to outside of window for placement control
  • Remove the old windows (have waterproof covering handy in case of rain)
  • Clean window recess 
  • Paint inside edge with black or white paint
  • Paint fiberglass segment between galley window and aft cabin window (new window will be one piece)
  • Apply 3M VHB tape to outside edge of window sunken area
  • Trim tape to have round edges and very close joins
  • Plant window into opening on outside using the temporary handle.
  • Press from outside all the way around the window edges.
  • Mask off the fiberglass around the window to minimize silicone spread
  • Open Dow Corning silicone crimp end with pair of snipe nose pliers
  • Apply silicone around window and fair with wet finger
  • Peel off masking tape on outside
  • Peel off protective tape on outside
  • Peel off protective tape on inside
So, that's the plan.

I'll update this post as we make progress.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Boat Projects - keeping track of them

Keeping Track of Boat Projects.

When we get to take the boat out, even though we have owned her for six years, we still have additions to the list of 'things to do' and keeping track of those 'projects' is a challenge.

Options:

  • Google's Keep Notes 
  • Google Sheets
  • Blog Entry - updated as projects get done.
  • Log book entries ( our log book is online and just not used enough!)
  • Note book - the paper type
  • Rocket Book - the jury is not out on these.
  • Remarkable II - digital note book - I really like this idea.
I use Google workspace for just about all of my documentation. I keep our equipment manuals in our google drive, drawings, spreadsheets, notes, etc. all on Google Drive. I find it very appealing, easy to use and very accessible. I regularly download all of the drive contents to an external HDD so that I can get access to the material if we're out of cellphone range. Of course, there is also the big plus that if I link to a drive item then it's always updated when I make a change. So Google workspace gets really high marks.

So now it comes down to just the workspace options. 

Our Service history is already stored as a spreadsheet in google drive, the link to it in the Tabs at the top of this blog displays that spreadsheet. So maybe a 'Things to Do' spreadsheet would work.

How complex should the list be?
Here's my first pass




Monday, July 5, 2021

Dealing with Poop

Dealing with the Poop on the boat.

The Head on our boat works very well, we service the pump regularly and care for the Holding Tank after every pumpout.

We have a Holding Tank Sensor to let us know the level of the Poop, however it has never worked properly. A couple of months ago, I installed a clear (see thru) access panel in the top of the tank so that we could see the glorious contents. The word 'Sweet' comes to mind.

After a 3mile off shore pump out a few weeks ago, I could see, through the access panel, that there was a build up near the outlet for the macerator that restricted the flow to the pump. So I planned to flush the tank out, not a pleasant prospect, but you gotta to what you gotta do! In this case it involved #2 do do.



Part of our Poop Protocol is to pump out the tank often and to not put anything into the toilet that we did not eat or drink - no loo paper. Instead, we have a supply of brown paper baggies. All loo paper is put in a baggie.

So this weekend we flushed out the tank. Basically I arranged for a pump out at the dock we were visiting, and during the pump out I flushed the tank with a pressurized hose nozzle. The dock hand was very accomodating and extended the pump out process while I repeatedly flushed the inside walls and bottom of the holding tank.

The good news! Not only did we remove some of the longer term residents of the holding tank, but now the Tank Level Sensor works - for the 1st time!!


See you on the water.


Installing New Winches on Catalina 34 Pt.1

 Replacing the Cabin Top Winches on our Catalina 34

We have two winches mounted on the cabin top beneath the dodger. The port side winch is used to adjust the Jib Halyard, Topping Lift and if required, the 1st and 2nd Reef Downhaul lines. The starboard side winch is used for the Main halyard, Mainsheet and if required, the 1st and 2nd Reef Outhaul lines.

Both are Lewmar 30 winches but only the Stbd winch is self tailing, so the port winch has to be changed out. West Marine had a BOGO offer a few months ago so I purchased two new Lewmar 30 Winches.

I'll be posting the old winches on Craigs List, someone will get a bargain.

Inspecting the mounting of both winches indicated that the Port Winch should be an easy change out as the bolt pattern on the inside of the cabin roof, inside of the Head compartment, match those of the new winch. However, the Stbd winch bolt pattern show that the bolts are not perpendicular and so the bolts do not form a regular pattern where they protrude through the cabin roof in the Aft Berth.


The change out of the port side winch should be really easy. Just dismantle the old winch and remove the nuts from beneath the cabin roof, then lever up the winch. Clean the area, apply Butyl tape to waterproof the holes. The new winch will need to be dismantled, easily done, no tools required, then mount the new winch, tighten up the nuts and rebuild the dismantled winch - all done.

The starboard winch is a little more complex. Initially the same process. Dismantle the winch, remove the nuts from the underside of the cabin roof, lever up the winch and clean up the area. 

Now the tricky bit. This winch takes the load of the Main Halyard! No weakness tolerated, so I have to fix the holes in the cabin roof rather than just use the old, misaligned holes.

The process is to clear out the area where the holes are misaligned, fill them with epoxy and filler, let it cure, then redrill the correct size holes. I asked the guys on the C34 forum and they suggested that the process described is good, but when I remove the old starboard winch I may find that all is well. 

Update July 3rd 2021

Well, that didn't go as planned! 

It turns out that the bolt hole pattern in the new winches are not the same as the old. At best only 3 of the 5 holes can be aligned. So that means I have to fill the existing holes, drill new ones before fitting the new winches.

The pic shows the underside of the old port side winch, it looks cruddy, but it's actually in pretty good shape.


Not only do the new winch bolt holes not align with the old but the old holes were badly drilled as can be recognized by the 5 bent bolts that held the winch down to the cabin top.





A secondary problem is that the existing bolt ends are visible i the Head on the underside of the cabin top.

I really don't want to have the old and new holes visible, it will be ugly. So my plan it to place a plate (Stainless Steel, Wood or Starboard) such that it covers the holes. That way the new bolt holes will extend through the Winch, cabin Top and the plate, which should result in a nice clean finish.

Of course, I don't have any epoxy resin to fill the holes, back to the store!