Sunday, April 30, 2023

A really good headlamp

I'm impressed by this headlight

I tend to go through headlamps on my boat. They fail mostly because of corrosion or fail to hold a charge and then have to be replaced and worst of all, they have been awkward to turn on.

I don't have banana sized fingers, but some of the headlamps I had were difficult to turn on and off, primarily because it was difficult to find the switch when the lamp is on my head!

The Slonik headlamp should last a lot longer.
#1 It has a standard rechargeable battery, readily available on Amazon. So it's quite reasonable to have a second battery fully charged then the light should be good for 8 hours on max brightness.

#2 Corrosion. Mostly the problem is that the charging port cover is not really moisture proof. The Slonik charging port is hidden inside of the metal cover of the on/off switch, one has to unscrew the on/off switch until the charging port is exposed.

#3 And this is a big thing for me. The on/off switch is not a skimpy little switch which is awkward to locate, it's a big button on the end of the light, easily located, no need to fidget around trying to find the switch.

And there's More!

Most headlamps have several modes, and it's a pain trying to select one. The Slonik light has one single control button. Press it once to turn it on, Press and hold it in to switch between the High to Low illumination level, It has 6 levels, just hold the switch in until the lamp dims to the desired setting. Better still - if one selects a lower light level, it remembers it when the lamp is turned off, so turning it back on returns to the same selected level.

It's very sturdy, comfortable and practical. I would give it 10 stars.

No, I'm not being sponsored in any way, just really pleased to get a decent quality headlamp that I believe will last on our sailboat.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Refinishing the Galley Woodwork

Refinishing the Galley Woodwork - The Galley Drawers

Having spent a lot of effort, time and money on the boat's electrical system, it's time to revamp the Cabins.

How do you eat an Elephant - who would want to, but if you, then one bite at a time. The same goes for the interior woodwork in the boat.  Phase 1 - The Galley.

The Galley has 3 drawers, the two in view with a drop down flap at the bottom for 'additional storage' Ha! One thing short on our boat is galley storage!

As can be seen in this pic, the cabinet is pretty dark.

The cabinet is easily removed. I have previously cut the depth down to allow for the Water Filters that are now mounted immediately forward of the two drawers.

The hinges for the flap are pretty shot, not only corroded, but actually the metal has split.  New hinges from Amazon fit perfectly in the old screw holes.

BTW, I have no clue of the purpose of the two wooden strips on the inside ( topside in the pic ) of the lower flap. Anyone know please let me know.

About two hours of sanding and three coats of water based polyurethane and the cabinet looks a whole lot better. The finish is much lighter and when the rest of the cabin woodwork is as light as that it should make a substantial difference.

Note, the original drawer fronts and the lower flap were not made to match, I'm sure they are Teak but appear to be from wildly different bits of a tree. 

This photo shows the difference, the Cutlery drawer on the left is not refinished yet, that's this weekends project. 

Not sure how I'll refinish the fiddles around the counter yet, sanding is pretty dusty. Perhaps Peggy can manage the wet-n-dry vacuum or the Dyson while I operate the sander. I'll have to tape off the white counter top and the white cabinet areas to avoid sanding those.

That little piece below the cooker is only held in place by 3 screws, so that should be easy.

I figure if I do just one piece a week, it won't take long. But then again..... It's a boat! 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Replacing the Coolant hoses

Time to replace the Engine Coolant Hose

While re-installing the Alternator after the new Balmar Serpentine Belt Pulley had been installed, I noticed that one of the two engine coolant hoses were kinked, when Peggy saw that, her nursing instinct kicked in and her urging me to replace it.

I really like Silicone Hoses and found Flexfab - 3/8" ID x 1 ft (Sold Per Foot) 5526 Blue Silicone Heater Hose 10mm J20R3 Class A 350F Radiator Coolant Part Number 5526-038, on Amazon.

I ordered 6' which would give me some to spare, 5' might have been enough.

Also purchased Yoebor Brass Hose Barb Fitting 3/8" Barbed x 3/8" Barbed 90 Degree Elbow Connector (Pack of 2)

Down at the boat it only took a few minutes to remove the 4 hose clamps from the old hoses and then apply a bit of elbow grease to pull them off their fittings.

I cut a couple of inches of the new hose and attached one end to one of the brass elbows using a new hose clamp. Then I attached the other end of the short piece of hose to the fitting on the side of the coolant pump Then cutting another piece of the silicone hose I attached one end to the brass elbow by the coolant pump fitting. One more end on that hose and one hose change out complete.
The other hose fitting on the coolant pump is horizontal and so it's not kinked when it turns towards the other ends of the hoses which are connected to the Water Heater hoses via brass fittings not quite visible in the top photo on the left ( Stbd Side )

With the two hoses replaced and tidied up with some zip ties, it looked good. I probably only spilt maybe a table spoon of coolant as the engine hadn't run for about 4 days. I still ran the engine for 20 mins to make sure it was cooling ok, it was.

It looks really neat now, the hose clamp ends have been bent back so that they can't snag the other hose nor my hands when working on the engine.

I know, time to clean up the engine again and apply some spray paint. It's on my honeydoes list.

Yes, I cleaned up the spillage. :)

See you on the water.

We''re gearing up for the West Palm Beach Regatta next weekend. Just a couple of projects to do, is'nt there always 'just a couple' ??

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Switching to Lithium ( LiFePo4 ) batteries. ( Pt. 4 )

This should be the final report on the installation of LiFePo4 Batteries on Eximius.

Here's the latest status of the install. ( Monday April 18th 2023 )

  • New Batteries - Installed
  • Solar Controller - reprogrammed
  • Victron Multiplus  - reprogrammed

To Do:
  • DC to DC charger - need to reprogram - set the source voltage to start and stop charging.
  • Balmar MC 618 Alternator External Regulator - need to program for LiFePo4 profile.
  • Install Battery Restraint System.
  • Secure Ancillary fuse holders within Battery Bay

That shouldn't take long, installing the battery restraint system will take the most time. The new batteries are less than 1/3rd of the mass of the old Trojan T105's but they still need to be secured to stop them moving around in heavy seas.  The plan is to use one of three methods. Aluminum Bars to hold the batteries in position. Use webbing straps to secure the batteries to the battery bay and, lastly, to secure them in position using plastic wedges that fit the battery bay really well with no chance of coming out of position.

The old batteries were held down by a framework of Aluminum 1.5" 1/4" angle, but they were showing lots of corrosion from the Acid in the batteries that vented out. There's no acid in the LiFePo4 batteries so that should not be a problem I have plenty of Aluminium square tubing, it's easy to cut and bolt together.

The plastic wedges are an easy solution but not as secure as the metal or webbing option. I'll take materials to cover both choices

Another Monday visit to the boat. 

We have 3 projects to complete before our next sail: Complete the battery install, Rebed the Chainplates at the Deck on both sides, scrub down the boat to clean off the grot that was left behind after the major flooding that occured in Fort Lauderdale this past week.

So maybe we'll be ready by the end of the week.

Tuesday April 19th.

Pretty much wrapped up this upgrade!

DC to DC charger programming is complete.

Battery Restraint System installed

Last thing to do is to secure the Fuse holders for the Balmar +ve Sensing wire, the other fuse holder is now obsolete, it was the Sensing wire for the old Lynx External Regulator that has been removed.

The solution is to secure it to the top of the LiFePo4 battery using 3M VHB double sided tape.

Not the best shot. This is looking into the battery bay area from outboard ( Stbd Side ) from on top of the water tank cover.

A better pic showing the fused +ve Busbar and the disconnect switch - I really want to put a cover over the exposed connections on the back of that switch.
A seond pic showing the same area, the -ve Busbar is on the right, it's cover is installed.
Here's a pic showing the battery restraint method.
The webbing straps are secure to Stainless Steel Footman straps on the outboard side of the battery bay.
Note: the screws for the Footman straps are about 1/2" above the top of the midships water tank, I did check before drilling those holes.

That rectangular hole was for the old Lead Acid Battery Hold down System.

The Inline fuse for the Balmar MC 618 regulator battery sense wire is not secured, as mentioned, I'll secure it to the top of the battery with 3M VHB double sided tape.

The white packing foam is just to apply a gentle downwards pressure on the top of the batteries.

So, two things left to do: Reprogram the Balmar Regulator for LiFePo4 batteries and Secure that Fuse holder. 

Today as we had a break in the wet weather today, we were also able to re-bed the two forward Chain plates. We ( me ) also replaced the Engine Raw Water Strainer holder with a replacement as the other had broken months ago and it has been on the list but no need to deal with it. We had a new one in boat, so today we got that done.

Very happy with the way this turned out. Now I need to get an electric expresso coffee maker for the boat - I've earned it.


Thursday, April 13, 2023

Switching to Lithium ( LiFePo4 ) batteries. ( Pt. 3 )

So close - nearly completed the LiFePo4 install 

It was a very soggy day in Fort Lauderdale today but we decided to go ahead and make progress installing the LiFePo4 batteries.

Down at the boat I removed the battery hold down beams and then the 4 Trojan T105 6v batteries. That didn't take long. It took longer to clean up the battery bay box and remove the Aluminium angle bars that were part of the old battery hold down bracing.

As planned, I used the Oscillating cutter to remove a rectangle from around the Battery Disconnect Switch so that the switch could be installed and secured in place with it's large locking nut. Ok, it's not a locking nut, I just have to tighten it down as much as possible.

With the switch installed, next was the -ve Bus Bar, 4 holes and 4 screws - done. Next I cut the existing 1/0 Yellow -ve Cable from the Shunt to fit to the -ve Bus Bar. The wire is 1/0 Tinned Copper stranded wire. The new Terminal just fit in the crimper but I realized that the new ring terminals I had purchased were 1 AWG, not 1/0 AWG, so I only had 3 1/0 AWG Ring Terminals. 

I made a quick phone call to East Coast Electric to see if they had any 1/0 5/16" Ring Terminals, nope! But they did suggest Wards Marine Electrics and they did have them. Not cheap! it cost $61 for 14 terminals. Phew!  Worst, my Hydraulic Crimper cannot handle those 1/0 terminals - Grrrr.

Ok, I didn't want to leave the boat without power overnight while I find a suitable crimper. So I made up a couple of 10AWB wires and terminals to connect the 1st of the 3 LiFePo4 batteries up to power the boat overnight.  That took about 10 minutes and we had power. I didn't connect the Victron Batter Sense wire nor the Battery Temperature sensors, so the Victron is not reporting the status of the system except for the power consumption ( that data comes from the Shunt ).

So the boat has power for the bilge pump, the solar is turned off and there's no shore power also the engine will not be run till we're finished with the install.

I found a Hydraulic Crimper on Amazon, it's on it's way. Should be able to finish the job on Wednesday.

It arrived the next day ( Tuesday ) and  I went down to the boat to complete the install on Wednesday

Looks like a decent crimper, only issue is that the dies are marked in Metric mm2 but their user manual has a conversion chart.

If you watched the weather in SoFla this week, you'll be aware of the major flooding storm we had in Fort Lauderdale - we were on the boat when that started.

The good news is that we installed all three of the LiFePo4 batteries and completed the wiring. The new Crimper worked great. Before we left from the boat 3 of the 4 old Trojan T105 batteries were in the back of the truck. We often hear about the benefits of LiFePo4 v Lead Acid batteries. Well moving the Trojans out of the boat is a task! Getting them individually to the dock is a challenge then onto the dock and up the 5 steps across the lawn down 5 steps out of the back yard and up into the truck took some efforts. I can carry 2 of the 100Ah LiFePo4 Chin batteries in one hand! The weight has a big impact. I'm wondering if it will affect the boats normal lean to Starboard. We're moving over 300lb and replacing it with just over 100lb. True, they are pretty close to the center line, but definitely on the stbd side of that.

With the batteries installed and the wiring complete, it was time to head home, truck windscreen wipers working overtime. I first checked that the Victron system was up and running, but as mentioned, all of the chargins sources were off so I didn't complete the programming of the Solar Controller, Multiplus and the Balmar Alternator Regulator.  Plan was to return to the boat after the storm to complete that.

Thursday - Storm has passed, it dumped 25" yes, over 2 feet, of water, our dock was 20" underwater but the pilings kept the boat from impacting the dock and our normal 8 lines kept the boat in a safe place.

I headed down to the boat this morning but could not get there. The Broward Blvd Exit from South Bound I95 was closed. Trying a detor via Sunrise Blvd and surface streets, I was unable to get to Broward Blvd. When the vehicle in front of me had water higher than the lower edge of their doors, I decided it was nuts to keep going and re-routed back home.

So, will try again another day. There's plenty of power in the batteries to keep the system up and runing for several days, but I would like to get the solar system reprogrammed and turned on, but better safe than sorry.

Another update soon.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Battery Usage Calculator

Calculating the Amount of Battery usage by our boat's appliances

I often get asked about how much battery power we would expect to use by each appliance on the boat.
This is important, we don't want to run the batteries down to the point where important electronic equipment will fail, that includes our Navigation equipment as well as our Bilge Pumps.

I decided to produce a calculator that would quickly calculate the appliance usage.

Click here to view the template ( then click on 'Use Template' )

Just enter your device, it's wattage and the voltage of the power supply then how many minutes it will run

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Switching to Lithium ( LiFePo4 ) batteries. ( Pt. 2 )

Installing the Lithium ( LiFePo4 ) Batteries. 

The story todate.
Over the past couple of years we have replaced practically all of the boat's electrical charging system, that includes the Inverter/Charger, the Solar Charger and the Alternator Regulator. When selecting their replacements we made a distinct decision to chose equipment that had modern charging profiles. ie. Lithium.

Now we're replacing our Flooded Lead Acid (FLA)  house batteries with LiFePo4. 
The old batteries were Trojan T105 6v batteries connected to provide 12v with a total capacity of 450Ah at 12v. However, we could only use 225 of that 450 and even then the voltage of the batteries would drop to where some electronic equipment would experience low voltage problems. That's a feature of Flooded Lead Acid Batteries.

We selected LiFePo4  Chin 100Ah Smart ( Bluetooth ) batteries, but just 3 of them for a total of 300Ah Capacity, however, we can use up to 90% of that power and they will still produce 12v.

Yes! They are more expensive to purchase than FLA batteries, but they should last at least 4 times a long, probably a lot longer than that. Also no more playing around with Battery Acid and no waking up in the morning to see that just running the Fridge and Anchor light all night has drained the batteries to a low voltage state.

Ok, that's the background.

Now the practicalities of the install.

The old battery bay is located just forward of the Galley, almost amidships. And will only fit 3 x 100Ah batteries, otherwise I would be installing 4.

The battery bay is a fiberglass enclosure that sits inside of the cabin seating. Wish I had realized that before drilling the hole for the new Battery Disconnect Switch. I'll have to cut out a larger hole in the enclosure in order to fit the switch.

Ok, so, as always, here's the plan

Turn off all electrical equipment, Disconnect the Starter Battery and Disconnect the Solar Panels at the breaker.
Disconnect the batteries and cut the switch hole.
Mount the Fused Terminal Block and the -ve Terminal block to the inside of the enclosure
Cut the existing +ve Wire that went to Battery Positive and connect it to the Switch
Make a new +ve wire to connect from the Switch to the Fused Terminal Block
Cut the existing -ve wire that went to the batteries and connect to the -ve Terminal Block
Install the new Batteries and makeup the new wires from the Batteries to the Terminal Blocks all of equal length.

Sound simple.
I'll need my Oscillating saw, cordless drill and drill bits, Hydraulic Cable crimper, Terminals, Heat shrink tubing, Heat Gun, Wire cutters, Label maker. The new batteries, Terminal blocks, Wire and hand tools.

Batteries are currently equalizing - all three are charged and are now connected in Parallel and sitting for over 12 hours.  The terminals and heat shrink should arrive today ( Friday ) so looks like Monday will be a good day to do this.

In the meantime: I could be thinking about what we will do with the extra power. I smell a coffee maker and milk frother in our future.  Peggy is even talking about us taking the boat down to Biscayne Bay later this week... hold still my beating heart.