Dinghy; speaker; MMSI; electrical; autopilot

Last week was my first week on my new three-day part time work schedule.  I was hoping to spend Thursday on some work for the boatlogger project but instead ended up organizing and dealing with tax issues all day.  Friday I stopped by Sim Lim Tower in the morning to pick up some small parts and soldering tools, and then headed to the boat for the rest of the day.

I started by removing the ancient black rub rail from the dinghy.  It has been causing consternation since I got the boat: it’s this ancient rubber that discards black residue over anything that touches it, and it’s already ruined a few shirts (and not just mine).  Probably I’ll need to replace it with some kind of new rub rail but step one was just getting it off.  It turned out to be pretty easy: the rub rail was held on by 50 or so screws and some mostly brittle glue.  After the screws were out a gentle pull took the whole rub rail off, although some bits of the dinghy came with it (parts of the ply underneath were a little rotten).  I was hoping to clean and sand the exterior of the dinghy in preparation for some fixing (epoxy putty) and painting, but it was just too hot in the sun to keep at it.  So, the dinghy’s sitting there ugly and rub rail-less for now.  I suppose I could save myself some trouble and just get a new inflatable dinghy, but I kind of like the hard one — it’s got character, and it’s not really all that unwieldy.  We’ll see.

I spent the rest of the day inside.  Doug and I ran a new speaker wire for the starboard cabin speaker, which was kind of a job: the stereo is on the port side and we followed the path of the old speaker wire, which ran behind the galley stove, down into the bilge, through the engine compartment, and up behind the nav station.  Worth it because now we can tune in in stereo, which is really nice.  We discussed the stereo’s always-on wire, which keeps its memory and settings intact when it’s otherwise off, and Doug did some tests to see if we could get away with plugging the always-on into a 9V battery since it doesn’t draw much power… except it does, when the stereo is on (the stereo draws its main power through the always-on line if it’s connected).  Probably we’ll run a wire back to the batteries or an always-on bus during the upcoming electrical overhaul.

I wound down the day by sorting through a couple toolboxes left by the previous owner, taking stock of their contents (voluminous), and sorting and cleaning them to my liking.  I still have another toolbox and a whole bunch of random cubbyholes to sort through — the previous owner had a lot of tools and parts, which is a good thing.

I also called up my old friend Ima at Telaga Harbor after being forwarded to her by someone at SKMM (Malaysia’s FCC).  She said she can help me file the paperwork for an MMSI, and that it’ll probably take 3-4 weeks after filing for them to assign a number.  From my previous experience with Malaysian agencies, I suspect that actually means 6-8 weeks (with a lot of inquiries on my part).  A bit frustrating.

Today I spoke with Neo from Best Marine Electrical who says the remaining parts for my new electrical system should arrive tomorrow, and he can begin work Wednesday.  I still haven’t gotten a quote out of him, but I’m excited to get started as soon as we agree on the price.  His latest estimate is only about a week’s worth of work to install new panels, new battery switches, battery charger, echo~charge, do various rewiring and cleanup, and so on.  I’m guessing two weeks but wouldn’t mind a pleasant surprise.

Tonight I dug into the electrical cabinet in preparation.  I removed the old inverter, a TRACE 2012 2kW modified sine wave inverter that the previous owner said wasn’t working, and which I think looks too ugly and unused to try for fear of starting a fire.  I don’t really have much use for it now anyway, and I have a much smaller 500W MSW inverter which is fine for charging various things and the like.  I’ll probably hang on to the old inverter anyway to try it out when I have some time.

Underneath the inverter is access to the grounding plate.  There’s some corrosion on the terminal bolts but not a huge amount.  I didn’t get around to taking photos yet but will soon.  Instead, I spent a while beginning to clean out the filth from the grounding plate’s cubbyhole and the rest of the electrical cabinet.  I say “beginning” because to really properly clean everything will require pulling out most of the wiring, sanding, and painting; I’ll talk with the electrician about that this week.

I finished up this evening by taking a look at the autopilot, which hasn’t been working for a while.  Once I got access to the drive unit (it’s chain-driven from an electric motor) the problem was really obvious: the chain slipped off the drive motor and steering gears.  Doug noticed the autopilot motor is on an adjustable mount and is far too close to the steering gear, so the chain is extremely loose.  (I again didn’t take photos but will soon.)  The bolts appeared tight but I didn’t feel like getting a wrench and really solving the problem since it was after midnight.  I’m not sure how the motor became so horribly mis-adjusted.  Doug suggested it might make sense to refasten the motor with a torque wrench after adjusting.  Probably the autopilot will have to be recalibrated after fixing.  While I was poking my head around the autopilot I also noticed the data lines from the drive unit are not in use.

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