Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ul Listed Electrical Tape Should Not Suport Combustion...

... But that depends on who you buy it from.

I was rummaging in the tape box and came across a box of rolls I had never opened. I tried to use it to splice some lines, but it just didn't feel right.

First I tried lighting some 3M tape I had. It burned while exposed to the flame, but went out instantly.

Then I tried the no-name tape. Three inches vanished waiting for the 5 second timer!

Looks UL Listed to me. The HK74 registration is for a Chinese company, but I would bet it was ripped off by a different, less legitimate Chinese company. 

I'm a big supporter of free trade. I believe globalization is the final path to world civilization and peace. But this sort of thing just does not help.

The moral? For electrical components I try to stay with known brands. If the tape feels funny, put a match to it.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Strong Way to Make a Short Pendant

Need a short pendant, would like to splice it from Amsteel, but don't have enough length for both buries? Never fear, there is a simple way.

Make the first eye the normal way, with a bury splice.

Make the second eye with a simple pass-through. Then keep passing through, right through the bury portion of the splice, until you are back at the other eye. So long as there are 10 tucks, it will test full strength.

Dead simple, fast to make, but I've never see it explained. I've tested these at 100% breaking strength. Although there is theoretical weakening a few places, because there are 3 layers in those areas, there is none. This one is for grabbing he anchor rode using a prusik. A climbing sling would work just as well, but these can be made in larger sizes.

The other way to make a strong and short strop is to splice a loop and then sew or whip the two sides together. That is how most low friction rings are mounted.

Friday, December 8, 2017

This is Why the EPA is Sitting on Toxic Paint Stripper (NMP) Regulation

I'm not sayin' that the EWG does not lean a little to the left. They certainly do. However, if you use paint strippers, it is an issue to be aware of. PPE (gloves and respirators) have been shown to be ineffective against these substances.

EWG (Environmental Working Group)

Congressional Leaders Push EPA to Scrap or Delay Proposed Bans on Toxic Chemicals

Monday, July 17, 2017
The House Appropriations Committee is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap or delay proposed bans on three highly toxic chemicals – trichloroethylene, or TCE; methylene chloride, or MC; and n-methylpyrrolidone, or NMP. In December 2016 and January 2017, shortly before President Trump took office, the EPA proposed banning the chemicals for certain uses, which would have been the first such bans under the Toxic Substances Control Act in more than 25 years.
Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group, called the recommendation, contained in the committee's report explaining its proposed EPA budget, "more head-spinning action from the anti-public health wing of Congress."
Here is Benesh's statement:
If the Trump EPA rubber-stamps this outrageous demand, it means children and other Americans will be exposed to these toxic, cancer-causing chemicals for at least another five years, if not indefinitely. This report reaffirms the hostility toward protecting children’s environmental health from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, in the name of protecting the profits of the chemical industry.
The EPA says TCE is "carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure" and is also associated with developmental and reproductive harms. TCE became infamous after many residents, especially children, developed cancer when the chemical contaminated the water supply of Woburn, Mass., as chronicled in the book and movie “A Civil Action.” The agency is proposing to ban TCE from use as a spot cleaner, aerosol degreaser and vapor degreaser.
The EPA says long-term exposure to MC can cause liver and lung cancer. Both MC and NMP are linked to  developmental, reproductive and neurotoxic disorders. MC has been linked to more than 50 worker deaths since the mid-1980s. NMP is particularly dangerous to women of childbearing age, as it can have serious fetal effects. The EPA proposed to ban the use of MC, and ban or restrict the use of NMP in paint strippers.
Key Issues: 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

100 Best--Chapter 13

Best Laminating and Fiberglass Materials

Just as important as the products is following the instructions and a few tips:

  • ALWAYS test the adhesive on something similar before diving into an important project. I have had experienced epoxies mis-labled, where resin was packaged as hardener and it never cured; I got  to scrape up 1/4-acre of honey-like glue, followed by wiping up the residue with gallons xylene. 
  • Confirm the cure time at the relevant temperature and humidity, remembering that fast-cure epoxies can exotherm (get hot) and cure very fast if mixed in batches over about 1/2 ounce.
  • Make sure you have what you need for clean-up. For epoxy, vinegar will neutralized the curing process and will take it off hard surfaces so long as it is still sticky (follow with soap and water). 
  • Surface prep is most of the battle. Clean first, then sand. Never try to sand off dirt or amine blush.
  • Jamestown Distributing. They will have everything you need at a reasonable overall cost. 
  • Read a few books. West Systems has some good short guides. It's not magic, but there are a lot of tricks of the trade.
  • Work neat and change gloves often. Disposable brushes are indescribable. If something is getting sticky, toss it. On big jobs, have a helper mix epoxy and cut glass; this makes for much neater work. If working alone, pre-cut most of the glass.
76. West Systems 105/205 Fast Cure. The work horse for most projects, the only shortcoming is that in warm weather it will exotherm fast. Large pots that cannot be spread in a few minutes will get warm, and even thick laminates will heat up. Too fast for epoxy sealing holes. Good in cool weather, though. If you have a fall or spring project, and it will be in the 50s at night, just the ticket.

77. West Systems 206 Slow Hardener. Works in warm weather. Also good for filling screw holes. I do NOT recommend the extra slow hardener. It is vulnerable to humidity and the mix must be exact.

78. Fumed Silica / Cabosil M-5. West sells this stuff for userous prices. Instead, buy a 10-pound bag and you will be set for a lifetime. Excellent for bonding and fillets, and usable to fairing if you can fet to it with a power sander. Hard to sand, so not good for large fairing projects.

 79. Laminating Roller. Never take on a significant job without a way of forcing the resin through the glass. Vacuum bagging is nice, but a good roller can get you most of the way there with a lot less fuss. Don't be afraid to roll pretty hard, pushing out air and excess resin. You will save real dollars on resin and get a stronger, lighter result with better bonding.

 80. 17-ounce Biaxial Fiberglass Cloth. Nearly 3 times as heavy as typical 6-ounce cloth and often easier to handle, it is MUCH stronger than mat (which does not work with epoxy) or glass cloth, because the fibers are oriented in the plain and not crimped or oddly directed. Use this in combination with 13-ounce uni-directional cloth in the direction real tensile strength is needed, and you can build some strong stuff.

17-ounce biaxial cloth is the best for tabbing braces. F-24 trimaran centerboard case on the right, hull on the left, depth sounder cable over the top.

I'm not really a fan of carbon fiber or Kevlar. The problem is that these materials are so much stiller than glass, they will carry the entire load. This means the bonding much be very good and that there must be enough carbon to carry the load, since it won't share. You can't reinforce rope with bungee cord, can you? The rope will break before the bungee does a thing.

There are lots more tips. Start with a small project, like a box or cover for something. Something removable that you can do over if it sucks. In fact, repairs are not the best place to start. And don't forget to scrub off the amine blush before painting and if you are not with in the green re-coat window.

Build something amazing!

PDQ 32/34 transoms before paint. Biax for the main structure, pre-laminated sheet for the step, 6-ounce finish cloth for the surface layer, and lots of sanding. Very strong; I ht some dock just to be sure ;).

Sunday, December 3, 2017

N-Methylpyrilidone (NMP) and Why the EPA is Sitting on This

Spring is coming, soon enough, and many boaters across the country will be faced with stripping years of accumulated paint. In the interest of safety, most have switch away from methylene chloride to safer (non-carcinogenic) soy-based removers. But the problems is they are actually based on N-Methylpyrilidone, a potent reproductive toxin.


First, this was study in cosmetics, where it was formerly a common ingredient. But how much sense could it make to have a reproductive toxin in cosmetics? It has been removed from most products as a result of numerous evaluations:

"Based on a worst case assessment with a maximum use concentration of 5% NMP in cosmetic products and a dermal absorption of 100%, the Margin of Safety is considered to be too low. There is an absence of specific information on the actual possible maximum concentrations of NMP present in cosmetic products and specific measurement of dermal absorption of it through skin at relevant concentrations.

With the information available at the time of assessment, the SCCS is of the opinion that the presence of NMP with a maximum use concentration of 5% in cosmetic products is not safe for the consumer. A re-evaluation may be possible should relevant data that addresses the above be provided"

Full Study Text

This spring the EPA released a study that concluded that even "gloves and respirators do not adequately reduce risks to people who use NMP for more than four hours per day on a single day or repeatedly over a succession of days." Additionally, they determined that "gloves made of butyl rubber or laminated polyethylene/EVOH are resistant to NMP." It seems NMP has long been prized for it's ability to premiate everything (paint and skin)to deliver other chemicals, and thus it can permiate all common glove materials (latex, PVC, and nitrile) within minutes.

The EPA was poised to act on this...

EPA Fact Sheet on N-Methylpyrilidone

... but guess what happened. All new actions have been frozen in the interest of reducing regulation and protecting businesses.

I guess protecting people is not so important.

Are there safe alternatives. Yes. Sand with a vacuum sander. Use a stripper based on beniylic acid or one of several other organic acid technologies. If you stay with NMP, Do Not Allow Women to Help. The case on men and sperm is still up in the air, so if children are in your future, Don't Use NMP, or at least exercise extreme caution; butyl gloves, cartridge-style organic vapor respirator, waterproof coveralls.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

What to do When Your Slip is a Crazy Fit

My PDQ fit the slip like a glove. There wasn't a lot of room to play with, so she required good line adjustment and full springs on both sides. But that done, she barely wiggled, even with reasonable slack in the lines.

These are Mini-Shockles. I switched to Regular Shockles, since these were undersized in 40-knot gusts. It is also vital that they are long enough to handle to full tidal range.

Image result for falcon snubber 
Try installing and adjusting this under load.

My F-24 is a different story. Because of the beam (18 feet) we are in an end slip and hang out beyond the confines of the pilings. At the same time, the boat is too short for the slip, providing poor leverage to the stern lines on the dolphins. To make mater just a little worse, the cleat positioning does not allow the stern lines to cris-cross. As a results, she really dances in certain wind directions. Like most marinas, certain directions are well protected, others, less so.

My options:
  • Spring lines, starboard. On starboard they wouldn't help much, but maybe.The forward line would be a severe tripping hazard when boarding, probably so much so as to make it unacceptable. There are no cleats, but there is a mid-ships ring I can tie to.
  • Springlines, port. The bow spring would be across the deck, resulting in chafe to the line and rigging. The stern spring could potentially be rigged from  a ring near the stern.
  • Anchor line. The outlying piling on the port side is tragically rotted and leaning, suitable only as a guide line anchor. However, we could lay a large Danforth anchor some distance out ad bring that line over. The direction of the pull would be quite favorable. I'll probably never get the anchor back, but I can probably find a big one at the second hand store. I have some chain and 1-inch nylon that would make a stout rode. At long scope and with months or years to settle in, it should get strong.
I have also been testing Shockles, from Davis Industries. I had always seen them as over priced bungee cords, suitable only for pontoon boats on lakes. I was wrong.

I added one to the starboard bow line, just to take the slack out. Because we do not have floating dock we must leave 1-1.5  feet of slack for tide, even when the lines are quite long.The boat was bouncing, because of the rebound of stretchy nylon dock lines between gusts. When I used the Shockle to apply a little back tension, removing the slack, the rebounding stopped!

I think using Shockles to absorb impact is just treating the symptom, and they won't last that long. But used to control rebound and manage slack they are treating the cause and seem to do very well.

But I'm still going to add some springs and the anchor line. Although we can get strong winds from the East, I am protected by shore and trees, and there is nothing to hit to port!

So maybe I'll try this. Only 4 tie points and a lot more stability.

  • Double starboard stern line. this is easier, and the angles are nearly the same.  
  • Starboard forward spring ready for hurricane season, but not used regularly.
  • Port aft spring to rear of float. No forward spring. Will have to figure out chafe.
  • Anchor line.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ever Wonder What Happens with Laminate Sails When They Get Old?

Like us, they just fall apart.

In its defense, this sail is 1996, and until it's last day maintained perfect shape and would go to windward like a banshee. It was, however, showing signs of delamination. When going to windward, if you pinched up the inside lay we would often bubble to windward in spots, demonstrating the pressure differential between one side and the other. About 80% of the sail overall was disconnected, one side from the other. Only the sewn seams ever 2 feet were holding the the taffeta and Kevlar in alignment. The UV cover (polyester--not Sunbrella) could be torn between the fingers more easily than office paper.

Then one fateful fall day, with gusts topping 40 knots, the upper portion of the leach was blown open just a littl. The delaminated sail ballooned, air driven between the layers, followed by more delamination, and tearing. Within an hour there wasn't anything left worth repairing. Actually, there really wasn't anything worth repairing before the damaged.

Interestingly, the furler line did not slip, the sheets were around the sail several times. In fact, the sail had actually furled itself an additional turn, leaving some slack in the furler line. Weird.

 Only the top portion unrolled at all, and only a little bit. The delamination and the tear ran during the lowering process, which took less than two minutes and did not include flogging (I maintained sheet tension).

The fabric is polyester tafeta on both sides with Mylar and Kevlar strings bonded inside. Once the glue starts to go, the Mylar and Kevlar just float around inside. Once something starts  tear, it's over in a hurry. In yet the leach did not tear and none of the Kevlar actually failed.
But everything disconnected from everything and there is nothing left to glue, sew, or patch.

I'm sure modern laminates are better. I know this one was ancient. And yet, I have a certain fondness for polyester.

We'll see. However, what remains of this isn't even suitable for making into totes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Work Day

rev. 11-20-2017

Normally I just inform my partners of what was done on a given trip, but since this one has a lot of pictures, I decided to post it here. Just a day in the life of a sailor....

  • Installed LED cabin lights (4), 25W equivalent. They really light up the place, using no electricity in the process. It is always more efficient  to save power than to generate and to store. There are two extra bulbs and the two I removed in the clear tool box, although they should last practically forever.

The diffuser is removed in this photo. With it in place they are just bright.

  •  Climbed mast and installed wind instruments. A few weeks ago I repaired the broken deck plug (Aqua Signal 5 pin) from parts I had, and a week ago I reconnected the wires. But although everything powers up, and the masthead parts are moving right, there is no communication with the display. The problem could be any of a dozen things--some annoying to run down, some expensive--so I'm done with it. You're next. At least the mast is easy to climb with the Mast Mate. This time I was alone, so I used a Petzel Cinch for self-belay off a spinnaker halyard.
  • Wired-up the anchor light, but it does not light. I also noticed that there are zero ohms on every leg, suggesting the wire may be broken somewhere up the mast. I have another light, but I don't know when I will get to that. A two-man job for a nice day. That means spring. We have a lantern.

  • New mount for the Blacksmith bow wind indicator.  The factory mount is level and the rail is sloped, so I modified one I had from other testing. Works nice. Properly leveled, this is the most sensitive indicator made, maybe even better than the ubiquitous Windex.

  • Measured for new Amsteel 4:1 cascade bobstay tackle. I took some low friction rings and some nylon clothes line and played with a mock-up to get the lengths right. I will now order some Amsteel (3/16-inch, 5000-pound test). This will allow us to set and recover the reacher while underway without resorting to gymnastics. The only thing that is still up in the air is how to anchor the tail. Since Amsteel does not cleat, I'm leaning towards installing a hard point (rock climbing bolt hanger, perhaps) and attaching the tail with a snap shackle. The last splice will be  a whoopee sling until the stretch is out and the length is certain. The up-haul is also still up in the air. We do need one, if just to keep the sheets up where they belong. and out of the jib furler.

Completed, in Dyneema. Now to install the line control clutches.Coincidentally, the 4:1 down haul has the same amouot of line travel as the 2:1 up haul, so the line can be continuous.
  • Shimmed the rudder pin. It helped a lot. I also noticed that there are two thin shims missing from the sides of the rudder cassette. The OP removed them when they got loose and filled the screw holes, either because he thought they were not needed, or because he was too lazy to repair it properly (probably). This will have to wait until spring because the temperature will be too low for a good job of sealing. It should be a reasonable easy job and will help stiffen the steering a little more.
  • Finished centerboard case repairs. 

 Dave and I added three braces between the case and the starboard hull side. 1/2-inch ply sheathed in 17-ounce biax, bonded, and tabbed with 17-ounce biax. He cut glass and mixed epoxy while I got sticky. I'm glad this wasn't my first dance and that I knew most of the tricks.

 I pre-lamanated a 2" x 3" x 3/16" angle and bonded and bolted it into the corner. The bulkhead was reinforced on the reverse side with five 5 layers of 17-ounce biax and tabbed to both hulls (a band near the top about 4 inches wide (this was tricky). The lip of the case was reinforced with about 6 layers of 13-ounce uni plus some biax, a rim section with 1/2-inch balsa was laminated with uni, and a 4-inch wide x 1/2-inch balsa rib was added at the height of the pin. After taking the pics I trimmed it with a hand grinder and covered it with the original carpet. Look like new, but stronger and stiffer.

After trimming and replacing the carpet.

 The lip flange was thickened from ~ 3/32-inch to 5/16-inch using mostly unidirectional glass.

  • The water in the amas is fresh. The main hull is yet undetermined. BTW, the right place to pump the bilge is the access hole in the photo above. That is the low point.
  • I left a small space heater and power strip on the boat.
  • Battery is still up.
  • The motor reminds me of the Merc on my old dinghy. It's really easy to flood in cold weather, and you have to be careful to close the choke slowly. I don't think there is actually anything wrong with it, it's just fussy.
  • The fitting on the top of the portable fuel tank is leaking. There was gas on top of it. I also wonder if we might want to install a silica vent filter, so that we can leave the vent open. It does not seem to like the pressure. The vent fitting seems to be pipe thread, so I could attach a hose to that and mount the filter on the bulkhead behind the tank. However, then we could not take the tank to the station... but I guess we never do.
  • I took the boat out for a spin, in part to test anchoring with the bridle and the sprit. I used the Northill; worked fine. If you have never used a Northill, I suggest you take a look at it ahead of time and figure out how it is assembled. Secure the bridle to the rode with a prusik hitch and sling. I left some mud gloves in the locker.
  • The bridle also rigs as jacklines. In fact, that is how I left it. I reasoned that going out of the bows to connect the bridle would be a pain in cold weather, so the bridle must stay rigged. Thus, you have to secure it back somewhere. By threading them back inside the forward aka and aft to the waterstay near the aft aka it makes a nice jackline. I need to rig a few things on the tethers, and then I will be leaving them (with two harnesses) on the boat for all to use. You don't need them in the cockpit, but solo or in cold weather going forward, they can be handy.
The dashed orange lines represent possible tether angles. The blue on the right is the jackline. ONLY the section between the akas is used. We will need to play with the tether lengths, balancing access with the need to stay on-board.

  • I hope you like the new drink holders. Rugged, cheap, and they look good on the stern rail.

  •  Yes, the fire extinguisher seems to be on the Kiddie recall list. I'll call in the AM.
  • The new dockline set-up was a breeze, even single handed.A long boat hook helps (love Davis Instruments).
 And that is about it. The next trip will just be play.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

100 Best--Chapter 12


I just got a new boat, and guess what--the carpet on the cabin liner was heavily blotched with black spots. But They did not relate to any pattern of water leakage, just poor ventilation, so I feared not. I knew they could easily be removed and their return prevented. A good thing to know.

In Chapter 8, Boat Prep I mentioned diluted bleach. This is obvious enough, but remember that bleach can't be used near most fabrics. Additionally, it is not the most effective product at preventing return. And it's nasty to work with.

First, my work-horse anti-mildew formulations. It is cheap, more effective in most cases than anything else,  and safe for both you and all materials. Mix up a gallon and dispense it through spray bottles.

No number (this is a repeat). Formula B from Practical Sailor. When asked to review some formulations for the magazine, the chemical engineer in me couldn't resists improving on the available commercial products. The result of reviewing old patents and considering the requirements for cleaning mildewed carpeting was a DIY mixture of borax, washing soda, and TSP (trisodium phosphate--NOT TPS substutute), all available at either the grocery store or the hardware store. This pennies/gallon blend is perfect for cleaning carpet and bilge spaces, and KEEPING mildew from returning. Spray enough to soak, wait 2-10 minutes, scrub for a few seconds, and in the case of fabrics, remove excess with carpet cleaner extractor or shop vacuum. Do Not Rinse, since the residue will prevent the return. Do NOT Increase the concentration; it will not clean better and you will have to rinse. Also very effective for use in a carpet cleaning machine for both wet basements and pet mess (the best thing I have found for cat pee).

No number (this is a repeat). Oxiclean and all sail cleaners containing percarbonate as an oxygen bleach. These are not aggressive, fast stain or mildew removers. They take 4- to 8-hour soak times and seem to need sunshine to help them finish their work (the percarbonate weakens certain chemical bonds and UV finished the job). But they are safe on most fabrics (not wool or silk), nearly always color safe, and are just the thing to remove what Formula B left behind when cleaning white fabrics (not generally needed for anything other than whites).

And now for some new listings:

71. Clorox Pool and Spa Green Algae Eliminator. This is the cheapest way to buy the ingredient we are looking for, benzalonium chloride. A bargain for a 50% solution, this was suggested to me by a Seattle sailor (See Windborne on the sidebar) who was cursed by lichens growing on his deck. This kills them. However, it is also a very effective preventative for both mildew and algae on a variety of surfaces, so long as they are not exposed to frequent rain. Dilute 2 ounces/gallon, spray, and let dry. Also very effective for cleaning lichens from sail covers and canvas. In this case, spray, wait 1-2 weeks, and then scrub; it takes time for the BAC to kill the lichens and moss, and then for the sun to break their grip.

Also good for taking moss off the roof at home. Spray in dry weather, and then just leave the sun and rain to remove the dead bodies.


72. Eva-dry-2000 dehumidifier. Discussed in this post, I've been using this dehumidifier for 9 years, and though it lacks the capacity for a home, it is enough for a boat and does not draw so much power as to present a hazard if run unattended (though I do place it on the stove top--seems like the safest place). As described in the post, I added a drain, which is led to the sink. Low humidity in the cabin means no musty mattress or pillow.

73. Keep Things Clean. While hardly a product recommendation, the bottom line is that good sanitation begins with cleanliness, and mildew require food. Wipe all hard surfaces down at least 2x per year. Bilges too. It's not that bad, and when something needs fixed, you'll be thankful.

74. Keep the Bilge Dry. Without a dry bilge, the boat cannot be dry. Likewise all cabin leaks. The most common cause of hatch leaks is dirt on the gasket; wipe them all clean several times each season, and treat with a wax to make them water repellent if the problem persists.

75. Keep a Fan on the Boat. Sometimes things get wet, and it's great to get them dry.

75a. Take Wet Things Home. Yup, lugging is a pain. But they won't dry in the boat and this will teach you not to get them wet. If you have a dodger, leave wet rain gear and towels on deck rather than below. I often do this even if I won't be back for weeks. I've never had anything stolen from the boat. Beaches and dinghies, yes.