Use with caution. Anyone with any corrections should post to the discussion page or e-mail me.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Main Cabin Windows - Original Installation - Carmine Pizariello
When I purchased TOPAZ, a 1975 cutter rigged Downeaster 38, the main cabin windows were 3/8 inch Plexiglas mounted to the exterior surface of the cabin sides. The Plexiglas was fastened with ½ inch long bronze #8 wood screws that just penetrated the outer fiberglass skin. The exterior finish was a teak molding that was also attached by wood screws through the outer fiberglass skin. The trim had a ½ inch rabbit to accept the Plexiglas and cover the bronze screw heads. The trim was almost two inches wide and this made the windows appear even larger than the openings in the cabin top.
The interior vinyl liner was folded outboard to cover the exposed core (since the windows were surface mounted) and held in place by upholstery staples (the same type used all over the boat) imbedded in the core material. This was finished by a gold colored aluminum trim (like that used for carpet edging). The trim was screwed into the core material.
Problems with Original Installation
Leaks, leaks and more leaks. The Plexiglas was badly crazed and the teak trim was cracked and split. The windows had been re-caulked a number of times (inside and out), each time with a different product, and they still leaked.
Upon removing the windows the real problems were exposed. The core was wet and, in places, delaminated from the skins around the window openings. This finally explained leaks that I could never track down. The water was migrating through the core to several screws holding the interior trim and wicking down into and around the trim. I drilled drain holes in strategic low spots and drained the core. I got a quart of water out of one hole. Little tufts of pinkish powder on the underside of the deck were another sign that water was leaking from the core into the interior.
All the window cutouts looked like a hung-over yard worker had made them with a dull saws-all. I mean they were irregular, not! symmetrical and port and starboard pairs did not match. My guess is that the original framed windows had been used as a guide and the hole cut out freehand to remove the original frame.
My working theory is that these windows were an ill-conceived fix by a dealer from hell. Probably responding to an irate owner’s complaint about leaking windows that could not be fixed.
New Window Design
My fundamental design philosophy was that the new windows should be structural members and not just a frame to hold a sheet of Lexan and keep the water out. In my opinion, the holes in the cabin sides were far too big and compromised the ultimate strength of the cabin top. I need not mentioned my thoughts on the size of the windows and their ability to survive a lee side wave during a knockdown.
The overall project objectives, in order of priority, were therefore as follows:
1. Stop Leaks
2. Add Structural Strength (to cabin top and be able to stand up to boarding seas)
3. Repair Damage to skin and core so far as possible
4. Look Good Inside and Out
5. Be Easy to maintain
The job was performed over two winter lay-up periods. At least half the work was planning and making templates and jigs. Sometimes I had to make a template to make the template. This job involved a lot of steps and much planning. I would be happy to discuss the job in detail if anybody has specific questions.
Key Tools and Materials
Key tools and materials were roughly as follows:
1. table saw
2. router with standard and plunge base, assorted bits
3. router guide rings for using router to cut curves using templates
4. dremmel tool with assorted bits
5. bar clamps, lots of ¼’ luan, AND 3/8” plywood, sheet rock screws for making
templates and jigs
6. two gallons of West System Epoxy lots of colloidal silica
7. 25 sq. feet of 8/4 (1 ¾”) teak planking ( about $500)
8. 4X4 sheet of 3/8’ mar resistant clear polycorbonate sheet
(generic equivalent to GE MR10 Lexan sheet)
Note: I used the router and jigs to cut the mortis and tenon joints. If I had to do this again, I would have bought a router table to cut the tenens and bought a drill press with mortise bit to cut the mortises.
Window Frame and Glazing
Window frames were fabricated from 1 ¾ “ thick teak planks ripped into 2 ½’ inch strips. Each frame (4) was divided into two windows by a center mullion to add structural support and keep individual window size down. Windows were built square with mortis and tenon joints, and glued with West epoxy. The inside and outside curves were then cut using plywood templates, router and router guides. Curves, rabbits and edge rounding were expensive - all told I figure 30 to 40% of the teak was turned into sawdust.
Overall outer dimension of rear window frame was 42” X 14 ½”. Finished frames are 2’ wide including rabbit for glazing. Corner radius on inside is 1 ¾’, outside 3 ¾”. Center mullion is 3 ½” wide. Rabbit to accept Lexan glazing is ½” wide and slightly over 3/8” deep. Dimension of Lexan glazing for rectangular (6 of the 8) windows was 11 3/8’ x 18 3/8”. This allowed for 1/8” expansion all round. Two forward windows with elongated lower edge were in same proportion however size of the larger window was set so that the 6 smaller windows were all the same size.
The Lexan was cut with a router using a plywood template and router guides. This is remarkably tough stuff, I had to take 1/16th of an inch off at a time. Any more and I risked loosing control o the router. Each Lexan pane was set in clear silicone using #6 SS wood screws on about 4” centers.
Outer edge of frame was cut with cut with a 7/8” rabbit all round (thickness of the fiberglass cabin top). Then top and bottom edges were cut to match the curve of the cabin sides. A template of the curve in the cabin was used to cut each curve (i.e., 2 templates per frame, an upper and lower edge). The forward and aft ends of the windows kept the original 7/8” depth rabbit. Overall effect is that more frame is shown on the outside at the forward and after ends of the frame. See later photo.
Cabin Side Preparation
Old teak trim and Plexiglas was removed. The core material was then ground out to a depth of 1 ½” all round using a dremmel tool. Core was allowed to dry for a month or so if it was wet. Core and interior skins were then saturated with epoxy resin and 3/8’ mahogany strips 2” wide were placed in the void to replace the removed core material. This was all bonded together with peanut butter consistency west epoxy colloidal silica putty. Wood was surface coated with the epoxy mixture above the fiberglass skins for about ½”. The area around the window openings was VERY solid after the epoxy set up,
Since the holes in the cabin side were pretty crude, the extension of the mahogany ½” into the window opening allowed some latitude in cutting a new symmetrical and even hole in the cabin side. Plywood templates for the new window cutouts were placed over the window openings. This was done in pairs (forward and aft) so that the frames would be at the same height and roughly follow the sheer line of the cabin top. You will notice from the photos that this tended to toe the windows in at the top.
In selecting the final window placement, I tried to preserve as much of the old structure as possible; not have the window rabbit hang only on the new mahogany core; and preserve the sweep of the lines of the cabin top. Once the templates were in place, they were screwed into the sides of the cabin and the router with guides was used to cut the proper size opening for the new window frames.
Each of the frames was set into to the cabin sides using the same combination of west epoxy and colloidal silica putty. I used a combination of clamps and wood screws to bring the windows home. The screws were set from the inside, countersunk and toed into the backside of the frame at the rabbit to pull the windows flush with the cabin sides. I used cut to size 2x2 with stand off and bar clamps to pull the windows in prior to using the screws.
Prior to installation, preparation and laying out all materials was really is important. This included taping off everything inside and out to protect from epoxy, pre-drilling holes in the cabin sides and backside of the rabbits and having all materials handy. This is a two-person job, three on a hot day since the rate of cure of the epoxy sets the pace of the job.
Because I had cut the curve into the rabbit on the upper and lower edges of each frame, the windows required very little tension to bring them home since most of the curve had been taken into account. Clamping pressure was needed mostly to rack the frame since the curve between the upper and lower part of the frame was a compound one. I estimate the clamping force at less than 100 lbs. since I could bend the frames home with hand pressure alone.
The overall effect on the inside of the boat is that the forward and aft edges of the windows are flush with the interior skin of the cabin sides. The center part of the window extends about ½” into the boat On the exterior, the forward and aft ends of the window frame rise out about an inch from the cabin side skin. The center of the frame is about 3/8’ from the cabin side skin.
A 3/8” plywood staple strip was screwed into the fiberglass around each window. The vinyl liner was then stapled to the strip using SS staples. Vinyl piping was then used to finish and hide the staples.
Material Costs and Labor
Epoxy, fillers, gloves $250
Wood for templates/jigs $50
Piping, cetol, screws, silicone $100
(Note: labor is an estimate of what I think that it would take to redo the job with the right tools and a fully formulated game plan. It took me longer because I was learning to use the tools, starting and stopping, experimenting with jigs, fabricating in pine before risking the teak and just feeling my way along.)
Planning/measuring/ drawings/getting materials together 40 hours
Fabricate frames 4 frames X 24 hours each 96 hours
Install new core material 4X3 hours
Remove old windows/ route out core 4 X 4 16 hours
Make templates/cut out new window openings 4 X 2 8 hours
Cut Lexan, drill, countersink and prep Lexan 8 X 2 16 hours
Install window frames in boat 4 x 3 12 hours
cetol, then install Lexan 4 X 1 4 hours
interior trim and finish 4 X 3 12 hours
TOTAL 216 HOURS
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Ironically, at the time that 'Shangri-La' (still her name), was built, I was working on the other side of the freeway and would pass the yard on my way to work! FYI, if you have any confusion on their address over the years, Dyer and Alton are the same street, as with Santa Ana and Irvine: Just a question of what year and which corner you happened to be standing on.
Location of molds:
Spoke with Tony Strong today and he is of the opinion that the molds for the 32 and the 45 were distroyed by Newport Yachts (from whom he purchased the molds), which purchased the assets of DE (along with Islander Yachts and Colombia). He said that he bought the glass fabric that he used to build 'Mustang' from Newport also.
Above info supplied by Michael Homsany;
President Bob Poole, who has been building boats since the 1960’s in Southern California, wanted to build a line of strong, dependable sailboats with traditional lines – so what better than “Down East” to represent the concept? And, he wanted to build these boats in Southern California. Why not? The company was founded in 1974, and there are now three boats in the Down East line ranging from their 32-footer to a 45-footer, which was recently launched. The proof that it was all a good idea is that the boats have become popular and are now distributed nationwide. Some have even gotten Down East.
The Downeasters all have a strong family resemblance – traditional, long keel with a keel-hung rudder, clipper bow, bowsprit, trailboards, simulated planking lines moulded into the hull, slight tumble home in the stern quarters, and a traditional wineglass-shaped transom. The Downeaster 32, subject to this report, carries out the sense of tradition established in the hull both topside and below.
What impressed me most of a all about the DE 32 is not her traditional look, but the good technological thinking that has gone into a number of aspects of her construction. First, I like the way the hull is joined with the deck. The three inch hull flange is sanded (as is the rim of the deck), and the deck is chemically bonded to the hull with an aircraft epoxy, the same type that is used on helicopter propeller blades. The deck is then through bolted with ½-inch stainless steel bolts on 12 centres. This joint is strong and watertight. Sea cocks are used on all through hulls, and steel-reinforced rubber aircraft-type tubing is used on all fuel lines, including the propane. Possibly the most innovative element of all is the use of the core material Conolite in the deck. Conolite is a closed cell foam with strands of glass fibre running through it. It was introduced about three years ago as an alternative to other core material such as balsa, Airex and plywood. Conolite is exceptionally strong in sheer, waterproof and impervious to heat in normal use.
Another important construction detail is that all the bulkheads are properly bonded to the hull on both sides, not only on the hull, but on the overhead as well. And not just one or two strips of fibreglass tape is used – the method is right out of Gibbs & Cox (the company that designed the liner United States) fibreglass building manual. This attention to detail is the kind of thing that gives one confidence in the builder. Down East must believe in the product because it offers a four-year limited warranty on parts and labour involving everything it manufactures.
But how does she sail? I took the 32 out of Newport Harbour last winter on a day when the breeze did not blow stronger than six or seven knots true; sea conditions were smooth. The first thing we did was put the boat through some powering manoeuvres. The boat was propelled by a Farymann 12-hp diesel (a 24-hp Farymann is now standard) swinging a two bladed 15x12 bronze prop. Since Farymann are known for being stingy with fuel, that factor along with her 72-gallon tank should provide more than adequate powering range for most costal sailors. Under power the boat steers easily, turns in one-and-a-half times her own length and backs beautifully. The tiller was a shade on the stiff side. Under full cruising throttle we powered over a measured mile at 6.24 knots.
Unfortunately the rig was not set up as well as it might have been, so the boat’s performance under sail suffered slightly. There were about ten inches of sag in the headstay and twelve inches of sag in the forestay; the mainsail was cut far too deep and the foot was a bit long. But despite all of this, our tacking angles were consistently between 80 and 90 degrees in nine knots of apparent wind. That’s very good. Going to windward in the same apparent wind we were heeling about 20 degrees. If we could have flattened the main, it would undoubtedly have been less.
We kept the sails strapped in and drove the boat off to see if we could put the rail under-we could not, even when heeling the boat 32 degrees. The reason for this was, of course, her high freeboard and her six inch bulwarks, which I personally like. This means that even if you are sailing with a little too much canvas, the rail won’t be awash.
The boat balances and tracks fairly well, but like any boat, you will have to tune the rig for hands-off sailing. Rudder response was positive and fast, thanks to a very deep rudder that assures a good bite on the water at all times. Tacking in the light Newport Beach breeze was quick and positive, no need to back the jib to haul the bow around.
Sail-handling chores were accomplished effortlessly with one exception-it was a bit of a nuisance honking down on the staysail halyard without a winch. This winch is optional and I’d buy it. It’s a necessity in a breeze when you want the luff of your staysail to be tight. All halyard winches are the conventional type (no reel winches, thankfully), and once sails are hoisted there are three or four wraps of wire around the winch.
Most true cruising boats these days have a club-footed staysail and the DE 32 is no exception. It makes short-handed sailing a dream and is the only way to go in my book.
Now, if you are used to the contemporary stock American sailboats, you might find the cockpit a bit foreign at first. But don’t let it throw you. On the DE 32 there are no conventional cockpit coamings. The deck abaft the trunk cabin is flush from rail to rail, save for a small cockpit well. This is just the kind of deign that you’ll see on many custom offshore racers all the way from 24- to 64- footers. The advantages of this arrangement are numerous. There’s minimum cockpit volume (the DE 32 cockpit drains fast); there’s nothing to stumble over; it makes leading sheets easy, etc. With large cushions and an awning you’ll feel like an Arabian sultan when you’re anchored on a steamy afternoon. The drawback is that there is no coaming to lean against. Down East will fit a backrest if you request it.
The deck layout is simple and uncluttered. Nothing to break your toe on. There is no deck moulded-in nonskid. Instead, a fine grit sand has been mixed with the buff-coloured (low-glare) two-part polyurethane adhesive painted on the deck. This provides a fine nonskid surface, again, similar to ocean racers where no expense is spared.
Belowdecks Down east has not missed a chance to carry out the traditional look. There’s plenty of teak, as well as teak and holly veneer soles. The layout is conventional with pull-out double berths, u-shaped galley, 6’6” headroom in the main cabin, and a quarter berth with a 27”x27” navigation table. Nothing unusual, and that means no bright ideas that may not work in practice. A few notables; a very strong and solid bulkhead-mounted table, plastic overhead liner, a deep galley sink near the centreline, two doors on the head to make the forward cabin private, grab rails in the head, four-inch cushions throughout, and all corners rounded.
Drinking water is carried through rigid PVC pipe running from a 45-gallon stainless tank, all other pluming is through heavy rubber hose. Engine access is good. To get the rest of the engine room you must climb over the engine, which is not too difficult since the engine is small and low. There is a flexible rubber coupling on the drive shaft. Good idea. The engine can be started with a hand crank and there is sufficient clearance to use it. Three bronze bearings hold the rudder stock. Rigging is strong and the turnbuckles are the open kind - the kind I prefer. Stanchions are through-bolted and backed with a piece of stainless.
Quibbles? Sure. I like easy and abundant access to the bilge. I guess my preference stems from an old wooden boat I owned I once owned that leaked profusely. Access to the bilge in the 32 is a bit restricted because both the fuel and water tanks are under the cockpit sole on the centreline above the bilge. The good thing about this arrangement is that it adds effective ballast to the boat. The down side is that it means that the only way to get to the bilge is through two small hatches forward and a small Lucite window in the drip pan under the engine. The hose/through hull connections have only one hose clamp. I’d like to see two. The joints are sealed with Permatex adhesive, which is good, and the builder Poole contends that two clamps can, in fact, cause a problem. There is no hand holds around the companionway, but they will be added to future boats.
Nothing about the DE 32 is rinkydink. The hull laminate is extremely thick. In fact, the boat might even be a bit overbuilt, but think that’s the way most of us would prefer it. The rigging is strong and equipment is all of good quality. The boat is rugged and built to be punished, easy to sail and practical. Her performance seemed good in the conditions we encountered, and although we had no seas to contend with, her very traditional underwater profile should make her a comfortable boat offshore. Most important, Down east has tried hard to build a good, seaworthy boat and they have succeeded. -J.H.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
(The following was originally posted on the discussion board by MH)
Finally finished bowsprit replacement about the time you made your post.
We used laminated tava, a local hardwood, glued with epoxy in a press in Western Samoa and efelele (Samoan iron wood) for the sampson posts. The yard also put the basic taper in the sprit with a large band saw. Similar to Greg, I made the initial cuts for the cone tapered cranse iron (as opposed to straight on the original) with a circular saw, but then cleared it square, then round with a chisel. Once round, I put the taper in with a spoke shave and did the final shaping with a 40 grit, 4x24 (100mmx610) sanding belt torn to form a strop.
I replaced the cranse iron with a bronze one from Newfound Metals.
The old sprit had rotted, one end to the other, along all the glue lam joints. I turned the sprit from the original so that the glue lam joints are now parrall to the water. I also did not bolt it thru the deck, once again opinion was the flexing of the strut at the bolts is what led to the failure. I made a combination gammon iron/staysail stay bracket to keep the 'sprit from floating up and a wedge under from going down too far.
Once again, under the belief that the holes cause the failure, instead of drilling into the 'sprit, I made 'u-clamps' (stainless for the anchor rollers, port and starboard, aluminium for the pulpit, then bolted the whole thing together (tava is harder than oak and very fine grained).
Efelele is extremely hard, but is prone to checking, so I made caps for the exposed end grain from a door brass kick plate.
Finished everything with 6 layers of varnish (cosmetically, tava is great looking wood, finished clear it has iridesent tones when viewed at an angle.
Everyone is encouraged to use the Discussion Page (Click here), the only stupid question is the one you do not ask. Also, all advice is welcome, remember, "in the valley of the blind the one eyed man is King". This site belongs to the users, so use it!
This is not a "club" nor an attempt to reform the old "DE Cruising Club International", as I hold the Groucho Marks view that; "I would refuse to join a club that would have me as a member".
This is a voluntary, non commercial, informational source for Downeaster Yachts. Please try and contact other DE owners as the more of us who are prepared to exchange views, opinions etc., the better.