More Electrics, “Decks” and Woodwork

Having craned the engine and boiler into the hull we have now settled the position of the key components and can start to deal with some of the remaining fitting out tasks.

We are still aiming for an April Launch, but in true project planning style we had not said which day in April, so we have a few days left. The following items have been addressed so far:

Electrical Installation

Completing the electrics mostly involved a major wiring job and the acquisition of some Hydraulic Pliers (see more below!) to make a neat job of all the high-current cables (battery, alternator, inverter etc.).

While I was brought up in a “post-war-solder-everything-world” it seems that the cognoscenti have decided that crimped connections are better in boats and cars as they withstand vibration better, and if you do them properly you actually wind up with pressure-welded connections between the copper in the cable and the terminal.

An Aside: The Joy of Hydraulic Crimpers

When it came to terminating the battery wires I discovered that what you need are “tube lugs” which are the big-brothers of normal crimp terminals. Online advice suggests that driving a nail into these or squashing them in a vice does not produce good results … (they were right, I tried).

So the “approved approach” is to use hydraulic pliers (aka hydraulic crimpers). So off to eBay again and twenty-odd pounds gets a Chinese set winging its way to the workshop. However, we relearn the “you-can’t-tell-how-big-a-thing-in-a-photo-is” lesson, when Lou struggles to get the box from DHL up the ladder to the boat. My god they are HUGE!

A set of MASSIVE crimpers for the battery terminals

They are about 2-feet long, and are basically a hydraulic jack with long operating handles. It transpires that I need the smallest of the set of jaws provided – but I am certainly on the lookout for other things I can crimp together (engines into cars, anchors to chains etc.)….

As a point of advice it can be quite hard to decide the cross-sectional area of your cable and choose the matching tube lugs – the cable really does need to be quite a snug fit in the lug before it is crimped.

On a couple of the connections I needed to make the smallest die in the kit still did not compress the lug enough to get a firm finish…. so I just inserted a M5 bolt into the jaws with the “loose” connection and re-crimped – the 16tonnes of pressure did the job!!!

I am very pleased with these as they make a neat and secure job, with a bit of self-amalgamating tape to seal the ends of the insulation, they look almost professional!

Wiring up

The toughest bit of this job was installing all the cable clips around the boat to try to keep things neat. Given that a fair amount of this involves attaching clips to over-head beams on a roof that actually requires you to stoop at all times, this really gets difficult, as trying to see and reach  above your head while folded in half is a back-breaking game. (some swearing ensues as you drill a new hole in your index finger with a posidrive screwdriver bit and electric screwdriver when it all slips out of place).

Either way, we are almost there with the VHF radios, cabin lights (LED strip wired to provide RED or WHITE light – to save ones night vision), bilge pumps, navigation lights, inverter, pressure switches etc. all in place.

Cabin and Cockpit Soles (“Decks” to you and me)

As noted in a previous post, we assembled the rear cockpit and cabin soles from mahogany and oak floor boarding epoxied into removable slabs. But once we got to the forward part of the cockpit we converted to aluminium checker-plate. This should be more resistant to the heat and oil around the engine and boiler. These plates are held down with another recent discovery rivnuts – (a captive nut that is attached like a pop-rivit).

Engine to Propshaft Drive

As previously planned, this drive is via a 30mm-wide HTP belt (like a wide cam-belt). This went together quite well, with a tensioner made from up-cycled Landrover Discovery cam-belt tensioner bearings.

Escape Hatch

While the “regulations” do not require it, it seemed prudent to fit an escape hatch to the cabin (being as how you have an overscale oil-fired central heating burner and boiler full of 250psi and 200-degree C (401-degrees F for our American readers) water and steam).

This is a stressy process – attacking the cabin walls with a jigsaw to fit the hatch, without hitting anything vital – or cutting in the wrong place, is something I find I need to spend a few days building myself up to.

Epoxy Filleting and Plastic Woodwork

Quite a lot of the current job list involves a return to Epoxy Carpentry, which allows a complete amateur like me produce strong wooden structures. By adding the correct things to war epoxy resin you can create adhesives, structural fillers or even sanding fillers. Epoxy gets hard to work at low temperatures (and we have had minus 8 or 9 in the last month) because it gets so thick – but no matter what the temperature it still cures given time…


Sorry there are no pictures for any of this at the moment – I’ll try to take some in the next few days and add them to this post….

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