Tag Archives: refit

Ganache Lexan Port Replacement

In August 2003, we had gotten fed up with not being able to see out of our side and rear ports. The existing Lexan had become so cloudy over the course of the boat’s 18 year life that it was almost impossible to see through. Light would come in, but that was about it.

We had held off on this job because aside from the cosmetic aspect, the ports were fine – they were completely watertight and nothing leaked. We worried that if we messed with the existing setup, we’d create more problems than we solved. But after three years of living with the cloudiness, it was beginning to make me claustrophobic, so we dove into the job.

There are two fixed ports each on port and starboard, and three ports on the stern. We considered replacing the Lexan with plexiglass, but the curvature of the windows made that difficult. Guy removed the bronze frames, and popped the old windows out. We used the old windows as templates for the new ones, bringing them to a local shop so they could cut the new Lexan for us. That was the easy bit.

The hard bit started when we wanted to put everything back in. The new Lexan was bedded with two compounds. The first is a grey bedding compound that comes in strips. This compound is used industrially on high-rise windows to seal them and keep them in place. We obtained it from a local plastics store. The second is regular 3M bedding compound which we used to fill in the gaps in the frames. Guy then polished the bronze window frames until they were shiny again, and attempted to put them back on. This is where things got tricky, since the window cutouts in the deck were not properly shaped in the first place, and it was difficult to rebed the bolts for the frames so that they had any purchase. Guy was obliged to build some of the cutout areas back up with epoxy just to put the frames back on.

So far, we haven’t noticed any leaks.

Ganache – AquaDrive Replacement

When we originally bought the boat, one of the items identified during the survey as needing repair was our AquaDrive bulkhead.

The AquaDrive is a thrust-bearing device for the propeller shaft that is also tolerant of engine to shaft misalignments. It’s commonly found on commercial vessels and larger powerboats.

We believe it was installed on our yacht due to the slightly longer unsupported length of propeller shaft compared to a similar stern-cockpit vessel. Our engine is relatively far forward underneath the center cockpit. We’ve heard of at least one Liberty 458 without an AquaDrive that has had prop alignment problems.

The problem with ours was that the load-bearing bulkhead was made of stainless steel welded to feet which were then glassed to the hull. This arrangement was apparently not strong enough and the bulkhead broke at the weld to these feet. The problem may have been compounded by the weld not being able to “breathe” beneath the fiberglass. The break caused the bulkhead to move slightly when the boat was put in and out of gear.

The original owner had tried to correct the problem by screwing a metal rod through the bulkhead and into a floorboard support. However, this did not prevent movement of the bulkhead, and since the floorboard support is not a structural part of the hull, we felt that relying on this arrangement for a part that absorbs engine thrust might not be the best idea. This conclusion was cemented when one of us stood on the floorboard while the boat was put into gear, and felt the resulting “thunk”.

We received a variety of opinions from several mechanics regarding possible solutions. These ranged from “ignore the problem, it’s not serious” to “remove the AquaDrive completely, you don’t really need it”. A call to the AquaDrive’s manufacturer indicated that the first opinion was complete garbage, in that the bulkhead absolutely should not move at all. Rumours of alignment problems on other vessels similar to ours led us to believe that in general, keeping the AquaDrive would be in our best interest.

In the middle of the opinion spectrum, there were the options of rewelding the existing bulkhead to new feet or replacing the bulkhead entirely. In neither case did we feel competent to do the work ourselves.

In the end, we chose to go with the solution proposed by KKMI in California. We had them replace the old steel bulkhead with one made from G10, which is a highly compressed fiberglass laminate in epoxy resin. It’s very similar to the material used in printed circuit boards, and can withstand fairly high loads. The bulkhead was made larger than the original and was supported forward and aft by gussets or buttresses. It was a good replacement for steel in our system since it bonds well with the existing fiberglass hull, and won’t corrode, which is essentially what happened to the welds of the existing steel bulkhead.

Overall, we’re very pleased with the workmanship and have had no new problems so far. As well, the prep done by the yard was excellent. We had virtually no cleanup to do ourselves afterwards, and there was no damage to floorboards or walls.

Ganache’s New Faucets

The faucets that originally came with the boat were likely fairly standard marine faucets in the mid-eighties. However, we felt that the ergonomics could be improved somewhat.

In the forward head, the faucet on the sink had a single tap and separate knobs for hot and cold water. It was functional but aesthetically a little clunky. I unfortunately do not have before pictures.

In the aft cabin, the vanity sink had two separate faucets for hot and cold. This arrangement made the hot water tap almost useless, since hot water comes out of our water heater at near scalding temperatures.

We decided to replace both the forward head sink and aft cabin vanity faucets with the same faucet and liquid soap dispenser. The new faucet is not a marine faucet; it’s a regular bathroom faucet. It has a lever to control temperature instead of knobs. We like the lever arrangement, as it eliminates fussing with the knobs to balance temperature. The faucet itself is fairly high off the sink, allowing plenty of room to fit hands or other large objects underneath. Adding the liquid soap dispenser let us hide the original hole in the marble from the extra tap in the vanity and the extra knob in the head. So far, we have not noticed any problems with using a non-marinized faucet.

We felt that the original galley faucet arrangement could also be made more functional. The original was a very low faucet (about two or three inches off the sink) with hot and cold knobs. The foot pump faucets for fresh and salt water were also very low slung. This made it difficult to get large pots into and out of the sink and to rinse them. As well, the dual knobs meant more water wastage when turning the water on and off for rinsing.

Again, in replacing the equipment, we went with regular household faucets. We replaced the foot pump faucets with tall bar faucets. The regular fresh water faucet got tossed in favour of a Delta faucet with a lever control and very high arch. It’s so high that if we felt like it, we could put a bucket on the settee forward of the galley and fill it by swinging the faucet around. Now there are no more acrobatics when rinsing or filling large pots. The Delta also came with a spray nozzle. We had to drill a new hole in the marble countertop to incorporate the nozzle. The drilling was done using a drill hole saw adaptor kept constantly wet while cutting.

One of the major factors in deciding to use regular household equipment was the large selection available. In general, we felt that most marine faucets looked either too modern or too small on our vessel, or did not meet our requirements. We’re very pleased with the result so far.