Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Progress on steering system

I've made some good progress on the reassembly of the steering system over the past few days. This working full-time sure puts a kink in my boat project schedule. I reassembled the plate that holds the pulleys that guide the steering cables. There are four bolts that hold this plate under the cockpit floor. Previously, the bolt heads were not backed by washers, meaning there was little surface area. I decided to reassemble this system by adding large washers under the bolt heads to better distribute the compression forces. Everything worked fine and it feels really solid now. I tightened these bolts down pretty snug, but being careful not to crush the plywood sandwich of the cockpit floor. The bolts go through an epoxy tube (part of the purpose of taking everything apart and reassembling was to drill out the old holes, fill with thickened epoxy, drill to the bolt width to create an epoxy tube and thus prevent wood rot) and I sealed the bolt with butyl rubber, my favorite stuff.

I also drilled out the four larger holes that secure the pedestal itself. The bolts are about 1/2 inch and so my 1/2 drill bit doesn't expand the hole enough. I bought an 11/16 boring bit to expand the holes and refilled with epoxy. This will give a good 1/8 thick epoxy tube on all sides of the bolt, and provide the wood protection I seek. I think it also provides some compression resistance. While I have the pedestal off, and the epoxy made, I wetted the previously untreated plywood core with a film of epoxy to prevent any future water intrusion. Luckily, it had gone the previous 20 years without any water getting in. The pedestal had been sealed to the cockpit floor at the factory with butyl tape, again my favorite stuff. When I reassemble I'll do the same.

So far, so good, and boy it's nice to be digging into all this stuff and making sure it is solid.

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