Monday, April 23, 2018

LNVT Felt Window Channel Replacement

Replacing the felt window channel has been a long standing problem because there's nothing commercially available which easily accommodates an LNVT's 10mm thick glass.

10mm Safety Glass

The solution described here uses off-the-shelf, 3/8", PVC channel but modifies it to suit our 10mm glass.  The repair process is straight forward: remove each windows' outer and inner retainers and their glass panes; install the new, PVC window channel and; reassemble each window.  Naturally, the devil is in the details so, here are the details.

To better understand the repair it's helpful to know how the windows are made.

This diagram is a cross section of a starboard side window, looking towards the bow.  The windows are made of three pieces of stainless steel: (1) the window frame; (2) the inner, or sliding pane retainer and; (3) the outer, or fixed pane retainer.

The felt window channel, which we'll be replacing, fits inside the inner pane retainer.

Above, the inner and outer glass panes are shown in their respective retainers.

Eight screws hold each retainer in place: 2 along the bottom; two along each side and; two along the top.

Now that we know how the windows are made, let's get busy repairing the channel.

Step 1: Modifying The New Channel

From Trim-Lok Catalog 700, Page 4.

The above illustration shows how the channel is made.
From Trim-Lok Catalog 700, page 7.

Trim-Lok's 1375-3/8 is the replacement channel we'll be using.  It comes in rolls of 250'. You'll need one 8' piece for each window.  For hull numbers 1 through 29 there are 11 windows: 7 in the saloon/galley and 4 in the wheelhouse.  For hulls 30 through 76 there are 9 windows: 7 in the saloon/galley and 2 in the wheelhouse.

Before and After Removing the Gripping Tongue.

Modifying the new channel is a two step process. First, using a razor knife, shave off what Trim-Lok calls the gripping tongue. Don't cut too deeply as the metal underneath the PVC will be exposed. While cutting too deeply adversely affects appearance it doesn't affect performance.

Tools of the Trade: 1375-3/8 Channel, Restrike Die, Punches, Rubber Mallet, Razor Blades and Epoxy.

Next up, we need to enlarge the width of the channel. To do this a restrike die and some punches need to be made.

Using the Punch and Restrike Die.

Restrike Die, 1375-3/8 Channel and a Punch.

It's called a restrike die because while Trim-Lok already formed the PVC into a u-channel shape, we're going to restrike it to make it a little wider.  The restrike die is made of three, roughly 2' long, 3/4" thick pieces of hardwood.

U-Channel Restrike Die Dimensions.

The two 2-1/2" wide boards need to be securely attached to the 5-1/2" wide base board because they'll take a big side load when the channel is expanded.   I recommend using both glue and screws/nails to hold them to the base board.

U-Channel Punch Width.

I made several punches, each just a hair thicker than its predecessor.  When restriking the channel it's easier to approach the desired width in several iterations rather than in one fell swoop.

Please note that the dimensions shown above worked for me.  Your dimensions might be different.  The overarching goal when modifying the channel is that the final product fit snuggly into the stainless retainer.  Doing this guarantees that the glass will slide easily in the new channel.

Step 2: Remove the Glass and the Retainers

Tom Blackwood, Thistle Dew 37VT46, Cleaning the Window Frame.

The picture above shows the window frame after both the inner and outer retainers, and their glass panes, have been removed.

Outer Retainer and its Glass Pane. Note the Two Screw Holes.

Inner Retainer and its Glass Pane. Note the Two Screw Holes and the Two Square Drain holes.

After the retainers' screws are removed the retainers can be pushed out using small pry bars or tapped out with a wood block and hammer.  Be careful not to bend or kink the retainers.  Finally, give the retainers and window frame a good cleaning.

Step 3: Install the New Channel

Dave Howell, Nellie D 37VT63, Works the New Channel Into Its Retainer.

The first order of business is to dry fit the channel into the retainer.

Heat Helps Relax the Channel.

Really pay attention to getting the entire channel firmly pressed against the retainer as the success of this project depends on it.   A little heat helps, especially in the corners, to get the channel seated solidly.  In the upper left in the picture above you can see that the break in the channel aligns with the break in the retainer. 

Next, the inner retainer and the channel (without the window pane) are temporarily placed into the window frame.

A Punch with a Radiused End Helps Assure the Channel is Tight Against the Retainer.

Next, the channel will be cut to length. Before doing so however, make certain the channel is bedded solidly against the retainer.

Time to Trim the Channel to Length.

An 8' length of channel will be about 4" too long.  Cut the channel leaving a 1/4" overlap. Then, press the channel's two butt ends together and push them into the retainer.

Cutting Channel Drains which are Aligned Over the Retainer's Drains.

The new channel needs two drains cut into it otherwise rainwater will collect within the channel.

Cutting Drains Reveals the Channel's Aluminum Skeleton.

Cut the channel's drains so that they're the same size and directly over the retainer's two drains.

Removing Staples.

Using a pair of needlenose pliers remove the exposed staples.  I recommend removing only three staples as removing more overly weakens the channel.

The next few steps will take place on the workbench so remove the channel and the retainer from the window frame.

Liberal Use of Tape Holds the Channel Tightly Against the Retainer.

Glue the entire length of the channel to the retainer with a thin bead of polyurethane caulk.  I used Loctite PL but 3M's 4200/5200 or anything similar will work just fine.  The glue prevents the channel from moving or sagging when the window is opened or closed.  As the picture above shows, tape is used to hold the channel securely against the retainer while the glue sets.

After the glue has set, and using the eight retainer-to-window frame mounting holes as guides, drill holes through the channel.

Step 4: Reassembly

Put the glass pane into the channel/retainer and the channel/retainer into the window frame.  Install the eight screws which hold the retainer to the window frame--don't forget to put a sealant on the screws' threads.

Silicone--a Lesson Learned--if Expired it's Runny and May Not Harden.

The last step is to reinstall the outer retainer and its pane of glass.  This is the fixed pane, i.e. the one that doesn't slide.  As such, it doesn't need any Trim-Lok channel but, instead is held inplace with silicone caulk.  Install the eight retainer-to-window frame screws.  Again, don't forget the sealant on the screws.

While standing outside the boat push the fixed pane towards the inside of the boat.  As the picture above shows, the silicone caulk goes between the outside of the window pane and the outer retainer.  Putting painter's tape on the glass, before applying the silicone will make for a much neater job.

In closing, the modified Trim-Lok channel has been used aboard Nellie for the past nine years.  The technique described above has proven trouble free for the past five years.

Literature Search:
  1. Lady's, 37VT08, window channel solution
  2. Patrick Mitchell's, Elnora 37VT37, window channel solution..
  3. Philbrooks LTD's window channel solution for Tess II 37VT22.
  4. Randy Miller's, Hiaqua 37VT03, window solution.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An Old Salt Trick

Experienced skippers don't need a knot log to know how fast the boat is going--they merely observe the location of the bow wave.  

The pictures below we're taken while sitting atop Knock Off 37VT66's wheelhouse.  At 4.5 knots the bow wave is about even with the front of the wheelhouse.  At 7.3 knots it's even with the midship hawse cleat.

By the way, it's a displacement hull's inability to get over the bow wave that results in hull speed

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cummins Transmission Oil Cooler

Seakamp 212144 Marine Oil Cooler 2"x12" Body 1/2" NPT and 1-1/4" Hose 

The Cummins' transmission oil cooler doesn't have a zinc and is subject to corrosion.  Nellie's had corroded badly (I could see daylight through the metal) under the the raw-water hose attachment point.  It's a good idea to visually inspect the exchanger every three to five years.

Replacement exchangers are available from for $110.09 (March 2018).

Cummins Engine Mounts

Over the years several engine mount failures have occurred in the Cummins-equipped LNVT fleet.  Here are some of the details and a fix for the problem.

Tripod front engine mount

Hulls 37VT31 and 37VT33 through 37VT76 were factory equipped with the Cummins 4BT-3.9M engine.   The tripod engine mount was standard equipment until mid 1987. Starting with Georgia J. 37VT65 Cummins switched to a conventional four point mount. The tripod mount subjects the engine's two rear mounting bolts to larger loads.  In fact, the LNVT fleet has experienced several bolt failures. Some skippers have converted their tugs from the tripod to a conventional four point mount.

At this point  Allan Seymour, Sally W. 37VT42, who converted his mount, picks up the story.

 "... the mechanic installed new engine mounts all around, front and rear.  It was a little expensive but well worth it in my opinion because it has never been so smooth and quiet."

"You will need to get the front engine parts [vibration isolators] from Cummins.   Then fabricate the part that the mounts bolt to and connects to the engine bed/rails."

"Discard the a A frame mount on the front. Hope this and the pics explain this.  Don't hesitate to ask for more."

Allan Seymour

Thursday, February 1, 2018

East Coast Rendezvous

Tug Spotting

Here is a favorite photo of Wally 41VT02 (when he was Captain Mike) in Ketchika, Alaska.

Erie Canal Waves Cruising Fees for 2018

From the NY Canal system website:
"To continue to commemorate 200 years of Erie Canal history, we're waiving tolls for recreational vessels for 2018.
This is the second straight year that tolls—normally $25 to $100 for a season pass, depending on the size of the vessel—have been waived. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal's first opening to traffic."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

John William 37VT68: Teak Deck Removal, Part 4

The deck is almost done.  Needs some more paint but the weather has not been cooperating. 
The gray paint is primer.  The finished decks will be white.

Monday, January 22, 2018

LNVT Pacific Northwest Mid-Winter Brunch

As Dave Howell indicated in his Fall 2017 Tuggers message, if you are in need of a Tug Fix this long off-season for boating, we have just the thing.  It's the Annual Pacific Northwest Mid-Winter Brunch and all LNVT members are welcome!  This event gives us a chance to catch up with old and new friends, have some time for Tug Talk and discuss plans for the LNVT Pacific Northwest Rendezvous in addition to enjoying some tasty food this group always seems to assemble.  

This year our potluck brunch is planned for Saturday, March 24 in Seattle.  A more central location this year was selected to make it easier to attend for those coming from the extreme north and south ends of our large area and for those flying or ferrying in.  Here are the details:

⚓️LNVT PNW Mid-Winter Brunch Potluck

Location: 2415 2nd Avenue, Seattle. 98121

Date:        Saturday, March 24, 2018

Time:        11:30 am to mid afternoon

Bring:        A breakfast or lunch dish to share and beverage of your choice (please bring serving utensils for your dish).  Coffee, Tea, juice, dishes and eating utensils will be provided

RSVP & Questions / Suggestions to Barb Lawrence. Cell: 425-263-6001 /.

Please RSVP and let me know what dish you are bringing so we can fill in as needed.

Hope you can make it and looking forward to seeing you again!

Best regards, Barb Lawrence,
Raven 37VT04

PS. A big thank you 🙏  Janis & Tom for the venue and reservations!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Lil' Toot 37VT75 Upgrades

Ben Phillips reports that they'll be moving aboard this Spring and want to get Lil' Toot in shape before doing so.  To that end lots of upgrades are being done:
-- new engine room insulation
-- straighten prop shaft
-- new PSS dripless seal
-- new prop
-- added an AIS and new VHF
-- contemplating a new, one piece, stainless counter top, backsplash and integral sink
-- new stove/cooktop
-- added a second racor fuel filter
-- all new fluids, impellers, hoses, and belts for the Cummins and BorgWarner
-- new bow seat cushion
-- new sonar transducer and NMEA connection upgrades

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hiaqua 37VT03 Experiments with FLIR

We just returned from a five day New Years cruise in the San Juan Islands (Friday Harbor, Rosario etc). No crowded docks!

Mount Baker
It was 32-35º at night and up to a daytime high of 48º, no rain and partly sunny was just fine for us. Winds were up to 25 knots one day, but no wind against current, so pretty easy.

Relaxing at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island

I received a new toy for Christmas….

Flir One thermal imaging camera for iPhone
It's been interesting checking out various areas of the tug. Can't say much for the wood doors as you can see.

Companionway Door

Dutch door
For nighttime cold, I cutout pieces of 1/4" foil backed foam to inset in the salon windows beneath the blinds.

Salon window without (L) & with insulation & blind (R)
Really keeps the heat in. The foam panels stow nicely in the back of the stateroom closet.
Happy New Year, Randy and Yvonne

Monday, January 8, 2018

Wally 41VT01 Gets a FLIR

Flir M232 working in the pilot house of Wally. Going on the pilot houser roof next. It's a thermal camera that can see in total darkness or bright sun.  You can see the warm footprints of someone that just walked by.  The use on the boat is you can see a log in the water before you hit it. Their
spec is a person in the water at .67 kilometers and a small boat at 1.5

Loon 37VT57 in the 'Bomb'

BoothBay Harbor Maine "Loon" during the Bomb Cyclone December 2018

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hiaqua 37VT03's New AC/DC Electrical Panel & Wiring

From: Randy Miller <>
Date: December 20, 2017 14:43:10

Our major electrical project is finally complete and operational. It started with removing the last bit of 35 year old copper wire (AC & DC) from the shore power inlet to the main fuse panel breakers. The entire main fuse panel wiring was gutted, circuits reorganized, labeled and re-wired (both AC & DC). I designed a new fuse panel using pre-wired Blue Sea circuit breaker panels which just fit in the existing space. A (#8101) ELCI 120V Distribution Panel unit was installed along with three (#80230 12V DC (8 position) Distribution Panel units plus new analog meters. 

A new shore power Smart Plug was installed along with cleaning up the AC distribution terminal block (re-wiring and labeling). 

I did most of the concept design last summer while cruising so the final drawings and panel machining was nothing compared to all the wiring prep work and final makeup. This part certainly became way more involved than I had originally thought. Some circuits had to be split up and new ones created. 

Then I focused on untangling and diagramming the AC side with the help of my ABYC electrician. Starting from the shore power inlet to the AC distribution panel and on to the main back panel, everything was cleaned up, re-organized, new wire run and labeled.


I feel much better finally understanding the mysterious AC side of boat wiring and now able to complete accurate wiring diagrams of this last mysterious area. I also added a third DC panel to the right of the main panel. This panel was recessed in a teak frame.

During the process, the old panel was hung on the port door and just connected by the bare minimum AC & DC during the process. An extension cord was used to supply AC power as needed.

With all the various color code systems for DC (White & Blk, Brn & Yellow, Red & Blk) and then (Blk & White) for AC, I found it best to focus on one side at a time…..Far less chance off error and big sparks. I basically gutted all the DC wires except for a few necessary circuits labeling everything first.

What an improvement! (Working modular breakers positioned to ones liking, working lights, backlit meters, backlit nomenclature and custom label names). Really nice!

We are back up running again and ready to head out for a New Years cruise.

Randy & Yvonne