Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bulwark Door Installation Lessons Learned

1. Install the door at the same time you're painting/repairing the bulwark.

Door jams being fiberglassed into place

2. Cutting the door out carefully will save a lot of finish work. The thin kerf of a sawzall blade creates the perfect spacing between the bulwark's caprail and the door's caprail.

Filling and fairing the jam

3. After the door is cutout, finish the bulwark part of the job first. The finished bulwark can then be used to size and trim the door--just don't touch the door's teak caprail ;-).  The new jam, a 1/4" thick, pre-laid up, flat, fiberglass panel was cut to the shape of the door opening. Fiberglass mat was wetted out, as was the back of the panel and the jamb's bulwark cut. The mat was placed against the bulwark cut, the panel was placed on top of the mat. The panel was held tightly in place until the resin set up. In the picture you can clearly see that the mat is behind the panel.  This same procedure was used for the threshold too.

4. Get hinges that don't have a lot of end play (i.e. axial movement between the leaves) or side play (the amount of movement of the leaves perpendicular to the pin). 'Loose' hinges will make your life miserable.

15 degree bevel cut on the unhinged side

5. Hinge the door on the forward side and have it open inwards. Hinging it forward means you won't have to walk past it when boarding and going aft toward the companionway. Hinging it to open inwards keeps the door safe from docks and pilings.

6. Bevel cut (see picture below) the unhinged side. The door will fit tighter and look better.

7. Keep the fiberglass jam panel below the caprail. With the door closed the teak caprail should look continuous.

8. Put a strike plate or other support between the bottom of the door and the threshold. The strike plate supports the unhinged side of the closed door. Somebody, sooner or later, will walk on the door's caprail and without the strikeplate the hinges could be damaged.

A low profile latch as seen on Lady #8

9. Think about how best to finish-out the threshold. Big, expensive boats put in shiny stainless thresholds with the manufacturer's insignia on them. Lots of 'cool points' there. With a little forethought the same could be done here.

10. Choose a latch that that is both effective and doesn't stick out so much that it snags unsuspecting passers-by.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Et Tu Nellie?

Serendipity? After Roger Lee noticed rust colored liquid escaping from Fram #71's shoe I returned to Nellie to find the following.

Tommy Chen recommended fixing the leak by: drilling ~3/16" dia.  x 1/2" deep hole into the leaking spot;  dry the area with a torch (call me a coward but I'm opting for a heat gun);  fill the hole with 5 minute epoxy.  QED

Rust colored stains on the shoe.  The gel coat had been sanded off a week prior to this picture..
Closeup of one of the leaks.
Sand the stain off and after an hour clear liquid can be seen oozing out

How thick is the hull?

This picture, taken in 1998 of Teddy Bear #15, during the installation of her bow thruster, shows how really thick an LNVT Hull is.

The hull thickness at the bowthruster location

Bow thruster location.  This picture was taken after the hull had been blast with glass beads.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Fiberglass Shoe has a Stainless Backbone

The LNVT's fiberglass shoe has a stainless steel backbone.  In a telephone conversation with Tommy Chen today he told me that for every foot the stainless steel backbone extends beyond the keel, there are two feet of stainless inside the hull.  The backbone is fiberglassed in place inside the keel, while in the shoe a mixture of sand and resin holds it in palce.   When I told Tommy of Fram #72's rusty water leak from the shoe he said, "It shouldn't do that." ;-) He confirmed that there are no ferrous metals anywhere near the shoeand agreed that the ballast is the likely culprit.

Annie #38'S Tug Differences Survey Results

Here's what Annie #38's survey tells us:
  • Annie was the last tug with a mast mounted forward of the stack to have aft-swept spreaders. Thistle #47 is Lucy for a forward mounted mast with straight-out spreaders.
  • Two tugs after Annie the portlights went from Bronze to Stainless
  • Not long before Annie the stateroom configuration went from a double to a queen
  • One or two tugs after Annie the yard started installing the king bed configuration but went back to the queen by Thistle Dew #46
  • Annie may be Lucy for the single bench seat in the stateroom (Theodore Bayre #41 might inch her out)
  • Too early to tell but Annie may be Lucy for the Cummins 150hp 
  • Annie my be Lucy for the louvered door style that doesn't have molding between the louvers and door's rails and stiles.
  • Annie may be Lucy for the cabinet door, brass finger latch.
  • According to Craig Kurath, Annie's owner, the Harts specially ordered the unique black marble in her head and shower counter tops.
It looks like a lot of things were changing when Annie was being built. She's definitely the first tug to incorporate many of the changes found on later models. Perhaps this explains why OEY charged $98,982.31 to build her, $30,000 more than the tugs before and after her.  Perhaps this was a one time payment by Loren Hart to Tommy Chen for all the yard's extra work.  
Book shelve on portside is 46"
Book shelve--starboard side forward  is 22"
Book shelve--starboard side aft is 44 ½"
Shower room sink has unique marble color
Unique marble color
Uniquely large sink bow out 
Unique oval saloon table with LNVT standard marble

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Crack in Tess II #22's Shoe (Tuggers Vol.60)

 Tess II has a crack on the top of the skeg that I plan to fill with epoxy this weekend, then finish the bottom paint before launching. The damage seems to be just on the top and a little on the port side/ edge just forward of the big one in the center. You can see the edge area in the picture. I poured thin epoxy in there, let it run in and finished it off with thickened epoxy once it hardened. It didn't seem to seep in very much so I think it was just a surface issue.  From Bruce Griffiths, Tess II #22 in a May 2014 email

Ed McChain, Thistle #47, thought Tess II might have wrapped a cable, or a line with a metal fitting, and the slapping of its bitter ends ground the groove.  Makes sense as the groove is just below the prop.  If only the smaller scar, visible at the top of the closeup, was on the starboard side of the shoe--as would be expected with a right hand prop--Ed's diagnosis would be a slam dunk then.

Bruce said there weren't any other irregularities on the shoe and so he filled the crack first with a penetrating epoxy and then faired the area with a thickened epoxy.

Damage to Tess II #22 Shoe

Close up of Damage

Rusty Water Oozing from a Spot on Fram #71's Shoe

Here's a description of the problem as posted on the Forum by Roger Lee, Fram #71, 22 May 2014

Noticed a transverse crack in the fiberglass at the point at which the skeg piece supporting the rudder joins the hull.  Very rusty water seemed to ooze out of the crack, particularly if encouraged with some compressed air.  This suggests to my boatyard guys that an iron or steel member within the skeg is rusting from exposure to salt water.  Their fear, and mine now, is that, over time  such rusting could enlarge the iron/steel member causing the skeg to crack open.  My boatyard guys think it might be sensible to grind down the fiberglass, let everything dry out, remove the rust from the iron/steel member, treat its surface to resist corrosion, and reapply the fiberglass covering.  So FIRST QUESTIONS: Anybody experience this before?  Is it something needing immediate attention?  Any attention?  Should I just wait for things to get bad before bothering to do a repair?

The boat yard fears that the water may have penetrated a long distance, making it challenging (or at least time-consuming) to dry out the iron/steel member.  Penetration of water might be a lot greater if the iron/steel member was first coated with a porous fairing compound before the glass fabric layers were applied.   In that case, the water might have wicked a long distance into the fairing compound.  So SECOND QUESTION:  Is there a layer of porous fairing compound between the fiberglass and the iron/steel, and, if so, is the porosity of the fairing compound likely to wick water over long distances? 

Pithy, on-target answers preferred, but any ideas, experiences, thoughts, opinions welcome.

  Oozing rusty water leaks in the rudder shoe are not uncommon.   The rust is coming from the keel's 3000 pounds of pig iron ballast. 

  Knowing how the shoe is constructed helps explain what's happening.  Below is a picture of a hull right after it came out of the mold.  Note the hollow fiberglass shoe.  One of the next steps during construction was for a worker, standing inside the hull, to slide a big (1-1/2" thick by 3" wide) stainless shoe into the fiberglass shoe.  Voids between the fiberglass and stainless were filled with sand-impregnated resin.  Then the iron ballast was placed in the keel and it too was encapsulated with sand-impregnated resin.

  Under pressure, voids in the sand-impregnated resin allow small amounts of water to wick from the shoe to the ballast.  Remove the pressure, by pulling the tug out of the water, and the process reverses itself.  Here's the good news.  It's cosmetic not structural.  

  I suspect Fram's transverse crack is small and you found it only because it was oozing.  If so, you have two choices.  Slap some bottom paint on and go cruising.  A more conservative choice would be to grind out the crack and fill it with a few layers of glass.  While this fixes this spot, don't be surprised if another oozing area is found when you next haul. 

  Not so pithy but hopefully on-target, Dave (Nellie D. #63)  

Monday, May 19, 2014

"Waltisms" (Vol. 59)

By Vicki Howell, Nellie D. #63

After Jay Sterling and Marty Raymond bought their tug, CRUZ-IN #74, in 2006, they discovered many interesting enhancements made by her previous owner, Walt Bacon. In fact, everywhere they looked there was something Walt had made: door latches; drains; extra storage bins; towel holders; drawers; etc. Jay and Marty lovingly call these unique and useful upgrades 'Waltisms'.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From the Bridge (Vol. 59)

By Dave Howell, Nellie D. #63
It's Spring and there are many interesting things to re-port. Not only has Soundings magazine made Teddy Bear #15 their May 2014 cover girl, they also wrote a very nice article about her and Peter Reich, titled "Love affair with a tug". Thanks to the efforts of Mike Dunn, Wally 41#2, we now have a fleet wide Digital Selective Calling Number (DSC)--033837419. There's more about this in-side this issue. The effort to document our tugs' factory differences is advancing by leaps and bounds. Many Lucys, i.e. the first tug to incorporate a particular change, have been found. Next time you're aboard your tug I hope you'll help us advance the cause by taking this survey.  There's now an LNVT Owners Group on ActiveCaptain's If you haven't checked it out, do. Real time position information is just one of the things they're offering--for free. 

To say this past winter has been brutal is an understatement. It was only a few weeks ago that Trev Croteau, Hjortie #33, reported that the ice on the Mississippi, his home waters, was still two feet thick. But, you know it's finally Spring when the northeast tugs start emerging from their cocoons, as Teddy Bear did last week. In fact, I write this from aboard Bob Allnutt's Victory #2 as we, and Ed and Mary Ann McChain, Thistle #47, sally forth on this years' inaugural Chesapeake Bay cruise. At the Dock in Solomons Island, Maryland the tugs receive their first compliments of the year from fellow mariners. Ah, it's great to be back in the water and on a tug!

Keeping it simple and having fun,

Welcome Aboard: Anderson and Stovall (Vol.59)

Jerry and Jan Stovall, Haverhill, MA recently purchased Lady Hamilton #12. They were excited by all the information on our wiki site, sent in their dues, and are looking forward to LNVT ownership.

Congratulations former wannabees Lee and Dee Anderson, Owatonna, MN! The Andersons purchased Jack Robert #17 (formerly Concinnity) this spring. Here's the full story on how they came to purchase her.

Cruising Acadia National Park (Vol. 59)

By Sally Seymour, Sally W. #42

This is "Ciel Trap" in Acadia National Park, off of Isle au Haut. We are anchored in the innermost cove, having reached here through a very narrow slot, safely navigated only at times around high water. (Ten foot+ tides here.) We came here with a friend and his American Tug and dinghied ashore. The only footpath was created by deer. The vegetation was gorgeous but thick: mossy, evergreens, low blueberry bushes, ... and ticks. We found this spot years ago in our Whaler and never forgot the beauty and solitude. Our friend had tried to get in last year. After "bumping", succeeded and memorized a safe route. On this day, seas were 1 foot, and conditions were perfect for the attempt. We celebrated with homemade zucchini soup. Life sure is tough.

Some LNVT Crews (Vol. 59)

Trev Croteau, Hjortie #33

Ed and Mary Ann McChain, Thistle #47

In Memoriam (Vol. 59)

It is with sadness that we note the passing of Jerry Morris, Marysville, WA. Jerry and Alice had Guinea Rider 49-8 for many years. They cruised Puget Sound up into the San Juan and Gulf Islands and made several trips up the inside passage to Alaska. He was active in the north west Tuggers and will be greatly missed.

Ocean Eagle Nippers (Vol. 59)

Ben Pilots a Tug (Vol. 59)

Ben Campbell, age 4, pilots a tug

Looking for Lucy (Vol. 59)

By Dave Howell, Nellie D. #63

The many factory differences between our tugs, when put in context, give a glimpse into the builder’s mindset.  For example, imagine a phone call between Loren Hart, president of Lord Nelson Yachts, and Tommy Chen, owner of the yard, discussing how to put Dutch doors on hull #2.  Or another phone call where they ponder the tradeoffs between having six or two lowering pilothouse windows. Speculating on the 'whys' of a change can be fun and we're fortunate to have Tommy, Lani Hart, and Jim Backus to help inform the conversation.  But I get ahead of myself, because before we can figure out why changes came about, we need to discover and document the changes themselves.  This, it turns out, is a big undertaking.  

Tug Stack (Vol. 59)

Even a truck looks better with an LNVT Stack!

One Couple's Tug Hunt (Tuggers Vol. 59)

By Lee and Dee Anderson
Before you can understand our journey to owning a Lord Nelson Victory Tug you need to understand our journey to becoming a boating couple. Sailing had always been a romantic dream for me since I was a kid growing up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. On weekends at Lake Minnetonka I would watch the boats pass while sitting on the public dock. Dee had always been around lakes since she was a kid as well. Her mom and dad both enjoyed fishing and often “going to the lake” was the family vacation.

Our first move to being a boating family came when we purchased a sailboat in 1980. A friend of mine at work bought a larger sailboat and was selling his Sunchaser 22 named Halcyon. He showed me pictures of him sailing on Lake Minnetonka and I fell in love with it immediately. I was so passionate about it when I described it to Dee she gave in to taking a look at it. I had never sailed but was convinced it wouldn’t be that difficult to figure it out. I had already bought a small handbook that was akin to “Sailing for Dummies” and read it cover to cover.

Tug Tips (Vol. 59)

  • Clean boat fenders with Magic Eraser. It also works well to eliminate stains and marks on walls.
  • Lemon juice eliminates those annoying brown stains on the dinghy and hull of your tug. Just spray it on, wait ten minutes and rinse with water. 
  • If the dinghy is really dirty try Gojo Natural Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner. Simply scrub it in with a scrub pad and rinse it off. 
  • Put a hose shutoff valve on the male end of your hose. It will save you a trip or two to the dock to turn the water on and off. 
  • Forever Green Bags will help keep fruits and vegetables fresh days longer on board.
  • Here are some uses for talcum powder that you may not have thought of. When rolling up an inflatable dinghy, sprinkle talcum powder on it to absorb mildew and make cleaning easier. Try mixing a tiny bit of talcum powder with water to make a paste that works as well as Goo Be Gone.
  • Do you have stiff anchor or dock lines? Add a half cup of fabric softener to two gallons of water and soak the lines overnight, rinse and dry away from the sun.
  • Lip Balm, cooking spray and petroleum jelly can help free jammed zippers and make canvas snaps easier to use.

  • Thistle and Victory 2014 First Cruise (Vol. 59)

    Bob Allnutt, Victory #2, and Ed and Mary Ann McChain, Thistle #47, enjoy the first cruise of the 2014 season anchored in Solomons Island, MD

    Repairing a Leaking Stateroom Hatch (Vol. 59)

    Deck hatch removed from Neptune #35
    Recently the stateroom hatch in Neptune #35 started leaking. Water got in via the caulked joint between the fiberglass and the hatch. When John Isaksen removed the hatch, which was difficult since there was a lot of caulk holding it down, he found that its stainless flange barely covered the opening.  
    Better than new

    In the top picture note the location of the screw holes.  Their proximity to the edge of the hatch shows how little of the flange actually rested on the fiberglass.  Rather than risk another leak because of the small mating area between the flange and fiberglass, he made a teak frame to go between the two. John reports that the stateroom is now drip free once again.

    Tinting Tug Windows (Vol. 59)

    By Andy Mutch, Loon #57
    (As excerpted from a 7 March 2013 Forum posting)

    We had window tinting ('Mylar' type foil sheet) professionally installed on the inside of the windows on Loon several years ago and we are still very pleased with the results. We picked a fairly 'dark' tint in the salon and, after a lot of discussions, we picked a much 'lighter' tint in the pilothouse. Both worked out as we had hoped. In the daytime, the heat buildup is noticeably less in the salon and we get some privacy help but that is not why we did it. At night, there is no privacy advantage but, again, that is not why we did it. We feel that the fabric colors have held up very well since we put in the tinting and we are cooler during the day. There is, also, much less glare from the sun and water. In the pilothouse, the lighter tint seems to be a fair compromise between heat buildup, color retention in the berth fabric, and visibility (which was my main concern on the bridge). There are some reflection issues underway at night and I find myself checking out the open doors from time to time, but I have never felt that we might miss something important on the water (like a supertanker coming at us) or even a hard-to-find navigation aid. The trick, we feel, was having the film put on by a professional. Ours did a really great job for us. We would do it again. Happy boating.

    "Waltisms" (Vol. 59)

    By Bicki Howell, Nellie D. #63
    Drainage groove at the bottom of the Dutch door
    After Jay Sterling and Marty Raymond bought their tug, CRUZ-IN #74, in 2006, they discovered many interesting enhancements 
    made by her previous owner, Walt Bacon. In fact, everywhere they looked there was something Walt had made: door latches; 
    drains; extra storage bins; towel holders; drawers; etc. Jay and Marty lovingly call these unique and useful upgrades 'Waltisms'. 

    A New Backsplash (Vol. 59)

    Last year Jay Sterling and Marty Raymond, owners of Cruz-in #74, redid their galley backsplash and countertop--the results speak for themselves.

    Annie Gets Her Cool Again (Vol. 59)

    By Craig Kurath, Annie #38

    After four years of adding refrigerant to Annie's slowly leaking refrigeration system, everything came to a halt. The evaporator had pinhole leaks since it was made of pressed aluminum parts that had corroded. The years of adding refrigerant had put so much oil in the system that it hydro locked! I talked to the manufacturer and he said the compressor should still be good and I should send it to him for testing and recharging and the installation of a new moisture remover. He fabricated a new evaporator that used copper for carrying the refrigerant and attached copper tubing to my specified length. This came pre-charged as well and can be called "plug and play". I moved the compressor from the starboard storage area to just above the propeller shaft and just forward of the ice box. This gave me a little more storage space and removed a dreadful run of copper tubing from the ice box to the compressor. I fabricated the platform from 1⁄4" aluminum and it only cost me a half case of Budweiser to have it modified once, since my measuring was so perfect the plate touched the fresh water tanks on the first try. Everything functioned the first time and it is a little quieter with the compressor in the bilge. 

    An item of interest on the left side of the photo is the drain hose from the ice box. It went to a catch bottle rather than just into the bilge. The bottle never had much water, but had some interesting growths in it. The catch bottle had to go to make room for the new aluminum platform.

    Rendezvous Schedule (Vol. 59)

    It was so much fun last year that we are doing a repeat performance by once again sponsoring three LNVT rendezvous! We are also thrilled to announce that special guest Tommy Chen (LNVT Builder) will be attending all three of these events.

    It all starts with the West Coast gathering which will be held over Labor Day weekend (30 August - 1 September) at the Olympia Harbor Days in Olympia, Washington. Contact Rendezvous Chairs Ted and Kim Shann, Tug E. Bear #62, at for any additional information. Next, we'll be getting together 12 - 15 September when the Mid West Coast Rendezvous returns to Hudson, Wisconsin. Contact Trev and Steph Croteau, Hjortie #33, at to get all the details. And finally, the East Coast Rendezvous will be returning to Church Creek, Maryland at Dave and Bicki Howell's home on 3-5 October. Contact Bicki Howell, Nellie D. #63, if you have any questions at

    Come join the fun. Sign yourself up here, today, for one or all three Rendezvous: Olympia, WA; Hudson, WI; and Church Creek, MD. Hope we see you there!

    For Sale (Vol. 59)

    Cover Girl (Vol. 59)

    Bill Rothert and Macy Galbreath's Lady #8 on opening day in Port Townsend, WA
    (Photo by Paul Happel)