Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just in from Knock Off 37VT66

Buster [who works for the boat yard] says the portside fuel fill fitting needs re-bedding—letting some water into the boat. That may be where the leak has been for the last ten years. I told him to fix both the port and starboard sides and to check the water fills. We were masked out of the boat so I couldn't get a picture of the bilge primer coat. It looked good through the vinyl sheeting, however. His guys are careful workers. 
They were getting ready to reinstall the [saloon top hand] rails. The hole in the deck have been pre-filled with something. The shipwright said he found the rubber bushings Tommy used. I'm having Sunbrella snap-on covers made for the rails. He was masking off the rails from the bedding compound to be applied.
They've prepped the mast for paint too. Here's what else I found going on with the bright work yesterday.  The interiors of the doors are next.  They’re using a satin varnish on the interior sides.  Hope they find all the hardware that was removed!
The light boards weren’t in bad condition but they sure look better than ever.  When I refinished them a few seasons back I used spade electrical connectors so they aren’t hard to remove.

You’ve probably noticed how dark the teak is—I think  it’s a combination of using the two-part varnish as the prime coat and the numerous coats of traditional varnish on top.  I rather like it.  They’ve sanded the dark spots on the cap rail and will be applying two coats of Cetol to that teak this week.  Buster said she may go outside again early next week.  It would be nice to keep her there until April!

The fuel tanks are to be delivered this week. 

We inspected the tuned and polished prop that Ralph of Digital Prop Shop had at his office.  He said the prop had some dings from the times Dave Howell made me plow through mud and some what he described as waves.  But he said it was nothing serious.  It sure looked too good to put back in the bay.  He likes the Pettit antifouling paint for props and rudders—I’ve used it two or three seasons now and it seems to work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Head/Shower Faucet Washer Replacement

Found this 1/4" beveled washer at Ace Hardware to be a perfect replacement for the original LNVT faucets.

Dave Howell
Nellie D. #63

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saloon Window Replacement on Hiaqua 37VT03 (Tuggers Vol. 63)

Our windows are a mess. S/S channels are hammered beyond rework and we want screens etc, so am looking at replacing them with Diamond Sea Glaze. 

We cruised with Capt Mike last fall and the previous owner had DSG 3/8" tempered installed for about $20k. Must have included labor in & out, crating & shipping to AK etc since we are only looking at just over $5k with no labor and no shipping for 1/4 tempered.  Boy, what a job. Laborious grunt work!!  First window took 5 hrs and then it was decision time to even proceed.  I talked Yvonne into hanging in there and once we figured out what was involved and a system it dropped to one hour each. Heat gun to soften the poly sulfide, putty knife, Fein, pry bar and persevering.  One center Salon window had been removed but the rest were original. None of the wall frames were filled solid and sealed, so we will fill and seal. 

After tracing & measuring the openings, fwd salon slopes up 4 degrees, center square and aft slopes up in the rear 2 degrees.   [compiled from several Feb 2015 emails from Randy Miller,]

Friday, February 20, 2015

How Many Screws in the Rubrail?

There are 157 screws in the rubrail according to Allan Seymour, Sally W 37VT42.

Allan and Sally Seymour, 20 February 2015, Key West, Florida.

This just in from Carolina 41VT06

Jose Sousa looking quite relaxed on the water with his tug, Carolina 41#6, in Laura Cove Desolation Sound.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chef John, courtesy of Al Robichaud

Every Tuesday John Isaksen  invites a few of his buddies over for grilled cheese sandwiches aboard the Neptune #35.  There is always a good time and sometimes some serious deliberations even take place.


Radiant Heating (Tuggers Vol. 62)

By Tom Bauer, Semper Fidelis #59

When I put in my Hurricane hot water heating system, I routed the hose through some pretty dark and damp areas. I came up with the idea of repurposing old baseboard finned tubes. I put various lengths in several areas to dry and circulate the air. I plumbed them all in the return line, so I consider it free heat, especially when underway. There's a 24" section under the forward berth.  I didn't use any fans but use just convection to rotate the air. I found plenty of sources for used, free fin tube. 

I just cut the tube about 6" longer than needed and carefully slid off about 3" of fin plates from each end. I made a clean cut with a tubing cutter, brightened up the ends and soldered on a standard brass sweat fitting. I chose 3/4", female NPT and then screwed in a barb fitting. It worked great. Especially in the forward closet. 

I hope some owners can make use of this tip.

New Spreader Lights (Tuggers Vol. 62)

From Allan Seymour, Sally W #42

Don't let the blue sky fool you in the photo to the left. That's a winter sky in Vermont behind the mast and spreader displaying a new LED light.

LEDs are here to stay. They have a tremendous advantage due to low current draw and long life. I found these lights for my spreader for $37 per pair. If you were to buy them at a marine store they would be well over a hundred. They are equivalent to the incandescent spreader lights that many of us have.  Due to the fact that they are only 18 watts apiece, the wire size can be small.  When ordering make sure to specify it's the flood lights that you want.   

Here's the link:

Grounding Issues (Tuggers Vol. 62)

By Allan Seymour, Sally W #42

When we hauled our tug last fall, areas around three thru-hulls revealed what looked like corrosion. Some people call them haloes.   Investigation found that there is no consensus about the cause.  I talked with a corrosion specialist who believes it has something to do with electrical current because it occurred around the thru-hulls. Some people believe they most likely occur due to interaction between the copper bottom paint and the bronze strainer or the thru-hull. Even though the strainer is not bolted to the thru-hull, corrosion can still occur because salt water is a conductor of electricity.

              "Some People call them haloes."

The yard assumed that improper bonding caused the haloes.  Bonding is electrically joining all the metal parts that penetrate through the hull. Done properly to today's American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) standards, there should be a green wire of fairly good size that runs from each fitting, including the rudder, prop shaft, and engine, to a common ground point inside the boat. It appears that when our tugs were built around three decades ago, the accepted practice was to bond to the engine. At some point hence ABYC dictated that the engine should not be used as a ground buss. 

The solution: create a dedicated buss bar that should not be connected to the shore power neutral white wire. I removed all bonding connections from the greasy old wet engine and put them onto a nice neat clean buss bar conveniently located.  I then relocated the electrical grounds that were on the engine to a point on the ceiling directly above it.  

It's important to remember that the engine still needs to be grounded.

Winterizing the engine on Dun Wurkin (Tuggers Vol. 62)

By John Barker, Dun Wurkin #45


With winter passing and the need to winterize your engine passing along with it, I thought I would share how I winterized the engine on Dun Wurkin to possibly help my fellow Tuggers NEXT winter!  There is nothing like timeliness, and this is nothing like timeliness!


Tools.  The picture below shows some of the tools and materials I used.  

1. Bucket: The bucket is a special "no-drip" 4 gallon flat bottomed paint bucket from Lowes (it held 5 gallons).
2. Hose: The hose is a reinforced radiator hose from Auto Zone that I cut to a length of 13 inches.  The hose has an inside diameter of 1.5 inches.
3. Antifreeze:  I bought 5 gallons of pink RV antifreeze from Walmart and I used about 4.5 gallons.
4. A flat tipped screwdriver for taking off the impeller hose clamps and installing/uninstalling the Auto Zone radiator hose.
5. Funnel from Walmart to pour the left over antifreeze back into the bottle.
6. Two new SS hose clamps.
7. Towel or paper towels.



Here is a close-up of the label on the bucket.  The wide flat bottom was to reduce the chance of the bucket tipping over and making a mess. 

Step One:  Gather materials.


Step Two:  Place a towel or paper towels under the impeller housing.  Note: I chose to flush the engine with antifreeze through the impeller on the forward-port side of my engine because that was where I had the best access.


Step Three: Remove the upper end of the raw water intake hose leading into the impeller housing.  For me this meant using a flat tipped screwdriver and taking off the two hose clamps (I used this opportunity to replace my SS clamps).  I reused one of the old hose clamps to temporarily install the radiator hose.  


Step Four: Install the radiator hose using one of the old hose clamps.  This is a tight fit because there is not much room on my engine between the bottom of the impeller housing and the bottom of the bilge, so I shoved the bucket underneath the impeller housing and then installed the radiator hose.  The radiator hose pressed down into the bottom of the bucket and helped hold the bucket in place.  Here is a picture:


Step Five:  Fill the bucket with antifreeze.  I filled mine with 5 gallons.  Here is a picture:

Step Six:  Crank the engine and watch until the environmentally friendly pink antifreeze comes out the back of the boat with the exhaust, then turn off the engine.  Here is a picture showing the level of antifreeze remaining in the bucket when I turned off the engine (Note: the red gas can in this picture is not for gasoline.  It catches the periodic oil that comes from the engine turbocharger).




Step Seven: Take the radiator hose off of the impeller housing and remove the mostly-empty bucket from the engine room and clean-up.  Here is a picture of the antifreeze bottle showing how much antifreeze was left in the bucket when I turned the engine off:


You are done.

Waves from the Northeast (Tuggers Vol. 62)

By Sally Seymour, Sally W #42



Photo: BENIGN SETTING Teddy Bear #15, one day after the Blizzard of 2015 in New England. Peter Reich reported 30 inches of snow and 5 foot drifts, just off-camera.


There's a great contrast (and jealousy) between Teddy Bear's winter setting on Long Island, NY and ours in Camden, Maine.

Photo:  Sally W's summer home between these pilings that hold the docks at Wayfarer Marine in Camden Harbor. The boatyard must break up the ice 2-3 times per week to prevent ice buildup from lifting the pilings out of the mud.


Sally W #42 has been on the hard for three months, and we're looking at another four before splashing in mid-May. Here in northern New England it's amusing when non-boating friends ask if the tug is in the water. Ha! And it's even more amusing when we tell them we're going to drive 4-1/2 hours from our home in Vermont to visit the boat during winter. They'll ask if we're going to stay on it!  

Photo: Sally W high and dry. At least shrink-wrap isn't necessary.



Being covered in a shed doesn't put an end to projects though. It merely limits them. Sally W #42 relinquishes her exteriordoors and floorboards to her captain for a light sanding and fresh coat of varnish at home in a warm workshopAllan also polishes the brass hardware.


Peter Reich on Long Island, NY is able to keep Teddy Bear #15 in the water during these non-cruising months.  The off-seasondoesn't seem to restrict the "To Do" list. He replaced all 9 dome lights with LEDs, finding brass warm white/red lights at They are an exact replacement of the original ones, and he's "very happy with them."


In January he began installing new refrigeration. "The unit we had installed shortly after we bought the boat, 30 years ago failed beyond repair after about 7 years.  We have been using ice since.  My business partner recently sold his hotel/restaurant and that ended my unlimited supply of free ice!  We purchased a Frigoboat unit from   Our original until was water-cooled.  The strainer would constantly clog and had to replace the Marchal raw water pump several times.  The Frigoboat unit is keel cooled and uses no piped water.  The copper tubing with refrigerant actually passes out through the hull in a sealed copper block to condense the refrigerant.  The compressor is also variable speed and supposedly (hopefully) very efficient." 


  "Rather than cool the WHOLE icebox, I replaced the removable plexiglass shelf with a permanent insulated shelf. The shelf is made of 3/4" Starboard that I rabbeted and sits on the shelf ledge. Below that are 2 layers of 2" Dow Board foam insulation. They rest on light aluminum angle irons.  I cut the Dow Board very loose and foamed in place with spray foam.  The Starboard shelf is a tight fit and sealed with silicone. l built the shelf on the boat while under her fitted canvas winter cover.  Since it is dark, the new lights have come in handy!  Since the boat is in the water, I obviously can't complete the project until we short haul in the spring and install the new thru hull.


  The other project we are considering is replacing our 30-year old Raytheon radar with Furuno's new First Watch Radar.  The radome only needs wires for power and it sends the image to multiple iPad/iPhones.  I've played around with the free simulator app on my iPad and like it, but since it just came out I'm waiting to hear some more reviews before pulling the trigger on this project."



Around these parts if you don't choose to haul for the winter, you'd best head south. Roger Lee and Martha Burke left their home in nearby Belfast, ME aboard Fram #71 on November 3 to cruise down the east coast's Intracoastal Waterway. Early on, they spent the night in Fairhaven, MA where John and Ellen Isaksen keep Neptune #35An LNVT on the move is a magnetWannabees Al and Diane Robichaud who live near the Isakensjoined the party, and we couldn't pass up a good time either.  



Roger and Martha's trip south was filled with many adventures that were enhanced by weather challenges. The voyage is documented in their excellent blog: To date they have left Fram in Charleston, SC and returned to Maine for a short hiatus. With Belfast receiving two feet of snow in the recent blizzard, we guess they'll be back aboard soon.




We love Christmas cards from LNVT friends, especially when they have tug themes. Dean and Pam McChesneyFun #76, of Old Saybrook, CT sent this great shot.

Photo: Summer memories aboard Fun #76.


This just in from Callisto #19 (Tuggers Vol. 62)

This picture aired on Vermont's WCAX-TV fourteen-minute recap of  2014 highlights from around the state.  Several friends called owners Bill and Keefer Irwin to say they spotted Callisto #19 in the broadcast. Keefer writes, "How honored we all should feel that a photographer was driving by and was inspired to catch the beauty of an LNVT!"

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Repairing a Failed VDO Hour Meter/Cummins Engine (Tuggers Vol. 63)

Nellie's VDO hour meter stopped working. The tachometer, which contains the hour meter continued to work fine. This is a common problem on LNVTs. The hour meter's gears are plastic and they simply wear out with extended use. The choice is either to repair or replace the unit. I chose to repair it for the following reasons:

1. The repair cost is about the same as the price of a new unit.
2. A new unit would have a different bezel than all the other instruments on Nellie's panel.
3. The repaired hour meter can be updated to include all the hours since the meter broke (a new VDO's hour meter can't be updated--it must start at 0 hours).
4. New VDOs require a different wiring harness. The old one is plug and play.

Pictured above is the unit repaired by Lauderdale Speedometer and Compass. The hour reading was updated from 5642.35 to 5835.00. Total cost for repair and rejuvenation was just under $200. Hopefully it'll last another 5,600 hours.

Dave Howell
Nellie D. 37VT63

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Finish Failures Can Darken Wood (Tuggers Vol. 63)

This past summer, while the crew of Cruz-In 37VT74 was away, a deck leak allowed water to drip and pool inside the liquor cabinet. The picture shows the dramatic effect on the surrounding wood's color. The teak wood in both the deck and on the sides of liquor cabinet was the most affected. The laban in the floor, the yard used laban in lieu of holly, was also affected but less so. Interestingly, the areas of darkened wood weren't underwater but are structurally connected to the wet area. Perhaps water vapor is migrating under the finish of the connected components. Whatever the cause, the good news is that removing the finish and then lightly sanding the wood brings the original color back.

There's evidence that Cruz-In's wood darkening is happening on Nellie D. 37VT63 too.  And as in Cruz-In's case I believe the explanation has to do with water (humidity) and the OEM wood finish.

The above picture is of a darkened spot in Nellie's pilothouse.  I suspect that water or humidity penetrated the finish.   I'll follow Cruz-In's example in the repair process.

Dave Howell
Nellie D. 37VT63

New Circuit Labels for the Breaker Panel

After 28 years the circuit labels on Nellie D. 37VT63's breaker panel were looking rather sad. Because the breakers were repurposed over the years (to support things that didn't exist in 1987--like MFDs, routers, NMEA 2000 bus, etc) the breaker's labels became a patchwork of different colors, fonts and sizes. They were, in a word, unattractive.

A neat solution is to have a trophy shop laser etch new, black plastic labels for the breaker panel. And, rather than have them do individual placards for each breaker, one big placard can service an entire column of breakers. This gives a much more integrated look.

Three placards are needed, one AC and two DC. Here's the measured diagram for the AC circuit. The placard's outside dimension was chosen as it covers all traces of the old breaker labels. To make the new label easier to read a single line of all capital letters was specified. The trophy shop determined the proper font size, which was used for all three placards, by fitting the longest label, FLOOR LIGHTS WHITE, in the given space. Affixing the placards was a breeze using the provided, double sided, sticky tape. At $5/placard this project is not only effective it's affordable.

Hat tip to Jay a Sterling, Cruz-In 37VT74, for coming up with this idea.

Dave Howell
Nellie D.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Port Side Deck Leaks (Tuggers Vol. 62)

Some water has been getting below deck in Nellie's port side wine locker. This port side leak is common on LNVTs but I could never figure out why.  And why just on the port side?  Serendipity struck the other day while replacing a bung and screw on the teak deck board closest to the cabin side (see picture below).  When drilling into the hole the bit broke through the deck after only 3/4".  This is unusual because the yard put fiberglass battens under the deck specifically so 3/4" screws wouldn't penetrate below deck.  The battens make the deck about 1-7/8" thick.  Looking into the hole I just drilled I was surprised to see an electrical wire. The bit had penetrated into a factory original, PVC, electrical conduit. The conduit, which is bonded in place with fiberglass, runs just under the deck, paralleling and outboard of the cabin side.  It turns out that water was leaking by the screw and into the conduit.  From there it was literally piped into the liquor cabinet where it dripped out the electrical junction box. 

Cruz-In #74, which has a Mehrken's Galley, had the exact same problem on her port side.  So, if you've got water dripping from the electrical junction box in your wine locker, check the deck screws closest to the cabin sides.  Start your inspection just forward of the Dutch door and work aft to just under the middle saloon window.

The sanded deck areas show where the bungs and deck screws were replaced with 3/4" teak dowels. It was while drilling out the screw hole closest to the cabin side that the electrical conduit was discovered.  The nominal deck thickness in areas with battens is 1-7/8"--except those areas above the conduit.

This is the electrical box on the ceiling of the liquor cabinet from which water was dripping.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Welcome Aboard Wannabe Steve Winter of Gig Harbor

My background has been all sailboats, but as I get older it becomes more of a challenge with sailing. Plus the Puget Sound area is not all that great for wind, which makes sailing more of a motoring event. I really like the looks and the background of the lnvt and feel that this would fit my needs for cruising. I look forward to meeting others and hearing about their tugs.

Thanks, Steve.