Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Almost ready to get started...

Over the last five years or so I've regularly watched a YouTube channel of a guy who's bought a boat and embarked in a restoration.

On one hand it's been very entertaining as the guy in question makes good shows and does a better than most exposition of how to do stuff. While on the other hand it was interesting as he tended to make a lot of mistakes and was pretty forthright in letting you know about them.

What has been less enjoyable is the ongoing mission creep his restoration has gone through and as his popularity and income have increased the way it's become something of a consumerish cornucopia of installing the best and most expensive stuff he can find.

Which, I'll admit, is just fine where he's concerned and of course he has the right to spend as much money as he can afford doing his boat the way he wants to. But, for me, the problem is that they don't call youtubers "influencers" for nothing and it sends a message that the answer to most all issues where boats are concerned is more stuff more money. 

But, That's not how we roll here.

Since I've mentioned that I'm about to start building another self-steering gear I've received no shortage of emails telling me that folks are looking forward to some in-depth coverage of how I'm doing it. Then again, there's been quite a few folks telling me I'm an idiot because you need to spend over $5K to get a decent self-steering gear and that you get what you pay for and I expect you all know how much the "You get what you pay for" thing really gets up my nose.

I now have almost all of the materials needed for the Self-steering build and it looks like the total out-of-pocket expenses will not exceed $350-dollars. The good news is, at worst, it will be as good as an Auto-helm self-steering gear ($5250) and, more than likely, will work considerably better.

So, more on the self-steering ASAP...

Monday, August 23, 2021

It's almost boat show time...

This is about the time of year I perk up and pay attention to the various and sundry pre-boatshow press releases as there are usually some interesting bits of information on where boat design is going.

Take this new boat from Dufour...

It's the smallest boat in the Dufour line which in itself is interesting but the inflatable transom thingy certainly caught my attention.

Whatever it is it is most certainly a bit out of the box and most certainly bears looking into.

By the way, I'm well aware that a new Dufour, no matter how small, is not going to be a potential VolksCruiser until it's at least ten years older and on the used market. So, why the hell am I interested now?

Mostly mostly it's all about new ideas. Boat shows are full of interesting features and (dare I say it?) cunning plans. Some wind up being pretty useless or dumb but a few are real improvements and a minute number become real game changers.

Offhand, I don't think the inflatable transom thingy is a game changer but it is an out-of-the-box idea that could easily be reverse engineered, DIY'd, and retrofitted to a VolksCruiserish boat. 

Which for me makes boat shows and the press releases leading up to them a wonderful source of ready to be purloined ideas that just might make a big difference in the performance or livability of your old classic plastic design.

Need I say more?

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Why I'm building the B&B self-steering design...

The idea of self-steering is, for all practical purposes, a pretty simple concept and most all self-steering systems reflect that. Or at least the good ones do.

The problem with the idea of home building a self-steering gear, for most people at least, is that they tend to have a certain amount of mechanical parts which tend to be just a little bit fiddly to construct and sourcing various fiddly parts is more than just a little problematic.

Some time ago, I designed a self-steering gear that, with the exception of the auxiliary rudder and trim tab, consisted of off-the-shelf items made by a single company which made sourcing the "fiddly" bits simple, cheap, and required zero machining or welding. The downside of the design was that as soon as I started to sell plans for the self-steering the company that made the fiddly bits was absorbed by another company who's first decision was to discontinue sales of the parts in my design. Bummer.

Since then, I've pretty much advised folks interested in building their own self-steering gear to do what I do and just build a clone of the Auto-Helm gear as it is dead simple, has a minimum of "fiddly" bits, fairly cheap to build and works very well on just about any boat.

A little over a year ago one of my favorite sources of dinghy plans, B&B, mentioned that they were currently working on a DIY self-steering gear and, looking at the available information at the time, I said to myself that it's pretty much a clone of the Auto-Helm but noticed one big difference...

The B&B rudder was not mounted to the transom but to a "rudder post" that allowed the rudder to kick up in the event of hitting something. Better yet, the rudder post also lets you raise the rudder out of the water if you needed to motor in reverse (an issue for auxiliary rudder systems) or just stow the self-steering gear upside down above the transom when not needed. A small but truly brilliant improvement.

Now, I'll admit, my first thought was to simply build my normal Auto-Helm clone and just purloin the rudder post idea but, since the plans were only $50 bucks and in my view the rudder post idea was easily worth more than that, I decided to just buy the plans.

Now that I've actually received the plans I'm glad I did because they are excellent as well as incredibly detailed and pretty much tyro proof. Obviously B&B has sold tons of dinghy plans and in the process they've learned  how to design plans that are easy to build. The plans are actually more than enough to build the gear but they also include a "Builders Guide" which goes that little bit further to answer any possible questions one might have in the how or why things go together.

At the moment they have three sizes of Windvane self-steering gears, the Rover, Nomad, and Wayfarer which are size appropriate to fit most any boat you might have. In our case we're going with the Wayfarer...

So, that's the self-steering I'm about to start building and hope to get into it in the next week or so, "H" season willing. There are three potential storms heading our way as I write this.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Almost time to get to doing...

A quick update on the self-steering project. I now have all the various bits on island with the excepting of the needful wood which is just a dinghy row away.

So, hopefully, in the next few days I'll be getting the wood for the project along with a few sheets of plywood for a new dinghy build and be able to sort out the actual cost.

More about the actual self-steering design tomorrow...