Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Things I thought I'd never say

Things I thought I'd never say: "No Buddy, you need to put a bathing suit on.... the people driving by don't want to see your bare bottom."

Our "guardian dog" is faulty.

Written by Prospector.....

Actually, so is our mouse trap.

This all began the other night when SWMBO saw a mouse on the counter and decided to take care of it with 4 strategically placed traps of the standard type and size.

In night one, one trap was disturbed, and a recently deceased mouse was found in it and disposed of. All was well.
Night 2 had 3 traps cleaned of bait, and a mouse in the third trap, caught by his leg. Not as well, but nevertheless, somewhat effective.
Night 3 had one trap disturbed and a mouse, very much alive, caught by the tail.

"Aha!" says I, "A chance to test the mettle of our ferocious guardian dog." I called Bernie over, and ever hopeful for a scrap of something delicious from the counter she bounded alongside me. "Sit" says I. And she, in a most obedient manner did as told.

I put the trapped mouse on the ground in front of her and made angry sounds. She sniffed inquisitively, and as her nose touched it, the mouse lurched and dragged the trap about an inch across the floor. Bernie, on the other hand jumped clear across the room, ran for the door and cowered in a corner. As any good trainer would do, I split my gut laughing.

I picked up the still trapped mouse and took it outside the the stump of death. Bernie followed at a distance, still unsure of herself. Hoisting the axe of deliverance above the mouse, I most swiftly sent it to join the choir invisible (or at least to eat their crumbs). With that nasty bit of business taken care of I called Bernie over. Tail between her legs, she came carefully over, sniffed the mouse, and then turned and ran for the house where she whined and pawed the door to get back inside. This is the dog we got to protect our property from coyotes.

She has been most bravely lying under the bed ever since. I hope there aren't any mice under there.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Joys of 'Naptime'

Dear three year old:

Poop des not make a good race track for your dinky cars. Trust me.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

your bugs like the cucumber?

"Daddy, there a cucumber in your beer."
"Yes Buddy, that's a lime."
"Daddy the bugs like your cucimber!"

Daddy discovered that Bud had been feeding the bugs into his Corona so that they could eat the 'cucumber!'

Sunday, 22 May 2011

on incubating....

So I put my incubator in lockdown on Tuesady, 'cause I thought my chicks were due Friday. Then was terribly dissapointed when nothing hatched, but left it 'cause i didn't have time to clean it.

The 8 chicks that have hatched today, plus the ones that have pipped, are happy that I didn't dump them in the compost. Apparently, I wrote their due date down wrong!!

Friday, 20 May 2011


After coming in from feeding the chickens this morning:

"Mommy!! I opened it!!"
"uh oh.... what did you open??"
"I open da CANDY!!"

Candy has now been removed to a very high shelf.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

picnic in the rain...

buddy wants to have his apple outside for a picnic... and asked me to get him his umbrella so that he could stay dry!!

maybe we should get that zoo membership....

"Mommy, Owl is a chicken."

"um no, owl is an owl... that's his name and what he is."

"no mommy, he a chicken."

Sunday, 15 May 2011

what we found in buddy's hair..

Dear Three Year Old:

Diaper cream does not make a good substitute for finger paint. Also, your dresser does not need to be painted with any medium at the moment.

Love, Mama

Friday, 13 May 2011

The big Install...

I actually installed the stereo and faceplate and lighters and switch panel about a week ago, but I didn't want to post about it without a picture. Tonight I was out power washing the boat and I got a pic.

I'm really happy with how everything came together. The radio is kind of cheesy, and I have to make speaker boxes yet, but it all looks good and I can swap out pieces as need be.

Tomorrow is launch day, and having waited to post this means I am behind and will have a stockpile of stuff to post up over the next few days. I also have the boat in the lake and that means I can go play. Hmmmm - post here or play there. We'll have to see which wins out. In the meantime you can enjoy my new (but sprayed upon) panel, and newly varnished woodwork. One drawer is still waiting for its turn to be varnished, can you tell which?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Buddy has decided to climb into one of the boxes that I used to bring in groceries today.

Chuckles is trying to convince me to send him off to Timbuktu. She even has the tape out & ready!!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

the world is his urinal.

my son just ran past the upstairs toilet, past the downstairs toilet, and ran outside.... so that he could pee behind a tree!!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

just in case....

In case anyone was wondering, if I ever manage to lock myself in the chicken coop, I can in fact get out.

Not that that happened or anything.

Friday, 6 May 2011

2 Cigarette Outlets

You might think that adding cigarette lighters to the panel would be a breeze. You might think that having executed such amazing woodworking and finishing, that having everything fit and the wires all go in the right places, you might think that after all that, that for me, adding a couple 12 volt outlets would like making a cheeseburger for a gourmet chef. Nearly insulting, but still worth of my time. If that's what you would think, I have other news.

First was the problem of finding the right 12 volt outlet. Finding a generic outlet is easy. There are dozens of them. Many are designed to hang beneath the dashboard from an L shaped bracket. Others are faceplate designs with a plastic or chrome tang that you put a screw through. The style I was looking for was one that screwed together in a sort of compression fitting hiding any mounting hardware. Making things more difficult, I also wanted the outlet to be lit such that I could find it at night.

It took much hunting before I found the right outlet. When I did, they were more expensive than I had hoped, but these things always are. I bought the last 2 on the shelf and dragged them home.

In order to mount the outlets I had to make a sort of bowl in the back of the faceplate. The outlets could be mounted through a board not more than 1/4" thick. I used a spade bit to remove the plywood from the back of the faceplate, until the point was through the wood, but the tangs of the bit had just exposed the Afromosia (which from here in will be called teak).

Flipping the board over, I got a smaller drill bit that barely matched the inside diameter of the lighted trim ring for the lighter. Holding the drill as straight as I could I got it up to speed, then eased it into the hole created by the point of the first drill. Immediately the bit grabbed, twisted in my hand, and dug in with one tang. Before you could say "Insert expletive here" the drill gouged the wood and shook the piece violently. I took the drill out and looked at the oddly shaped oblong I had made. The mark would show, but the outlet would still fit. I decided to fix the problem at a later date. No sense crying over spilt milk. I was much more careful on the second hole, and it went without problem.

Because the trim ring was lit, there was a small light bulb that stuck out the side of the lighter body, like a mole or pimple. I got a chisel, and working from the plywood back of the mounting plate, carved away space for the light to go in the back of the plate, hidden from view.

Now that I had a pair of cigarette lighters in the plate, I tested with a 9 volt battery, and to my pleasure, everything worked. I brought up the plate and showed my handywork to SWMBO. It is hard to describe the level of excitement she reached when seeing it. Oh well, I was happy.

Next step: the install.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Buddy's Third Birthday Party....

A sneak peak before the 'real' post.....

In Which I Build a Faceplate

Building a faceplate doesn't sound like an especially difficult thing to do. I mean all you need is a flat board that you can attach a bunch of stuff to. How hard is that? Well, let me take you back a few years, and maybe it will start to make sense.

In about 1986 I took woodshop in school. Each person in the class chose a project, chose their lumber and set to work building a small piece of furniture. I chose a table with a chessboard for its top. My teacher, using his kindest words, asked if I thought the design was a little simple considering the equipment at hand. I really liked the looks of the table though, so I stuck to my guns. Its a good thing I did.

Once this table/chessboard was complete, it wobbled on two legs, the crossbars were out of square, and the chessboard itself was the only thing worth mentioning. My final step was to sand down and apply a finish to the piece. I ran the board through a variety of sanding machines, and finally was done. In some places the chessboard was a full inch thick. In others it was barely 1/4". There were hills and valleys, and in general ugliness. I think it was eventually burned or thrown out, or used for a dog toy. The teacher suggested he would pass me if I promised not to take his class again.

For years I stayed clear of woodworking, until in a fit of stupid, I decided to build my own canoe paddle. I researched woods and discovered that basswood was the wood of choice for its light weight and springiness. It could be laminated with harder strips to give it strength and make sure it wasn't too springy. I laminated up a blank with cherry, ash and basswood. Then shaped the paddle with a hand plane. When I was done, the paddle had some oddities, but felt nice in the hand. I went for a canoe trip. The paddle, all three pieces of it, are sitting at the bottom of a rapid in Northern Ontario.

A few other experiences like these, and I pretty much agreed with that teacher. anything beyond basic screwing together of boards to make boxes should be avoided. The liquor cabinet has been on the to-do list for 2 years now. No coincidence.

But now I need to get this switch panel in place. I need to install the stereo. I need to get it done, and good weather is here and I should be out sailing, not fixing. In haste I rummaged around in the basement and found a piece of 3/4" exterior plywood. Maybe I would make a template and test the water.

I ran the plywood through the saw and cut it to size, then took it to the boat and traced the cutouts for the stereo and switchpanel onto it. Some quick work with a jigsaw and the holes were cut to size. A test fit, and the panel and stereo fit through the plywood and into place nicely. Now its time to work with teak.

A few years back, I bought the smallest piece of afromosia I could find to make a holder for my clock, barometer, and hygrometer in the cabin. The holder consisted of a hunk of wood with three holes drilled through and the dials pressed into place. That was woodworking at my level. What was left of the afromosia wasn't big enough for what I had to build. The price of teak caused heart failure, I could afford to screw up with the afrormosia, it was much more affordable. I cooked up a plan.

I set the table saw to 1/4" and cut long strips from the piece of afromosia. Then I cut down the plywood blank by 1/4" in on each side. Cutting the afromosia strips to length, I made a frame around the outside of the test piece of plywood, epoxied the frame to the ply, and waited overnight.

The next day I test fit the plywood piece again to be sure everything still lined up. It did, and everything felt pretty solid. Small happy dance.

Now I laminated more strips of afromosia to the face of the plywood. I made it a two step process so that my spring clamps could hold the board securely to the face of the plywood, and my bar clamps could hold the strips to each other. After the second day, I had a pretty good looking setup. The afromosia was all holding to the plywood and itself, and everything was solid. I ran the piece through the saw to clean up the edges, and apart from a little glue squeezeout, everything was looking great.

My next step was to clean up the epoxy squeezeout on the face of the panel. This had me very nervous. Using a power hand plane that SWMBO gave to me as a gift, I gently cleaned up the face of the plate, trying my best not to allow the plane to dig in or grab at the wood. I have destroyed many things with this tool. Being so careful paid off. The wood was mostly fine, with just one or two little gouges that would sand out.

Things were now getting nervous as I approached the stages where things normally head downhill. SWMBO's grandfather had given us a router table when he moved out of his house. I set it up with a 1/4-round bit, and ran the faceplate through it to radius the corners. Replacing the bit with a straight bit I cutout the spots where the radio and switch panel would go. Everything still looked great.

For my next step, I attached some heavy grit sandpaper to a 1X6 and used it to sand the faceplate smooth. The gouges came out. I switched to a finer grit and continued until things looked good. Ever mindful of my chessboard experience, I was careful not to dig in with sandpaper, and went easy.

Finally it was time to think about varnish. Up in the garage the faceplate joined the cupboards and got a coat of spar varnish cut with paint thinner. Then a number of coats of straight spar varnish until it started to shine, each coat with a light sanding in between.

With all the varnishing complete the plate has a nice slick look to it. It is all glossy and pretty. A quick test fit and it still fits the spot, and holds the radio and switches. Just one problem, the guys on the Catalina forum managed to convince me that some 12 Volt outlets would be a good idea to have near the panel. There is space for them. Maybe tomorrow I can alter the panel and mount them in it.

Monday, 2 May 2011

2nd cousins (all boys!!)

2nd Cousins, L-R, Baby Cousin B, Buddy, Cuppa
And the next 2nd cousin is due this coming October

Wires Teach Woodworking

The first step to rewiring the breaker panel was to make a list of all the electronica on board, all the stuff in the basement waiting to be installed, and to leave room for future expansion. The evaluation gave some insights that I had missed before. All the gauges in the cockpit are backlit. The compass has an internal light. I had a stereo system waiting to be installed. There was a spare circuit panel in the basement.

Examination of the circuit panel revealed that a number of circuits were duplicates that weren't necessary for me. For instance, there was a separate power lead to each gauge on the boat, all bonded at the panel. Rather than have 5 wires leading from one breaker, I was able to reduce it to a port and starboard run off the switch, then daisy chain the gauges one to the next. A great reduction in both the amount of wire and in the confusion at the panel, with no less risk of the gauges going dead. This same scenario played itself out a number of times.

After my paper sketches, I determined that I would install the second panel and run all the original Catalina circuits to it. That meant the mast lights, nav lights, and cabin would be on one panel, directly run to the buss off the battery switch. The original panel would now carry all the "accessory" loads and new stuff, which would include the stereo and a new GPS Chart plotter - three way gift from my Mom, SWMBO and myself. Really it is an indulgence I can't afford, but really wanted. The original panel would maintain its existing connection to the batteries.

In order to mount the new panel, I had limited choices. if I wanted to keep the panels together, I would have to move the 110vac panel to a new location on the galley bulkhead. a project that I didn't relish. I could mount the new panel near the batteries where I had already mounted a solar charge controller and switch for the shore power charger, but that space has proven less convenient than was originally anticipated. I considered a few other spots, and then it was suggested to me that others have mounted these switches on the face of the galley sink cabinetry.

The spot is very appealing as it is both close to the original panel and easy to reach from the cockpit, but I was worried about the wires contacting the stainless steel sink and arcing. after receiving assurances from a handful of folks who have gone ahead with mounting panels in this location, I got the saw going and cut the requisite mounting hole. A test-fit of the panel looked good.

I knew I would have to build a mount for the GPS Chart plotter, a welcome project after having seen both a fish finder and the handheld GPS re-enact world championship ping-pong matches in the cockpit footwell, sometimes with dangerous results. The stereo was another matter.

Mounting the stereo was vexing because it meant yet another permanent hole in the boat. It needed to be someplace that it could be killed quickly if a MAYDAY came over the radio or things were getting intense. I looked for a location as good as the one that had been suggested for the breaker panel.

I thought about mounting the radio in the vee berth, but that would not have been easy to reach to silence it quickly. I looked at the locker opposite the head, but that would have been, well, weird ("Let me sit down and choose a good station... I'll be out in a minute..."). After much consternation, I looked more closely at the area where I was mounting the breaker panel. There was space for the stereo beside the breaker panel, but the mounting depth would be really tight. It looked like I would be shy by about three quarters of an inch for the depth needed to mount the stereo. If only the sink drain weren't right there.

I grabbed a beer and did some thinking. My best thinking seems to happen with a beer in hand.

Recklessly, I grabbed the saw and cut the hole for the stereo, I would find a way to make it fit. Maybe by angling it under the drain or something. There would be a way.

With the hole I cut I sized it for the radio. I needed a lot of help to make it fit in there. First off, the side of the "Factory Ice melter" AKA the ice box, Catalina's poor attempt at refrigeration that sucked in seawater while underway, and cooled nothing at all had a bulge that protruded about a quarter inch into the realm of the stereo, then the sink drain still looked like it wanted to encroach.

I ground down the side of the icebox. The stereo could now get far enough into the hole to almost fit. a little wiggling and I came to rest solidly against the sink's drain. Dammit. The radio was proud of the face of the fibreglass by almost an inch. I angled it under the sink's plumbing and it sortof fit the way a Kawasaki sortof fits a Hell's Angel. I could do better.

I had removed the cupboard frames under the sink to refinish them and to make working on the wiring easier. I measured them. Nearly an inch thick. I needed an inch to make things fit. Could I build a faceplate to match the rest of the teak interior and mount the stereo to? My woodworking history thus far has included a chessboard that was immediately rejects by the king's rook, and every pawn, before the king even got a look at it. Something furniture grade and yachty would definitely be pushing the limits of reason. Really, beyond putting up shelves I was uncomfortable with messing much with the interior at all, and this task would really stretch things.

I looked at the stereo, I thought about Harleys. I thought about bikers. I went in the basement looking for some teak scraps I knew were down there. Time to learn woodworking.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

my little streaker....

My little streaker went outside to play wearing a t-shirt, underpants, & rubber boots. He came back inside wearing a t-shirt. Looks like I get to go 'treasure' hunting!!

Making the Connection

Since the mast was wired OK and the anchor light worked, I could strike them from my to-do list, but to be truthful, I was no further ahead. I rummaged through my bag of odds and ends and found a 4-wire deck connector with both male and female ends.

Connecting the wires took all of 5 minutes. That part was easy, but I still only had 3 wires coming out of the deck. More rummaging came up with a spool of wire. I grabbed a drill and attacked again. The wires for the mast lights go through the deck in a hole right next to the mast. The hole is positioned exactly over the starboard bulkhead in the salon below decks. The first hole I drilled went into the bulkhead, and will never be of any use for anything. I tried again, this time angling the drill forward and aiming for the front edge of the cavity the rest of the wires were embedded in.

Success! The drill found the forward side of the bulkhead right at the ceiling. I snaked the wire into the hole and it barely fit. perfect size. Everything was looking rosy. Down inside the boat I fed the wire through the same hole the rest of the wires for the forward circuits on the boat used to get back into the salon. From there the wire was led aft along the hull, and then back into the dumpster under the cockpit.

All I had to do now was to connect the wire to the waiting breaker in the panel. I emptied the dumpster (fenders, docklines, more fenders, lifejackets, more fenders, more docklines, good god how did all this end up down here!!) and then in a move that is hard to describe I made my way down into the tiny space.

The forward bulkhead that separates this stowage space from the galley in the boat is the mounting surface for most of Iris' electronica. From the back of the wall a "snake's honeymoon" of wires tangle around each other competing for the pins on the back of 2 circuit panels (110 V AC and 12 V DC) the shore power connection and the shore power battery charger.

I folded myself in half and stared at the mess of wires. Had there been room to raise my arm I might have scratched my head. I started to think of all the stuff these wires were feeding. When Catalina built Iris there had been one circuit for the cabin, one for the running lights, one for the steaming light, one for the masthead light, one for the deck lights, and a final circuit marked "Accessories" for any add-ons.

We bought Iris because she was well equipped. I figured that in addition to the original equipment we had GPS, a fish finder, a depth sounder and gauges for speed, wind, and wind direction. We had an electric start for the outboard and a cockpit 12 volt plug. In addition to the original 6 circuits from Catalina we had added another 9 accessories between the previous owners and myself.

Looking back at the 12 volt panel, many of the switches had more than 2 branch circuits running off them. One switch had 5 connectors stuffed into a single crimp.There was only one switch on the panel that was empty. I extracted myself from the dumpster and went to the galley to check what it was labelled. It said "Steaming." Perfect! Just the thing I needed. I climbed back into the dumpster, went to hook up my new wire and realized that the fuse holder on the circuit was utterly destroyed.

Looks like its time to rewire the panel, and re-evaluate the 12 volt electric system.