Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Hodge Podge of Bricolage

We have a victory to report.  If you’d told us a few months ago that we would dismantle the steering quadrant, replace the ball joint / rotator pin, and adjust the steering cable tension by ourselves, Patrick would have laughed and I would have broken down in sobs.  As it is, we’re just smugly pleased with ourselves.  (See Rainy Afternoons and Rudder Angles for the background.) 

The hopelessly stuck ball joint / rotator pin.
But the task didn’t start out so well, and if you know anything about this kind of job, you’re asking yourself, “Now why the heck did they take apart the steering quadrant just to change the ball joint?”  Because it was stuck, that’s why.  Irredeemably stuck.  So stuck that we called in the mechanic to see if we were doing something wrong.  After he tried forcing it off with a couple of screwdrivers, he told us to take apart the whole steering quadrant and bring the offending section into the shop.  There, he proceeded to attack it with a blow torch and what I think is called a hub grappler (in French, arrache-moyeux) and what I know is called a really big hammer.  

Half the steering quandrant with new joint and clean bolts.
Once the joint was replaced and all the parts were cleaned with turpentine and re-greased, putting it back together was pretty simple (although it helps to be a fan of the game Twister).

The shiny new ball joint in place.
We adjusted the tension using the screw pin connecting the steering column to the rotator pin.  By adjusting the screw pin a few turns at a time, we managed to get rid of about 2/3rds of the play in the wheel, and when we manually put the rudder straight, the wheel lined up with what we assume is the original (red) mark indicating a straight rudder.  Not too shabby.
We’ll keep fine-tuning to see if we can get rid of the rest of the play in the wheel, keeping in mind that “Great is the enemy of Good”.

I’ve also had a splicing fit recently:  spliced the rode to the anchor chain and made an eye splice on the other end of the rode to connect to the boat.

Chain splice and eye splice.

We installed two battery controllers (we actually only did the physical placement of them on the nav station… the electrician will come and hook them up to the batteries later).

Battery controllers installed.

And we finally tracked down a new control panel for the motor controls.

Motor control panel: before and after.

Despite this wave of activity, we’re really no closer to getting Spray into the water.  The boat yard announced that they had a backload of work and summer vacation has shut down many of their suppliers; in particular, the one who is supposed to give us an aluminium plate to reinforce the chain locker where the windlass will be placed.  We’ve got at least another 2 weeks on land.