Inching Pandora closer to the water.

It’s a rainy Thursday morning and it won’t be a good day to work on Pandora.   I am happy to know that our lawn is getting a drink but it’s unfortunate that I will loose today and likely Friday for working on Pandora.

With a week or so till she splashes (I had hoped to have her in by August 15th) I am still a way off from being done and ready to launch.  The biggest delay is because of the time it will take to get her new rudder bearings ordered, built and delivered.  I was originally going to just order a new lower bearing, there are three of them, lower, middle and upper, that support the rudder structure. However, I decided to pull all three and order new ones.   They are actually pretty simple, being basically very had plastic sleeves that the rudder post slides into from the entrance to the bottom of the hull at the stern through to the deck.

The key issue, that took me a week to resolve, was to remove the old bearings and then to take measurements for the new ones.  Getting them out was tough but the real delay was because of my anxiety about taking “perfect” measurements for the new ones.  These bearings are built to exacting specs and are built to order.  Yes, the prices are NASA worthy, as you can imagine.  As they say, “measure twice, cut once” applies here. In this case, I measured twice several times, not sure exactly how many, actually.

Here’s shots of two of the eight pages I scanned and sent to the manufacturer the other day.  Amazingly, these measurements actually made sense to John at Tides Marine, who is making the bearings.  This one is measurements of the upper bearing.   Huh, you say? Me too…At least this one has something on the page that looks like a rudder.   Somehow these measurements, to the thousands of an inch, will be translated into the new bearings.  A thousandth of an inch is pretty small.  Not surprisingly, it takes a thousand of them to make an inch.  Amazing.   And, being off by one or two thousandths can make the difference between fitting and not…As you can imagine, with all of this being done via e-mail and phone, John will want me to initial, in blood, mine not his, the final drawings that they produce prior to making the bearings.   My drawings will be taken and made into CAD (computer designed drawings) images and I will have to approve them and take responsibility for any mistakes.  My fear of mistakes is why it took me a week to work up the nerve to say that my measurements were “final”.  I’ll have the drawings back from Tides today or Friday, I hope.   After I approve them, I am told that it will take five days to create the bearings in the shop in Florida where Tides Marine is located.

I will be plenty nervous until I get these puppies into place and see that they fit.  If not, it’s my nickel, many nickels actually, to get them fixed.

I am almost ready to put a barrier coat of epoxy on the newly sanded bottom of Pandora followed by a few coats of anti-fouling paint.  Getting everything on correctly is important but equally vital is to be sure that the surface of the bottom is nice and smooth.  On Tuesday and yesterday, I did some fairing of the keel using an epoxy paste.  It seems that my years of doing sheet rock on the walls of our house in NJ served me pretty well.  This is a shot of the second and “finish” coat on various parts of Pandora’s keel.  The material is red and is a two part paste.  It mixes easily and applies like putty.  I enjoyed working with it.  Looking pretty “fair” to me but it will still need a bit of sanding.  Next step, the epoxy barrier coats to ensure that the new paint sticks as well as possible.  It had better as I don’t plan on hauling for another two years.  We’ll see how that goes. Launch in a week or so?  More like, well, who knows.  I just hope that everything fits.  If not…

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