Saturday, March 8, 2014

Construction update, week 56

Oh boy, it's getting close.  I just got back from my second trip to the yard in China to check in on build progress.  My thinking was that the boat should be far enough along to be able to inspect the vast majority of the hull and systems, but with plenty of time to address any issues without undue delays.  In that respect (and all others), I'd say the trip was a success.   I'll just go through it all based on the pictures, of which there are quite a few.

Here you can see one of the stabilizers (no fins yet), the grounding plate, and the keel cooler for the main engine.

Stabilizer, grounding plate, and main keel cooler

The prop shaft is all installed and set up with the line cutter, prop nut, and zinc.  The prop itself is still in the stock room, but I got a quick look at it.

Prop shaft

The wing engine is all set up too with shaft and strut, but the shaft seal isn't installed yet, and the shaft end needs to be machined with a taper, threads, etc.

Wing prop shaft

The trademark Nordhavn bow plate is installed, and you can see the snorkle/nozzle for the anchor wash.  It will be quit a luxury to not have to lean over the rail and hose off anchor and chain as they come up.

Bow plate and anchor wash nozzle

Up on the fly bridge, a bunch of cutouts are awaiting instruments and controls.  Unfortunately, I think one a couple of them are wrong.  It's hard to tell for sure, but they will fix is needed, I'm sure.

Fly bridge helm station

Still on the fly bridge, and looking aft down onto the boat deck, you can see the davit and railings.  When we first arrived they were finishing up fitting all the railings, but they are all just tack welded.  By Wednesday all were gone, presumably off to be welded, ground, and polished.

Boat deck

Here's the fly bridge settee, sans cushions and table.

Fly bridge settee

The whole stack is in place and the exhaust system all fitted, but parts of it were just tack welded too, along with a number of cooling pipes in the engine room.  All these disappeared on Wednesday as well, and to be welded fully.  If you look carefully, you can also see the Simrad 4G radar dome.

Stack, exhaust, and 4G radar

Up at the bow, all the anchoring gear is now installed, though it's covered in protective wrap.  You can see the cleats, windlass, and the foot button controls.

Anchoring gear

Here's the windlass from down below in the chain locker.   Probably the most import thing this picture shows is that I can actually get into the chain locker despite my size.  And since I'm writing this, you also know I got out.  Anyway, the black think is the windlass gear box, the blue thing is the hydraulic motor that drives it, and the hydraulic hoses run off to the left.

One thing I discovered while reading the manual for the windlass is that only the hydraulic version can develop the full specified lifting force.  I assumed the electric version would perform the same, but it's much lower power.  The electric variant can lift about 1300lbs, where the hydraulic one can lift the full rated 3500 lbs.  That's a big difference and was a surprise to me.

In a worst-case scenario, the windlass needs to be able to lift all 400' of 1/2" chain plus the anchor.  That totals up to 1300 lbs so the electric windlass should be able to do it, but it's cutting it close.  The hydraulic version, on the other hand, has an almost 3x safety margin.  But this worst-case would only happen if somehow the anchor and all the chain found it's way overboard in deep (greater than 400') water.  It could happen, but is a real corner case.  In a realistic deep anchorage you might be in 100' of water with 4:1 scope and have out all the chain.  But you are never lifting more than 100' at a time, with the rest lying on the bottom.  The worst case is just as you lift the anchor off the bottom and have 100' of chain plus the anchor hanging in the water.  So a normal deep-anchoring lift would only be about 500 lbs (the weight of 100' of chain plus the anchor).  That's no problem for either windlass.

Hydraulic windlass mechanism

Back in the cockpit we are standing by the boarding gate looking aft (on the left) through the gate.  Looking from the middle across to the right is the cockpit settee.  Just left of center there is a white cover where the aft helm is located.

Cockpit settee and boarding gate

The next set of pictures walks around the salon which, as you can see, is pretty much finished.  The whole time I was there a crew of gals were working their way through the boat doing a detailed cleaning.  Every drawer comes out and gets cleaned on every surface, track, etc.  I take it as a really good sign that things have shifted from making dust to cleaning up the dust.

Looking through the pictures, you can see that the ceiling panels are all finished and the lights have all been installed (and they work).

Salon Settee

Salon settee and kitchen bar

Salon kitchen bar

Salon stairs to pilot house

Salon view into galley

Salon cabinet and heat duct

Stairs to pilot house, and space for Ekornes chair to right

Wall where Ekornes chairs will live

Ekornes chair location and door to cockpit

Aft view of salon

Looking into the galley from the salon

Another peek into the galley

Moving into the galley, all the appliances are installed and ready to go.  I really like the industrial fridge door handles.  We borrowed the idea from another boat, and they ensure the doors are locked at all times without having to use slide bolts or other latches.
Galley view

The layout, working around from the far left, we have the sink, dish washer, oven, cooktop over the oven, then microwave over that.

The cooktop is propane.  Lots of people go for all-electric boats to get rid of the hazards associated with propane, and if you run a generator all the time anyway I suppose it makes sense.  But we don't run a generator except when needed, and greatly prefer cooking with gas.  To each his own.

5 burner gas cooktop

Moving into the master stateroom, you can again see that it's 99% finished.

Master stateroom looking forward

Master stateroom

Master, port side

Master, facing aft

Master, facing starboard

Master, starboard/aft

Great storage under bed

The heads are all done too, including fixtures, grab handles, doors, etc.

Master head

The guest stateroom and office are similarly complete.

Guest cabin, aft

Guest cabin, aft/port

Guest, port

Guest bunk with lots of storage underneath

Looking into forward head

Forward view of guest bunk, through to head

The business end of things with flush buttons and diversion valve

Office, facing aft

Forward shower

Storage behind shower door

Guest head

Guest head

Below the forward compartments is the "basement" which is 4 small compartments with equipment and lots of room for storage.  Right now all the plumbing and wiring is exposed, but there are cover panels that go up to create a nice finished look.

Basement compartments 2 & 3, port side

In the forward-most compartment (#1)  live the bow thruster, anchor wash pump, and controls including those for the windlass.  Everything is nicely accessible in case of service.

Basement compartments 1 (bow) and 2.

Back in compartment 4 we have all teh fresh water systems. including the pressure pump adn tank, how water heater, distribution and shutoff manifolds, and the water maker.  The hot water can be heated three different ways.  First is via electricity from either the generator or shore power.  The second is via waste heat from the main engine while underway.  The third is via the diesel heating system.  Each of these sources will heat the water to a different temperature, and it can get quite hot, especially when heated by the main engine which will bring it up to around 180F.  Not only are the  temps unpredictable, but they can be downright dangerous, so a tempering valve is mandatory right at the output of the how water tank.  This valve mixes the hot water with some cold water to maintain a more reasonable range of water temps.

Fresh water systems

Hot water distribution and control manifold

Cold water distribution and control manual

The pilot house shows great progress, but is also one area where there is still plenty more to do before everything is finished.  Like the rest of the boat, the ceiling panels are all finished, but in the pilot house they are all black for light control at night.  In the overhead control panel lots has been installed.  The control panels for the generator, main engine, and wing engine are installed, along with the hydraulic controls, VHFs, SSB, and various bilge and fire alarms.  Also installed are the gray and black water tank gauges and pump out control switches.

The lower console is in place and finished off in black material, but none of the monitors are cut in yet.

Pilot house controls

Heat controls in Captain's bunk

Lots of wiring has been completed, but a number of things still need to be completed.  But what's there is really neatly done - one of the hallmarks of a good boat.

Wiring neat and tidy

Moving into the engine room, lots has been completed.  The first view is of the supply tank with its calibrated upper section that can be used to measure/confirm fuel burn rate.  All the fuel lines are plumbed in, and PAE has added a nice inspection/clean-out port on the side of the tank.

Fuel supply tank

Fuel filters and distribution manifold

Here's the wing engine (Deere 4045) with the engine room automatic fire extinguisher in the background.

Wing engine and fire suppression system

The main engine is all hooked up with safety railing and exhaust pipe to the stack.   All the pipes were subsequently removed and taken back to Santa's workshop for complete welding.  They are just tack welded in this picture.

Main engine, exhaust, safety rail

Next is a view forward in the engine room looking between the main and wing engines towards the fuel filters and manifolds

Engine room looking forward

I opened up the generator should shield to check it out, and to get part numbers and serial numbers so I can start ordering spares to keep on board.

Generator with sound shield removed

Close-up of exhaust

ABT has done a great job integrating a whole pile of valves and controls into a single "block".  What used to be an entire wall of discrete hydraulic components has now been reduced to this.   This is the on/off, pressure control, and flow control for the cooling pump, plus a single block that gathers all the case drains together before returning them to the tank.  This is a huge improvement.

Hydraulic controls

And now for some outside views.  For the first time you can really see how it's all come together into a boat that actually looks like the pictures in the brochures.

OK, that's enough.  Back inside the boat we go, this time to the Laz.

Steering manifolds

Diesel heat manifolds and controls

ABT stabilizer actuator with automatic locking mechanism



Jumping back up to the pilot house again, a bunch of the electronics components have been installed to one extent or another.  In the picture below are the dual autopilot computers partially wired up.   I could barely see them, let along take pictures, the the radar boxes, network boxes and N2K power tap have also been installed.  There is probably more, but I couldn't get behind the pilot house overheat to see for sure.

Dual Autopilots

One of the on-going challenges has been the routing of the exhaust from the diesel boiler, and one of the top goals of this trip was to get it figured out.  Here is the result.  We had to find a swim ladder to temporarily put in place, mark a line that is 3 feet above the water line, find space for the water trap box which is about the size of a gallon milk jug, and find a path to connect it all together.  Below is the desired location for the exhaust flange where the exhaust exits the hull of the boat.  In a perfect world I'd like to have more side clearance from the surrounding items, but boats are all about compromises and this is no exception.  With the exhaust blowing outward, I counting on the adjacent areas not getting too hot.  I've seen other boats set up like this, so have reason to believe it will be OK.
Diesel heat exhaust location

There are a few pieces of woodwork that are still not in the boat.  There is a small cabinet that goes between the two Ekornes chairs, the salon settee table, and the pilot house settee table.  We are pretty sure we found them all up in the woodworking shop, but I only got a picture of the salon table.

Salon table

Well, that's all for now.  The list of things remaining gets shorter and shorter every week, and at this point I think we probably have 6-8 weeks more to finish everything up.  There are a few missing parts/pieces of equipment, but all are due in over the next week or two.  Other than that, I don't see any real obstacles other than workers getting pulled off onto other projects.  I'm told my boat will be the next one out.  There are two other lower hull numbers, but they are much more complicated builds and are not nearly as far along.

The next big milestone will be the test tank.......   After that, I'm leaning towards making another trip over for final inspection.  This trip surfaced a bunch of little things that probably wouldn't have been caught, adn I want to catch as many as possible before the boat ships.


  1. Thanks for the update Peter, sounds like a productive trip to be sure. Love the idea of a final trip prior to shipment. Each deficiency caught prior to shipment saves potential days of inconvenience dealing with having it corrected on this end. Technology is great but there's just no substitute for having boots on the ground.

    I wish you the very best of luck in both the completion of the new boat and the sale of your current Grand Banks.

  2. It's a tough call on making another trip, and I'll just have to see how things shake out. Almost all the issues we surfaced can be confirmed fixed via pictures. So the only exposure is around new problems introduced as part of the work not yet competed. It's an expensive trip in business class (I'm too big to cram into a coach seat for more than about 6 hrs, and the flight is 15hrs), so that has to be weighed into the decision. In teh end it will probably all be driven by my confidence level over how the current issues sorted out.

  3. Great stuff, Peter! I loved the walk through and the peak behind the scenes. What a great boat building operation! Must give you terrific confidence in the vessel. Jim's got it rigt...."Just WOW!!"

  4. Pete - The stabilizer mounting plate seems to be proud of the hull surface. Is that designed to be like that? I would have thought it feathered into the hull for streamlining.

  5. JJ, Yes, I know what you mean. The hull is rounded, yet the stabilizer structure and plate is flat, so either you build up around the stabilizer plate at the outer edges as they have done, or recess it into the hull creating a depression along the center line. Which ever you choose, you end up with either a dip in the middle or a protrusion out at the edges. Both are hydro-dynamically imperfect, but I expect also insignificant. The advantage to building up is that you add strength, where if you recess the plate you are removing material and reducing strength.

    There is still a lot of fairing to do on the hull to create the final finish, and it will be interesting to see how they treat this area. The thruster tubes are another example where the joints and finish are still very rough.

  6. Serious piece of hardware that boat is... It's an engineer's playground. The pex tubing for your water supply is tough as nails and easy to service. Boy, they have done an amazing job. Are you keep the hull white or does it get Awlgripped a color? :-) Like black

  7. It's real hard to tell in the pictures, but the hull is a light gray and that will be the final color. Initially we really wanted navy blue which we think looks great, but got talked out of it, and looking at larger boats with dark hulls, I'm now glad we didn't do it. They look great when new and clean, but that lasts for about 5 seconds. From then on they show every water spot, salt crust, and imperfection. A dark color is fine for a smaller boat (our 30 footer was navy blue) where it's not a huge amount of work to keep it clean, or on a larger boat where you have an army of surfs to buff and shine after every run and every rain fall. But we are an army of two and have opted for the lowest maintenance possible. That means a lighter hull color, plus no teak decking, and no bright-work. We are going to let the teak cap rail weather naturally.

    Another consideration with darker hulls is heat gain in sunny areas, which is generally where one is in a boat. Apparently it's significantly higher, with accompanying higher AC loads. I've heard of boats where the AC has trouble keeping up.

    And another thing I learned is that the fiberglass layup continues to cure over time (I'm not sure how much time), and that it's not uncommon for some of the pattern from the inner layers to faintly show through. This is not noticeable with lighter colors, but shows with darker colors.


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