Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Salty Project Finished; Finally.

Boot Key Harbor

Way last spring, I ordered a new tiller from Bud Taplin.  It was a bargain.  Only $250 for a massive 6 foot long piece of laminated ash and mahogany shaped to the original W32 specifications.  So, when the tiller came all I needed to do was install it; right?  Wrong.  I wanted to add a decorative knotting hand grip like the one we loved so much on the old tiller.
  • The first issue was materials. I bought 100 feet of 1/8 inch Dacron cord.  The hand grip on the old tiller was soiled from skin oils and could not be cleaned.  Therefore, I bought some waterproofing liquid from West Marina and soaked the cord in this before use.  I'm hoping it will act like semi-permanent Scotch Guard and keep it clean and oil repellent.
  • At Dave's house last spring, I started the decorative knotting project. I have a great book, "The Art of The Sailor" by Harvey Garrett Smith that shows how to to it.  I mentioned it on my blog, then a blog reader reminded me that the factory varnish on things like that as they come s very inadequate.  Whoops.  I was ignorant of that.
  • So I took off the partially finished knotting.  Then I sanded off the factory varnish. (It was indeed thin.)  I put on two coats of epoxy resin, and 6 coats of varnish.  By the time that was finished, Libby and I were leaving on our summer's road trip, so I had to set the project aside for 5 months.
  • When we got back to the boat in the fall, I installed the new tiller sans knotting.
  • Our friend Terri volunteered to make us a Sunbrella fabric cover for the tiller so that it would be protected from UV.   Thanks so much Terri.
  • Now, down in the Florida Keys with time to spare, I finally restarted the knotting project.   I'm a beginner at decorative knotting so it took me 4 days labor to complete.  I kept making mistakes, and had to pull it out and start over a half dozen times.  Most difficult were the Turks Head knots that anchor each end.  I had to try each of those maybe 15 times each before getting it right.  I find Turks Heads very confusing.
  • Before leaving Marathon next spring, I'll add a new coat of varnish.
The three pictures below, show the knotting in progress, the knotting finished, and the tiller covered with Terri's canvas and tied securely while here on a mooring.  If this story had begun with "Call me Ishmael."  I'm sure I would not have been allowed 10 months to complete this salty project. But what the hell, I'm not a seaman, I'm retired.

1 comment:

  1. It looks like the results were well worth the wait!


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