Aloha 32 Bilge Drainage Project

Ever since I read “Mortar in the Bilge” by Graham Thomas, I wondered about the aft-most keel-bolt on my A32. From the direction of the bilge hatch, I could see a piece of rusty steel with the nut on top of it, and a few inches behind it, a fiberglass floor timber. When I explored the drainage hole from the engine compartment, I found stagnant water. This puddle of water collected because the drainage hole in the floor timber was clogged, and there was no way of reaching the problem area from either end. I decided to router out an inspection hatch to be able to look at the keel-bolt and to resolve the drainage problem. I made the third floor hatch the size of the other two, so that the two long edges of the new hatch would sit on the stringers.

What an ugly sight it was! This area hasn’t seen daylight since the boat was built. The drainage holes on both sides of the floor timber were the very rough. Oily sludge collected on fallen debris, run away nuts and engine enamel flakes that were caught by fibreglass strands and hard spikes. Only a small amount of  water could seep over the top of this dam. Any spill that happened at an oil filter or diesel filter change ended up floating on top of the “reservoir” behind the blockage. I figure this puddle never had a chance to dry up, so it froze there every winter. In the summer, the floating oil covered the walls of this chamber. On the keel-bolt side, at the exit hole and behind the steel cross piece, there was a hollow area with no drainage. Unfortunately, the exit hole reached down to the bottom of this pit.

After cleaning up the area, I found the steel cross piece in perfect shape. I will get rid of the rust and put some Tremclad on it. I don’t think it would be smart to glass it in. With the drainage problem resolved, and the floor hatch coming off every winter for ventilation, that steel piece should be much happier.

The close up of the hole shows the oily, wet fibreglass mess at the bottom of the tunnel. The hollow inside of the floor timber extends toward the stove area and toward the nav table on the other side. It is impossible to clean it out.

I allowed the tunnel to dry out, and slightly enlarged the holes on both sides to fit a 2″ PVC pipe. With a little epoxy and glass, I sealed the gap around the pipe. Once this seal was done, I started to pour in epoxy to create a new and level bottom that will ensure good drainage. On the stern side, the epoxy has not reached the pipe. I will have to pour in about 200ml of the stuff.

Between the glassed in steel piece and the floor timber the pit is filled in with epoxy. The water will drain on both sides.

The epoxy puddle on the stern side is shallow and goes quite far back. The tunnel pipe is not horizontal, so on the exit side, some epoxy flowed in and leveled the bottom. Just to be on the safe side, I drilled two vent holes into the floor timber. I can seal these later when I know for sure that there is no moisture trapped inside.

The rest is cosmetics. I have to put polyurethane around the new hatch area and then give the entire floor a top coat. Once the stern side epoxy puddle is level with the pipe, I’ll paint the repair area with grey bilge paint.

Written by by Zsolt Kecskemeti

Chain plate replacement

When my wife and I recently purchased a Bristol-appearing Aloha 32, a thorough marine survey revealed that the stainless steel clevis pins used to connect the shrouds had worn the attachment holes in the aluminium chain plates. The survey required immediate replacement of the chain plates and recommended stainless steel as the material of choice.

The old chain plates, easily removed in about 60 minutes a side, had been made from aluminium bar stock. One-half inch thick below decks, they were milled to 3/8 inch thick above decks to accept the yokes for the rigging screws. Each chain plate also included a backing plate

I fabricated six chain plate assemblies for about $150 (Canadian) and about 8 hours work with a hand saw, grind wheel, belt sander, a drill press that was way too small and a Drill Doctor. Materials were purchased at The Metal Supermarket, a franchise chain that sells metal the way an old-fashioned butcher used to sell meat, cut the way you want it.

I used 3/8 inch thick material for the chain plates, together with a 1/16 inch spacer to maintain the original geometry. The old chain plates were used as templates for grinding and drilling.

If you have never worked stainless before, here are some tips: use a GOOD quality hacksaw blade that’s coarse enough (12 teeth per inch for 3/8 stainless) and keep it WELL lubricated with cutting oil, three-in-one oil, or whatever. For drilling, use a slow speed, lots of lubricant and lots of pressure, enough so that the bit is always cutting a good curl. (300-series stainless work hardens very quickly if you smear it around without actually cutting it, becoming impossible in the process.) Most important of all, make sure your drill bits are razor sharp. (This is where the Drill Doctor, a precision drill sharpening tool, comes in. I sharpened my drills after every chain plate.)

This photo shows one complete set (of the six). The new stainless chain plate is at the top, with the stainless spacer in the middle and the aluminium backing plate on the bottom.

If you attempt a similar project on your Aloha 32, note that the dimensions of the uppers and lowers are different.

Enjoy.

Written by Treat Hull

Installing a Replacement Toilet

When we bought our Aloha 28 (8.5) at the start of the 2000 season, I found the pump on the original 19 year old Jabsco toilet was leaking. I replaced all the seals, which effected a temporary cure, but it was as bad as ever within a few weeks. The cause is that the shaft of the pump runs directly in the plastic body and over time this causes wear that allows excessive sideways movement which very quickly destroys the new seals.

Since a replacement pump assembly is no longer available, I first considered installing one of the current ITT Jabsco manual flushing toilets. These cost under C$200 and have a revised design intended to overcome the problems – the pump is angled towards the operator so that less sideways wear will occur, the shaft has a separate bearing that is both stronger than the original and can be replaced if needed, and the assembly unscrews from the top so that the bearings and seals can be replaced from above with minimal dismantling.

If the mounting holes for this latest model had been the same as the original unit I probably would have gone this route. However, they are different and this made me consider alternatives including two kits which provide electric conversion of the existing toilet, the bowl and seat of which were perfectly serviceable.

The first of these (Jabsco 29200 Pump Conversion Kit) just replaces the pump body with an electric pump. This has the advantage of easiest installation since it requires no change to the original mountings. However, it was priced at around C$400 and only provides electric flushing. My local stockist didn’t recommend it.

They suggested instead a kit (Jabsco 37010 Electric Toilet Conversion Kit) which replaces the whole assembly apart from the actual bowl and seat. The Vancouver Boat Show “offer price” of this was C$345 and it has a heavy duty pump which incorporates both a pumped flush supply and a pumped waste with macerator. The only downside is that the mounting holes for this are different from the original toilet.

I chose this second option and now it’s installed I am really pleased with it, although it did cause one or two headaches on the way (but then what fun are boat projects otherwise?).

The Jabsco 37010 Electric Toilet Conversion Kit as installed, re-using the original bowl and seat. The pump is operated by the push-button at top-right of the picture. In the step in front of the toilet is the 4″ diameter access provided to enable the new base to be through-bolted (see tips below)

Useful information if you are replacing the toilet in your boat is:

Mounting Screws
Whether installing a new manual toilet or an electric conversion, if the mounting “footprint” is different from the original toilet you need to be aware that the underfloor may not be as you expect.
On our 28 (8.5), the original toilet was held down by 4 large stainless screws through the fibreglass and into some plywood bonded into the toilet floor. I incorrectly assumed this would extend under the whole floor area and could be screwed into wherever the new toilet required. This was not the case – the wood is shaped similarly to the base of the original toilet so 2 out of the 4 screws needed in new positions were not screwing into it and clearly would not hold if secured only to the thin fibreglass platform. The answer was to use nuts, bolts and washers instead, but this required access to the underside of the floor by putting a circular 4″ access hatch in the front step (see the picture above).
At least this also has the advantage that the wiring could be neatly concealed under the floor.

Water Inlet Position
The manual Jabsco toilets (original and current models) have their water entry and waste exits to the right. For some reason the electric toilets and conversion kits from the same company are supplied with their waste on that side, but the water entry on the left! To avoid having a long length of inlet pipe curving around behind the toilet, I needed to work out how to change this.
Since these parts must be made by or for Jabsco, I have to wonder why they didn’t design it to be easily reversible, but they didn’t. The motor mounts to the rear of the base using 4 symmetrically positioned screws and can easily be turned through 180deg to reverse the inlet and outlet pipes. This is what I did, BUT in this position the water inlet and waste outlet fittings are too close together for the hoses to be installed next to each other. I found that I could make them fit by shaving some plastic off the outlet housing, removing a little material from each hose, and flattening the side of the hose clips where these were next to each other. A bit crude, but it does work and gives a much neater installation.

Gasket Installation
Finally, I found the hardest part was making sure the circular rubber seal between the motor and base was correctly positioned. If the motor could be left attached to the base during installation this would be no problem, but in fact the water pump inlet and outlet block access to the rear mounting holes!
If only these mounting holes were designed an inch further apart and further from the base they would be accessible with the motor attached, and would also spread the loads more widely. As things are you have to remove the motor (even if you don’t want to rotate it as described above), mount the base and then re-install the motor. This means the thin rubber seal has to stay in a shallow groove on a vertical face and, especially working in restricted space behind the toilet, this is almost impossible. After several failed attempts I struck on holding the seal in place in the groove with 4 very small dabs of “super glue”, just sufficient to hold it in position until everything was screwed up tight.

I hope the above may prove of interest to anyone thinking of replacing their toilet.

Written by Keith Denham 

Curing Aloha 28 (8.5) “Tiller Droop”

The transom hung rudder of the A28 (8.5) can sometimes lead to a problem with either the tiller, or the stainless steel yoke that it is mounted on, contacting the bottom of the opening that it passes through.

The yoke that connects the rudder and tiller is throughbolted at the rudder with 3 stainless steel screws and nuts. One of these screws also passes through a tube located inside the rudder. Perry Basden advises that the most common cause of contact with the opening is the screws loosening at the rudder. Also, if the vessel is operated under these conditions for a period of time, the holes the screws pass through may become enlarged, allowing the yoke to drop.

The repair is a simple one… just loosen the nuts, lift the yoke back to it’s proper position in the opening and retighten the nuts. In extreme cases, the holes that the screws pass through may have to be filled and redrilled back to their original position.

When lifting the yoke to tighten the screws, be sure to check the yoke clearance when the tiller is turned to port and starboard extremes as the opening in the transom is not concentric with the travel of the tiller. The yoke may have too much clearance below the yoke when on centre and not have any clearance on the upper side at the extreme ends of the tiller travel.

Care should be used if you remove the screws completely. If the one screw that passes through a tube (in some vessels, a solid steel shaft) in the rudder is removed, the tube may fall out through the bottom of the rudder.

Tom Schraeder mentions a second cause of the problem can be that the holes in the laminated wood of the tiller itself can become enlarged, probably from leaning on the tiller over the years. In a similar way, this allows the tiller to drop lower and rub on the bottom of the opening. Replacement of the tiller would obviously cure this problem, but Ross Dickson has also suggested that the enlarged holes could be sleeved internally with suitable stainless steel tube allowing the existing tiller to be re-used if it is otherwise sound.

Our thanks as usual to these members for their advice.

Written by Liam Fitzgerald

Water in the Keel and/or Rudder – Filling the Voids

The hulls of Aloha 27 (8.2) and 28 (8.5) models were moulded in 2 halves and then bolted together fully encapsulating the keel ballast. This is both a significant blessing and a minor curse – there are no keel bolts to worry about and the boats can hit the ground fairly hard without serious damage but occasionally they can suffer from water entering a foam filled void area in the keel. Either water from the bilge makes its way down into the keel or small splits appear along the join and allow water into the keel. On boats sailed in freshwater and removed onto land in freezing winter conditions the water expands as it freezes and creates or makes the split worse, and could damage the glass laminations if it is not detected and corrected in a timely manner.

This is not a serious structural fault, and a complete cure can be effected by drilling holes into the void areas to drain the water, allowing it to dry out completely, injecting resin to fill the void and then resealing the hull join wherever needed, as follows:

  • By tapping on the keel with a screwdriver handle, you can establish where the void areas are. The ballast is in the front half of the keel and the remainder is foam filled.
  • About a dozen small (1/4″ or less) test holes are drilled in various areas along the void area and at various heights to determine exactly where the moisture is accumulating, and all moisture allowed to drain. If you can catch and measure the water this may give you an idea how big the voids are to be filled later.
  • If possible, leave these open for several weeks to dry completely. If not, one owner has suggested that running methyl hydrate through the void will remove any remaining moisture and speed the drying process.
  • Use an epoxy (e.g. West system) mixed with filler to a consistency of warm molasses and fill the upper holes until it begins to come out the lower holes and plug each lower hole with a wooden plug.
  • After a week or so, remove the plugs and repair the surfaces.
  • If all the voids are to be filled, you should expect to use at least as much epoxy as the volume of water drained. Typically, you may use around a litre of epoxy in all – some holes will take hardly any and a few may take up to a 1/4 litre.
  • Repair any surface cracks along the join with epoxy filler and fiberglass, then re-paint.

The rudders are also constructed of two-halves with voids and can suffer water ingress which can be cured in a similar manner.

Alternatively, Perry Basden has provided a different solution which involves installing a “garboard plug” that allows any collected water to be drained whenever the boat is hauled – see the article Installing A Garboard Plug

Finally, some Aloha 28 (8.5) owners have reported problems identifying the source of fresh water accumulating in the bilge. One owner traced it to the anchor locker. When it rained hard the water would drain through the drain holes just underneath the lid and drop outside the locker wall and on down to the bilge. Took 15 min. to fix but a year to find!

Written by Liam Fitzgerald

Water in the Keel and/or Rudder – Fitting a garboard plug

The hulls of Aloha 27 (8.2) and 28 (8.5) models were moulded in 2 halves and then bolted together fully encapsulating the keel ballast. This is both a significant blessing and a minor curse – there are no keel bolts to worry about and the boats can hit the ground fairly hard without serious damage but occasionally they can suffer from water entering a foam filled void area in the keel. Either water from the bilge makes its way down into the keel or small splits appear along the join and allow water into the keel. On boats sailed in freshwater and removed onto land in freezing winter conditions the water expands as it freezes and creates or makes the split worse, and could damage the glass laminations if it is not detected and corrected in a timely manner.

One solution is to drain and then fill the “voids” (see the article Filling the Voids), but Perry Basden has provided details of his solution which he has applied to his Aloha 34 and which involves installing a “garboard plug” to allow any water to be drained.

I installed a garboard plug on my Aloha 34 for under a hundred dollars.  I believe this is pretty cheap insurance considering the cost of repairs necessary should the hull or rudder split.  The information and photos show how I solved the problem.

Photo 1 – Keel Weeping

The vessel obviously had water intrusion problems in the keel area.  This fact was noted during a pre purchase survey of the vessel.  The photo is of the starboard side of the keel where one can clearly see several small holes with water stains near the bottom of the keel.  The area had been painted over, as seen by the different colour of paint.  It might also be noted that the small pin holes were found only on the starboard side of the keel and none on the port side.

Photo 2 – Keel Drainage Holes

I drilled a hole in each of the areas where water appeared to be leaking from the keel.  I was surprised at how much water was in the hull.  I’d guess that there were several quarts of water that gushed from the 1/4″ holes.  Once the holes were drilled and the water allowed to drain I did a little exploratory work to try and get a handle on the extent of water intrusion.

Photo 3 – Keel Foam Core

I used a coat hanger and managed to dig a little foam out of the hole. Closer examination revealed that there was only about 2 inches of foam between the lead ballast and the bottom of the keel.  The bottom of the keel was almost three inches of solid fiberglass.  This exploratory work also helped me to determine the exact position of the garboard plug.

I purchased a Perko garboard plug from the local marine chandlery.  The plug is basically a cast bronze flange with a tapped and threaded hole in the center that will accept a brass plug.  The flange also has 4 mounting holes to allow the flange to be attached to the hull with the stainless screws provided.

Photo 4 – Ground out Recess

After the location of the plug was determined, I drilled an inch and a half hole to accommodate the spigot of the garboard plug using a hole saw attached to an electric drill.  The hole was positioned just slightly below the solid glass bottom of the keel to ensure that all the water would drain from the keel.  I also removed as much of the foam core as possible so that any water in the hull could drain into this pocket.

Photo 5 – Dry Fit Plug

Once the hole for the spigot was drilled, I inserted the garboard plug and scribed its outer circumference on the hull. This area of the hull was ground out so that the complete plug would fit flush against the hull.  Grinding was done with a four-inch disk grinder for most of the area, with the final touches done with a Dremel tool.  While doing the grinding work, I used the plug often to check the fit.  This also ensured that the plug was fair to the hull.

Photo 6 – Waxed Plug

I wanted a good seal between the hull and the plug when it was installed to try and prevent water from entering the hull through the plug installation.  I decided to use epoxy and mold it to the shape of the plug.  This was done by using the garboard plug as the mold.  I waxed the plug using the handiest item I had available, a liberal coating of boat wax, to prevent the epoxy from sticking to the plug.

Photo 7 – Epoxy Check

I used WEST System epoxy mixed to a very stiff consistency as it had to cling to the vertical surfaces of the keel.  I also added micro balloon fillers so that I would be able to sand off any excess epoxy.  Once the epoxy was trowelled into place, I inserted the plug into its final position and held it in place with a brace until the epoxy set.  The plug was then removed and any gaps or voids in the epoxy were filled.  I also removed any excess epoxy that may have gotten into the hull recess and prevented water from draining from the hull.

Photo 8 – Plug Installed

I cleaned the garboard plug with thinners and then applied a liberal coating of marine sealant to the plug as well as the predrilled screw holes in the hull.  The plug was then installed using the four stainless screws.  Excess sealer was cleaned and the threaded plug installed.  I used Teflon tape on the threaded plug to make removal of the plug easier.

Photo 9 – Finished Plug

The whole project required two days of work.  Installation was not difficult and could be completed by anyone with some mechanical skills and a few power tools.  The hardest part for me was drilling the inch and a half hole for the garboard plug spigot.  For some reason, I’m always leery of drilling a big hole in the bottom of a boat.

When the boat was hauled out for winter storage in the fall of 2003 the threaded plug was removed.  There was about a quart of water that came out and the keel continued to seep water for several weeks.  Installation of the garboard plug will prevent any future damage to the keel.

Written by Liam Fitzgerald

Cabin Sole finishing with a water based finish

Water based Varathane was what I had to use on my cabin sole because the regular polyurethane is deadly to people with heart disease. I venture to say that the off gas is bad for anyone. Being that my Aloha 28 is small inside, I felt it necessary to look into a safe way that I could finish my cabin sole without giving myself a heart attack. I had always believed that polyurethane was the way to go to get a good shine and a lasting finish.

My wife, first mate, stripped the floor with a water based floor stripper. She applied it and then took a putty knife and scraped the finish off. I was wary of her using a metal putty knife because a slip would inevitably scratch the veneer. After sweeping up the debris, she scrubbed down the floor with soap and water before she stained it lightly with Minwax water based stain. I sat up in the cockpit, and diligently handed her down bottles of water and tea during these exercises.

 We let the stain set for a day before we came back to apply 12 coats of Varathane gloss water based coating. I could not handle being down below while she was applying the Varathane, so I continued to supply the necessary snacks and liquids to keep her working. Whenever she would look up at me, or ask for something I acted like I was intently involved with what she was doing instead of watching my wind generator turn. It was tough work, and I didn’t want her to think I didn’t feel for her!

Needless to say I was impressed with the finish she got with the Varathane. I didn’t expect it to shine so much. She didn’t sand the veneer because 1.) she would have to do it, and 2.) she would have to do it! And, as you can see it turned out with a good shine anyway! Even after a 6 day cruise it still shines!

Written by Bud Elkin

Aloha 28 – Conversion to Wheel Steering

I completed conversion to wheel steering on my A28 during summer 2004. It took me a long week end to complete everything, and I am very happy with the result.

I bought all the conversion parts from Edson through a Canadian dealer. Edson has a recommended parts list for the Aloha 28 already and it is basically everything you need. The only things I had to add myself is the support for the ends of the conduit on the transom side, and ply wood to strengthen the cockpit floor. The key thing is to determine where to put the pedestal on the cockpit floor and whether the recommended conduit length ( 5ft) is enough. If you need longer conduit you have to order longer cable. Edson is very helpful but may not know enough about the details of the Aloha.

Getting the quadrant through the hole cut on the transom is also tricky, since you don’t want to cut a hole bigger than what is required. Designing and making a hood to cover up the hole from rain and water and still allow normal movement of the rudder is not easy, but do-able.

Ki Yuen

PSS (Packless Sealing System) Shaft Seal

PSS (Packless Sealing System) Shaft Seal from PYI Inc. This does not drip, and requires little or no maintenance or adjustment.

A possible downside is that if the packing in a stuffing box starts to fail, you simply get an increased drip rate. If a PSS fails, it usually does so with a very substantial inflow that is difficult to stop, and that your bilge pump may even have difficulty keeping up with.

Written by Liam Fitzgerald