Electronics Arch – Blanca, 20Jul2015

Sorry for the lack of posts– things are still progressing!  Over the winter I spent some time collecting electronics like a radio, GPS antenna, etc. and I’ve finally finished their installation.

The area above the main helm where radios, etc. were originally was this big boxy thing over your head that felt dark and crowded.  It was also slowly rotting (like everything else!) and a haven for wasps.  So, like many projects that start as a small-impact evaluation– I ripped it all out.  You can see the original in this picture from 5 years ago (boxy thing with knobs to the right of the picture, up against the overhead).

Here’s what it looked like after I removed it.  Much more open feel, of course.

After a good bit of staring and imagining, I came up with a plan.  Modern electronics don’t need anywhere near the room the old thing had.  A VHF radio from the 70s might be 12″ x 18″ x 4″, and weigh 10 pounds.  Today, a much more capable radio fits in the palm of your hand and weighs 1/2 pound.  Why do I need this huge, boxy thing any more?  I decided to make an “arch” over the helm area that would fit in with the existing arches in the salon (currently with trim removed).  I used painter’s tape to try to get an idea how it would look:

This was my first foray into building something new with teak (I’d replaced some trim and trimmed out the new AC circuit panel with it, but that was all).  So a set of Forstner drill bits for nice counter-sinks were in order– darn, I had to get new tools!  The hardest part was getting the curve up against the overhead right.  Boat-builders call this “spiling.”  It involves many measurements of the curve against a (usually straight) reference piece in order to re-create the curve with a pencil line on the work piece.  I had no way to cut the gentle curve.  A hand jigsaw would be the right way to do this– darn, another new tool!  Once I had that figured out, the assembly went quickly.

I fastened PVC board up against the overhead to make a channel, just like the existing arches.  Then a teak “box” that fits up over the channel.  The box is hinged on the starboard end and fastened up with two long through-bolts that have wing-nuts on the forward side.  That way, you unfasten the wing-nuts and bolts and the whole teak box swings down to work on it.  The hole through the overhead up to the bridge (for wiring that goes up there) was aft of this new arch, so a connecting trim-board was necessary to cover that wiring.  The last piece was a wiring “chase” stanchion on the starboard end of the arch, to carry wiring from the helm up into the arch.  Fishing the wires through that was a challenge!  I ended up with a messenger line through there to make that easier in the future.  Here’s the (not quite) finished result:

The screw-holes all need bungs, and the whole thing needs to be sanded and finished, but that won’t come until all the rest of the trim-work gets the same treatment.  The radio is installed and works.  The string hanging down in front of it is the horn– I found a momentary pull switch that makes sounding the horn more fun: it’s kind of like a truck-horn where you pull down on the lanyard.  I’ll eventually have a T-handle on that lanyard.  There’s also a button on the bridge.

I had to fabricate the stanchion on the starboard end out of four pieces of teak.  Glued and clamped, then cut to shape.  That turned on quite nice, if I do say so myself!

Next up: fresh water system!