New Alternator, and Brightwork

After our return from Mexico, the sun shown every day on the San Francisco Bay, it seemed.  It was hard to appreciate the gravity of the California drought when all we saw was gorgeous weather.

But the wind in the winter in San Francisco is not much to speak of, unless right before or after a storm.  And since there were no storms, there was no wind.  So, winter becomes the time when boat project efforts scale up.  The early part of this winter, Cindy was dedicated to brightwork (sanding and revarnishing all the exterior wood), and Rick was dedicated to installing our new, 120 amp alternator.

As I write this in mid-February, the brightwork still isn’t finished, but it is coming closer.  The varnish had started to wear off completely in certain places, so the first goal was to scrape, sand and taper the edges of those places so they could be revarnished.  I won’t bore you with the details, but the whole process includes sanding with different textures of sandpaper, cleaning so there is not a spec of dust anywhere, taping off all around the edges, and then brushing one coat of varnish on.  Then, take the tape off once the varnish dries, wait at least a day, tape again, sand lightly again, clean again, and then varnish again.  If you leave the tape on for more than a day or two, it becomes a sticky mess.  For the caprail alone, I put at least 7 coats of varnish on, more if you include the spot varnishing of the worn spots.  And there is only a small window each day when it is possible to varnish: after the fog has lifted and the sun has dried the dampness off the wood, but at least 2 hours before the late afternoon fog rolls back in.  The caprail is as done as I am going to be able to get it; I have now moved on to the handrails and the rubrails on the cabin top.  Lastly, I still have the rubrails attached to the hull that are left to do … we’ll see when that happens!  But even Rick admits, it looks beautiful.  Cool Change is such a gorgeous, classic-looking boat; it would be a shame to let the teak loose its varnish and fade to a dull grey before its time.  I can’t promise what will happen once we are cruising, but for now …

I will defer to Rick to explain in detail his upgraded alternator install.  As usual, he was meticulous, and stayed closely in touch with the manufacturers.  He had to make slight modifications to our motor housing for the new alternator to fit, and the manufacturers had to send him some pieces that they machined just for him after the fact.  After the install, for a short time our tachometer wasn’t working, but of course, Rick figured that out too.  Cool Change is so lucky to have such a competent mechanic on board!

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