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Messages - Dolce_Vita

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Exterior Finish and Fiberglass / Re: Refinishing the bright work
« on: May 14, 2021, 08:22:30 AM »
Hi Everyone, After years of trying to keep up with the teak toe rails and coamings I finally surrendered and sanded it all down to bare teak and used Semco teak sealer. The teak looks like It's new with a matte finish. The sealer locks in the natural teak oil and I only had to reapply another coat at the end of the season. All you have to do is wipe it on with a lint free rag and wipe off. It honestly takes me less than an hour compared to 2-3 weeks dodging the weather sanding and varnishing. This is the first spring that I was able to tackle other projects and it feels liberating. Cheers!

I've had the same experience using Teak Wonder sealer.  Lasts almost a whole season here on the Chesapeake.  Easy application, easy cleanup.  I figure its about 80% the look of varnished teak for 10% of the work.  I'll take that trade any day!

General Discussion / Re: Bronze Prop Shaft Problems
« on: May 06, 2021, 08:33:44 AM »
You are correct, the pink color is de-zincification.  I think it's time to replace the shaft.

Get a stainless one.  Mine had this done before I owned it.

Ports & Hatches / Re: Companionway Lock
« on: May 01, 2021, 12:11:05 PM »
I believe Pearson actually used chainplate covers for this part.  On my P323, they were made by Schaefer.

Here's a link to an example:

Plumbing and Galley Systems / Re: Boat Fridge
« on: April 22, 2021, 10:08:40 AM »
If I remember correctly, the electronic thermostat provides a set of relay contacts to control the compressor.  The wire from the compressor should go to one of these, and the other one should go to +12V.  Its not necessary to run two separate +12v feeds to the thermostat, although there's no harm in doing that.  Just terminate the single +12V lead on a terminal post, and then add two wires with ring terminals: one to power the thermostat, and one to power the compressor.

Steering System, Hull Structure / Re: rudder post is worn
« on: April 16, 2021, 12:27:39 PM »
Thanks for your reply.  One of the problems is that this is a Pearson 25 and they did not make very many so there are not a lot of parts kicking around.

As is the case for all of our 40+ year old Pearsons!

In your opinion, would we have to replace the entire rudder and shaft or is it possible to replace the shaft only?  We have bushings on order but that is only part of the issue.

Depending on where your skills lie, both paths are possible.  The rudders are usually built around a web of metal welded to the rudder post.  Replacing the post would require cutting into the rudder far enough to have a good place to make the splice.  TIG welding (for stainless steel) and fiberglassing skills would be required (or have to be paid for).

Would a metal shop be able to make a shaft or would we be able to purchase the same size (doubtful) from a marine dealer?

Can we just purchase a shaft and put it back into the old rudder?

Certainly doable, but any parts will have to be custom fabricated.  There are any number of metals suppliers that can fabricate shafts to your specification.
One repair possibility is to fit a solid shaft inside of the  hollow one to increase strength at the splice.  I have a friend who did something like this on his Islander 37. But you have to be able to position the splice to avoid the bushings.

Or just split the rudder open, dig out and replace the old post, and redo the foam and fiberglass.

A last possibility is to troll boatyards, particularly ones in hurricane prone areas, to find a storm damaged boat of your model that you can get the whole rudder from.

Steering System, Hull Structure / Re: rudder post is worn
« on: April 15, 2021, 10:06:39 AM »
Wow!  That is some seroius wear!  I know I wouldn't sail on it!

The bending forces on a spade rudder can be enormous. When (not if) that snaps, the rudder is going to sink and likely be lost.  It will be difficult (and expensive) to replace.

Do it now and cry once.  Don't forget to replace the bushing/cutless-bearing as well.  It's probably the cause of the wear..

More Commentary.

Does anyone use a DC-DC charger to charge multiple banks?

I don't currently have any experience with this, but I'm leaning towards incorporating one in my new design.  I plan to hava a small lead-acid battery for the starter, and a DC-DC charger seems like a good way of handling charging of two different battery chemistries.  There are two options. 

  • Let the alternator charge the lead-acid starter battery, and use a hefty DC-DC charger to get the alternator's output to the LiFePO4 house bank.
  • Let the alternator directly charge the LiFePO4 house bank and use a small DC-DC charger to keep the lead-acid starter battery charged.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Option one avoids the dreaded "load dump" that can happen when using an alternator to charge LiFePO4, where the BMS disconnects the LiFePO4 battery to protect it, and the alternator output spikes violently, burning out alternator diodes and expensive boat electronics.  In this option, the lead acid battery is always there to load the alternator output.  The disadvantage is that you need a fairly hefty DC-DC charger to take advantage of the alternators full output for charging the LiFePO4 house bank.

Option two takes better advantage of the alternator output because it goes directly to the house bank without incuring the losses of a DC-DC charger.  It also can use a smaller, les expensive, DC-DC charger to keep the lead acid starter battery topped off.  One of the disadvantages of option two is that it will require a battery-current-sensing alternator controller, such as the Wakespeed WS500, to properly charge LiFePO4 batteries.  Another is the "load dump" problem.  This problem may be mitigated by the load that the DC-DC converter always presents to the alternator, but I wouldn't want to bet the farm on it. 

My current thinking is that option two is the way to go.  DC-DC converters are notoriously inefficient, and I'd rather incur that ineficiency loss on the small charging that the starter battery would require than on the big house bank's charging.  As for the "load dump" problem, my approach is a threefold "belt & suspenders":
  • Use the DC-DC charger as a constant load on the alternator
  • Construct the LiFePo4 house bank as two separate, paralleled, 12V batteries, each with its own separate BMS. This greatly reduces the chance of a load dump as now both batteries need to go offline at the same time.  Each battery + BMS must be sized to handle the maximum current draw of the system independently in order to avoid a cascading failure mode.
  • Install a Sterling Alternator Protection Device on the alternator output to absorb any spike from a load dump

Wow!   What a huge topic!  But one near and dear to my heart, as i am currently approacking a long-considered overhaul of my 12v system.

Here's answers to a couple of your questions:

What MPPT charge controllers is everyone using?

I am using a Midnite Solar "KID"  MPPT controller, with two 100W panels in parallel, soon to be upgraded to two 200W panels.  The KID can handle up to about 600 watts on a 12V system.
I was originally given BAD advice by Midnite Solar regarding the need for their optional "WhizBang Jr" current sensor.  Their experience seems to be more focused on off-grid type installations with separate charge and load busses, and they don't really understand the unique needs of a marine installation.  At any rate, the lack of a proper battery current sensor virtually guaranteed that I would consistently overcharge my batteries because the charger couldn't distinguish between the current charging the battery and the current being consumed by the boat's house loads such as refrigeration.  The end result was that I destroyed an expensive pair of Gel Cells in two years when the previous pair had lasted me ten years!  I am in the process of adding a WhizBang Jr sensor which will allow me to program the charger to terminate the acceptance phase when the battery's charge current drops below a specified limit instead of using an arbitrary timer.

Battery monitor? Which one's are you currently using and do you like it? Accuracy?

I installed the Xantrex LinkPRO battery monitor years ago, and I use it constantly while we are out cruising.  The interface is somewhat cumbersome, but it works.  I tested the voltage calibration against two different high quality DVMs and all were in agreement.  Have not tested the current reading accuracy but have no reason to question it. If I were doing it over today, I might pick the Victron.

Alternators? Stock or larger Balmar etc?

I replaced the Mando 55 Amp alternator that came with the boat with a 110 Amp Amp-Tech alternator.  Because of the low speed that my Atomic 4 engine spins its alternator, I will never see 110 amps of output.  When starting cold into a partially discharged battery bank, It briefly gets up to 60 amps, then quickly comes down to a bulk charge rate of about 40 amps.  This is to be expected.  The benefit of the larger alternator is that it is not running  anywhere close to its maximum output and runs cooler and will last longer.  I use a Balmar MC612 external regulator to control it. The Balmar is almost infinitely programmable, but has the same flaw that plagued my Midnite Solar installation: No battery current sensor!  Thus, there is NO possible combination of settings that will always fully charge without frequently overcharging!  Flooded batteries can tolerate this, if they are kept well watered, but Gel Cells cannot!  They incur some permanent damage each time they are overcharged.  (And Lithium's are even worse, suffering catastrophic failure if they are allowed to overcharge.)  Again, if doing it over, I would consider the Wakespeed WS500 alternator regulator, as its the only one I have been able to identify that uses a battery current sensor.

Batteries- How many and where did you tuck them away?

Saved the biggest item for last.

The house bank currently consists of two 100 amp-hour Group 31 deep cycle Gel Cells (NOT AGM!) wired in parallel.  A separate 32 amp-hour U1 gel cell is used for a starter battery. All three batteries are located in the port-side cockpit locker. This provided a house bank of about 200 amp-hours.  But since you should not discharge lead-acid batteries below 50%, this means that there is only about 100 amp-hours of usable capacity. Further, since the last 20% of charging is the acceptance phase, which can take hours, it means that unless I plug into shore power, I rarely have the batteries up to more than 80% after the first night.  In effect this means that I really only have about 30% (60 amp-hours) of usable capacity!!  Since the refrigeration consumes most of this, I have to charge whatever I can with solar during the day, and make up any shortfall by running a small 1000w Honda generator which powers my 40 amp shore charger.

Although this worked, I would really like to to be able to go several days on available capacity, as well as harvest more solar power (hence the panel upgrade)  so as to not regularly need the generator.

And so, I am in the early stages of coming up with a complete redesign incorporating Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries.  The batteries will be built up out of four separate 280 amp-hour prismatic cells.  There will be two separate batteries, each protected by its own battery-management-system (BMS) board, for a total raw capacity of 560 amp-hours.  Because LiFePO4 batteries can be safely discharged to around 20%, and remain in bulk charging almost all the way up to 100%, this gives a usable capacity of about 80% or close to 450 amp-hours!

Because LiFePO4 batteries have a 150 deg F operating limit, and the locker adjacent to the engine gets too hot when the engine runs, I am considering moving the batteries to the space occupied by the storage bin under the nav station.  Each battery will occupy a footprint of aprox. 7" x 11 1/2" and stand 8" or 9" tall, so they should fit there, with room for the required bus bars and BMS boards.

But I need to warn you (and anybody reading this) that I really have gone down the rabbit hole on this one!  The engineering required to do this right is significant, and there are no commercial products out there that get it all right, requiring a high degree of custom design.  Don't believe a word of it when anybody tries to convince you that there is a "drop-in" lithium battery that can replace your lead-acid ones.  It just isn't true.  These installations will work great, in the short haul, but will not last and will destroy your expensive investment long before its promised life.  A proper LiFePO4 battery has to be part of a system, including the BMS, the solar charger, the alternator & regulator, and the shore charger.  ALL must conform to the unique charging requirements of Lithium batteries, and cooperate in the task.  There's a lot of information and cautionary tales on this topic at Compass Marine ( and Nordkin Design (  If you're at all considering going down this route, I strongly suggest you read it all.

Plumbing and Galley Systems / Re: Idea's for a new fridge.
« on: March 02, 2021, 01:56:37 PM »
...  I decided to go with VIP insulated panels and two Sea Frost compressors and holding plates.   RParts built the panel boxes and door frames.  I assembled and out the box in place.   not sure if this help any.... cheers.

Photos?  Please.

Cruising / Re: NC to SC
« on: March 02, 2021, 01:54:03 PM »
Coming home from Stede Bonnet Race in Southport, NC.  6 hour trip in 4... Watch the video I think you will like it.  Leave a reply      Also came in second this year   Woop Woop...

Congrats Dick!

New Member Introductions / Re: 323 refer unit
« on: February 27, 2021, 05:12:49 PM »
I was looking at your photos and note that you put the FRP on top of metal insulation. Can you tell me what you brand of insulation you used, thickness is see is 2-3 inches and covered in aluminium tape, R-value and whether it is closed cell foam?

I used 1 1/2" sheets of foil faced polyisocyanurate foam, purchased at the local Lowes.  Polyisocyanurate has an R-value of about 5.6 per inch, so the 1 1/2" sheets are about R8 to R9.  Polyiso has a better R value than most foams, but it can absorb moisture over time, thus the need to use aluminum tape to seal all the cut edges.  I used differing amounts in different places, anywhere from one to four sheets thickness (that was on the bottom).

It also looks like you came rather straight up and eliminated the recessed area, or is this a misconception?

I removed the shelf, and filled in the small recessed areas on the side before covering the side with a single large sheet. (see attached).

Standing & Running Rigging and Fitting/Tuning / Re: Rope Halyard
« on: February 13, 2021, 02:33:12 PM »
Sounds like a plan.

We sort of hijacked this thread.  I hope the original poster, Bill1188, got the answers he needed..

General Discussion / Re: Post Video
« on: February 13, 2021, 02:15:11 PM »
One work-around is to upload it to YouTube and post the link here.

Standing & Running Rigging and Fitting/Tuning / Re: Rope Halyard
« on: February 12, 2021, 02:16:26 PM »
I don't honestly know. I deferred to the expertise of others on this point.  The folks at Zepherwerks were pretty strong about getting the radius and depth of the groove to match the line used. The prevailing concern seemed to be that line sat at least halfway into the groove in order to minimize the chance that it could ride up out of the sheave and jam in the box.

I suspect that the sheaves used for wire/rope halyards would cause additional wear on the line as compared to a "rope only" sheave.  Researching other's opinions on various forums, the prevailing concern was that wire is very hard on aluminum sheaves, leaving the surface very rough, and this roughness would accelerate wear on the rope.  I know that my old sheaves were indeed torn up pretty good (see attached).   

So, a lot of speculation but not much hard evidence, one way or the other.

Standing & Running Rigging and Fitting/Tuning / Re: Rope Halyard
« on: February 11, 2021, 02:04:44 PM »
Thanks Ed- Those photos sure look like my sheeve box.

I agree.

...I'd like to get another season out of this main halyard since I've got to replace the cabin top handrails and install a new solid-state boat speed transducer and its brainbox this Spring. The halyard's splice is not safe for a bosons chair. Its steel cable is on the winch once the main is up so that is secure. ...

I always went up on a fresh line on the spinaker halyard, with a Jumar ascender handle riding on the line portion of one of the other halyards as a safety.  By carefully stiching the ends together , it is possible to replace the old spin halyard with a new one without having to go up the mast.  The spin halyard is also terminated a little higher than the others, allowing you to get an inch or two higher at the top.

Its been 18 years at least since I bought that rope to wire halyard. They seem very expensive now.

What is the upside of all rope halyards besides price and a little less weight aloft?

I see nothing but upsides. In addition to price and weight aloft there's:

  • Less friction in the system
  • Rope doesn't chafe the paint off the mast like a wire
  • Rope doesn't wear down the mast winches like a wire
  • No splice
  • Stronger than cable
  • Possible to swap "end for end" to even out wear
  • Easy to obtain replacement "on the road" if needed
  • On the 323, allows for the possibility of converting to internal halyards.  This would give you two extra halyards for hoists or emergency replacements

Modern ropes have eclipsed wire halyards in every way I can think of.  I'm partial to New England Ropes' VPC in 3/8" (10 mm).  This size is overkill for strength, but is about the smallest size you can comfortably handle by hand.  Anything smaller is hard to grip.

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