Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Buying a Battery for Your Boat

A penny saved on this item

could mean many dollars lost

later on. Base your choice on quality and cost per month

A BATTERY is a utility item, hidden un­der the hatch or in some other inac­cessible place, out of sight and out of mind so long as the engine starts and the electri­cal system works. To most boatmen the battery is the algebraic "X," the unknown quantity, an obscure black box that may suddenly conk out-always at the most embarrassing time.

In buying a battery, the top grade is usually the most economical in the long run. There is no skimping on material, and being a bit oversize it stores more energy to start the engine under conditions that cause low-grade batteries to fail. The sav­ings in recharges and other service more than offset the additional cost of the quality battery.

When you buy a battery you will find there is an initial cost and an actual cost. The initial cost is the price you pay for the battery off the dealer's shelf. The actual cost involves what you pay initially, plus money paid for upkeep, measured against length of service received.

For example, a battery costing $30 and lasting three years without need of recharg­ing or other service costs about 84¢ a month. A gyp battery for $10 that lasts a year and needs two recharges during that time costs you about $1.08 a month. In

the latter case the cost and inconvenience of having the battery fail at sea are not included.

Since there are great differences between batteries, it's well worthwhile to select a battery with a well-known trade name rather than just any battery offered you. You will save money by buying a battery that has earned a name and a reputation in the battery field.

One mistake commonly made by the boatman in buying a battery is to buy one too small to do the job. In a car, lights, radio, and other accessories are used while the engine is running, and the generator supplies the necessary current. But in a boat, most of the accessories are used at anchor with the engine not running, and the battery supplies the power.

The electrical size of the battery is ex­pressed in terms of volts and ampere-hour capacity, such as 6 volt, 100 AH, 12 volt, 50 AH, etc. The ampere-hour capacity is based on a 20-hour discharge rate and is an indication of the battery's ability to deliver power continuously over a 20-hour period. It is the measure of the amount of working material put into the battery; that is, the number and size of the plates. A 100-AH battery will deliver 5 amps con­tinuously for 20 hours, 4 amps for a bit

longer than 25 hours, or 2 amps for con­siderably longer than 50 hours. But it will not deliver 50 amperes for two hours or 100 amperes for one hour. No boat should have a battery smaller than 100 AH, and preferably double that, in two batteries connected in parallel or in a dual-battery automatic system.

Sometimes the electrical size of a battery is expressed in terms of the number of plates in a cell or the total number of plates in the battery. But since there is no stan­dard for the size of the plates, such a rating has little value. Some gyp batteries have plates only half as long as the plates of a quality battery.

Most batteries are guaranteed for 90 days against defective workmanship and

Buying a Battery for Your Boat

material and for a period of months of service. Such guarantees are of the pro-rata type, which means that when a battery fails to give its guaranteed service the owner is entitled to buy a replacement battery at a reduced price, based on the service re­ceived. For example, a battery costing $30, guaranteed for three years, fails at 18 months. The owner would be entitled to a new battery for $15. Note that the guar­antee does not specify how well the battery will perform, nor does it protect the owner against the cost of recharging or other ser­vice. On such a basis a gyp battery, even though guaranteed for long service, can be costly. Better stick with the better-known brands.

Fundamentally, the buyer should be con­cerned with these things:

Will the battery operate the boat's elec­trical system satisfactorily? If it will not, frequent recharges will be necessary and you can be sure it will fail you at the time you need it most.

Will the battery serve dependably for a long time? If it won't you'll be faced with an early replacement, making -the cost on a per month basis prohibitive.

Does the manufacturer provide adequate service? When trouble occurs, the guaran­tee is not much good unless the manu­facturer can provide dealer service at the point where you need assistance. A battery with a guarantee backed by a nationwide dealer-service organization is highly desir­able.

In batteries, as in almost everything else, you get about what you pay for. A battery offered at an unusually low price is not necessarily a bargain. It may well be a bat­tery made to sell at that price, or even lower. The difference between a medium and a low-price battery may be only in capacity, the quality level of both being about the same. On the other hand, the low-price battery may be low in both ca­pacity and quality.

Three-in-one Wallbed Unit

A versatile and attractive space-saver, this unit is easily built from plywood, using ordinary tools

BEDROOM planned just for sleeping is wasted space for two-thirds of each day. Here's a way to use less furniture in a small room and still retain all the functions of a bigger bedroom set. The handsome 3¬in-1 wallbed unit shown here requires only the space of one twin-size bed, yet its four large drawers give you the equivalent of a full-size dresser. The wall shelves, which are attached to the bed, hold a generous supply of books and knickknacks. The en¬tire unit is mounted on heavy casters for easy mobility.
All major components are of plywood;
the unit pictured is of birch plywood, but you can use any veneer of your choice. Exposed plywood edges can be painted to contrast with the natural-finished wood surfaces, or you can cover the edges with matching flexible wood tape for a truly professional finish.
For such a large unit, the construction is relatively simple, and no special tools are needed although a power saw speeds and simplifies cutting out the various parts.
Start by cutting the front panel from 3/a¬inch plywood. Make the cut-outs for the four drawers and cupboard drawer. Trim all edges so they are smooth and square with the surface. Make up two drawer slide frames. These have scalloped end pieces; you can clamp the four end pieces together when cutting and trimming the scallops for an exact match. These scallops are more than decorative-particularly as
they are inside the unit-as screw holes must be drilled through the center of each scallop.
Assemble the two drawer slide frames with glue and #6 21/2-inch flathead wood screws, then attach the two frames to the back of the front panel, as shown in the photo. Use glue, and #6 13/4-inch flathead wood screws inserted through the frame
screw holes and driven into the front panel. Attach corner cleats at each end of the front panel with glue and #6 11/4-inch screws.
Cut out the two end pieces, and notch the upper rear corner of each as shown on the plans. Fasten these to the front panel with glue and #6 11/2-inch flat head wood screws. These are driven through the end panels into the cleats. Be sure to drill and countersink for all screws. These screw heads are later covered by trim pieces. Cut out and attach the back panel, using corner cleats in the same manner as on the front panel. Attach the drawer slide frames to the back panel at this time. Work carefully, and make sure that everything is perfectly square!
Make up eight drawer slides from 1 x 2¬inch and 1 x 1-inch pine stock, as shown on the plans. The assembled slides are fastened to the drawer slide frames with #6 13/4-inch flathead wood screws. Install the 3/a x 3/4-inch pine stripping all around the frame. Install the two "anti-tip" strips for the drawers. The lower one nails to a block that is glued and screwed to the front panel.
Now install the cupboard support strip, caster blocks, and the stripping for the cup¬board floor. Use glue and #6 13/4-inch flathead wood screws for the caster blocks, and glue and finishing nails for the support strip. Cut the cupboard wall and floor from 1/s -inch tempered hard board, trim to fit, and install with finishing nails. Add outer trim to the end panels. This can be 1/2 x 2-inch matching plywood, or hardwood or mold¬
ing of your choice. Install with glue and finishing nails. Set the nail heads and fill with plastic wood.
The basic bed framework is completed by adding the mattress floor panel. This is nailed to the upper stripping. Cut out the cupboard drawer, and trim it so that it overlaps the frame opening by 1/2-inch on all sides. Add hinges, catch, and door han¬dle of your choice.
Make up the four drawers next. A 1/8¬inch wide groove, 3/16-inch deep, is cut along the bottom of the "B" and "C" panels. When front, back, and sides are assembled with glue and finishing nails, the bottoms of 1/8-inch tempered hard¬board can be slid into these grooves. Glue and nail the bottom to the back piece "D" of each drawer.
Cut bookcase top, uprights, and shelves from 3/4-inch plywood. Fasten 3/a x 3/a-
Three-in-one Wallbed Unit

Completed drawer. When front, back and sides are assembled, hardboard bottoms can be slid into grooves.
inch cleats to the uprights with glue and #6 11/4-inch flathead wood screw. Lower shelf is then attached to the cleats, and additional shelves are attached to the up¬rights, with glue and finishing nails. Use a temporary diagonal support to hold the work square while work is in progress, and add remaining shelves and dividers of 1/2¬
inch plywood. Remove the diagonal strip, and attach the back of 1/8-inch tempered hardboard. Use glue and finishing nails.
Mount the bookcase on the bed unit, setting the uprights into the notches of the two side pieces. Fasten with screws through the uprights into the exterior trim strips that run along the top of the side panels. Screws through the hardboard back of the bookcase into the back panel of the bed give additional support.
Finally, paint all exposed plywood edges, or cover with flexible wood trim, then give the unit the finish of your choice. If you have picked a plywood with a decorative veneer such as birch, maple, or mahogany, you will want to use a varnish or other clear finish to bring out its beauty. Use at least two coats, and sand lightly between coats. Add drawer pulls and the door han¬dle, mattress, and bedding.
Original design by Steve Ellingson.

Inexpensive Bar Cabinet

There's no finishing involved in building this bar
a prefinished fruitwood panel takes care of that

HIS ATTRACTIVE bar-cabinet features a revolving door with racks for glasses and a detachable front panel which doubles as a serving tray. The use of prefinished panels for all exposed surfaces eliminates the need for finishing and gives the com¬pleted piece a professional appearance.
The well-proportioned bar has ample storage space for bottles, glassware, ice bucket and the like. The compartment to the left also has a small shelf near the top
which is ideal for storing recipes, stirrers, tongs, etc. This self is placed high enough to clear the bottles stored below it.
To add further to the appearance, pre¬finished cove molding is used to edge the lid and base, thus solving the problem of what to do with exposed edges. When carefully cut and applied, the molding looks like it was cut from the panel with a shaper or muter. Miters must be cut with a sharp blade; otherwise, the wood can splinter resulting in an unsightly appearance.
Care must also be exercised when cut¬ting the panels as the prefinished surface has a degree of brittleness which makes it prone to surface splitting. This is especially apparent when using dull tools. The best blade for a table or radial arm saw when BARS 168
Inexpensive Bar Cabinet

Ceramic Tiling Your Bathroom

By doing-it-yourself and using
new adhesive cements you can
install real ceramic tiles in an
average bathroom for a reasonable cost

ONE OF THE FIRST items a proud home owner is likely to mention about his house is the ceramic tile bath, because real ceramic tile in the bathroom or kitchen adds a touch of practical luxury. "Real" (meaning ceramic) tile has a rich, hand¬some look and, with proper care, it will last the life of a house because its glazed surface resists water, most cleaners and wear.
A new adhesive method makes setting ceramic tile as easy as applying many of the substitute materials that have become popular during the last few years. Of course, ceramic tile materials (Fig. 3C) cost more than some other materials, but the amateur can now obtain them easily, and doing his own setting will offset this higher cost. For comparison, let's consider the simple 5x6-foot bath shown in Fig. 3A. The 87 square feet of tile required to cover the wafts only plus the bull nose cap, feature strip and bottom course would cost about $95. Covering a similar area with plastic tile along with a trim strip around the bottom would cost $51, but considerably more if you pay to have the work done. Making a sketch similar to the one in Fig. 3B will not only allow you to figure what the cost of tiling your bath¬room will be, but will help to plan what kind and how many tiles to order.
Field tiles along with the trim pieces (Fig. 3C) are available in a variety of colors along with white and black. Most wall tile is glazed, while floor tile is un¬glazed to prevent slipping. Sizes of tile vary with the manufacturer, even though standards call for field tile to be 41/4 x41/a inches. So buy all of your tile from the same manufacturer and specify a cushion edge-the kind with a slight slope near each edge.
Tiles come in two grades too-standard
and seconds. Standard grade is graded uni¬formly for color and is free from defects or uneven glazing. The lower-cost seconds may vary in color shade and come with chipped corners or spotty glazing. If you use seconds, buy about 10% more than you need to allow for replacing poor tiles.
Each grade of tile carries three designa¬tions: color (specified by number), size (specified by a letter), and shade of color (again specified by number). Most manu¬facturers stamp these designations on the top of a tile carton, for example, 104-D-5. Make sure all cartons purchased bear identical designations for color match. Colored tiles usually do not cost any more than whites. Wall tiles are usually 3/8-inch thick and come packed in cartons that weigh about 55 pounds each and contain 120 tiles or enough to cover 15 square feet.
Telephoning local tile dealers or instal¬lers will usually turn up one who will sell you enough tile to cover a bathroom or kitchen. If you can't buy tile and adhesive locally, order them by low-cost freight from mail order companies.
The two types of adhesive for applying wall tiles are-(1) buttering wall type, a quick-setting adhesive that sets in about five minutes after placing on the back of
*Spread floating type adhesive with notched trowel. This type of adhesive may be used after the starting course of tile has been set with
buttering adhesive, applied with a putty knife.
the wall tile, and allows you to do all the starting courses on wall areas of less than 50 square feet without waiting for the ad¬hesive to set up, and (2) floating wall type that sets in about one hour and is spread on the wall; you will need both the floating and buttering wall types for wall areas over 50 square feet. Each type covers about 50 square feet per gallon. Adhesives should bear the label "CS-181" to indicate that they meet specified performance requirements. For repairing tile, use the buttering type adhesive.
Making cutouts. The cutter (Figs. 4 and 5) not only cuts wall tile to width, but can also cut tiles on the bias, and split tiles to make cutouts for clearing pipes, and electrical switches. Nippers (Fig. 6) are used to cut off about 1/8 -inch piece of tile at a time, working from each end toward the center gradually. Nip off only small pieces, since applying excessive

How to Build Plywood Boats

A guide for the beginning boat

builder - these basic techniques are used by the pros

FIBERGLASS may be the number one choice for production-line boats, but when it comes to the amateur, plywood re­mains the overwhelming favorite.

And well it should be. It's cheap, strong, easy to handle, and it provides a handsome boat-whether outboard skiff or an ocean­cruising sailboat.

Although only average carpentry skill is needed, building a boat is not much like building a kitchen corner cabinet. Here are standard procedures that apply to all ply­wood boat construction, whether you are

starting with a set of plans, or building from a kit with pre-cut parts.

First, a word about materials is in order. Of course, the plywood must be marine or exterior grade. Any other type will deterio­rate rapidly when exposed to a marine en­vironment. In addition to the plywood it­self, everything else that goes into or onto the boat must be suitable for a marine en­vironment. This includes adhesives, fasten­ings, and paint. Your local marine dealer is the best source for each of these. Do not use common brass fastenings in the hull, if it will be kept in salt water. If such fastenings trap moisture, they corrode rapidly.

Plans and patterns. Measurements for many framing members can be taken from the plans and marked directly on the wood stock. Where curves must be cut, full size patterns should be used. The heavy paper available from building supply firms is ex­cellent for patterns.

Plans usually show a scaled-down "pat­tern" for each curved member, with grid

superimposed over it. The grid may repre­sent one- or two-inch squares. Mark off full-size squares on the paper, and draw in the outline for each item, using the plans as your guide.

To transfer the pattern to the stock, tape the pattern in place, and tap a nail through the drawing at two- or three-inch intervals to leave a line of indentations in the wood. Remove the pattern, connect the indenta­tions with a heavy pencil line, and you're ready to cut. Naturally, you cut a little out­side of the line, and use a plane or rasp to achieve the finished shape.

Building forms or jigs. For most boats, it's necessary to set up a building form or jig (two words for the same thing) to support frames, transom, and stem during construction. The jig ensures that frames are at the proper intervals, and at right angles to-and centered on-the keel's centerline. It is also used to set up the frames at the proper height in relation to each other.

Often, the plans will give complete in­structions for building the form. Because each type of boat has its own requirements, no special instructions can be given here, other than to make sure it is set up to do its job properly, and that it rests on a firm foundation that will not shift or settle dur­ing construction.

Keels, stems, transom, knees. These members make uu a boat's backbone. Use

the best grade wood you can get-wood that is clear, uniform in grain, and free of knots. While solid timbers may be called for in your plans, it is possible to laminate several layers of thin wood to achieve the required thickness, and wind up with a stronger unit than solid wood would pro­vide.

Transom knees and stem are often made up in sections that fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, with glue and bolts at the joints. Sometimes it is desirable to add plywood side pieces (gussets).

Transoms and frames. These are the first units to be mounted on the building jig in most cases. As they determine the final shape of the boat, every care must be taken to ensure accuracy in their construc­tion.

The transom itself is usually heavy ply­wood, 3/4 -inch thick, backed on the inside with 3/4 -inch framing members. The total 11/2-inch thickness along all stress areas provides plenty of strength for outboard motor installations. ,

To make up the transom, cut the ply­wood to shape, allowing a little excess for trimming. Cut the framing members to shape and size, and fasten them to the ply­wood. Coat mating surfaces with water­proof glue, and insert screws through the plywood into the framing members. Al­ways drill pilot holes for the screws, and countersink the heads.

frame and the stem, trim the panel to pro­vide a "transition joint." Aft of this joint, the bottom panel will lap over the edge of the side panel; forward of this joint, the edge of the bottom panel will butt against the edge of the side panel.

Where two or more sections of plywood are needed to make up each side panel, in­stall butt blocks as outlined earlier.

Bottom panels are installed in the same manner as the side panels. Use a plane, wood rasp, or "Surform" type tool to trim them for a good butt joint along the center­line and at the stem. Trim them flush with the side panels aft of the transition joints.

Fiberglassing. If you plan to fiberglass the seams, the bottom, or the entire hull, this is the time to do it. Fiberglass tape over seams adds strength, and prevents moisture from entering the end grain of the ply­wood. As fiberglassing the entire bottom

adds to its strength, you can use thinner, easier-to-bend plywood bottom panels and still have the required strength. Fiberglass­ing the entire hull permits use of thinner side panels as well, and you can add color pigment to your final resin coat to elim­inate the need for a paint job.

Before fiberglassing-or painting­cover all screw heads with wood putty. Sand the putty flush with the plywood after it has dried. If you do not use fiberglass, coat all exposed plywood edges with wood sealer to help prevent deterioration.

Turn the hull right side up. Block it carefully so that it has adequate support, and won't shift around as you work on the interior and topsides. Trim the side panels flush with the sheer clamps.

Now you can paint the interior of the hull. There will be areas that are impos­sible to see, and difficult to reach.

What You Should Know about bicycles

Bikes come in a multitude of
shapes, sizes, mod
els and
styles. Here's how to pick out
the one that m
eets your needs
safely and practic

H$ DEGREE to which you will enjoy cycling will depend largely on how wisely you select your bike. For some individuals an expensive 10-speed bicycle is a must, for others the same bike would be an extravagance. But there is one com­mon denominator: the overriding impor­tance of safety. So here are some tips to help you choose the most practical, and safest bicycle for your needs.

Types of bicycles. Basically you can think of adult-size bikes as either conven­tional middleweights, or lightweights. (In bicycling, an adult is any person who is large enough to ride a full-size bicycle; the bicycle industry considers anyone over age 14 as adult-sized.)

Within these two weight categories, you find bicycles of different styles that are suitable for specific riding purposes. Some are designed for moderate distance tour­ing, while others are for long-distance touring; three-speed bikes are especially good for business commuters; middle­weight models are best for local riding, as

on newspaper delivery routes; adult three­wheelers are for those who have large loads to transport or for those whose sense of balance is not the best; folding bicycles facilitate transport in cars and boats; tan­dem bikes promote togetherness; one­wheeled models (unicycles) are for the adventurous and those having better-than­average balance.

The traditional bicycle made in the U.S. is a middleweight vehicle weighing 50 or 60 pounds. It has a coaster brake (the kind that operates when you push backward on the pedals) and relatively thick tires. It is relatively trouble-free and easy to maintain, and a good bike for such short-distance uses as delivering newspapers or for just funning around in your neighborhood.

Lightweight bicycles weigh as much as 15 pounds less than the middleweights. The lighter weight plus three speeds make this category of bicycle very popular as a general use bicycle among adults. Expect to pay as much as three times the cost of a middleweight vehicle.

There are still lighter bicycles weighinl under 25 pounds that some view as a thirc basic category. These have anywhere frorr 5 to 15 gears, with 10 gears perhaps bein€ the most popular. Other features include hand-lever brakes, dropped-down handle bars of the type seen on racing bicycles am thin, hard tires.

Who needs 15 gears? Relatively fev

cyclists need a bicycle having fifteen gears, but many riders will find five or ten gears useful. On the other hand, others would wonder why they spent money on extra gears when one-or at most three-gears would have sufficed.

The number of gears your bicycle should have should be determined largely in re­lation to the kind of terrain you expect to travel. Extra gears are used to maintain as consistent a pedaling rhythm as possible because for most individuals a cadence of 65 to 85 pedaling revolutions per minute is most comfortable. The trouble is that you just can't maintain this rpm when pedaling up a steep hill with a convention­al single-speed bike. So you drop to a lower gear which requires less physical

effort on your part. This means, of course, that you travel a shorter distance per pedal revolution, so you sacrifice speed for the sake of energy conservation. The gen­eral rule is that the steeper the slope you must climb, the lower the gear you use, and the slower you move ahead. You would also use a lower gear when bucking a heavy wind.

The higher gears are used primarily on down grades or when the wind is at your back. If you live in very flat country, you really have no use for a multi-speed bicy­cle, except perhaps as a status symbol. But if you will be touring through hilly coun­try-New England, for example-you had better have at least five gears, maybe even ten. If you are setting out for the Colorado Rockies, or if you are planning some really long-distance touring, you might even want a 15 gear vehicle.

Gearing ratios on bicycles are listed as whole numbers. For example, "70" gear is used on bicycles intended for "normal" riding conditions. The number relates to the distance you travel during one revolu­tion of the pedal crank. To calculate the