Dinette Table for Catalina 27

The dinette table in the Catalina 27 serves the dual purpose of a table and as a fill-in support for the double berth.

Lilikoi’s dinette table is a fifty pound slab of particle board with a cherrywood veneer and nice edges on two sides.  It was cobbled together by the prior owner to replace the original table that had probably gotten wet and then broken.  It’s held up by a folding 2×4 leg and a couple brackets on one the outboard side. Unfortunately, it’s also prone to falling down when the boat heels or you put any weight on either of the inboard corners.

Although I am selling the boat I figured this is one annoying point that I’d like to correct before selling it. I found a table from a 30′ Coronado sailboat at a boat wrecker in Hayward.  It’s 3/4″ ply with a Formica top, folding leg and a nice drawer incorporated underneath. It has nice real teak wood edging. It had approximately the 35″ fore/aft span required, but it must have been designed for a port installation, because as I learned when I took it to the boat and aligned it with on my starboard settee, it fits the hull profile almost perfectly – when it’s upside down!

I removed all the hardware from the table and inverted.  It’s about 1/2″ too wide front to rear, so I’ll need to cut back a bit along one edge.  If I was smart about it I could have left one edge attached and just trimmed the other!  Flipping the board over it has a very good fit but I scribed along the hull edge approximately 1/4″ line that will make it fit more perfectly, and I decided in the quest for perfection to add a 2-1/2″ triangular filler piece to make the table line up with the inboard dinette edge.  I guess it would have served, but I like the things I make to fit nice.

Quickest thing would have been to buy a new sheet of 3/4″ ply and cut the top, but in the spirit of this zero cost project (I already invested $50 in the table, after all) I decided to try filling it first. A half sheet of good 3/8″ ply was $22 at home depot, and I would need two to glue together.

I found a roll of Formica laminate in a nice maple wood finish for $4 and I’ll need to pick up some contact cement (spray on $12, pint $17 or half gallon for about $25. I’ll need more for the Nor’sea anyway but I may have some adhesive kicking around home.  the Formica is only 30″ wide so I’ll need a seam somewhere; probably right up the middle.  I also could do some old boat charts or something under a layer of acrylic, or poured epoxy, but I am selling the thing and can’t get too fancy.

Yesterday I picked up an off-cut 3/4″ plywood scrap that’s 10″ by about six feet and I cut a wedge out of that to make the fill-in.  I’ll add a cleat at the wide end (which is forward)to provide some gluing surface to ensure it stays on and screw that in with some 1-1/4″ screws I picked up today at Home Depot.  I was at the boat so I cut the wedge with the Jigsaw and it came out clean enough that I believe it will be covered effectively by the teak edge.

To see what height the table would be I balanced it on its brackets and wedged up the foot until it was level abeam, (as determined with the float level that came with the TV bracket).   I figure I will need a leg that is 2-7/8″ taller than the existing one.  It’s just a tube, maybe even a piece of electrical conduit material with a cap on it.

Tonight I will glue it up with some water resistant glue and clamps.  I need to pick up a long 4′ clamp at harbor freight or something.  The 4′ clamp at Home Depot was $36 or so.  Then I can trim the edges down about 3/8″ on each side and cut along the scribe line for the outside of the hull.  The teak trim adds 3/8″ to each side, and I want a 1/4″ clearance to make the table easy to install.Lilikoi Dinette Table

More to come…



04/10/14 – Extending the table.

marker button (center) placed in a dowel hole can transfer the location of that hole to the mating piece.

marker button (center) placed in a dowel hole can transfer the location of that hole to the mating piece.

In order to get the table shaped to the right dimensions I needed to add a 3″ extension to the forward edge, tapering down to nothing at the inboard aft edge.  I found a 1″ piece of cabinet grade wood and trimmed it to size on the boat using a jigsaw.  I flipped it around and used the straighter edge against the table.

Using a dowel jig I placed six 3/8″ dowels.  The kit was $3 at Harbor Freight and came with the dowels, drill bit and stop, and three marking tools with small points on them.  You drill three holes, pop the markers in the holes, line up the wood piece and tap the wood down, and it marks the position of the hole perfectly.

and ready for gluing

and ready for gluing

The only difficulty is making sure the holes are plumb to the surface so everything lines up properly.

I glued it up, clamped it and let it set for about 3 hours.  Only then did I notice that the wood I’d glued on was upside down!  I chiseled off the new piece and it was attached so strongly it removed a shimmed on piece of the edge of the table (1/2″) that I didn’t even know was there.  Using the chisel I cleaned up the edge redrilled the holes and glued and clamped

Wood glue says to clamp for one hour.  I left this overnight.

Wood glue says to clamp for one hour. I left this overnight.

it again.  It was 2:30 AM when I finished!


04/13/2014 – Applying the Formica Laminate

I found a piece of pine colored Formica roll at Restore for $4.  It’s 75″ long and 30″ wide. I need 35″ width for the table, so there will be a seam.  I decided to position the seam outboard to make it less conspicuous.  cut the Formica in half with the saw with counter-rotating blades and it cut through easily, just to get two pieces the approximate size.  30×36 and 12×36.

I positioned the big piece on the able leaving about 29″ on the table and an inch overlap at the inboard edge. You need some material to cut and snap off flush.  I marked the perimeter of the table on the underside of the Formica so I’d know where to apply the adhesive, and I added a line to the table to mark the limit of the area I would be gluing. Then I  and plastered it up with contact cement using a cheap 5″ foam roller.  I used the water base, non explosive kind.  I have to say that stuff doesn’t dry as rapidly or stick as hard as the oldschool stinky kind.

After about 30 minutes the cement had dried and was just tacky to the touch.  I put some dowels (actually they were bamboo skewers 36″ long from an orchid) on the table and positioned the Formica over the top. Then I removed the skewers and pressed the Formica down, rolling it with a wine bottle and rapping it with a rubber mallet.  It stuck everywhere pretty well except the topmost edge, so I put some weight on that.  Meanwhile I glued up the last piece and positioned it.  I used a heat gun to dry the glue because it was getting cooler toward dusk.  This was dried more thoroughly but it never seemed very sticky.

This piece went on more securely.

The table will need to be set about 3″ higher than before, so the pipe foot won’t be long enough.  I found a chrome steel shower curtain rod at OSH for 11.99 that can be cut down to size

04/14/2014 – Trimming the laminate

I flipped the table upside down on a 1×4 and scored the edge with a utility knife blade.  Then the excess material snapped off easily toward the scored edge, keeping the 1×4 tight against the table.  I sanded the sharp edge lightly with some paper.

Next step is to reapply the mahogany trim pieces. Then I can remount the drawer, folding support rod and brackets.


Shore Power Wiring for Lilikoi – a Catalina 27

Getting Lilikoi ready for sale, I decided one thing that would really help the sale is adding shore power. For the last 40 years this boat has had an extension cord running through the companionway.  I figured it’s about time, and I have the parts and an electrical engineering degree, so time to do something about it.

Some adult supervision is important in any project involving electricity

Some adult supervision is important in any project involving electricity

This web photo helped me decide where to place the power entry

This web photo helped me decide where to place the power entry

Beginning with the shore power inlet, I had a plastic Marinco outlet from the wrecker for $25 and I needed to figure out where to put the inlet.

I did some research on the web and found a boat that had the inlet located below the winch.  I checked my boat out and reached under the port berth to where the screw heads are and forward to the proposed area and found it was pretty clear. The Marinco instructions call for a 2-7/8″ hole saw.  Right!  I found a 3″ saw at Harbor Freight and went to town after looking at the gasket to make sure it would cover a 3″ hole.  I taped the proposed plate location and made sure it wouldn’t interfere with winch operation.  I wasn’t sure how thick the fiberglass is at that point (turns out to be surprisingly thin at about 1/8″ and it cut through in under 3 minutes.  I had been worried that maybe I should get an expensive bimetal hole saw set, but the $10 set did the job fine.

This is the depth of the breaker.  I later cut the access out bigger to accommodate a full depth box to contain the wiring

This is the depth of the breaker. I later cut the access out bigger to accommodate a full depth box to contain the wiring

I bought a dual pole 20A breaker set for $5 at a boat wrecker (they typically cost about $100).  A trip to home depot to find some suitable wiring boxes.  The ones I chose have ears in the front and brackets that tighten against them with a couple of Philips head screws.

The wiring needs to support the size of the breaker, so I was commited then to using more costly 12gauge wire.  I decided I absolutely needed power at the Galley and near the Dinnette table (for general use, and about as far as you’d want to run a battery charger cable) It also made sense to have power at the starboard bulkhead for

An outlet in the bulkhead just outboard of the chainplate location faces the dinette and will be a convenient place to plug in TV, table lamp, chargers

An outlet in the bulkhead just outboard of the chainplate location faces the dinette and will be a convenient place to plug in TV, table lamp, chargers

the TV and another outlet up in the V berth because that is a dark and scary place.  This suggested I run two

using the cubby wall as an outlet location

using the cubby wall as an outlet location convenient to the dinette table

branches.  I drew up a quick diagram and marked the proposed locations with electrical tape.  I took full advantage of the wooden cubbies to avoid cutting holes in the fiberglass wherever possible.

In the end I needed to only cut one hole for the shore power inlet.  one 1/2″ hole for the wiring to the breaker panel.  A rectangular hole for the breaker panel, which I positioned near the existing DC panel, one hole through the bottom of the port bench into the galley cabinet, one rectangular hole in the galley cabinet for the GCFI outlet. In a parallel run the wiring goes over to battery locker to an outlet set in the wooden cubby above the dinette, then through the dinette to the main bulkhead where I mounted a second outlet for the TV and from there through the cubby in the head area to the forward bulkhead, where I positioned the V-berth outlet.  The backs of the AC boxes are obscured within the cubbies with the outlets facing out.

Multitool can create square cutouts with zero clearance

Multitool can create square cutouts with zero clearance

I used a multitool to make the cuts, which worked great because of the limited clearances.  it would have been close to impossible to cut rectangular holes with the jigsaw

For the Galley I chose to mount the outlet in the side of the cabinetry, accessible to the kitchen without being too close to the sink.  I crimped on connectors, Trying ring connectors the first time, but getting wiser when I found the outlets’ screws don’t back out the entire way.  An auto wire stripper I found at harbor freight was very helpful.  Their crimpers aren’t great, you generally have to use the next smaller size hole (blue for yellow) for a secure connection.

liquid electrical tape is handy for wet locations, sealing securely against moisture.

liquid electrical tape is handy for wet locations, sealing securely against moisture.

Over that I used some liquid electrical tape and then installed the outlets in the boxes and screwed on the covers.

Ground Current Fault Interrupt (GCFI) outlets are required for each run. These devices monitor power through them and if more than 30mA or so takes the wrong route, (through your body and wet feet to ground, for instance) they shut off the power in a millisecond. Standard 20A outlets can be used at the other locations but they need to be wired in properly, with grounds, and tested to make sure they are GCFI protected.  I found some GCFI outlets at Orchard Supply

six bucks for a 20A GCFI outlet.  You betcha.  Gotta thank Leviton and Orchard supply.

six bucks for a 20A GCFI outlet. You betcha. Gotta thank Leviton and Orchard supply.

that were being discontinued.  Leviton had made some custom sized outlets designed to work with special décor plates that hide their screws.  They didn’t catch on because the devices are nonstandard.  the GCFI outlets were going for just $6 and their non GCFI outlets were $3 with the cover plates discounted to a buck.  That clinched the decision to install four outlets instead of two!

2012-12-03 Lilikoi – After the rain

It rained nearly nonstop during a system of storms that hit the bay area sequentially through Sunday Morning. With a brief break in the rain today, I stopped by Bair Island Marina to check out my early 70’s Caltalina 27, Lilikoi. The boat looked great after a cleansing rain, but I could tell coming down the companionway that there had been some freshwater entry.  The carpeting was a little soaked around the bilge area. I sopped out the remaining water in the bilge and opened the forward  hatch, setting up a fan in the companionway to get some better airflow to help things dry out.

Here’s a list of a few things I need to do for Lilikoi for winter:

  • Route the bilge hose more permanently.  I have it draped out the comanionway and over the side.  It needs to go aft toward where the cockpit drains run out.  This will reduce the backflow and eliminate the need for having a duckbill (one way valve) in line
  • Cut a new bilge cover.  I need to replace the existing bilge cover which is broken in a couple of places. I’d like to get something more waterproof, maybe some Starboard or something.  Need to measure accurately and find materials.
  • Confirm how fresh water from the deck / cockpit is getting into the bilge. To do this I’ll need to run a water hose into the bay underneath the cockpit scuppers and see if it’s draining in from there, or the deck.  Might as well try this while the bilge is already wet
  • Relocate the bilge pump and sensor. Effectively, I need to swap the two; the forward part of the bilge is the deepest, so the pump should go there.
  • Paint the bilge with some appropriate grey paint.
  • Tap some plugs into the two through-hulls.