|May 11, 2012 - November 10, 2012
|Thursday, May 31, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
It is really the end of the month and there is a good possibility
the first six batteries of the new set will be ordered and on the
way tomorrow. Long time coming. I have enough work to
possibly get the last six at the end of the month, meaning the
last big, expensive hump in the completion of the boat will be
over. I still have to get the copper bar stock to link the batteries,
|Saturday, June 2, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
I started off by opening the floor hatches and pulling the first of the 8D batteries out. The water got checked and a tiny bit was
used on each cell to bring them back to the level rings. I really mean a tiny bit, like 2 or 3 tablespoons in each cell. The other two
batteries didn't require a drop.
Opening the hatches means vacuuming the battery box and that got done. Both forward sun shades were removed and I rigged
my topping lift system for hauling the batteries out and pulled the first one out of the boat and onto the dock. A while later
Richard helped me move it onto and into his boat and I connected it.
|Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
Richard has jobs for most of the week and I'll be working on the sewing projects and getting them done. Just to get back into the
rhythm of sewing, I'll start with the striped canvas on Falcons hard top and intermediate shade. Both of the side covers need
repair and special reinforcement on the aft corners where the mainsheet blocks rub if the wind is light and flukey. I'll be
incorporating some padding along with the toughest material I have - probably the blue leather - and try to cure the problem.
When I add the other 2 solar panels in 4 months or so, the entire hardtop will be moving down 1 1/2 inches and forward 1 1/2
inches, curing the problem completely. I'll wait until I get the other panels to make those changes.
|I have a call into Tyler at Powerstride Battery and am waiting for a call back. I have about half the money for the 12 2 volt AGM
batteries and want to see if I can lock in a deal for all 12 by opening an order and getting the first six now and the next six either
on the first of July or soon after. It's a little desperate - financially - for me, but will free me from the docks if I can do it. With
half the money, I have to get started working on a real solution or abandon the idea for a while longer, which I seriously do not
want to do. These batteries are the perfect solution for Falcon. With proper use and care, I could get eight to ten years out of
them. The old gel cells I got rid of at Marathon were either seven or eight years old, and only two of them had collapsed, though
the rest were showing signs of heading down the same road. The problem was using them in parallel, something that will not
happen with these 2 volt units. I will have 2 12 volt batteries of 630 amp hours each and switch back and forth between them,
using one while the other recharges on the solar array. It's a brave new world. The problem is the stiff initial cost for the first set
Talk about calling it close. I have $1741 to my name and I'm about to spend $1728 on the first 6 batteries. I have to get the cash in
my pocket to the bank first and will do it tomorrow morning if I have to walk there. Of course, if I go to the one on the island, I
only have to walk to the free bus stop and back, so I'll do that. I just have to get this hill climbed one way or another. I'll have $13
left - for a while. Getting these jobs done will quickly relieve the money crunch, then I'll start again on the second set. I will then
start surviving on the hook and see if I really need the second set of solar panels. The total cost for them will be $1000 and a
bunch of work on the hardtop. It's possible economy of power on the hook will negate the need and instead I can get the
materials I need to complete the water maker upgrade instead. I am getting closer to the end of the great boat project.
|Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|The first six batteries came today. They are awesome. Fabulous,
I'll have to snug up the two 8D's in the battery box beneath the
middle of the cabin sole. There is an itsy bitsy tiny little
problem beneath the floorboards: it's 2 inches too short for all
12 batteries.Not a problem, though, because I can easily make 1
inch of space at each end, or 2 inches at the forward end, a
better, and easier solution.
Tomorrow I'll pull another 8D out of the battery box and put
the six GPL 31T-2V's inside, then get started on their
I just discovered an alternate connection method that
eliminates the need to enlarge the battery box. Instead of
placing the batteries side by side, I can put them end to end.
Like that, they are 77 inches long instead of 81. Boo-yaa.
|Friday, June 22, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|I moved the new batteries inside and am delighted at how much easier they are to move than the 8D units. I still have to get the
copper bar stock to connect them, but my money is just a little light right now. Come July 1st, a week from now, all will be well,
and a month later, the last of the batteries will be ordered. This huge expense will be over and my tight finances will get relief.
|Wednesday, August 8 Through Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
The batteries I got for $287.97 each (free shipping) are now costing me $339.65 each, shipping included. An increase of $51.98
numbers as there was before. The previous prices were $306.97 each, or $287.97 each for 6, or $274.97 each for 10 or more. If I'd
had the money to buy all 12 on the first order, I would have gotten them for $3299.64 with free shipping. As I sit now, my final
price will be $3765.72 - an increase of $466.08. I just hope I can get the last 2 before prices jump again.
I wonder if the price increases are due to an increase in demand. I mean, I wonder if many other people are sensing what I do
about these batteries, how they are the best solution to small array solar systems right now. If I'm right, I could get up to 15 years
or more out of these batteries.
|Friday, August 24, 2012 through Monday, August 28, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
This has been the weekend of the Isaac Hurricane. Well, it was going to be a monster and it was going to clap us right in the teeth
and it was as big as the State of Texas and we were all going to die. You know, if you listen to some folks. On TV there was the
presently customary weatherdude shrieking and tweaking and shrugging of shoulders - why those guys even get paid is beyond
me. The thing is, these weather patterns are beyond any models in the archives and they are now making all new models to add
to the mix.
|Above are a couple of shots of Falcon in her new slip with her storm clothes on. Or her party clothes - the sun shades - off. I
spoke to Ron, on Gold Coast, about moving to an inboard slip so I could keep this one and he agreed.
Just about the first thing I saw this morning was an email invoice for the last two batteries. It carried the same shipping charge
as the previous four batteries, so I called and disputed it and it was dropped to $60 from $124.50. I'll be watching the account
today to make sure the amount is credited back.
I took a small detour and laid out the four foot copper bar into ten battery tie bars 4 1/4 inches long (with a 5 1/2 inch piece left
over) and laid out the hole centers and center-punched them.
|Yeah, I know you can hardly see it, but it's there. Very shortly I'll be doing the great battery installation waltz and there will be
plenty of details to complete. I'm getting back into boat work as I can.
|Apparently happy to be doing something productive on the boat
again, after laying out the battery bars I went outside and made
I drilled the two holes at the very ends of the strip and screwed
it down to a 2 by 4, then drilled all the holes in 3 stages. 3/16
inch, 1/4 inch, and 3/8 inch. The bolts on the battery are 3/8
and 5/16, so two 3/8 inch holes in each bar provides enough
'wiggle room' to account for any minor errors.
The next thing was to chamfer the lips of all the holes from
both sides, then cut the bars off one at a time. I don't think the
whole job took more than an hour from start to finish.
The last thing I'll do is to quickly de-burr the cut ends with a
hand held grinder and get ready to start installing the batteries.
I have to double check the dimensions beneath the floor in case
I have to open up one of the ends to make room.
|Okay - this just in - there is a 'space' problem beneath the floor. However, I am considering several solutions and will get back to
you when I decide which method to use. I'm back. It's all figured out and the batteries fit below just freakin' ass beautifully
without any cutting or grinding or shoehorns or anything.
|Saturday, September 1, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
As I thought about the job of installing the new batteries - which couldn't happen until I'd removed the old batteries - I pulled up
the floor hatches and took a look. The next thing you know, the last 2 8D batteries were out on the dock and the first 6 AGM's
were installed and wired in. It wasn't quite as simple as all that, and I did get a small raspberry on my forehead from bashing the
boom gallows, but nonetheless, they are in and the proof is below.
|Thursday, September 6, 2012 - Seafood Shack
Marina - Cortez, Florida
The last two batteries came in today. Now I have to re-route the
shower sump pump drain tube to the side of the bilge space and
install the last six batteries below the cabin sole. Randy's
challenge for me to design my own deployment hardware is
bringing some widely varied ideas as to how to do it. I'm having
some moments where I think I have it, then think about squalls
and wakes and other weather or waterborne anomalies destined
to wreak havoc if they come in the middle of my deployment or
retraction efforts. A 17.6 square foot panel weighing 45 pounds,
extended over the side of the boat - where I cannot stand - will
be a nasty handful with a wildly rocking boat or gusty winds. I
have to have a safety margin with absolute certainty of success.
This single fact is inherent in the 500 pound drawer slides - the
panels can never be out of control or in danger of falling
|Friday, September 7, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
Richard and I took his old 7/8" Bimini completely apart and used the newly acquired 1" Bimini frame we got from Andy at N.E.
Taylor to build a new, temporary Bimini to hold until they can get the solar panels they need to build a hardtop like mine. Their
cockpit is higher and larger than mine and they will be using larger solar panels and adding a dodger later on - and a complete
Just to make it a great day, I tried the macerator pump before going to bed and it broke. It sounded like the impeller lost it's hub.
Great. Nothing perks up a bedtime story like thoughts of wading through effluent in the morning.
|Saturday, September 8, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
In a little while, the floor in the head was up and the new macerator was installed. I checked the broken one and it was a spun
hub in the impeller. I checked on line and found the repair kit for $34. I'll order it tomorrow. It pays to have a spare macerator on
With the head floor up, I went at the modification of the shower sump plumbing to accommodate the batteries in the cabin sole.
|There was just enough PVC pipe and connectors and glue around to easily make up and install the shower sump 'Z' pipe. I also
had to remove the small access port in the floor and the plank the ratchet is lying on. The back needed clearance cut into its
underside for the last tie bar.
By 'last tie bar', I mean the forward most 4" x 1" x 1/4" copper bars I made to tie the batteries together. I've always known the top
of the keel - the bilge below the saloon sole - rose slightly going forward. It didn't occur to me it might rise so much as to
interfere with these batteries. It does by about 3/8". Close, but no need for concern.
I had to remove two of the three sections of sole planking I'll pull to make way for the new, plywood deck hatches. No
maintenance batteries mean a more secure and difficult to pull floor hatch system is in the works. It will be completed once I get
the last section of 2/0 battery cable I need to connect the final six 2V cells to the main battery switch.
|Above is the shower sump pump prior to the finish of the pipe going aft. There may be a time - somewhere off in the distant
future - where I think these under-sole areas require a special finish, but that time is not yet on the horizon.
To the right, the last 6 batteries are snugly installed below the cabin sole with just barely over an inch of free space. A scrap
starboard will be put there to prevent movement of the batteries - or maybe something else.
I'm wondering if thin foam pads might be a better fix as they will prevent chaffing between the batteries. I'll try a couple of things
while making and installing the final hatches.
|Sunday, September 9, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
I finally ordered the last two solar panels yesterday $850, including tax, with free shipping to the marina. I still need to order the
2/0 cable, which I'll do soon, but I already ordered 3 pairs of Levi's 501 button fly jeans from Dr Jay's. $34 each. Cheapest price
I've found anywhere.
I just ordered the battery cable and will now order the macerator repair kit. And now the repair kit is ordered. It is 1 PM and I'm
hungry, so off to order lunch.
|Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marine - Cortez, Florida
The new checks and deposit slips I ordered for the business arrived today. They are all in a nice folder which will probably annoy
the crap out of me before I eventually realize I never needed it to begin with. I do like the rubber stamp for stamping the back of
checks for deposit, but I suspect that too will eventually earn my contempt.
The 2/0 battery cable came in with the checks. Now I can finish all the last details of the battery installation. This will mean a
little more work on the floor hatches and a start on new battery switch configuration to allow for all the new variables in the new
|Even though I put a new battery switch into Invictus, I still have
three more extras aboard and can't wait to find a way to use
them. In this disturbing rendition of oddly colored and
randomly scattered blotches connected by colored spaghetti
with kinks, you can see I have managed to use two more of the
switches and will have one left as a spare, thereby making
mathematical sense of the excess of said switches aboard. With
the two upper solar panels covering the lowers, the switch
position for S1 will be as shown. With the uppers deployed wide
the S1 switch will be in the other position, putting all four
panels in series. The other switches are self explanatory.
It did just occur to me the solar panel selector switch will only
work in positions 1 or 2 and the All position will short out the
lower panels. I don't think it presents a problem as the panels
can be shorted out without damaging them. It would get the
switch hot if left shorted for long, so I'll have to be careful.
|Thursday, September 13, 2012 - Seafood
Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
I am presently a little concerned about my new solar panels on
the way from Home Depot. Not about the panels, but about the
money. It's back in my account. I called and they said everything
was fine and the panels were on their way, but I'm pretty sure if
they get here and that money doesn't vanish, I'll have to call
them again and start the process. There is no way I want to
forget about it and have it suddenly zip off into the night some
day down the road. I'll sleep better knowing I have my panels
and they have their money. Though there is a specially sweet
|feeling you get when you think you might have $850 worth of
FREE panels lighting up your life.
This is a special, big, big picture of the final installation of the
much ballyhooed super batteries I have been talking about and
working for and working on for way, way too long. Now, this is
it. I will cut the new sole hatches and install them and we will
see the fabled batteries no more. Unless something really bad
happens and I don't want to think about any of that.
Fitting everything in and getting it all connected was not as
tricky as it could have been. It actually worked out pretty good
and as you see, without much space left over. I'll be dropping in
some wooden spacers or something before the sole gets sealed
up. Just enough to keep the batteries from shifting or stressing
the terminals. Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty
important little step. Might take a little careful thought.
It took until 8 PM tonight to get the batteries all connected and
the new 2/0 positive cable run up forward to the engine room. I
still have to feed it through one last bulkhead and connect it to
the distribution battery switch. Then there's the other two
switches to mount and wire up with some #8 or #6 wire. I have
#8 on the two existing panels and it might be heavy enough for
all four, but I'll have to do a little adding up and checking to be
Okay, I checked. The #8 wire is good for constant duty up to 50
amps. The 250 watt panels put out less than 9 amps each and
the 205 watt panels are rated at about the same. The peak
amperage will be less than 40, so the #8 wire will work just fine.
|Sunday, September 16, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|I started disassembling the solar hardtop today to prepare it for the new panels.
I will be permanently removing the Sunbrella from the middle strip between the solar panels and replacing it with clear Plexiglas.
I'll make a new, Velcro sunshade to stick up from below and only put it up when needed. I have also decided to make the
troublesome Tenara (Goretex) thread work on the sewing machine and begin replacing the striped canvas with new Pacific Blue
|Monday, September 17, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|The idea of using old Bimini fittings as sliders to move the new solar panels in and out seems so natural - and cheap and easy to
replace - I just had to go for it. The things is, they have to be solidly locked in tandem to avoid the obvious and inevitable binding.
I tried sliding the single units many times and they always slid easily, but when I tried binding them, as a panel would do the
moment it cocked just a bit, they bound slightly and wanted to chatter. By bolting them solidly to short pieces of 1/4 inch thick
aluminum 2 3/4 inches long. Trying to bind these items always failed. They slide easily in all situations.
It is 9:30 PM and I've just finished building them. Now, I have to work outside to lower and move forward the existing hardtop. It
is also ever so slightly out of true - a tiny twist in it - and I will remove that as well. Once it is adjusted to the new location, the
new rails will be built and installed.
|Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
The last item is that I got the repair kit for the macerator and completed the repair and quick testing of it. Once again I have a
working system and a spare.
The solar panels came in today. I unpacked them and temporarily stored them in the shed. I'll move them to the boat soon and
get on with the mounting. Of course, Pictures will be here soon. They look great - much better than the ones already on the boat.
It's easy to believe they produce almost 22% more power in the same square footage. Well, the older panels are 96.75% of the
newer ones in square area. Still, the new panels are just about 4 years later in manufacture and represent a huge improvement in
The longer I work out the details of the new panel mounting system, the more dangers I see in the design. I will have to
incorporate some safety devices to prevent the panels from flying around too much. I mean, can't have them slamming in or out,
or up or down. Setting them up outboard on inboard has to be manageable under all conditions. I have to figure it out carefully.
The problems will not completely reveal themselves until I'm actually building the system. Hope I'm not missing something too
big to overcome.
|Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
First thing was to show the panels to Suzanne and anyone else unlucky enough to get caught by me, then I moved them to the
boat and put them aboard.
|The new panels do look much bigger than the older ones. George came over and said the same thing. I told him they were only
supposed to be an inch and a half wider than the others, but agreed they DO look much bigger. I got a tape measure and
confirmed they are 64 5/8 inches by 39 inches, while the older ones are 65 inches by 37 1/2 inches. No sooner had we done that
but Randy came over and also thought they were considerably bigger. There is a definite appearance of better quality in the new
ones - at least in the media - but the frames of the older ones are much better. I will be reinforcing the new frames to strengthen
I took a little time to adjust Richard and Angie's Bimini bows, then did a little work on the old bows I inherited - removing the
last 4 end-eyes. I removed the 2 bronze crossbars I'd installed to tighten the center Sunbrella strip on the original hardtop.
|Friday, September 21, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|It's getting to be about time to go outside and cut up the 7/8"
bows for the stock to build the new panel mounts. I have a
tendency to give the dust in my cluttered brain time to settle
prior to chopping up valuable resources. I just have to be sure
I'm not wasting something, like time, money, or material.
The pallet top is taken apart and all the staples removed and the
stainless bows are now rendered into odd pieces of stock.
A little at a time, the beat goes on. The next step is to do a
bunch of other stuff. Here, let me read from the list.
Connect the last battery bank to the battery switch.
Make safety spacers for the batteries.
Cut and install the new cabin sole hatches.
Tear apart the old shore power cord to get the #10 conductors
for the new set of solar panels.
Make the wooden panel mock-up.
Start making and assembling pieces for the big slider rails.
Get at least 6 more of the slotted Bimini hinge pieces.
|Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - Seafood Shack
Marina - Cortez, Florida
|The solar panel jig needs to be trued up to the panel and glued at each corner. I'll have to pull the panel onto the dock to do it, but
with everything else cleaned up, the dock should be clear and empty.
|Friday, May 11, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
Yesterday I didn't like the way the little Starboard pad went onto the boom and want to redo it. Version Pad 1.2 coming up. Also,
there has been a piece of the starboard cockpit seat showing signs of rot. I've been meaning to change it, but held off, wanting to
come up with a whole new cockpit seat design I could incorporate. Unfortunately, while going back and forth to the gallows, I
stepped through the edge of the rotting panel and time to replace it became right now.
|I went on to Home Depot to get a single piece of 3/4 ply, 2 feet by 2 feet, then returned to the marina.
|Sunday, May 13, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|Projects underway this morning include fixing up the oars for
Mike in the restaurant. I've kept the oarlocks - Mike has his
own and they are $30 the pair - and will now apply a leather
sheath over the oarlock area. I didn't have to, of course, as I'm
selling him the oars for $10 and they are already easily worth
twice that, but I want to try out the process once before going
ahead with it on my new oars.
The leather was coated with a thin application of Liquid Nails,
wrapped tightly around the oars with the seams meant to be at
the top. This avoids the heads of the heavy brass brads rubbing
on the oarlocks. I like the look and feel of the sleeves and will
put a similar treatment on the new 7 foot oars.
|The seat suddenly interested me and I just went straight at it
and didn't stop until it was in and sealed. I'll let it cure for a
while, then prime it and paint it and move on. Probably back to
the sewing projects. These are waiting and I need to get them
If I finally develop enough skill to do quality work with Canvas
and sails, I still won't do any more than I absolutely have to and
will pray to hit the lottery so I can pay others to do these things
for me, like other people do.
|Thursday, May 17, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|The freshly washed, and MUCH cleaner, cockpit seat cushion
covers are to the left. There are still some rust stains, but not
many. It's a huge improvement over how they looked before.
My next move will be to re-sew them with Tenara to get used to
|Friday, May 18, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|Sick of having the cubbyhole hatches fall open with every large
wake, I took the time to install the rest of the magnetic latches
to them today. The job is harder than it looks because the upper
parts - the magnets - were a real pain to position correctly and
install. Still, it's done.
I tried Scott's suggestion of using CLR to remove the rust stains
from one of the seat covers. It ruined the material, bleaching it
white. So, Sunbrella is impervious to laundry bleach in the
washing machine, but not to CLR. Oh, and yes, the rust stains
survived, but the material didn't.
|Today I'll set up for sewing and complete my cockpit cushions and the little cover for the propane solenoid, then clear and clean
the cockpit and go straight at Lil Toot's cover. Painting the new wood in the cockpit will complete one more job and the first thing
you know, Bob's your uncle and it's all downhill from here.
|Monday, May 21, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
After getting up at 3:30 yesterday I was pretty well played out by 9:30 last night and went to bed early. That resulted in my
getting up at 5 AM this morning and I was sewing on the seat covers by 5:30. The Tenara is off the machine and stowed until I
have the time to work more and get it sewing properly. I will blast through these small jobs one at a time and satisfy myself I'm
moving forward instead of pacing in place.
|The cockpit seat cushions are now complete and ready to go
back outside, as is the propane solenoid cover. I don't know for
sure if it will help protect the solenoid, but it makes me feel
better about it and that will have to do.
I put 2 coats of single part polyurethane topside paint on the
new section of cockpit seat - below - and by tomorrow it should
be dry enough to put the cushion on.
|Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|By the time I got back to the boat in the afternoon, the painted
seat was completely dry and I put the cushion back in place.
They look MUCH better.
I also got a reply from Sailrite with more advice concerning the
Tenara thread, mostly being in the form of letters they'd
|Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
The cockpit speakers are finally installed and it's time for me to
fill the water tanks and get rid of some of the wood and plastic
on the deck - one way or another. I also have to go through all
my viable devices and their respective chargers and toss out the
old chargers and accessories for devices long gone.
|working with the thread and improve the finish of the seats. I should also get to a trial fit of Randy's old cover to finalize the cut
pattern for the new one, then cut it out and sew it up.
|Sunday, May 20, 2012 - Cortez, Florida
|received from other customers. I'll give it another try, right after I work on two other jobs the sewing machine is waiting for.
|but it's a small expense compared to the batteries themselves. I'm betting I get 10 years from these batteries, maybe more.
|overboard. Of course, the long, brown rust stains running down the deck and the sides of Falcon are a real consideration.
My zincs are in and I have my check, so I need to get out to the Island, but Richard has been busy all day today. Maybe tomorrow.
I'm almost ready to buy a car, but I'll hold off.
|Roving pack of idiots alert!
It was just about now that some real fools showed up in the
marina. They were drunks, and troublemakers. It was my job -
for a reduction in rent - to call the Police if there was a need.
Of course, on this night, there was a need. These idiots went
berserk and tried to start a fight. Fortunately, none of them had
the balls to throw a punch, but the ruckus went on and on, and
at 11.30, I called the Police. The big brave warriors were meek as
kittens after that.
After the Police left, the worst couple, a fat guy and his shrill,
stick insect wife, didn't dare speak above a whisper. Later on,
they snuck out of the marina without paying their bill, so I put a
lien on their boat.
|From this point on, I do not have old pages to edit and fit in. I do have all the photographs of the work on the boat, all in carefully
marked folders, and I certainly remember what I was thinking and doing, so I will continue to the end, where I sell the boat and
|Sunday, October 7, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|Still taking things apart and sorting out the method as I go
along, I suspended the hardtop - after taking many
measurements and having a good idea where the new position
would be - and removed the 'feet' supporting it.
What I was doing at this time was something I'd never seen, or
even heard of, before, so I was inventing everything as I went
I borrowed a tubing bender from Scott, and it was so cool, I still
wish I owned one. Not to do work with, because I have none,
but just to have it.
I bought some 1/4 inch thick aluminum bar stock, and cut and
bent sections to reinforce the big solar panel frames, and make
up the fore and aft slider brackets. Oddly enough, it never
occurred to me to wonder if the plan would work - I was sure it
would. I just didn't know how good.
|Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|As the pieces were made and checked for assembly, there
became a need for more parts - spacers, bumpers, etc., and there
were issues to work out, as to how - exactly - the panels would
slide easily outboard, and just as easily, back.
I seldom have as much fun as when I'm doing something like
this. And it is true, that people who don't get it, can't
comprehend it, much less envision, design, and build it, do talk
among themselves, laughing at me and calling me crazy. It is
the way the world is, and it has never bothered me for a minute.
In a world where time was of no consequence, all these parts
would be carefully shaped, smoothed, and painted, or powder
coated. In my world, they only have to work, smooth and
flawless, and last for as long as I need them.
The little slide cars became more complex and considerably
stronger. They have to work right.
|Monday, October 8, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|Sunday, October 21, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|The heavier 1" stainless tubing was used for the framework, but the smaller 7/8" was used for the upper solar panel slide rails.
I was never happy with the way the Bimini canvas looked on the edges. The solution turned out to be small sections of white
plastic 5 gallon pails. They were easy to make and worked great.
|Friday, October 26, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|While I did wonder if I was overdoing it to add these heavy braces to the inside of all four corners, all I had to do - once - was hit
a piling with the panel in the outboard position, to know I did the right thing. Wind and current pushed me to the edge of a
narrow channel. I never let it happen again, even though there was zero damage to the panel or its mounting.
The doubled up slide mounts also proved their worth. Not only on the collision day, but by the way they never altered at bit,
always holding the panels in perfect alignment and position.
|Mounting the slides to the panels was a little 'non-specific' until the slide rails were firmly and finally mounted. I needed to have
enough latitude to trim in the exact position. Of course, the rails also needed to be perfectly parallel. The practice of mass
producing solar panels helped a lot. They are so close to identical, you'd need high end measuring equipment to find a difference.
All I had to do was leave one or two thousandths of an inch of movement in the slides to have no binding at all.
|Friday, November 2, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|Solar panels do get hot, I mean, look at them - they're black, and
they sit in the sun - getting hot. The thing is, the heat can have a
negative effect on the efficiency of the panels. I suppose solar
panels in the far north, when there is no snow on them,
probably work best. But down here in Florida, efficiency has to
drop off as they get hot. Not warm - I think the losses are
negligible up to, say 77 degrees, (I am using that number
because I saw it in a solar panel test for just this subject), but
above that, it starts losing efficiency at a rate of 0.485 % per
77 degrees F is 25 degrees C. I have touched my panels when
they were easily 150 F. That translates to 65 C. Just for rough
estimates, a 40 degree C rise translates to a 20% loss of
The best, easiest way to help this system out, is to leave at least
one inch of clearance between the layers, so the top panels have
|enough air flow to alleviate the heat. Once the panels are deployed outboard, all four panels have no airflow restrictions, and I
have found they remain 'warm', but do not burn my hands when I touch them.
|Friday, November 9, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|So, with the basic mechanism in place, and the panels moving in and out so sweetly - and they REALLY are - the final hurdle to
the system needed to be designed and built - with materials on hand.
The two main issues of the outboard strut were that it had to move in a straight line, perpendicular to the panel, and when the
panel slides came up against their bumpers on the slide rails, the panels had to be perfectly parallel to the inboard panels. Any
deviation would not only LOOK awkward, but decrease the efficiency of the array.
|With the sheer of the boat curving in two directions as it
passed the spot where I would need to mount the
outboard struts, it took a little doing to come up with a
way of mounting them which satisfied all the issues.
Actually, it suddenly became fairly simple.
I built the struts the same way I built the entire tubing
framework, the rails, and the slides: using the cast
stainless steel tubing and fittings so common in Biminis
and railings on boats. They are everywhere, and cost
very little. Most can be had for free. The long legs were
sections of old, scrap Bimini bows.
|The bottoms were put together with standard fittings, but the tops got 1/8 inch aluminum plate riveted on. This allowed me to
tap in a section of strait pipe, with a fitting on top that slipped into a fitting I'd already mounted in place, on the outboard edge of
By lashing the bottom hinge pipe to the boats rail, and pinning the two outboard fitting together at the top, I could just slide the
panels outboard, then tap the center, tip pipe on the strut, up or down, until it was perfect. Then I got on the dock drilled a hole
through the plate and the center tube, and riveted it in place. Perfect.
|Saturday, November 10, 2012 - Seafood Shack Marina - Cortez, Florida
|With the height taken care of, and the horizontal position of the
foot hinge set, all I had to do was cut 4 blocks of 1 inch
starboard out, bore 1 inch holes in the right places, trim the
angles for the rails, tap them onto the hinge pipes, and bolt
them to the ships rail.
And they work perfect.
Of course, I got razzed at the dock, all in fun, of course. Richard
said it looked like a Vulcan War Ship from Star Trek. I had to
agree, but the truth was - and I knew it - that, not only could
nobody else there pull off such a feat, but everyone wished they
had a way to carry this much solar to an anchorage.