Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Boat Improvements (3)

As always things in life undergo gradual change. This started me thinking about what changes I could make to the boat and its equipment to improve life aboard. My old boss had a rather interesting question that he put to the staff at meetings. It would go something like this - "I know that we may not all be happy working here. But if there was one thing that you could change to make things better what would it be." Over the years some changes were made to working practice as a result of ideas being expressed.

Like my old boss, I would never make a change just for the sake of it. There would always need to be a tangible benefit from making any change. Since we purchased the boat, we have made a few small but significant changes. In this instance because of the readily availability of strong magents. 

Do you have one of those popular aluminium windlass. Lighter in weight than the traditional steel windlass for carrying around. Just the one problem, with them. If you drop it in the water, there is no way to recover it with a sea searcher magnet.  We have a couple of them and over the years we have lost and recovered the odd steel one. I remember going fishing at one lock and recovering someone else's windlass as well as our own. 

This started me thinking, of how to make an alloy windlass magnetic. I tried first by fitting a small steel ferrule on the end of the handle. Made from a short one inch length of steel conduit. I tested it with our sea searcher and it works. 

I have also seen a hole drilled through the end of the handle and a steel spring clip (like the ones on a key ring) threaded on the end to provide a magnetic bit. Take care that the clips are not stainless steel which is not magnetic.

Then I had a better idea. I have a selection of small but powerful magnets that have been recovered from various computer disk drives which I mechanically destroyed for security purposes when I made then unreadable with a lump hammer. 

We all know that nothing attracts a magnet more than another magnet. So I drilled a small hole, slightly larger than the diameter of the magnet in the end of the handle. I was able to put three ex computer magnets together, slide them into the hole and then with the hammer gently close up the end of the handle to stop the magnets from coming loose. It would just about support its own weight when hung from a steel object.

Then I remembered on eBay seeing some small round Neodymium magnets for sale. These are very very powerful magnets and are very cheap to buy. I sent off for some which were 10 mm diameter by 5 mm in length. The magnets are very powerful and you have to take care when handling them not to nip your skin. (I have a blood blister as evidence)  I drilled a 10 mm hole 32 mm deep in the end of the handle. I put 6 of the magnets in the hole which had been smeared with a bit of lock tight but any glue would do. I knocked over the end of the hole by way of extra security. Then filed the end down to make a smooth flat finish.

Now if the sea searcher comes within an inch of the end of the handle the windlass will slide along the floor. A few tests have been done and all seems OK - However so far we have not been forced to test the system under several feet of canal water and covered in mud. 

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