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The refit on the head

Haven’t posted much because we’ve been doing the same thing for several weeks while enduring the heat.  Houston is a wet heat, it’s miserable there in July and August.  So we decided to do a little indoor work that would take the boat up to standards for full time liveaboard.  Up first was the aft head or, as many of you might call it, the master bathroom.

The head as we found it

The head as we found it

While the exterior teak was pretty well maintained, the interior was generally left to its own devices.  It’s not exposed to much so it can go a long time without maintencence but this had gone a long time and it showed.  Plus, that formica probably looked good in the late 1980’s but now it definitely shows its age and mileage.

And the stainless steel sink was a long way past its shiny days.  It looked like it was used to pan a little gold.  I think the faucet would have show well in any 1970’s era bachelor pad or builder grade home in far West Texas.

We had thought it would get a corian face lift but the cost and timing was just too much.  We couldn’t get on the contractor’s schedule no matter how hard we tried.


Taped and doing the varnish

So off we go.  First, we take off all the old hardware so we can do a little varnish work.  That took up the better part of a weekend because it had to all get sanded down to bare wood and cleaned up.  Then the taping, gotta tape it off right so you get that clean professional look that will make us the envy of the marina.  Then 3 coats of varnish with a light sanding between each coat.  Between.  Each.  Coat.

You ever do 3 coats of varnish in a confined, poorly ventilated space?  I think we alternated between giddiness, nausea and confusion in roughly equal parts.

So that’s the rough part.  Ok, no, that’s not true.  Now came the rough part.  The sink.  You’d think a sink would be easy.  We bought one that clearly said “any 2 inch bar drain” will fit.  No.  We checked Home Depot and Lowe’s in both Austin and Houston.  We went through West Marine and a more local marine chandlery (Blackburn).  We went to a RV outlet and plumbing supply.  We talked to the vendor and manufacturer and bought the drains they recommend.  Nothing fit.  Nothing.  I asked Steve Smith, a building contractor and a damn fine looking man if I do say so myself, to sanity check me and try fitting a drain.  No dice.  The drain opening was 1 7/16″ and every drain everywhere was 1 1/2″.  Just a 16th of an inch too big.  This little dance cost us a couple of weekends of frustration and tears.  Amy was pretty upset too.

We finally settled on a little specialty drain that is used for commercial and industrial processes like commercial ice makers.  Of course, it just barely fit being nearly too small.  Getting it centered in the drain and tightened down was a treat as it tried to “walk” around.

HeadTiledMore fun was enlarging the holes for the faucet connections.  They were about a 1/4 inch too small.  How do you enlarge a already existing hole?  It took some trial and error here.  Just using a hole bit is not the answer because you have no way of holding the thing steady.  Maybe some of you have the strength but not all of us can be Steve Smith.  That thing skittered about no matter what.  I ultimately found a drill bit that was a nice little rotary file and that made short work of it.  Took maybe 10 minutes to get the hole just right.

Completed Project

Completed Project

Then some quick and easy tiling with the groovy new mats that work in place of mastic so you just cut to fit and stick it down.  Cut and chip off the tile to fit and it just lays right in there, essentially super glued into place.

More drain fun was getting the right fittings to work with the drain hose.  We need to convert the drain adapter from 3/4 inch to half inch and then connect it.  The guy at West Marine knew just where to find those pieces but we got to that only after 2 trips to Home Depot.  Thank God that place is essentially just across the street from the marina.  We got that all hooked up and tested for leaks.  It leaks.  Reset with yet more plumbers putty and test.  No leaks!

I think we all got worn out by this one.

I think we all got worn out by this one.

This was something I thought that would take 1, maybe 2 weekends and ended up going over 4.  It was such a hassle that we are returning the sink we got for the forward head since it’s the same kind.  We’re going to get one that actually comes with a drain manufactured for it rather than go for a standard of some kind.

That was a exhausting and frustrating project but with the lessons learned and a proper sink and drain combination, the forward head should go much better.




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