Summer 2016 Projects

Smart Plug, Fridge Optimizer, Genset Exhaust Replacement, Boot Strip (Water Line) Painting, Rub Rail Repair & Painting, Weather Cloths


The first order of business was to replace the shore power plugs and inlets with Smart Plugs.  These devices have a built in thermostat which will cut power at 200 degrees F.  The majority of boat fires are electrical, and an awful lot start here, where the power enters the inlet on the boat.  Now, if we have an issue it should be on the dock end of the power cord and not the boat end.  They aren’t cheap but we feel the peace of mind is worth it.


Next on the list was our electronics (navigation) upgrade.  We replaced the chart plotter with a Raymarine C125, this forced us into replacing the radar with the latest Broadband technology (Raymarine Quantum) as our old radar wouldn’t work with the new Chartplotter.  We also had to remove our old fast heading sensor and install a new EV-1 (same reason).  We also removed the receive-only AIS and replaced it with a Si-Tex Class B AIS Transponder that transmits and receives.  Of course our old chart chips became worthless and we needed to purchase new, updated charts which were needed anyway.  Fortunately our old electronics still had some salvage value and we were able to peddle the stuff on eBay for around $1500.

Liberty has two fuel tanks, one plastic that we installed a few years ago to replace a weeping tank and an aluminum tank that was replaced by the previous owner just before we bought the boat.  Last year we had to change one of our fuel filters as it started to clog and we suspected the aluminum tank might be getting dirty as it was about nine years old.  As it was built without a clean out port we decided to pull the tank to install the port and clean it.  We also had a problem with an expensive fuel gauge sender that stopped working last spring.

The picture below shows the plug from the access hole we cut lying in the tank, with the metal dust from the cutting operation.  The tank is essentially spotless which goes to show that if you turn over your fuel often enough the tank doesn’t crud up.  The other thing to note is the blue float on the fuel sender unit.  That float doesn’t float because it is saturated with diesel.  I checked the part number on the sender and it is the correct sender for diesel, the problem turned out the manufacturer installed a float for water (polypropylene) rather than for diesel (Buna-N).  They did send me a new float and sort of apologized saying that they had some “issues” a few years back and it took that long for the polypropylene float to get saturated.  We can now access the inside of the tank if it ever needs cleaned without removing the tank from the boat.

As you can see the float was not doing its thing.

Our refrigerator got an “upgrade” with the installation of a Fridge Optimizer.  What this gizmo does is replaces the thermostat control in the fridge with one that is smart.  The heart (brain?) of the Fridge Optimizer is the low power, but very advanced, 8-bit Atmega 328p MicroController Unit, also known as MCU or “Computer on a chip”. The MCU is responsible for monitoring the system and adjusting the compressor and cooling fans based on sensor readings and proprietary algorithms. The MCU also continuously stores and displays real time and historical energy and humidity data. This data shows how much power is being used and if there’s a need to top up coolant or if there’s an issue with the insulation (for example a dirty or worn out fridge door seal).

Inside the fridge we mounted the thermostat sensor and fan which helps circulate air when necessary and replaced the controller on the compressor.  Once adjusted it runs a defrost cycle once a day.  The only problem is that marine refrigerators don’t have a drain so at the moment we keep a sponge in the drip tray below the cold plate and replace it every few days with a dry one.  Maybe a drain line into a bottle should be incorporated if I could figure out how to get a watertight seal on the tray.



This doesn’t look like much but it is “issue” that has been bothering us for a while.  The exhaust hose on the genset took a wicked turn (loop) to get to the water lock.  The hose looked original and was really kinked.  We replaced the hose and used a Centec fiberglass gooseneck fitting to make the bend.  I am sure the genset is happier now.  At least I am.  We wanted to raise the genset up a bit so we could actually drain the heat exchanger but that didn’t happen (yet).

Once we pulled Liberty out of the water we could address a bunch of issues we needed to take care of before we head south again.  The first was the area on top of the rub rail.  This is where there were air pockets between the gelcoat and layer of mat in the lamination.  Whoever was responsible for this job needs to be kicked in the butt as fixing this turned out to be a lot of work.  There were areas all around the rub rail on about ¾ of the boat (90’ of rub rail) that needed attention.

Grind out with a carbide bit on a dremel tool, fill with expoxy paste, sand and repeat until smooth was the order of the day(s).

Once this was done we were ready to paint.  First you need to mask off a bit of the boat which takes a few hours and gobbles up about $30 worth of tape in the process.

Since we were obvously doing this outside you need rather good weather conditions to spray paint.  We were lucky and had a morning when it was flat calm when we shot it.

We also took the opportunity to spray the boot strip.  Actually we did the boot stripe first which allowed us to practice our technique with the $100/quart two part automotive paint we were using.


Neither the green nor the creme is perfect, but unless I tell you what to look for and where to look you probably wouldn’t notice it.

Another issue that has been on the back burner is the filling in of the depression in the bottom of the boat that is under the veranda (back deck).  There is a skeg between the back of the keel and the rudder post and this skeg is mirrored inside the hull.  Unfortunately it likes to collect water and makes storing stuff in this area more difficult as it isn’t flat.

We filled in the depression with the left over two part expanding foam we had from the thruster pod project and glassed it over with mat and roving.  We will get around to painting the rest of the bilge one of these days.

We finally got around to adding our weather cloths on the boat deck which hides the dock box and kayaks.  We used Phifertex, a vynal mesh material used for solar screens.  There aren’t many shades of green made, this was as close as we could get.  As we needed to put in about 70 #1 spur grommets we bought the tool and punch.  We keep buying tools.  Since we were doing sewing project we also made up new curtains for the forward cabin from some Sunbrella curtain fabric.  Of course we could’t use the old hangers so that required us to purchase new curtain track and the specialized attachment stuff for it.

We also need something to support the Bimini when it is folded down for clearing low bridges, such as in the Erie Canal.  We made up some brackes from leftover Starboard mounted on some G10 material to keep the stainless tube from resting on the acrylic cover for the flybridge.  We were using pieces of 2X material, but that is so “tacky”.

In conclusion, of the 22 projects on the “list”, all but 6 got done.  Those six are really low on the priority list and were “maybes” all along.







Return to Previous Web Page