Winch woes

Our O’day 34 came with Barlow 25 winches. Barlow, like O’day, has been out of business for decades.

As I complete various spring-cleaning and maintenance tasks, I decided it would be a good time to service and lube the winches. However, while all previous winches I owned had some sort of snap ring holding them together, the Barlows had me stumped.

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No snap ring, no holes for a deck wrench — definitely no handy “tool free” servicing like you find in modern winches.

Also note the stress cracks in the fiberglass around the winch. O’day didn’t bother to use any sort of backing plate at all when they installed these.

To service the winch, you have to unscrew the reverse-threaded allen bolt in the center of the winch. However, being two speed winches, the winch rotates in both directions. Although I spent at least an hour trying to break the bolt loose, I was never able to budge it. I did, however, manage to strip out the head of the bolt in the port winch.

After much searching, I came across this on the Internet:

Barient/Barlow Winch Disassembly TOOL: Bar 395-Tool:
Special Tool for Assembly and Disassembly of various Barient and Barlow Winches. Tool has Winch Handle stud with a hole in the top to hold drive socket while using an allen wrench to loosen the socket screw.

Oh yeah, a tool like that would have been super helpful — too bad they don’t make them anymore.

So now I’ve got two Barlow 25 winches that, if nothing else, need to be unbolted, so that a proper backing plates can be put inside the boat.

We wandered by the Kemah Boater’s Resale shop looking for grill covers since we refuse to pay $50 for a grill cover at West Marine. (FYI, they have a million kettle-style grill covers, but no rectangular grill covers.) While we were there I spent some time looking at winches. There was only one Barlow winch in the entire store with the same type set-up as mine, and the allen bolt in the center had been replaced with a big flat-head screw. Obviously I was not the only one who had a problem with these things.

The shop actually had a set of Barlow 25 self-tailing winches for sale, but they had the much more user friendly set up with two holes in the center cap, so it could be screwed out with a deck-plate wrench. I thought about purchasing them since they were the same size and had the same bolt pattern, but then I asked myself, if I’m going to spend money to replace winches, don’t I want something that will have replacement parts if it breaks? Also, if I’m going to spend the money to change them out, don’t I want to upsize them, so Mary has an easier time trimming in the jib sheets?

Then I saw these guys sitting on the shelf for just a few dollars more.

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An executive decision was made.

No, we won’t be replacing the radar this year. No, we won’t be purchasing a dinghy this spring. Yes, we will be sailing with self tailing winches … as soon as I figure out how to get the old ones off.

Finally developed that last roll of film

From time to time I still carry around a 35mm film camera. In this case it was a Leica M4-2 with a 35mm Summilux and a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400.

It takes me a long time to finish an entire roll of film, so when I finally develop the negatives, it’s like opening a time capsule.

Here’s some scenes with friends (and dogs) on film from the past few months on boats and around the marina.

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Time to load a new roll …

Sprucing up the cockpit

There’s some things on a boat that just wear out, and when you see them everyday, you don’t think about it. But if you step back and look at it with fresh eyes, you think, wow, that looks really bad.

Last weekend I attempted to pull the Lifesling out to make sure it did indeed still float.

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The float wouldn’t come out. In fact, the Lifesling case, which had been hanging by the rail from just a few threads to start with, finally ripped off the rail.

The interior had become a nice shade of green and attached itself to the Lifesling while the white vinyl proceeded to crumble into thousands of tiny pieces all over the cockpit.

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While we found a pattern to sew a new lifesling case from sunbrella, we also found that West Marine sold them for $49, so after weighing the pros and cons of the time Mary would spend making a new one, we decided to just replace it. Thankfully the float and rope were still in great shape, so I scrubbed the green off of them, and they were ready to go.

You may also notice in the photo above that our lifeline covers have a sharp bend in them.

When we bought the boat it came with the blue sunbrella covers on the upper life lines covering broken pieces of PVC pipe. We assumed this was something the previous owner had rigged up.

When Mary started to take them apart to wash the sunbrella, black dust started pouring out of them. What we hadn’t realized is that these were originally padded lifeline covers, but they were so old and deteriorated that all of the padding inside had turned to dust — and that dust had now turned the entire cockpit black.

Needless to say, the lifeline covers were also replaced.

Then, after six years of saying, “I should really get a grill,” we finally bit the bullet and bought ourselves a grill.

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The cockpit is now cleaner, safer, and ready for some barbecues at anchor if the weather ever warms up!

The Dredge Report

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We’ve seen the dredge barge in action a lot lately. It feels good to know that all the money we’re spending on slip fees is actually being put to good use. Watergate has also removed pier 2, and it will soon be replaced with a new floating pier.

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Thanks to the many trips of these dump trucks back and forth to the barge, we can actually go sailing in the middle of winter at low tide. At our old marina we would be sitting in the mud from Thanksgiving until St. Patrick’s Day!

Rodeo Run

Houston traffic snarled up more than usual Friday as men, women, and children on horseback and in wagons slowly made their way to NRG Stadium for the 2015 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

Saturday morning our alarm went off at 6 a.m., and we had to leave the dogs aboard Gimme Shelter as we made our annual trek downtown for the Rodeo Run 5k — there’s also a 10k, but Mary and I have never made it that far.

A few of my co-workers made it early enough for a picture near the parade floats before the cowboy hat-wearing volunteers chased us out of the area.

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The entry fee for the event goes toward the HLSR Scholarship Fund, which is great, but I think the most interesting part of the Rodeo Run is being able to walk the Houston streets without cars and see things from a different perspective.

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Neither of us work downtown, so the only time we see the area is when attending an occasional concert or when we get called for jury duty every two or three years.

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As you can probably tell from the fact that I carried a camera the entire time, we just do the 5k walk, and we don’t take it too seriously. We definitely didn’t set any records, but we did finish.

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And once the trail riders make their way through the downtown streets …

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There’s no forgetting that the rodeo is in town.