Sailing Hints II

M 16 Scow Maintenance

By Holly WelschI have been sailing M-Scows for 23 years. More importantly, I have been maintaining an “M” for that amount of time. This is an article geared toward a weakness of many M-Scow owners.

There are many venues that are great for M-Scow sailing. Unfortunately, some do not have a lot of tidal flow, which promotes a condition on white boats called “Barnegat Bay Tan”. It’s pretty ugly. If not treated, drips from rainwater will alternately clean only vertical lines down the boat making it look even worse. Many people have tried different cleaning solutions, which can be pretty expensive. The best way to clean off the tan is to use Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Just get the basic cleaner. The first reaction is to get the Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach. It is not as effective. They recommend using rubber gloves and a brush, but if you use a boat brush mounted on a broomstick, your hands will be pretty far from the cleaner. Rinse the boat, then apply the cleaner to the edge of the rail like you would under the rim of a toilet. Then brush it all over the affected areas. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then rinse it off. You may have to do more than one application, but it is very easy and effective. It is so effective it makes you wonder what you’re sailing in.

I have some crazy theories. I firmly believe that you should give your boat a rest from the salt air environment. A lot of people have a house at the shore. In the winter, the easy decision is to leave the boat at the shore house. What happens when the boat stays in the salt air is your aluminum and stainless steel parts will suffer from galvanic corrosion. This contributes to broken stays during races and the dreaded broken jib halyard block. How can you make these parts last twice as long? Get your boat out of the salt air for the six months of the off-season. The galvanic cell is turned off. Ever see a 15 year old boat from the mid west? It looks practically brand new. The metal parts look brand new because there is no galvanic corrosion in a fresh water environment.

There are five components on an M. Aluminum, Stainless steel, wood, fiberglass, & rope. The UV rays of the sun beat the varnish on wood, rope, and to a lesser degree, fiberglass to death. The best way to maintain these components is by investing in a full deck cover. All professional varnishers recommend covering a boat to protect the investment. The less time the varnish is in the sun, the longer it will last. I was talking to a friend with a Donzi that he had since new. The boat looked like it was just a few years old. I was shocked to find out that he bought it new in 1968! I asked him his secret. He said that he always kept it covered, and out of the sun when not in use. Some secret…

Sail Number Replacement Tips

By Tom Welsch (1994)
Many of us buy used M-Scows from people who are members of different yacht clubs, and don’t change the sail numbers until we get new sails. I thought that making these changes required a hundred dollar job at the sailmaker, but this isn’t the case.

Sailmakers will sell the 12 to 14 inch stick on letters and numbers for about four dollars a piece, making the change pretty inexpensive.

I’ve changed the numbers and letters on two mainsails with little trouble. You’ll need a pint of lacquer thinner, a roll of paper towels, an old towel, a rolling pin, and a well ventilated area. Read the side of the lacquer thinner container, following any suggestions they might have. Draw a line with a pencil and ruler, between the old letters and numbers, so you have a guide for where to place the new letters and numbers.

Simply peel off the old numbers starting at a corner. If you numbers are sewn into the sail, you HAVE to buy new sails. They haven’t sewn sail numbers onto the sail since the early Seventies. Peel very SLOWY, because the faster you peel, the more glue you’ll leave on the sail. Once you’ve peeled the digits off one side, put the towel, folded in thirds, under the sail where you will take off the glue residue. Take a paper towel, fold it in quarters, and wet it with lacquer thinner. Rub the paper towel into the residue; this will dissolve the glue away from the sail, onto the paper towels. You’ll have to repeat this pretty often, using lots of towels (more if you peeled the numbers too quickly)Once you’re finished the first side, repeat the above directions for the other side.

The next step is to apply the new numbers. Remember the line you drew between your letters and numbers, parallel with the leech of the sail? This is your guide for the new digits. Peel of the backing of the digit closest to the line, and set it about two inches from the line on the sail. Peel the backing away as you apply the number to the sail. Rub out any air bubbles with a rolling pin from the kitchen. It’s helpful to check the number for bubbles from the other side of the sail. The sail material is less opaque than the sail numbers. Repeat these steps for the other side of the sail. If you have any questions, ask your local sailmaker for advice.

Winter Trailer Tune Up Tips

By Tom Welsch (1995)
If you are independently wealthy, you can skip this article. You can afford to drop a couple hundred bucks at the trailer shop every other year so they can check and grease your wheel bearings. But if you hate college basketball and have a garage, checking the wheel bearings can be a very easy Sunday afternoon job when it’s still too cold to sail. The corrosive nature of the salt air is very tough on trailers, even if it just sits around every year. I’d recommend cleaning and repacking the wheel bearings every second or third year.

After you’ve read the Sunday paper, take three or four sections out to the garage, and spread them out under the wheels of your trailer(your work area). You will need to buy some grease seals, a roll of paper towels, a quart of solvent, marine grade grease, and a good hand cleaner. Total Cost: $15.00. Jack up a side of the trailer. Then remove the hub cap, cotter pin, axle nut, and washer. Jog the tire towards you and the outer bearing will fall into your hand. Next, remove the wheel and hub as a unit.

Turn the wheel face down, and carefully pry out the grease seal from the back side of the hub. Then carefully remove the bearing. Soak both bearings in your solvent. While your bearings are soaking, inspect the hub and outer races for wear. If the bearings or outer races are pitted or scared, replace the bearings or hub as a unit. If you have the time, you can afford to save about 50% on those parts if you mail-order through N.H. Northern (800-533-5545). You can call for a catalogue. Use a paper towel soaked in solvent to clean the hub and outer races, taking care to let them air dry with bearings you’ve removed from the solvent. Wash your hands before the next step, because you don’t want to contaminate the surfaces.

Take your grease and force it by hand into the outer race of the bearings until it oozes through the groove between the inner race and the cage. Once you have packed the bearings, you can apply some grease to the inside surfaces of the hub. Replace the inner bearing, and replace your new grease seal. Then replace all of the pieces onto the trailer axle, taking care to tighten the axle until it is secure (but not too tight). It’s better to err on the loose side. Install a new cotter pin, and replace the hub cap. You’re done.

The whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour. Sailors tend to forget about how important a trailer can be. I’ve only heard one story of a sailor car-topping his M-Scow on the family station wagon, so I’m afraid the trailer is an integral part of sailing M-Scows! Hopefully, this workbench will help your overall sailing performance, this summer.