Mailport January 1, 2000 Issue


Ranger 26 Review
In your review of the Ranger 26 (August 1) you stated that self-tapping screws were used on the hull-to-deck joint. My 1974 Ranger 26 has a through-bolted joint that I believe was done at the factory. I doubt previous owners did this work because there were other, more-easily correctable deficiencies that were not corrected. I assume that the builder changed construction practices at some point during the production run.

Also of note is the maststep area. It appears to be a weak area since the maststep is directly above the doorway. There is, however, an aluminum box beam embedded in the fiberglass beneath the maststep. I found this out while drilling holes to run additional mast wiring. I’m assuming this aluminum beam spans a good portion of the deck above both the doorway and the main bulkhead, distributing the load more evenly.

My boat is leak-free. I’m sure this is due to the skill of previous owners who did a proper job of sealing the windows and applying epoxy over the keel bolts and hull-to-keel seam. This reinforces your statement that anything can be fixed.

Chet Zgoda
Warren, Michigan

The Ranger 26’s rig is described as having single lower shrouds. Not true. Every one of the three dozen or so I’ve seen has double lower shrouds. The deceptive element here is that one set of lowers terminates at a chainplate common with the uppers, so when viewed beam on, one would conclude, incorrectly, that only the forward lowers were present, because the aft lowers are coplanar with the uppers.

Your author goes on to indicate that the Ranger 26 has shortcomings for offshore use. True enough, perhaps, but who in his or her right mind would choose to take a boat of this configuration and size offshore in the first place?

Concisely put, the Ranger 26, a 30-year-old design, is a strong, well-made, fast boat which can still be competitive with much newer, far uglier, and astronomically more expensive designs.

Donald Gordon
East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Battery Burn Up
While we were out of town for a long weekend, our dock neighbors noticed a distinct smell, something like rotten eggs—sulfur dioxide. The odor was so strong aboard in the center-cockpit enclosure that they investigated further. They found an extremely hot battery in one of my banks, with the battery cables’ (oversized) insulation looking discolored from heat near the offending battery, and a very strong sulfurous smell. The charger was on. They disconnected the battery and the problem was solved for the moment…until we returned, which happened to be within a few hours after the incident.

Daylight brought an inspection of the battery. The battery was virtually dry—but not completely. It had no-load volts of about 9-10. The electrolyte had apparently boiled away over some period of time, as the battery heated up further and further, beginning to burn some insulation. It likely would have burned down the boat had our friends not been there.

Since, we have noticed that certain types of plastic (insulation for house-type lamp-cord, mouse and keyboard cables, etc.), have turned a darker, dingier, browner color. Many dramatic color changes in certain fabrics took place as well in the “acid rain” environment of the locked-up boat while the battery was boiling.

Asking around, I’ve found no one who ever heard of a battery failing in this manner. After all, the phenomenon was, I think, self-limiting, at the point where the battery is dry enough the circuit is broken. And/or had the current increased enough the charger’s breaker would go.

The battery at fault was an inexpensive Group 24 used for starting only. It is in parallel with a 4D. The other bank is two paralleled 4Ds. The starting circuit and engine are fine. My guess is that one cell of the battery shorted, increasing the current flowing from the charger, which is a traditional ferroresonant type and suffered no harm. The charger reliably brings all batteries up to 13.8.

How was so much heat generated? Why was the process so prolonged without kicking breakers, nor setting off the smoke alarms? What really happened? None of the batteries needed water before I left.

Can anyone shed light on this? Is there some other real damage that we should be aware of, besides the cosmetic stuff? Copper wiring would certainly have suffered a bit where it was exposed to the fumes, but so far no evidence of this has turned up.

Dale Botwin
Coconut Grove Florida

Pearson Electra
I’m an avid PS reader in spite of the fact that most of the gadgets you review will probably not make it aboard my modest craft, a Pearson Electra, designed by Carl Alberg circa 1960. I wonder if there are any more out there? I’d like to connect with other owners to see what they’ve done in the way of upgrades and sail configuration, and to know how much more life I can expect out of the 40-year-old fiberglass.

Robert Stephenson
12831 Bay Drive
Lusby, MD 20657

Varnish on Gelcoat
Regarding the June 1999 and October 1,1999 issues dealing with varnish on gel coat: One of the best things that I have found for removing paint or varnish gelcoat is Easy-Off oven cleaner. I have used the fume-free cold oven formula and find that it works great. I had been told by a little old sign maker to use it to remove an old name. Sprayed on and let set a few minutes, the old name wiped right off the gelcoat.

Ted Broom
Punta Gorda, Florida

Luke Feathering Prop
In your July 15, 1999 letter reply on “Which Prop?” you did not mention the Luke prop. I have a 23" 3-blade Luke on my motorsailer. Lukes have at least three advantages over Max-Prop: 1) The blade is curved/cupped and therefore is more efficient [in forward] under power. 2) The length of the prop along the shaft axis is less, which is important in an aperture situation like mine where a Max-Prop would not fit. This results in a bigger diameter hub. 3) The Luke is made of bronze instead of stainless steel.

Two disadvantages of the Luke are: 1) a little higher drag under sail and much more difficult to change pitch; one must go to the factory or a knowledgeable prop shop. The Max-Prop’s adjustable pitch by a handy person is a real plus. The two makes are about the same price.

Paul Gross
via e-mail

More on CO2 Aboard Airplanes
This year, after the Marion-Bermuda Race, I packed my inflatable Mustang harness in my checked baggage and never heard a thing about it. This despite scary warnings about bottled gas, weapons and more on signs at the check-in gate. The harness survived intact, which only seemed right, as the manufacturers ship them all over the world via UPS, FedEx and other carriers.

One safety check would be to disarm the trigger unit before packing, to prevent accidental inflation from moisture or rough handling.

Even better would be to take an extra week off and sail back!

Andy Howe
Ocean Navigator
Portland, Maine

Some years ago, flying south for a winter charter, I made the mistake of putting my Crewfit inflatable PFD in my carry-on bag. Security did not like it at all. I was not allowed to take it with me; had to leave it at the ticket counter to be picked up on my return. (I did not think to suggest that it be put in my checked bag, which I think would have worked if I had put it there in the first place.) On a later trip, I mailed it beforehand, and the charter people were kind enough to mail it back for me afterwards.

Bill Bornstein
Mt. Sinai, New York

Several years ago, because of the pressures of time, I had the pleasant experience of leaving Exodus in Hopetown Harbour for a year, flying in and out of Marsh Harbour to Ft. Lauderdale and home. On one pre-flight check the CO2 cartridges for two new PFDs were confiscated by the air carrier with no explanation except that it was a “safety issue.” A spare six-pack packed with medical supplies was ignored. I think the aluminum foil wrapping may have helped, although it was not planned to be deceptive. At no time was I otherwise asked about (nor did I disclose) cartridges or anything else, except a dive knife which was examined and allowed to pass.

On many dive trips, the tour director always suggested that both items should NOT be packed in carry-on baggage, and always arrived intact.

Lin Church, MD
via e-mail

I’ve had two Mustang inflatable offshore vests since 1994. The first couple of years, I tried to fly with them—with CO2 cylinders loaded—from my home port of Toronto to British Columbia to sail a friend’s boat in the Pacific, and on charters to Key West.

No dice. Airport security at Toronto International picked out the cylinders every time as they X-rayed the bags, both carry-on and checked.

When I asked what the difference was between my cylinders and the 300-odd CO2 cylinders beneath the seats of a jumbo jet, I got nothing but a steely, security-person glare. Compressed gas cylinders are not permitted on planes, period. It doesn’t matter whether the gas is flammable or not. I ended up unscrewing the gas cartridges and leaving them with security for pick-up on my return.

I have resigned myself to blowing the vests up myself if I go overboard, trusting I’m conscious. The only alternative would be to order cylinders sent to one’s destination, making transport the shipper’s headache.

Peter Martyn
via e-mail

Origin of Charlie Noble
Charlie Noble is an “it,” not a “he.” A British merchant service captain, Charles Noble, is said to be responsible for the origin, about 1850, of this nickname for the galley smokestack. It seems that Captain Noble, discovering that the stack of his ship’s galley was made of copper, ordered that it be kept bright. The ship’s crew then started referring to the stack as the “Charley Noble.”

Richard Dinning

Breeze Booster Source
We were thrilled to see your story in the September issue evaluating our product, the Breeze Booster hatch vent. However, we were disappointed to see that the readers were not informed that our product is available not only through West Marine, but also through various marine accessory retailers throughout the USA, as well as directly from us.

Further, our product is available in several colors. However, West Marine only carries the marine blue. Also, Breeze Booster not only makes a hatch ventilator, but a side port ventilator as well. The Breeze Booster is a great source of pride to me. Not only did I invent and patent the Breeze Booster but I manufacture it as well. As a small businessman it is disheartening to see a large corporation like West Marine get credit for my product even though our literature is included in each unit. We have a nice website you might like to visit, Or call 800/663-9531.

John A Schilt, President
Professional Packaging, Inc.
Muskogee, Oklahoma

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