Building “The Vault”

The decision to utilize fixed ballast creates a few unique issues.  Will the boat be strong enough to handle the added weight once outside the water?  Will trailering the boat with this added weight create an issue?  Simply put, will it work or will it fall apart?  Simeon suggested I email the designer and pose these questions prior to moving forward.  I felt this was good counsel, so I drafted a quick email, not knowing if I would even receive a reply.  Well, the reply came.  John’s only advice was to tie the bottom of The Vault into the bulkheads on all sides.  And, he felt my design was “on the right track”.  With this reassurance, I moved forward.

Several issues needed to be resolved:

  1. I knew the ballast needed to be accessible and removable.  What if it gets wet?  What if I need to service the BH area?  What if I want to remove some weight?  Hence, the design had to allow me to tweak, dry and access the ballast.  So, I had Jennifer sew up straps from nylon webbing to facilitate easy removal.  These sleeve around the individual plates and allow a great hand hold.
  2. I knew the plates could not move or gain momentum.  The weight needed to be absolutely stationary.  So, I built a box that didn’t allow any movement.  I epoxied this box to the bottom of the hull between BH 4-5.
  3. I knew, based on John’s advise, I should fillet the box into the surrounding bulkheads for added strength.
  4. I knew I had to allow access to the CB pivot bolt for servicing of the centerboard.

The photos below show what I came up with.  

DSC00003 These webbing straps not only provide a great hand hold, they also cushion the plates from each other.DSC00006 The Vault proper.DSC00008All parts received 2 coats of epoxy.  DSC00010The bottom of The Vault, showing how it’s screwed into the sides. DSC00004The top edge of the sides were drilled to receive a 5/16″ threaded lag.DSC00005Stainless threaded lag with thumb screw and washer.DSC00002By using two nuts, tightened against each other, you simply screw them in.  I applied epoxy to the hole and lag threads prior to insertion.  DSC00001This allows convenient access to the lid of The Vault.  DSC00013Epoxied to the bottom of the hull and surrounding bulkheads.DSC00010I cut a portion of the lid back to allow access to the CB pivot bolt.DSC00014  If you look closely, you can see the CB access cutout on the left side of the lid.DSC00044I purchased an extra long stainless CB pivot bolt.  I wanted the finished bolt to be solid shaft without the threaded section.  This bolt cut easily with a hack saw.  I softened the edges with a metal file.

DSC00010I choose to epoxy the wooden plate to the CB case and decided not to make it removable.   I felt it would be easier to seal the bolt hole, than the entire wooden plate.  I then cut the bolt a little long.  My thinking here was to allow room to silicon the bolt shaft to the wooden plate while still allowing full access to the bolt head for easier removal and service of the centerboard.

The fixed ballast idea felt good to me.  Others have utilized water for ballast and I’m sure many are very happy with their systems.  If you are wanting a different way of accomplishing ballast, maybe this system can be of interest to you.  If not, water seems to be a simple solution.

Now placing my attention on BH 3-1 and access hatches.  


2 thoughts on “Building “The Vault”

  1. Brent – looks like some real nice workmanship there. I like the way you’ve encased the steel plates so they don’t have any opportunity to shift around – looks strong and sturdy.

    I also considered fixed ballast for many of the same reasons, and one of the main ones was that I wouldn’t have to worry about invasive species in the water ballast tank. I believe another build uses batteries for ballast and I like that idea as it makes the ballast dual purpose.

    I eventually came down on the side of water ballast just for the flexibility of changing ballast configuration on the water if wanted, and not dealing with the additional weight on the trailer or the beach.

    Don’t forget to make your hatch big enough so you can get the vault cover off and remove the ballast if you want to do that sometime.

    — Dave

    • Dave, thanks for the comments. It’s always fun to read what other think. With regard to the access hatch, I ordered a hatch large enough to allow me to remove the vault cover so I could tweak things or clean/service. There remains quite a bit of space for additional gear in this area as the box only needs to be 3,3/4″ heigh, including the base and lid. I was happy how it turned out.

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