Batteries, cables, chargers and misc other stuff on Valkyr

Updated 9/2018 with comments on how this has worked out in the last 8 years since I wrote this article.

Re-doing the power systems on Valkyr

When we got the boat it had two optima batteries one in the starter bank and one in the house bank. There were two other group 31 Sea Volt AGM batteries sitting on the boat not hooked up. My plan is to use the two group 31 Sea Volt AGM’s along with 2 identical Group 31’s that I have on my old boat to make a house bank of 440 AH. The two optima AGM batteries will go in the second engine starting bank. These are controlled from the stock DC switch panel that has a 1/2/All/Off switch integrated into it.

To charge the batteries Valkyr had a 3 stage computer controlled portable automotive 1/10/25 amp charger just clipped to one of the batteries. Though it is a very nice charger we would rather that the bank be charged independent of each other. We purchased a Xantrex XC 50 amp 12v 3 bank multi chemistry battery charger to rectify this.

We got a pretty good deal by price matching at west marine $499 plus another 49 for a two year warranty that will replace it even if we drop it in the water. I normally don’t do extended warranties as they mostly are a rip off but Xantrex doesn’t have the greatest reputation with their support so we thought that a little extra caution would be good. Also it extends the warranty by a year which I liked also. We could have gone with a cheaper charger by several hundred dollars but this one can charge different chemistry banks separately as well as use input power from 240 volts down […]

DE 38 Fuel Tank Replacement

When we bought our Downeast Cutter 38’ in March 2014 we knew were in for a project. The boat had actually taken on a considerable amount of water partially submerging the engine, flooding the transmission, and fully flooding the aluminum fuel tank in seawater. The seawater had risen to about 18” into the salon between the two sofas. The owners agreed to get the engine running, pump out the water, and clean up the boat. I spent a few months doing various repairs, including a complete transmission removal/rebuild, as the salt water had gotten into some critical parts of the engine room. In the end, the damage seemed worse than it really was. However, after one particular day out, it became evident to us that the fuel tanks were in need of replacement.

The Downeaster 38 has a large Y-shaped fuel tank directly beneath the floor in the galley. The original tank appears to have been made from aluminum and was installed before the furniture was built in an effort to maximize the capacity. Beam-to-beam, the wings on the top of the tank extend as far as underneath the stove and part of the navigation station. Fore to aft, the tank is between the galley sink and the engine room. What’s particularly interesting is that the keel for the boat drops off abruptly into the deep sump under the engine, so the center of the tank is not flat on the bottom. Rather it follows a stair-stepped shape on the bottom to accommodate the keel which protrudes partially into the space below the galley.

Previous Owner’s Sketch of Tank…


The first step was to get all of the fuel out of the tank. This was important not only to make it possible to work on the tank, but to […]

Valkyr’s Hard Dodger

So I thought I had posted pictures of Valkyr’s hard dodger long ago but it seems that I didn’t. These are not the best formated pictures but should help to give an idea of what I did.


Starboard view of whole dodger frame

We had 1/4 inch aluminum plates welded into frame to bolt the top rails onto. In finished dodger this is what actually holds it to dodger. There are 6 of them.

Aft partial view of dodger frame

We drilled the holes to mount frame to boat and then filled with epoxy and drilled again to make sure we would never have an issue with water penetration into the core.

This is picture of the above deck mount and two of the backing plates for under the deck. As you can see the deck mount has a pivoting base. The reason we went with this is that once mounted we could unbolt the entire dodger with four bolts, and have no risk of water ingress while it is off the boat. also 4 bolts vs 16 bolts is a lot quicker and easier.

Underside of one of backing plates for top rails.

aft portside view of entire dodger frame

starboard view down top of frame. You can see the next attachment point at the center of the handrail and then forward attachment point. Dodger has 3 rails, hand rails on either side that are full length of dodger and atached with 12 1/4 inch stainless bolts. I’m almost 200 lbs and can yank on a rail as hard as I can and it barely shivers the dodger. More rocks the boat the the dodger. The third rail is what you can see in the left foreground of the picture […]

Reinventing the Headliner: Done! DE38 s/v Sanpatricio

This past weekend marked the completion of the new headliner (cue trumpets), a much awaited milestone indeed! I could lie and say we did it all in a few weekends with minimal effort and planning, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was tricky and there were several setbacks along the way, but having a classy looking overhead that is both easily removable (for deck maintenance) and easy on the eyeballs is reward enough.


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 For those of you out there looking up at you’re dingy, old 70’s naugahyde/viynl headliner with contempt, glower no more. With a fair amount of patience and work, you to can have a new overhead without the need of huge outlays of cash. Just be prepared for the process to reveal additional projects long hidden by that groovy, fake leather…held in by hundreds of rusty staples…for decades. Your mettle will be tested my friends.

The fictitious “Nauga” was part of a 1960s ad campaign for Naugahyde.

First things first – the DEMOLITION! We had the great intention of carefully removing each headliner section to preserve for template making…a lovely thought, but we quickly learned it’s impossible. The headliner was affixed to the cabin top and sides with roughly 1,000,000 staples, most of which were rusty, brittle and stubborn. The staples numbered as many as stars in the Milky Way. Seriously! It took the better part of 2 days to remove them, our hands tender from prolonged plier gripping. We surmised that the original installer must have been paid per staple. Curse you Staple Man!

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Mast Treatment with Hammerite Smooth by Charles McGrory

Mr Charles McGrory of Glasgow Scotland recently contacted me to comment on the site and offered up some projects he has done on his boat. He has an Ohlson 38 he has restored and this was one of his projects to brighten up his mast by painting it. Over the next week or so I will try and put up a nice project he has for a watch standing seat in the companionway.

From Mr. McGrory: When I bought my boat in Oct 2010 ,the mast was very badly weathered. I considered having the mast stripped and then painted with Awlgrip. I thought about a new mast but Sailspar in England kindly told me that the original mast would be of much thicker section than the masts of today. And a new mast of thinner section would be approx £5000 without the tangs etc. I did not strip the mast at all. I had this tip from another Ohlson 38 owner who is near Ipswich; he guards his privacy so I can’t mention his name. He touches up his 30 yr old mast with a Hammerite Smooth spray can. My mast was ghastly as you can see. I tried the Hammerite Smooth spray can just for the hell of it; could not look any worse, and could see a big improvement but the paint was showing weeping run marks from too heavy a shot of aerosol; I quickly changed to a normal can £20 and a hair brush. I had so little faith that it would work, it was all just an experiment, anything would look better. However, in one warm sunny afternoon I did the whole mast which was down for the boat going into the paint shed. What a difference! It just took a wee bit care to […]