Almost Spring

Motor deployed. 


Today was sunny and almost 70 degrees. We sat in the sun to drank our coffee this morning, watching the crocuses bloom in the grass. Be sailing weather soon.

Spent most of the day making an adapter for the motor mount, so it will fit the big saltwater trolling motor. Was hoping to have it done in time to take a spin around the lake and also try the centerboard mechanism. That was a bit optimistic, turns out.

The motor mount was trickier than it would seem. After studying on it a bit, I realized that doing it the obvious way would leave no way to raise the motor without it tangling in the mainsheet traveler. That simply would not do. Only way to avoid that would be to leave the motor sticking up high in the air at an angle. Ick. Since I only expect to use the motor for docking and short trips when the wind dies, I want it to be as unobtrusive as possible, but easy to deploy quickly. Achieving this required quite a bit of thought and planning.

One solution is to mount the motor sideways. This allows the raised motor to lay horizontally – above, behind and parallel to the transom, where it’s out of the way.



I laminated a beefy block out of some scraps on hand, then glued and screwed it. It slides down inside the existing mount and rests on top. It has a captive stainless steel bolt embedded in the bottom, so the whole thing is clamped down tight with a lock nut through the bottom block, snugging the whole thing in place.










I really hate motors.

It’s butt ugly, no question, but I’m pretty happy with it. I’d rather have the motor ride low and behind the rudder, but that puts a lot of weight far outboard. Here, the shaft rides just above the tiller head. I tried a couple of spacers to try different heights, but it’s best without them. It raises and lowers without much trouble. When lowered for use it stays clear of the rudder except when it’s put over all the way hard. I wonder how many rudders have been shredded by outboard motor props?

It needs some cheeks to distribute the stress more, and shims with a rim so the motor doesn’t jump off the mount, and paint; but those can wait until a test run. Other adjustments might be needed. I’ll use it a while and maybe think of something different. Once the boat is rigged I may find a way to lay the motor forward along the side deck, as intended. Then a final version can be made of less obnoxious walnut. Even then, I’ll probably only use it grudgingly.








Spacer test. 


I changed the license plate on the trailer and got ready to hook it up to the car. Then went to add a couple of slick washer-spacers between the centerboard winch drum and the brackets so it would spin more freely. When I lifted the drum free of the brackets, several large chunks of it fell off in my hand. Bummer. On close inspection I could see that after a month of drying out in the winter air it was crazed with tiny cracks.

It probably could be glued back together and the whole thing soaked with epoxy to seal it, but I’m not sure I trust it. I mostly thought it was pretty cool piece of old technology. Maybe just too old, it seems. I can tell from the color of the wood that these cracks have been there a long time.







Instead, I think I’ll just rig up a simple, reliable block and tackle. As the light was fading I rigged a quick mockup with a couple of spare blocks and the existing handy billy. Even that worked pretty well. Just need to route the lines so they don’t chafe.

Maybe the next warm spell I can get this boat wet.



3 Replies to “Almost Spring”

  1. Hi Barry,

    really great boat you found there! Can´t wait to see the first “in action” reports. What´s the sail area & length?

    Looking at your engine holder, I am planning to build a motor-mounting system for my melonseed, will keep you posted how that goes.

    Spring should be here anytime 🙂

    1. Hi Josua, the Lightning is 19′ long. Sail area is 177 sq ft – 300 sq ft when you add a spinnaker (which I will probably not do any time soon). I hope to report soon on the motor mount experiment.

  2. Thanks for linking me to this article and photos. This motor mount system would be a good improvement for my boat as well, just for the same reasons you outlined here.

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