Compass, Part 1: Construction of Mahogany Panels

The mahogany panel for the mounting of the Ritchie SR-2 Venture compass
The importance of a reliable compass on a cruising sailboat cannot be underestimated. I have spoken at length about my stance on the importance of this instrument in my article, "Electronics, GPS and VHF, Part 1: Traditional Navigation," so I will not revisit that argument here. Instead, I will simply address the basic steps that I took to install the new Ritchie SR-2 Venture compass in my boat. In the first part of this three-part article, I address the construction of the mahogany panels for the mounting of the compass; in the second part, I address the installation of these panels; and in the third part I address the installation of the compass itself. This project, as you might have guessed, was part of a larger project involving the replacement of the electronics, which itself was part of the overall refitting of this boat for the purpose of extended cruising. Throughout this refitting, of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, as I have said many times before, I was guided both by practical concerns and aesthetic concerns. These concerns, therefore, were of no less importance on this compass project than they were on any other.
The compass that came with the boat when I purchased her in the fall of 2009 served no practical purpose, and it certainly did nothing to enhance the beauty of the vessel. If anything, it detracted from its visual appeal.
The compass light did not work. Its wires had long ago succumbed to corrosion.
After a good bit of research, I settled on the Ritchie SR-2 Venture compass. I liked the Richie reputation, and I like the fact that this particular model was made to be mounted on an angled cabin trunk such as my own.
Earlier, I had installed a GPS on the starboard-side cabin trunk. For this installation, I had created a mahogany panel. This panel served a practical purpose and an aesthetic one. It allowed me to cover the old instrument holes, and it provided an attractive trim for the new GPS. For more on this project, see the above mentioned article.
I also created a second mahogany panel for the interior for the GPS. This panel served the same two purposes.
I really liked the way the mahogany looked on the cabin trunk, so when the time came for me to install the compass on the opposite side of the trunk, I decided that it would be nice to create a panel of the same size and shape for the mounting of the compass. This panel, as we shall see, would serve the same practical and aesthetic purposes, insofar as it would conceal the old compass hole and it would provide an attractive trim to the instrument.
The first step I took in the construction of the panels was to plane down two pieces of 4/4, i.e., 1 inch, mahogany to 1/2 inch.
Below we see the two GPS panels sitting atop the 4/4 mahogany. I would use these GPS panels as patterns for much of this part of the project.
The freshly planed 1/2 inch pieces of mahogany. These pieces came from two different boards and probably two different trees. Note that one is lighter in color and possesses a different grain pattern.
The darker piece would go on the exterior of the cabin trunk, and it would complement the darker trim piece for the GPS.
The lighter piece would go on the interior. The pronounced ribbon stripes would complement the other pieces of ribbon-striped mahogany in this area of the boat.
I used the holes in the GPS panel as a guide for the drilling of the holes in the compass panel.
I wanted to make sure that the compass cover and the clinometer fit on this panel. As you can see, they fit quite well.
The Ritchie company was kind enough to provide a template for the mounting of the compass. I used this for determining where exactly I needed to cut the hole in the panel.
Even though the panel was only 1/2 inch thick, it was still a chore to cut through it with this large hole saw.
After I cut the hole, I drilled the four holes for the plastic screws that would secure the compass to the panel. Note also the notch along the edge of the circle. This notch was necessary to make room for the wires. These wires, of course, would supply the compass light with power.
The compass fit just right in the hole.
Using the exterior compass panel as a template, I marked the holes that I needed to cut and drill on the interior panel.
The interior panel with its new holes.
Notice that I made the interior panel slightly longer than the exterior one. I did this so that it would match the size of the interior panel for the GPS on the other side of the galley.
My final task was to round the edges of the panels. These curves gave them a nautical touch, since right angles are a rarity on most vessels, especially the most attractive ones.
This ends this posting on how I constructed the mahogany panels for the Ritchie SR-2 compass that I installed on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

No comments:

Post a Comment