Thursday, October 25, 2012

Raising the galley sink in a Pacific Seacraft 37 by 3 inches

Here is another post some other Pacific Seacraft 37 owners might be interested in.

My 1990 PSC 37 has had a double sink in the galley which is 10 inches deep.  Deep sinks are nice.  However the water line on my boat had risen by a little over an inch as I was outfitting her for cruising, and the water line ended up above the bottom of the sink.  With the sink drain seacock opened, at rest, both sinks would contain roughly 1/2" of water.  My solution to this has been to close the seacock and use the sink macerator to drain the sink.  This was working, although it was pretty annoying.  It would also stop working when the macerator failed, and it is bound to fail at some point.  During the year I was out cruising, having to drain the sink by turning on the macerator was something that bugged me and I wanted to fix it.

In early September I started in on the project to fix the sink.  I had been looking around for a new sink I could replace mine with, but which was only 8" deep.   I couldn't find a new sink with the same length and width dimensions, but with a shallower depth.  I phoned a local sheet metal shop and spoke to them about the possibility of having them cut my sink and re-weld it so it was 2 1/2" shallower.  They said this was possible, depending the metal's condition, but that it would cost roughly $1000.  I didn't ever get an official estimate, just the "over the phone" one so maybe when they saw it in person it would have been less.

I knew I wanted the sink problem fixed, I wasn't sure how I would fix it but the first step was definitely to get the sink out of the counter and then to proceed.  So I started on that part.

A 'before' picture.  The sink installed in the counter.
I had felt around beneath the sink and found 5 bolts under the sink lip (middle of front edge, both front corners and middle of both sides,) beneath the counter top which I needed to remove.  I thought that once those bolts were removed that the sink would come out pretty easily.  I removed the bolts and started tugging on the sink and it wasn't budging at all.  I found that there was a solid seal of silicone between the sink and the counter.  I needed to cut the seal between the sink and counter all the way around the sink before it would come out.  This would be easy on one of the four sides, as it had mostly open access and I could slide a sharp putty knife between the sink and counter to cut the silicone.  However the back and front of the sink were adjacent to teak fiddles, and the right side of the sink was beside a teak fiddle I had had installed to stop water draining into the garbage compartment and was also hard to access.  It took some experimentation, and swearing, to figure out how to get the sink out.  I ended up cutting a narrow wedge out of some hardwood I had around.  I slid this wedge under the lip of the sink on the back left corner, and then pounded the wedge along the back, left to right which was tearing the silicone seal as the wedge advanced.  The wedge needs to be narrow enough to fit behind the main mixing outlet in the center of the sink.  Once two edges were free, I kept using the wedge to free the other two sides and what I thought would be a 20 minute project was finished within a couple of days.

Some of the tools for removing the sink.  I'm holding the wood wedge

(Ignore the sink orientation in the two photos's above.  By the time I remembered to get the camera out the sink was out and into the hole in the counter many times and I wasn't worrying about it being backwards.)

The underside of the sink.  The metal was a little rusty, but basically in good shape.
The sink had a little surface corrosion and I removed it all using a metal polish (BriteBoy.)  Once this was done I saw the sink was in pretty good shape still.

I returned to the problem of how to proceed.  At this point, I felt I had four options:

  1. Take the sink to the sheet metal shop and have them cut 2 1/2" out of its middle, reweld and reinstall.
  2. Buy a new sink.  This would have different dimensions, so it would involve filling the hole in the counter with marine plywood, fiberglassing it in, grinding to blend, gelcoating to match the existing surface, and then recutting a hole for the sink I bought.
  3. Raise the sink by building a frame around the hole in the counter top and mounting the sink on this frame.
  4. Go back to using the macerator.  Put a bead of silicone around the counter top lip and put the sink back in and forget about this whole project.
#4 had its attractions.  The problem with #1 was that if it didn't work, I would be left choosing #2.  #2 was going to be challenging.  Also the more I considered buying a new shallower sink the more I realized that I liked having a deeper sink.  There are lots of reasons why a deep sink is a good idea on a sailboat.

The attraction to the third option was that if I tried to build a frame to raise the sink and it didn't work out, I could then proceed by picking one of the other three options.  I decided this option was the least risky and could potentially result in the best outcome, so its what I proceeded to work on.

I have never been very skilled working with wood.  The corners of frames I had built in the past rarely met at 90 degrees.  The sides were often different lengths and generally the quality was not high.  I started by buying some cheap wood, 3" high and 1" wide by many feet long.  I would build a frame out of the cheap wood as practice.  I also bought a compound saw which allowed me to more easily cut any angle out of the wood I needed (90 and 45 being what I needed.)  So I measured many times, figured out on paper the geometry of what I wanted to build, and started cutting and glueing the parts together.  I decided that the corners of the frame would be two 1" pieces of wood glued together.  The sides would then meet these corners.  The corners had enough material that I could cut holes out of them, round their edges and work with them to get what I needed.

The sink on one of the temporary corner blocks, seeing how the sink looked being higher
I cut the corners pieces, glued them in pairs and then supported the sink on them to see how the sink looked being 3" off the counter top.  It looked a bit strange, but wasn't a show stopper.  I continued with the cheap wood building the frame and figured out that my first approach of joining all the pieces together using clamps wasn't going to work.  I couldn't hold the frame together accurately enough in order to let the glue dry and have the frame be square.  I then figured out that building a jig would be a better approach and bought some plywood, a 2x4 for the jig and started hammering and nailing.  Before I knew it, several days had gone by without my taking any more pictures, but here is where I ended up eventually.
The teak frame in its jig
After working with the cheaper wood I found the approach was going to work, so I bought the real wood.  I bought a teak plank at a lumber store close to the marina.  The plank was 1" x 6" and 5 feet long for $120.  Ouch.  I had them cut the plank into two 3" strips.  At this point I just replicated what I had done with the cheaper wood (which had also been the same size.)  Teak was much easier to work with as the hardwood wasn't warped at all, so I was able to cut more accurately and have all the pieces fit together more exactly.

I decided to use epoxy to fit the pieces together, rather than screws.  Two of the corner pieces would end up having large holes cut through them, so I couldn't use screws in those pieces anyway.  Since the frame would end up being bolted to the counter, the epoxy strength would end up being needed initially but not so much once the counter was installed as by then the frame is being held in place by many bolts.  Or at least this was my decision.

So, cut the corner pieces.  They end up being long rectangles (not the shape yet as in the picture above with the corners cut to a point.) Epoxy and clamp them.  After the epoxy dries, put everything in the jig and see how it all fits.  Adjust the pieces and the jig until everything is nice and tight, with right angles everywhere.  You have a choice here which corners go where and how their grain is oriented - try to make pleasing choices.  Its also a good idea now to put some tape or paper down on the jig so that when you start epoxying you don't accidentally epoxy the frame to the jig... When you're sure the dry fit is working well, make up a bunch of epoxy and carefully epoxy everything together.  Make sure to get enough epoxy along all the joins so that when you start cutting into the wood you don't find places which have no epoxy.  You might want to do this in two batches, but don't be too slow as its nice to be able to adjust everything as you progress.

Once the epoxy was dried, I used my fein tool to cut the corners into the shapes you see in the picture above.  Don't cut flush with the side boards yet, just cut fairly close.  Use a small plane to get the corners and sides to meet flush.  At this point you should have something that looks like the piece above.

I cut the five bolts off from under the sink lip so that it would sit flush on the frame, and put the frame and sink onto the counter top.

At this point, you can start to get a better feel for how its all going to look when its finished, and I was starting to like it.  I'm 6 feet tall, and with the sink 3" higher, its easier to work with for me now.  I hadn't expected that but it was a nice side benefit.

At this point the frame probably isn't sitting on the counter solidly.  My frame would rock a little side to side.  I got my plane out and started to plane the bottom of the frame in the areas that needed it to have the frame sit flush.  I then planed the top of the frame to clean it up and have the sink sit on it flush as well.  I had bought a 12" x 24" x 1/4" piece of acrylic to use as a back spash and tried to push it between the frame and the rear teak fiddle, and it wouldn't fit.  So I planed some wood out of the lower front edge of the frame until it came forward enough that the acrylic was fitting tightly.  By now you can figure out where the frame needs to be with respect to the counter top and you can start drilling the holes to hold it onto the counter top.

I used 14, 10x24 bolts which were 2 1/2" long.  I marked where I wanted the bolts (four along each long edge, three along each short edge) and drilled a hole large enough to hold the bolt head, but only down a little over an inch into the frame.  I then drilled holes through these larger ones through the remaining frame and the counter top.  Do this once, then put the bolt in that hole to lock the frame in place at that location.  Then drill a hole in an opposite side and again drop the bolt in place.  Do this a few times and the frame should end up being held tightly - then drill the remaining holes.

Ok, so now the project is starting to come together.

At this point I started to round the frame corners off.  My approach here was to use my fein tool to cut a number of straight cuts across the corners close to, but not right up to a circle I had drawn on the wood at each corner.  The cuts only approximate the shape you want, I used coarse sandpaper to sculpt the wood into its final shape, removing material until I was close and then starting to progress to finer grits. I started with 50 grid and moved along to 200 eventually.  This was a pretty forgiving process, as long as you don't over cut the wood initially.

Then I started to cut holes into two of the corners to fit the water spouts that the foot pumps (fresh and salt water) are connected to.  I put the frame back in the counter, placed a few bolts in it to position it correctly and then drew in a circle from under the counter outlining where the existing holes were in the counter for the spouts.  I then used a hole saw to cut these holes.  The trick is that you don't want to drill entirely through the frame.  The spout will end up mounted in the frame and needs some of the teak between the spout base and the sink itself.  So use the hole saw for a measured distance, and then use a fein tool and wood chisel to open up and enlarge the space.  Test putting the spout into the hole created and adjust with the chisel until its working.

The start of a water spout base hole in one of the corners.  Working from the bottom
The second hole, offset a little, and taken further. 

A test fit of the water spout base through the frame.

I ended up enlarging the water spout hole through the counter top to match the hole in the frame.  This allows the water spout base to be easily removed in the future if this is necessary (the whole spout base can be pulled by the hose down through the frame to beneath the sink.)

So, at this point the sink frame is starting to be finished.  The sink was originally attached to the counter top using five bolts.  However the bolts on the sink were too short to be used for this purpose anymore. So I cut them off with a dremel tool cutting disc and cleaned up the remaining bolt base with a wire brush attachment on the dremel.  I bought five weld mount female stud bases for some 10x24 threaded rod I bought.  Weldmount is a system of attaching various bases and pads to a variety of material using a strong epoxy.  I had used it in the past and the attachments end up being very strong and its easy to work with.  I cut an edge out of the five stud bases so they would fit closer to the sink edge, cleaned everything with acetone, marked on the sink approximately where I wanted the bases, and then epoxied the bases to the sink.  I then put the sink back on top of the frame and marked where the bases ended up.  You want to make sure a stud base doesn't happen to coincide with one of the holes holding the frame to the counter top.  Mark on the frame where the stud bases are, then drill holes in the frame to accommodate the wider stud base diameter, and then go to a smaller drill bit to drill through the frame and counter top for the 10x24 threaded rod.

A mounted stud base with the threaded rod
Now you have a way to mount the sink into the frame.  Its time to start to reassemble the sink.  I installed the mixer spout back into the sink.  I re-used the mixer that I had.  I bought new compression rings, installed the mixer and then installed the pipe to hose connections back onto the pipe.

As the sink had been covered in a light crust of rust when I first pulled it out, I covered its underside with a light coat of Corrosion X HD.  This step is optional I think, but I had some so used it.

At this point, try dry fitting all the remaining pieces together.  One of the remaining tricks is to test the installation of the water spout bases and the spouts on top.  I found that I had to adjust the location of the base ring, which determines how many threads of the spout base are present above the sink top, several times in order to get a tight lock between the spout top and base.  Try this.  Put the sink in the frame, put the spout base in its location, install the top of the spout and screw the spout locking bolt to the base.  It should end up tight.  It took me a few tries on each corner to get it right.  Then I used loctite to lock the base plate where it ended up.

If you haven't done it  yet, do all your fresh water plumbing now.  All of the old hoses are too short by 3" so replace them with new hose.  Attach the hose to the spout bases under the sink.  (The spout tops aren't yet installed so the sink can be removed still.)

The other part of this whole puzzle is the drain.  I wasn't happy with the drain that had been installed in the sinks.  The strainer portion was made of chrome covered steel and was starting to rust.  The attachment of the drain plumbing to the sink strainers was also a little ad-hoc.  It was strong enough but difficult to work with.  I had already replaced the drains once when I first bought the boat and found working with the drain system difficult.  I looked around for alternatives and found the Scandvik line.  I bought two of their sink strainers along with two elbows, a 'T' and a straight piece.  It was easy to work with and has ended up resulting in a nice installation.  The one downside of Scandvik is that their sink strainers are larger than the hole I had in my sink - by 1/16".  I enlarged the two holes using my dremel with a cylindrical piece of grit attached - it took a while but the two strainers ended up fitting perfectly.  The scandvik system is nice as all their parts work well together.  Also the part beneath the strainer mates to the sink underside so that the strainer ends up 'inside' the wet part of the plumbing.  This means there is no need for any sealant between the drain strainer and the sink itself.  If you go this route you'll understand.

So, assemble the drain parts.  Do a dry fit and find the proper lengths for all the parts and pieces so that the sink strainers fit naturally under the sink.  I went for a little tension pushing the strainer bases up against the sink bottom, but not too much.  This involved cutting the 1 1/2" hose connecting the drain parts to the drain seacock and test fitting.  I used 3M 4200 on all the plumbing connections except for the hose connections.  I sealed the strainer base to the elbow and the 'T' to the straight section, but did not seal the elbow's to the 'T' at this point as I wanted to be able to rotate the drains easily still.

Test fit everything again and make sure everything is present and working together.

At this point I took the teak frame out again.  I wanted to silicone seal the teak frame to the counter top. So I ran a bead of silicone around the counter edge and put the frame down again.  Install the 14 bolts tightly, using washer, lock washer and nut.

Now you need to fasten the sink to the frame finally.  I applied a very large bead of silicone around the frame top and then put the sink down into the frame for the final time.  At this point you need to do three things at once.  Mount the water spout tops and screw them down to their bases.  This will pull two of the sink corners down to the frame.  You also want to fasten the five bolts to the threaded rod attached to the sink that are beneath the counter top lip.  As you fasten these bolts the sink should be pulled down into the silicone and squish it out.  You also need to clean up the silicone around the sink lip that has squeezed out as it cures within 5 minutes and if you leave it too long it is more difficult to clean up.  I had practiced putting the five washers/lock washers and nuts on the threaded rod earlier and found a system of holding the washer and nut that worked fairly well - but the area you're working in is very constrained and its difficult to get a little wrench in there to tighten the nuts up.  I used a ratcheting wrench with a little success, but ended up taking longer than five minutes and most of the silicone was curing.  I ended up pulling a little silicone out of the sink lip area and trying to clean it up the next day by applying a fresh bead and cleaning it up immediately.  This worked ok.  At this point I left everything to cure overnight.

Attach the water hoses to the hot/cold mixer.  Its easier to do now than after the drain is installed.

Now attach the drain.  I applied a bead of 4200 around the top of the sink strainer bases and then rotated them up into position and attached the sink strainers which screw into the bases.  Cleanup the squeezed out 4200 as you go.

Apply 4200 to the area between the elbow's and 'T', clamp them together.

The final piece I worked on was the acrylic backsplash.  I cut it so that it fit behind the frame between the corner pieces.  I then made it shorter than 12" as I found that if it was too tall it made getting out of the settee forward of the sink more difficult if I can't reach over and grab the pole beneath the cabinet over the sink.  Try it out.  I rounded the edges off by putting a tupperware container approximately the right size up and drawing it off.  I then cut straight sections out with my fein tool and used rough grit sandpaper to finish to a smoothly rounded corner just as I had done with the teak corners of the frame.

The 'after' picture

I've been living with the new sink setup for a few weeks now.  Its excellent.  It drains now!  I admit for those of you who have sinks which drain, this might all seem like a lot of work.  It was.  But its done now, and I can move onto something else.


Update Nov 25/2012:

I was asked for the scandvik parts list.  I used:


  1. where theres a will theres a way :)

  2. I am impressed with your care for the detail and the end result is great. I really like the backsplash! Love the detailed instructions, but it makes me glad i can call a plumber for my non-moving house. mbn

  3. Saw the sink today. It really does look this good! Nice job, Craig.