|Chainplates with SS inserts and edging|
In fact I ended up replacing all Snow Petrel's deck fittings with (much better) welded on homemade stainless steel fittings. Now the only holes in the boat are the windows, hatches and winch bolts. I now have no deck leaks! (an incredible luxury), less rust traps and better designed gear.
My complete kit fits into a small suitcase, (except for the helmet), and can easily live onboard. At the moment I am welding up a little wood heater to replace my smelly diesel heater. I get alot of satisfaction from welding and I really think that If you plan to go to high latitudes a metal boat is a pretty good idea, and if you have a steel boat learning some basic welding skills makes sense. Welding aluminium as a different ball game, much harder, and expensive bigger welders are needed.
|My incomplete fireplace door, Special fire glass is needed|
A small DC inverter stick welder, much better than the my old AC welder because it is way smaller lighter and has a much better duty cycle (It can run at 100 amps for 25% of the time, enough for most welding on a yacht), and it will happily run off any crappy power source, even what you might get at the end of an old wharf, or up a mast (I have chucked it over my shoulder and welded at the masthead). Get one that can run off a generator. Or alternately an onboard alternator welder can be used if desperate.
A welding helmet with an auto darkening lens is much easier to use.. also good quality respirator that fits under the helmet is essential to keep the worst of the nasty welding fumes away from your delicate lungs.
Welding Rods: I use 316L for welding SS to SS, 309L for welding SS to mild steel, and 6013 or 6012 rods for mild steel. Keep them very dry, humidity can effect the flux coating.
A 5 inch angle grinder, I went though a few cheapies until I bought an expensive one. Make sure its a 5 inch with the big stud, taking discs with a 22.2 mm centre hole, not the toy 4 inch ones. I normally don't bother with a 9 inch grinder (even though I have one..) the 5 inch can do almost everything much better and is safer.
A heap of skinny 1mm cutting disks for the 5 inch grinder. (sorry about the mixed units, blame the french or the yanks... ) These things are magic, They cut through SS like its butter and leave a nice clean cut. I also assume they cut though fingers and other body parts just as well so be very careful to secure the work well (Like in a vice), always use the guards, and wear leather gloves and really good quality eye and ear protection... If you can't work out what the fuss about safety gear is, please never go to sea and preferably don't go very far from a well equipped hospital...
|The most Important gear.. + Add Earmuffs and suitable clothes.|
Add chipping hammers, wire brushes (SS wire brush For SS only), centre punch, cutting fluid for drilling holes and you are set. Drilling SS is a prick, sharp drill bits, lots of cutting fluid and a slow drill speed with lots of pressure are needed. Ideally a drill press for big holes... It is usually cheaper to take it in to a workshop and get them to drill any large holes rather than trash all your drill bits. A workshop can also cut out stainless steel quickly and easily into complex shapes with a plasma cutter - this can be very useful.
You can use pickling paste to clean up the welds an make them look shiny but it is seriously nasty stuff so I normally don't bother. They can just go very slightly rusty, no big drama if the peice is properly oversized (see here for more info on surface cleaning)
I used to get most of my material from scrap metal yards, but these days it is harder to find it this way, so I am forced to buy it. 304 is fine but get 316 if you can afford it. I have some dodgy stainless on my bow roller. It has a rusted to nice patina that I quite like, and the rust doesn't seem to be to getting any worse. Old rod rigging is awesome as SS edging for any non load bearing application. I collect old stainless steel fittings for parts that can be cut up or modified to make new fittings.
I am always careful not to rely on stainless unless it is massively overbuilt, It is tricky stuff and can fatigue or fail without much warning. Also when welding and grinding beware of heat build up and sparks. Be very careful about fire risks, I have seen a quite a few burnt out steel hulls, and nearly had a nasty fire inside Snow Petrel, Some ports require a hotwork permit. And it is not allowed on most of the better class marinas or slipways... find somewhere abit more industrial. Oh and also grind well away from anything shiny, white or expensive. grinding dust blows along way and then rusts....