Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hardware for the sea chest (metal working)

Someone onboard have once ordered a bunch of different hinges, so I have found some nice wide brass hinges that will fit the chest with a little bit of work.

We have some metal chemical drums (5 gallons), with a metal handle on top. I have thought about using them, but they are not stainless nor brass. So I don't want them on the chest.

I ended up with the following design, which is a compromise. It should have been all brass or bronze, but we didn't have any 6 mm bronze rod, and I didn't want to waste a lot of material by turning down a 12 mm rod. Therefore the handle itself is made out of a stainless steel pipe . The holders are made of brass.

The holders are 40 mm in length (total) and have got an 8 mm thread. The plan is to drill a hole through the ends of the chest, and attach the completed handle by means of an acorn nut on each holder.
I turned them on the lathe out of some 12 mm hexagonal stock.

The handles are made out of 6 mm stainless stel pipe which has been bent and silver soldered withthe holders in place.
One of the handles is 4 mm longer than the other, but I don't think that it will show when they are mounted on the chest.

Most sea chests seem to have had a lock, which I think is rather strange, since it was unthinkable, that anybody would ever lock their sea chest while onboard. If you locked your sea chest, you didn't trust your ship mates, and that was unheard of.
I once read in an old book, that if you actually locked the chest, then yourship mates would usually nail your lid on while you were on duty, as a way of expressing disgust in that you didn't trust them.

It is still a bit like that (at least in the Danish merchant marine).

If you are in your cabin, you pull the curtain in front of the doorway. This means that someone is in the cabin and it is treated as a closed door. But the person inside is awake and you can knock on the wall next to the doorway and ask to come in and have a chat.

If you are not in the cabin, the curtain is drawn aside, and the steward can go in and do the cleaning of the cabin.

If the door is closed, the person in the cabin does not want to be disturbed, he could be sleeping or making a telephone call to his home or just wan't to be left alone.
A closed door is treated like a locked door ashore, in the middle of the night, no matter what time of day it is. It is considered to be very bad manners to knock on a closed door.

You only lock your door during port stay.
There can be exemptions, e.g. in high risk piracy zones it is OK to lock the door even at night.

The holders straight from the lathe.

Handle before straightening.

Finished handles.

Holder and silver soldered handle.

Holder on handle.


  1. Those handles are real slick looking. I wish I knew how to work a metal lathe.

  2. Thanks.
    I think that they will look all right on the chest. I decided that since I am an engineer, it would be more appropriate to use metal handles than traditional rope beckets.

    Using a metal lathe is actually easier than using a lathe for wood. You don't have to hold the tool yourself, and there is an automatic feed. It can be a bit complicated when it comes to making specific tolerances for bearings and different threads, but pieces like these are a "walk in the park".

  3. Did you make the threaded portion on the lathe? I can think of so many things I would like to make I'm getting dizzy. Is there a nut going on those posts to secure them?

  4. Beautiful work. Did you need to turn the threads as well? I've only used a lathe once to turn a handle for one of my files. A person I know through my job is an excellent turner so he showed me what to do and then cleaned up my mistakes. But I enjoyed it.
    Hopefully you don't end up in "pirate" waters too often. I was in the army but never overseas. We did a lot of training on dealing with hostile natives for lack of a better word but nothing ever came of it. Good luck with the rest of the build it's looking great so far!

  5. I made the threaded portions as well, but since they were only M8, I "cheated" and used a die for the making of the threads while it was still mounted in the three jaw chuck.
    We don't have any acorn nuts onboard, so for now I will just attach the handles using a regular nut onthe inside, but once I am home I'll get 4 brass acorns so it will look nice on the inside as well.

    Yesterday I had to make proper threads on the lathe though, a valve spindle had broken, so I made a new one. with M20 thread, all cut on the lathe.
    It is hypnothising to look at the thread cutting, since it doesn't seem to be moving.

    Regarding the pirate areas, the Gulf of Guinea outside of Nigeria where we are, is one of the most pirate infested waters in the World.
    I think there is more attacks here than in Somalia, but there are also a lot more ships due to the trade to and from Nigeria.
    But as long as we are on the actual oil field, we have an armed security vessel that is patrolling the area. So actually, I only lock my door during transit to another oil field, or if we are in port.

    I would hope that my countrys government was as efficient as the US government when it comes to liberating hostages. Two Danish seamen and four Filipinos from a Danish vessel were captured in Somalia, and they have been held hostage for more than 800 days.
    Sadly our government doesn't believe in armed missions for that sort of situations.