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Methodology of Major Repairs

How do you set about beginning on major repairs? Diagnosing, going through details, figuring out what needs to be done, identifying what you don't know how to do?

Tips & tricks for identifying problems, keeping things organized, and not missing a beat. What are people prone to miss? How do you see the details?

(Personal relevance: wooden deck & cabin replacement)

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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs


For me, and I have done quite a few major items on our boat, I make a plan in my head for a few days. I then jot it down on paper to see if I am catching most of the details. I do a LOT of checking around also. Then, doing the job, I take a LOT of photos!!!!!

That way I have very few left over parts at the end. Saves a lot of "I wonder where that part was supposed to go"!

A video is also good!

And then, you can share with the rest of us.... See my web page (link below) about outfitting.


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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

Be sure to have the proper tools to do the job.

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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

For us it starts with a list of things we want done and things that need to be done. Then we prioritize and start working our way through the list. Priorities sometimes shift.

I keep a maintenance log of our repairs in a composition book. A few times we've used it to remember exactly what we did, especially when we were at home two hours from the boat and we want to think about or start projects that can be started away from the boat.

My plan is to hand it over to the next owner but in the meantime it helps us remember.


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post #5 of 11 Old 1 Week Ago
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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

I use mind mapping software to record and organize thoughts as they occur to me. With a mind map, I can easily plop a thought where I think it belongs in relationship to other thoughts, for instance either in priority or in chronological steps. I can even plop in a reminder that I need more knowledge or where on my computer, or the www, that knowledge is stored.

I have big-picture mind maps, for instance, "Boat Projects." This mind map is set up in order of priority, but it also gives me a picture of which tasks must be done before another can be started. Sometimes it is beneficial, if not necessary, to complete a lower-priority task before tackling a high-priority task.

Complex tasks with many steps are given their own detailed mind maps. For instance, my "Boat Project" map has a task named 'Swing Keel Maintenance.' To me, that project seems daunting and complex, so I set up a separate map for Swing Keel Maintenance.

Periodically, I go through my mind maps and reorganize them based on changing conditions/priorities.

The best things about mind mapping are 1) once I record a thought, I don't need to keep refreshing it in my short-term memory and I am free to think about other things; 2) As thoughts are easily organized and re-organized, big-picture and small-detail action strategies are automatically created; 3) Using color-codes makes everything very easy to see, including how much I've actually accomplished, which is vital for my peace of mind when I'm facing a seemingly endless project.

Mind-mapping is easy and is immediately useful to a beginner, but it is a developed skill that takes practice. There are several free mind mapping tools available that you can start with. Find them using your web search tool (DuckDuckGo does not track your web travels like Google does.)

Last edited by jwing; 1 Week Ago at 10:52 AM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 6 Days Ago
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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

I don't get too complicated. I am starting a whole house remodel right now, same idea. We start by stepping back and plan the overall steps (for example what projects will impact other projects). What projects can be done in summer vs. winter. We try to make smaller individual project rather than one huge one. This could help on the boat if the project span more than one season. You may be able to sail the boat some between projects. Then I research what the basic steps are. This usually brings up areas in which I feel I need to do more learning. Then I dive in and go. You really won't know what you don't know, until you start. Google 'problemXYZ'. (for example 'removing bungs')

Edit: BTW, I am probably still high on polyurethane fumes from finishing floor last night.
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post #7 of 11 Old 6 Days Ago
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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

Jwing- your Mind Mapping software sounds so much more practical than mine. Once I record a thread, they are often difficult to recall/restore and sometimes when I am able to recall, many details are distorted. Some of them are incomplete or just plain inaccurate. I find that the accuracy is inversely proportionate the the amount of physical time between saving and recalling.

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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

I use Apple Stickies to note things down when handy for documentation, but I also depend on a Clipboard with Quad-Ruled paper, and plenty of it, and some simple hand tools. There are two orders of magnitudes of expenses between these two solutions.
I actually have two Clipboards, one for Mechanical, and one for Electrical.

"(Personal relevance: wooden deck & cabin replacement)"
I have a pretty good Mind Palace, but nothing beats a cheap Digital Camera and a referenced ruler these days. Also, a Nose.
Are there Dry Rot problems? Mold spreads. Are these routine leaks? Are there some fundamental Design Flaws?
If this is a Wooden Boat, note that the Decks also provide structural reinforcement. If the decks are working loose, probably so are those bits down below.

Actually, we need to know what kind of Boat is involved, and its History.
"Methodology of Major Repairs" could have easily been referencing Knee Surgery.

Fixing a Knee, and fixing a Boat, may have similar goals, getting forward again, but the techniques differ.

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post #9 of 11 Old 6 Days Ago
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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

Think about the sequence of projects. In general structural and systems should be done before cosmetic. You wouldn't want to do an engine rebuild then have to remove the engine to replace a water heater or replace some hatches after the deck was just refinished.
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post #10 of 11 Old 6 Days Ago
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Re: Methodology of Major Repairs

Some hints and tips....

+ Fail to plan... plan to fail.
+ Never look behind anything. It just creates more work.
+ Multiply estimated costs and time by three to get somewhere near what the actual values will be.

Ok, now that's out of the way, I take a leaf out of the pro's book and use free project planning software to create detailed list of everything I need to do in reasonably fine detail. I'll modify the plan as work progresses as needed. Each task can be linked to the tools and materials required. Very important when you have to travel to the boat, as a big, big problem is forgetting tools or materials needed on the day. The planner also acts to itemise what you need to do and allows for you to plan overlapping tasks. It's also used to ensure you maximise your work time. For example, if waiting for glue or paint to dry, your plan can include other tasks to-do while you wait to keep you busy. Finally, you can record your completed work against your time to see how you are progressing to plan.

I'll also do a spreadsheet of rough estimated costs and throw all receipts into a folder. This helps prevent cost overruns by allowing monitoring of expenses.
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