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Old 20-01-2023, 19:22   #1
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Alden 46

Hello all,
I've just in the process of buying a 1988 Alden 46 cutter. I'm based in Nelson NZ; this is my 5th yacht, but never had one with a centerboad. She's one of only 6 made by Alden, designed by Niels Helleberg. She's a fairly shallow draft, 1.6m, but 3m with the hollow fibreglass positive buoyancy centerboard fully down.



https://viningmarine.co.nz/yachts/alden-46-sloop-1988/


A Navtec controlled hydraulic ram pushes the board down, when pressure is released, the board floats up into the keel slot. A good design as hydraulic failure doesn't leave you with a heavy board hanging down.


I'm asking now if anyone has sailed one of these yachts or has had actual experience with this type of positive displacement board. Not interested in hearing about boats with metal or weighted heavy centerboards.


Boats with centerboards are designed to go to weather with the board down, and as an ex-racer, I like to get the most out of my boat (plus pointing high can be a safety issue if you are caught on a lee shore, been there done that).


If anyone has sailed on or owned an Alden 46, I'd appreciate general comments on the yacht. With respect, I'm Not interested in Alden 44 experiences.
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Old 21-01-2023, 12:41   #2
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Re: Alden 46

Followed your link. Nice boat. Enjoy!

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Old 21-01-2023, 13:02   #3
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Re: Alden 46

Nuku 34 what happens when you run aground, does the hydraulics have a bypass? Not raining on your parade but on our swing keel yacht I have a strap onboard that can slip under our keel and then we can winch it back in place. If your hydraulics fail, then you're stuck with a retracted board and nothing you can do about it.
Interesting idea, I have never heard of a positive buoyancy swing keel.
Cheers
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Old 21-01-2023, 20:25   #4
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Re: Alden 46

Maybe this link would be useful?

https://forums.sailboatowners.com/th...den-46.189409/


https://sailboatdata.com/sailboat/alden-46
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Old 23-01-2023, 00:31   #5
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Re: Alden 46

I've own an 1987 Alden 52' (Avatar) for going on 20 years, it's basically the same as the 46/50 your looking at it just came out of slightly larger mold. I've attached a drawing of the centerboard arrangement which is correct for your boat, design #1193. You're right, if the system fails the board floats up into the trunk. The purpose of the board is only to reduce leeway when going to weather, you'd think after 20 years I'd be able to tell you how much it helps but I can't. I can say I've had the board out twice, once when I grounded her, the second time do to a travel lift incident. Both times the removal was to look for possible damage and both times none was found. Alden's are vary well built. On the maintenance front, the board uses a seal that's the same as a shaft seal in a traditional stuffing box with a flax packing. This will leak a little and need to be replace as it breaks down, I job that obviously can't be done in the water.



Living in the PNW I often wish my Alden wasn't a centerboard. There's very few places where shallow draft is important. The board does leak a little and is sometimes hard to get down, to the point I need to hire a diver to clean the trunk, just a few barnacles on the sides will stop it. This usually only occurs when she sits for a couple of months without use, so my fault. Keep in mind however the centerboard was designed for cruising the US East coast or Bahamas where having 6' draft is critical. I'm not sure what it's like in Nelson?



In the listing photo's the toe rail looks like it might have been replaced? I've never seen that style on an Alden before, I wonder if maybe she had teak decks removed and a new toe rail installed? It's a little odd the listing photo's don't show the deck? The hull is balsa cored below the water line so I'd take a close look at that. Also check the condition of the winches as Barient isn't around anymore and you've got twelve.


Great boat, good luck!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Centerboard Control.pdf (422.7 KB, 84 views)
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Old 26-01-2023, 04:49   #6
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Re: Alden 46

Thanks all for your pertinent and helpful comments.


Ann: Sara and I will be very much enjoying this yacht. You and Jim are doing a great job here as moderators. I have many happy memories of you and the "good old bad old days of cruising" pre- internet/gps, when a fix a day on the satnav was a very nice check on celestial.



Fore and Aft: that's a good point about groundings, and thank you for raising the issue. It is something I've thought about.
The hydraulics are Navtic and I will have a look at the settings of the relief valve. I think the yacht will sail ok to windward even if the board is in retracted position due to hydraulic failure, but since I haven't sailed her yet, I don't know. I'm going out for the pre-purchase trial sail in 2 days and will be experimenting with windward performance with board up and down, and I'll report here.



coopec43: Thank your for the links, especially the first one. That one shows the folks who are selling Arctic Loon to me.


isail52: Thank you for the centerboard details which are extremely helpful! I was wondering what the seals were like on the shaft. You mention that just a few barnacles will make it hard to lower the board; I would think the hydraulic ram would force the board down in spite of that.
Nelson, and NZ in general, doesn't have large areas of shallow cruising grounds like the Bahamas , but a yacht like the Alden 46 without a centerboard would be drawing around 7-7.5 feet, and that would limit access to some areas. With regard to Fore and Aft's comment about groundings, did your hydraulics allow the board to move aft and up?



Yes, the teak decks were removed, the deck re-glassed, painted, and a Treadmaster type of non-skid sheet material glued down. I wouldn't have bought the boat with teak decks. I can't stand the stuff on deck; been there-done that, its nice for trim though.



The original alloy toe rails were badly corroded. The seller had them replaced with custom-made stainless steel rails (a $30K job) when the teak was removed.



The yacht was built in 1988, I think there were 6 of them built from '88 to '98. The 2nd owner/skipper ran her as a charter business in the Caribbean for 10-12 years, then brought her to NZ. The 3rd owner bought her in 2017 and did extensive refit and modifications including removing the teak deck, the s.s. toe rail, custom s.s fanny bars around the mast, pulled the mast and replaced the original rod rigging with over-sized 1X19, lots of new electronics including a Sailor satellite communication system, all new canvas work, new main, staysail, 120% jib, water-maker, new autopilot and ram, new 65lb Manson and 100m of 10mm chain, etc, etc.

Arctic Loon is in very good condition for a 35 year-old yacht. The hull survey noted no osmosis or excessive moisture in the balsa core.
Yes, I know Barient is long gone, but they are all-bronze/s.s. quality machines. I believe there are spare pawls and springs in the extensive spare parts inventory. Is there anyone making spares these days? I've got a retired machinist friend here who can make anything including gears. The primaries are 2-speed electric, do you have those?
If the sail trial goes well, I'll own Arctic Loon on 21 Feb. And I'll update this thread.
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Old 26-01-2023, 12:34   #7
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Re: Alden 46

Sandy, ARCO Hutton in Sidney have spares for most Barient winches and are fairly reasonable to deal with. Our Barients which are now over 30 years old are still "as new" in performance. The PO had them re-chromed before we bought the boat, and the bloody platers ground all the surfaces of the drums to a mirror finish. Looks really great but now it takes extra wraps to keep the line from slipping. GRRRR.

Dunno about the electric models... no experience with them.

She looks like a great boat, so hope the sea trial goes well.

Jim
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Old 26-01-2023, 14:59   #8
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Re: Alden 46

Jim, thank you for that tip. Once I own the boat, I'll pull all the winches apart for service, and eventually find the spares. Yes, Barients are bullet proof, unlike some of the modern lightweight alloy/plastic models.
Too bad about your winch drums getting the polish treatment.
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:34   #9
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Re: Alden 46

Update on the Navtec hydraulic system centerboard circuit: further investigation shows that both the ram "up" and ram "down" circuits have their own pressure relief valves. These are separate from the main pressure relief valve behind the Navtec panel and are presumable set at a much lower value.
This set up allows the centerboard to retract in the event of a it hitting something while the boat is moving forward.
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Old 04-07-2023, 14:56   #10
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Re: Alden 46

Hi,

I also have an Alden 44 and am currently stuck trying to remove the center board.

The ram is disconnected, the stuffing box too. The shaft end has been uncovered and we’ve got the shaft moving laterally out from the hull several inches or so. But it just will not come out completely.

I am not sure of the exact process for removing the center board. Does it have to be in a certain position ie vertical prior to shaft removal? Or is there some other circlip or something that we’ve missed that is blocking the removal?

I’ve looked at the drawings very kindly supplied earlier in this thread and couldn’t glean any info that would help from them.

Boy It certainly is difficult twirling in in that deep narrow bilge!

Any help/insight would be greatly appreciated.

Carl





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Old 04-07-2023, 15:31   #11
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Re: Alden 46

Quote:
Originally Posted by nuku34 View Post
Update on the Navtec hydraulic system centerboard circuit: further investigation shows that both the ram "up" and ram "down" circuits have their own pressure relief valves. These are separate from the main pressure relief valve behind the Navtec panel and are presumable set at a much lower value.
This set up allows the centerboard to retract in the event of a it hitting something while the boat is moving forward.
I’m pretty sure mine doesn’t have these (or they are not working) as i recently broke the stainless piston on the ram. The control panel was removed and fully serviced fairly recently.

I’d removed the ram as it was leaking and had it rebuilt in Panama. To remove it I needed to lower the center board to get to the lower cotter pin. Whilst being rebuilt I picked up significant growth.

I neglected to tell my helper to stop pumping when it got stiff…. I could see it wasn’t fully up as I had my head down in the bilge watching i. Then it broke so it was a bit of a surprise!

When I purchased the boat 20 odd years ago the previous owner told me the tip with with fully extending or retracting the center board was to pump until it got stiff and then reverse direction for a couple of strokes.

I had Ortlieb (the original manufacturer of my ram - not sure why Alden didn’t use a Navtec product). make a new hydraulic ram so if anyone is interested in the specs I have them,
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Old 04-07-2023, 22:45   #12
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Re: Alden 46

Hello Carl,
Sandy Fontwit here, owner of Alden 46 "Arctic Loon", original name: "Gannet".
Would be great to chat here and also via e-mail. My contact is sandyfontwit (at) slingshot.co.nz
I live in Nelson N.Z.; the Loon is berthed at Nelson Marina.

What's the name of your Alden 46? Is that the original name? If you don't already have it, I could e-mail you the Alden spreadsheet which lists all the Alden yachts.
As you read, I just bought the yacht in Feb 2023, so I'm still working my way through all the systems.
I haven't had any problems with the centerboard so far. No leaks, and the ram operates perfectly via the Navtec control panel. I can feel the increase of pumping pressure as the ram gets to full extension/full retraction. As I mentioned above, there are pressure relief valves in the lines on both sides of the ram. (very close to the ram itself). I intend to experiment with the settings on both. My goal will be to set the "down" valve to just be able to keep the board down when sailing in a good breeze. The only way to do this is to back it off until the board starts to retract, then set it a bit tighter so the board stays down. The "up" valve can be set quite low since the hollow board normally wants to float up anyway. I'm surprised your system doesn't have these valves.
I obviously haven't had to take the board out or replace the ram so far, and hope I never have to do either. Neither of these jobs are ones I'm looking forward to!!! So you are going to be my hands on teacher here. Photos would be a big help.
Ian Poll did us a big favor with that blueprint, but it might be lacking in some details, and it is for the Alden 52 not the Alden 46. Anyway, often things get built differently from the plans.
From the plan, there are 2 keyways on the shaft. One is for the actuator lever (which I assume you have taken off) and the other engages with the boss in the board itself.

There is no indication of a circlip, and cannot see any reason why there should be one anywhere on that shaft.
You have taken out the machine screws that hold the round plate (that holds the bearing) on the outside of the keel, and the plate can now be withdrawn several inches. I assume that you removed the key from the shaft end where the lever sits. If not, then that will keep the shaft from moving out unless that key just happens to align perfectly with the keyway slot in the board itself. Can you see the 2nd key which is on the section of shaft that is normally inside the boss in the board itself?

Assuming the lever arm key has been removed, the shaft may have some corrosion on it (in the section between the 2 keyways) that is hanging up on the boss where it passes through the board. You might try pushing the shaft back in and cleaning up that area with emery cloth and dowsing it with something like PB Blaster. Then pull the shaft out as far as you can by hand. If it still sticks, you might try attaching a slide hammer to the outboard end of the shaft (there's a threaded hole there #6 on the plan) and use it gently to force the shaft out.

I assume you had to remove the salon table to get access to this area of the deep and narrow bilge. I really do feel for you Carl, hanging upside down in that bilge working on 30 year old machinery is NOT fun.
Sincerely,
Sandy
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Old 05-07-2023, 01:36   #13
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Re: Alden 46

Hi again Carl,
Its not immediately clear to me why you are removing the board. Did the stuffing box leak and need to be repacked, or is it some other problem?
Cheers,
Sandy
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Old 05-07-2023, 16:24   #14
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Re: Alden 46

Hi Sandy,

She is an Alden 44 hull number 39 called Indigo Moth formerly known as Moxie.

I needed to clear out the growth from the center board slot. Plus check on the center board integrity after having broken a piston rod earlier. A bonus is we will be able to properly apply coppercote to the entire board.

I carry an especially long set of grips aboard to tighten the stuffing box nut. It’s a long way down there and then it still requires tightening the two set screws.

On the 44 all access is from the bilge so no need to remove the table - that is a fun job in of itself.

I was fortunate to be able to contact the former owner of Alden Yachts (via a friend of a friend) and he very graciously gave me some of his time and some pertinent suggestions.

We now have the shaft extracted. The trick in my case was to align the center board shaft key by moving the center board up/down in the slot.

My confusion was that I was expecting the shaft to be the same diameter for the whole length and thus requiring the removal of the center board shaft key for removal. But as it turns out it has a different bore, being thicker on the hull side, and that accommodates the shaft being removed with the key being loaded in the slot.

Some images;

This is after the cover is removed in the keel.


This is taken from down in the bilge with the lever and stuffing box assembly removed - the slot is where the lever key would be. You can just make out what might be the slot for the center board.


And this is where it is now coming out freely. Here you can just about make out the key is still in but clears the other plate due to the reduction in shaft diameter.


I hope this may be of help to someone else in the future.

If you have any info on the Navtek pressure relief valves I would greatly appreciate it.

Cheers,

Carl
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Old 05-07-2023, 17:38   #15
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Wink Re: Alden 46

Hello Carl,
My apologies for not picking up that you have an Alden 44 not a 46.
Your photos were very helpful, and I'm happy you got that big pin out!


As I said above, so far my stuffing box is not leaking, but for my info, how often do you need to tighten the nut on the stuffing box and have you ever put in new packing? If so, what material and size did you use?


On the 46, to get at that box, I will have to remove the table and the floorboards under it, not a big deal. My bilge is about a meter deep, so getting at the shaft/lever/stuffing box will be a major exercise in hanging upside down. Maybe there will be an AI robot for this job or an "app" on the cellphone in our coming Brave New World.


I'm not sure how high our travel lift can get the keel off the ground so I can lower the board at least part way to paint it and clean out the slot. I also have to replace the cutlass bearing at the next haul out.



The first owner of my 46, Joseph P. Fantasia of Chicago, had an Alden 44, hull #15 named Gannet. When he upgraded to the 46, he named her Gannet. The 3rd owners renamed her Arctic Loon and I've kept that name.
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