Thunder Plank Redesign

(This is going to be a very nerdy blog post.  You’ve been warned)

Sometimes you’re in a hurry when you build something.  Your mind might be preoccupied or things just aren’t clicking for you.  In the end, you’re not happy with the results.  This was the case with my original Thunder Plank design.

The design wasn’t terrible, but could have been much better.  It was heavy and just felt clunky in my hands.  Everything about Skiff America is finesse and I didn’t want to screw it up with my heavy Thunder Plank.

Skiff America is like a little birdie, not a B52 bomber.

While I’m waiting for more epoxy to arrive, I’ve decided to redesign Thunder Plank.

Old vs New:

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The old version is shown on the left.  The new version is shown on the right.  The new version is slightly smaller in nearly every dimension.

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Underneath side of toilet seats showing the arrangement of cleating and the extended backer plate.

How does the new version differ from the old version?

  1. All mahogany materials
  2. No use of wood screws
  3. 3/8″ mahogany ply instead of 3/4″ baltic birch
  4. Mahogany cleats instead of baltic birch plywood cleats
  5. Backer plate is 1/2″ thick as opposed to 3/4″ thick
  6. Backer plate extends lower to make contact with the front bunks, preventing the seat from moving toward the bow.
  7. Addition of a forward cleat prevents the 5 gallon bucket from moving toward the stern.

(I warned you this was going to be a terribly nerdy post)

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The result of my newly designed Thunder Plank weighs in at a scant 1.4 lb.  That compares to the original design weighing 3.6 lb.  It now feels light and appropriate to fit inside Northern Cross.

Now I’m happy with my Thunder Plank and can move on to the next project.  

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Building the Thunder Plank

When you gotta go…you gotta go.  

Every well designed boat needs a system allowing the weary traveller to relieve oneself.

Here’s my solution:

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I started by tracing an elongated toilet bowel onto 3/4″ baltic birch plywood.

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I then cut out a pattern using my jig saw.

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Next, I added a backer plate so users would respect the boarders.  

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I then added cleating to the underside to center the board within the footwell and to keep the toilet bowel from drifting forward and aft.  I also added a cleat near the back of the seat to keep the bucket from shifting toward the bow.   

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Here you can see how I added the backer plate.

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Next, I needed a way to raise the bucket to the proper height under the toilet lid.

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The 2 pieces hook together to provide a stable base for the toilet.

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The bucket now fits up tight against the underside of the toilet seat, yet it can’t slide toward the bow, due to the under cleat.  

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Now I will line the bucket with disposable toilet bags.  These bags have a dry chemical added to them to sanitize the waste and allow you to dispose of them in any garbage receptacle.  You can buy them at Walmart.  They work very well and keep the mess all contained into one bag.  No dripping porta potty to drain and clean.  

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The backer plate hooks onto the mahogany seat cushion edge support.  This keep the toilet seat from sliding forward.  

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And, here’s the finished product.  I’ll keep all the essentials inside the 5 gallon bucket which stows perfectly under the aft bunk.  

Summary:

The Thunder Plank will provide us with an emergency way to relieve ourselves should duty call.  I now want to design a board for cooking and preparing a hot brew utilizing this same cleating system.