Sunday, July 5, 2009

Getting stuff done (to Lucky)

Getting hauled. Again.

So this turned out to be much longer than I thought. Be warned...

We're at Lauderdale Marine Center, a huge boat yard on The New River, just by I-95. We're here to get a bunch of work done on Lucky. We mentioned before the issues we've had with the port engine.

There should be plate covering this seal

Well, we also have an issue with the port drive. It seems there's water in oil. I don't check the oil in the drive very often as, like a car, the transmission isn't going to lose oil very quickly, if at all. Unlike an engine, where oil can leak past the pistons and go up in smoke out of the exhaust, transmission oil will have to leak out to go down. Any leak would be evident by an oil sheen on the water or drops around the drive in the engine room, neither of which are evident. Another reason is you have to let the oil settle for 12 hours to get the correct level. Anyway, after our long passage from Nassau, I checked the oil and low and behold, the oil had turned white, evidence of a water leak. According to the mechanic, there are four possible causes for a water leak:

- a corroded oil drain plug, which sits under water at the bottom of the drive
- a bent prop shaft
- a corroded prop shaft
- a leaky seal

All four require a haul out to get at the bottom of the drive, as does an oil change anyway. So we've hauled the boat. Turns out the cause is most likely a leaky seal. Prop shafts are fine, as is the drain plug. Behind the prop shaft is a seal to prevent water intrusion. This seal has failed. The cause of the failure is a missing seal plate. I was one of the early adopters for the IPS drives and the original drives installed are the IPS-A model, numbers 650 and 651, so pretty early models. In the later version, IPS-B, a plate was added in front of these seals to protect them from water pressure, which causes the seals to fail. This plate should have been added in January when we had water intrusion fixed the first time, but wasn't. The starboard drive hasn't had this issue as it's an IPS-B, a replacement for the original IPS-A that self-destructed last summer. The IPS-B drive, btw, has a serial number in the high 6,000s. So they've made quite a few since mine were first installed. What's not yet known is whether the drive has suffered any damage from the water. They're going to scope the drive on Monday. In addition the water inlet and outlet fittings are leaking on both drives, so they've been pulled for replacement. Also on the list will be a replacement of both solenoids, used to rotate the drives when turning, to a newer version.

The cause of the engine issues - low power, higher fuel consumption - is still unknown. On Thursday the mechanic, Roy, took off the superchargers, belts, pulleys and alternators. The superchargers were taken back to the shop to be scoped for water intrusion and electrolysis damage and got a clean bill of health. The pulleys need to changed out from the plastic version we have installed to the new metal ones and the belts will be changed. On checking the alternators, one was found to be dead and the trigger wire between the two sets corroded off. The trigger wire ensures that both alternators on a given battery bank (engine or house) charge at the same time. I dropped the alternators off at a local battery place to be reconditioned. The battery guy, David, isn't sure what he can do as Volvo Penta doesn't sell components within them separately. David will clean and recondition as best he can. With any luck, he'll be able to salvage at least two, if not three. At $1,000 a pop, the more he can save, the better!

This strainer needs to be replaced with one less prone to leaks

Another piece of engine work I'm going to have done is changing out the raw water strainers. Volvo's design and location of the strainers has had a nasty habit of popping the top, pouring salt water over the belts and drives, which then gets sprayed throughout the engine room. A fix for this is to put Groco strainers on the raw water hose and remove the Volvo Strainers entirely. Not only does this have the advantage of removing a flawed component, it also puts the strainer on the vacuum side of the impeller, which will protect the impeller from damage. A fix many D-6 owners have done, apparently.

So while the boat is in the yard, we're having a bunch of other work done:

Transducer mounting block under the hull, soon to disappear

Transducer from the inside. Behind you can see one of the float swtches to be replaced.

Transducer splice box. The wire going in comes from the electronics at the helm. The new transducer will be spliced in after installation. The box is mounted square, it's the picture that's crooked!

The transducer mount is leaking while under way. The transducer is the depth finder, which uses sonar to find the distance to the bottom of whatever we happen to be floating on at the time. It uses sound, in exactly the same way sonar in submarines work. The leak is allowing some salt water into the bilge, so this needs to be fixed. I'm having the old transducer removed and a new one put in. As supplied by Raymarine, the transducer comes in a mounting block, which is attached to the bottom of the hull through two large bolts, one of which also holds the transducer in place. Over time, water pressure on the block causes the threads to shift a little and water can get in. Instead of using the mounting block, we're going to "glass" (using fibreglass and epoxy resin) the transducer so that it's flush mounted to the hull. This will involve cutting the transducer out of its mounting block and making a mold for an internal mounting block so that it sits vertically. To simplify installation, we've put a junction box in the engine room and spliced in the cable from the helm. No need to re-run the cable if a new transducer needs to be installed. I'll be keeping the existing transducer as a spare, anyway.

You can see light between the two fiberglass pieces of the hull. This seam needs to be re caulked.

Not only is there water coming in through the transducer mount, but there's also water getting in from above. Even on dry land, we're getting water building up in the bilge whenever it rains. I spent an hour in the engine room on Thursday during a massive rain storm looking for leaks and found two. One is where the transom shower head sits in its mount. A door with gasket over the area should solve that. There's a seam between two pieces of the hull, the side hull and the transom "wings", that's letting in a lot of water. We'll get that re caulked. There's also a small leak in the through bolt for the starboard IPS zinc, so that will get re caulked as well.

The water intrusion also showed up another issue. The aft bilge pump float switch has stopped working. The float switch tells the bilge pump when to start pumping, so it's pretty important. We're going to replace all the float switches - forward, mid, aft and engine room - with a more reliable "ball in a glass tube" version. The aft bilge doesn't remove all the water. It leaves about an inch of water when it's done, as the hull forms a shallow "v". I'm going to have a manually operated "dry bilge" pump installed which will allow me to remove the last few drops. It'll have a remote suction head on it that will also allow me to pick up pockets of water elsewhere in the bilge as well.

I wish the engine room was the only place for water leaks. No such luck. The window on starboard side of the helm and the hatch in the main cabin both leak, so they're going to be fixed as well. The helm seat window was re caulked on Thursday, a cheaper "let's try this first" approach than removing the window. So far, through two massive rainstorms, it's held up.

I can't deny it any longer. The batteries need to be replaced. We have 8 batteries in total, 5 house and 3 engine. All are size "31", which helps keep their weight down to a svelte 70 pounds. I'm going to replace the existing Deka wet cell with Deka AGM (absorbed glass matt), as AGM batteries seem to do better in a marine environment. Maintenance free, to boot! At $200 a pop, they're not cheap but with an expected life of 3 - 4 years turn out to be one of boating's cheaper maintenance issues. Less than a tank of gas, when all is said and done.

After much consideration, we've decided to keep Lucky after the trip and truck her back to San Francisco. We've learnt a lot about boating in the last 5 months and figure we'll make far more use of her than we had in the past. So looking further than this year, we've added a bunch of "nice-to-haves" to the list.

Location of lights from outside of the hull

The port light will be behind all these hoses and wires, just to the right of the discharge hose

The center light will sit right where the bilge pump is now. We'll move the bilge pump back and make room for it by tidying up the AC and watermaker raw water inlet hoses.

There's actually quite a bit of room for the starboard light. The engine exhaust doesn't go all the way back and is cool while the engine is running - an advantage of a wet exhaust.

Probably the least practical, but the most fun, are underwater lights. Three 50w halogens, on the transom, under the waterline pointing backwards. They'll illuminate fish or, in the murky waters of San Fransisco, just "look cool". They use the same HID bulbs in car headlights, so plenty of light. I must remember to talk to the electrician about putting in a timer switch as well as an "on-off" one. That way we could have them come on automatically when we're away from the boat!

One thing we've both noticed is that we need a pair of transom mounted cleats. When tying up to fixed docks, it's hard to keep the stern steady as well as make allowances for the tidal change. Most boaters use stern cleats and cross them, putting a line from the starboard dock to the port cleat (and vice versa). The extra length allows for tidal changes and the boat remains centered. Doing this with our existing gunwale mounted rear cleats causes the lines to rub over the upholstery. I've already had to make repairs once. So we'll have a couple added. Easy enough to do, though it might require additional reinforcement behind the hull. I'll let the yard guys make that call.

I'll be the first to admit that my boat work is not the prettiest. That includes the mounts I put on for the dingy. So we're having the guys centre up the main rails - yeah I got that wrong as well - and pretty it all up.

The bimini top I made is looking pretty rough as well. It's too heavy and has slowly started to come apart with all the wind and rain. So I'm having a light weight bimini top made. It'll still zipper into the slant zipper, but will use uprights in rod holders to support the rear corners. It should be a lot easier to put up and take down, as well.

While the canvas guy is working anyway, we've decided on something else. While visiting Sharon Ann in Warderick Wells, we noticed that they had put a removable "wall" behind the helm seat. This allowed the air conditioning to actually work and made the helm space usable during inclement weather. So we're adding one. It'll have rigid panes of Plexiglas, a door, and be easily removable. One of the specifications is that we must be able to store it in the aft cabin, so that will have implications on the width of the panels. I'm actually quite excited about this, as it'll allow us to use the boat all year round once we get back to San Francisco, even on those cold spring days.

To save on battery consumption, I'm replacing all the G4 halogen bulbs on Lucky with LED versions. Same Lumen output - 120 - but a fraction of the power consumption, 2.4w vs 10w. As the main cabin alone has 10 lights when on, this is going to add up! Going through Lucky I counted 37 lights down below and 11 over the helm. While I'm at it, I'm going to put blue bulbs in place of the red bulbs over the helm. This should match the underwater lights nicely. Lucky's getting bling!

So that's the list. So far. I'm sure the list will grow. I find it hard to say no to a good idea if it's been suggested. :-)

1 comment:

Louise said...

Wow, lots of work. Your blog is starting to sound like ours...