I’m waiting for parts to reassemble my engine.  Not major parts, just gaskets, O-rings, seals – that sort of stuff. But I really can’t put it back together and stick it back into the hole without these essential, though minor, parts.

Meanwhile. . . I need to varnish stuff. So that’s what I’m doing. Not a lot of effort involved, just patience. The first item needs a bit of introduction. I built an anchor platform about 8 years ago, and used red oak, which has proven to be very strong. I’ve had trouble keeping a good, protective finish on it, though. The first finish I used was epoxy underneath 4-5 coats of varnish. Seems like this should have been good, but it failed much sooner than I thought it should have. I refinished it after several years and used only varnish, but didn’t religiously recoat twice a year, and didn’t consistently fix the nicks and flaws that inevitably gathered on its surface, due to the nature of its use. Finally this past winter, as the finish completely failed where the roller axle is mounted, that glued-up block of oak split, doubtless due to water intrusion and the freeze-thaw cycles.

              This is the original design

And here’s a photo of the winter’s damage:

If you look carefully just above the top of the roller, you can see a large crack in the wood, which runs right to the place where the axle is mounted.

So here’s my solution. I have acquired a cost-free stainless anchor roller (thanks again to the free-cycle bins at the near by marina), and it looks like it will work perfectly mounted on the anchor platform. I cut off the damaged old roller and mounting, and relieved all the edges.

I’ve drilled the mounting holes for the new roller plate, and today I finished the final coat of vanish. 5 in all.

And this is (roughly) how the new roller will mount onto the old platform.

All my varnish items here on one table getting “the business.”

I think what has struck me most about this whole varnish routine this spring is how much bugs seem to love vanish. I think wet, sticky varnish is a bug magnet.

 

 

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My “new” engine has been installed for 12 years now. Doesn’t seem possible! I’ve accumulated about 1000 hours of run time, and it’s time to do some regular things to it. The urgency of this has conveniently been occasioned by a persistent oil leak. I just haven’t been able to find it. I cleaned the oil in the bilge from its leaking after haul out last fall. Thought I had found the leak to be a simple dip stick ajar in the hole. But a test run of the new propeller has proved that the leak is still there. After looking up and down, far and near, and all over the engine, I have come up with nothing. . . until today (I think).  Actually, I didn’t come up with it, my neighbor the professional boat service tech noticed it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. . .

Being unable to find the leak, I determined that it must be the rear main seal, and to service that, the engine had to come off the beds and on to the cabin sole. I disconnected the engine on Monday. Today I moved it on to the cabin sole, separated the engine and transmission, removed the clutch plate and flywheel – – and found no oil leak. There was a little oily (almost dry) dust from the clutch at the bottom of the bell housing. No oil. I found a little more oil around a couple of banjo fittings that attach an oil transport tube that runs port to starboard. Didn’t seem like enough oil, though. Finally, my neighbor Mike came home from work and came over to check my progress. He was looking around the engine, and pointed out (among other items of service that needed doing) that my oil breather line had come loose from the intake. That’s a line that vents positive crankcase pressure from the valve cover. Ah. . . I’m betting that’s the source. Those things can spew oil everywhere, and that would certainly account for the amount of oil (and the location) that I’ve found in the bilge. It hasn’t been lots of oil, but enough to leave me with a black, grimy bilge. I am so relieved!

So while the engine is on the sole, I’ll do a few more things that are harder to do with it installed: I’ll completely service the cooling system, and boil out the heat exchanger. I’ve got a new exhaust elbow to install – it’s time. These things have a limited life span, and it’s best to be ahead of a breakdown in this case. I’ll also adjust the valves and get a new seal for the valve cover (of course). And. . . I’m going to put a couple hose clamps on that breather line!

Sorry about lack of photos this time. I’ll catch up on images tomorrow.

We traveled to South Korea for the last half of April and spent two weeks with my daughter, son-in-law, and their kids. So while the yard was unable to launch us in early April (we were blocked in by other boats) we decided to wait until we got home. We arrived home on Thursday 2 May, and Cay of Sea was launched the next morning.

                     Hangin’ in the the slings

 

My artist-wife’s interpretation of the launch. That’s me in the blue shirt (what, didn’t recognize me?).

 

                           Down in the water

I scrambled on board to check for leaks as she hung in the slings. All’s well (after a super quick adjustment of the stuffing box), and off we go to test the new prop.

First impressions of the new prop: lots of speed for a little rpm, and a lot more torque than the two-blade prop provided (although it wasn’t bad). But . . . I’ll have to have the pitch adjusted (decreased). I can achieve hull speed at 3200 rpm, but the engine is rated to rev at 3600. That means the engine works a bit too hard, although I’m not getting any black smoke at any rpm, which is good news. So there’s another date with the travel lift in the near future.

Two days ago, I spent a couple of hours cleaning the interior – almost done with the visible stuff.  I’ve still got the quarter berth to empty and clean. Then I want to go through all the lockers and clean and reorganize.

Because I needed an emergency haul-out last fall, I didn’t get a chance to do the normal fall maintenance, so I still need to change the oil. I’m going to change out the transmission oil this time too, and adjust the intake/exhaust valves, plus drain and refill the “fresh water” cooling circuit. Then I start on renewing some of the varnish, especially anchor platform, as the finish has completely failed on it. Last year I acquired a 50-foot length of anchor chain, which is more than twice has much as is currently on the rode, so I’ll install that as well.

Finally, I’ve included a page from Ruth’s travel journal. In particular, the last day of the trip when we were on the plane for 12 hours.  I think you will enjoy it.

We couldn’t sit next to each other, and we were in the middle seats of the middle row. I sat directly behind her. All told, it was a 28-hour travel day.

So I’m done for now. All that remains is to launch, then begin the regular spring rounds of cleaning, varnishing, cleaning, rearranging, cleaning, sail installation, cleaning. . .  you get the idea.

Prop and Shaft – installation is finished with minimum of drama and back pain. Shaft and coupling went back together easily, and I’m satisfied with the fit and security of all the connections. When I uninstalled the engine six years ago for engine bed repair, I reassembled the coupling with waterproof grease. That was a good decision, as now the coupling comes apart with no struggle, and the bolts turn easily – no horrible corrosion to deal with. Reassembly this time was done with the same grease, all went smoothly.  Mating the shaft with the coupling and key can be difficult, but with the grease it slides right together with no problem. The shaft is then secured with the provided set screw perpendicular to the shaft, and the split coupling receiver that tightens the collar with bolts and nuts. I then checked the play in the cutlass bearing (can’t really do that without attaching the shaft to engine) – there was none, which is a good thing, because replacing that would have been a struggle.

This is an older photo of the coupling, but in it you can see the collar bolt holes and the set screw hole.

New Prop – I mated the prop to the shaft taper with lapping compound, which is done by working the wheel left and right on the shaft until it feels seated. I cleaned up the surfaces, then applied grease again, fit the key into the key way, and spun the shaft nuts into place, tightening them down with the same wrenches I use to adjust the stuffing box. That done, I installed a new split pin. Next item was to apply Lanocote to the prop. This is my first time using it, and it’s interesting stuff. Made primarily of lanolin and something else that’s really viscous and sticky, you have to heat up the surface of the prop apply it. I used a heat gun on the (50-degree day) I applied it. I also had to heat up the container of Lanocote to get it soft enough to apply. It cures/cools quickly, so I had to keep heating up the prop and the Lanocote until all the surface was covered. It leaves a pretty thick, tacky surface on the prop which prevents (discourages?) barnacle growth. I also fitted a new shaft zinc.

New three blade wheel installed.

Finally, I washed and waxed the topsides, shear and boot stripes. I made a new cleaning discovery: Purple Power (degreaser sold by Walmart and other outlets) does an amazing job of removing marks and even diesel soot from the top sides. I like it better than using On-and-Off, which is an acid-based remover of some sort. It seems less toxic to skin (though I still used gloves), and certainly doesn’t smell as bad. Maybe it didn’t remove the soot quite as quickly, but was certainly effective.

Shiny, clean topsides

I began the interior clean up, but stopped as I didn’t have a ready water source, or easy access to storage of the boat cover, and other bulky items which are on board temporarily (extra tools, heater, etc.). All of that can come off when the boat is pier-side and ladders aren’t involved. For now, the interior is a disaster area, probably qualifying for government resources.

I hate this stage of the spring recommissioning. What a mess.

I guess the post title is a misnomer. It’s more like spring projects. I haven’t done too much this winter, although I have poked around the engine compartment a good bit, and I determined a couple things related to the cooling pumps on my 2gm20f.

First, my neighbor, who is a certified boat tech, had led me to believe that both pumps were on the way out. My inspection seems to indicate otherwise. His opinion is based on the presence of weeping evidence from the weep hole on the bottom side of each pulley assembly. I, on the other hand, have done a more thorough inspection. Having removed the raw water pump, I determined that there is no problem with the pump. I can see very little evidence of leaking, and the bearing has absolutely no play in it. I carefully inspected the coolant circulation pump as well.  Again, I seen no evidence of leakage, and the bearing is in great shape. So I’m not replacing these pumps. Never had a cooling problem, never lost any appreciable amount of coolant.

Sometimes the “experts” are wrong. To be fair, he works on boats that cost deep into six figures, owned by people who never blink about the cost of maintenance or repairs. If there is a hint of trouble, just replace it. I don’t have the financial luxury of replacing stuff just because there might be evidence of a problem discovered by a 90 second inspection. I’m not replacing those pumps.

Second, I haven’t found my oil leak yet. There has been no dripping oil since I’ve hauled the boat, but of course, the engine hasn’t run during that time either. If it’s a main seal, it likely won’t drip without having the engine running. I’ll have to wait and see on that one. If I need to, I can pull the engine out off the beds while it’s in the water and change the seal then. Only takes about a day or so to do that.

Third, I’ve decided to reuse my old prop shaft that I replaced in 2016 (linked here ). I read up about the reason prop shafts are replaced (should have done this 3 years ago instead of just assuming). Doesn’t seem to be much risk of shearing the shaft at a place where there is pitting. The main problem with the corrosion is that the un-smooth finish can disturb seals and shorten the life of cutlass bearings. I definitely haven’t had that problem. So back in it goes. Yesterday I cleaned up the shaft, inspected the coupling and packing nut, and got it all ready to install. I’ll probably do that tomorrow, as we’ve got a stretch of nice weather ahead of us.

Reassembled shaft and coupling. I was concerned that the coupling would need to be replaced because the key had been sheared. It was fine after a little dressing with a file.

The high-quality Buck Algonquin shaft log hose is still in perfect condition.

Cleaned up stuffing box and hose reassembled.

And here’s the assembly ready to go into the boat. Of course, the coupling has to come off the shaft and be slotted through the shaft log, then coupling reattached to the end of the shaft. Not sure where those black bands came from. A glitch in the photo upload, I guess.

The prop – I still have the old prop from before I repowered 12 years ago. If I recall correctly, it allowed the engine to rev 400-600 rpm too high. I got another prop second-hand, that was amazingly close to the right dimensions, and brought the rpms into an acceptable range. Of course, that prop is now somewhere on the bottom of the bay. So I’ve been researching props a good bit. I’ve used the prop calculator on boatdiesel.com a number of times, sometimes with differing results (I could have sworn I entered in all the correct information each time. . .). I visited with a prop expert near me, and learned some interesting things. First, it is impossible to cover all the variables for calculating a prop simply by using an online tool like that.  You can get near the ball park.  Notice I didn’t say in the ball park, I said near. Second, having a base line from which to calculate a prop size is pretty important, and I have that with the old prop. Seems like I can get pretty close to the right size and pitch by knowing the error margin of the old prop. Fortunately, this shop (digitalpropshop.com) has prop on consignment for a very good price. This is a three-blade wheel, vs the two-blade wheel I had before. Definitely not going to do any racing now, but I’m eager to see how the new prop performs compared to the old. He said it would be better balanced (less vibration) just by virtue of being a three-blade wheel.

And that’s it for now.  I’ll keep you posted.

Although I haven’t posted in a while, I thought some of you would like an update, and a current-status report.

My last sail of the year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I was sailing alone. 5 miles out into the bay I came about for the return leg, and apparently snagged a crab pot warp with my rudder.  After sailing slowly for a while, I attempted to clear the line from my rudder, but instead managed to foul the prop with a “thunk.”  After that I had no drive to the prop. Later inspection revealed that I had lost the prop and shaft when the coupling/shaft key sheared.  Although there are many more details to relate (things I’d be happier to forget), I got towed into my boat yard travel lift slip by TowBoatUS and I was very fortunate that my friend the manager was still there. He lifted the boat out immediately so there was no more danger of sinking through an empty shaft log (I had stuffed a rag into the hole), and there she sat for the Thanksgiving weekend. I had to have her moved on Monday to a boatyard next door (the yard I’ve been using for 12 years has changed their haul-out policy as a result of a change in ownership). There was no problem though, and the move was made smoothly.

Now I’m in the position of again replacing the prop shaft – the one I lost was only two years old.  In addition, I need to find a prop that will work – easier said than done, if you don’t want to also pledge you first-born as part of the purchase price. Sailboat props are absurdly expensive if you buy them new. I’ll be looking for used.  Fortunately, I still have the old shaft which I can use as a template for the machinist.

I’ve also been leaking oil – not much, but enough to make a mess. This started before I lost the prop shaft.  I haven’t found the leak, but think it could be the rear main seal.  It’s hard to tell because there is no leak while the engine isn’t running. On the other hand, I discovered the dip stick partially out of the hole when I was looking for the problem – oil could have easily been splashed past the place where the stick normally seals against the block. Just not sure. . .  Wish I could find out, because now would be the perfect time to replace that seal, but it’s not something I want to do unless I’m reasonably sure that it’s the source of the leak.

I also need to replace both cooling pumps – raw water and circulator – I know for sure they are leaking – have been for years. Now’s the time.

So I’m looking forward to some quality time crouched in front of my engine this winter-spring. Nobody ever said owning a sailboat was cheap, and I’m here to verify that fact. More posts and photos to come.

 

After 8 years of pretty much continuous use, I needed to strip and revarnish the drop boards. I’ve repaired nicks, dings, chips and breaks in the finish up to now, but there have developed several dark spots under compromised varnish that are too extensive to repair.  The boards are red oak, which is a strong, heavy material that looks beautiful under varnish.  The drawback with this wood is that it is prone to rot, which means any break in the protective finish needs to be repaired right away, or deep dark stains result, followed by deterioration.

The middle board has two vents built into it for fresh air movement.  With the forward hatch open an inch or so and the vents in the middle drop board, I never have any problem with mold/mildew through the sailing season, and not much of a problem during the winter when the cover is on.  However, where the vents are epoxied into the board has been a problem area, and it’s been difficult to keep them sealed from the weather. Aside from chips and wear spots on the upper and lower boards, the middle board in the vent area is affected the most.

I spent several hours out of two days with chemical stripper and a scraper, only to remember a little later that a heat gun would have done a more efficient job. The heat gun is not the tool for the epoxy-glued vents. Heat would weaken the glue bond and I’d have more problems, so regardless I would have needed to use the chemical stripper on the middle board.

It’s a messy process. The only way I could do this at the pier was because it was a windless day, and I could collect all the varnish shavings.

There were many, many coats of varnish to remove. 16 or 20, probably.  This is because I refresh the finish at least once each year, often twice. It’s not really a lot of labor to refresh the varnish – really, just a light sanding with fine sand paper, wipe down with mineral spirits, and then a quick coat of new vanish thinned 10 to 15% with mineral spirits or paint thinner. But it does build up and begin to look bad after years of refresher coats, and needs to be all removed. An important tool for this job is a paint scraper (or two) with a mill file handy to sharped the blade every so often. It is surprising how tough the varnish layers really are. They were hard to remove.

The louvers in the vents, as you can imagine, were the most tedious to prepare. I used the scraper and several applications of stripper, working on both sides of the board. After that, I wrapped sandpaper around a paint stir and sanded all of the interior surfaces of the louvers.

It looks most of the way stripped here, but it’s actually only about half done. Two or three more applications of stripper were needed to get most of the varnish off.

This board is finally done, and I have also bleached it to remove any water stains that stripper didn’t get.

I used oxalic acid to get any dark stains out of the wood, followed by a neutralizer (baking soda in water). I discovered a few years ago, that if the acid isn’t thoroughly neutralized – not just rinsed with water – that the finish would turn milky underneath the varnish after some time in the sun.

The vents are taped off so that I can fill the seams between the board and vents with thickened epoxy. The sanding process excavated some of the original expoy. This is also where the finish failed, and I want to ensure that the crevices are completely filled and sealed.

First sealer coat of varnish applied. Not very shiny yet, but protected against the weather until I can add additional coats.

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