We are heading out for our annual cruise, and since it will be for an unknown amount of time, I decided to do some preventative maintenance on Fainleog. Hopefully it will prevent the usual shit-show (but I doubt it).
I’ve pretty much kept up with the usual stuff like engine zincs and batteries, and so I decided to dig deeper into things. First of all, I’ve always disliked the fact that there’s no way to see the masthead from the helm due to the bimini. So I decided to install a vinyl window.
I used just a standard sewing machine, which proved up to the task, although you have to pull the material through; the dogs aren’t powerful enough to move the thick fabric and 30mm vinyl.
It worked better than I expected.
It makes helming a lot easier being able to see where the wind is coming from. I had a quote pushing $200.00 for that! It cost me about $5 in material.
Emboldened by my first effort, I decided to try replacing the central window in my dodger; that piece was in very poor shape and the poor visibility could be an issue, especially when docking. It was quite a bit more difficult because there’s not that much room aboard for a big piece of vinyl and the whole dodger fabric, and following advice I read online, I decided to sew the new piece over the old. This is to keep the fabric in the proper position as you sew. It was tough getting the machine to go through so much material, and I often had to spin the machine by hand, especially getting it started. I think next time I will simply lay out the fabric and duct tape the vinyl in position, or I’ll probably be buying new belts or a motor for this machine.
Even with the old vinyl hold the fabric in place, it was still hard keeping everything aligned, and I had to redo one side. Next time I’ll save it for a house sit where I can spread it all out on a floor.
Once the new vinyl is double stitched, you cut out the old, crappy vinyl.
This is an example of the erosion on the old window.
And this is what the new one looks like. I used proper marine grade 30mm vinyl, and it cost me $15.00 for the vinyl and $7.00 for the proper thread. I’m happy.
Maybe I should have stopped there, but I was concerned about the auxiliary engine cooling system. The raw water pump impeller hadn’t been changed in a few years, the pump was leaking, and the heat exchanger looked pretty rough. I decided to replace the impeller (easy although expensive) and the exchanger with a spare I had (tough and awkward).
The geniuses at Westerbeke designed the heat exchanger so that you can get 3 out of 4 mounting nuts off without pulling the manifold. Thanks, boys. The manifold is heavy, awkward to get at, and the mounting nuts for it cannot be seen and must be approached from above the engine. It takes hours and is a hot, painful PITA!.
A box end wrench will just fit beside the rocker cover, turning the nut 1/16th of a turn at each stroke, and it’s so far in you can only just reach them. This is what Satan looks like once the manifold is pulled.
Getting at the ONE nut you can’t reach with the manifold on. Grrrrrr…
You can see why I was concerned. Although the heat exchanger works fine, you can see it is corroded pretty bad; the rubber end cap just can’t keep salt water from creeping out. I was afraid that it was going to let go one of these days.
There’s my replacement. It’s lightly used, but in far better shape, and instead of that silly rubber cap, it has a steel one bolted on with a rubber gasket.
Getting ready to mount the new exchanger on the manifold (which is a 30 lb cast iron SOB). This is where I screwed up. I didn’t have the proper gaskets, so I substituted a sealant that has always worked for me; not a silicon caulk but a never-dry type of case sealant. Like I said, it had always worked for me.
But not this time. after a spent the day doing this bolted it all up, added antifreeze, it started to leak. It was not a good day.
The next day I had to tear it all down again, and this time I used a special silicon formagasket designed for cooling systems. The second time it held fine. I then had to deal with an air lock after I started it, as it got too hot. Eventually, I had it purged.
That’s the thing with preventative maintenance: I really hate buggering with stuff that’s working, because there’s always something that’s not that could use some attention, but I would also like to do this work plugged in at a dock instead of in a storm on the Strait of Georgia. It can be a tough call sometimes.
Another crappy design, this time courtesy of Jabsco. You can see where the salt water has been leaking from this pump. Depsite what you might think, it’s not a bad seal. It’s the impeller that’s at fault.
And unfortunately, while most pumps this size use a replacement impeller costing around $30.00, this gold plated bugger costs almost $100.00.
And this is why: it has a brass ferrule that the seal rides on (and quickly destroys). The seal erodes a grove in the brass, and then it leaks. The only solution is to replace the impeller and seal. It’s not uncommon to have to replace this once a year or even more often. Not surprisingly, Jabsco has discontinued this pump.
I’ve tolerated a little dripping for a while now, but decided it was time to replace the thing, for the sake of the impeller, not the leak. That impeller’s been in there a couple of years now and should be replaced before a vane breaks. I think it started to drip a couple of months after I replaced it last time.
And while I was in there, I decided to install this in the raw water line. I go through engine zincs pretty quickly and it occurs to me there’s little sense in having the engine full of saltwater when it’s not being used. When I know Fainleog is going to be sitting awhile, I’ll drain the saltwater out and flush it with fresh.
We anchored off Ladysmith today, and since the ocean is so warm here, we decided to go for a swim. I put on some goggles and had a look at the prop, and to my dismay, discovered the zincs were gone. I’m going to have to replace it in-situ. Fortunately I don’t need a wetsuit and I have a spare aboard, but I don’t know if I can hold my breath long enough to replace the three screws that hold the zinc in place on the prop. I wonder if I could breathe through a water hose?
Alternatively I could put her against the grid in Comox, but I don’t know what days there’s enough depth; it’s a pretty shallow grid. I was surprised that the zincs were gone; since I started with a guppy anode, they’ve lasted much longer. Come to think of it, that anode looks pretty ugly too. Time to replace the whole batch, it seems. Even on holidays, the job carries on.
What it’s all about: fog off Sidney this morning.