Diesel Saga, Part II

The generator saga is still playing out and has been frustrating to say the least.  Some might think that a little retail therapy would be just what the doctor ordered.  Those people aren't buying diesel parts. 

As previously stated, we have far more time on our hands than money.  After much research, we found that the motor part of our Westerbeke generator was manufactured by Mitsubishi.  A couple of hours of conferring with my friend Google and I had a Mitsubishi manual in hand, and 50% in Japanese.  I spent a couple of hours looking at schematics in both the Westerbeke & Mitsubishi books and had two sets of parts lists.  Dealers selling the Mitsubishi parts were far cheaper than their name brand counterparts so we got parts on order.

After hours of searching I found one company that had all of the gaskets, etc. that we needed and could ship overnight.  That would give us plenty of time to work on the rebuild.  So I placed my order with Choo Choo Parts.com, hoped that all of my crosses came back accurate, and shipping was only $65.  I would pay almost anything to get my cockpit back, although I don’t know if it will ever be the same.

Promptly at 10:30 am on Tuesday the parts arrived.  Unfortunately we had not been told that they shipped or provided a tracking number, so about 2:30 pm I called the dealer.  It turns out they were shipped from a warehouse in Ohio and Choo Choo got screwed on the shipping cost, but he traced the package and told me that the marina had signed for them in the morning, they just hadn’t bothered to let us know that a UPS Red Morning Delivery package was there for us.  I guess nothing important gets shipped UPS overnight, silly me.

It appears that most of the parts that I ordered were correct, which is good.  The parts that were incorrect were not returnable.  Wednesday morning we had located a set of piston rings to replace the one that came in the wrong size.  Thanks to some oh so gentle prying and hammering by Mark we now needed three sets of rings at $70 each, oh and that will be $100 for overnight shipping. 

While we waited for the rings to arrive we spent the remainder of the day cleaning up the engine block and other components.  We needed to get anything done that can possibly be done while we wait.  Did I mention that we have a deadline?  We really want this generator rebuilt, installed and generating power by Saturday.  Without our GenSet we won’t be able to manage the power requirements of a three night anchor out. 

Friday morning the rings arrived, a perfect match from the Westerbeke dealer.  By 1:00 they were installed. It was now time to install the head gasket that we saved $60 on by going with the Mitsubishi part, too bad it didn't quite fit.  It was close, very close, so close that we decided to go ahead and make a couple modifications and use it for the weekend.  It was cheaper to go with what we had than to try to find one and have it shipped in.  With that puppy installed we were off and running on the remainder of the installation.  Everything was going great until we got to the exhaust manifold, the Mitsubishi gasket was close enough to use for the weekend but will need to be reordered too.  So much for saving a few bucks.


By 4:00 pm Friday the bulk of the parts were installed and it was time to bring the beast back into the belly of the boat.  A platform inside the cabin, a dock line on the boom with a 4 to one pulley and a control line to a winch and we were in business.  A couple more hours of installing the generator and we could get her started. 


Fast forward to where I sit writing this post.  We are anchored out for the weekend, it is Monday and we’ve had a great time.  And no, the Generator didn't start.  A very generous friend was kind enough to lend us his Honda 2000 for the weekend.  Tomorrow we’ll sail home and take up the task of getting the generator going again. 


That's us in the middle.

That’s Using Your Noodle!


In preparation for our upcoming weekend cruise I spent the day getting prepared.  Did I plan out our provisions?  Nope.  Did I replace the secondary bilge pump so that we would have a backup?  Not that either.  Today the most important thing we needed to get ready was our floaty toys.  I looked at all of the websites for our local big box stores to see what they had to offer.  While there were a ton of chair style floats, most seemed like they wouldn't last out the weekend, others were way too expensive so I decided to design my own.

We had some leftover Sunbrella from a previous project, so I decided to start there.  Next was the float, off to Walmart to grab the fattest noodles that I could find.  Back home, with measuring tape in hand, I measured the diameter of the noodle, added seam allowances and sat on the tape to estimate just how big I wanted to seat to be so that we would float at the proper height in the water.  I added all of these numbers together and came up with 70”, the theoretical perfect fabric length for our chairs.

Below are my pictures of the construction. 
1" Seam Allowance (1/2" + 1/2") On Long Edge

Long Edge Folded Over to 14 1/2" Mark 





Sailrite Hem Tape On the Edge Hemmed
To 4", Making it Easier To Position
at the 14 1/2" Mark
After a quick test I realized that the noodle doesn't sit at the top of the water, which I would have realized ahead of time had I thought about our noodle use from last summer.  That changed the dimension of the fabric for round two.  



Below is the drawing and stitching guide for the finished chair.


























The finished chair

Ziggy modeling the finished chair!



















And now back to our regularly scheduled boat maintenance!

Carpe Diesel


On a boat something is broken; you just don't know it yet.

After years of being alone Second Star was beginning to feel a little neglected.  In fact if this boat were a person she would be downright pissed.  We knew that there would be issues when we returned.  Despite having come in and tried to do preventative maintenance three to four times a year, and replacing bilge pumps twice a year, there is just no keeping up with everything when the boat sits for months at a time.  Four weeks out of fifty two just doesn't cut it. 

So when it came time to fire up the GenSet did we expect it to work on the first try?  Yep. Did it? Nope. Go figure. It cranked over but wouldn't catch. OK, no problem, like with any other engine ether will do the trick and she'll fire right up.  Good thought, totally wrong.  Turns out you never, and I mean never, put ether in a diesel engine.  It causes engine lock.  We confer with a friend that's a former diesel mechanic and find out while not good; but it isn't the end of the world.

After several hours of waiting and trying she finally began to turn over again, but again wouldn't catch.  But the captain thought that it sounded like it wanted to. He bled the injectors, confirmed there was fuel and did a few other small things and tried cranking again. It was turning over but he now felt it was trying to hit, it would start any minute.  Unfortunately that "hitting" sound was in fact something hitting, after a while it stuck.  Now this baby is good and seized  

Since we are made of more time than money El Capitan decided that we would attempt to rebuild this beast ourselves.  Day one was spent cleaning out the cooling system.  Sometime over the course of the previous three years salt crystals, or something resembling them, began building up inside the exhaust manifold and all of the corresponding hoses and valves. Not pretty and not sure why it happened, but after three hours of cleaning and carefully flushing it into a container, it appears to be all out.  

On to day two, the disassembly.  We spent the better part of five hours carefully labeling wires, taking pictures and removing all of the generator parts from the engine block.  This included the generator itself, the starter, the alternator, heat exchanger and any other part that isn’t going to be part of the rebuild.  With all of the parts installed the GenSet weighs in at about 450 pounds, there is no easy way to get that out of the boat.  With the parts removed the engine alone is roughly 250 lbs.  Still not easy, but certainly more do-able. 

Engine block on the left, everything else on the right.


Now we wait.  With any luck we will have a few strapping lads, or at least some still pretty strong older gentlemen, around in the next day or so to help with the heavy lifting.  We need to get this puppy out of the engine room and into the cockpit for the big work.  I’m praying that it’s not something too major or costly.