02/15/2011, a Valentine Love Story
It may not exactly be how most couples envision spending Valentine's Day but what better gift is there to say "I Love you" than a working transmission? Call me a hopeless romantic, but the smell of diesel engine grime to a cruiser can be substituted for the smell of sweet perfume if it means being able to actually move our 55 thousand pound boat again!
It was a little disturbing to take our fresh water hose into "The Cave" with me and rinse out the transmission with water. Something just didn't seem right about putting the hose in the dip stick, turning on the fresh water flow, and then seeing fresh water flowing from the drain plug, but it needed to be done to rinse out any salt deposits. The promising thing is that when I first drained off the sea water from the transmission the water looked crystal clear and not like a rust soup. The flash light inspection into the dip stick seemed to show clean metal surfaces even still with a sheen of oil. So as I prepare to fly to Miami in the morning for the 5 day Miami boat show, the transmission is soaking in oil with the hopes of no permanent damage. I'll let it soak in oil and then continue with the process when I get back, but I'll be installing a new transmission oil heat exchanger, which I did verify had failed resulting in this "fun project".
|Cruising Mexico 2011||
02/13/2011, don't mix in a Ships Transmission!
All has been going great here in our Mexican home of San Blas, Nayarit Mexico.....but this afternoon we had a little mechanical issue...which is a nice way to say it.
We have been comfortably anchored in the San Blas Estuary for about 40 Days now and we went to start our engine today just to warm it up and make sure everything was ok. The engine starter wouldn't even "click", which is what happens when the engine isn't in Neutral. So I dove down in the engine compartment to see if there was a problem with the transmission wiring relay that verifies the engine is in neutral via a contact switch. Right away, I noticed that the tranny looked "wet and rusty" not how it looked the last time I looked at it and checked the transmission fluid. I also noticed rust streaks coming from the transmission fluid dip stick. Well, when I pulled out the dip stick, sea water came flowing out of the transmission! It appears that the transmission fluid heat exchanger had developed a leak and the sea water used for cooling had completely replaced the transmission oil.
In the worst case scenario, I will simply (easy to say) pull out the transmission and take it in for a rebuild and then reinstall it.
If the thought of this kind of afternoon makes your stomach hurt, then you had better not cast off your dock lines because it doesn't matter if your boat is new or 34 years old, you will have these types of afternoon surprises. The key to a successful cruise is in how you deal with them. Do you get angry and spread your frustration to the crew and fellow cruisers or do you put the floor boards back in place and take a trip into town with your just arrived friends for what I think is the best taco cart in Mexico? Well our friends on SV Just a Minute were climbing onto our boat just as I pulled the transmission dipstick and saw the water spout. Since we haven't seen them in a little over a month, the only logical thing to do was to spend some time catching-up with them and then heading off to the taco cart with their dog Rudy pulling Patrick through the streets of San Blas.
So tomorrow I will suck the sea water out and refill with transmission fluid and then fire her up and repeat this process 3-4 times. I know that the transmission heat exchanger is dead but the hope is that the transmission can be saved. If not, the world doesn't come to a complete end because where better to be stuck for repairs than in our Mexican home town of San Blas.
|Cruising Mexico 2011||
02/09/2011, Aka: My Honda Generator
Having been living at anchor for the last three seasons in Mexico if there is one thing I've learned, other than where the best taco stands are, it is that it pays to take care of your batteries. Once per month I equalize our roughly 900Amp hour battery bank, which involves slowly taking their voltage up from the normal float voltage of 14v to 16v while watching the battery acid bubble off hydrogen gas! In addition to the hydrogen gas, the sulfates are removed from the battery plates bringing the battery chemistry back to normal, allowing for a greater battery capacity. For boat spending lots of time in a marina, this is relatively simple if their battery charger has an equalize function, but for boats that rarely if ever find themselves tied to the dock with shore power, this is where our trusty Honda EU2000i comes into play for a 10 hour charge. Equalization can also be done on a long motoring trip by adjusting the output voltage of your alternator up or as I've done before by connecting a solar panel output directly to the battery bank (something I learned from boat Guru Nigel Calder), but the easiest way is to simply fire up the Honda and let the Xantrex battery charger slowly step-up the battery voltage while we go about our day.
Our 8 Trojan T-105 wet acid batteries are old school technology for sure, but they are also easy to maintain and not easy to damage by a bozo maneuver. Considering I'm a proud self-described cruising Bozo, that appeals to me, not to mention their lower price over the other types of batteries on the market for cruising boats.
We do have an 8KW genset aboard, but at a fuel usage rate of 0.5 gallons per hour, it's a much better choice to run the Honda for 10-12 hours for an equalization charge and burn about 1.5 gals of gas compared to the 5 gallons of diesel it would take with the large genset. True, I can make water, make water for showers and run the washing machine at the same time with the larger genset, but 10 hours is a LONG time to be listening to the diesel genset under the salon floor compared to the little Honda purring away on the bow. The final nail in the coffin for the diesel genset comes when it's time to change the oil. For the Honda, I just lift it up and pour out the oil and refill, a process that takes less than 5 minutes. However, as anyone who has ever changed the oil of a diesel engine on a boat will confirm, it easily takes more than 5 minutes to clean up the oil that spilled into the bilge! I don't sell Honda generators, but I also wouldn't think of living or cruising on a boat without one. Not to mention that the little Honda can power our watermaker to pump out 20 or even 30 gallons of drinking water per hour, or more importantly SHOWERING water per hour. Being fresh out of a nice long hot water shower myself, without having to be tied to a marina dock, take away my GPS and Chart plotter but don't mess with my Honda EU2000i Generator!
We are not alone in our Honda Love....our friends on SV KoKomo also love their Honda. They were recently anchored right next to us in the San Blas Estuary and here is a blog post they wrote about their Honda: SV KoKoMo Blog Link
|Cruising Mexico 2011||