And so it starts--Project Water Heater!!!
24 April 2012 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
Cloudy day and clear night.
With the water heater now on board, it was time to tackle what we(or at least I) had been putting off for the last couple of years. Ripping up the floor and taking out the old one. Not a fun task but one that was long over due.
In the last year of so, the heater had developed a slow water leak. Not a good thing on a boat that has a finite amount of water on board. If the leak from the heater had gotten out of control, the water pump(always switched on) would have started pumping water and wouldn't have stopped till the tanks were empty. All that water would have poured out of the heater and flooded the bilge. The automatic bilge pump would have come on and out the water would go--gallon after gallon over board till all of it would be gone. Not a problem if we are attached to the marina, but once we leave here, we would have a bit of a problem. So, we started in last Sunday.
First the floor of the main salon had to be taken up. Now the people that built Zephyr did a great job. At least until it came to placing the water heater in an easily accessible location. Heaven forbid it be an easy out and in. We pulled up what ever boards we could and then had to chisel out the bungs(small disks of teak that cover screws) and then pry the holly/teak panel off the plywood base. Out came the bungs but we found that the holly/teak sole had been glued down. Out came the paint scraper to be used as a wedge to separate the holly/teak from the plywood. Everything had to be done slowly to minimize the damage to the beautiful floor panels. A couple of hours later, it was all off and the screws that held the plywood taken out. We found that the pilasters for the stairs were just left loose so they could be easily moved around a bit and didn't require detachment from the plywood. Out came the plywood and that part of the job was done.
I headed into Lautoka on Monday to pick up the fittings we were going to need to attach all the hoses to the new heater. One thing I've learned--Don't start a project until you have all the parts you need to complete it. If you're in the US, well that's a different matter. Out here in Fiji--you bet. Get everything you need--BEFORE you rip out anything!!
Today, we headed back into the bilge to get this baby out. Wires to the three pumps that were next to the heater were labeled and cut. As each hose was taken off a pump, it was tagged. As I was trying to get one of the hoses off the water heater, I put my foot down on the wooden panel that all the pumps were located on. Suddenly, it gave way sending it down into the base of the bilge along with my foot. Turns out that the wooden supports for the panel were simply nailed(very small nails) into the sides of the cavern. One good thing with that happening was that we could fit a 5 gallon bucket into the space to capture the 4 gallons of antifreeze that was about to pour out of two of the water lines that go into and out of the water heater. I'd already undone and allowed to drain the 10 gallons of water out of the heater when I pulled those hoses off. We ran the bilge pump every now and then to make sure what went in came back out and over board.
Once all this was done, we detached two of the copper diesel lines to make getting the heater out possible. Amazingly, we found all the brackets that were to keep the heater attached to the floor had rotted away and were just a pile of rusted metal. The heater was already loose. We slid it to the center of the boat and pulled it out dropping chunks of rusted metal all over the place. As you can see from the photo, the base of the heater was long since gone. It had given Zephyr 30 years of service but it was time for a change. Don't think too many boats can say that their water heater lasted that long.
Once I redid the supports for the panel that holds the pumps, I slow slid the new heater into place having to take off another diesel line. Guess what---it doesn't fit. It's too tall!!! The back end of the heater hits once of the support beams for the rest of the flooring in the main salon. Well shucks and darns!!! Foiled again!!!
So here's the plan for tomorrow. I'm going in with a jig saw(doesn't everyone carry one on their boat?) and carve out a notch on the support beam so the heater will fit. Not a big job but it's the only way this baby is going to fit. We also found that with this new taller heater, one of the diesel lines that I had undone, can't be reattached to it's fitting. I'll be placing a call to a refrigerator man tomorrow so he can come out and cut us a new line. Roll with the punches. We may have been down for a while but far from out. Where there is a problem, there is normally a solution. Sure wish I always thought that way. Sure would make my life a lot easier.
So here we sit. No water--both hot and cold but with the certainty that in a day or five, the new one will be in. Stay tuned for more of how to install a big water heater in a small space. Oh, the excitement!!!!