Spring Maintenance 2015
01 April 2015 | Whortonsville, NC
The winter of 2014 2015 was very harsh for the entire country. Although our Carolina winter was not as bad as other areas it was the coldest in my memory, and that is a long time. Judy works at the accounting office during tax season so we seldom get to go to the coast during the first three months of the year. That combined with the winter weather has kept us away since early January.
Our sailboat engine does not get enough use during one season to require an oil change or fuel filter change based on hours of operation. On the other hand, our engine is exposed to not only the harsh winter conditions but the hostile marine environment. Whether it needs it or not, I change the oil and filter as well as the two fuel filters every spring before the sailing season starts. I change the raw water pump impeller every other year, and this was the year. Also the upholstery is going to require cleaning this spring. I had been watching the weather for a window that would allow me at least a couple of rain free mild weather that would allow me to do the maintenance and bring the boat cushions home in an uncovered trailer.
Monday March 30, 2015
I was watching the local weather radar and waiting for a large rain squall pass the area. The forecast was good after the passage of the front. I left home a little after 9am and drove in the rain and drizzle all the way to Ensign Harbor. I was convinced that the forecasters were simply wrong. I noticed that the clouds were beginning to break up to the west and by the time I unloaded the car the sun came out and the weather was just beautiful.
Regular readers know that I am involved with amateur radio. I am now able to use my computer and special software to control my home amateur radio transmitter from the boat. It is called “Radio Over IP” (Internet Protocol). This was quite a breakthrough especially since I have never been able to get the boat and an HF amateur transmitter to work well together. As long as I have a good WIFI connection I can control my home radio from anywhere. I was able to perform the role of net control operator for my regular traffic net on Monday night.
I had a homemade frozen bean burrito for dinner and surfed the Internet for a while before turning in.
Tuesday March 31, 2015
I was up early and was able to check in to the morning traffic net using the Radio over IP technology. I started the maintenance project by connecting the portable oil pump to the ship’s battery and placing the tube down the dipstick tube. I started the pump and the oil started up the tube and into the reservoir. This is the way it is done since you can’t get under the engine to drain the oil. This process takes a while so as soon as I started the pump I proceeded to change the raw water impeller. Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law fame was with me all day. I had changed impellers on this boat at least 5 times and never had any trouble. This time the old impeller simply did not want to come off. I worked and worked and using every trick I could think of, I finally got it off. The new impeller refused to go on the shaft. After a close examination I found a burr on the end of the shaft. I cannot imagine how a burr got on the shaft but I had to go into town and buy a small file to take it off. The next problem occurred when I tried to put the lock ring back on the end of the shaft. After about an hour I resorted to the Internet for pointers. I found that the burr problem is not an isolated thing but I did not learn what caused it. One guy talked about removing the shaft which I had read was a bad idea. I figured I had nothing to lose so I pulled the shaft. With the shaft out of the pump the locking ring went on in a no time. When I tried to replace the shaft it would not go all the way in. This is probably why pulling the shaft is considered a bad idea. Anyway, in order to get past this particular obstacle I pulled the entire raw water pump off the engine. I didn’t see any extra parts fall out when I removed the pump. The potential problem here is that I did not have a new gasket. I replaced the pump and tightened the bolts and clamps and hoped for the best. What a day!
The next part of the project was replacing the water separator filter. I installed a new unit last year hoping it would be easier to change the filter cartridge. It was except that I could not get the lower part of the filter housing off the filter. I finally took it out to the wooden deck and held it down by pressing down hard with one hand and using a strap wrench in the other hand. It finally came loose. I replaced the oil filter and fuel filter then replaced the engine oil. I turned the ignition switch on to activate the electric fuel pump and went back below to prime the fuel pump. The built in manual pump on the new filter was not effective so I turned the switch off and installed a bulb pump that I had used for the old water separator filter. I turned the switch on again and finally got the fuel pump primed. I bled the fuel system at the filter and at the injectors. Now it was time to cross fingers, crank the diesel and hope for no leaks. The engine cranked the first time and ran for 15 or 20 minutes. A close examination of the engine revealed none of the leaks I expected either at the fuel filters, oil filter or the raw water pump. It’s a miracle!!
I had successfully spent about 6 hours on a 2 hour (tops) job. This is the way it usually works for me. I get very frustrated and am not a very nice person. Judy does not like to be there during annual maintenance. It took another hour to gather tools and materials and put them away. I headed for the shower to try to get rid of at least some of the diesel fuel smell. Dinner was another bean burrito with chips. I checked into my evening traffic net and the radio over IP system worked fine again.
When the net was over I realized how tired I was. It was only about 7:30 but I decided to take a quick nap. I woke up at 1am and took some Advil for my aches and pains returned to the V-Berth where I remained until morning.
Wednesday April 1, 2015
The radio over IP worked great again on the morning traffic net. I am getting used to using it. My only planned task for the day was to take the upholstered cushions off the boat and load them in my little trailer for cleaning at home. This was a bigger task than I had remembered. I had planned to eat breakfast at McDonalds in Grantsboro but by the time I got there they were not serving breakfast. I bought a cup of coffee and ate one of my snack bars as I headed inland. Lunch was at King’s in Kinston. I had the buffet which was quite good if you like eastern style barbeque.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. I had downloaded a recorded book for the trip. This makes driving alone more bearable. We will return to the boat as soon as Judy finishes her tax season gig. We need to do the spring boat cleaning. Hopefully the pollen will be off the pine trees by then. Maybe a short shakedown cruise would be in order when all the work is done.