Update Friday through Monday
22 July 2019 | Marina Taina
William Ennis | Pleasant!
Blog 22 July 2019
17 34.91S:149 37.16W
Update Friday through Monday
It's been work for these days, some successful and satisfying and some not. Friday, Adrian finished some beautiful work on the angle steel that we'll use as mounts for the motor. The pieces are custom cut to fit each stringer's dimensions, and the work is superb. Adrian is a skilled craftsman with an angle grinder. When they fit to his satisfaction, he ran lag bolts through them and into the stringers, although when we're satisfied that alignment is possible, we'll use through-bolts in the stringers and lags where we must. The tops of the stringers will be epoxy-coated.
Since the steel is so much thicker than he had planned, we're still in peril for engine alignment, but we hope for the best. We had removed 30mm of wood and fiberglass, but the steel is 12.7mm by itself. Yikes! That leaves a bit over 17mm to play with. New epoxy will take some of that, but still we should be within the range, or so we hope.
Monday, we will place the engine on the stringers and try for that so-far-elusive alignment. If we are successful, we'll mark the angle steel where the holes for the motor mounts will be placed and remove the engine...again, but for the last time. We'll drill the holes and tap them for the motor mount bolts and replace the damned engine. Once it's in place, we can move on. At that point, it's a matter of attaching hoses and such, as I mentioned.
Saturday For reasons known only to themselves, some previous owner of Wings split the fuel return line into two lines. Conni and I, after great deliberation and effort, accompanied by a lot of 35-year-old grime, ran a single piece of new neoprene fuel line for a return hose and removed both of the old copper tubes. It was grimy, dirty, NASTY work!
In the cabinet where we keep the Racor primary filter, there's an electric fuel pump to help with priming (that is, removing all of the air in the fuel system), but someone installed a separate bypass hose around the pump and a selector valve, even though all fuel pumps like this are "pass through". With some effort, I removed all of that mess and streamlined the fuel system so fuel come from the tank, through the pump, and into the primary fuel filter. Our fuel system is now much more up-to-date and streamlined and we hope that Adrain thinks so, too. Streamlining the return fuel manifold was the last task to complete and the two fuel return lines meant the two return lines were joined at the manifold with a "T" fitting and that fitting needed to be removed so that only a single hose barb remained for our single return new return line. The manifold is original, 35-years old, and I couldn't disassemble it. I hope that Adrian can disassemble it, or that we can buy parts to replace it. 5/16" fuel line is 0.3125" and 8mm fuel line is 0.315": differing by 0.002", so it might be possible for us to simply buy replacement parts here. Second choice is to simply connect the fuel return line from the engine to the return line leading to the port tank and run off of that system for the season. I'll cart home the damned manifold and rebuild it there. Conni thinks that there might be a clogged fuel line from the starboard tank, so we've decided to run from port. It's an inelegant solution but it will work.
Yesterday, I figured out the bilge pump wiring and determined how to make our automatic function operate. I can't install the thing until I know where the engine will be and how the hoses will be run, but then I'll re-wire everything and get that pump working. The bilge pump manual operation has always worked but not the automatic. No doubt it was a wiring disfunction due to old wires somewhere, but I'll remove them and start anew.
Conni and I also measured the length of new exhaust hose that we'll need. I re-routed the engine ground as I could. We also found the route used to run the instrument panel wiring harness, so perhaps we can use it as a "messenger" to pull through the new one. We also figured out the hose routes for the hot coolant used for heating our pressure water and the little cabin heater. In Beta engine speak, that system (using engine heat to heat water and warm the cabin) is called a "calorifier" and we ordered taps from the engine coolant system to make sure that we could get hot water when the engine runs. We've got to buy that hose, too.
We had a nice meal out last night at the Pink Coconut. Conni had Poisson Cru, raw fish in coconut milk and the national dish. I had a rib eye steak and fries, a bit too rare for me, but tasty nonetheless. It was our anniversary so a true occasion.
So, tomorrow is the big reveal. With luck, we'll be ready to bolt the engine into place and be on the last few tasks. With no luck, we'll have to start over on the stringers, removing more material. I hope for the former!
Monday 22 July
I tried to upload yesterday's blog but the Wifi system at the office was down, a very common occurrance.
The Big Reveal revealed that we were still too high and need yet more destruction. Conni and I were almost in tears about it: another many days on this fucking stringer task!
After some consolation with Adrian, it may be that the problem is just in a few places and that we don't need to remove material from the entire stringer top. Gabriel and I are working on that idea, removing material from the aft ends of the two strings and the high points, only. We'll work until lunch and then have Adrian make a judgment. If...If it is sufficient, we'll move the engine onto the stringers...again and continue on.
That judgement was that we've got to remove more material. When Adrian returned, he told me that Gabriel and I had to remove ANOTHER 20mm. He said that the alignment looked the same as it did without our days of work! With the previous 30, that's 50mm or 2 inches! When he departed, Gabriel and I decided to do what we had decided not to do: use the grinder in the boat. It makes a holy mess, as you can well imagine, but it's fast and the disks cuts even old fiberglass as if it's butter. Lastly, it can make a horizontal cut, not something that's possible with the SawzAll because of its length. With small disks, we couldn't cut very deeply, but we could cut through a layer of fiberglass and some wood. When it's grinding, it makes clouds of extremely fine fiberglass dust and clouds of burning wood smoke. I am spraying water constantly to both cool things and try and control the dust, but it doesn't seem enough.
Conni stayed in the cockpit, reading, since she would have been crazed by the terrible mess that we're making I closed the door forward and stuffed cloth under it, as well as covered the vents. I did the same for the door into the aft berth, hoping to quarantine the mess in the main cabin.
The strong breeze today was blowing from the stern, so it blew directly into the cabin through the companionway. With the forward and aft berth closed, the wind blew in and then upward through the main hatch. Since that was fully open because the engine was hanging there, we had a nice flow-through that did reduce the mess somewhat. Still, there's sizable coating on everything in the main cabin. Conni and I decided that the cleanup was worth the faster work.
Gabriel keeps asking if it looks OK, if we've removed enough material. I keep replying, "No, 20mm more!" At this moment, it's like a bad dream that won't be solved.
We've done what we can for today. Conni and are cleaning as much mayhem as we can, realizing that whatever we do will have to be repeated later. Adrian will appear tomorrow morning and determine the next step. Gabriel and I carved down to the hull, so there's no more to be done. If the engine/prop alignment doesn't work, we'll have to go to Plan B, whatever that is.
Moving on the Project 17-18 July
18 July 2019 | Marina Taina
William Ennis | Cool, very pleasant
17 July Gabriel, our Argentinian mechanic's helper, appeared at 0800 today. We had both batteries for the Makita saw fully charged but it took only 30 minutes to complete the task and the starboard stringer has been successfully cut down by 30mm. Adrian decided that the metal for the engine support needed another 10mm of clearance lower than the 20mm, so we had to reduce both sides a bit. The port side, we reduced from 20mm to 30mm, and we started at the 30mm depth on the starboard stringer: a much faster process.
Fiberglass particles get into your skin and itch like crazy. My hands and arms are almost gleaming with fiberglass threads so it's a bit irritating. Bathing helps but it'll take a few days to rid myself of them. Even Conni's hands are itching and she was just exposed to the stuff in the air!
The afternoon was dedicated to cleanup and bilge pump preparation.
18 July Adrain arrived at 0800 today and said that our work on the stringer was satisfactory. On our new Beta engine, the oil pan bolt has been replaced with an elbow fitting the allows the oil to be removed with a pump: very convenient. I had asked Adrain if a way existed for me to do that same for the transmission oil, and after a moment's consideration, he said that a similar fitting replacement for the transmission that connected to the oil-removal pump with a "T" fitting would allow both oils to be removed. I love it! He sent us on an errand to buy this fitting, providing some names of companies that might have the fitting. It was all to no avail. Everyplace we tried either didn't have it or was closed. We actually ran into Adrian as we walked in the area looking for a likely company to try, and he said that Polynesian companies did not respond to phone calls and that only way to determine if they had a part was to visit. Crazy!
Since there was nothing for us to do, we decided to use the trip into town for some sight-seeing. Since we've been in-country for so long, we have some favorite restaurants, and Conni pushed for La Oasis, a small, open-air place with fine food and great location. We visited the Cathedral of Papeete, the main Catholic church in town, started in the 1840 and owned by the government. I posted some photos of the inside.
The official government assembly building has been off-limits for us and we've only seen the outside, but we were fortunate to be near a local who told us that we could enter through a certain gate in the surrounding fence, so we did. There were labeled examples of rare plants from all over the country. In the back was the Queen's Garden and Pool, so named for Queen Pomare iV, who accepted the crown as a teen, then ended by being a good queen, protecting her country from French and English intrusion. Unfortunately, her son, Pomare V gave the country to France, preferring to drink than reign.
After walking what seemed miles, we finally found a bus stop for our direction of travel. Lo and behold, when we arrived at the marina, we ran into Adrian! Conni continued on to a store run and I went with Adrian to fetch the steel for motor mounts. Since he has no car, we took a taxi and had to wait for an hour while they laboriously cut the steel with a 5mm cutting wheel. Jeez, too much metal to remove with such a wide blade! The angle iron is 5mm thick and at least 4X4 inches on each side. It's big, heavy stuff and hard to manage. Still, when we epoxy and bolt it into place, the engine will be well-connected to the stringers. Tomorrow, we'll deal with epoxy and getting the angle iron ready to set into place. Closer and closer.
I also posted photos of the lovely but fragile coral communities growing on the vertical sides of the quay. Not on the more deeply submerged legs, but within a meter of the surface. Coral experts would quickly identify the species, I'm sure, but I can't. The same is true of the many fish species, too. Other than the presence of living, growing coral, a sad rarity these days, is that I shot the photos vertically downward along the side of the quay. The resulting photos look like they've been taken horizontally on a horizontal bottom since there are no visual clues that inform the viewer they're vertical. In a marine world, neither the fish nor the coral care that the surface isn't horizontal. It's the presence of these many communities along the quay that has prevented us from pumping overboard any of the gallons of oily bilge wash water. Every time we step between boat and quay, we notice and admire the great beauty so close, going about its business of survival, a world unto itself. Coral provides shelter and food to small fish, and they, in their turn, provide food for larger fish. And so the community grows.
16 July 2019 | Marina Taina
William Ennis | Hot
Adrian didn't show today since had requested that he provide an up-to-date bill for us. He's been working for two weeks, sometimes with helpers, some time not, and we had no idea how much we owed him, so he was holed up on his boat adding the hours and supplies.
Gabriel did arrive at 8 and he and I worked with the new saw for a few hours, then with my oscillating saw, finally with a hand chisel and hammer. At last, we had the port-side stringer complete! Hurray! We had completed in 2.5 hours work that would have taken me days. With any luck, we'll be able to compete the starboard side more quickly since we know a process.
Gabriel returned by 1300 hours after lunch and we began work again. By 1530, we had removed the wood and metal backing plates for the aft starboard stringer and had cut most of the forward section as well. Our main stumbling block was battery power, interestingly. We had a good rapid charger but ran out of power before the next battery could be recharged. When we had exhausted both batteries, we called it a day.
We seem to have overcome this hurdle and are back on track. We got Adrian paid, the stringers are almost done, and our end is in sight....assuming that we have no more surprises.
Tomorrow, we buy steel angle and shape it with Adrian's grinder to fit. We'll epoxy them to the stringers. When we place the engine onto the new bed, we'll mark holes for the new engine mounts, drill and tap the holes, and mount the engine. After that, it's replacing hoses, and assorted final engine connection tasks.
I posted some photos and tomorrow will post a few about the progress we've made.
15 July 2019 | Marina Taina
William Ennis | Very hot
Adrian dropped by this morning, after I had been working for an hour or so. I will post some photos of the work so far, but you'll admit that it's not much in comparison to what needs to be done.
The engine is too high, higher than the propeller shaft, so alignment between the two can't be done. Last year, we paid Adrian's assistant to fly to Raiatea and take all of the critical measurements needed to fabricate a set of motor mounts that would eliminate this kind of problem. Those measurements were sent to Beta for fabrication. Were the measurements wrong? Did Beta fabricate incorrect mounts?
It just doesn't matter at this point. The problem is on top of us and we've got to get on with things. After discussing things with Adrian, we've decided to buy a cordless Makita "Saws-All", a battery-powered saw that will make the work move much more quickly. We hope that we can get the work done, get the bed made with metal and more epoxy resin and begin to complete the task. Whatever the actual nature of the reason is, we've got to move.
For those tool-lovers out there, get this: I bought a Makita LXT-SPT, 18V reciprocal saw. The price was US$350, very high. The crazy part is that the battery and charger were another US$100 each! I bought both metal blade and wood blades for the saw, and the total was in the US$630 range. Holy smokes!
We took the bus into town, US$2 for each of us. It was a nice, new air conditioned bus, very comfortable. We were dropped in downtown Papeete, an area that we knew well, and had no trouble finding the store, an Ace Hardware, of all places, owned by Sin Tung Hung (known by its initials, STH). I've posted a funny photo of the nice guy who helped us.
We'll begin anew tomorrow. Wish us luck.
Here's where we stand.
12 July 2019 | Marina Taina
William Ennis | Well, hot...
We found that the vertical alignment of the engine and prop shaft/coupling was off by 10 mm: that is, the engine is 10mm higher than the center of the prop shaft, and the with the shaft centered in the stern tube and the motor mounts all adjusted as low as possible. We had lowered all four motor mounts as far as we could and still couldn't reduce the difference. We are forced to cut into the stringers (the large wood, epoxy-covered engine supports) to lower the engine since we can't accomplish it with the motor mounts. We decided to add another 10mm to that distance to ensure that we'd have enough play, so we'll remove enough material from the stringer to reduce the engine level by 20mm: a bit more than 3/4-inch. Back to the drawing board...
We removed the engine, with great care, and it's sitting/hanging in the salon. Part of the weight is on some 2X4s we bought and cut, and part is supported by the chain hoist still hanging from the open overhead hatch. We're simply moving too much to trust the 2X4s to be stable, so we've been forced to leave the chain hoist in place. Damn! If it begins to rain, we'll have to pull a tarp over the overhead hatch.
On Sunday, I'll begin the laborious process of removing 20mm=2cm=0.79 inches: a bit more than 3/4 inches. I've had experience with this kind of thing on this boat, and the epoxy that we have is "well cured", shall we say. The little oscillating saw will have a tough time, so I might resort to drilling a series of holes along the cut line to remove most of the epoxy, then using the saw. I'll liberally dribble water on the saw blade to keep it cool and to turn the epoxy dust into mud rather than a white film on EVERYTHING in the boat.
This is a very depressing finding so far into the process, but not unusual, I guess. It's just another hurdle of money and time. We'll get there.
We ended that frustrating day with a "Rock the Dock" party on the dock near us. It was great fun to be among so many cruisers from all over the world. Steve, from Liward, and his wife, hosted the party and Steve provided great oldies on his guitar, accompanied by a local musician, Tanya, who contributed guitar ukulele, and a great voice. Conni and I danced and sang along, and interestingly, the non-US/Canadian cruisers also knew all of the music.
Progress from 10-11 July
11 July 2019 | Marina Taina
William Ennis | Very hot
10 July: Wednesday is Adrian's boat watch day and he spends the day going from boat to boat and providing housekeeping chores: we have the day off. Between the heat and the long days of work, it's exhausting when it's day after day, so it's nice to have a day with no scheduled work.
We met Dave and Liska from S/V Vagabon (sic) (home port Seattle) a week ago as they were walking the docks one night. They made the crossing from Puerto Vallarta to Nuku Hiva just this season and were plagued with bad equipment failures that soured their willingness to continue: a common end to many voyages. They decided to sell their Island Packet 34 and head home, so we spent a few hours last evening with them, consuming a bottle of champaign that they'd earmarked for a successful crossing celebration. They said that now it'll celebrate the hopes for a successful boat sale, and we hope that they are. They're very nice people and each group took to the other quickly. Dave, a nurse practitioner by trade, had worked in Alaska for various native corporations and oil companies for many years so was drawn to our "Anchorage, Alaska" home port emblazoned on our stern. He has some terribly funny but poignant stories to tell about being the medical person in many Alaskan bush communities.
The rest of the day, we took on light but important chores. With Conni's extremely valuable help, we completed the reinstallation of the forward dorade vent that was dislodged by a bucking dinghy during our trip from Raiatea to Tahiti. Hopefully, it'll hold. Since the fiberglass had several pieces missing when it was dislodged, I had to re-glass several sections and wait the curing time. When done, there were a few hours of sanding, then Conni and I drilled holes, caulked the ring, and re-assembled the entire thing. It wasn't a difficult project, but required some time to complete.
A northeast wind was blowing, and pushing Wings directly into the damned quay. Grrr... We burst one fender in the slamming, and it was not a restful night. The seas were rough and we got NO sleep at all, so awakened a bit grumpy and tired this morning, 11 June. Walking around the boat was like doing so during a crossing: take a step only while holding on to something.
12 July Adrian and a third helper arrived at the usual 0800. The helper, Gabriel, is from Patagonia. Not a trained mechanic, he knows how to be helpful and he made several breath-holding dives to make measurements on our prop shaft.
Today's big task was to ascertain whether we should shorten the prop shaft to account for our new engine position and the large coupling. Moving the engine back and forth and side to side to try and center it was accomplished, and then Gabriel took one of his many dives. In the end, with Adrian, Conni, Gabriel, and I working on the task, we finally ascertained that we needed to remove 3-inches of prop shaft in order to remove the keyway at the inside end and we could accomplish that while allowing the propeller hub sufficient distance from the strut, and with enough clearance for the propeller to turn with clearance with the hull. If we were wrong, we'd have to have a new propeller shaft made here: not ideal. Adrian used an angle grinder powered by our Honda generator, and I turned the shaft by hand and after a half-hour of patient work, we were done. We cleaned the cut end with my flat file and some fine sandpaper, slipped on the coupling, and voila, we were done. It was quite a day's work.
We also removed several hoses that were new 35-years ago. The exhaust hose removal required all three (Gabriel, Adrian, and me) an hour to remove it was so stiff and hard to follow, but it's now on the dock with a few more choice pieces of ratty old hose. We also began to re-assemble the engine so that we could get a good feel for the fit. Unfortunately, I had to cut our cabinetry a bit to accommodate the heat exchanger, but lucky for us, I have an oscillating saw that was a great help. Now, we can slide the engine as far aft as needed for the transmission flange to meet the new coupling. Later, I'll smear the cut wood surfaces with epoxy to waterproof the cut wood, and perhaps add some paint. The engine sits well back from the engine compartment front and we think that we'll be able to fit the remote oil filter, siphon break, and coolant reservoir. You know what a siphon is: with it you can remove fuel from a fuel tank into a tank sitting lower, as long as the hose is full. On a boat, you can pump water overboard but if the output port is under water, a siphon can form and seawater will fill the boat. A siphon break prevents that. They're simple, cheap, and totally effective. We also think that we'll have space to install the expensive and extremely efficient sound insulation that we bought with the engine. It's three-layer stuff: closed cell foam, aluminum sheet, and lead sheet, so it'll reduce engine noise dramatically, we hope.
Tomorrow, we'll make some final measurements and remove the engine from the stringers in preparation for final placement. I'll clean the damned bilge...again, and we'll epoxy any areas that need it. With the engine out, all of this will be much easier. We'll have things ready to replace engine for final fitting. When that's done, we'll start connecting fuel and electrical connections, and work on the control panel.
We're about 65-70% complete, I'd guess. Conni says that we have about 32 more days here, so we should have a few weeks to play when we're done.