Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the large Alberg inventory.

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Friday, September 30, 2016


An incredibly competent machinist has created a new prop shaft for the Berg!  But this one is not it...  As you can see, it was time for a major intervention to replace this extension of the diesel power-plant.

The propeller shaft lying in the Burb waiting for a makeover.  The things unseen to the naked eye were an out-of-round shaft, anomalies in the propeller blades which would create shaking under power, and the corrosion, everywhere evident which kept the shaft from turning freely in its components. They had to be cut in order to be removed from the Alberg.
Gorgeous.  The external corrosion was one part of the story, the disagreement of the fitment made this piece of the power-plant made the idea of going "under engine power" a disagreeable idea indeed.  If it is this bad just sitting still, one wonders what the performance will be underway.  I don't want to experience that.  Fix it quick!

When you don’t know any better and people are advising you, it’s probably a good idea to go not with your own impression but with the resume of who’s telling you what.  I don’t trust my intuitive nature to get me through life on its own cause it is sometimes subject to whimsical comedy that laughs at reason in the face of common sense.


So it was with the prop shaft.  From the outset of this refitment I gazed many times into the bilge at the rusted coupler, the corroded shaft and the scratchy cutlass bearing, and wondered how in the world I would get this resolved.  I knew after my first 3 hour seminar with Charlie that I had hit upon a gold mine of education and competence regarding the diesel.  So, when he said, we gotta do this are you game?  I happily said, “let’s do it,” there was no way in the world that shaft was going to turn unless under duress.  I did not want to splash a vessel that was admittedly not ready or up to the tasks of having an engine aboard which is close to useless.



The location was several hours away, in Brunswick, Georgia.  I’d been there a couple of times before but did not see enough to scratch the surface of what it offered.  Perhaps I should have investigated Saint Simons Island instead, but I have never thought the shallow, brown colored Atlantic in that area held any interest for me.  But as for a machinist shop, there was much to discover.



Machinists area a special breed of people who live in a world of metal shavings and the darkened halls of rooms full of large behemoth machines capable of doing wonders with metals.  I’d used another outfit locally when I needed help for my Typhoon and my motorcycle, and those guys were great, but this was a specific shop dedicated to propeller shafts and propellers.  Eureka!



Not several steps into the dark chasm of a room, a large lathing machine lay to my left and a drill press stood blocking my way, looking as if it could drive through a foot of steel in an instant, Tyler appears.  A 30 something machinist with a great personality and a “can-do” attitude.  His competence was relaxing.  I laid the pieces on a rubbery table top scarred with scrapes and indentations of other candidates as he quickly nodded and easily employed a measuring device to the shaft, “7/8ths, yep..” affirming my measurement previously using a tape measure.  He then informed me that if I agreed, that he’d remove this and that and then need to do something about the prop which was bent and hacked up, and generally gave me a desk-side assessment that only a competent individual in that trade could do. I agreed, “yes, yes, and yes please…” I was quick to give him permission to make this thing work.



The problem was rather evident.  Although the Berg overall is in good condition, it is not in great condition.  After the encounter with loose nuts, persistent leaks, and years of routine maintenance, the old girl had given her best and was hardly ready for some sailing.  She had probably outlived her owners’ abilities to do the “grunt work” that had greeted me at the yacht’s work yard in the middle of summer.  Like getting to know your bride, this gal had all the right stuff if someone would’ve just had the time to lay her up and spend every winter doing maintenance.  I think that is an owner’s responsibility not hers.  And every owner is not going to rise to the challenges of time, sweat, disappointment and responsibility, including financial, to bring a vessel back into her class cohort.  I’d taken that responsibility and felt like a step-father to the Berg as we looked down at the sorry-looking and corroded shaft seized and impossibly useless.  “Let’s do it..,” and we jumped on the phone with Charlie who then sorted out the details and requirements with a bit more elan than my “yeah rights” that I offered freely.
The propeller refused to yield to Charlie's extraction.  Years of corrosion had repelled me from anything but a terrified look. 
 After a day of work, the new shaft was machined, coupler attached, old cutlass bearing refitted with new bearings, and a more up-to-date seal for the prop shaft was included in the package.  The propeller was tuned and polished up as well.  
Putting in this 10 x 20 Bomar deck hatch enabled the guys to extract the shaft with less pain and suffering.  In the long term it provides me an easier access to all the items that end up running through this area underneath the cockpit.   The best hundred bucks I've spent in a long time.

These items, from the "Brunswick Connection," I delivered to Charlie who was sitting 'neath a tree near the lake at his work yard.  He was very enthusiastic I had taken his recommendation to use this out of town machinist.  It was a bit of trust that was needed to do such an expedition.   Holding the stainless steel shaft he examined the craftsmanship and said that after about a week, he'd have it installed in the boat and bring her back to where they'd first abducted her at the Club.

Progress was made.  I'll have to get a photograph of the shaft in place to provide a more thorough appreciation of this adventure.  That is to come.


Taken while I was working a few issues below decks, the cockpit deck hatch provides clear access to the transmission and coupler, prop shaft and all the thru hulls and electrical connectors to the instrument panel.