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 modest Alberg inventory.

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Catching Up on Maintenance: from bolts to lazy jacks

These old boats provide endless hours of challenge.

In fact, there's no time for a whole lot of other stuff when you have a solid list of "to-do's" aboard.  Regrettably, not every boat can select its skipper.  And for this reason, maintenance may fluctuate with owners, as one may be quite gifted at many things while another, like me, is not gifted at all in any of these things required.  But, speaking positively, I have lots of motivation and plenty of YouTube videos to help me.

Reminding myself, this boat came from the netherlands of Nova Scotia.  If they needed 4 of the same kind and didn't have the 4th, they supplied something in it's place besides.  Don't fret, just get 'er done.  Thus I spend a good amount of detective time in locating these anomalies and getting things back into proper kind and type.

Ever since I brought this Alberg to the southern climes, I've noted those items which were rusty, and determined that I would address each one in time.  And so I dove into the engine compartment for a brief interlude on supporting bolts.  Like many other items on this old gal, I found one bolt frozen with rust and three others which were not snug enough for good use.  And of course, when I assembled everything needed for the job and had finally mustered the energy to do some more "boat yoga" I realized that amongst my array of sockets I did not have a 3/4 inch, 3/8th's drive, deep socket....   Alas, that gave me a short break to re-source the socket and come back later with my break bar to attempt to remove the frozen nugget.  After some penetrating oil, it was futile, so I re-put more of that and left it for another time.  I was able to reset with some new nuts, one of the existing nuts had had an improper thread type but thankfully the stem bolt on the support was not ruined.  All went well.  

Another nagging task is to re-design the current lazy-jack system which isn't adequate for the boat design.  A proper lazy-jack should enable single-handing by permitting the main sail to drop and fold into its cradle with little fanfare.  So far, dropping the main has been a royal pain in the !@#$!...    It falls off the end of the boom and cascades onto the cabin deck at the mast area.  After sailing this for a while I have come to the conclusion that some previous owner had installed a two point Harken system suitable for a smaller boat size.  The Alberg's boom is 14 feet long and thus there is a need for at least three points on each side to adequately cradle a folding main.  

The problem up top is that the existing system is knotted on two small eye cleats a couple feet above the spreaders and there's no way to adjust and put more cradling without ascending and installing a couple of cheek blocks and running lines to the deck for adjustment.  

It's all in a days' work....

Next episode will be the ascent, the installation of the cheek blocks and the running of new line above, then adjusting the attachment points on the boom to adequately cradle the main.
George, a member of the Alberg 30 Association in the Chesapeake I think, posted this revised concept for proper lines.  I will follow this pretty much.  The current system has only the two attachments, those two points closest in blue color, close to the mast.  The third blue point is missing.  You can imagine how difficult it might be to flake the sail with only two points.  And that is precisely what I'm referring to in my post.

Several sailors at the club are chomping at the bit to help me ascend the mast.  I will resort to some Army Air Assault training to assist me with this task, only for mental support however!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Alberg Swim Platform

Our testing team arrived over Easter weekend and set forth on the Alberg in very light and variable winds, the kind that make you want to go swimming rather than sailing.

After a few tacks, it was apparent that we were not going to enjoy much wind on the day before Easter so we decided to toss the anchor out and deploy the swim ladder.  It had been a long time since I had installed the ladder and this was the first time that it would receive a brutal test by numerous folks.  Using a tough testing team, two grand-kids, we paid out the anchor rode and basked in the sun while the kids attempted to wear out the ladder.

It proved it's weight in stainless steel, as the kids and a couple of us adults tramped up and down on it for a couple of hours. 

Here I get input from one of the trainers about the ladder's operational characteristics.  I was impressed with her direct input which included shrieks of joy rather than the usual load capacity issues and the weight distribution.  She was so happy about it that she wanted to swim to it again and again just to see how it worked so well. 
The kids weighed less than 50 pounds and both of us adults were at about the 200 pound level. Every time I mounted aboard I detected no movement whatsoever in the deck plate mounting which I had painstakingly affixed from below.  The backing plates were enormous 6x6 stainless steel plates of about 1/8th's thickness.  

One of our testers illustrating good technique coming aboard.  The ladder extends about 4 feet down.  With about a 3 foot free-board, the last step is submerged and rather easy for the small testing crew to negotiate.  At 5'11" I did not find it hard to plant a foot and pull myself upward.  One of the benefits of the side installation is being in close proximity to the lifelines and the shrouds which make for additional safety  coming aboard.  A great investment in fun and safety.

During the testing phase I was able to validate the ease by which if happening to fall overboard while solo sailing, I could remount the vessel.  The reach from water to cap rail is about an arm's length for me, enabling me to hoist myself up and grab the ladder and deploy it over the free-board.  Now I can remove the small lines I'd put in place to hoist it via the life-lines.  They were awkward and being within easy reach the ladder becomes a valid safety feature for single-handing.

In this photo, the senior tester is examining the ease with which one can maneuver from the swim ladder to the fore deck.

All said and done, the Easter test was a grand success despite the lack of wind.  Fortunately, the iron genny I repaired the other week was running without flaw for the entire testing period.  We've got a placeholder for August with the same testing group for eclipse operations.  We may have to turn on the running lights!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Breathing easier now...

It's just not right to match a humanities guy with an engine.  The only upside, I guess, is that the engine becomes a journey to the skipper with a humanities degree while for the engineer it is simply a problem.  For me, this, like many other things aboard the Alberg, was more than a problem, it was mechanical harassment!

But, in the kindness of time and patience, I did manage to prevail, and, drawing on every bit of mechanical history I'd ever been privileged to to collect, was able to fix both the blown muffler problem and the tachometer calibration issue.  

The alternator is the now the second shiniest part on this 40 year old diesel.  After viewing the engine mounts, I think it propitious to secure another angle iron for the rear starboard foot, as that iron has suffered from salt water.  I will be proactive about replacing that after I get over my sore chest and arms.

After doing a bit of work on the front side of the Yanmar where everything is served up and easily accessible, the flip side is much more of a challenge....

Taken from my cockpit access hatch, this view is from stern to the forward doors of the v-berth area.  And the copper gasket looking this way is where the "elbow," or muffler (as I call it) will bolt on.  Viewed last Fall, this is the miserable workplace from the same viewpoint, the rusty elbow amidst the entry and exit of necessary pipes and control lines:

While on the hard, replacement of a thru-hull on the starboard side and see the rusty elbow looking downward to link up with the larger muffler box, here pulled back out of the way for viewing.
It's very "therapeutic" to relook these old photos to remind oneself of the enormous leap in progress over the past 9 months!  I think the most difficult thing about the work is the physical punishment of this yacht yoga. After finishing this installation I felt like I'd been in a wrestling match with a gorilla.  Sore and bruised, I felt I had won the match if only it would not leak upon installation!

Someone in engineering decided to put an upward angle to the tip of the elbow, as if doing so would make the transition for the exhaust tube easier for the installation.  That "Good Idea Fairy" should be tied to the yard-arm and held there for several seasons in order to learn the fact that if you re-engineer something you must take into account that nothing else on the boat is going to move to accommodate your idea! 

Had the "smart person" who re-engineered this elbow left things alone, the tubing would never had had such an obstacle to overcome. 

It looks "purtty" doesn't it?  But note carefully the "near-miss" as the 2 inch exhaust pipe only clears the thru-hull on starboard by the increased turn clockwise of the elbow itself.  I muscled it about 3/16ths of an inch in order to clear that obstacle.  As the tube fits, it has to carefully wrap on the end of the elbow--something I will continue to monitor because I do not trust time, heat, and vibration, to leave it alone!  And yes, I will put a second clamp on that location.

Easy fix right?  Just reach down and slap it in.  Not so fast 'Bosun, try that now with one arm reaching through the cockpit hatch and see how that works again?  After several hours of wrestling I did manage to conquer this problem but have paid the price of a slow physical recovery to install just several essential pieces.
So, I checked it after installation and again the next day, running the engine both slow and fast, to see if that dreaded thing, called a leak, would appear.  Up until now, there are no leaks.

This seems like a benign posting but it highlights the small issues which can potentially become large problems.  Had that muffler blown while out on the water and without wind, I'd have been calling Boat US for a tow.  Glad I have that coverage!  I've used it before and it's great.  But I prefer to be able to sidestep that and know that my gear and components are sound and capable.  Yet, the rusty elbow was on my long term fix because of it's very high price ($ 209 bucks) which I think is robbery, and because if something is evidently working I don't run to fix it.  Yet.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

A to-do list turns into an emergency!

I had been fiddling with calibrating this new tachometer I'd put into Nautica along with getting it synchronized with an up to date alternator. 

I'd also purchased a very inexpensive (and hopefully somewhat reliable) digital reader off Ebay from some place far-far-away, in hopes that my friend's advice was good, that it would at least read the revolutions per minute of the alternator which then would permit me to calibrate my tachometer to some level that would give me an idea of how my diesel is running.  At least that's what I thought I was doing when something unexpected and exciting took place and derailed that process...
Hope this little jitney performs one function, just give me the RPM reading...
 ...And I felt pretty confident that this was going to at least be a great attempt at calibration!  I'd been over this engine, rewiring, and running new clamps and rubber hoses, and felt that we were getting to know each other quite well.  I had run her a few days ago and deliberately done so for a full hour at the same RPM on the lake.  Lots of sailboats don't run their diesels enough to sustain their batteries.  I'd noticed in the past few run times that I was accruing a bit of hazy smoke from below, nothing big, I'd figured there was some diesel residue "cooking off" the engine block as it was running a bit hotter for a longer period of time.  So that was in the back of my mind this particular morning...

But, something struck me as strange when I arrived aboard this late morning.  There in the drip pan below the engine was something that appeared like a piece of tree bark.  Well, my eyes were not able to see it very well, so upon closer examination, my fingers revealed it was a quarter-sized chunk of rusted material?  Well, no problem, the boat is 40 years old, what to expect I thought?  A clue perhaps though?

Readying my Chinese manufactured strobe light, I taped a piece of reflective tape on a blade of the alternator pulley.  Feeling a bit of mechanical hubris sweeping over me, I hauled myself out of the salon and sat on the cockpit bench to turn over the diesel.  She started right up like it had just been run.  "A good engine she is," I thought to myself smartly.  As the now warm sun felt great after a cool winter this year, there was suddenly that smoke again, this time quickly appearing.  And then in an instant, the engine changed sounds, there was a rattle and the sound of a water hose spitting out water in spurts.  Water! Emergency! Go fast!

I immediately shut down the diesel to stop the water.  I could hear it dripping into the bilge.  "Am I sinking now?"  I thought to myself as I catapulted into the salon and began looking at the damage. Looking all over the engine I knew I'd had a hose either come off somewhere or a clamp give up.  There was too much water down in the bilge, and that pump had started evacuation procedures while I furtively passed my eyes and hands around my little diesel pal.  Confident this would be an obvious fix, I calmly examine her small power-plant to find the break.

The culprit after having been removed from duty.  This is about the angle you would observe if attempting to view the exhaust elbow from above the engine space below decks.  One can see something underneath the elbow but what?  Certainly not a hole right?

 It was called an elbow assembly and it was quite rusty but it appeared to be working quite well up until now.  A bit of flaking was just visible underneath it and with a little more invasive poking, I realized that the pressure exiting the engine had finally reached the end of its tolerance and had blown old rusty flakes into the pan below the engine along with lake water.  Found it!  

But it was not what I expected at all.  I had actually purchased a new section of water-exhaust hose months previous thinking that since all hoses need replacing it too would get some attention.  But I hadn't been able to easily remove the exhaust hose, and I left it for later.  This, was later.  The photo of the culprit is revealed lying on my work bench at home.  After beating the daylights out of the elbow to release it from the flange, I discovered massive corrosion to the point that the result was pressure blew out the weak point of the elbow.

Unless you use a mirror you simply cannot see the underbelly of the elbow.  Removing this 40 year old part is like any other part on this old boat, rusty and resistant to removal. Removing the flange along with the elbow with attached rubber (now after many years melded onto the rusty part) was the only way to extricate this bastard without damaging all sensibility to my efforts.
Massively corroded and weakened by years of salt-water the elbow just exploded under pressure. 
This explosion actually came at a great time.  I was in my slip on a nice morning, about 10 days out from having 2 of my 7 grand-kids aboard for an Easter sail.  Whew, gotta get those parts fast!  Getting home I got on the phone with J-Way Enterprises and sorted out the 2 parts I needed to recuperate my "elbow assembly," happily in-stock and on the road soon to s/v Nautica.  

With all the trepidation which comes from sourcing parts, I anxiously awaited the pricey components. Arrived in 2 days from ordering they looked like diesel candy.

Flange, gasket and elbow with nipple already intact lying side by side with the original soldier.
Due to restrictions of space it will be easier to attach flange here shore-side and do the final gasket and attachment aboard.  It's funny how I had had the intention to put a new hose on this when it first arrived...however, upon closer inspection my hose was a quarter inch too small in diameter. That figures right? It sure looks the part but no cigar, not yet.

A little bit of calling around and taking advantage of my neighbor being in Charleston, I was able to schedule a pickup within a couple of hours and get the revised hose size for implementation the next has to get done cause we have sailors coming!
And it ain't cheap. 

More to follow....