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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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 day...it has to get done cause we have sailors coming!
And it ain't cheap. 

More to follow....