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Old 11-08-2007, 19:56   #1
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How to Explode Your Boat

I almost sold the boat and bought golf clubs today.

Got back from a 2 week trip to the US with lot's of goodies from West Marine and other spots to spruce up the boat. We had her out of the water for bottom paint and to install the new prop.

I installed a lot of new running rigging, a new compass, a couple of 12 volt outlets in the cabin, a couple of fans, a 400w inverter and a fridge! We are converting our little boat in to a real weekender floating RV. We also finished up the port chain plate and new backstay fittings as we previously broke the starboard stay.

I had noted before that the original (2) batteries were not secured properly so along with the new electric load I bought some new tie downs and prepped to install a 3rd battery. I left the battery work until last as it is in the bilge upside down and messy. By this time the club had positioned the boat at the top of the launch ramp in preparation for floating on Saturday and the boat was about 15 degress stern down.

So upside down and messy I was, rerouting throttle and transmission cables, battery cables and so on, trying to find the optimum fit for the 3rd battery. Eventually all was done and nothing left but to launch.

I did note a little wetness as I closed the cockpit sole cover and a slight diesel smell, but I was pretty stinky myself and didn't think any more of it.

Saturday was really busy. Josh, my 9 y/o and a couple of other club members were teed up for a photo shoot for a local magazine highlighting the club. They sailed dinghys up and down the beach and I helped hold the boat in place for close ups. 11 am rolled around and we pushed the boat back. I fired the engine and as usual it fired up on the 3rd of fourth rev. However as I backed out of the ramp the throttle was unresponsive. Damn, I must have done something to the linkage in my messing around.

I put it in forward and the same thing. Goes into gear but no power. Then after about 30 seconds, nothing. She quit. We had a safety boat on hand so we tossed a line and started to tow to the dock. That's when I look in the cabin and saw about an inch and a half of diesel fuel and bilge crud in the cabin.

Well to make a long story short - the previous owner or his mechanic had tie wrapped the negative battery cable to the flexible fuel line upstream of the pump and in my efforts with the battery cables I pulled the fuel line off the nipple. About 7 litres of diesel was in the cockpit and bilge. Thank God this stuff isn't volatile or I would be in stupid mechanics heaven right now.

The next 1 1/2 hours was spent cleaning. I then left a gallon bucket of fuel on the cockpit seat and took a break. While I was away a ferry boat came by and the bucket ended up off the seat and back in the bilge - LOL. Well cleaned it again.

Then I tried to follow the Volvo procedure for bleeding the system and couldn't get a light off. Basically loosen a screw on top of the filter and pump with the little lift pump on the engine. I was a little wary of pulling injector nuts and so on but after an hour or so the club manager came to lend a hand. He being braver than I loosed as many connections as he could all the way to the injectors. The good news is that with a full tank our fuel level is above the main engine pump and instead of hand pumping to prime we cranked the engine. As I cranked he tightened each connection in turn working from up stream to downstream. By the time he reached the injectors the engine had fired and all was well with the world.

Long, frustrating, messy day but a few lessons learned.

1/ I had been taught never, ever, ever, secure fuel lines to electrical lines and when routed fuel lines should be below electric lines.

2/ If you smelll diesel in the bilge, it's probably there. I didn't see it because of the stern down angle of the boat.

3/ Before closing up the engine box and cockpit sole plate do a once around inspection with a flashlight. I may not have caught this as it was very low in the boat but who knows.

4/ Bleeding - The manufacturers recomendations may not always be the best. I like the procedure to work from upstream to the injectors as we had done. May not work on all boats. In our case I think we were filling only one side of the fuel filter and the fuel bowl was definitely not getting "full."

5/ Never leave an unattended bucket of fuel on the cockpit seat or it might end up back in the bilge - LOL.

Oh, The end of the story is that we launched out at 5pm for a 2 hour twilight sail. 10 knot breeze, full sails, a couple of cold ones on the way back in while motoring to charge the batteries. Maybe I don't need those golf clubs after all...
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Old 11-08-2007, 21:31   #2
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I don't know about you being in stupid mechanics heaven. I would have thought the guy who tied a battery cable to a fuel line should be there!
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Old 11-08-2007, 22:44   #3
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Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat
I don't know about you being in stupid mechanics heaven. I would have thought the guy who tied a battery cable to a fuel line should be there!
And I agree with you on that. That is pure stupidity!!

He should have taken the trip to stupid mechanics heaven. But, luckily for the previous person, and you. You have a diesel on board your sailboat.

Glad to hear that you have that fixed. And many happy sailing days to you.
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Old 12-08-2007, 02:36   #4
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It seems a bit strange,would not it have come up on a survey report?Did you have one when you first bought the boat.After that story,the boat I end up with will be literally,figurativly (SP?)speaking of course,pulled apart by myself.Mudnut.
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Old 12-08-2007, 06:28   #5
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Yeah. The survey should have caught it but the stupid surveyor missed it. Maybe I'll ask for the money back from myself - LOL.
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Old 14-08-2007, 03:13   #6
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Hey Dan,LOL,

Here is the LOL of it all,So I don't know ya surveyor but I bet his first return would be "Read the fine print at the bottom of the contract!!!!" Not responsible for any problems not found.Makes ya wonder why ya pay them in the first place.Expert advice,with no gaurantee.Time to start looking over the boat in detail.Mudnut.
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Old 14-08-2007, 04:04   #7
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Sorry Mudnut. The joke is that I was the surveyor. With a boat priced this "reasonably" expert opinions were not affordable.

I pretty much knew what I was getting. The big stuff is good. The little stuff is what makes boat ownership such fun!

The whole engine / bilge / rewiring thing is on my list of to-dos. Someone mentioned on another thread that what I am engaged in is a rolling refit. But aren't all boats that way?
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