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Old 21-04-2015, 04:22   #1
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Urgent HELP!!

Last evening I had a major flooding problem .
I was out shopping, and the inlet pipe from the dock fresh water supply broke inside the boat, and I returned to four feet of water in the bilge, covering the batteries and half way up the engine and generator. The boat was down about 6Ē, which is a lot of water in a 45 footer.
Yes! I know. I should have switched the water hose off at the spigot, which I normally do, but this time I forgot.....
Everything is switched off now and Iím off to buy a good hair dryer.
Iím asking for as much advise as I can get please, how to deal with all the electrics, pumps, engine and generator starters, and also the generator tail which was partially waterlogged. etc.
I guess I have a few days hard work in front of me.
JR
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Old 21-04-2015, 04:52   #2
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

Yikes! Bad news. I think there are probably two immediate issues and perhaps a longer term issue. Since it's fresh water, I would assume it is less of a threat to engine and wiring and batteries than were it salt. I would get a mechanic onboard asap and probably you'll need a new starter, solenoid and alternator. BAtteries? Who knows. It would depend I assume based on what got in and what got out--be careful if there is sulfuric acid anywhere. Test them! Then clean terminals and leads etc. Ventilate and ventilate more..and yes get heaters on board to dry out. Again it was fresh not salt but some wiring may need t be replaced as a cautionary measure....Dry and clean everything, but that's pretty obvious. Call your insurance agency asap! Now--how much came in and how fast? Why didnt the bilge pumps keep up? Does that suggest another problem? I am thinking that the same amount and flow would enter whether it was a 30' or a 45' boat but that a 45' would have more dewatering capacity. Assuming you were plugged into AC power, the pumps would not have emptied the batteries. Also beware of oil and grease spilling out. Get lots of absorbent pillow. You may need to put a boom up. Could be over reacting but there are stiff penalties ofr spilling oil. As for generator? Again, get the mechanic to check asap. Pull and check dipsticks on engine and gen immediately....Do not start unless mechanic says ok--if they do start! Hopefully engine issues are restricted to electrical systems only..but could water have entered the oil system or internals? Pull the dipstick and check--same with transmission as it is of course as low or lower than the crankcase, but water getting into the engine sounds unlikely from your description...and again it is fresh not salt so that's a good sign as far as I would imagine. Now the longer term problems are related to the effects of lingering moisture, mildew, cabin sole floorboards etc so get it dry dry dry and ventilate....Please keep us informed and for more specific questions, perhaps others can lend more detailed advice....but again, how much pressure was on and how fast did water enter because I am thinking that if it is a 3/4 or 7/8 hose that the bilge pumps should have handled the situation...???? I hope it turns out okay!!!
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Old 21-04-2015, 05:32   #3
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

Get one or two fairly large dehumidifiers (you can rent them) in there ASAP and get everything dried out. Then you can access the damage to electrical, etc. But get everything dried out first!
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Old 21-04-2015, 07:33   #4
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

I didnít get much sleep last night so I started at 5.30am this morning, and lifted all the floorboards.
The eight batteries are fine, no water ingress as far as I can tell, and all specific gravities are normal. If there had been water ingress the readings would be lower. They are brand new, so Iím relieved at that.
The Perkins engine had water in the sump and Iím in the process of sucking it all out. Itís a very robust engine and I think the starter is okay. If it is I think it will start, which will put some heat into the area. If it doesnít Iíll strip the starter. The alternator did not submerge.
I assume there will be water in the gearbox as well, but I donít know how I will get that out, its practically unreachable. I wonít start the engine until the gearbox is cleaned and refilled.
I bought a good hair dryer and warmed up the AC pump, which was under water. It looked okay, so I fired it up and it now runs like before. So I now have two 16,000 btu AC units belting away in the saloon, which can get it down to 70F and will normally dry out everything.
I have electric heads, so I heated the aft pump which was submerged, and it fired up as well. Havenít looked at the forward head pump yet.
I also have two under floor blowers which will be switched on after I put the floorboards back.
The generator stator was partially submerged, and Iím trying to dry that out now. I think the actual generator motor will fire up, but I donít want to mess up the back end, because thatís new as well. Iím not in any hurry to test this, I want it to dry out naturally.
Luckily it is a non humid day here in East Florida.
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Old 21-04-2015, 07:45   #5
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

You have my sincerest sympathies. I used to work in salvage and the philosophy we had on engines was that the best thing you can do for them after they've been submerged (or otherwise waterlogged) is to get them started as soon as possible. I think you're better off than most because you're dealing with fresh water. Get most of the water out of the crank case, make sure the electrics are dry and nothing is going to short and then start her up. I wouldn't worry too much about making sure the oil in the crankcase is completely free of water. Just suck most of it out, top up with oil to the correct level and then run the engine. Any remaining water will emulsify with the oil while running and make it go a milky white colour. After running it for a while, do an oil change and you should be good to go. The generator is a little more complicated because you have to make sure the alternator and other wiring is nice and dry before you start her up. So, bring out that hair dryer and then get that running too. Otherwise i think you're probably pretty good; you've given everything a nice freshwater washdown!
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Old 21-04-2015, 07:57   #6
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

In a past life I have used alcohol to dry things, and compressed air. Alcohol mixes with the water and the mix will evaporate faster than just water, compressed air is self explanatory.
That and or WD-40, Urban legend says WD-40 means water displacing compound number 40, I don't know if that's true or not, but it does displace water pretty well.
I'd run the engine today, and if there is a decompression lever, pull it to just be absolutely sure there is no water in the cylinders.
Depending on the type of transmission, it may be critical to get the water out ASAP, at least the clutch plates and bands on older auto transmission, the glue that held the friction material on was water soluble. I don't know about Marine transmissions, but if there are clutch plates, I'd get that water out as quick as I could.
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Old 21-04-2015, 08:10   #7
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

I agree with the previous to get the engine started. Use a dipstick oil change pump on the transmission if it's hard to reach. Change the oil two or three times before starting (this will get much more water out of the sumps. Then start the engine, run in gear a few minutes, then change the transmission and engine oil again. Keep doing this until the oil isn't milky.

Since the starter didn't get wet, I assume the water didn't get to the level of the valves. If if did get that high, then there could be water in the cylinders and don't start it.

Then get go out for a couple of hours cruising speed running. This will dry things out inside and outside the engine better than anything you can do at the dock.

I would also spray every wire connection that got wet with a water displacing lubricant like Corrosion X or Boeshield T9

I don't know what's best for the generator tail. Maybe call a dealer. But drying naturally doesn't strike me as the best approach. Your enemy is rust and corrosion. That comes from moisture and air. The faster the moisture is off any steel, the better.
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Old 21-04-2015, 08:27   #8
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

If the transmission is the same as the one on my perkins, a 4-108 with short-profile 2:1 sailing gear then it should be fine. The only point of entry is the hole where you empty and fill the oil (or transmission fluid; either can be used) and that was presumably closed tight when it flooded.
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Old 21-04-2015, 09:05   #9
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

I would have suggested calling your insurance company and having them send a pro to properly restore your boat but it's too late now.

This underscores something I preach whenever I see something like this - It's poor practice to leave a city water connection connected on a boat. At any time really, but especially if you are away from the boat or sleeping. We see here first hand what can happen and you are one of the lucky ones who caught the problem before the boat actually sank.

You say you normally turn the valve off but this time you forgot. Well, people are humans and humans make mistakes from time to time. The safest thing to do is fill your water tanks, disconnect the hose and use water from the tanks until they need filling again.

Think about it.
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Old 21-04-2015, 10:12   #10
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

I thank you all for the kind advice. Iím exhausted, so I decided to take a break and reply.
The engine is now empty and Iím emptying the gearbox through the filler hole. The dipstick was tight, but there was still a lot of water in the box.
Then I intend to try to get the engine started.
I have a call in to the genny dealer, because Iím not quite sure how best to dry out the stator, but Iíve turned over the motor and it is free.
I take rwidmanís point about the shore water and we do switch it off whenever we leave the boat, even for one or two hours. Iím on my own here because my wifeís sister is about to die in Ireland, so we have a lot of other things on our minds.
The plastic plumbing pipes on this 1977 boat are original and need replacingówhich I now intend to do. Otherwise, I donít have a problem with the principal of shore water, any more than shore power.
Iíll keep you posted.
JR
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Old 23-04-2015, 14:36   #11
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

Well gentlemen, it is finally done, and Iím back to square one, after three twelve hour days, and finally sitting down with a well earned, large, gin and tonic.
The engine runs fine after three oil changes, and I sucked eight gallons of oily water out of the engine drip tray.
The generator is also running, after two oil changes, and the stator is kicking out the normal power.
The ACís are running normally after drying the seawater pump.
All other pumps are also up and running.
The forward toilet is fine, after carefully cleaning the electric controls.
The forward shower sump pump is working normally.
I also repaired the broken pipe which caused the problem in the first place, and now considering how to replace all the old plumbing system.
I even had the courage to switch the dock water on and it is holding okayóbut Iím watching it like a hawk.
I am aware I was lucky in a way, in that it was a fresh water flooding.
I would like to thank everyone who responded to my panic message. It is now water under the bridge, or more precisely the bilgeóĎtill the next crisis .
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Old 23-04-2015, 14:42   #12
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

Wow....great work! Very helpful advice and information from commenters. Happy sailing.
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Old 23-04-2015, 15:37   #13
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

sorry ye found out the hard way, but then everyone does.
welcome to the club of the learned..lol
ye didnt die.
get a regulator for the water pressure. they do help.
have fun and stay dry
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Old 23-04-2015, 15:54   #14
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

For small and medium sized electronics (and may be even the larger ones) leaving them in bags of rice at least overnight if not longer should dry them quickly. And then an alcohol bath to get all the dust, rice residue, etc. out. Worked for my old cell phone a few years back after I dropped it in the bilge.

Hair dryers will work too but the heat may damage sensitive circuits.
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Old 23-04-2015, 16:11   #15
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Re: Urgent HELP!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
sorry ye found out the hard way, but then everyone does.
welcome to the club of the learned..lol
ye didnt die.
get a regulator for the water pressure. they do help.
have fun and stay dry
I have a pressure regulation on the inlet hose, which reduces the city pressure. But that won't stop the flow of water when an internal pipe breaks. I don't know of anything which will do that.
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