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Old 15-12-2014, 14:29   #91
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

In their book "Surviving the Storm", Linda and Steve Dashew present the case that catastrophes often start with deferred maintenance. Small failures cascade into larger failures and combine with chance or weather to culminate in loss of the vessel. Their advice is to make sure all critical systems are fully functional before crossing oceans.

The Dashews' book is now available free, on their website.
http://setsail.com/sts.pdf
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Old 16-12-2014, 03:05   #92
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

Investigating the fuel system ...

When I first started the engine a few weeks ago it ran fine on the port fuel tank, but when I turned on the starboard fuel tank the engine stopped and needed to be bled. Investigation at that point showed that when the starboard fuel tank was turned on, air was getting into the fuel lines. This wasn't a show stopper, as the two tanks are connected at the bottom by a hose with a shutoff, so the tanks can effectively be joined, and there is no need to use the starboard tank pickup. The starboard tank fuel lines looked fine, but I could not see the pickup as it was under 1/2 inch ply nailed down in the bottom of a cupboard. More investigation was needed.

When I left Sydney under sail this week, I heard liquid running in the engine room, and opened the door to investigate and found the bilges sloshing with diesel. The fuel tanks have clear riser tubes in the engine room which allow you to see the fuel levels in the tanks, but if the cutoffs to these tubes are left open at sea, and the boat heels under sail, then fuel can spill out of the top of the tubes. I closed the cutoffs, and pumped as much diesel as I could out of the sumps, but more was sloshing around.

Two more times on the trip I found the sump full of diesel and pumped it out. I thought it may have been the leftovers from the previous spill gathering in the sump, along with the small amounts spilled when I cleaned the fuel pump filter and bled the engine, but it did seem to be too much. I could not see any other leaks in the fuel lines.

Today there was a strong wind warning from the North East, so I found a quiet anchorage behind a hill and decided to fix some of the issues. I got out the saw, crow bar, and drill, and broke apart the ply covering the starboard fuel tank. Underneath was old dirt, sawdust, and foam soaked in diesel, and the only source could be the starboard fuel tank pickup. I put a spanner on the brass elbow to remove it, and it came off in my hands.

The brass fitting on the aluminium tank pickup had corroded through the aluminium, causing the fuel leak when heeled over, and also allowing air to enter the fuel line there.

I have now closed the shutoff between the two fuel tanks, and am using a fuel pump, racor filter, and 6mm clear tubing to transfer the fuel over to the port tank and clean it. If I push the tube too far down the pickup it brings back water full of dirt, so a full clean of the entire fuel system is needed, with new pickups, shutoffs, and hoses.

On the bright side, I now have a fuel pumping and polishing solution, and due to the diesel spill I now have extremely clean bilges.
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Old 16-12-2014, 03:20   #93
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

Surely there can't be a brass fitting on an aluminium tank.

Many things don't mix well with aluminium but brass is a particularly bad mix.

Treat carefully
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Old 16-12-2014, 03:22   #94
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

And please don't let any brass residue fall into the bilge where it may end up on the hull
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Old 16-12-2014, 06:35   #95
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

If the starboard tank had a brass fitting what does the port tank have? Not to alarm you but better check the port tank too.
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Old 19-12-2014, 01:59   #96
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

30 18' 15" S 153 08' 36"

Taking a break in a very laid back and pretty Coffs Harbour after two very hard days, and two nights with no sleep. First day out of Port Stephens got hit with a 25 knot Southerly giving me a good push and 3-4 meter swells breaking around the boat to make life interesting. Second day got hit with 25 knot North-Easterly on the bow, so motored against wind, waves, and the East Australian current all day, making very little progress and pushing the engine hard. Also got hit by a thunderstorm that knocked the boat down (all sails furled), spun it around, and pushed it backwards at 8 knots in blinding horizontal rain with lightning strikes all around. Had to turn off the autopilot, ignore the chart plotter, and steer by hand using compass. That is the most scared I have ever been, and I had the ditch bag packed and in hand, but actually nothing broke and the boat handled it fine.

There were a few engine issues after such a long motor against wind, waves, and current. I checked the engine room at the end of the first day and found the engine was hot, and there was oil and water in the bilge. Found the coolant reservoir empty. Refilled it with water, put the cap back on, and hoped for the best. An hour later found that the water was gone. Turns out the radiator cap had given up it's hold, and would not stay screwed down. Pliers temporarily fixed the problem, but will get a new one tomorrow. The worst oil leak was around the mounting bolts for the oil filter base, so today I took it off, removed the failed gasket, and will put on a new one tomorrow.

After cleaning the fuel tank riser elbow mentioned above it seems like it is galvanised steel and not brass, but it is obvious that the corrosion is due to interaction between the aluminium riser tube and the elbow. There is however a brass plug also screwed into the tank a few inches from the riser tube, and it is the green corrosion from the plug that led me to believe the elbow was also brass. All fuel has now been pumped out of the starboard tank, and less than a cup of dirty water siphoned out. I tried to remove the inspection hatch, but the sealant is too strong, so tomorrow am getting a mechanic to extend the thread on the riser tube and re-attach the elbow to allow use of the starboard fuel tank again.
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Old 01-01-2015, 22:11   #97
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

So how is the adventure going?
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:24   #98
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

I replaced the starter motor with a spare of unknown age that was on the boat before I left Sydney, but it does not engage every time I turn the key. The first night in Southport I anchored in a rather crowded bay, turned off the engine, then down into the engine room to investigate the starter motor. When I touched it the bakelite end cap of the starter solanoid it fell apart in my hands. I suspect a combination of old bakelite being exposed to heat and vibration, and I may have over-tightened the electrode nuts during installation.

So ... it was Christmas Eve, I had not slept for a few days, was anchored in a very crowded shallow bay in soft sandy mud, with no way to start the engine. If bad weather comes or I have misjudged swing the swing radius of the surrounding boats, I would be in trouble. The nearby marinas are full for Christmas and have waiting lists to get in, and the yards are closed until January, so even if I could get an expensive tow on Christmas Eve there is nowhere safe to go. Time to panic. I tried calling local diesel mechanics looking for help or parts, but it seems that nobody is interested in fixing Perkins engines on Christmas Eve, nobody has a spare starter, and there is only one Perkins distributor in Australia who can't be bothered to answer emails or phone calls. What to do ? I collected all of the bakelite fragments, nuts, bolts, springs, washers, and electrodes from the solanoid end cap, mixed some epoxy, glued it all together, then put two layers of glass mat over the top of it all to reinforce it. By morning the epoxy had set, and the starter worked again, and is now a lot stronger than it was when manufactured, but I do still need to replace it. I then managed to find a marina with a free berth a few miles away, just before the family flew in to Australia on Christmas Day, so after all of the issues and work over the last two months I did save Christmas.

There is a bad oil leak from the crank shaft seal, and I believe the head gasket is losing water, so I will need to order some gasket sets and do at least a partial rebuild, and will try to replace the hoses and clean and paint the engine at the same time.

I will try again to contact the Perkins distributor in Australia next week, but suspect it will be easier to order the oil filter bracket, starter motor, and gaskets on the internet from overseas.

January 5 the yards open again, then I will haul out for a few weeks to sand, grind, weld, and paint bottom, pilot house, cockpit, and hatches. I will also do a bit of sanding and varnishing inside as time permits, but need to source some teak plugs and veneer first.
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Old 02-01-2015, 14:55   #99
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

homeless:

I've seen teak plugs at the Whitworth's in Southport, and it is in walking distance from Australia Fair.
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Old 02-01-2015, 15:10   #100
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

I don't know if you are lucky or unlucky re: solenoid. Resourceful as hell either way with the repair.
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Old 02-01-2015, 18:44   #101
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

Impressive creative solenoid repair! Cheery grinchy!
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Old 03-01-2015, 04:03   #102
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

Yes, Whitworths do have teak plugs but I believe they are 50 cents each, which will certainly add up considering the number I need to replace. I am hoping one of the teak retailers will also sell plugs in bulk.
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Old 03-01-2015, 04:29   #103
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

I will take this opportunity to remind anyone out there with varnished wood that it is a lot easier to add another coat than to sand everything down to clean wood again and re-apply. Unfortunately the previous owner of my boat let the varnish wear down in heavy use areas (floors, steps, tables, hand-holds, cupboard doors, drawers ...), and get sun damaged near windows, so today was a full day of removing everything attached to wood in the pilothouse, sand until sunset, turn on the 500 Watt spotlight, then sweep, vacuum, and varnish until 9pm. The last task for the day was to varnish the companionway steps in the hope that it dries before the morning toilet and shower expedition. Varnishing at night under a spotlight will not give the best results, but it has to be better than it was.

I have again come across rusty galvanised screws in the headliner, as well as a surprising number of brass and stainless screws that chose decapitation over easy removal. Not all stainless and brass screws are created equally.

Tomorrow I will continue with the sanding and varnishing, and also hope to dip the brass fittings and screws into strong hydroclauric acid to bring back the shine in minimum time.
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Old 03-01-2015, 08:28   #104
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

Happy New Year to you, Homeless. I've admired your skill & perserverance in bringing your new-to-you boat back to life, and would enjoy reading additional posts as your journey & project develops.

Re: teak plugs, if you can find yourself a decent piece of scrap teak, an inexpensive bit for a power drill will allow you to make your own plugs. These are specialty bits designed for making wood plugs, but are not expensive. Even when I've bought pre-made plugs, I find that the sizing is never quite right and so making my own has the added benefit of a proper fit.

Good luck with your boat in the new year.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:01   #105
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Re: Breaking All the Rules ...

Man.. I admire your persistence and perseverance.... Your doing good... Next time.. in an emergency you can use a car starter solenoid in replace of your engine solenoid.
They're very similar.. Well in a couple days all yards back to work..
Sit tight!! All my admiration for your work.. add a couple pictures when you can...
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