Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lobster weekend

We're people who always said that real boaters simply didn't need air conditioning.  Boy, were we wrong! This has been a very hot summer so far and Act Three's air conditioning has made life on A-Dock actually very comfortable.  When we took this photo on Sunday, the outside temperature was 92 degrees and the humidity inside the boat was about 30%.

Saturday night on A-Dock was lobster night and thanks to careful ordering and coordination by Bob and Diane, we all dined at tables set up on the dock.  The lobster (from Stop & Shop, we believe) was excellent and there is enough meat left over for some lobster rolls one night this week.

There were lots of dishes to wash on Sunday morning but Frances put her galley skills to work and then put everything out in the cockpit to dry in the sun.

Since we'll be taking off at the end of next week for a cruise, it was time to fix a few things and stock up the boat on clothing and other supplies. We mounted the davits and the inflatable last weekend only to find that one chamber appeared to have developed a leak.  On Saturday, we sprayed water over the flaccid section and found that the leak was from a old patch we applied three years ago to seal a little hole we apparently put in it trying to store the boat in the garage over the winter.  We don't normally deflate it for storage over the winter now, preferring store it inflated upside down on the cabin roof. But last fall, we were dealing with the Silverton, which didn't have davits so in October, we folded the inflatable up carefully and again took it home.  It looks like one of the folds was right over the former patch and it just didn't hold.

So, on Sunday, we applied a new white (not red) patch from our repair kit.

The directions that come with the adhesive were unclear as to how long to let the patch cure so we left it alone.  In an hour or so, the sun inflated the section for us and while it will require a few more pounds of air before use, it looks like the patch worked.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The last few things...

This was an odd weekend weather-wise. Saturday morning, sea conditions in Block Island Sound were under a Small Craft Warning with seas 3-5 ft.  A number of our dockmates were at Block and as it turned out, the conditions were fine and everyone got back as planned.

Our list is down to almost nothing but "almost nothing" includes our inflatable, which we have been tripping over in the garage since spring.  Time to haul it down to the marina, pump it up and then mount the $270 Extended Weaver Davits on the swim platform. To do that we had to move the boat forward so we'd have room to drop the inflatable in the water behind the boat and locate the best places to mount the davits.

First we blew it up, took just 50-60 pumps for each section in the sweltering sun.

Then it was time to mount the davits on the swim platform.

Finally, we got the davits mounted and hauled the thing up in place. We know it looks a little off-to-one-side, but that's what we had to work with considering that we have a ladder in the middle of the swim platform to contend with.

As always, John T. helped. Sorry about the "shadow lettering" on the inflatable's bottom.  We'll fix that shortly.

On Sunday, we polished off the rest of the list: Installed a new coil on the port engine (yes, it was leaking just like the starboard one was), fashioned a support for the new starboard muffler (slipped right in there), washed the inflatable (we'll do a more thorough job later on), put all the tools away so Frances doesn't have to contend with tool boxes everywhere and finally, put a few new waypoints in the GPS/Chartplotter.

Done.  We fired up the engines and they sounded fine. We're ready to go. Need to get a few days off from work and we're gone.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Life above 1800 RPM

If you've read the last few blog posts you'll know that we have been trying to diagnose a problem with the starboard engine.  It simply would not run above 1700 RPM, but instead would stumble and eventually pop back through the carb. It seemed like fuel starvation and we began by changing the fuel filters, checking the fuel line and the fuel tank vents for obstructions and finally installing a new fuel pump. There wasn't much left to the fuel system so, courtesy of Dick Jankowski on A-Dock, we had Nick, Norwich's go-to carb guy rebuild the carb. As that was being done, John T, no stranger to auto and marine engines either, suggested  changing the coil. We decided at that point to also check the engine compression and while the readings weren't exactly stellar, they were passable for a 30-year old engine and indicated that we didn't have a bad intake valve on one or more cylinders. Whew!

We obtained a replacement coil from Lighthouse Marine on Long Island (a really knowledgeable supplier of older marine engine parts) and then reinstalled the rebuilt carb. As we unbolted the old coil, we noticed what appeared to be something like mineral oil on the underside of the coil. On close examination, it seemed that all or some of the oil used to help cool the coil had leaked out. Anyway, we installed the new coil and fired up the engine. It ran fine at the dock but we wouldn't really know if the problem was solved until we got out for a test ride.

As we gathered our tools from around the engine bay, we noticed what appeared to be water dripping from the underside of the starboard outside muffler.

To explain, these older Silvertons have four exhaust ports through the transom, each one originally connected to a galvanized iron box-type muffler. Over the years, the previous owner had replaced three of the four iron mufflers with identical Vernatone fiberglass mufflers. That left one old muffler and sure enough, when we ran our hand along the underside of it, we felt hot exhaust water leaking out from the bottom.

Luckily for us, Vernatone mufflers are still being produced, although now by a new company.  We were able to locate a new one exactly like the other three, right down to the same part number.  After about an hour and with the help of a Sawz-All, the old muffler was out and the new one installed.

Who knows how long that old muffler had been leaking.

Now, with the muffler problem taken care of, it was time for a test run down the river. As soon as we pulled out into the fairway, we could tell that things were different. First, the engines were quieter and the starboard engine, which had always had a somewhat uneven idle, was now rock steady.  We turned down river and let the engines warm for about a mile.  Then it was time to push the throttles forward and see what happened.

The starboard engine came up to 1800 RPM easily and matched the other engine perfectly, without the slightest stumble. Before the repairs, the starboard engine simply wouldn't hold that speed. The tachs looked like they were glued in place.

The sync gauge showed the engines running at exactly the same speed. No fiddling with the throttles to keep the engines in sync as we always had to do in the past.

We pushed the RPMs up farther and everything worked perfectly.  At 2800 RPM, where we would normally cruise at about 16 mph, the wake told the story.

Better yet, the boat felt better underway, with no vibration, much quieter and no need to touch the power settings.

We eventually turned around, ran back up river and headed for the marina's gas dock where, with both engines at an idle, we spun the boat around and did an expert back-in, right next to the gas pump. After taking on 107 gallons of gas, we headed for our slip where two "red shirts" were waiting. We backed into the slip without drama.  Nice what you can do with two engines working the way they should.

Looking back on this problem, it seems that the carb rebuild cured the annoying need to constantly readjust the starboard engine underway as well as its unreliable idle. Dockmates John T. and Rob, both of whom have run this boat, noted that there was something wrong there and that I should have a look at it.

My guess is that even the rebuilding of the carb would not have fixed the problem that started all of this loss of power at anything over about 1700 RPM while underway. The prize for figuring that out has to go to John T. who recommended changing the coil. The old coil was original Chrysler Marine and I'm sure it had leaked.

So, with that problem solved, it's now time to go out and enjoy the boat!