Saturday, November 19, 2011

Allen, our favorite wrench

While we haven't been updating our blog as often as we should, we have made progress on our winter list of things to do on the boat. We began by putting everything away, bringing stuff home and finding a place to store it all for the winter.  Last weekend we scraped all the old crud out of the bilge spaces and used our shop vac to suck up all the stuff that had collected down there over the past 30 years. Oh yeah, there were a number of old screws, nuts, bolts and washers that had been lost over the years that got sucked up too.

We also replaced the fuel lines from the tank to each engine and that was surprisingly easy.

We're going to replace both of the old Quadrajet carbs with new Edelbrock 1409 carbs and we ordered and received the first one.  The Edelbrock 1409 is a square bore carb and the old Quadrajets mounted on a Chrysler spread bore intake manifolds, so the new carbs require an adapter and obviously another gasket.  Here's the adpater:

The new 1409 carb doesn't provide a vacuum fitting for the PCV hose but the adapter does. That's the brass fitting you can see at the back of the adapter.

 The 1409 is really beautifully made, in fact, 100% made in America. We'll probably have to play around to make the throttle linkage fit the new carb just right, but that's half the fun. The new carb has an  electric choke so we can forget about the problems we used to have with the thermostatic chokes on the old Quadrajets.

We'll install the new carbs after after we take care of replacing the exhaust risers on both engines, since we have no idea of when that was done last. No sense in installing a new carb and then trying to wrestle the old risers up and over it.

Here's the starboard engine before we started. We have v-drives so the engines face aft.

While we're down here taking things apart, we might as well remove the heat exchangers (the blue cylinders mounted at the back of the engine) and have them boiled out and re-sealed by a local radiator shop. They both work fine but why not have them reconditioned while we have such good access to them? We don't want to do this again for a long time!

The risers are mounted on adapters that mate them to the Chrysler exhaust manifolds.  Each riser is fastened down with four Allen head bolts.  Why Allen head, we'll never know. We've lost sleep thinking about how we'll get these bolts out without breaking one off or bending an Allen wrench. On each riser, the aft bolt is partially covered. Cute. Whoever designed there manifolds should be made to live in our bilge for a week.

We began by soaking each bolt with penetrating oil that in our experience never really works, but it was worth a try. We began with the easiest ones, the inside bolts on the inboard starboard manifold. Since we could actually see them, they seemed like a good place to see just how difficult this was going to be.

The first two actually came out, although not without a lot of help. That's an ordinary Allen wrench. It is the only thing that would fit in that spot.

The crud you see around that rusty old bolt is actually penetrating oil. This time, the penetrating oil worked.  With the bolts on the starboard inside manifold out, we tackled the bolts on the outside starboard manifold, which is very close to the water tank.  Not much room to move in there. Note the paper towel stuffed between the manifold and the valve cover? That was to trap the Allen wrench in case we dropped it. As we get older, we get smarter.

As luck would have it, that one came out too, as did the aft bolt, which was done completely by "feel."

It was getting cold in the shed but we thought that we'd try at least the easy inside bolts on the port side. They took a little longer than expected but once out (we nearly stripped the head on one bolt), we went for the bolts on the outside port manifold. They took an hour to get out but finally the last of the 16 bolts were on the deck.

The next step is to remove the risers and unbolt the adapters that mate the to the manifolds. That probably won't be easy either, but at least we'll have real hex head bolts to work with. Or at least, we think we will. Who knows what lurks down there.

The cost of replacing the risers and the adapters appears to be about $350 per engine. Well worth it if it keeps seawater from getting into our engines.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pink stuff

After a great summer, during which Frances used the boat as her floating summer cottage when we weren't cruising, it's time to winterize.

Last weekend, we had a freak October snowstorm that dropped 8-10 inches of snow on Connecticut's trees that still had all or most of their leaves. The result was widespread power outages, some of which have now exceeded a week.  Our street was almost impassible.

We got our power back in three days and one nice afternoon this week, we went to the boat and started that always sloppy process of winterizing the engines.

We have fresh water (actually antifreeze) cooled engines so we only have to run non-toxic antifreeze through the heat exchangers and the exhaust risers to protect us from freezing during the long winter to come. Funny to see snow on the boat on such a beautiful day in October.

Our boat came out of the water on Friday to make room for others who were coming up the Connecticut River for winter storage. Today (Saturday), we winterized the fresh water system, the air conditioner and the head and holding tank with another 10 gallons of pink stuff. Can't be happy until we see every faucet running pink.

Frances continued to put things away and get the interior ready for winter.  One of her better discoveries was a way to vacuum bag much of our bedding.  Put the bedding in a special plastic bag and then suck the air out using our vacuum cleaner. Worked like a charm. No air, no mold problems.

We have lots of things to do on the boat this winter, although we won't be spending every weekend doing them. But while we're not there, we left our little bear, who goes everywhere with us on the boat, standing guard.