Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back to work after a weekend off

We took last weekend off. It snowed on Saturday and on Sunday, we took a short road trip to Stonington. It's one of our favorite places and it gave Frances a chance to drop off some jewelry for repair.

On the way to Stonington, we took a photo of Norwich in the winter, something we don't usually get to see. Not a very good photo but it was cold and we were too lazy to get out of the car..

This weekend, the snow had melted and the weather was moderate for January so we collected our notes and headed off to the boat to finish the installation of the port heat exchanger.  We had it bolted down but were unable to reconnect the long length of hose from the engine circulating pump to the heat exchanger. Old hoses defy anything you try to do with them so we brought this one home so we could make up a new hose. This hose had a copper elbow in it that really didn't want to come loose.  It did, eventually, with some heat from our heat gun.

As we get further into this cooling system rehab project, we've come to realize that most, if not all, of these old hoses are going to have to be replaced. Why take a chance with a 30 year old hose?

Even with new hose of the right inside diameter, these hoses are incredibly difficult to attach.  Here's the port heat exchanger with the large hoses in place. The bottom one near that red battery cable was a bitch!

We stripped off the other 3/4 and 1-inch hoses that attach to the heat exchanger and took the parts home to put everything together there.

Then we started on the starboard side. The first job was to mount the bracket that holds the heat exchanger over the transmission at the back of the engine. It looks easy but took half an hour to get the bracket lined up so we could insert and tighten the new bolts, lock washers and nuts.

That hose assembly you see in the foreground is the one we took home to disassemble.  It directs the hot seawater from the heat exchanger through a copper "T" fitting and then out those two hoses to the exhaust elbows, where the cooling water is mixed with the engine exhaust and dumped overboard.

That's where we left things on Saturday afternoon when it started to get cold in the shed.

On Sunday morning, fortified by The New York Times and a great breakfast courtesy of Frances, we pried off the old hoses, wire brushed the copper "T" fittings, primed and painted them. Don't laugh. Everything else was refinished, so why not them too?

Once back on the boat, we mounted the heat exchanger on that bracket and attached the hose from the engine circulating pump (that 1-1/4 inch hose was pure agony to attach to the port on the bottom of the heat exchanger just like it was on the port side). Then, armed with new 3/4-inch and 1-inch hose, we cut the sections we needed, attached them to our "T" fittings and mounted the hose assemblies to the heat exchanger. It certainly looks nice and we'd show you a picture but we left the camera on the boat.

That completes the rehab project on the two heat exchangers.  It turned out to be more extensive than we'd thought and eventually included some rewiring and the removal of the extra battery.

We've been told to expect the new exhaust elbows this week and if that turns out to be correct, we'll install them next weekend. We've already removed the mounting bolts and the hose clamps from the old elbows and it looks as though we're going to have to whack the elbows off the manifolds with a very large hammer because they they are really stuck on there.

Hey, it's an old boat. What else can you expect?

One note about this blog. We've just passed 5,200 page views. That's amazing too us considering that it's all about two people owning and maintaining a 30+ year old power boat. Granted, lots of people who search on a particular  keyword that we've used end up at our blog and probably leave just as quickly, but still, a lot of people have found us and we have to assume, read a little of what we've posted.

Google provides us with statistics about the blog. We don't know individually who visited, but we do get to see what country visitors are from and what blog post seemed to draw the most interest and to us, at least, that's really interesting.

When we put a picture of our Colt 380 automatic on the blog, the page views increased dramatically within 24 hours. Almost two years ago, we wrote a blog called, "Having some fun with Silverton," which was intended to be a parody of a 1980 Silverton brochure where everything good on the boat was optional (as it actually was, back then). That blog post also seems to be one of the most popular ones.

The all-time leader so far was a blog post we wrote about buying a small sofa for the boat from Ikea. This inexpensive sofa was made in eastern Europe somewhere, and the model name that Ikea had for it was "Klobo." We had such fun dragging it up on in boat the middle of the winter and assembling it that we began to call it Klobo. It's still on our boat today and has seen lots of use.  That post drew readers from all over, many of whom were from Europe. It is still drawing readers today.

We certainly hope that "Klobo" isn't a provocative term in some other language.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Reinstalling: satisfying but not much fun

When we last left the saga of Bill & Frances' winter boat rehab project, we had assured ourselves that the starboard oil cooler wasn't blocked and that entailed installing a new hose from the seacock to the oil cooler.

This week, we got the port starter back from Joe's Auto Electric. It was explained to us, as we lightened our wallet by $185, that the drive in the starter was worn and that John, grandson of the original Joe, changed it because he thought that "we wouldn't want to be going back down there anytime soon." God knows, he was right.

We'd guess that the starter weighs 20 lbs or more and it certainly looked like new as we lugged it up onto the deck and prepared to reinstall it.

Having the rebuilt starter back allowed the whole process of re-mounting the heat exchanger on the port side to begin since we can't access the starter with the heat exchanger in place. If you have a boat, you'll understand this.

We installed the starter with only moderate difficulty although we spent a lot of time laying across the back of the port engine simply trying to line up the starter close enough to start the two mounting bolts.

Then it was time to mount the newly repaired port heat exchanger. The heat exchanger mounts on a U-shaped bracket that bolts to the reverse gear. We had sanded, primed and painted these brackets and figured they'd go right back in. Armed with all new hardware, we did get them installed but every bolt required spaghetti-arms. Just that bracket took us almost 30 minutes, but eventually, it was bolted down and ready for the heat exchanger.

If you're wondering about that crusty Y-fitting on the cooling hose shown in the photo, yes, we're going to replace that too.

The heat exchanger bolts to that bracket with two 9/16" one-inch long bolts but those holes are just big enough to accept the bolts so there was a half-hour of laying between the engines and trying to line up those two sets of holes without letting the exchanger slide off the bracket and fall into the bilge. Guess we should have bought slightly smaller bolts.

Finally, the heat exchanger was back to where Silverton put in in 1980, now with a new life (we hope).

We stuck the hoses back in place just for the photo.  When we change the exhaust risers in a couple of weeks, all those hoses will be replaced.

The more we get into rehabilitating the cooling system on these engines, the more we realize that we can't really re-use any of the old hoses. The hose from the seawater pump to the heat exchanger wouldn't seat properly and we replaced it with modern wire-reinforced hose.  The hose from the bottom of the heat exchanger to the engine circulating pump was also shabby when closely inspected and we'll replace that too. These are relatively short sections of hose (3-4 feet) so replacing them isn't much of an expense, although getting them off the old fittings after more than 30 years is time consuming torture.

Keep in mind, these are what we call "invisible" repairs because everything worked just fine when we took the boat out of the water in November. With all of this work behind us, nothing will be different except when we're out in the open water, we'll be fairly confident that something won't break.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why some people should never wire a boat

No kidding. We actually found this length of wire in the rat's nest of connections next to the extra (5th) battery that was mounted outside of the starboard engine. Can you imagine adding four butt connectors to splice a short run of wire?  Anyway, it's gone now but more about that later.

We had great weather this weekend and even in the metal shed where our boat is stored, the temperature got up to 50 degrees.  When we left the boatyard on Saturday afternoon at 4:15 PM, the temperature display in the car showed 62 degrees. But, we all know that the warm weather won't last for long. It is January in New England.

Before we took the New Years weekend off, we were trying, without much success, to remove the 1-1/4-inch ID hose from the oil cooler that serves the starboard v-drive.  It's the first in line for sea water after the seacock and we wanted to make sure that there was nothing stuck in the oil cooler inlet screen. We had to work around the domino effect here. The heat exchanger was off after having been boiled out and repaired and once we reinstalled it, we wouldn't be able to get to that oil cooler. So it was now or never as we arrived on Saturday afternoon.

Two weekends ago, tried heating the hose with our heat gun. The hose wouldn't budge. This Saturday, we tried again and kept the heat gun on that hose until it started to smoke.  Then we used a large slip-joint wrench to twist it and off it came. Success!. Of course, when we looked into the inlet in the oil cooler, it was as clean as can be, so all that work was for nothing except now we know there's nothing in there.

 The heat had deformed the end of the hose so we bought 6 ft. of Trident wire-reinforced hose. That is exactly what had been on there but we found the new Trident hose to have a thinner wall and it seemed to be much more flexible.  With the help of a little dish washing liquid, the new hose went on fairly easily. Here it is installed at the seacock.

While we were doing all of this, we had a visit from Brian, a friend from the Silverton Owner's Club. We chatted with Brian about boats old and new and toured the boatyard looking for bits and pieces of trim that he might be able to use as he brings back his 83 Silverton 34C. Brian knows a lot about boats and is a real craftsman. Next time he visits, we may just get him to help with whatever we've doing!

Once Brian left, we we needed to do something about that extra 5th battery. (Again, we could get to it because the port heat exchanger was not yet re-mounted.)  The wiring for it was a mess and it's among that tangle that we found the 8-inch length of wire with four butt connectors in it that we showed at the beginning of this post.

 We had always assumed that that extra battery was there to operate the anchor windlass but once we disconnected it and traced out the wiring, we found that it was there to power the old Norcold refrigerator that we got rid of last winter. Come to think of it, that low capacity wiring would never operate a windlass. And how about that ceramic fuse holder?

Knowing that, we removed all that brittle old wiring, took out the battery and vacuumed up all the
left over junk.  There always seems to be a handfull of wiring for the dumpster..

That space is now empty except for those two red wires that connect to the v-drive low pressure warning light switch.  We'll tie them down properly next weekend.

Before we left on Sunday afternoon, we used our electric drill with a wire brush to get rid of most of the rust and scaling paint on the intake manifolds, reverse gears and v-drives. We then applied a cost of Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer.  Next weekend, we'll add some blue Rustoleum engine paint and then remount the starboard heat exchanger. Can't do the port heat exchanger until we get the port starter back. Time to call Joe's Auto Electric and ask about that starter. They said they weren't busy at this time of year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years on the water

We always try to spend New Years Eve on the water. Given the economy and the limited time, we were running out of places to go.  We've been to south Jersey for a midnight cruise and to Block Island to ring in the new year. We spent two New Year's eves with our friends Doug and Ellen Creighton in Greenport and this year, we decided to go back there. Unfortunately, Doug is no longer with us but Ellen was, as always, a gracious hostess was glad to see us.

The old Mercury was packed with everything we'd ever need, thanks to Frances, and we drove onto the Cross Sound Ferry.

We had reservations to stay at Townsend's in Greenport but before we checked in, we had to visit Mitchell's Marina, where we always dock during the summer. Funny seeing it with no boats.

We always meet nice people at Mitchell's and this beautiful Irish Wolf Hound was no exception. (dogs and cats are "people" to us). This breed of dog is well known as a visitor to senior homes and hospitals.  His owner explained that one of the reasons is that, because "Lord" is so suited is due to his size or height.  The people he visits do not have to lean down to pet him!

We also drove over to the spot where Doug's Docks were.  We spent many, many great days there in Stirling harbor with Doug and Ellen and many other people like us who wanted a nice, informal spot to tie up. Doug's Dock has been sold and reconditioned now with all new docks and pilings.

The new owner left a few things behind, including these old picnic tables.  He'd be amazed if he ever knew how many great parties we had around them.

We were surprised to spot the ubiquitous rubber ducky still floating in the drink after all this time (kinda creepy and nostalgic at the same time...) After visiting the old dock, we checked into Townsend's, which is right down the street. Our room was in in the 1850 "Gingerbread House."

The trim on the porch wasn't very inviting but out room was delightful. Lots of windows and a very large bath. Perfect.

Ellen joined us for a drink (she had made plans to see friends that evening) and after that, Frances and I went to Skippers for dinner. Skippers is simply the best place on the entire North Fork. If you go to Greenport by boat, you'll have to take a cab to get there. Just tell them you want to go to Skippers, no address needed.  It isn't fancy and most of the people you will find there are local. Order the Fisherman's Platter. Seafood doesn't get much better than this.

After Skippers, we both fell asleep before the ball dropped to signal the new year. No big deal. That's the way we are.

The next morning, we drove to Ellen's house for brunch. Eggs Benedict is always one of our favorites and Ellen knows how to make them.

After brunch, we walked up to Horton's Point Light. The weather was in the low 50s. Once there, Frances took this pic of the Connecticut coast. That's Niantic off in the distance.

We know that it will snow soon and we've cheated winter so far, so getting away was particularly nice. Boating doesn't have to end when the weather turns cold.

We shot some video and edited it down to some of the things we'd like to remember.