Monday, September 29, 2014

Huntington Place

On a recent Sunday afternoon, we took a walk through a small neighborhood here in Norwich. We understood that a tour was being planned but it was to be on a weekday, when work prevented us from attending.

The tour was of Huntington Place, a small street behind St. Patrick Cathedral.

We admit to being to being architecture geeks, especially examples of late 18th century homes. It always amazes us how the details in those houses were carved or cut by craftsmen who had no power tools and how they fit perfectly and have lasted 125 years or more.

Huntington Place in Norwich has some really beautiful houses and, to be honest, one or two that have  been neglected. But that aside, most of the houses and their gardens are to us, at least, well worth the visit.

Yes, we're still boaters but sometimes, there's something ashore that can be just as intriguing.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A wonderful September weekend

The leaves are beginning to float across our bow and that signals fall. Time to leave our summer home.

Last week, we checked the fluids in our engines and everything looked good. On Saturday, we fired her up and headed to the fuel dock for our final fill-up of this season. $4.449 a gallon and we took 111 gallons. That's more than enough to get us to our winter storage yard and back again next spring.

Mike, or Dockmaster, helped us load our inflatable onto our foredeck. That's it for this year for that  thing.

At this time of year, our dock mates fade to other things like fishing or hunting. We're not sure when they will be back before we leave, so this weekend we wished everyone a good winter, if there is such a thing.

Frances and Pooka, our boat cat, continue to live on our boat until we leave. The weather was perfect this weekend and we shot some video of what it looks like. This is video that we'll look at next winter after we have cleared the snow from our sidewalks. 

These are the images that keep us wanting to come back for another year.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Blue Mass, September 21, 2014

Once again this year, we attended the Blue Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Norwich. If you don't know us, Norwich is where we keep our boat in the summer and over a number of years, we've gotten to know our dock mates and the city pretty well. Several boater friends are in law enforcement and we've come to like and respect them, in particular. When September rolls around, we always put on something besides shorts and attend Blue Mass.

The Cathedral of St. Patrick, where the Blue Mass is held, is simply beautiful and worth a visit if you come to Norwich. As with every church of this type, the doors are always open.

 This particular Mass is held in remembrance of Officers fallen in the line of duty and unfortunately, that list is several pages long.

It is always interesting to see officers from so many towns and cities participate. Some are part of the ceremony and others bring their families with the little kids who don't yet understand what all this means.

We put together some video, but tried to keep that respectful. This is a Mass, after all, and no one needs us running around the church with a TV camera in the middle of a ceremony that is important as this one.

 Now, back to boating
We are starting to off-load lots the summer things. The outboard went home last weekend and we collected all the winterizing stuff at Tractor Supply for a mere $104. It will be a few more weeks, but winter storage is coming.

Our final trip to winter storage in Portland, Connecticut is about 60 miles but only 12 miles of that is in open ocean. The the remainder of the cruise is in the Thames and Connecticut Rivers and they are usually beautiful in October. We hope to once again bring you video of the foliage on the river. We know you just can't wait for that!

Our plan, once we get to Portland, is to winterize the engines and water system and then begin to dismantle, at least partially, our starboard engine to install rebuilt cylinder heads. To get the old heads off, we'll have to remove the intake manifold and both of the exhaust manifolds. That's not a fun prospect since the intake manifold has never been off (from what we can tell) and the outboard exhaust manifold on that engine is within six inches of our water tank.

At least we have the rebuilt heads here. We got the from Mechanic's Select Cylinder Heads in Concord, North Carolina at a cost of $265 each plus $57 shipping. They arrived just one week after we ordered them, which is what was promised.

At 50 lbs. each it will be a task just to get them up onto the boat, which will be out of the water by then.

It doesn't make much sense to do a job like this without also replacing the exhaust manifolds so we're planning a road trip to Lighthouse Marine in Riverhead, Long Island to pick up a pair of them.  The manifolds are also a little over 50 lbs. each so we should be nice and strong by the time we finish this project.

We'd really like to finish this engine project before the weather gets cold. We have only a few small winter boat projects (some interior painting and installing a 110 volt AC outlet in the cockpit and probably a few we don't remember at the moment). This winter, we'd really like to take some weekends off and do some fun things together.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A final solution for our starboard engine

This engine has given us trouble all season. We've enlisted the advice of our dock mates (several of whom are accomplished mechanics) and thrown a bunch of new parts at the problem but so far, nothing has solved the problem.

The problem, you ask? The engine will not, after some almost random time, run faster than about 2200 rpm. Below that engine speed it operates perfectly. The port engine, running from a common fuel tank, continues to run perfectly.

Having exhausted most of the common causes for this behavior, we called in a local marine engine mechanic. He did nothing more than measure the compression in each cylinder before announcing that "this motor has serious problems." The compression readings across the eight cylinders were all over the place from 125 lbs on a some, 100 lbs on others and one, number 8, with just 50 lbs.

The engine mechanic's boss proposed a complete rebuild as a solution. After we brought the boat to his yard, he and his crew would remove the starboard engine and ship it off to Jasper (in Florida?), where they would rebuild our old engine and then ship the rebuilt engine back to his yard for re-installation. He also mentioned how complicated these Chrysler LM-360 engines are and that there were a lot of different engine configurations.

The price for this rebuild? $11,000.

Obviously, this guy really thought he had us hooked and he laid it on, saying how unreliable local machine shops and rebuilders are.

He really wasn't interested in what we thought or what we had found, namely that the engine burns no oil and exhibits little or no blow-by. We suggested that a complete valve job might be the best solution at this point but he reiterated that "this motah really needs a complete rebuild."

We beg to disagree. In fact, it pissed us off that this guy took us for dumb boaters who don't know a wrench from a wench. Over the past 30 years, we've done three engine swaps ourselves on previous boats and they all worked perfectly. We also did the grunt work on a pair of GM 305 heads that were rebuilt by a local machine shop and that worked fine, too.

A look at our LM-360 shop manual shows that these engines aren't any more complicated than a GM small block engine and are in many ways very similar. Also, there aren't "many" different configurations of the LM-360 but only two, and those differences are minor.

So, here's the plan. We'll leave the boat in its slip and enjoy the fall season as we usually do. Remember, Frances lives on the boat and we don't want to cut her enjoyment of the season short.

Then we'll run the boat up the Connecticut River to its winter home, were she is stored in a shed out of the weather. The starboard engine will run fine as long as we keep the speed to 2200 rpm and if not, we can get up the Connecticut River on one engine. We doubt that will be necessary.

Once in Portland for the winter, we'll winterize the engines and begin the process of removing the heads on the starboard engine. We'll find a local machine shop that can do the rebuild. We already have one suggested.

While we have the heads off of the engine, we'll take the opportunity to put on new exhaust manifolds. Normally, that's very difficult to do because of the proximity of one manifold to our water tank but with the the intake and heads out of the way, it should be much easier. Well, okay, somewhat easier.

Hey, we still had a fun boating season, even if it was at 2200 rpm on that starboard engine.