Sunday, March 29, 2015

Now it looks like an engine

This week, we received the new inboard exhaust manifold from Lighthouse Marine Supply. Now we wish we had ordered both at the same time. On December 1 the manifold cost about $320. The other one we ordered this week was $367. Why? Barr (the manufacturer) isn't making as many, we were told. Maybe we're slow, but that doesn't seem like a very good reason for an almost 14% price increase on exactly the same part over a three month period. Rant over.

On Saturday, we began to re-connect the cooling hoses to the outboard manifold and elbow. We tossed all the old hoses and put in new ones. No sense in going cheap at this point. The only parts we reused were the two brass fittings that connect the manifold and riser to the heat exchanger and we had to beat those off the old manifold with a hammer applied to a 7/8" open end wrench.

On Sunday, we reinstalled the carb and the throttle linkage, a fairly easy job. It was nice to see that carb back in place with a spark arrestor that looked like brand new. It wasn't, of course, but we did clean up the old one and, although we're not telling Frances, we gave it a run through the dishwasher just to make sure it was clean.

We also finished the plumbing on the outboard side of the engine. We had the new (more expensive) manifold in the car and were thinking about how we'd lift it up onto the swim platform when luckily, our friend Rob arrived to work on his boat, which is next to ours.  He helped us heft the new manifold up onto the boat and we had a nice chat about what was going on with our boats.

Working on the inside between the engines, where we could stand and actually see what we were doing, made installing the manifold about a ten minute job. The the elbow slipped right back on where is supposed to be and the heavy part of this entire job was over.

We know this isn't very exciting, but just to see this thing mounted makes us feel like spring is here.

This shows the inboard elbow mounted on the new manifold. We reused the elbows since they are only two years old.

There are lots of little things left to do but compared to what we've been through with this head replacement project, they will be easy.

When we left on Sunday, the Connecticut river was behaving: not very high and flowing out nicely. Let's hope in continues to do that.

We've created a video that, unless you are into old boats and engines, you will probably want to skip. We have fun making them, however, and we'll continue to pollute the Internet until we arrive back at our summer slip.

Monday, March 23, 2015

More snow but it didn't stop us!

Lots of events around here were cancelled last night because of another "big storm" that was headed our way. It turned out to be two inches of wet snow and it was just enough to get us out there to shovel the sidewalks and help a neighbor get her car out onto the street. Great way to begin the day.

Once at the boat, our first order of business was to get the last  two bolts into that stink'in exhaust manifold. It seems that the bolt holes in the manifold gasket are just a little smaller than the bolt diameter so when you insert the bolt, you have to push on the head of the bolt while turning it in, just to get it to thread through the gasket and into the head. There are six bolts and we managed to get four new hex head bolts in. The other two refused to go in, mainly because we couldn't push hard enough on them as we screwed them in.

So, for the last two, we switched to Allen-head bolts. During the week, we bought a 1/2" Allen socket and that worked. We put the Allen key socket on the bolt and then used a small pry bar between the water tank and the ratchet to push it in as we turned it. Worked perfectly, although we never want to do this again.

Next we mounted the outboard valve cover. Note to self: This should be installed before the exhaust manifold goes on. The valve cover has five bolts. All are accessible except the one in the center. That one will require a 1/4-inch drive ratchet, an extension, a universal joint and a 7/16" socket.

Wrenching on an old boat is so much fun!

Next we installed the square bore to four barrel adapter for the carb. Pretty easy and we are owed an easy one once in a while.

Before we left we noted that the heavy work is done. Much of what remains is plumbing and we're familiar with that. No hose will reinstall without the help of our heat gun or some dish washing liquid. They never do. But now, we're within sight of the finish line.

Nice day and got an early start. Time to begin cleaning up some of the small stuff. Mount the water intake hose on the new raw water hose. We had to take that new pump off the engine to get the hose onto the bottom. Elapsed time: one hour.

 The Sherwood raw water pump from hell. It's a clever design and only fits these small block Chrysler engines but putting it on really takes some patience. That hose with the blue stripe will soon go on the pump outlet, right next to it.

Next, install the spark plugs on the outboard side. Not fun getting a hand down between the manifold and water tank. We've done this before, of course but somehow this time, it seemed more difficult. Had to take our jacket off to get our arm in there. Eventually, got all four plugs back in. Elapsed time: Another hour. Good we're not trying to make a living at this.

Next it was time to reinstall the exhaust elbow on the outboard side. We used a new block-off gasket between the top of the manifold and the Chrysler-specific adapter. That adapter plate allows the use of a very common exhaust elbow (used on lots of small block GM installations) on the Chrysler manifold. Then we installed a second gasket between the top of the adapter and the elbow.

Lots of people recommend installing these exhaust pieces dry but we've done this before and we like PermaTex Red gasket sealant because it works and those joints never leak.

Finally, we picked up the elbow with the exhaust hose still attached, slid the hose over the muffler inlet and gently put the elbow down over the studs on the top of the adapter.  It was great seeing that PermaTex ooze out a little all the way around the joint.

Here's the elbow finally installed.

The elbow isn't new. We installed it two years ago to replace the ones that came on the boat. It was in good shape, so we re-used it.

The brass fitting at the left end of the riser is where the seawater is injected to cool the riser a little before going overboard with the exhaust. The angle fitting just below it routes coolant (50% antifreeze and water) through the manifold to cool it.

Now we'll tackle the inboard side of the engine. That should be much easier because everything is right in front of us. No leaning over and fighting the proximity of the water tank.

All of this isn't a lot to show for 4-1/2 hours of work, but we're happy to have that outboard side of the engine complete.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The head replacement project moves forward

It's still colder than hell in the boat shed but we were back this weekend slowly putting the pieces back together. We still have two exhaust manifold bolts to install but we're going to need an Allen socket for that, which we'll get this week.

We also mounted the water fittings on the manifold and some other miscellaneous hardware like the lifting rings and the bracket for the two throttle cables.

Just to make sure that the gaskets fit correctly, we remounted the inboard valve cover. It mounted OK after a lot of shifting. We have no idea of how tight this valve cover should be. It isn't mentioned in the engine manual except a caution to be careful not to tighten it down too much. We can see why. It's just stamped steel with only five mounting points. If we loose one these little washers, we're screwed.

However it's back on and is one more thing that we can take from the parts that are all laided out on our guest bunk. As that pile gets smaller, we get happier.

We certainly hope that we never have to change that outboard, starboard side manifold again. Its  clearance to the water tank is an absolute nightmare and the dorks at Silverton who designed this boat should be forced to come down here and replace it for me.

The weather has warmed up and it certainly shows in the river. Ten days ago, there was 14 inches of ice. Now the river is reasonably clear and calmly flowing out with the tide. A thaw at this time of year is good for us. It means that a lot of that snow is melting now and not in late April and early May when we'd like to get out of here.

We shot some video of the river. It looks somewhat grim but to see it as liquid, rather than ice is wonderful. Bill got a haircut so now he looks less like a deranged amateur mechanic.

More progress next week, we hope.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

We got that exhaust manifold on!

Looks like spring is coming and with a little break in the cold weather, we headed back down to the boat to continue our saga of changing the cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds on our boat.

When we left the boat six weeks ago, the intake manifold was back on. First order of business on Saturday was to torque it down, which we did: first 20 lbs (in a particular order according to the engine manual) and then 40 lbs. Done. While we were there on Saturday, we scoped out just what we'd have to do to slip the new outboard exhaust manifold in between the engine and the water tank and then lift it up and bolt it to the head.

We made a number of measurements and it was clear that we weren't going to be able to screw in a couple of studs at the back and front of the head and simply slide the 52 lb. manifold on them. That's the way we have done it in the past on GM engines with more room to work. But now the water tank was too close to engine so we only had 3 inches or so to work with.

It was still pretty cold on Saturday, so we took notes and went home to think.

On Sunday morning, our car read 47 degrees outside temperature so we headed back to Portland and climbed up onto the boat. We had a new strategy for getting the exhaust manifold in place: rig a pulley and haul the manifold up to where it could be bolted in place. Good idea for something, but not for what we were trying to do.

Our next option was to simply get down on our knees next to the engine and then reach over and lift one end of the manifold up to a point where we could slip one bolt in. The manifold was resting on the edge of the water tank shelf and every time we tried to move it, the aft end slipped. No go. Time to take a break and think about what we were doing.

We found a piece of 2 X 4 that was about 6 inches long. We wedged that under the aft end of the manifold and went back to leaning over the engine and pulling up on the forward end of the manifold.

That worked. We were able to thread one end bolt into the block. With that done, we tried lifting the manifold so we could seat the other end bolt. That went quickly (about 25 minutes) but at least the damned thing was were it was supposed to be. We slipped in the exhaust manifold gasket and put the remaining four bolts in. Done. See ya in hell, manifold! Your twin on the inside should take about 30 minutes.

Overall, a good weekend. Our long underwear got a workout and we'll sleep well tonight although with a heating pad.

We don't have any pictures of the actual installation but we did some before and after video. We know, Bill needs a haircut. We'll do that this week.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The membership card rip-off

Sorry, no boating right now, but a few choice words for the people who run scams regarding membership renewals.

The targets of our venom today are AARP and the National Rifle Association

Why these two? Because they have tried to borrow membership money from us, supposing that we are careless at best, or stupid at worst.

It works like this. We get urgent renewal notices from AARP monthly, even though our membership has 9-10 months left to run.  Those notices get more and more frequent and to make things worse, our membership card doesn't show a renewal date. If we paid for our last membership on line, we'd have to go through months of credit card statements to see when we last renewed and they are counting on the fact that most people won't bother to do that.

But why not try to trick all those dumb seniors into lending them membership dues way in advance? It's such an easy trick. We'd guess, although we can't prove, that many members of AARP are paid up many years in advance because they pay these bills when they seem to be due.

Then there's the NRA (National Rifle Association). We're permit holders and we carry a firearm on a regular basis. We love the NRA's magazine, "The American Rifleman" and we support many, but not all, of the NRA's political initiatives.

The NRA is really the leader in elaborate direct mail. We get dozens of "renewal notices" that link our membership money to avoiding the collapse of the American democracy or worse. That's fine, but the NRA begins asking for a membership renewal immediately after we've renewed and keeps on doing so every month. Their membership card does not contain a renewal date and every direct mail piece we receive suggests that we have to renew now, even though we are paid up and current and will be for many months to come.

This tendency to take customers as dumb or inattentive really offends us. We really aren't interested in loaning these organizations interest-free money. Sure, to lots of us, it's small change but there is a principle here. Offer a useful membership and ask for renewal when it is due. Pretty simple, right?

Too bad these two organizations and probably many others don't respect that simple way of doing business.

Sorry for the rant. Sometimes just opening our mails sets us off.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The snow is making us nutty

 We know that many of our readers live here in the northeast so having us complaint about the snow is fairly boring. But, we're getting by. The Snow Blower still starts but it's getting difficult to find a place to blow the snow. We've taken pictures, of course, but they'll only be fun to look at while we're enjoying a cocktail on the deck in July.

We have nothing new to report on the starboard engine head replacement project. We haven't visited the boat in six weeks and that's a first for us. Normally by now, we'd be finished the last "fun" boat project, charging the batteries and counting the weeks before we go back in the water. The spring freshet on the Connecticut River should be something this year!

In the middle of all this snow, Bill's ancient Mercury decided to stop providing heat while overheating the engine. After checking with the locals who couldn't (or didn't want to) find a solution, we took the car to two of the best mechanics we know, Gary and Al at Hicks Garage in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Gary and Al are also big time boaters, which is where we met them many years ago.) It didn't take them long to find the problem and it isn't pretty. Air in the cooling system that, they think, is coming from a failed head gasket or a cracked head. They're digging into the engine and we'll know what they come up with in a few days.

Last Sunday, as it started snowing once again, Frances decided to make a pizza, something she hasn't tried before. We thought this might make a funny video so we set up the cameras in the kitchen and off she went. The resultant video was really long and we attempted to cut it down to something that could be consumed at one sitting.

The pizza? Absolutely delicious, although Frances feels she can make one even better. That's fine. Bill will eat pizza like that any day!