Sunday, May 31, 2015

There always seems to be more to do

We've been at our summer dock for just two weeks and there are lots of things to put away or decide that we can get rid of. Dishes and silverware for eight? Don't think so. Let's lighten the load.

It's now almost the first of June and there are still a lot of empty slips. We hope that isn't something that will continue. We love it when the marina is full.

After a good breakfast on Sunday and a deep dip into the Sunday New York Times, we were ready to take the inflatable off the front deck where it spent the winter, and pull it around to the swim platform where we could pull it up on the davits.

This thing is awkward and it isn't easy for one person to pick it up and slide it down over the bow rails into the water.

To get this done, we asked dockmate John T to give us a hand. John knows what he's doing and is about the only person that we'd trust running our boat (something that he has done many times in the past.) We humped the old inflatable over the railing, slid it into the water and walked it around to the stern. Once there, we got it into the davits and hauled it up. Then, all Frances and I had to do was tie it down.

Air conditioning isn't cold enough
Frances called from the boat this week to say that the AC wasn't working to its full capacity. She took the opportunity to call the manufacturer, Marine Air, in Florida, and found a local service company. (We're skipping all the calls needed to get that information.) Finally, she made contact with Quox Corporation, in nearby Stonington. We were told the someone would be at our boat at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Matt Snyder, who owns Quox Corp, was a little late but really knew what he was doing. He showed us how to vacuum the cat hair out from the AC unit and, in fact, got most of it out while we watched.

There's more to Matt that we hope to cover over the summer. He's a really interesting guy and one who plays the mandolin. 

His bill for about two hours on our boat was something like $175. Given the complexity of the AC unit, we think that was a bargain.

Why, Frances asked, was his company called Quox? He suggested that we look at "The Wonderful World of Oz.

Although Quox is young, by dragon standards, he is very large. At the time of his encounter with Betsy Bobbin and company he was a mere three thousand fifty-five years old. His body is a lovely sky-blue color and thickly set with glittering silver scales, each as big as a serving tray. His head and face are not especially ugly for a dragon, but his eyes are so large that it takes a long time to wink. Whenever he smiles he shows sharp, terrible teeth. His nostrils are large and wide, and his breath smells of brimstone. His voice is a little gruff, but not unpleasant. An electric light is attached to the end of his tail. (We copied this from The Wonderful World of Oz.)

Matt Snyder will continue to be our go-to guy for AC problems. He doesn't really have an electric light attached to the end of his tail.

We took a short walk around the marina on Sunday. Not a lot of boats for the beginning of June but we suppose some more will arrive in the next few weeks. We had to include the dock damaged by last winter's ice. You rarely see pilings leaning that far over.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"It has to be somewhere!"

 This weekend, we started hauling down the stuff we'll need on the boat this summer. There's a lot of it and in fact, probably more than we really need. We unpacked the boxes and started to clean up the disarray that was left over from our delivery cruise earlier this week. As we began looking through the boxes and bags for something we needed, one of us would always say, "It has be be somewhere," and if we dug deep enough, we found it.

While Frances was working on the interior of the boat, we pressure-washed the outside of the boat (or most of it) with a new pressure washer that we just bought at Lowes. A couple of years ago, we had another pressure washer that we bought from Harbor Freight. It was truly a POS and one of the fittings broke off during our third use.

The new one, a greenworks GPW 1600 really seemed to work. It peeled the grime off of most of the boat with ease and it had a nice long power cord (about 25 feet) and a long hose on the spray wand. This new pressure washer cost us $99 and right now, it looks good.  We get nothing from Lowes or anyone else to mention it here.

Still, we thought it was too big and cumbersome to use on our cockpit. We did that job the old fashioned way: on our knees with a scruffy pad and a hose.

While we were working, others, who had already done the prep work, were relaxing on the dock.

It's spring at our marina so the ducks were back with their new brood of ducklings. It's difficult not to stop and watch them.

On Monday, Memorial Day, we took the rugs from the boat home to clean them up, and Frances stayed around to continue to put stuff away and make our boat comfortable again.

A note about Memorial Day
If you are reading this blog, please don't think that the description of us getting our boat ready for summer on this is weekend indicates any disrespect for those who served and for whom this day is dedicated. As I stand on the back of our boat and look around, I see a number of veterans of the Army and Navy and that includes me (Bill). Be assured that we remember.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Portland to Norwich: An interesting cruise

We left Portland on Monday, May 18 at 10 a.m. for the 62 mile ride to our summer dock in Norwich.

For regular readers of our blog, we should begin by noting that the boat engines ran perfectly. We spent Gods-knows-how-many hours on the starboard engine over the winter, replacing $1,100 worth of cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds. Just for the hell of it, we also rebuilt both of the raw water pumps.

Our trip down the Connecticut River was uneventful and relaxing. The water depth in the river was very low due to the recent lack of rain and there were almost no logs to dodge.

The weather forecast for the Sound was wind 5-10 kts from the east and seas "one foot or less." At Essex, we encountered a very cool wind and that continued all the way through Old Saybrook. As we approached the outer light, we got a look at the Sound. "One foot or less?" Not exactly, There were white caps as far out as we could see and as we turned east into the Sound we rode into some scary head seas. The wind-driven waves were bigger than we usually encounter and we slammed through them at about 10-15 second intervals. There was nothing we could do at that point but slow down a little and take the punishment. On a couple of dozen occasions we rode up waves that got the boat about half-way out of the water, followed by a very solid slam as we came back down.

Francis put her head down and held on so she couldn't see what was coming.  This all sounds very scary (and it was) but the boat handled perfectly and the engines never missed a beat.

In about five miles, the water became much deeper and that moderated the wave action considerably. Eventually, we were able to run east past Waterford at what we'd consider normal seas in a stiff east wind.

When we entered the Thames River in New London, Francis went below and found the inside of the boat pretty well trashed. The larger pieces of furniture had stayed in place but everything loose was on the floor. There was stuff everywhere and all we could do is laugh and repeat our usual motto, "That's boating!"

 Looks like our Shop-Vac decided to join the party

 Good opportunity for Francis to clean out her purse

 We didn't need all those toothpicks, anyway

The ride up the Thames was beautiful and our docking uneventful, as well.

The video we put together doesn't include any of  the "bang and slam" portion of the trip because we would have drenched our forward-facing cam, which we had removed as soon as we saw the white caps in the Sound. The video is just beauty shots but they are ones that we have been looking forward to over the long winter.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sherwood G7B marine pump

We're posting some information about the seawater pumps on our Chrysler LM-360 marine engines in the hope that it will save others some work finding impellers and other parts.

First, the pump was used in lots of marine applications besides Chrysler, although the LM-318 and the LM-360 is where they seem to be found more often. Chrysler made a lots of those engines in a couple of configurations but they all use this pump.

These were pretty rugged engines and there are a lot of them still in service today.

This Sherwood pump is a very robust bronze pump with a wide impeller. It is still in stock at some marine parts outlets including Defender Marine here in Connecticut. It retails for about $350 but before you buy one, take your old pump apart. The three 1/4-20 bolts that hold it together may crumble but even if they do, you can chase out the threads and replace the bolts quite easily.

I used ordinary Grade 8 steel 1/4-20 X 3/4" bolts. The original bolts may have been bronze but I'm simply not going to worry about using disimilar metals in this case. Next time I change an impeller, I'll put in new bolts.

The pulley is pressed on, which is uncommon on more modern pumps but if you want to replace just the impeller or the impeller and the cam, you don't need to remove the pulley. The stainless slotted-head machine screw shown in this picture holds the cam in place. Don't remove it unless you intend to replace the cam.

If you do an Internet search for "Sherwood G7 pump" you can go directly to Sherwood and download drawings and parts lists.

That isn't a crack on the inlet but simply a casting mark. There is a lot of bronze behind it.

While the impellers in our pumps were in very bad shape (as you can see in the photo), the inside of the pumps looked okay and we choose to simply replace the impeller, O-ring and gasket, all of which come in a kit for about $25. The Sherwood part number for the impeller kit is 10615K.

Getting the new impeller in looks difficult but it will go it. We used dishwashing liquid as a lubricant.

Note that these pumps are not bi-directional. The impeller must be installed respecting the direction of rotation so mark the inlet and outlet sides of the pump after the impeller is in place. Unlike some marine pumps, the impeller vanes will not simply reverse themselves if you try to run it backwards. In fact, if you try that, you will probably damage the impeller. I speak from experience.

The pump will go back together only one way to have the inlet and outlet sides vertical. The gasket is really thin and we used a very thin layer of Permatex gasket maker between the gasket and the body of the pump. That also helps hold the gasket in place until you can get the bolts in.

 A more expensive alternative pump
Here's an interesting item that come out of our research. The Sherwood G7 (or G7B) pump is interchangeable with a Jabsco 18940-0010 pump. They are almost identical from the outside but the Jabsco pump uses a splined shaft to hold the impeller while the Sherwood uses a keyway. Jamestown Distributors in Bristol, Rhode Island, has the Jabsco pump in stock for a jaw-dropping $619.99. Jamestown also has parts for this pump.

We have two of these Jabsco pumps and they appear to be a little better quality than the Sherwood pump but for recreational marine service, we doubt that it would make much difference.

Pump mounting on the LM-360 (and probably the LM-318) engine
If you've never attempted to remove or re-mount one of these pumps on most Chrysler 360s, you'll probably find that it isn't easy, especially on the starboard engine where the pump is on the outboard side. Chrysler fitted a bracket to the engine that matches the two tapped mounting holes in the pump. The pump can be removed easily enough with a 9/16" ratchet type box wrench, although you have to feel for the lower mounting bolt that, at least on my boat, you really can't see.

Re-mounting the pump is the difficult part. The bolt that goes through the bracket and into the top mounting hole of the pump is easy but you will spend a long time trying the get the bottom bolt through the slot in the bracket and into the pump because you probably won't be able see it. You can save a lot of time by simply removing the mounting bracket from the engine (two 9/16" bolts, one about six inches long), mounting the pump to the bracket and then re-mounting the bracket to the engine. On my engines, this is a little tricky (because of that very long mounting bolt) but it will go back on. Then, attaching the inlet and outlet hoses is (fairly) easy. I smear a liberal amount of dishwashing liquid on the inside of the hoses to make them easier to get back on.

The installation I described here was on my engines, which are mounted on v-drives. That means that my engines face backwards, giving me quite a lot of room to work on the pumps. If your engines are mounted conventionally and are up against a structural member or are under the sole in a cabin, removing the mounting brackets with the pumps still attached will be much easier.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In the water

The crew at Portland Riverside put the boat in the water on Friday, May 8. We went down on the day before that to pick up our ladders and the crew confirmed that we would go in the following afternoon.

As soon as we got the message that we were floating, we drove to the boat and tied it up the way we like. Not saying that they don't do a good job but, well, you get the idea.

On Saturday, we showed up early since there was a lot to do. The old girl looked dirty but was floating fine with no water in the bilge. Not that we expected any but who knows what could be leaking after the cold winter we just had.

The Luhrs express next to us belongs to our friend Rob, who is always next to us in the shed during the winter. Rob had the engines going and was waiting for his father, Bill, who was going along for the ride to Niantic, where they tie up for the summer.

It was cool and overcast but as we started to erect the bridge enclosure, the sun came out and it felt like mid-summer. We took the enclosure down to have a zipper on the top repaired and we got it back just in time. (Thanks, Frances for finding a new source for canvas repair.)

Putting this thing back up is always a fun thing to watch because the top section is big and hard to handle. After watching us struggle with it for 30 minutes or so, a friendly boater a few slips down offered his help. We declined the help because at that point, we remembered what the sequence was and how we've done it in the past. And, you know, we're never going to admit that we're getting too old to do a simple job like this.

A bush league mistake. How could we have done this?
With the bridge enclosure up, it was time to fire up the engines. We started with the starboard engine because that was the one on which we installed new heads and exhaust manifolds during the winter. We disconnected the ignition and spun the engine until we saw some healthy oil pressure and then, with the distributor and coil re-connected, we gave the carb a tablespoon of fuel and cranked her over. The engine started immediately with 70 lbs of oil pressure and with no unusual mechanical noises.

However, we did note a slight screeching sound as though a belt was slipping. We checked for cooling water out of the exhausts but with the swim platform in the way, it's difficult to tell if there is cooling water coming out.

Then we remembered. We had forgotten to open the seacock! We shut the ignition off as quickly as we could but the impeller in the new raw water pump was toast. We tried it again with the seacock open but it doesn't take much to kill an impeller and this one was pulling in zero cooling water.

Guess we'll order a rebuild kit for that pump and in the meantime, we'll reinstall the old pump, which worked just fine last year.

We opened the seacock for the port engine and it fired off immediately. Great cooling water flow, oil pressure and charging voltage.

After that semi-disaster, we did something easy: washing the winter dirt off the boat. We borrowed a hose that was on the dock and connected our 100 ft. hose to it. It was just long enough to reach our boat and it was a pleasure to see six month's worth of winter storage grime wash off into the Connecticut River.

Next, we deliver our fenders and boat stairs to Norwich, were we'll be for the summer, drop a car off so we can get home after delivering the boat and then, we're out of here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Saving the best jobs for last

Saturday was much more like summer and a perfect day to get a lot done.

Earlier in the week, we took down the entire bridge enclosure so yet another piece (the roof, this time) could also be repaired. One of the zippers on that section had also started to come loose so we decided to have that done while we were still in the shed.

When we got it home, we found that the outside of the top section was incredibly dirty so we cleaned it up as best we could so Frances could take it to the canvas guy.

Once we get it back, we'll hang it up, wash it down as thoroughly as possible and then waterproof it again before reinstalling it. We hope that all happens next week.

We got to the boat very early and continued to off-load tools, lights and a lot of other stuff that we used during the winter but could now go home. We also cleaned and polished the railings with Flitz to kill some time until Frances arrived.  When she did, we tackled the re-installation of the rub rails. What a circus that was!

We never know if there will be people around to give us a hand so we came up with a scheme for getting the biggest piece (17 ft. long and curved) that goes around the bow and halfway down each side, up off the ground and up in place so we could begin fastening it.  Our idea was to tie a line around the ends and at the center and then haul this big hunk of stainless up into position.

This actually looked like it was going to work until one of the lines slipped off and the whole thing came crashing back down onto the ground. That got the attention of some nearby boaters who helped us get the rub rail high enough to at least get a few screws in. One of them asked, "Are you folks taking that thing off of putting it back on?"  Guess that wasn't obvious.

We won't dwell on how much fun it was to climb up the extension ladder, drive two screws and then reposition the ladder a few feet and do it all over again.  There were 60 screws. The battery in our electric drill handled that task easily. Our personal batteries, however, did need recharging.

Painting the bottom
This is the last thing we do every year because it is nasty and difficult. We tackled it on Sunday. 

This year we bought some new bottom paint called AquaGard, and we did that on the recommendation of someone from Defender Marine. We've put on hundreds of gallons of bottom paint over the years and we weren't looking for anything great with this new stuff, but we were pleasantly surprised.

First, you don't need a screwdriver to pry the lid off the can. That was a new one on us. Next, it didn't need shaking or stirring. It was a nice even consistency when we dipped our stick into it. Finally, it's water-based so all the spots in our hair and on our face and arms washed off fairly easily in the shower.

AquaGard doesn't pay us anything to mention this product but we're open to receiving payment provided each one equals a tank of boat gas (210 gallons) or several cases of very fine Vodka. Make that at least a half dozen cases.

After opening the AquaGard container, it was time to get down and roll this stuff on. It covers well, but there is nothing fun about laying on one's back and rolling black paint on a 34 ft. boat's bottom that quickly feels like it is at least 65 ft. long.

When the last of the bottom paint was finally applied (and yes, we masked the boot top to make it neat), we Installed new Zincs. The old ones weren't that eroded but what the hell, we've gone this far.

We're due to go into the water on Wednesday but from the look of the boatyard, that won't happen. We're also due to get back the top of our bridge enclosure on Wednesday and that might actually happen.

It's this way every spring. We should be used to it.