Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crowd-sourced knowledge units.

We're looking for a yard on the island and saw Barron's. Anyone know anything about them, good/bad?
One handy tool for finding out info is Active Captain. It's a crowd-sourced map of maritimey/navigational goodness. The accounts are free and the information is/can be great. Being crowd-sourced, it is only as good as the info people share. Last-last summer, we moored at the Port Washington town moorings for the weekend- and as there wasn't a lot of info for their location/regulations, I added some. Other things that are nice are people marking obstructions which may or may not appear accurately on GPS and charts. "shallow rock", "sand bar, we got stuck, lost a prop.. ", "here be dragons" etc.

Another system, similar to what Active Captain provides is Ushahidi, an opensourced mapping/crowd-sourcing solution that is malleable to whatever needs you may have; disaster relief is one example. Themable, modular, and awesome.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Land, Ho!

We've moved! We're now back at City Island, but in a.. how do you pronounce it... house?
We decided we wanted to put the boat up for a while to get to some much needed work on the boat done.
We're looking around at marinas/yards on the island that can haul us and block us for a season or two or ...

We're living on the west side of the island (same street) now and we can see the Manhattan skyline from our porch while we drink mint julipes. Ok, that's not true- we don't have a mint julipe recipe. So, if you know a good one, please pass it along to us so we can fulfill our dream of sitting on our porch, drinking mint julipes.

Once we get hauled, we can scrape, sand, patch, and paint the hull which we speculate has several hundred pounds of mollusky goodness growing on it. We'll also be able to finish the reefer, repair the dinnette table, etc. etc. etc. -all things we couldn't do while living aboard.

Now, I'll leave you with Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her, a traditional sea shanty I learned many moons ago:

Leave her, Johnny
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
And the grub was bad and the gales did blow
And it's time for us to leave her
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her

For the voyage is done and the winds do blow
And it's time for us to leave her
You can go ashore and take your pay
The winds was bad and the gales was strong
And heave the hungry packet in
For there's many a worser we've sailed in
For the old pierhead's a-drawing nigh
Oh the times was hard and the wages low
Leave her, Johnny, leave her
I thought I heard the Old Man say
Oh her stern was foul and the voyage was long
And we'll leave her tight and we'll leave her trim
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her with a grin
And now it's time to say goodbye

Monday, August 1, 2011

So, this pirate walks into a bar...

The bartender looks at him and says, "You know you have a steering wheel sticking out of your pants?"
The pirate replies, "Arrrrgh! It be drivin' me nuts!"

Oh, yeah, I got the steering fixed! I went to the store where they sell boat stuff, and picked up 4 fathoms (thats 24 ft. to you land lubbers) of Sta-Set X line. Sta-Set X is a high performance line for halyards and other running rigging. It has a 12 strand braided Dyneema (another brand of spectra) covered by a braided polyester cover for UV and abrasion protection. Dyneem is 5x stronger than steel cable of equivalent diameter. I got 5/16" line, not for the 3 1/2 ton breaking strength, but because the diameter best matched the drum and sheaves of the steering system. I rove the line through the steering column sheave, and then seized the ends to two stainless thimbles leaving enough left over to be able to adjust/tighten the system. We got a wooden steering wheel a while ago and have been waiting to be able to use it. We think it looks quite dashing! I knew the line would have about 3-5% stretch so I waited to low tide when I knew the rudder would be sitting in the mud and give me some resistance to work out some slack and stretch the line. I retighted the line and on the 4th of July we took the boat out. It was really nice to not have to do acrobatics to work the tiller to steer the boat and keep on course. Even docking was much much smoother.

Paint your wagon... and come along!

That makes Emily Clint Eastwood and me... Jean Seberg. Well, one of us could be Lee Marvin I guess.
Instead of trying re-gelcoat our cabin top we decided to go the painting route. We're using Interlux Pre-kote and Brightsides (white). Brightsides is one part polyurathane paint, and is nice and durable. Since the condition of the fiberglass was pretty rough I filled in the deep scratches and chips with epoxy/filler to smooth them out. Then we sanded, taped and tacked.

We've put on the first primer coat and the difference was like night and day. Well, it looks like day and first-coat-of-primer day. We'll put a second coat on and then 2 top coats.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Earl (or.. Oil as some say... Oy-ell, olwhwe)

Luckily, when I un-winterized Satan last week things went pretty smoothly.
The only things that didn't go like buttah:
Raw water pump didn't get a prime
I had to pop the pump cover plate, turn the engine over until water started flowing then tighten. Not a biggy.
The other issue I ran into was 0 (Zero) oil pressure.
I knew there was new oil, filters and hoses...
After tinkering with the multimeter and the sending unit, I was unable to really tell if it was at fault. Then... it hit me- an idea, not the oil sender. The Oil pressure sending unit is located remotely, as is the oil filter bracket. I was a little concerned because new sending units could cost up to $80 depending on how 'Westerbeke' specific the part is. The sender is the shiny brass looking cylinder in the middle of the photo. The little gadget just below it is a mystery to me. I think it is either some kind shutoff, or the ejection seat.
In draining the oil for the winter, the oil comes out- it naturally follows that the hose that sends oil to the sender would drain as well. Who knew?! There was an air lock in the hose that prevented oil from refilling it, thus the sender read '0' pressure. So I loosened the sender from the end of the hose, dipped the hose below the sump until oil flowed (and boy did it flow) and then quickly tightened the unit. I fired up Satan, pressure read normal, and then I had a snack.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Satan's evil Clutches

No, I can't be stopped. The puns just come to me, I am helpless to resist.
When we started looking for a boat we had two maybe hree requirements.
1. It had to be floating
2. It needed an running engine so we could bring it home
3. Pretty

The boat passed all three requirements.

Over the last year, we took the boat out several times and the only issue we really had beyond the overheating issue was the boat would creep forward in neutral. After some instigation it looks like the culprit is the shifter linkages are too loose to hold the shifter lever in the neutral zone. The lever is mounted in the cockpit and under normal conditions should point at about 9o'clock for neutral, 7 for forward and 11 for reverse. The weight of the lever however is enough to nudge the forward clutch pack and thus start to engage forward. On this transmission the knuckling over threshold is set towards the far end of the lever's travel (in both directions) so that there is little to no resistance from neutral to almost fully engaged forward or reverse. This means the that unless there is a positive stop or detent built into the shifter linkage assembly, there is nothing to really hold the transmission in neutral- thus creeping forward or backwards is a matter of the cockpit lever and linkages not balancing the transmission's shift lever at it's neutral position.

I've started adjusting the forward clutch pack tension gear to see if I can move the knuckling closer to the neutral zone, hopefully adding enough resistance to prevent a little lever slop/weight from engaging forward.

The transmission is as far I can tell a Paragon 1XE model- fully manual. The cover plate has been removed, the engine is to the right. The little bolt right in the middle of the image is the lockscrew that holds the screw collar in position like a collar around the threaded pressure plate (immediatly to its right).
The bolt is seated in one of many holes around the end face of the pressure plate)

To adjust:
Back the bolt out almost all of the way- it will clear the holes and still be able to sit in the screw collar (other wise it will most likely fall into the bottom of the transmission; a magnetic reacher tool helped me retrieve it and the lock washer when I dropped it)
Turn the collar clockwise (when viewing the engine from the flywheel) to tighten collar and thus increase the threshold force required to lock the transmission in forward. Line the lockscrew up with the desired hole and be sure it is seated properly and tighten. You will know if it's not in a hole if it doesn't tighten all the way back down as far as it was. It's probably best to adjust by just one or two increments at a time as there is a fine line between 'ok' and 'too tight' which could wear down the clutch discs prematurely.

Tip: Wiggle the transmission lever foreward/backward while trying to turn the screw collar. Since there is no neutral lock, this will help find the zone where there is no pressure on the forward or reverse clutch packs. Try this before sticking tools in there to pry and force the collar to spin. It should spin very freely when there is no pressure from the lever.

I have adjusted the forward setting and it seems to be working at least from the testing at the transmission lever. The weight/balance of the cockpit shift lever is still in need of adjusting and I'll have to wait to test the adjustment with the engine running to make sure it won't slip at higher RPMs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I kicked Vin Diesel's butt!

Ok, thats a bit of an exaggeration.
Our Dickinson Newport diesel heater, which we named Vinnie, has been acting up, not burning well at all. As I had installed it according to the manufacturer's instructions, I knew it was probably suffering from operator error.

The poor burning characteristics, for those who may run into this issue, had much of the appearance of the low fuel and air scenario described in the Dickinson manual. The flame was low in the burner pot, dirty orange and quickly built up soot on the walls of the burner pot. It was not vaporizing or getting above the burner ring at any valve or fan setting. As there was a full tank of diesel, I knew it wasn't the issue. When we fist installed it, the #2 setting was sufficient to get flames to be full bodied and vibrant yellow, filling most of the lower half of the viewing window. Since the poor performance persisted across varying weather conditions, we figured winds/pressure weren't the issue. The fuel had been coming from the same gas station, which has a very high turn over so fuel quality should be consistant if nothing else.

We knew we needed Newport 911... er.. to do something different in our approach.

The only thing we hadn't done in the course of regular use and maintenance was to check and clean the metering valve outlet-to-burner pot pipe. So today I did that.
It was messy, but apparently exactly what was needed.

Base of the burner pot inlet (from valve outlet)

The soot from the burner pot just settles into the inlet pipe and after a few months of constant use had created a fairly thick goopy mess that slowly restricted the fuel flow. Even with regular cleaning of the burner pot sides and bottom enough loose soot makes its way into the inlet despite covering it as per Dickinson's directions. There was actually about 2-3 teaspoons of this sludge- ewww!
The end.