Category Archives: Projects

Boat projects

Putting the Sole back into Sol Purpose (part 2)

If you remember, the first part of the project ended with the fittings being bought for the new tanks including a fuel supply and return selector switch.  The idea was that we could draw fuel from either tank and return excess fuel to either tank as well.

Our first few days back from the UK were spent doing odd jobs to get the boat back in the water.  Unfortunately, as the travel lift was out of operation for 3 days when we were due to get put back in the water, we had to install both the new tanks while on the hard.  This meant Debbie and I used a gantry to lift the tanks the 9 feet from the ground over the lifelines and down into the boat 😦

The tanks were a tight fit through the companionway and a perfect fit into the existing spaces vacated by the old tanks.  First in was the diesel tank.  We placed a strap under the tank before we dropped it in so that we could still remove it if required during the installation phase

New Bern 001

I had already plumbed in the 2 three-way valves for the pick-up and return lines for the fuel tanks.  I placed these under the inspection hatch for the original fuel tank and simply tied into the pick-up and return lines from the old tank.  This simplified the plumbing and still had all fuel going through the existing filtration system.

New Bern 002

pick-up valve is on the left.  Return valve is on the right.

This plumbing was then attached to the new tank.  The diesel vent was tied into the existing vent in the engine room roof to ensure that there could be no crossover of fuel between tanks in a seaway.  Several years ago I removed a 15 gallon holding tank from under the starboard settee as we plumbed the aft head directly overboard.  I used the old deck fitting for the new diesel tank fill.

New Bern 005

Next was the water tank.  As it was a straight swap with regards to fittings so there was less to do there.

New Bern 006

Once both tanks were in, I sprayed insulation foam around each corner to hold the tanks firmly in place.  Then it was time to replace the struts that ran over the tanks to add support to the floor.  These were made from Douglas fir as it’s a wood with good rigidity.  The trim to support the new subfloor around its edges was then epoxied and screwed in place.

New Bern 009

struts and trim epoxied and screwed in place

I measured the position of the fittings in the new tanks, fore and aft, and marked those locations on the starboard settee front so that once the new subfloor was laid down I could mark those positions on the top of the floor for the inspection hatches.  As I was using the original inspection hatches for the new sole, the position of the hatches athwartships was restricted by the teak and holly pattern that would be on the new sole and the existing hatches.  As the new sole would tie in with the teak and holly of the old sole, I stretched a thread from the teak and holly pattern in the galley to the forward cabin.  I then used this taut thread to mark the old hatches position athwartships so that the pattern would align.  This had to be done as the inspection hatch holes would be cut in the new subfloor before the ¼” teak and holly ply was epoxied down to the subfloor.

With these holes cut I then cut, epoxied and screwed in trim to support the hatches.

After the subfloor was epoxied and screwed down I enlisted the skills of Rick Vogt of Vogt Yachts to install the teak and holly ply on top of the subfloor.  He used a 1” strip of teak athwartships at either end of the new floor so that any minute inconsistencies between the new and old floor would not stick out.  He also ran the new teak and holly ply under the edge of the port settee so that it would be easier to get a clean edge.  He therefore had to shave ¼” off the height of all the vertical settee pieces that had been removed to facilitate the floor removal.

New Bern 017

Once the teak and holly ply was epoxied in place he routed out the inspection hatch holes and the small holes for the plates that accept the table legs.

New Bern 021

He then replaced the vertical sections of the settee.  During the deconstruction of the port settee I managed to tear some of the teak laminate of the front of one of the pieces.  Rick epoxied a new piece of teak laminate to the old board.

New Bern 029

As the new subfloor was visible under the port settee, I floated it with epoxy to remove any joins and screw holes.  I then sanded and applied 2 coats of EZ Bilge to the complete floor of the inside of the settee.

New Bern 025

epoxy used to float the new subfloor

I moved the boat back to New Bern and on the way there I swapped the three-way fuel valves back and forth several times to ensure that fuel supply was maintained.  No problems arose.  Debbie and I then spent the next 9 days sanding, cleaning, filling bung holes and varnishing the complete sole, 8 coats!

New Bern 030

all sanded down and ready for varnish

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eight coats later…

New Bern 032

It is good to have the boat back in a condition where we can move around freely and another major project is completed.  As the old fuel tank had no pitting I feel secure in the knowledge that the new aluminum tank will outlast the boat.  As the new water tank is polypropylene, there should be no issues with longevity there either.




Sol Purpose has no Sole (part one)

Back in January we had tried to convert one of the water tanks to a diesel tank to increase our motoring range.  Leaks in the tanks put a stop to this project.  We knew that the issue would have to be addressed eventually and so we have used our 6 week stay in New Bern to remove the cabin sole, remove both the old water tanks, measure them and have new tanks made.  As we are leaving to go to the UK for 4 months over the summer, I wanted to get as much of the work completed before we left so that we could hopefully take no more than 2 or 3 weeks to get it all installed and the sole back down before heading South in the fall.

The project had many issues to face, not the least of which was that the sole is fixed in placed and tabbed to the hull.  The furniture sitting on the sole would also have to be removed first as this is also tabbed into the hull.

It took half a day to remove the port settee “uprights”.  I did not want to remove the seating surface as this is what is tabbed to the hull behind the seat backs.  As the seating surface was supported at the hull, galley bulkhead and forward cabin bulkhead I was not concerned about leaving the settee this way over the summer.

The removal of the sole took another two days.  Firstly I removed the trim around the inspection hatches and then took the sockets for the table legs out.

With this done it was time to remove all the fittings and hoses from the tanks to make sure that, while cutting out the sole, I did not damage any of them.  I then used a jigsaw to cut out the sole above the tanks, removing as little sole as possible.  I had to cut two inches off the jigsaw blade so it would not bottom out on the top of the tanks.

The cross members that border the fore and aft edges of the tanks were not where I expected to find them.  I thought the forward member would be directly under the bulkhead between the salon and forward cabin but it was about 4 inches aft of this.  I expected the aft member would be under the bulkhead between the galley and the salon.  It was about 3 inches aft of this.  This caused 2 sets of problems.  The first was that the removal of the aft water tank was difficult as I could not pull it directly upwards due to the galley bulkhead overhang.  The second was that the sole was 1 inch thick and was comprised of a 3/4″ marine plywood sub-floor and a 1/4″ teak and holly plywood glued on to the sub-floor.  When replacing the teak and holly part of the floor I would have to line it up with the teak and holly sole that was not removed.  The original join between the teak and holly in each area was the doorway through to the forward cabin and the bulkhead between the galley and the salon.  I would therefore have to route down all the teak and holly above sub-floor that was not being removed in the salon area to bring it level with the new sub-floor.

With the sole removed, I was able to see that the tanks were held in place with spray foam which held the tanks away from the walls and off the hull.  Both tanks had fill holes in the top of the starboard walls.  This caused an issue with the aft tank removal and so I had to cut the fill off.  I wanted to have the fill holes in the top of the new tanks so this would not prove an issue on reinstallation.

tanks 018

aft tank fill fitting removed

I now had to pry the old tanks out of the holes.  There was not enough room to get anything of any strength down the side of the tanks so I cut four slots in the top of each tank near the corners.  I was then able to insert a crowbar into these slots and pry the tanks out with the assistance of a car jack and fulcrum

tanks 014

crowbar and slots

tanks 016

technique to lift tanks out

With the tanks removed I could clean out the area beneath the tanks ready for the reinstallation of the new ones.  The space was surprisingly clean.  I had expected dead cockroaches and dust bunnies galore as the mast base drains through this area to the bilge but there was very little to clean up.

tanks 002

Now that the tanks were out I was able to clean up all the edges, route down the teak and holly where required and cut and fit sections of wood to screw the new sub-floor into around the perimeter of the holes.  With this done I bought 2 pieces of 3/4″ marine plywood and cut them to fit the hole.  This was problematic as the hole was not rectangular due to the inability to make cuts where desired.

The sub-floor was screwed down temporarily to allow us to move around the  boat till the new tanks arrived.

The second major issue regarding the project was that I was not able to find a manufacturer that would custom fabricate a plastic tank for both the water and fuel tanks.  I had to order the fuel tank in aluminum which is not an issue as our existing aluminum tank is 22 years old and has no signs of pitting whatsoever.  Boyd Welding in Ocala, Florida took the order for the fuel tank and was very helpful through all stages of the process.  I sent them the original design drawings that I was able to get from George McCreary at Caliber Yachts.  I tweaked the drawings to reflect the fittings required for a diesel tank as opposed to the original water tank.

I did not want to make the water tank out of aluminum as this is what led to pitting in the original tanks.  I was able to order one made from polypropylene from Dura Weld in Lake Worth Florida.  They were also very helpful through the whole process.

We intend to haul the boat just before we head to the UK to get the crack in the skeg repaired and also get a bottom job done.  We will leave the boat on the hard until we return at the start of November.  Luckily Tom at Wayfarers Marina and Boatyard agreed to accept delivery of the tanks and store them in his warehouse until we return.

I spent the next week ordering all the hoses required for the new fuel tank along with all fittings.  I will run all hoses that I can before we leave.  I plan to install two 3-way fuel valves.  One will be used to choose which tank supplies fuel to the engine.  The other will be used to ensure that the fuel return line goes back to the same tank.  These will be attached under the inspection hatch for the aft fuel tank.

Part two of this project will be completed when we return from the UK…

End to End Issues

One of the projects we had set aside for New Bern was to  move the stern light.  The original position was on the pushpit just to port of the stern walk through.


This was fine until you lifted the dinghy up in the davits.  The dinghy ended up at the exact height of the light and this caused 2 problems; the light could not be seen by other ships at night and the reflected light ruined night vision in the cockpit.

After some consideration, I decided to move the light above the bimini, where the flag pole was mounted.  It came out of the solar panel supporting framework.  I would cut the flag pole and attach some angled stainless plate to act as a light shield so that the light would not hit any equipment that hung off the back of the boat.  After cutting the flag pole, I cut out some cardboard, folded it and attached it to the pole.  With the light temporarily affixed I was able to shape the cardboard to ensure that no light hit the boat and it could still be seen by other boats even when we were heeled over.  I found a guy called the GrillMan who custom makes grills so I got out the bike and make the 17 mile round trip to see him.  I provided the flag pole stub and the cardboard and he told me it would take a week to make.

While the piece was being fabricated I pulled the old wiring out of the pushpit tubing and ran new cable from the breaker panel, through the pushpit tubing and up the outside of the solar panel framework to the lights new position.  For the return trip to pick up the new mount I borrowed a friend’s car, luckily we have good friends where this is sometimes an option 🙂

The pictures below show the final installation.

Now for the other end of the boat 😦

While Debbie was polishing the stainless she noticed that one of the bolts that held the bowsprit on was missing its head.  After inspection it was obvious that crevice corrosion had caused it to fail and fall off.  I decided to replace all six bolts that held on the bowsprit just to be safe.  I had to replace the bolts one at a time as the standing rigging was still fully tensioned.  Debbie’s keen eyesight had possibly saved the day as 4 of the 6 bolts had crevice corrosion that was so bad that the bold heads snapped off with almost no effort while trying to loosen them.


crevice corrosion on 4 of the 6 bolts

Now I became concerned about the bobstay attachment fitting on the bow just above the waterline as the same bolts were used there. The bobstay is a part of the rigging which counteracts the upward tension on the bowsprit from the jib and forestay.


bobstay attachment fitting with bobstay rod going up to the bowsprit

I slackened off the backstays and forestay so that there was no tension on the bobstay and then removed fitting.  Three of the four bolts that held it on were in good condition and the fourth had a small amount of crevice corrosion but not enough to be of any real concern.


I bought all new bolts and washers just to be safe.  I then cleaned up the bow to remove all old sealant and check the fiberglass was all OK.

While polishing the bobstay attachment fitting prior to refitting, I noticed that there was stress cracking around the tang which the bobstay attached to.

As I could not tell how long it would be till this sort of issue caused a failure I decided to replace the fitting.  It is not an off the shelf item and therefore I cycled back to see Chris at GrillMan to get a new one fabricated.  To ensure it would not happen again, I decided to beef up the specifications.  I went from a 1/8″ thickness backing plate to a 1/4″ plate.  I also up-sized the tang from 3/8″ to 1/2″ thickness.  The end of the bobstay rod had space to allow the thicker tang.


old fitting showing available space

Chris had the new fitting made in three days so bike ride number three was undertaken.  The old and new fitting can be seen side by side as a comparison.

It was then time to reinstall the new fitting.  It was through bolted to the hull.  Just to make the task that much more enjoyable, the space behind the hull is the holding tank for the forward head… yaay!!!  I had to reach down through a 4″ inspection hatch to get to the nuts at the back of the fitting at the bottom of the tank.  This involved getting my arm in the tank up to my armpit.  I volunteered to hold the wrench on the bolt heads on the outside but Debbie suggested that if I wanted her help I might want to let her take on that role.

After liberally applying sealant to all the bolts the job went relatively smoothly.  Now we have all new fasteners supporting the rigging at the front of the boat and a little more peace of mind.

Galley Sink Overhaul

After 22 years the galley sink was starting to look a little long in the tooth.  The fixtures were out of date and looking ragged.  Beyond that were the following issues…

  • the hole that was used for a pull out spray head for the faucet was now being used for the water maker sampling spout. This meant that the pull out spout, which we never used, now lay on the shelf under the sink
  • the tubing that connected the Qest water supply pipes to the faucet consisted of several pieces of tubing a lots of pipe clamps which was unsightly and invited the possibility of leaks
  • there was a small leak around the sink’s seal to the galley surface which allowed water into the cupboard below if the counter around the sink got too wet
  • the sanitation drain hose from the 2 sink bowls had a low spot which allowed gray water to partially block the line from time to time
  • the “plumbing” fittings from the sink drains to the sanitation hose were over complicated and took up valuable space in the cupboard below the sinks

For these reasons I decided to over haul the sink area.  I would alleviate all the issues listed above as follows…

  • a new faucet would bring the look up-to-date and remove the pull out spray head
  • proper Qest fittings would clean up the connections to the new faucet supply lines
  • remove the sinks and reseal with 4200
  • remove 4 inches of sanitation hose and move the cupboard penetrations to remove the low spot
  • change out the drains for Scandvik low profile drains with right-angled drains

The work took about a day with the time required to wait for the fast cure 4200 to setup.  The before and after pictures can be seen below.

The only outstanding work to do is to epoxy the plugs that were drilled out of the cupboard penetrations into the old holes.  I will do this once the surfaces have fully dried out.


Water, water everywhere…

As our Caliber 40 was one of the models built before the Caliber 40 LRC (Long Range Cruiser), it does not have the tankage that the newer model does.  This means that from the factory it came with a 60 gallons diesel tank and 150 gallons for water (in one 80 gallon and one 70 gallon tank). We wanted to get more range for diesel and so had the intention of converting one of the water tanks to diesel and installing a water maker to supply the one remaining water tank.

The closest water tank to the engine was the 80 gallon tank, so once completed we would have 140 gallons of diesel and 70 gallons of water with the ability to top up the water tank from the water maker whenever underway in clean salt water.

As we are no planning a crossing till next year we don’t really need the larger diesel capacity at this point.  Last year some friends of ours from TMCA, Chris and Jerry, won a Spectra Ventura 150 Deluxe water maker at the Southwest International Boat Show in Kemah.  They had no use for the package and so we agreed on a good price for all parties and had the unit we were looking for.  It took 7 months before I got around to carrying out the installation due to other pressing projects.

First was the planning.  I had to work out where to put all the pieces.  The package is a modular design and so you have some latitude with where everything goes.  The major parts are…

  1. Clark pump (pressure intensifier used to force the salt water through the reverse osmosis membrane)
  2. feed pump module (Shurflo pump and fresh water flush filter)
  3. accumulator
  4. sea strainer (used to remove large items from the seawater supply)
  5. 5 micron pre-filter (to remove all other solids)
  6. product sampling valve (used to divert product water for testing  before sending it to your tanks)
  7. gauge board (flow and pressure readings for the water maker)

The noisiest component would be the feed pump module so I wanted to place that where it would disturb us the least.  Almost all parts could be possible sources of leaks and so would have to be placed in a part of the boat that could drain to the bilge.  After much back and forth I decided to place all the major components in the lazarette.  The Clark pump would go on the existing shelf just outboard of the lazarette hatch.  The feed pump module would go on the forward wall next to the shelf.  The sea strainer would go below the feed pump module and the gauge board would be mounted above the breaker panel at the nav table.  This would put the connectors to the gauge panel in the lazarette just above the Clark pump.  I would run the product piping from the lazarette, down beside the engine and up under the sink where it would connect to the sample valve.  From there the product piping would go to a spout next to the sink and forwards to the 1 water tank.

The galley already had a pull up hose attached to the faucet which we never use.  I therefore removed that and used the existing hole for the new product sampling spout.  This would allow us to run the water maker and drain the sample product directly into the sink until the water quality was good enough to divert to the water tank.

This proposed design did pose problems… naturally.  First was that the inverter/charger used for shore power hung directly below the shelf I wanted to install the Clark pump on.  If there were any leaks, and water reached the inverter/charger, this could cause a dangerous situation.  I therefore painted the shelf with several coats of bilgecoat to seal the shelf surface.  I also used butyl tape to seal any penetrations used to bolt the Clark pump to the shelf.  There is a drain hole at the corner of the shelf, far from the inverter/charger and so this, along with the other measures, would hopefully suffice.


Clark pump installed on the lazarette shelf

The thru hull used to pull in sea water should be mounted as close to the centerline of the boat to ensure that it can pull water no matter how far over the boat is heeled.  The best place to drill this hole was under the cupboard lid in the lazarette.  There was an existing hole in the cupboard roof which I could use to run the hose from the thru hull to the sea strainer.

The Shurflo pump is mounted to the pump module with rubber vibration dampeners but is still quite a loud pump.  I therefore added rubber dampeners to the module when attaching it to the wall to reduce the amount of vibration as much as possible.


Pump module mounted on the lazarette forward wall

The fresh water flush is used to flood the Clark pump with fresh water after water production.  This educes the possibility of bacterial growth between runs.  This requires a fresh water supply to fed the charcoal filter used in the process.  I tied into the Quest piping that supplies the swim platform shower.  I brought this under the shelf  to the filter.  That can be seen in the left of the picture above.

The hose from the sea strainer to the feed pump is attached with plastic fittings.  As I knew there would be heavy items in the lazarette, which would shift around during heavy seas, I fashioned a cage around those parts to protect them.

watermaker 009

protective cage between sea strainer and pump module

The hose coming out of the feed pump leads under the shelf to the pre-filter which is attached to the aft end of the shelf right next to the accumulator.  From there the hose goes to the gauge panel and Clark pump.


I attached the product sampling valve off to the side of the door for the cupboard under the sinks.

To get the water into the tank, I drilled and tapped the inspection plate in the roof of the tank and added a quick connect fitting so it could be unattached at any time

watermaker 018

As I had the inspection plate of the tank off,  I also removed the plate from the other tank and pressure washed both tanks to remove a few years of “gunk”.  I dried out the second tank so it would be ready when it was time to plumb it for diesel.

I bought one other item to improve the water maker.  Spectra sells a Z±ion filter.  This will stream silver ions into the water supply when flushing the unit after use.  These silver ions inhibit the growth of bacteria and mean that you can leave the water maker without use for up to 30 days.  Without this, the water maker must be flushed at least every 5 days.  It is a direct replacement for the regular fresh water flush filter and required simple wiring into the feed pump power supply.

Underway we can now turn salt water into fresh water at a rate of 7 gallons per hour with a current draw of about 8.5 amps.

Trying to get further off the grid


This is another project blog for work carried out before we left in May.

Yours, Captain Procrastinator

In an attempt to reduce our dependence on shore power and running the engine, we decided to get some form of renewable energy device to compliment the solar panels that the PO installed.  I was interested in hydro as well as wind generation as an ocean crossing would hopefully be a predominantly downwind journey and wind generation would therefore be less effective as our forward speed would reduce the effective wind speed from behind.  Hydro generation also tends to be more efficient as water is a better medium for transferring its energy to a spinning blade/prop.  During my research into options I came across a company who makes a unit that combines both, i.e. their unit could be used for either wind or hydro power generation.  The company is called Eclectic Energy and they are based out of the UK.  The model is called the DuoGen3 (the 3 comes from the revision of the design).

The tower used to hold the wind blades above the bimini pivots at its base and can therefore be lowered into the water behind the boat.  This means that when you remove the blades and replace them with a propeller you can generate power based on the boat’s speed through the water.  The yaw arm used to orientate the blades into the wind when in wind mode is also a float and holds the propeller close to the surface when in hydro mode.  A dive plane below the propeller holds it the required amount under water.

As it does double duty from an energy generation standpoint I fully expected it would be a jack of all trades and master of none and that it would not perform as well as a dedicated unit for either wind or hydro.

As the alternator is at the base of the tower and not directly attached to the blades, the weight of the unit is at its base and so a substantial support structure is not required.  In fact the unit bolts to your stern rail directly and comes with all the support structure that is required.

One of the precursors to carrying out this installation was to move the solar panels from above the davits to over the bimini.  This was to allow the tower to be swung down from the wind mode to the hydro mode as desired.  This project was carried out and posted back in March… I know, “do your damn blogs in order, Moray”.  Here is a picture showing their old location which clearly shows why it would have been an issue as the DuoGen mounts on the transom and sticks up above the bimini.

DuoGen 004

The parts arrived from the UK after some “customs” issues.  I guess the Fedex customs person got out of the wrong side of the bed the morning this collection of packages came across their desk as they required me to fill out an importer form although the UK company had not been asked for this before.  Once I sent that to the Fedex person they asked what all the contents of the spare parts package was, I had to get this from the manufacturer.  Once they discovered that there was 2 types of silicone grease in the package I then had to fill out a toxic substance certification form on products that I had no knowledge about… bloody red tape!

The packages did finally arrive and it was Christmas all over again!

Solar0 011

I checked the contents of all the packages and took them up to the marina work bench to get an overview of the assembly process.  I had no intention of carrying out the assembly that day.  One of my neighbors at the marina, Brad, had shown interest in seeing the unit and came along for a viewing.  As happens, when guys get together, we had the unit assembled within the hour and were walking it down to the boat for a dry fit.

I had no intention of actually installing the unit on the transom that day… hmm, didn’t I basically just say that?  Must be Brads bad influence.  After 4 hours it was a done deal.  Fully installed, bar the wiring.  It must be said that the installation was relatively easy as the kit comes complete with all mounting hardware required.

The next day I installed the regulator, dump resistors (used to dissipate extra energy if the batteries are fully charged) and wiring to the batteries.  I ran the cable from the alternator through an existing clam shell vent used from the Questus radar wiring and mounted all the electrical hardware in the engine room on the wall that is the foot of the rear quarter berth.

The finished installation looks as follows.

DuoGen 001

The unit has now been installed for three months now and so I can report back on its efficiency.  Truth be told I am underwhelmed by its performance.  I have only used it in hydro mode a couple of times and it seems to perform adequately.  However in wind mode this is not the case.  The yaw arm, due to its shape and attachment method to the tower, has a lot more resistance to rotation than a typical wind generator and therefore it takes more wind to swing the unit into the wind to actually start spinning.  This means that it can miss out on power generation altogether if we are in moderate winds and the unit is not already facing the wind.  This is not typically a concern as we find ourselves anchoring more and more.  Because of this, the boat will orientate itself to the wind anyway and as the unit can be locked into a forward facing position, it automatically is facing the wind at anchor.  The blades also seem to take a little more wind to start moving in the first place.

I will take the time to carry out a more exhaustive benchmark some time in the near future.  This will involve unplugging the solar array with the engine off and turning of all electrical/electronic devices. To ensure that the alternator is able to supply current to the batteries I will first have to make sure that the batteries are not fully charged.  If I then monitor the true wind speed in front of the blades and compare that to the voltage/current produced by the unit I should be able to see if it is producing power close to its specifications.

I will also polish the tower with a silicon-based polish, as recommended by the manufacturer, to ensure that the yaw arm is as free to rotate as possible.

Engine Overhaul


This is another project blog for work carried out before we left in May.

Yours, Captain Procrastinator

This project had been on my mind for several years now but I had left it to the bitter end, in terms of us leaving, as I really didn’t know how to tackle it.

Not long after getting the boat I noticed that the port side engine rail had some rust on it.  The engine is mounted on rubber isolation mounts which are in turn mounted to a piece of angle iron on either side.  This is through bolted to wooden stringers which are fiberglassed to the hull of the boat.  I was unsure of how bad the corrosion was as it was hard to access the area to get a good look.  Two years ago, Paul and Diane, a couple we are friends with, had a near disaster when one of their engine mounts collapsed due to rot, while underway.  They had a costly repair and this was what set my mind to ensuring that we did not have the same issue once we set off.

I enlisted the help of Larry, who has turned out to be a good friend and all around nice guy 🙂  He has beaucoup experience with diesels and offered to help once I had outlined my intentions.  He tried to dissuade me from removing the engine altogether, but instead hoist it far enough to access the mounts only.  I had wanted to take the opportunity to carry out some other work on the engine and engine room while it was out which would have been very tricky without removal, so I declined.

Once I had the whole plan in my head, I booked an engine lift with a local yard, South Texas Yacht Services (great guys), and a dock to dock tow with Sea Tow (waaay better than Tow Boat US).  This would allow me to fully disconnect the engine from the rest of the boat before being towed over, thus reducing the time at the yard.  I took over 150 pictures of the engine room from all possible angles to ensure that I wouldn’t have a “where does this go?” moment upon re-installation.  This included all electrical and pipe runs and connections among other things.  A selection of these pictures show the corrosion of the port side mount as well as the engine casings themselves.


Larry helped me with the disconnection process with insights that I would never have thought of and therefore, when the day came, we were only at the yard for 20 minutes before the engine was in the back of Larry’s truck and off to his storage unit.

With the engine removed the boat was towed back to the dock so we were able to get back on with the process of living aboard.  Now the fun really began.  The work that was carried out on the engine was as follows…

  1. removed the engine rails and inspect them.  After removal of all the rust it was obvious that the rails were still in good shape.  They were sent to a shop along with 2 of the mounts which attach the isolation mounts to the engine body.  The shop shot blasted the metal and then primed and powder coated them black.
  2. degreased and washed the surface of the engine, then painted all surfaces showing signs of corrosion with Gem (another brand similar to Ospho).  This is a solution that contains phosphoric acid which reacts with rust to form iron phosphate.  This is a hard layer that readily accepts paint and protects the metal from future corrosion.
  3. removed and replaced all hoses and pipe clamps from coolant lines to injector return lines
  4. replaced all 4 engine isolation mounts
  5. sent all injectors to a shop for rebuilding
  6. overhauled the heat exchanger vented loop (replaced the vented loop diaphragm and replaced the nylon elbow on top with a bronze one that actually had the threads wrapped with PTFE tape!!!!!!!)
  7. removed, wire brushed and repainted the oil cooler assembly and the coolant pipe below the fresh water pump.

    engine 030 (2)

    after wire brushing and before painting

  8. sanded the mating surfaces of the prop shaft and transmission and then filed off any burrs.  This would ensure that when it came time to use the feeler gauges to align the prop that there would be no misreadings due to uneven surfaces

Next on the list was the engine room itself.  The sound insulation had long ago ceased to offer any insulation.  It’s sole purpose now seemed to be to rain down insulation powder on any surface in the engine room.

engine 014 (2)

I removed all the batteries (house bank and starter) along with all equipment that was attached to the engine room walls.  This was a considerable amount of stuff to remove.  Once done, I scraped all the old insulation off and cleaned the surfaces.  I had decided to use Soundown for the new insulation as it could be glued in place.  Soundown is a heavy material which consists of a layer of sound deadening PVC sandwiched between 2 layers of foam and covered in a rip stop Mylar vapor barrier on one side.  It requires that spiked fasteners should be epoxied to the walls to give extra support for the panels where there are large sections installed.  The following pictures show the before, during and after pictures of some sections of the engine room.




With the walls done I then cleaned the rest of the engine room and repaired/repainted the house bank battery box which had some delamination of the plywood on one corner.

Everything was then replaced and reattached to the walls, and the engine rails and isolation mounts were reinstalled.  We were now ready for another dock to dock to drop the engine back in the boat.  30 minutes after arriving at the yard we were ready to be towed back to the dock.

Larry then took charge and I assisted in the alignment of the prop shaft which took about 3 hours to complete.  Once finished, I set about the task of reconnecting all wiring/piping.  I replaced the exhaust pipe tubing from the mixing elbow to the muffler box and replumbed the way some of the hoses ran around the engine to minimize chafing. I added tubing on the outside of hoses that had to run against vibrating surfaces.  I rewired the panel for the backup bilge pump as the existing wiring was a mess.

engine 012 (2)

3 days later, with an oil change and coolant flush, and I was ready to turn the key.  Larry helped me bleed the system from the Racor filter forwards and each injector at a time.  It turns out that the bleeding cannot be done correctly without the ignition being turned on.  I have to assume that this is because some component in the injector pump is energized by the ignition and this allows the diesel to flow through the pump.  Once we worked this out all went according to plan and the engine fired without issue… can you say HUGE RELIEF!?  We then ran the engine at the dock in forward and reverse to verify there was no excessive vibration from the prop shaft which there was not.

After much patting on each other’s backs the project was finished and checked off the list.