Monday, April 16, 2018

Watcha doin'?

Our new strut/P-bracket
Since we arrived back in Darwin after our awesome road trip, we have been busy trying to get through our checklist of boat fixes. Matt's been making impressive progress on the 'Big 3' Projects that we need to get done while out of the water. He is also sweating an impressive amount (as are we all). Warning, boring boat work blah blah blah ahead.

Our new counter top (not even one of the
'Big 3' but it had to be done)
The critical projects were/are:
  1. Replacing the bent/broken strut and remounting the engine.
  2. Replacing the windlass.
  3. Repairing the generator engine.
Old windlass carcass. Rest in pieces.
New windlass--ooh, aah
Let's start with the one that is done. The windlass has been replaced but it was more complicated than we expected. Of all the boat work we have done over the years, 99% of it seems to be more complicated than expected. Just getting the old one off was a chore. We were hoping to simply replace the seized bearing that was causing the grief, but getting to the bearing proved impossible.  The entire upper unit had basically corroded itself into one single piece--no amount of heat or penetrant would get the lock-nut to move. In the end it literally had to be sawed in half to get it out. 

OK, out with the old, in with the new! We purchased a newer version of our old Lofrans windlass specifically because it is supposedly a 'drop-in replacement'. Our definition of 'drop-in' is a bit different from the manufacturer's. The holes for the four bolts that hold the windlass in place line up, so that's good...but that's about it.

New windlass base that Matt had to fabricate and
drill and epoxy and paint
Everything else was different: the way the wiring is routed (requiring new, longer wiring to reach the motor), the footprint of the windlass (requiring a new, bigger base and another hole or two), and the profile of the windlass (requiring that we grind out the lid--that one was easy). Also during the process, which involved Matt pretzeling himself into the tiny anchor locker with a big comfy pile of chain to sit on, the up and down buttons decided to stop working. So we got to add rewiring the buttons into the mix. Anyway, we have a new and improved windlass and can go back to anchoring in deep water without holding our collective breaths. Anyway, now we're selling a perfectly good windlass motor that we don't need anymore.

The next big project and the whole reason we're in Australia, was repairing the mayhem caused by that Indonesian log. Speaking of holes (sorry, we're doing homonyms in school), this is the hole that the strut came out of. The original strut was fiber-glassed into place with a ton of epoxy and fiberglass, unlike being bolted on as with some boats. It is very strong but also not so easy to replace.

We found a strut that looked mostly like our old strut and the various measurements seemed pretty much the same. Since the supplier is in England, we couldn't easily compare the two, so we ordered the new one and took our chances. The new strut is very similar but just a bit bigger...unfortunately different enough that the existing hole in our boat needed to be ground out by a few millimeters. Normally this would be no big deal with a grinder, but the hole is small and enough and deep enough that you can't get a grinder in there.  Matt spent several days covered in a cloud of fiberglass dust as he ground out the hole (by hand mostly) bit-by-bit to Goldilocks proportions (not too small, not too big).

Same hole from inside the boat ('the top')
 After getting the hole to the right size and cleaning it up, Matt, with Conrad and my help, got the strut into place (lining it up with the new propeller shaft we had made along with a special collar to help with alignment) and re-glassed the whole thing. The fiberglass skills he honed throughout the islands came in handy.

Matt doing more boat yoga.
Voila! A newly glassed in strut. And
a really grody toe. Pedicure time...
So for that part of the project--yay! The part involving re-seating the engine is in progress. Matt had to harass the metal fabrication guy (both before we left and after we got back) to get the engine brackets done. After two months of having the specs, he finally delivered brackets that, of course, are not exactly right. Right now, Matt is in the engine compartment, swearing a lot, while the engine is suspended from the boom over the hatch in Conrad's cabin.

Finally, that brings us to the generator. As usual, the project turned out to be a bigger deal than we originally expected and we had to pull the whole thing out of the engine compartment to allow the mechanic to work on it. The thing weighs hundreds of pounds and is wedged into a tiny area. Miraculously, we were able to get it out with the help of the trusty boom, a large amount of pulleys and only minor injuries.

The generator mechanic finished work on it while we were away. He actually called us to say it was done (you don't know how rare we have found that here). It turns out that the seal that Rudy said was okay actually did need to be replaced. The fly in the ointment was a new drip tray we were having fabricated. It took over a month and lots nagging for the fabricator to finally get it done (are you seeing a pattern here?). Now we just need to put it in and hook it up, which I'm expecting will be pretty straightforward. You can predict how this will turn out.

The Spectacular Jumping Crocodile
Tour was spectacular


  1. Hey, I love the boat trials- tribulations-work essays. Too bad I don't need a windless motor. Ken Campbell

    1. Thanks, Ken. Hope all is well. Sounds like you're probably ready for summer already...


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