Thursday, July 28, 2016

Don't Get Me Started Part IV

Upgrading the Control Panel Lights

The control panel lights may be original, at least one has a broken filament. 
I searched the web and found these
That's an LED panel lamp. It's a snap in replacement for the old filament lamps but it's LED.
Ordered from Amazon for less than $9.00 for a set of 10 including the lamp holders.
I installed two of them in the panel and they worked great. I'll check out the 3rd and 4th tomorrow, in the meantime, it's the Admiral's Birthday so I'm taking a break this evening.

Today the Starter Solenoid wire and the LED lamps arrived. Should be able to get a bit more of the new harness done tomorrow, Friday.

Completion next Wednesday is looking possible. Taking a break on Saturday when we get to sail with good friends of ours on Esprit Du Vent, another 1987 Catalina 34. Small world.

I can smell the water!

See you there.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Don't get me started Part III

Electrical Baby Steps

Spent the last night and today cleaning up the Control Panel, Control Panel Housing, Alternator & Starter - So now I can pick them up and not get covered in old black grunge.

The Housing cleaned up pretty good, but needed repairs where the screws had split the fiberglass and where I had to cut out the Engine Stop Lever in order to remove the housing from the Port Combing.

Before and After pics:
Note the cutout where the stop handle is normally located, th broken screw holes, cracked corner and pretty grotty interior.

On the backside, the screw holes show their weakness, the original screws were probably put in pretty quickly and not cut into the fiberglass, and the normal consequence of that are hairline cracks radiating from the screw holes and chips out of the surface. The panel has all of those issues.

The repair included using my dremel to grind out the broken bits, chips and cracks, cleaning up the entire surface using Mr. Magic Erasers that got rid of all the grot on the outside and on the inside of the housing.
Then about an hour sanding down the finish and doing my best to eliminate any obvious repairs. A quick wipe down with Acetone then a few coats of Black Spray Paint for Plastics. I'll give it a couple more coats in the morning.

Of course, this doesn't all go without a few hiccups, and today it was a blocked Sewer pipe leading from our house to the street. Luckily our city has some great employees and they spent the entire day digging (vacuum digging) out the 40 year old piping to find the hole that was causing the ingress of earth and blocking the pipe. They started at 9am and were ready to drive away by 5pm. That is nasty work! especially here in South Florida where the temps climb into the high nineties almost daily down here.

Anyway, here's the finished restored Control Panel Housing (before it's final few coats of spray paint)

Tomorrow is my day off, our 31 month old grand-daughter will be here in the morning and somehow she gets my attention most of the day. 

Moving closer to getting back out on the water. See you there!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Exhausted Part III

Starting to put it back together

Working towards getting the Engine Exhaust Riser re-installed, materials have been arriving. We now have all of that we need to replace the riser.

While working on the other ongoing project - Engine Harness replacement, we removed the Muffler from it's base in order to shift the muffler 1.5" outboard from it's current location.
I removed the new Hump Hose and the Exhaust hose from the top of the Muffler, then we removed the 4 screws that secure the muffler to the plywood base.

Moving it outboard (to port) requires that it goes over the bilge pump hose (the hose with the black reinforcing wires). 

To achieve that, I made a new base for the Muffler and planned to screw it down onto the existing plywood base but with the offset to port.

Reinstalling the Muffler on the new plywood base turned out to be not so difficult. It was a challange to get to the screws in the corners of the Muffler, but a few grunts and groans and it all came together.

The reinstall of the hoses and the install of the new Riser will have to wait till later in the week, I want to get the electrical harness replacement complete before putting the exhaust system and the heat exchanger back into place.

We're getting there!
Hope to have the boat ready for the water by next weekend. 

Stay tuned.

Don't get me started Part II

Part II - Demolition

This reads a bit like one of those home shows on TV - It's Demo Day.

My neighbor volunteered to help out on the boat today if for no other reason than to get out of the house. We headed down to the boat with a Demo List.
  • Remove the Engine Control Panel & take it home for repair
  • Disconnect the existing harness that is behind the Control Panel
  • Disconnect and remove the Alternator in order to gain access to the Starter & Solenoid
  • Disconnect and remove the Solenoid & Starter
  • Disconnect the existing electrical harness from the Engine
  • Disconnect and remove the Defunct Electrical wires from the Starboard side Helm Instrument Pod & remove the Pod.
  • Extract the defunct wiring from the Pedestal into the Aft Berth.
  • Extract the wiring from the Control Panel all the way down to the engine.
We got all of that done, it took two trips to the boat and we had to do a couple of extra steps which included removing the Control Panel housing as we could not reach the tie points of the electrical cables where they passed from the housing into the Aft Berth. The other item was to extract the defunct cables that were left over from previous work when I removed the defective GPS at the helm.

Now some pics which pretty well show why I need to do all of this.
Back of the Engine Control Panel
The Port side Instruments (Speed & Wind - Defective Transducers)

Engine end of the Control harness
Alternator Bracket (Alternator removed)

Starboard Side Pod removed (nice place for a cup holder)
Engine Control Panel Housing removed
Need to repair the Engine Control Panel housing
Cracked screw points (top forward corner)
Engine Stop handle location
Had to use the Dremel to cut it out.
This looks like an original 'mod' as the control panel housing is a 3/4" too far aft, so the housing had been cut in the corner in order for the housing to fit.

That's steps 1 & 2 done and much of Step 3. Tomorrow I'll do some clean up and start on the panel repair and repair the housing.

Getting there.

Don't get me started!

We have to replace the Engine Harness

Time to get serious about being able to reliably start the engine.
We have had experience where not being able to start a boats engine could be close to disaster, and that is to be avoided.
So the new Engine Wiring Harness is our next job and I'll tackle it before completing the Exhaust system upgrade as it's easier to get to the engine wiring with the Exhaust system riser and the heat exchanger out of the boat.
Here are some pics...
This is our Engine Control Pane. It seems that Catalina had a variety of Control Panel Styles. If I explain our engine starting sequence and how we check the 'Heart Beat' it will make it easier to understand why and what we are doing to fix the starting issue.
The sequence is to turn the engine ignition on (remember, this is a Diesel Engine, it does not have spark plugs) Then we vent the engine bay by switching the Blower on for about 30 seconds, this is more important on gas engines, but a safety process on our boat. Then after turning the blower of, we depress the Glow Plugs button for 20 seconds, this preheats the engine cylinders raising the temperature and making it easier to get the engine to the condition where the diesel fuel will combust due to the pressure in the cylinders. After releasing the Glow Plug button we depress the starter button.
Normally the engine would fire into life without the slightest hesitation. However, the past two times it has been reluctant to start.

The issue appears to be due to excessive resistance in the wiring harness that is causing the starter to hesitate. 

Here's what the wiring behind the Control Panel looks like.
This is Ugly!
Several things jump out here.
The wires are really poorly crimped, not insulated nor labled.
Some o the instruments show signs of overheating.
The wires are not appropriately sized, and skinny wires can over heat, thus causing a variety of issues, not the least is FIRE.
The panel has been repaired and not very well. There are alarm buzzers that have probably failed and replaced by ones that are secured to the existing wires rather than mounting them securely on the panel. 
The list goes. on.

Down in the Engine Bay, it does not get any better.
Existing Euro style terminal block in the engine bay
Some of the cable are showing signs of overheating, corrosion and insecurity in the terminal block. Plus the block is not particularly appropriate in a boat with a diesel engine. Vibration is normal, and corrosion of the cable ends and terminals is hastened due to a lack of water tight connections.

So it's all coming out!
The new harness will be enclosed in an expansive sleeve to resist chaffing, all new wires and new terminals. No terminal block at either the Control Panel or at the Engine. The wires will go directly from the Control Panel to their respective engine service/sensor.

All of that training that the Royal Navy gave me in maintaining helicopter electronics is paying off (again)

The materials for the new harness have started to come in, many of them ordered from Ken of Weekendr . I have the Sleeve and heat shrink tubing, my wiring labeling process is top notch thanks to the advice given by Mainesail on his website.

The Heart Beat

While under motor, there's plenty to keep our attention and it's easy to forget the engine that is working hard at moving us along on the water. As Peggy was a Nurse for 40 years, I suggested that we think about the Engine's Heart Beat and check it about every 10 minutes. If I'm up on the front of the boat or down below, I'll prompt Peggy to check the heart beat by giving her the Two fingers on my wrist signal.

When we check the heart beat, we simply look over the stern and make sure the engine is coughing out water with the exhaust gasses, then a quick glance at the Instruments, Left to Right: RPM, Temperature, Fuel and Voltage. If it's ok, then we just acknowledge with the thumbs up signal. If not, we'll spring into action and consider shutting the engine down really quickly. That may mean that we'll have to drop anchor if the location allows, or tie up along side or just drift. Of course, there's always the option to pull the sails out.

The Harness Upgrade.

Step 1. Research! find wiring diagrams that are a close match to our boat and from that make a detailed diagram that reflects the actual wiring on Eximius.

Step 2. Figure out what we need, what wires, terminals, blocks, heat shrink tubing, sleeving, labeling and tie wraps to secure the new harness in place in order to minimize chafing an strain on the connections.

Step 3. Remove the Control panel and figure out what bits need replacement, repair and how to rewire it.

Step 4. Make up the new harness and connect it to the Control Panel

Step 5. Install the new harness and make up all of the terminal connections to the engine services and sensors.

Step 6. Cut out the old harness - being careful to not cut out anything that has nothing to do with the engine controls (such as Auto Pilot, Navigation electronics etc.)

Step 7. Test it.

Now to get started. I'll go down to the boat and remove the Engine Control Panel and bring it home so that I can get Step 3. done in the comfort of my garage.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Exhasted Part II

Fixing the Exhaust Leak Part II

The replacement Hump Hose arrived and I headed down to the boat.
Thanks to the advice on the C34 Forum, installing the new Hump Hose was a breeze, I wish that were the end of the project, but Nooooo!

First Step, Size up the Hump Hose and figure out where to cut it in order to fit to both the Exhaust Riser and the Muffler Inlet tube while making it possible to remove it in the future without having to cut it.

The Hose supplied was 8 1/2" long but the gap between the Exhaust Riser and the Muffler inlet tube is only 3". Add enough hose for 2 Hose clamps on each end and that gives the minimum length for the hose.

It's easy to cut the Silicone hose, but don't want it to be short. So I added 1/2" to each end beyond the hose clamps.

Installation complete. Turned out to be an easy task but again, all thanks to the many folks that have done this previously and shared their experience on the C34 Forum

But as I eluded to above, this did not solve all of the leak issues.

The Muffler no longer leaks and the Hump Hose where it connects to the Riser and Muffler does not leak.

But after running the engine for 10 minutes I found that the Riser itself was weeping by the coolant water inlet nipple and there is a raw water leak (drip) on the hoses going from the Strainer to the Pump and from the Heat Exchanger to the Riser Nipple.

Time to replace the Riser! and the Raw Water hoses! Something told me this job was going way to easy!

This is a pic of the Riser and Coolant water Nipple, you can see where it's leaking. The water/exhaust has been building up for quite a while and has almost fossilized the Fiberglass insulation.

As is often part of the solution on our boats, I called Catalina Direct after viewing their site and figuring out what parts I would need to replace the riser.

Their standard item is not exactly the same size as the one in our boat, not surprising, much of the equipment on the early models of Catalina 34's seems to have been custom made to fit the boat.

 This is the Riser removed. Pretty sorry state, It might not be the original, but it appears to have been repaired at some point. The black parts of the tubing are severely corroded and the insulation has almost fossilized to the point it's impossible to get off without grinding.

This is the New Riser, it has the advantage of modern fabrication and electro polishing stainless steel. It should easily last the next 10 years.

It came with a high tech manufactured insulation jacket for both the main part and the  6" nipple on the left.

Installing it should be pretty simple except that it's 1.5" longer (from left to right in the pic) than the original. So I'll either have to move the Muffler to port by an inch or so, or twist the horizontal tube to less than 90 Degrees, we'll see how that goes at the time of installation.

So, the new Riser, Insulation Jackets, and new Raw Water hoses should be done next week, but there's another urgent task to take care off.

When we were looking for leaks, we noted the Engine did not start as easily as it has in the past and the indications were that we have a fault in the wiring.
Digging into the engine control panel and the wiring harness to the engine, I found that there were so many 'repairs' or 'updates' that it was both difficult to find a single point of failure and to effect a viable repair. So it looks like a new Engine harness is in our very near future.

As the Riser and Heat exchanger are out of the boat right now, it seems sensible to tackle the Electrical harness upgrade now, their absence makes for easier access to the engine electrics.

Moving on.

See you on the water, but it may be a week away!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Exhaust Leak into the Bilge

On our last trip, I noticed a build up of black water in the bilge. We pumped it out into a container so that I could bring it home and inspect it.

After allowing it to settle for 24 hours, I found that it was salt water (taste test) with black particulate. I believe that it comes from the engine's exhaust system. The engine is cooled by passing sea water through a heat exchanger and then mixing the exhaust with that water which is fed into a 'Muffler' and then the water/air mixture is exhausted out the stern of the boat just above the water line.

The website is a huge source of info on our boats which were first manufactured 30 years ago. So I turned to the site for advice and there's plenty of it. I'm not the first to have this kind of issue and certainly won't be the last... these boats will be around for at least another 30 years.

So the general consensus is that there is a leak in the exhaust system between the Engine Manifold and the stern. The lack of any telll tale streams beneath the aft berth seems to eliminate a leak at the stern exhaust and in the exhaust hose that goes from the Muffler to the stern. 

The most likely area to fail is the connection of the hoses to the muffler and the muffler hose connections themselves. It could also be the muffler body.

Taking the simplest route first, I decided to replace the hose from the engine exhaust riser to the muffler and while at it inspect both muffler connection tubes for cracks between them and the muffler.

Step 1: Order the replacement hose. 

This hose was from - they are a great resource for parts for Catalina Yachts.

Step 2: Remove the old hose from the Exhaust riser to the Muffler.
This turned out to be an easy process primarily due to the support that is provided on the Catalina 34 website (
Here's what I did.
  • Disconnected the Hot and Cold supply hoses to the head faucet (after ensuring that the supply was turned off)
  • Disconnected the Engine Raw Water inlet hose from the raw water strainer
  • Moved those 3 hoses out of the way.
  • Used a strip of Gorilla Tape to hold the Head Cupboard Door open by attaching it to the Head Door jamb.
  • Removed all 4 clamps from the Exhaust Inlet to the Muffler and Riser
  • Used my Dremel with Cutting wheel to cut a vertical slot in the Inlet Tube.
  • The hose was Wire Rinforced, the dremel easily cut the wires.
  • The bottom of the hose was too close to the muffler to cut all the way down with the dremel, so I used a knife to open the split all the way down.
  • That made it easy to remove the old hose.

Next it was time to clean up the muffler
The pics shows the Inlet Tube. Possible cracks around the rim of the tube where it reaches the muffler case.

  • Clean up was done using a wire brush, low grit sand paper and solvent. I worked on both the Inlet and the Outlet tubes, they looked a whole lot better after just 10 minutes of labor.
I decided to seal the possible cracks/gaps between the inlet/outlet tubes and the muffler case using Marine Tex a 2 part epoxy. 

After mixing the epoxy and forming into about a 1/4" sausage, I forced it into the joint between the tubes and the muffler case.

Time to let it sit and cure. 


Next step is to install the Hump Hose, but that will have to wait till Friday.

Stay tuned.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Little things

We have been spending more time on Eximius despite the recent excess of work on the Engine & Network systems.

When visiting other boats, the thing that grabs me the most is how most of them are 'homely', 'welcoming' and Eximius is not, especially if I have tool boxes all over the boat and bits-n-pieces on every surface.

This past week we were at our local WM store (not West Marine but Wally Mart) and found a rug that might just do the job of providing a non-slip landing at the bottom of the cabin steps. Much better than the Yoga mat we currently had in place.

What do you think? Looks good? It grips the deck and that's a plus.
I'm sure the rug will smooth out over the next couple of days.

And the Cat Liter Box - well, we don't have a cat! But that's our Trash can without it's lid!

See you on the Water.

Very Cool GPS Remote

Warning - Boat Geek

When we purchased Eximius, it had a Garmin 741XS GPS and Radar unit. Since then we have done a few upgrades. New NMEA 2000 Network, New Masthead Wireless Wind Transducer and Display at the helm.

Recenlty I downloaded the Garmin Helm app for Android - VERY COOL!

After setting up the Garmin GPS by turning on the Wireless Network and giving it a Name (our boat) and password. Then it was simple to run the app, provide the network password and from then on the Tablet displayed the screen of the GPS and had access to all of the data that was flowing through the NMEA network. 

This week I was working on the Engine Exhaust system trying to fix a leak of exhaust gas/water into the bilge. During that work, I took a break and considered what was involved in installing our new Garmin DST800 Transducer. That transducer provides Depth, Speed though the Water and Water Temperature.

Currently we get our Depth data from a Garmin Transducer mounted inside the hull under the aft berth and a Garmin Echo display unit mounted at the Helm. But the current Boat speed data is provided by a defunct transducer in the hull at the Bow, and has not been reliable for the past few months. I have been considering hauling the boat and installing the new transducer that we purchased as part of the system back last year.

Today I took a leap of faith. Several C34 owners have reported changing out their transducers with the boat in the water. Simply a matter of pulling out the old one and replacing with the new really really quickly! Because when the transducer is removed, water will enter the boat! And quickly!

So I tried it, and was ready to reinsert the old transducer if the new did not fit. But it did! I doubt that I got much more than 1pint of water in the boat. Phew!

10 minutes later, I had the new transducer hooked up to our NMEA 2000 Network and was able to see Water Depth and Temp in our multi function display, nothing on the speed but heck the boat was tied to the dock!

Now we have Speed through the water, depth and water temp data all available to any display on the NMEA 2000 network. I am enamored with this system. Some time in the future I may add some Engine data to the system. Sure would be nice to see the Engine RPM, Temp and Oil pressure on the displays.

Of course, with our Garmin Helm, we can also see all that data from the comfort of the cabin at the Nav Station.

See you on the Water!


Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4th. 2016

Happy Independence Day America!

If you recall, President Reagan addressed America on July 4th. 1986 aboard the USS John F. Kennedy in New York Harbor. At time, I was aboard HMS Ark Royal, in New York, within sight of the Statue of Liberty. That was my first celebration of Independence Day. Today it's 30 years later. Now I celebrate with the rest of us.

This year, we took Eximius down to Bahia Mar for the weekend and joined a bunch of fellow sailboat owners from the HISC. Thanks to the crews of the Host Boats for making it a great weekend, and special thanks to Pam Angel, Pat & Bob Schuldenfrei for joining us for a short sail on Sunday while others went to see the fish off shore.

During all of the past 30 years, it's the HISC members that make celebrating Independence Day special.
And Thanks to Deborah that took this pic from the Flamingo


Paul & Peggy

SV Eximius