Saturday, August 27, 2016

Good Vibrations - Part III

Nearly there but we have not left the dock!

Spent 3 hours on the boat today. First thing was to check out the issue with the Fuel gauge and the Blower motor. Turned out the blower motor was not a big deal. I had not attached the positive lead to the switch - it was just hanging there! Easy fix. Then the fuel gauge... I checked the gauge, shorted the sensor post to ground and the meter read full scale (full tank) so the gauge was ok. Then cut the wire from the sensor that went to the thank ground, had voltage there, but the resistance from the sensor to the tank ground was a couple of kv. So the problem was a bad earth. New cable from the sensor to the newly installed tank ground and we were back in business. That took care of yesterday's issues.

Next a bit more engine clean up. Peggy had done such a good job yesterday that it inspired me to make further progress. Once past that I installed the Aqua Lift exhaust hose and the riser/gasket and hump hose. That went pretty quick. On to the plumbing. The silicone hose that I purchased is too short! grrrr! I'll pick up a longer hose at WM next week. But did get the heat exchanger installed and the new hose from the raw water filter to the pump and from the pump to the heat exchanger.

Just a couple o little jobs and it's getting close to engine running test time. WoooHooo!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Good Vibrations - Part III

I get it! Our boat is 28 years old, but I would like it to help it live strong for another 28 years!

Peggy & I went down to the boat this Thursday to progress the new wiring harness installation. Making good progress, but I have realized that every wire in the new harness is replacing an old wire that is way past it's prime.

Here's another one.
The Fuel Pump Ground wire was hidden behind the Fuel Pump, I had to take a pic using my phone just to see what it was like.
No surprise! Ready to fail. I removed it, made up a new ground wire and lead it into the engine bay where I have installed a new -ve Buss Bar.
I'll be replacing all of the ground wires as I get to them. Next is the ground for the Fuel Level Sensor. That will bond the tank and provide the ground (again to the -ve buss bar)

If the weather holds out today, I could get the rest of the Engine Harness in and tested, perhaps even get the Alternator installed, along with the Heat Exchanger and the new Exhaust Riser.

Weather was good!

We completed the electrical installation today and - bonus - Peggy cleaned up the engine.
She spent nearly two hours cleaning the grot off the engine using paper towels, Simply Green, a pair of tweezers and a lot of gumption.
Then I installed the Alternator and wired that up, completed the last of the ground wires, we were ready to test everything.

Initial test was not too bad. Everything seems to be working except the Blower Motor and the Fuel gauge.
I'll check the wiring on those two circuits tomorrow.

At least we have a nice clean engine to work around - Thanks Peggy!

More Saturday.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Good Vibrations - Part II

New mounts installed

Peggy came down to the boat with me today, more for moral support than anything.

As planned, I raised the Engine off of the Motor Mounts that were temporarily in place on the stringers, filled each of the forward holes (4) with 2 part epoxy putty and left it to harden for 20 minutes then Re-drilled the stringers for the new mounts.

While waiting for the epoxy to harden, I spent some quality time cleaning up beneath the Engine. Not sure the area has looked that clean in many years.

After the epoxy had cured, it was pretty easy to get the new Motor Mounts installed and bolted down, although I did leave the mounting lag bolts loose enough that I could move them inboard/outboard if needed. It took about 3 hours to get all of that done and the Engine back on the motor mounts. Not bad for a first time doing an Engine job.

The motor mounts part of this job is nearly complete, only the Engine to Prop Shaft alignment remains to be done. Right now the Prop Shaft Flange to Gearbox Flange has gaps (4) of between .007" and .009" and I'm not sure of the correct gaps or range of differences that are acceptable. So I have asked the support of the C34 International Association for a procedure to follow. While I'm waiting there's always Google!

Update - Friday Aug 19th.

The Engine is aligned! Following the advice from the C34 Association members, I was able to get the Engine Alignment within 0.0025" and feel that I did a pretty good job (pats self on back a few times :)

Update - Saturday Aug 20th.

We made good progress today. The Control Panel is secured in place, including the beast of a job getting the Engine Stop lever back in place through the hole in the Control Panel. The harness is run down and forward to the Engine Space and the Blower Motor is wired up. The Starter is back in place with  it's new Solenoid and the Power Connection to the Solenoid is connected with fuse in place.

Next visit to the boat will be to get the new -ve bus bar wired up to the electrical system and engine. Then connect up the Fuel Pump, Fuel Tank Sender, Engine High Temp and Coolant Temp senders, Glow Plug connection, Alternator Excite and Smart Regulator connections in place.

To keep the control panel dry before the final screws are in place, there's a temporary Polybag taped over the panel. I have to trim the clear instrument cover slightly to make it easier to operate the Engine stop lever.

Once all of that is done, then it's time to reinstall the heat exchanger, Alternator, Raw Water hoses, Coolant hoses etc. Then inspect everything before hitting the start button for the first time.

We're getting excited! With a bit of luck we'll be able to take the boat for a test run by next weekend. WooooHooo!

Don't wait for us yet, but we'll see you on the water soon!

Monday, August 15, 2016

A bit of Kudos

Support groups are really important

Over the past 11 years that we have owned a sailboat, we have received an invaluable amount of support and feedback from the groups that we belong to.

Catalina Yacht owners make up one of the largest boat owners groups in the world, with so many models over that past 30+ years, and so many of them still in great condition, it's no wonder that someone considering buying a new or used boat nowadays looks on the web to find out how much support they can get from owners groups.

The Catalina 34 International Association and the Catalina - Capri 25's Association are two groups that we have belonged to and their support for dealing with the varying issues over the years have saved us so much work, worry and given so much additional pleasures and enjoyment from our boats.

This past year, as members of the Catalina 34 International Association and as owners of a now nearly 30 year old boat, we have done a lot on the boat and enjoyed improving our sailing knowledge, it's been an awesome year.

If you are considering buying a new or used boat, although I'm biased, really consider Catalina Yachts carefully. Get out to the boat shows, look at all of the models of different brands and compare them. Keep the comparisons on an Apple to Apple basis; An 38' Catalina cannot be compared to a 42' beneteau. A cruising boat cannot be compared to a racing sledge. 

Get down and dirty! Look under the engine, in the Bilge, under the anchor locker, beneath the V-Berth. Check out the standing rigging - lightweight or built like a Brick? You'll need to know what your plans are for the boat and that determines much of the requirements you'll be looking for. We're not racers, do we race - Yes - and we always learn so much more about sailing during those few short hours competing in a friendly local race. We like cruising - getting away for at least a few days, we're even planning on a month or more in the Bahamas next year, and our choice affected the type of boat we purchased.

But just as important as the materials, workmanship and reliability of the build, support for the model is really high up that list.

Over the past year we have done quite a few upgrades on the boat and several of them were not obvious, but the C34 Association has so many articles online I think we have done the right thing every time and had the support of very experienced owners that shared their experiences making ours less stressful and more valuable.

For example, the Outhaul on our boom looked a bit painful and likely to fail, we were in the process of replacing the sails and changing from a fixed footed main to a loose footed main and that meant the potential greater strain on the outhaul. So fixing it before the new sails were installed seemed the prudent thing to do. 
As always, I turned to the Association site for advice and past experience, reading dozens of articles on the subject of Mainsail Outhaul replacement. During that research, I found that several folks had upgraded the outhaul or a better haul ratio and, more importantly, that the Boom Gooseneck was a potential area of failure. 
So, while upgrading the outhaul, I also took a close look at the Gooseneck and found it was cracked! I would never have noticed that by casual inspection. I ended up replacing both Boom end castings. Now I know that we're not going to have that kind of failure while under sail and away from the maddening crowd.

This has been just one of the several upgrades that were completed with the valuable knowledge of the C34 Association contributors. 
So I cannot emphasize enough - check out the Support groups for any boat you may be about to buy.

I would be remiss if I did not offer kudos to the Catalina Capri 25 Association, we have been members or 10 years and were able to share with and benefit from the many other owners the knowledge gained while keeping our boat in the best condition.

This past month I have been working on the biggest job so far: A complete Engine Harness replacement, Replacing the Engine Exhaust Riser, and Engine Mounts. In each case, the Association has chimed in when asked and offered suggestions or links to online experience. I've even been able to purchase much of the materials for these projects from an Association member at very competitive pricing.

So Kudos! to the Associations that support all of us. 



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not on my boat!

HISC Ladies Day Race

What a great race day today!
Last night the forecast was not so great, bleak, stormy, high winds, high seas, not looking good.
This morning we were woken by heavy thunder extending from the long night storms. Then more rain en-route to Esprit Du Vent, our friends sailing boat and sister ship to Eximius. Radar showed storms moving from the ESE and persisting for a few hours.

At the parking spot where the team met up, conversation quickly rotated around the weather and reefing, even would the race be called?

Peggy, Pam and Anita were joined by the owners, Franco, Pat, Christeen and they headed off to the boat, I was headed to the Race Committee boat to help out there during the race, though not much help was needed.

As we approached the Hillsboro Inlet bridge, we saw Esprit Du Vent headed back in? What's up? Conditions ugly? Left something at the slip? Turns out they were just taking a break from the heavy conditions that were just outside the inlet and as they had nearly 2 hours to get to the start line, they decided to duck in out of the weather for a short while.

Once out of the Inlet, we unfurled the jib and powered down the engine, then about an hour of sailing up and down the coast line north of the inlet. It was a really nice sail, a total bonus that was not expected. Siboney - a Beneteau 40 - was really comfortable and the conditions were great.

We dropped the anchor for the start bouy and motored north to drop anchor to hold station as the other end of the start line. Then it was just sit a while till the race boats approached from all directions.

Once the race course description was given out on the radio, we got the flags and horn in order to get the race started on time.

5 Minutes before the start, the Yellow flag was displayed and a single horn sounded. 4 minutes before start the Blue Peter was displayed alongside the Yellow flag. The race boats were milling around the start line by this time, some were going to start very close to the start horn.
At 1 minute before the race start, the Blue Peter was dropped and a horn sounded. Finally at the start time of 11am, the Yellow flag was dropped and the long start horn sounded. They were off.

Very quickly, several boats were over the line. No surprise, Third Tri was over first and quickly headed towards the race mark that was basically due east of the start line. Other boats quickly crossed, while the stragglers struggeled to get across the line, but all were successful and no incidents.

Now not much to do except keep an eye out for the leader and check the time as she got to the finish mark. The next boat would be a while, nobody could keep close to Third Try.

After lunch on the boat, the remaining boats crossed the line, just as well as the seas started to pickup. We pulled the anchor as it was getting uncomfortable holding into the growing seas. Once the anchor was out of the water, we turned to keep station on the north end of the start / finish line. It wasn't long before the last boats crossed the line and we could turn south to retrieve the start bouy, then a quick dash down to the Inlet getting a few cooling splashes over the bow as the seas continued to grow. 

Once inside the Inlet, we turned after the bridge and headed north on the Intracoastal.

And that was pretty well the end of the Ladies Day Race. Nobody hurt, no boats dinged, everyone seems to be still talking to the rest of their crew. The signs of a good race day.

Now we're home and getting ready to celebrate the results tonight, but everybody won! 

Next year we'll race Eximius!

See you on the water soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Good Vibrations

Anyone that has been on our boat knows - We have Vibrations when the Engine runs.

The very experienced folks on the C34 Association site have been a huge help in the current projects that are underway on Eximius. Right now the Engine's Heat Exchanger is out, also the Starter is out and all of the raw water hoses are out and all of the electrical wiring from the Engine Control Panel to the Engine have also been removed for a complete upgrade.

So, if I were to replace the Engine Motor Mounts, now would be the time. Am I a glutton for boat projects? Seems like it.

Making progress

The new mounts arrived so I planned to go down to the boat today to see if I could make progress on their install.

Step 1: Take measurements
I used a dial caliper to measure the height of each of the engine corner plates that the existing motor mounts rest on. Plan was to use these as a starting point when realigning the Engine to the Prop Shaft.

Step 2: Disconnect the Prop Shaft from the back of the gearbox.
This was a bit awkward, but that's all. The four bolts were easy to get out once their grip was freed. My neighbor John came down to the boat with me, and having two people significantly reduced the time to get this done, maybe 15 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the nuts that hold the Engine down onto the existing motor mounts.
Again, no big deal, neither of us skinned any knuckles. Once the nuts (15/16") were released, it was easy to spin them off, of course, there was a bit of grot on the top end of the long motor mount bolt, but a quick wipe down cleaned up enough to allow the nuts to be spun off. Nuts and washers put aside, they won't be used on the new Mounts.

Step 4: Hoist the Engine off of the Motor Mounts.
I had purchased a 1/4 Ton lever chain hoist from Harbor Freight. Neat little hoist. A 4' piece of 4x4 across the top of the cabin entrance, a 1/2" 3 ply line tied with a clove hitch and then the end tied back around the loops to prevent a load from just rotating the 4x4.

Hoisting the Engine was a breeze! I can recommend that hoist for the job.

Step 5: Remove the old motor mounts.
Each is held in place with a fore and aft Lag Bolt that is screwed into the fiber glass covered wooden engine stringers.. The forward most two (port and stbd) were easy to get out, so too were the aft most on each side, but the 4 bolts that were nearest to the center of the engine were not so easy, at least until I just spun the old mounts by 180 degrees, then it was eazy peezee getting them out.
I cannot figure why some of the bolts are nearly 4" long and some only 2" long, they were not in any particular order.

Step 6: Clean up the stringers.
I have no clue how long it has been since the Engine was pulled prior our ownership, but if the grot on the top of the stringers is any clue, then it may be never! If I had removed the Engine entirely, then I would take the trouble to sand down the stringers and respray them so that they look good. As it is I used half a roll of paper towel, several soapy wipes and a spray of boat soap. It barely made a difference except that when I ran my hand along the stringers, they came out comparatively clean.

Step 7: Install the new mounts.
First snag! Bummer! The mounting holes of the new mounts do not match those on the old mounts! So I'll have to re-drill the holes! I needed to figure out which holes needed to be redrilled. Each new mount has two holes and they are about 1/8" closer together than the original mounts.
I installed the mounts using only the aft lag bolts and lowered the engine. Then adjusted the nuts on the mounts to match the height that I measured in step 1.
Lowering the Engine using the Hoist was as easy as raising it! A little bit of pull and shove and the Engine was sitting neatly on the 4 mounting bolts. A check of the prop shaft to gearbox connecting flanges showed that I needed to move the Engine aft about a a few thou. A shove with my foot on the large belt pulley on the front of the Engine and the movement was enough to get the alignment much closer.

Step 8: Re-drill the Mounting holes.
That's going to happen Friday (Tomorrow) Peggy & I will go to ACE Hardware and get 8 matching Lag Bolts all the same length. And some two part epoxy. Then I'll drill out the existing holes that need to be re-drilled, fill them with epoxy and let it cure. Then re-drill them (I marked their location this afternoon with a Red Sharpie) 

So, Friday should be productive and I should be able to get the Engine correctly mounted on the newly installed motor mounts. Then it's back to the Electrical Harness and Engine Exhaust Riser upgrades. 

Gotta love doing this stuff.

More later.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Don't Get Me Started Part V

Control Panel Housing Modification

While out on our good friend's boat Esprit Du Vent, I noticed a couple of things on their Control Panel & Housing.

The control panel had an extra switch - I asked Bob and he explained how it controlled the Cockpit Subdued lighting. Now, we don't have any 'subdued' cockpit lighting, they're nice, but we don't have them and not sure if we want them right now. However, I also realized that the Instrument lighting is controlled by the ignition switch. That explains how our instruments have burn marks on them! The lights are powered up any time the ignition switch is on! Even during the Daytime!

So this got me thinking. If I install an additional switch on the Engine Control Panel, it could be used to operate the Instrument lighting. 

The second thing I noticed was there is a wedge shaped built into the front of the Panel housing where the Engine Stop lever is located and there's not one on Eximius. That wedge angles the Stop lever away from the clear perspex spray cover that protects the Engine Instruments from the elements. That's another good idea. 

So, I sanded off the new paint from around the Engine Stop lever hole near the front of the Panel housing and then built up a wedge similar to the one on Esprit Du Vent using 2 part epoxy.

Here's the original housing before the modification:
Note the cuts around the Stop lever mounting hole where I had to use my Dremel to cut out the lever. 

Here's the result:
The wedge is barely visible in the lower left corner of the Control Panel Housing
Close up view of the new Stop Lever Mounting Wedge

Check off that improvement.

Still working on the panel wiring, some of the cables have not arrived yet, so a bit of a delay, looks like we won't get out on our boat this weekend as hoped :( But when we do, it'll be sweeeeeet!

See you out there.