Monday, May 28, 2018

Fuel tank woes

Diesel Fuel Tank Issues

We found tiny droplets of fuel in our bilge water, and that's not tolerable!

So first step was to mop up the bilge, 2nd was to find out where the fuel leak is.

We went down to the boat today armed with empty diesel Jerry cans in case we needed to off load the tank contents. 

Inspecting the area between the fuel tank and the fuel filters, I found that there was some diesel on the tank support shelf, but could not see where it was coming from. I will have to replace that shelf as about 1/4 of it is wet with diesel. 

Thinking that it could be a leaky tank, I decided to empty the tank so that I could remove it and inspect it for leaks. Then the leak would either be fixable or I would need to buy a new tank.

So, my plan was to disconnect the Fuel pump outlet and run a temporary hose into one of the Jerry cans. We did that, but with the engine ignition system on (there is no Ignition system on a Diesel, it's actually the engine electrical supply.), the fuel pump ran, but would not pump fuel. 1st thought was that the pump had failed. So I tried to siphon the fuel out of the tank, it would just not flow.

Next I decided to use our spare fuel pump to pump out the tank. The spare pump was on board the boat when we purchased her in 2015. I connected some wiring to the pump and to a pair of electrical clamps, connected the pump to the fuel supply hose and a spare fuel hose into the Jerry can. Hooked up the pump, nothing! Wow, That's Fantastic !

Being unable to empty the tank I decided to try again tomorrow. New Plan: buy a new fuel pump before going back down to the boat.

Then a friend of mine called and during our chit chat, he asked if I had tried to start the engine?

Hmmmmm! Duh! Installed pump won't, Siphon - Won't, Spare pump wont' (won't even run) could it be a leak in the fuel hose?

My new thought: If the fuel won't pump or siphon, wouldn't that be the situation if the supply hose had a leak? Duh!

New Plan: Tuesday, head down to WM and buy some new fuel hose, connect that up and see if it pumps fuel. If so, it's the old hose and not the tank. If it still won't pump, it should siphon. If it does not siphon, then it's a fuel blockage. If it does pump/siphon, then it's just the hose.

Oh, did I mention? A new Fuel Tank is over $1,000 including shipping from CA! I really hope it's the hose!


Saturday, May 19, 2018

DIY Outboard Lifting Harness

Making a DIY Outboard Lifting Harness

Our new Mercury 4 Stroke 4hp Short Shaft Outboard weighs about 60lbs and we keep the engine on the boat secured to an Outboard Mount on the Port Side Aft Cockpit Rail. Moving the engine from the Mount to the Dink requires a decent amount of control. We had purchased an Outboard Engine Lifting Harness for our previous boat and outboard, but I was never happy with it. It always felt as though it was trying to release.

So... Time for a DIY solution.

The KISS principle is nearly always the best.


Initially I thought I would need the horizontal strap to prevent the harness slipping off the ends of the engine, but when I did a trial fitting without them, the harness was just right. There are engine parts that stick out from the main body of the engine head that prevent the harness slipping off.


The harness fits with the cover on or the cover off. I'll attach the carabiner to the moving block on the hoist tackle..




It took longer to come up with the simple concept than to make it. It feels really secure when lifting the engine.

Next is to take the Outboard down to the boat and set it on it's mount.

If the persistent gray clouds and soaking rain eventually decide to move off elsewhere, then we can load the boat and head off for our trip down to the Keys. I'm ready!

See you on the water.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

New Engine

New Engine for our dinghy

We made the decision to upgrade the engine for our dinghy. Currently we have a Suzuki 2.5HP 4 Stroke Outboard which is fine, but we're concerned that the strong currents in the Bahamas will be an issue with just 2.5hp.

Our dink - Mercury 2400 has a max engine capacity of 4hp. So we have just purchased a new Mercury 4HP Short Shaft (15") from West Marine. Their price was close to what we could find online but with the 4% back in West Marine Bucks, and their price guarantee, I'm happy that we made the best choice.

 The guys from the Pompano West Marine Store loaded the new Engine, in it's box, onto our F150 pickup.

They wrapped it in poly garbage bags as it was threatening to rain.

The engine weighs about 57lbs 26kg. So it's easily lifted single handed, but the box makes it a bit of a task. 





We drove down to the dock and turned the boat around. Eximius is normally docked facing East, but the dink's outboard is on the Mount attached to the Port Side aft rails and I didn't fancy carrying the engine across the boat and then trying to hang it on the lifting sling while it's over water.

The wind was from the South East, which meant that turning the boat was a breeze (no pun intended 😏) We ran a line from the Port side bow aft and around the stern then to the dock. A second line from the mid ships cleat port side, aft and around the stern to the dock. I released the stern lines and then the bow lines. The boat easily floated around to port and I was able to control the turn using the two lines from the dock.

Once the boat was secured port side to. I made up the new engine lifting tackle. The tackle for the 2.5hp engine was a simple 1:1 single block and tackle, but I figured a 3:1 advantage would help lift the heavier 4hp engine. Now we have a single block attached to the underside of the Radar mounting plate and a double block as the moving part. There are 3 lines on the moving block.

With the new lifting tackle setup, I took the Merc out of the box and carried it down to the dock. Peggy sat on the dock wall while I tied a temporary lifting harness to the engine. With that harness attached to the moving lifting block, Peggy was able to take up the slack as I move the engine over the gap between the boat and the dock. 

The good news is that the mounting bracket on the new engine fits the existing storage bracket on the boat, no need for any adjustments.

We brought the new engine home so that we could commission it in the garage and run it in the back yard.

Commissioning the engine involves: Add Engine Oil (it's shipped empty), checking oil levels, fuel up the engine and then running it for a few minutes before checking the engine oil level again.

To do that it has to be in the upright position, so I need an Engine Stand -

Using my HF Dolly, but it needed some extra stability as the weight of the engine tends to tip the dolly forwards.

I took a scrap of 3/4" Plywood, cut it in two diagonally, then cut a slit close to the vertical end using the plunge method on my table saw.

The supports fit like a glove and really make a big difference, no fear of the dolly falling forward when the engine is mounted and the supports can be pulled off easily. No screws required.



The horizontal bar of the dolly is straight 1" steel tubing, not suitable for securing the engine. I padded it out with more offcuts of the 3/4" ply, I should really cut off the excess srew length with my rotary cut off tool.

The padding can handle the torque tendency for the engine to roll forwards, the padding is held in place with a half dozen long screws and nut's n bolts.

With the engine mounted on the dolly, there's plenty of room to place a tall drum bucket around the prop, high enough to submerge the water intake. If we had the Long shaft engine, the bucket would not need to be raised up to submerge the prop, but ours is the short shaft (15") so I place a couple of stone slabs under the bucket. That also helps keep the dolly stationary when flushing / running the engine.



Most of the time, the engine will be secured to the outboard engine mount on the Port side aft of Eximius, time for some shade.

I watched the video on Sailrite several times and figured out how to adapt their concept to our engine.

Our engine seems to have the knuckle joint for the tiller slightly further aft than on the model engine that they covered. So the cut out for the knuckle was not in the corner. It worked out really well.

There are a lot of appendages on the front and sides of the engine, but the cover fits well and is very secure.

The tiller cover is separate but I don't expect to ever run the engine with the main cover in place.

Note that this dolly has a removable handle, this is great as it allows the engine to rotate on the dolly for servicing.





I reused some Sunbrella from our old Sail Cover (replaced when we got new sails in 2016 and a Cradle Cover) so the cost of the cover was minimal. It would have cost about $25 for a yard of Sunbrella, I used about 5' of cordage and one bobbin of thread. I did not use basting tape.

Tools to upgrade the dolly: Table saw (could have used a circular saw), Portable Drill/Driver, Socket, Builders square, Ruler, Marking pens.

Tools used to make the cover: Hot knife to cut the sunbrella and cordage, Sailrite LZ-1 sewing machine, 8 plastic clamps (harbor freight), Marking chalk, Tape measure, 36" wooden rule, 48" T-Square (drywall square), Thread snips.

I find myself doing more and more canvas projects, Sailrite has been great in supplying materials for the stuff I've made as well as stock that I have purchased in anticipation of more projects. This is really the first project that I have re-used old Sunbrella, it was in pretty good shape, but it needs some cleaning - The engine cover is going for a bath in OxyClean and will then get a coat of water proofing.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Some Canvas work

Just a few Canvas jobs to help with the boat kitty.

Hatch cover
The wooden hatch near Meridian's Bow.
The cover has a lip that fits under the closed hatch and a draw string to keep it in place

The owner added a piece of something (foam) between the window and the cover to help keep it domed and shed water.







Windlass Cover
This has a lip that fits beneath the aft end of the windlass and a strap -n- buckle on the front.
The chain opening has a leather surround to reduce chafe.










Mast raising winch cover
The cover for this 12v winch is secured to the deck with Snads, it has a strap -n- buckle to keep the face closed and leather edges to reduce chafe where the steel cable enters the winch.










Meridian is heading around the great loop later this year, I'm sure they are going to have a great adventure.