Friday, June 29, 2007

Getting a little better....

So there is some light at the end of all this. I got a call yesterday from the guys at Federal Marine. They will be able to rebuild a transmission with the same specs as my old one by cannibalizing three other trans and ordering a few parts. The trans alone will run around 4K, but it sure beats total repower at 18K.

I took last night and got my old grill fired up for the first time and did some cooking on the boat. After buying a $140 propane tank I was a little upset when the grill wouldn't work at first. After cutting a few bolts and cleaning it all real well I got some great chicken out of the deal.

I am recently back from a family reunion, and from what I can tell they may be the only people who look at these pages. Anyways, the one constant piece of feedback I got was more posts. So I've been trying to keep them coming more often even if they are a little shorter. I thought people might like an idea of what this place looks like so I'll try to upload a video. Let me know if it works.
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No love from Romance.

Ok, so I’ve been on the phone with parts shops way too long today. It’s generally not good news all around. The gear on my boat was a very rare one. It was 17 inches long and dropped 2.5 inches from the engine spindle to the output flange. No modern day gear has the same specs. (I need the PL model)

To make some of the newer models fit I may have to completely remove the engine and rebuild the engine mounts. A mechanic I trust told me that if I am going that far already I should seriously consider a total repower. I know he is right, but that would run around 18K before it was all said and done. That’s just more than I have to outfit this boat. I am really kicking myself for not having the engine inspected before I bought her. It is definitely true that if anyone really understood how much boats cost they would never own one.

To add insult to injury my AC hasn’t been cooling the boat off like it used to. I started digging around to see how difficult it would be to try and recharge the coolant in the system. I started poking around and realized I have no idea what I am doing. I need to call a technician, but will hold off until I get the engine problems sorted out. That or keep poking around until something clicks and I have an idea of how to proceed. Having this boat ready to go cruising is suddenly seeming a long, long way off.

If anyone has a line on a good rebuilt or rebuildable Paragon P25L let me know. It would save a world of hurt in Kemah.


Monday, June 25, 2007

On buying a boat.

If you are buying a used boat, spend the few extra hundred bucks to get the engine inspected. Especially if you are looking at a 30 year old sailboat.

I got a call from Jim at Federal Marine outside of Chicago today. The first thing he told me was I didn’t have a transmission. When they opened up the case, what used to be parts and gears had essentially dissolved away with salt water corrosion. There was nothing left to be rebuilt.

Apparently, J.D., the previous owner had never checked the transmission oil because it would take several years for a gear to degrade to this state. This is something that could have been easily prevented by a new oil cooler, but was simply overlooked or ignored for too long. I now have to make a choice about having the guys a Federal build me a new gear out of a Paragon case they have or find a new/rebuilt gear that will match the old Westerbeke 4-108.

What has me really scared is wondering how much other deferred maintanence is going to catch up with me during this refit. A rebuild of the old gear would have run about $2,000. A new one is more likely to run around $4,000. I may go ahead and get the engine surveyed now while I am working on the mechanical side of things. I don’t want to spend 4K on a new gear only to have to replace the whole engine later. If there are other problems lurking I want to know about them sooner rather than later.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Racing, Showers, and Transmissions.

It's been two really good back to back weekends. One of the local yacht clubs holds rum races several times throughout the summer and there happened to be one last weekend and yesterday. A rum race is a chance to bring new racers out on performance sailboats and introduce them to the world of racing in a low key environment. Equal emphasis is placed on the consumption of rum and winning the race which creates some interesting results. I spend yesterday working on the foredeck of a J-109 learning how to both work with and avoid the mass of line needed to fly all sails including the great big asymmetrical spinnaker. The great thing is I've learned enough yesterday to feel confident in flying my own asymmetrical on Romance.

I finally solved the great shower problem and once I run to Target and pick up a curtain I'll be able to shower on the boat instead of running to the top of the dock. It's a small thing, but living aboard does require a few creature comforts. I had to snap a 10 foot boat hook in half and use it to fish the shower sump hose past my water tanks, but that system is probably better than any other on the boat. Now I have to figure out where I want to dig in next. I am thinking I'll pull my main sail and mizzen sail down to take to Cameron Sails for renewing or replacement. My transmission is still sitting on the floor in a shop outside Chicago so I won't be going anywhere for awhile. Might be a good time to get my starter rebuilt as well. It's been having a few problems.

I am out to CA and NM for work and class. Four more classes and I'll have the EMBA done and will double the time I can spend both working for money and working on the boat. I can't tell you how excited I am for that.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Simple projects turned complicated

I’ve been slowly plugging away at boat projects. For $140 I replaced the 6lb propane take on the back of the boat that feeds an old Force 10 BBQ grille. I was tempted to replace it with a newer model one of my neighbors were letting go of, but on further inspection, the Force 10 was very heavy duty and in great shape other than a little surface rust. I cleaned it up and will be cooking steaks tonight. I also pulled the “Captains Chair” out of the cockpit. Having that chair out of there made the boat much more comfortable. While I understand the comfort aspect, aesthetically, it just didn’t belong on a sailboat. I used a new product for the first time as well. West Marine makes a 2 part epoxy that comes as a green roll with the activator on the inside of the main substrate. I mixed it up like play-do, filled the holes left by the chair and 10 minutes later it was hard enough to be sanded. Building momentum off each of these I though I would try something a little more challenging. Little did I know.

Romance has a small shower in the head, but it hasn’t been functional since I’ve owned the boat. I started poking and prodding to figure out where the problem was and found multiple breaks in the negative sump pump wire and float switch. I tracked all the bad wire down using a test lamp and replaced the bad sections. Once I got it all put back together, still no shower love. Using the same test lamp I figured out that the pump itself was shot. I figured this would make life easy and I would just pick up one of the new self contained units and drop it in. Easy, right? No. So I dropped the $100 at West and started connecting up the new unit once I drilled out the intake valve on the sump. Reconnected everything again and the pump took off, but no water was moving. This confused me.

I started running down all the plumbing connections and couldn’t believe that the previous owner had used regular green garden hose in the system. Oddly enough, the garden hose had been tied into the cockpit scupper and let to one of the yellow t-valves like you would find at home depot. This then came off to the shower sump and one other mystery line. For the life of me I looked and looked and couldn’t figure out where the other hose ran. Oh well. I’ll make it work regardless, or so I though.

Realizing the whole hose needed to be replaced I ran back to West for more hose. After buying the required amount I returned and believing the hose run to be an easy one I removed the old hose. Huge mistake. First, one I had the old one out I realized why the pump wasn’t working. There was a check valve in the line to prevent the cockpit water from draining into the shower sump. It’s been so long since it had been used it was completely frozen. Oh well, that could have made it a five minute fix, but his is much better.

By pulling the old hose out I removed any possibility of getting the new hose to lie in the same spot. I should have tied the new one to the old and pulled them both through together. So now, I’ve got 20 feet of shower sump hose run, but it’s 5 feet too short and I can’t get access to the area of the bilge to run it where I need. So much for a simple project. Hopefully I’ll be showing on my boat before the next week is over.