Thursday, June 21, 2018

June 2018: Maintenance Summary

Boring Boat Business

This blog entry is about nothing except maintenance.  It’s the rough equivalent of boring boat porn.  If that sort of thing does not appeal to you, you are done reading.  Some boat geeks may find it interesting, as would those who perhaps are contemplating acquiring one of these trawler beasts.  For the most part we try to tell this kind of “story” with pictures.

This round of service for Ghost Rider mostly covered normal and expected tasks which occur either at certain intervals of time or usage, or which have been carried over from a previous list of items that had been deferred to coincide with certain periodic tasks (e.g., those requiring a haul out.)  And some are “discovered” as a result of further inspection during the haul out, but are nonetheless not particularly surprising on a 16 year old trawler.  As noted previously, some of these tasks we typically plan to do ourselves, while others are definitely the province of the pros.  We are fortunate to have a boat yard that we can trust with the latter – James Knight and his Yacht Tech gang (LINK) – even when we are away from the boat.

Re-sealing the port water tank inspection lid:
The port side water tank inspection plate would leak slightly when we (over) filled the tank (excess should just go up the vent hose…but it didn’t).  Removing the ten nuts on the plate so we could remove and clean the gasket was easy, and Rick applied a generous bead of water-proof caulk (Rescue XL1) before reassembling. 
Replacing the impellers for the generator and wing engine raw water pumps:
These rubber impellers require periodic replacement, as they will wear and crack over time, potentially sending unwanted debris into the heat exchanger, or worse, ceasing to circulate the cooling seawater.  While you can pry out the old one with pliers (being sure to close the seacock first), it’s best to use an impeller puller so you do not mar the interior bronze surfaces.  Rick lightly coated the new impeller with Superlube synthetic grease to make it easier to align the blades and seat it, and also installed a new o-ring and gasket.
 Extracting an oil analysis sample from the generator:
It’s generally a good practice to send off engine oil samples on each diesel motor, as well as transmissions, for lab analysis at periodic intervals (annually is best.)  The results will tell you if there are potential issues developing.  Rick wanted to do the generator a bit early, as its initial oil sample taken during the original purchase survey had worrisome levels of sodium and potassium. The oil sample must be extracted carefully (after engine has been run to operating temp) to avoid contamination.
It only took a few days to get the lab’s results, and they were very good.  That told us the earlier survey results were tainted – likely because the previous owner went way too long between oil changes.
Wing engine oil and oil/fuel filter change:
Oil changes on the three diesel engines are a way of life on these vessels, but the Reverso oil change pump makes them easy.  The wing engine oil & filter are changed annually since it never accumulates enough run time to meet the 200 hour oil change bogey. Same for the secondary fuel filter.
Remove, clean and reinstall starter motor cables for the generator:
When the genset had refused to start one morning in the Bahamas Rick found these to be loose.  As a precaution he removed and thoroughly cleaned these connections and reattached tightly, followed by a light coating of CRC anti-corrosion spray.
Replace the torsion coupling for the wing engine’s transmission:
A while back we noticed that the wing engine tranny would make a nasty clanking noise as it engaged; James diagnosed it as a worn torsion coupling, so we had that replaced.  These splines were worn out, a bit of a mystery given how little it gets used.
Remove and inspect the main propeller shaft; replace if needed:
We suspected the shaft was in sorry shape based on the available visual evidence forward of the stuffing box.  Once the boat was hauled out we had Yacht Tech pull the shaft for inspection, and sure enough, it looked nasty – rust and deep pitting covered its entire length, with scoring inside the stuffing box. It was time for a new shaft.
Our shiny new propeller shaft is a tapered stainless steel Aquamet 22, a definite improvement on the low-grade stainless of the old AQ17.  A new cutless bearing was also installed.  Expensive (lots of "Boat Units")…but beats the hell out of dealing with a shaft failure at sea.
Remove and re-pitch the main propeller:
Even before the decision was made to replace the propeller shaft we knew the prop itself would need to be re-pitched: at wide open throttle (WOT) we couldn't even attain 2000 RPM vs. the proper 2300 RPM rating.  The same shop that machined the new shaft handled the prop mods, removing about 2 inches of pitch. We also applied an anti-fouling coat of Propspeed
New bottom paint & stabilizer seals:
In the warm tropical waters where we do most of our boating you’re lucky to get two years from ablative bottom paint.  We didn’t particularly care for the old baby-blue color so we went with a basic black (Interlux Micron CSC) this time.  Also note the removal of the stabilizer fins – we had Yacht Tech replace the shaft seals for those…another two year thing for these older Naiad stabilizer systems. All hull and prop shaft anodes (zincs) were also replaced.
A new sonar unit for the dinghy:
Just before departing for the Bahamas we found the tender’s digital sonar unit to be toast.  We used a portable handheld unit as a temporary workaround but wanted to find a permanent solution – along with GPS mapping to keep us out of trouble when exploring new waters in our rubber ducky.  This new Garmin unit will handle both depth and navigation needs. Rob Cote of Ocean Currents Marine (LINK) did the work for us.
A suitable cover for the search light:
Remember the big baggie we used to solve the spot light rain water leak?  That was rather tacky, so we found this Sunbrella windlass cover that fit fairly well.  Eventually we'll want to replace this search light with something of higher quality.
Finally time to splash:
After a month on-the-hard at the Seminole yard in Palm Beach it was finally time to splash the boat and begin our sea trials.  Watching Ghost Rider inch along in the travel lift slings is always a bit unnerving.
Initial sea trial:

After splashing Ghost Rider at the Seminole boat yard on Monday, 18-Jun, we spent some time starting up systems and verifying proper operations before getting underway.  It took some effort to prime the hydraulic cooling pump and the air conditioning sea water pump, but by 1210 we had backed out (into a stiff current) and 45 minutes later had negotiated the two bridge openings from there down to Lake Worth.  Now clear of the no wake zones, we ran the main engine at wide open throttle and Glenn (from Yacht Tech) began adjustments to its new stuffing box (packing gland).  We also tested out the wing engine's transmission and shaft.

Overall we were pleased -- the runout on the new shaft checked out with the dial micrometer, and we experienced no vibration -- but we will need additional sea trials to dial in both packing glands.

What's next:

In addition to the stuffing box / packing gland adjustments (deja vu) we still need to adjust the valves on the generator and troubleshoot the minor but annoying oil leak at the front end of the main engine.  We also developed a slight fuel leak at the bottom of the port tank's sight gauge, which we are hoping just needs a new o-ring gasket.  We are estimating another week before we get all that resolved, and will post another update after that.

Frontal view of the main engine....we removed all the belt and pulley guards to allow unfettered views and access during the upcoming sea trial.  An oil leak of any magnitude in this area is difficult to track down because of the slinging effect of all those rotating parts. 

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