Friday, July 12, 2019

Jun-Jul 2019: Some Routine Maintenance

The Red Arrow Points to Our Original Slip Location at Legacy Harbour. 
 The Green Arrow Points Out Our New Location in Slip B-11.  
It's Like a Different Zip Code.
While the month of June had been reserved mostly for Rick’s post-surgical recovery and a couple of “special projects” (remote monitoring and CCTV camera solutions, separate blogs to follow) we still had to tend to the more mundane and regular maintenance tasks that Ghost Rider requires to stay healthy and seaworthy.

But at the top of our June list was moving the boat from the far end of Legacy Harbour’s “D” dock (slip # D-22, which we have joked is in a different zip code than the remainder of the marina) to a much closer-in slip on the “B” dock.  With the departure of a large number of snow-bird boats in May, Eric (the dockmaster) was able to reserve B-11 for us.  So we picked a dry and calm June afternoon and maneuvered Ghost Rider to its new summer mooring. Given the hot, humid and frequently stormy summer weather here in southwest Florida, the shorter walk from the parking lot is much appreciated.
Transmission Fluid (Common ATF) and Filter
Change on the Wing Engine
As for the routine maintenance coming due, our trusty Wheelhouse software is a reliable nag in that regard.  One of the recurring weekly tasks is to clean the strainer basket for the Cruisair air conditioning raw (sea) water feed, but that interval was proving inadequate.  In the very warm and shallow waters of the Caloosahatchee River where Ghost Rider is moored for the summer, the accumulation rate of fouling mud and fine grasses has led us to an every-four-day service interval.  (As an aside: back in May when our unfortunate hospitalization regimen kept us from the boat for a three week period, that strainer basket got so clogged it was beyond recognition; it took Chelle an hour to clear the strainer basket, and Rick another hour of scrubbing and vacuuming the strainer housing.  We've seen Florida swamps that looked sterile in comparison.)

Oil and Filter Changes on the Wing Engine
Another recurring set of chores pertains to our trusty wing engine, a 70 HP Lugger diesel that provides hydraulic power for the boat and also serves as backup propulsion to the main engine.  Since the wing doesn’t rack up the hours that the main engine and generator do, its service interval is generally calendar-based.  Every two years its transmission fluid and filter need to be changed, and while the fluid removal requires use of a hand pump (it is not plumbed to the Reverso oil change pump), it’s a fairly easy task.  Its annual service routine consists of changing the oil and oil filter, the secondary (on-engine) fuel filter, the primary (Racor) fuel filter, and checking the impeller on the raw water pump.  Rick got all of that done, plus replacing the two-micron Racor filter for the fuel transfer pump, in less than two hours....which is pretty good for him.

A slightly larger maintenance effort was the coolant flush for the main engine.  That beast (a 300 HP Lugger 6108 with heat exchanger cooling) holds over five gallons of the stuff, and its coolant needs to be flushed and refreshed every 750 hours or every two years, whichever occurs first.  The big Lugger diesels are fairly finicky about coolant – it has to meet precise OEM specifications which include specific SCA’s (supplemental coolant additives) and also must not utilize OAT/HOAT (organic acid technology.) 

Draining the Old Coolant from the Main Engine.
The Green "Form-a-Funnel" Can Be Molded to
Any Shape, Wraps Around the Drain Cock,

 and Provides Enough Extension to Reach the
Catch Bucket.
Our Lugger diesel expert Bob Senter also warned against the use of “extended life” coolant, which he labels “marketing hogwash.”  We only use Peak Fleet Charge 50/50 in all three diesels, which satisfies all the specs, although it isn’t always easy to find.  (Amazon to the rescue!)  Even the mixing ratio of 50% antifreeze to 50% of pristine distilled water is considered critical, which is why we use the factory premixed product....that removes all the guesswork.

With the right equipment the drain/flush/refill effort isn’t particularly difficult, it just takes a while given the five gallon capacity.  The whole process took Rick about two hours including the fresh water flushing. The evacuated coolant was remarkably clean and free from debris, indicating healthy internals. 

The (green) “Form-a-Funnel” device in the accompanying picture contributed to the ease and avoided a potential mess given the location of the engine block’s drain cock.  By the way, we always put our drained oil, transmission fluid or coolant in sealed containers for proper disposal or recycling.  At Legacy Harbour that disposal is an included service, although some U.S. marinas charge a fee for that.

After Draining and Flushing the Big Diesel We Added the Premixed (50/50 Solution) of the Peak Brand Fleet
Charge Coolant.  Interestingly the Engine Manual Indicates a 4.5 Gallon Capacity, but We Removed and Replaced
Closer to 5.5 Gallons of the Stuff.

So while we've been able to keep up with Ghost Rider's recommended maintenance tasks, unfortunately we also encountered another problem to be added to our "punch list".  Shortly after cleaning the major clog in the sea strainer for the air conditioning system we experienced "High Pressure" errors on several of the air handlers.  We were able to clear all but one, the recalcitrant one being in the master stateroom.  Rick tried his usual tricks -- running reverse cycle heat, a factory reset, running bleach and Superclean through the strainer -- but to no avail.  While it's been oppressively hot here, the stateroom still remains comfortable enough with the other three systems running normally, but we'll still need a service call to resolve.

Ghost Rider Secured in Her New -- and Much More Convenient -- Slip at Legacy Harbour Marina.
Happy Birthday, America!  We Had a Good View of the Riverfront July 4th Fireworks from the Deck
of Ghost Rider.  Earlier in the Evening Mother Nature Displayed Her Own Fireworks with a Line of Strong
Thunderstorms, but Fortunately It All Cleared Out Just After Sunset.  Best of All...No Trump, No Tanks.

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