Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I suck at this

Well last weekend I did as I normally seem to do...accomplish nothing. I tried my hardest to get the impeller out of the engines raw water pump to no avail. The thing is stuck in there hard and much blood, sweat and curse words were spilled trying to get it out. I even purchased one of these impeller removal tools:

It is meant to easily remove impellers in tight and cramped spaces. Turns out, my space is extra tight and extra cramped...too much for even the tool. The bolt going down the center of the tool woul'dnt fit in the space I had to work with, but I was able to remove it and try to pull the impeller using the side clamps. I was able to get a good grip on the impeller with it, but no force I could apply would make it budge. I even had the PO come help me out and with some of his ideas, tried to apply more force using long screw drivers as leverage and such. Nothing worked, only seemed to destroy the impeller further.

When I decided it was time to start taking the engine apart to remove the pump itself, I was stopped short by the alternator's pivot bolt being frozen in place. At the time I was trying to free it, I dropped one of the only sockets that fit that bolt down the bilge. I didn't have the tools or the skill to get the bolt undone, let alone remove the water pump.

So I think I am done trying to do this repair. It takes me 2 hours each way to get to and from the boat on a weekend, and when I accomplish nothing like this it just makes me so much more depressed. I think it is time to call the mechanic and get this thing fixed once and for all.

The only thing I was able to accomplish was stemming the fast drip of water from the packing nut on the stuffing box. With some effort I was able to tighten it up slightly to stop the water from dripping. So now hopefully the bilge doesn't fill up with water and sink the boat while I am away from it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Weekend plan

I go back to the boat this weekend to tackle these problems that have me stressed out way too much for someone my age. My mind cannot stay off the problems, and they aren't easy to let go of because I'm the one that needs to figure out the solution. My plan for the weekend....

ENGINE PROBLEM (raw water pump isn't working):
  1. PRAY that the shaft is spinning on the engine raw water pump. The impeller may have just come loose from its hub, but the shaft could still be spinning. I checked the impeller but left the rubber cap on the hub, so I don't know. If it is spinning....
  2. Use the newly purchased impeller removal tool to get the stubborn impeller out and replace. Should solve the problem, and I will be so so SO stoked, I would need some celebration beverages handy.
  3. If the shaft isn't spinning, we have problems. This means that I need to remove the pump itself to rebuild or replace, something I fear may be more difficult than it should be due to some terrible engineering on the engine. Refer to the picture below. First I would need to remove the compressor, and then the alternator to even access the hoses and bolts of the pump, since it is facing aft (what genius thought that up?). Then, though I can't speak with much authority on this since I can barely see through the parts as it is, two bolt heads holding the pump to the gearbox are behind part of the engine mount. There is hardly any clearance behind the bolt head, so I have no idea how they would come out without removing the engine mount arm that covers them. I am pretty sure removing that mount is WAY out of my skill range, and if it needs to be done I might be having to pay a lot of $$$$$ for a mechanic to do this. I assume that removing the mount would ruing the alignment of the engine, something I don't want to risk. Either paying a mechanic to come all the way out to the house it is at, or have the boat towed down the river to one of the small marinas. Hopefully I am wrong about the bolts and there is a clever way of removing them safely. But I'm not too certain that is the case.
3834330717_91f41f4f42 by you.

Here is the impeller, the picture doesn't do the cramped space justice, however. What you cannot see is that I can only fit one arm down there, and there is barely any room thanks to the starter motor (yes, I am aware of the rust problem). You can see the top two bolts holding the pump in place are pretty easy to access once the alternator is off. But what you can't see are the bottom ones. You can see below the pump the mount arm, the bolt heads are right behind it.

IMG_2670 by you.


  1. Diagnose the exact problem. I am pretty sure the diaphragm style pump is burnt out. I think the float switch got stuck, something in the wiring failed, or the hose got clogged and it burnt out. I need to figure out the problem to be certain.
  2. Try to get the Rule pump to work with the float switch (if the float switch works) for the diaphragm pump. The Rule pump has one, but it is set higher than the diaphragm float switch for emergency purposes.
  3. There is another diaphragm pump right next to the bilge diaphragm pump that serves some purpose in the fresh water pressure system. My thought is to replace the hoses and wiring on this one with the hoses of the bilge pump right next to it. This way I will have a working backup, and possibly get it to work with the float switch. In the picture below you can see the two pumps behind the battery bank, the bilge pump is on the right.
  4. Diagnose the problems with the manual bilge pump. Figure out if I can fix it or if I need to buy a new one.

IMG_1983 by you.

Lastly...I have to tighten the packing nut on the shaft seal. It is leaking way more than it should, and seems to be the major contributor to the bilge water. Hopefully my wrenches can fit it, and I have some penetrating oil in case it gives me trouble.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh joy, more epic fail.

I finally got back to the boat this weekend after a few weekends off. I had a brain full of ideas to check the engine over thanks to all of the wonderful advice I received from readers of this blog, the PO, and users of the various sailing forums I visit. I even had my friend Jeff come with me, who is much better at fixing things. The idea was to get as far as we could on the engine issue, hopefully fixing it for good.

When we arrived I was welcomed by a whole new world of problems. I noticed that the indicator light on the bilge pump switch was on, but the pump wasn't running. I look into the sump below the engine and find that the bilge is very full of water. I play with the switches on the bilge pumps a bit and realize that only the wet pump is working, but the high and dry one is burned out. It seems to me that the float switches are busted or stuck, burning out the dry pump. The wet pump worked when flipped to manual, but not on automatic. And to top it off, I discovered the manual cockpit pump does not work and needs to be replaced or rebuilt. Since the boat is pretty darn leaky it is imperative that the pumps work. So now I have to rely on the PO to check the boat every few days to make sure she isn't sinking, and to flip the switch on the wet pump. I plan on installing another bilge pump when I go back, hopefully it isn't too much of a pain in the butt. This week I will be researching bilge pumps to figure out my approach.

After dealing with that disaster I finally got to the engine. For those catching up, the raw water circuit on the engine cooling system has failed and no water is pumping through or it is blocked. First, I went over the side of the boat and made sure the though hull wasn't blocked. I also blew out the hose coming from the through hull just in case. I then cranked the engine to make sure there were no leaky or collapsing hoses. I then removed the hose that comes out of the heat exchanger into the vented loop to see if water was coming out when the engine was cranked, nothing. So then I removed the cover of the pump to see the impeller, and when the engine was cranked I saw that the impeller was not spinning at all.

So the problem lies directly on the water pump and the impeller not spinning. From conversations with more knowledgeable types, this could mean that the pump shaft is broken. I guess my only option now is to take apart the water pump and figure it out from there? Any ideas?

I can't wait to actually enjoy this boat, because all it has been so far is a big pain in my rear.