Monday, October 19, 2009

Fuel Filters and some other stuff

This weekend went well with only a few mishaps. I intended on doing some regular maintenance tasks on the engine, which got put on hold for two months thanks to the impeller issue. But now that it is running correctly it is time for oil change, oil filter change, and both fuel filters changed. I also was able to repair the Whale Gusher bilge pump with a rebuild kit, so it needed to be reinstalled in the cockpit.

I started with the oil change, figuring it to be an easy job to start the day. I was immediately stopped in my tracks because my oil change pump wasn't working correctly. It is a Jabsco oil change pump bucket with a small pump mounted on top just like this:

The pump would turn on, but it wouldn't suck anything through it. I played with it a bit but could never get it to pump. So I took it home to hopefully fix it this week, I have a feeling it needs a replacement impeller

So the oil change would have to wait. I went to the fuel filters next. Both filter changes were pretty straight forward, but I had a worry that I would need to bleed the fuel lines of air once done, a job I know would be more pain than it should be thanks to the engine being haunted. But after I changed the filters, the engine sputtered a bit for a few minutes and then ran just fine. Success! The primary filter was pretty dirty, I think my fuel tank is in serious need of cleaning. That might have to wait for the haul out though since I need to empty the tank for the truck haul anyways.

After the fuel filters we (Jenny and I) installed the manual bilge pump back in the cockpit without much hassle. But when I tried to run the hose down into the bilge, a crack on the hold hose showed itself and I accidentally broke the hose about 3 feet from its end, making it pretty useless. So I need to replace that hose, not much of an issue thank goodness...and the manual bilge pump will be in business!!!

I wanted to take the boat out for a ride afterward, but the PO wasn't around to give me some advice. The boat is parked at the dock the same way we came in when the engine overheated a few months ago. To turn the boat around in the narrow canal involves a method that I haven't been taught yet, so I was out of luck. Maybe next time I can actually ride Windsong up the river, and if God is really smiling on me...perhaps take her for a sail out in the Gulf!

There was one issue with the engine that needs to be resolved before I take it out, however. Along with the lingering oil change, water is coming out of a hose in the anti-siphon loop in the raw water circuit before where the water is injected into the exhaust. I think it is just a bad hose clamp, so I will have to experiment a bit to get that sealed tight and not leaking.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Confessions of a Long-Distance sailor" by Paul Lutus

I just finished reading "Confessions of a Long-Distance sailor" by Paul Lutus. He has the entire book online, for free at his website here:

I highly recommend the book. It chronicles his 3-year solo journey around the world in the late 80's. Here are some comments from the site:

[ in a review of "Maiden Voyage" by Tania Aebi posted at ] I would recommend "Confessions of a Long Distance Sailor" by Paul Lutus instead of this book. It's written far better, has just as many aventures, is far more education in a worldly and sailing sense, and best of all, it's free.

— Chad Lawie

I'm about 55 pages into your book and wanted to tell you it is very good — charming, honest, insightful, a fine, fine story. You should really feel good about it.

— Sam Hill, author of five novels,

I have been touched on many levels by your wonderful story. Of course I knew nothing else about you other than the fact that you did what so many of us think we would love to do. I have interrupted my wife's quiet reverie countless times to read aloud a few words that you wrote. Apart from all your other wonderful accomplishments, thank you for this one.

— Tim Sperry

I just finished reading "Confessions." Thanks for writing it and making it available for free. I especially enjoyed all the philosophical and scientific tangents you go off on, while keeping everything somehow related to the sea. The last few days, I even had dreams of being on a boat.

If I have half as many interesting experiences as you've had by the time i'm your age, i'll be a happy man.

— William MacKay

I just wanted to thank you for writing such a wonderful book about your circumnavigation ... marvelous!

— Marv Paulie

I have started to read your "Confessions" ... I am amazed and inspired.

— Arlette Krampe

Monday, October 5, 2009


As I mentioned in my last post, I was ready to call the mechanic to fix the engine. However, this past weekend my I was finally able to get my Dad out there to see if he could offer some new insight into the problem. I also brought out my friend Jeff who had come out a few weeks previously and started tackling the problem of getting the depth sounder and other instruments working by replacing corroded electrical connections. So before the mechanic was called, I wanted to see how this weekend worked out. I also had purchased a Rule-A-Matic 750 Automatic bilge pump to install in case we couldn't figure out anything with the exisiting bilge pumps. I was hoping to not have to install it and could return it.

So the first thing we started with was the manual bilge pump. It is a Gusher Whale 10 MKIII pump:

The pump wasn't functioning properly, with no pressure to suck water up. In order to test it further, we needed to take it off of its mounting location in the cockipit. This was a job I tried to do two weeks ago but failed after I couldn't get the nuts and bolts that hold it on loose. My Dad, with his extensive mechanical knowledge, was able to get it off after trying a few different methods. With it off we were able to see that the flap valves inside the unit were permatently set open, so no vaccum is created when it is pumped. I took the pump home and plan on buying a service kit to replace all of the serviceable parts. That should fix the pump and give me the wonderful piece of mind of having a good manual bilge pump.

Next we decided to tackle the engine. To catch you up, I had identified the problem in the engine to be the impeller of the raw water pump. The impeller had torn free of its hub and was not spinning, so no water came through the cooling system and the engine would overheat. After a lot of effort the past few weeks, I could not get the impeller out for the life of me. It should be a simple task, but the engineers at Yanmar thought it would be funny to put the impeller in the most impossible to reach location in the entire engine. Seriously...I don't think there is a worse location on the engine for a part that needs to be serviced. After about an hour of trying using various methods and a modified version of my impeller removal tool (I found a shorter bolt for the center bolt to use, see last post for why it failed), my Dad was able to get the impeller off the hub! We celebrated by getting lunch before attempting to install the new impeller and getting the water flowing through the engine again. The primary issue with this whole ordeal was that the impeller was stuck so hard on the hub because it had sat there idle for years. A relatively simple operation turned into a big project thanks to the location and condition of the impeller.

Once back from lunch, I spent some time trying to get the new impeller in the pump. It was a little tricky thanks to the yoga position you must be in to access the pump, and the impeller was liberally greased up thus making handling it difficult. Eventually I was able to get it in there, and hopefully it is greased up enough so removing it won't be much of an issue next time. After the impeller was installed and the cover plate put back on, I said my prayers and cranked the engine. I peered over the stern to see if water was flowing from the exhaust....nothing.

I go back into the engine room to investigate. First I opened the pump again to confirm that the impeller was actually turning, sure enough it was spinning just fine. After a few mintues of head scratching, I turned my attention to the plumbing leading to the pump from the through-hull. The first thing I noticed was that the refrigeration condensor, which is inline with the raw water circuit, had a large headspace of air in it, thus not letting the pump suck water up it and through the engine. I decided that since I will not be using the refrigerator for some time (it doesnt even work right now), I would bypass it alltogether and hook the engine pump direcly to the raw water strainer after the through-hull. After doing this we cranked the engine but no water was coming out still. Jeff thought of the bright idea to make sure all of the hoses and the strainer were completely filled with water so no air voids were in the system. I opened the strainer to find that the water level was below the entrance and exit hoses, and they were pretty dry themselves. So we filled up the system with water to prime it and cranked the engine again. I looked over the stern in anticipation, and after a few seconds of gugling water began to surge out of the exhaust!!!! I haven't felt that relieved in a very long time, it was pure elation.

We called it a day after that. To have fixed the engine problem after 2 months of weekend trips attempting to do it was such a great feeling. During all of this time Jeff had been working on replacing a corroded terminal strip, connections, fuses, and wires for all of the cockpit instruments. After replacing the bad connections, we were able to get power to all of the instruments. The wind and speed indicators seemed to be working, but the depth sounder still didn't turn on. At least we now know that it has something to do with the unit itself.

So my plan for this week is to order the parts to rebuild the manual bilge pump and fix it up. This weekend I will start what I wanted to do months ago, and do maintenance on the engine: oil and oil filter change, primary and secondary fuel filter change, and coolant change. Then I will hopefully have a fresh engine to take out for a ride up the river and eventually out to sea. I still have to troubleshoot the electric bilge pumps further. We think it is definitely a problem of electrical connections somewhere in the circuit, so an electrical cicuit testing session will be in order as well. If all else fails, I can still install the new pump I purchased for backup.

Big thanks to my Dad for bringing the know-how and tools to get all of this done. I am still an amature at all of this mechanical stuff, but knowing I have someone to turn to is extremely valuable. Also big thanks to Jeff for tackling the cockpit instrument job and aiding in solving the other problems.

For the first time in about two months (I've only owned the boat for 3), I am excited to get back to the boat instead of dreading it.