Sunday, November 26, 2006

Grease Is The Word

Serviced Seacocks, 11/26/2006

The Spartan seacocks on our boat were frozen in place when we bought it. The boat was in the water almost immediately, so I couldn't disassemble them for complete service. I did just enough work to get them operational, postponing full service until haulout.

These seacocks are fairly easy to maintain. Spartan suggests annual maintenance, but word on the water has it that every two or three years is sufficient if they are operated frequently. Disassembly is straightforward: remove the lock nuts from the barrel, and slide the barrel out of the housing. Michele and I disassembled the three we have (engine intake, head intake, and head discharge), cleaned them thoroughly with paint thinner, and then gave them a light coating of waterproof grease before reassembly. We used Morey's Super Red waterproof grease (available at Napa), which came highly recommended by other Cape Dory owners. A light coating is sufficient: anything more just squeezes out during reassembly.

The only tricky part is getting the seacock adjusted properly during reassembly. The barrel is tapered, so if you tighten the nut too much, it becomes difficult or impossible to operate the seacock. I overtightened one, and we had a hard time getting it back out. Snug is best. The handle should move smoothly, but shouldn't be so loose that vibration will cause it to move.


GFCI outlets, 11/26/2006

Another suggestion by the surveyor, and one that makes sense: replace the galley and head outlets with GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupt) outlets. GFCI outlets have a breaker that shuts off the power if there is a ground fault. For instance, let's say you're standing in water and providing a ground path through your body, and you don't really like all that electricity passing through your body. Well, a GFCI will help you by interrupting the circuit.

I've installed these at home before, and it's easy, so I thought it would be easy on the boat. You see where this is going, don't you? Riiiiight. The back of a GFCI outlet is a bit bigger than that of a regular outlet, and the holes in the bulkhead on the boat were cut just to size for a regular outlet. No way to get a saw in there, so I used a grinding bit attached to a drill, and ground the edges of the holes until they were large enough.

I also needed a new outdoor-type water resistant outlet cover for the head compartment (we shower in there, so it's likely to get sprayed). Newer GFCI outlets have a square face, so the old cover did not fit. As usual, all more effort than expected, but a good upgrade for safety.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Little Rusty

Corrosion Cleanup, 11/12/2006

Rust... corrosion... it's everywhere. Well, it was everywhere. Seacocks, rudder mounting bracket, bonding wires, engine mounts, the engine itself. Salt air is such a hostile environment. It really takes a heavy toll, particularly on metals.

Michele and I went through everything on the boat, cleaning and removing the corrosion. For the most part, the job wasn't nearly as bad as it might seem. We attacked most of it with tooth brushes and a mixture of baking soda and water. In a few spots, we needed to add a wire brush to the arsenal, but we tried not to resort to that. Once we loosened everything up, we cleaned up the mess with the shop vac, and gave everything a good coat of Corrosion Block. That should keep the problem at bay for a while. What a difference!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Put Away Your Toys

Winterization, 10/28-11/11/2006

Nothing fancy here. This was my first time winterizing a boat, so I was a little nervous about doing it right. Also, this was my first winter with this boat, so I don't know when a lot of things were last done. As a result, the whole process probably took a lot longer than it will in the future.
  • Pumped out the holding tank. Flushed a gallon of pink antifreeze through the toilet.
  • Ran the water system dry. Poured in two gallons of pink antifreeze, and opened the taps until pink flowed through the whole system.
  • Hot water tank was bypassed already, so nothing to do there.
  • Pulled the intake hose for the A/C off the seacock, held a funnel in it, and poured pink antifreeze in until it came out the discharge.
  • Filled the fuel tank with diesel, added stabilizer.
  • Changed oil and filter.
  • Changed crankcase breather.
  • Drained raw water from the cooling system. There are a handful of petcocks for draining off the water, and some are positioned such that the water won't drain directly to the bilge. I drained into a small flat basin that I could fit under them, and emptied the basin each time it filled. Definitely learned something here: Get a hose that fits over the petcocks and let the water drain into the bilge.
  • Drained and replaced coolant/antifreeze. Like with the raw water system, next time I'll get a hose for the petcocks so I can drain the antifreeze directly into disposal containers. Fortunately, the coolant doesn't need to be done every year.
  • Replaced engine zincs. The raw water cooling system has zinc anodes that screw into caps, that then screw into the side of the heat exchanger. There are a handful of these, and some went in easily, others not so much. Part of the problem here is that I think the pencil zincs available at the store do not match the original specs -- they are longer, so they don't quite go in all the way. I cut some of them with a hacksaw so they fit better.
  • Cleaned seawater strainer. Here's a tip, if you do this in the water make sure the intake seacock is closed. If the strainer is below the water line when you remove the cap, well, you can guess what would happen!
  • Circulated pink antifreeze through the raw water system. Basically this just involves pulling the engine intake hose from the seacock and sticking it in a bucket of antifreeze. Run the engine, and the antifreeze is sucked through. There are arguments about whether to use non-toxic pink, or toxic ethylene glycol. Apparently, many people are concerned that the pink stuff doesn't inhibit corrosion, but the stuff I used specifically says that it does. The advantage with pink stuff is that it's non-toxic, so in spring you just run the engine and blow all of it straight out the exhaust.
  • Changed antifreeze cap. Old cap was rusted badly, so I replaced it.
  • Greased steering cable.
I saved the fuel filter change for spring. It doesn't hurt them to sit over the winter, so I did this for one main reason: I wanted to make sure that when I first try to start the engine in the spring, I could be sure that any failure to start isn't just due to air in the fuel lines. I had never bled the air from the lines before, so I wanted to save this for spring, after I know the engines are ok.

So that's about it. There are various other miscellaneous things, like cleaning, taking down curtains, propping up cushions, etc, but the list above is the bulk of it. It was work, but it was interesting and educational. Shrinkwrap will be done soon, and then the boat is put to bed for winter.