Monday, June 30, 2014

Come and go blues

"Come And Go Blues", a great song by the Allman Brothers, but also a fair summary of our canceled launch date. We had scheduled with the boat yard to drop us in the water on July 10, but life and boat building has again collided, so that date is going to get pushed back.  She's able to be launched, but a situation with  my 81 year old mother found Shannon, my sister, and myself pulling together to help mom, and less important things had to be shelved.  Anyway, a launch is imminent, but it will be later in July, or early August.

Boat building is still moving forward. With the devil being in the details, I'm at the stage where getting things completely finished is high on my list. I'm putting to bed quite a bit of work hoping to not have to re-visit these projects again. I'm actually to the point where I can start to think about hauling some left over construction material off of the boat.

I had to dig the welder out of the forward cabin and make some brackets for the throttle and transmission shift cables. The correct length cables arrive at the boat early in the week, and I finalized  the installation late in the week. Listening to Terry at Washington Marine was a prudent move on my part and having him order the correct length cables was worth it. The shift motion is firm and easy on the touch, and I'm happy with how well the throttle control is.

While I had the welder out, I made a bracket for mounting the air horns that will sit on the bill of the wheel  house, and  mounted the horns. The junk air solenoid valve that came with the horns did not work, so the only way to test the horns was to use the blow gun. The horns work well, and the 170 decibel rating makes your ear sting if you're standing in front of them. A  new solenoid switch is on the way.

While I was welding on top of the wheel house, I welded in three couplings. One coupling for the air horns, one coupling for the VHF cable, and the last coupling for a search light.

All the anodes are bolted to the hull.

I decided to install a scoop strainer for the sea chest intake. I was afraid that without a scoop, there might be a tendency to suck the sea chest  dry when we're under way.  Instead of fooling around with welding a bunch of studs to the hull for the scoop, I welded one 1/2" stud, and used a isolator bushing to electrically disconnect the scoop from the hull. I also decided to add a small anode behind the scoop. With only one beefy stud pulling the scoop tight to the hull,  a rubber gasket was also added to help tighten things up and keep the bronze off of the steel.

A big piece of the engine system is ventilation of the engine room. The engine room ventilation is done via a stack that exits up through the center of the boat and out the roof.  The stack is 26" x 26", and is partitioned in the center crating two stacks with one for exhaust, and one for intake. Fans are going to have to be used as I don't think passive ventilation will work.  Once the water tight engine room doors are closed, the room is now air tight with only the stack allowing air in or out. So,  if I pull air in to the now  pressurized engine room via a fan, the air now has no choice but to exit the engine room via the exhaust side of the stack, forcing out the hot engine room air. The key here, in my opinion is not letting the intake air to short circuit. For the short circuiting issue, I decided to create a shroud in the stack on the intake side, and mount the intake fan in a precisely cut hole in the shroud. The shroud was made using scrap aluminum left over from the scrap aluminum I used to sheath the engine room sole. The shroud is bolted in place so it's easy to remove or expand, and I mounted the fan using threaded rivets, so that too is easy to replace. I purchased two 9" axial fans from Delta T for ER ventilation. The quality of the fan is about as good as one could find with the fan having been built for specifically this application. So yesterday afternoon, I'm down in the 90 degree engine room ( remember summer  has found us), building the shroud and installing the fan. I'm looking at this fan, and doubts are filling my mind. " I should have gone with the 11" fan". " There's now way this fan is going to  do what I want it to do, it's to damn small". With the fan installed, I decided to energize it even though I did not have proper wires run from the wheel house. Using the hot wire for the ER lights outside the ER door in the master cabin, I powered up the fan. Man, was I surprised  how much air that thing put's out, and how relatively quiet it is. The fan is supposed to be rated at 750 CFM, and the old head in front of the fan test tells me it's pushing out 754.  Because the temporary fan power wires are running from the master cabin through the ER water tight door, I could completely close the doors to the water tight position for fear of cutting the wires, so the door dogs were only about 1/4 engaged. The door was hitting the gasket, but not compressing it, and I could tell this by feeling how much air was short circuiting out the door... not a lot, but I could feel it. That all looks good, so lets go roof top and see what's happening at the stack funnel. Up on the roof, the first thing I noticed is that the fan seems louder up top. The second thing I noticed is how much air is pouring out the exhaust side of the stack. I could sort of feel air being pulled in on the stack's intake side, but it's difficult to feel with ones hand. Using a garbage bag, I placed it in front of the intake Louver, and the baggie was immediately sucked into the grill. If I did not get insect screens with the Louver, the baggie for sure would have been sucked down in to the stack and into the fan. The last thing I wanted to check was the amperage draw which I found to be 9 amps. Most times, a few small things together can add up to a large thing as to how things  perform. "The devil's in the details" . While the shroud fits good, I decided to use some duct tape to seal up the edge of the shroud where it hits the ceiling. 

As I said before, I bought two of these axial fans for the ER. The other fan I'm going to install in the aft corner, pushing air towards the work bench. Because of the amperage draw, I have to decide if I want to use two circuits or one. I'm inclined to use two circuits as I might be able to get by using only one fan. The intake fan is for sure going to be running 100% of the time the engine is running along with some time after the engine is stopped to help with cooling the engine room down. The pushing fan might not need run as much, and given that it will see less duty, it should last much longer. If this proves to be the case, the less run pushing fan will also double as a spare fan to be used to replace the intake fan for when it fails. The intake fan for sure  has to run, so putting the fans on separate circuits gives me some redundancy.
The next step to finish ventilation project is to pull the wires and land them in the wheel house. While I'm pulling wires, I might as well pull wires for the fresh water pump along with the bilge pump switch's. I have six spare DC conduits installed from the wheel house to the ER, so this one wire pull will fill one of the conduits.

I might as well add that there's a solid day of cleaning for two people once we pick a launch date.... she's a dirty mess.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Paint it black

Fathers day weekend found me spending two days getting the anti foul paint on the bottom. Saturday was spent scuffing the bottom and welding anode studs in place. Sunday had me power washing off the scuffing dust, taping the water line, and rolling on two coats of anti foul. This is one of those jobs I'd been blowing off and avoiding, but she can't go in the water without this bit of work and it is now off of the list.

The week before, my bud, aluminum sail boat builder, and artist Brian Russel ( THE ART OF BOATBUILDING ) was in town to dedicate a sculpture he built, and stopped by to check on progress. While he was on my site, he gave me a hand installing the saddle for the 10" hydraulic bow thruster. Having another set of skilled hands makes a difference sometimes, and getting the thruster saddle in position while another person is inside working the bolts is a big help. The saddle is a permanent part of the bow thruster which is bolted to the tube and sealed with 5200. The saddle is not meant to be removed as are the other components of the thruster. The thruster leg, and the motor, are fastened to the saddle. The thruster is a 10" hydraulic unit producing 15 hp of thrust. The thruster is powered by a live PTO driven straight off of the Twin Disc transmission.  It was built and designed by Key Power Inc. and it's been nothing but a great experience dealing with Jim at Key Power. The component castings are excellent, as well as all the machining. All the parts are machined on five axis CNC machines and it shows by how well everything fits. Having the bow thruster installed now makes the front of the boat water tight, and it's checked off of the list. It's amazing how little space the hydraulic thruster takes up.

The last part of the water tight work was getting the prop shaft installed along with the drippless shaft log seal. I went with PYI on the shaft seal, and we'll just have to see how that works. The installation was pretty straight forward with no issues at all.  I will say that the bilge is filthy, as is the rest of the boat. There's a good two days of cleaning that needs to be done.

I had ordered the control cables for the throttle and transmission, and Washington Marine had some cables on their shelves that were longer that what I had measured, but told me to see if they could work. The next to nothing price they were going to sell me the cables for was worth trying to make them happen, but in the end, they were too long. The correct length cables should be in by the end of the week or early next week, and once that happens, I'll get them installed.

There's lots to do before I can order up the travel lift to make the 1500' carry to the river, so I'm going to keep telling everyone I have a list that I keep working off of, and keep checking items off of my fictional list.



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fire in the hole

The minute I opened the door leading from the  back deck in to the salon, the faint smell of oil got my attention. After having spent the last 30 years earning my living owning and operating heavy equipment, one has to put trusts in what our various senses are telling us. Odors such as the faint smell of coolant as it's vaporized while running down a hot engine block, the smell fuel makes as it comes in to contact with hot exhaust, the smell of brakes getting hot and making its way into a cab after motoring down a long grade. Most times, the odors of  machinery tells the story long before the gauge registers a problem...stop and investigate. On this particular day, I was coming in to the boat after topping of the power steering reservoir the  previous night.  Not having tightend one of the lines that passed through a bulkhead fitting allowed 3.5 gallons of oil to drain in to the bilge over night, and the odor I noticed as I entered the boat alerted me to a problem. 

Having the exhaust finally fitted and landed took a few days as I sourced parts. The biggest slow down on the exhaust was deciding on what material to use as a liner within the exhaust stack, then getting that material to the boat. Self adhesive, high performance heat shield was what I chose to use, and for the most part I'm happy with the product. I can for sure say that it sticks like crazy and there's no second  chance regarding alignment.  Besides deflecting radiant heat, this product will help with harmonic noise bouncing around the exhaust stack. I only lined the exhaust side of the stack, but I have plans to also line the intake side of the stack.

On my last post I had mentioned making some righteous exhaust hanger brackets. I don't think we'll be calling theses righteous, but they do the job of securing the horizontal exhaust pipe simply and robustly. I didn't know if the hanger would transfer dangerous heat to the ceiling, so I bored a couple of one inch holes in the hangers to  help cool them. Little things sometimes make a big difference. 

With the exhaust hung and secure, the next item was to commission the steering system, and give myself something to write about for my first paragraph regarding the oil leak. The steering system is powered by a gear that runs off the engine cam shaft, and is identical to what one would find on a heavy duty truck or road tractor. Since all the steering plumbing had been installed two years ago, getting it ready to go only involved installing the rudder, filling the reservoir with oil, and installing the steering wheel. The rudder bolts are going to get another look from me as the nuts are not the correct type. I had planned on using nylock nuts, but my bolts are too short for that, and if I go the nylock route, I'll have to order new bolts. Gregg, at Washington Marine suggested keeping the same bolts but tack welding the nuts and bolts to the flange. Tack welding might be the way to go as I don't think over kill is a bad thing when making sure ones rudder is secure.  

With the steering system full, crank case oil full, coolant full, and gear box oil full, it was time to fire the engine.  Moving two valves on the fuel delivery lines, and throwing a toggle switch, placed my back yard boat builder designed fuel lift pump system in service, and fuel was soon flowing in to the filters. With fuel flowing out the primary and secondary filter bleed valve, I quickly cracked the fuel line at the injector pump and fuel was soon flowing out that fitting. After closing the line at the injection pump, the little lift pump started to load up as it was beginning to dead head from hitting the injection pump. The sound of the lift pump dead heading told me the fuel system was full, as the little lift pump did not have enough ass to push fuel through the injection pump. Past experience has taught me to go ahead and crack the six injectors on the head and begin cranking the engine. With the engine cranking, I closed two injectors, and she began to fire. Closing the next injector caused the engine to run without the starter, and with the closing of the last three, she was sounding sweet. Having the external lift pump to help bleed the system turned bleeding the fuel system job into a quick, and easy, two minute job. 

After watching the engine run for a few minutes, and checking for leaks, I moved up to the helm to see if the steering system was operating. Engine powered steering is awesome. As soon as I began to move the wheel, I could instantly tell it was  working. I cranked the wheel over three and a half times, and I felt the rudder slam in to the external rudder stops. Another three and a half turns the other way, and  the rudder slam into the other stop. Now I have to find some rubber  or a pad of sorts for the corner of the rudder, as the force of the rudder hitting the stop is taking off paint.  I'll go ahead and say this again for all that did not hear... 3.5 turns of the wheel hard over to hard over.... awesome.
All the insulating and sound abatement I've been doing during the build seems to have paid off. With the engine running at a healthy 1700 rpm, one can easily carry on and hear a soft conversation in the wheel house. I'd like to get a decibel meter to see just how loud the engine is. With the engine at a  high idle, the loudest part about the engine is the rattle of the exhaust rain cap flapping.
The punch out list is growing by the day, and a lot of the list can be done when I start doing sea trial. I ordered bottom paint from the boat yard today, and if the weather cuts us some slack, I should have the bottom painted by this time next week. I also ordered control cables from the boat yard, so if push came to shove, I could drop her in the water within the next two weeks.