Thursday, October 27, 2011

Compression Test

After cleaning and repainting the engine, we finally got around to digging a little deeper in determining its current health. Our engine is a 1983 Mercedes 616 (same engine as on the 240D car) that's been marinized by Nanni, and it's got about 5900 hours on it so it's getting on in age.  We were worried that it was on its way out, though other than our overheating issue, it's been running fine.  So to get a better idea of the life that's left in it, we opted to do our own compression test.  

Specially bent wrenches
Before a compression test can be performed, it is required that the 
In use
valves be properly adjusted.  Unfortunately, this required special wrenches that fit in the tight spaces.  Mercedes and other companies make these special valve adjustment wrenches, but they go for over $100 a set.  With a little heat, a pair of 14mm long handled wrenches, some silver solder, and scrap pieces of pipe, Frank was able to save us the money by bending us a set of our own.  Times like this is when our workshop and it's built in vice really come into their own. Good thing we went through all of this as every one of the 8 valves were grossly out of spec.  The adjustment was a fairly straight forward job and we replaced our valve cover gasket at the same time.  

Then it was onto the compression test.  We had bought a US General compression tester that had a special fitting that goes in place of the fuel injector; our results were: 380, 350, 390, 340 psi with a total of approximately 13% between all 4 cylinders.  We were all smiles...why?  Well in english, this means that the engine is in "Good-Excellent condition."  A brand new Mercedes 616 engine would have a compression between 375-425.  Also ideally, the difference in compression between each cylinder should be around 10%, so that was GREAT news.  Not bad for a 28 year old engine with nearly 6000 hours that's the aprox equivalent of 295,000 miles.  We had heard that the 616s can go for up to 10,000 hours before a rebuild, but we were skeptical until now.  As a comparison, most Yanmars can get around 5000 hours before a rebuild.  

Lacking a terminal diagnosis, we decided it was time to go ahead and spruce our old lady up. Frank replaced all the fuel lines, 50 ft in total, labelled their shut off valves, installed dual in-line Raycor fuel filters, replaced all return lines, and installed a new/better designed lift pump. At the same time, he improved upon our engine access by cutting an inspection door into the back of our settee that covers the engine. He installed hinges that come apart so we can remove the entire door (I thought it was pretty clever). This allows us to change the oil, oil filters, fuel filters, and access the seacocks without having to move around our whole settee (very heavy!)



Engine Access

We are now waiting on a set of fuel injector nozzles and to run a diesel purge (which supposedly helps to break up carbon deposits in the cylinders).  Next on our engine list is figuring out why all our coolant keeps disappearing.  There is obviously a leak step at a time.

If all of this wasn't enough, while everything was already apart, we also replaced our refrigerator pump.  It appeared to have been a cheap Home Depot-esque pump designed for fountains and landscaping water fixtures.  As you can guess, it didn't hold up very well in our marine environment and was leaking from the body as well as growing us a beautiful salt sculpture.   Though we can appreciate good art, artists don't make good pumps, so the lazy bastard had to go. We now have a proper March pump designed for our fridge in its place.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cumberland Island

Just got back from a sailing trip to Cumberland Island.  No, unfortunately, not on our boat :( it was a great sailing adventure nonetheless.  Martin, the guy we sailed with from Bermuda to NY, invited us along last minute for a weekend sail up there on his Hunter 41.  The itinerary: Left early Friday morning, sailed all day about 15 miles offshore, docked in Amelia Island around 8pm, spent the night there and got up early for an hour sail to Cumberland Island.  We spent the day on the island and left around sunset for a night sail back to St. Augustine.  Ah...night of my favorite things.


We spent the day on the island exploring the secluded beaches and live oak forests.     There were wild horses on the island (what Cumberland is known for), and seeing these majestic creatures in the wild grazing on the grass and spanish moss was awesome.

The weather was spectacular and it was so nice to be
out on the ocean again.  There is a certain tranquility I feel out there that is indescribable, I feel so at peace...Coming back has definitely put a fire under our asses in getting this boat ship shape.  It's reminded us of why we are going through all of this hard work and we just need to figure it all out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Worrisome Windy Weather on the Water

Right now, we are in the biggest storm we've been in since we've bought the boat.  A Nor'easter combined with a tropical low forming nearly on top of us to be be exact. I've never been so aware of nature's impact during a storm as I am now.  I have taken it for granted all my life because I've always lived on land, in a house or an apartment, safely nestled in my bed or watching TV on a couch, completely oblivious to the forces of nature.  Totally different on the water.  The past couple of days, we've been having sustained 35 knot winds with 50 kt+ gusts, and the sound this makes on the rigging is indescribable and terrifying.  Couple the sinister howling with the intermittent downpours bulleting down on our cabin-tops and the rocking of our boat...all of this makes you hyperaware and very respectful of Mother Nature.  Frank and I have not been sleeping soundly the past couple of nights, going in and out of sleep, subconsciously listening for any peculiar sounds that may signify a dock-line breaking or anything else that would threaten our home.  Being on a boat, you are vulnerable to so many elements of nature, and feeling the direct impact of her is terribly humbling.

It's been a nerve wracking month, in this sense, because we've had a few close calls with hurricanes, and being from up north, these things are pretty scary!  Especially when they threaten to take your boat and everything you own along with it.  Hurricane Irene, ironically enough, missed us and hit NY, which is crazy because we all know that NY doesn't frequently get them.  With these fears in mind, we have put off removing any stays or chainplates until we are clear of this dreaded season.  Another delay, but better to be safe than sorry.


While we are on the topic of the scariness of losing our home, our condolences goes out to the crew on Dolphins, a Hans Christian 33. Their boat recently caught on fire, burned to the waterline, and sank while they were anchored in Spain.  Luckily they made it off safely, but our hearts break for them, as they lost everything with it.  For details, check out their blog listed on the right, under "Le Grand Voyage."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Osmosis not just for cells and hulls

We finally have a better idea as to what is going on with our decks.  As originally suspected, and after discussing this with numerous people on the forums and through deductive reasoning we have come to the conclusion that it is, in fact, osmotic blistering.  This only makes sense if you look at all of the symptons:

1)  When we pulled up the old Plasteak, 90% of the glue holding it down had failed.  Coincidentally enough, the areas where the glue adhered best tended to read lowest on the moisture meter.

Notice glue adhere to the left panel and not the right

2)  There are clearly defined lines of crazing in the gel coat corresponding to with the seams of the original teak decking.

3)  We have found several areas of de-lamination, between the top layer of chopped strand mat and woven substrate, that also correspond to the areas where the seams failed.  In these areas areas, there is clear discoloration underneath the failed gelcoat.

4) After puncturing these sections of discoloration/blisters, we have also found that they contain osmotic fluid, which is easily identified by its strong, sour smell.  Kind of a dead giveaway from here....

This happened, more than likely, when the seams on the original teak decking failed and were not re-caulked quickly enough allowing water to remain trapped against the surface of the decks.  This is often times a common problem on the underwater portion of sailboat hulls, and is rarely found on the decks.  Lucky us...:(  The next step is to remove all the gel coat and areas of delamination and  allow it to dry, from what we understand, this could take anywhere from a couple months to a year.  Our plan is to closely monitor the drying using a moisture meter and marking out the readings in a grid pattern on the deck.  Once it's dry enough, we can proceed to fairing, barrier coating, and repainting.  I can't wait!