Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stories About Looking After A Diesel Engine and Other Things

Rene went to Brisbane for a few days one last time for work. He had to show his replacement "the ropes" (hehehe). While he was away, I sorted through our first aid kits and filled a big box with extras (and out of date bandages) to give to those more needy that we're bound to meet along the way.
Just some of the first aid stuff we've accumulated.
I also re-organised some storage areas to make more room for food. And, annoyingly, discovered beetles (really tiny ones) had ruined a bunch of the spices I had in storage. Grrrr! Luckily they didn't get destroy too many things. I'm taking on board (oh! another pun!) the technique of putting food in the freezer to kill the bugs and their eggs. I really hope it works! I also spent ages sorting through my files on the computer and making a back up of everything. I plan to send one hard drive home to be stored at my parents place.. just incase! I'd hate to lose all of my photos. 

More sewing - this time, creating storage bags for the cockpit. I wasn't planning on doing this job until we had set off, but Rene suggested I do it earlier because water is getting into the little cupboards. My design will hopefully stop the rain getting inside the wood. And it also means that the ropes can be stowed away while we're sailing which will mean less stuff to get tangled up in! They aren't installed yet - been too wet! But here is a photo of what they look like anyway.

I finished oiling the wood on deck just today (it finally stopped raining after what seems like an eternity). I've noticed plenty of the wood requires some TLC. I tried applying Sikaflex to bond some of the cracked wood together but am not happy with the finish. Instead, I plan Epiglue to bond as many of the cracks together as possible. I noticed that one of our cleats has fractures along it. Rene and I worked hard to remove it - another thing to replace. sigh. Speaking of replacements - Ren has realised that we need to replace at least two (probably four) of our stays which are showing their age (probably as old as the boat). Big, big sigh and worried expression... will we get everything done in time?

One of the jobs that I'd read had to be done to the engine was checking the alignment of the propeller shaft. To do this, Rene would have to defeat an ancient enemy. The dreaded thrust bearing. The thrust bearing had previously foiled the attempts of three strong men with a car jack and a number of other large metal tools to shift it from it's stuck position on the propeller shaft. After talking with local expert, John from Water Frontier, it became apparent that it may never move - as stainless steel tends ball up against objects that are fastened on to it and such objects are regularly cut off with angle grinders when they can't be shifted.

(what follows is Rene's account of an entire day spent tackling this mammoth task)...
Despite my emnity with the thrust bearing, I respected its ability to hold the prop shaft in place and stop it oscillating, heating up and potentially sinking us by allowing water through the stern gland. With respect in mind, I began to gently attempt to once again to wedge it free. To my surprise, after tapping with the screwdriver as a wedge, a lot of WD-40, then turning the prop shaft while it was under pressure, the bearing snapped forward with a loud "SPROING!" and much cheering (well, inside my head, but cheering nonetheless!).
The initial thrust bearing having just "sproinged"
However, before checking the alignment and catching up on some rust bustin while the bearing was off, I thought it would be sensible to quickly see if the bearing could be moved back into place easily. Not so! It seemed even more stuck than before, no matter how much WD-40 or force was applied. After attempting a number of obscure and fruitless techniques involving vice grips and coming dangerously close to breaking the so called 'flexible' coupling. Why was I doing this again? When in my life did I decide to invest so much time and effort into solving problems that already have been solved more adequately by other people and newer technologies?

Cerae convinced me that it's OK to ask people for advice. While posing the problem to some other yachties a number of theories were formulated, with the best one seeming, sadly, to be the 'angle grinder' technique.

Just as I was about to touch the angle grinder to the bearing, John popped by to inspect my work and patiently clarified for me exactly how the "taper" aspect of "taper lock bearing worked - there is no way it would move backwards, no matter how much force was applied, but it could still move forward. The news was refreshing, but there was no room left on the shaft to shift it forward - the locking nut was jammed up against the shaft coupling. I took off the nuts on the flexible coupling and figured out that I could take it off completely by turning it to turn the nut on the end of the prop shaft - this gave me an inch of play, if I stuffed it up a second time, I really would have to cut it off!

Thankfully, logic reigned, and it "SPROING"ed forward again. This time I worked the taper sleeve backward while it was free and experienced immense satisfaction. At this stage I was awarded 1200 XP and went up a level. I assigned my extra skill points to "boat mechanics". I have now cleaned up the rust that was being hidden by the bearing for many years - the next installment will be the engine alignment.
Rene with the removed flexible coupling - FINALLY!
With so little time left before we leave and so much engine maintenance still to do, I volunteered to help out too. My job is to scrape, sand, clean and paint over the corroded / rusty parts of the engine. It's very dirty, cramped and smelly work but I'm hoping to be proud of how clean Anima's engine will be by the end!
Cerae getting greasy in the engine.
It looks as though we'll have crew accompanying us for much of the journey ahead. We're very excited about Rene's Dad coming with us for the first leg. Now, Penny (a family friend) is coming along for the leg from Darwin to Indo! We're excited because one of the things we kept saying while sailing up here last year was how much we wished our friends / family could be with us to share such amazing places.

A perfect moment - July 2010 - Scawfell Island

1 comment:

  1. What a lucky escape your prop shaft had from the dreaded angle grinder! Phew! It's amazing how expensive experience can be. And how lucky that the right knowledgeable person can just happen by.