The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Friday, November 1, 2013

A sunny day in the sweatshop

I had a hat-trick day: 1) it was my boat day; 2) it was a gorgeous sunny day; 3) and I had no translation work - not one single word to be translated.

The previous week when I ran the engine I noticed that the transmission was vibrating more than  it should. So, instead of going for a sail, I got down to business and dug out my underwater camera kit.

Setting up and using my cheap and nearly useless black&white Chinese Ebay version of what you see below would have been sufficient material for a post in itself. For some strange reason I always forget to photograph the good stuff! A bad habit that needs to be fixed.

I lashed the camera to the boat hook, slid it into the water and managed to see that nothing was wrapped around the propeller just before the screen went dead - for ever I fear. I suspect water seeped into the camera casing.

Why didn't I dive down for a close look? Because the police boat is nearby, and diving anywhere in the port is absolutely illegal unless you're an authorized diver working with an assistant.

Since the propeller was good, the alignment had to be off. I spent the next two hours on my knees and forehead aligning the propeller shaft to the transmission, and I'm happy to announce that it's almost perfect. Running in gear the engine and transmission are rock solid.

I still had enough time to change the heat exchanger zinc before lunch...then I'd go out for a short sail, I thought. If I were smart, I would have removed the exchanger's end cap and would have seen that the zinc pencil was still in good shape, still erect and doing its job. I'm not going to bore you with the grunting and sweating required to remove that stupid stubborn zinc. Somehow it welded itself to the sleeve fitting, and the result is illustrated below.
Heat exchanger zinc
Notice that the wrench handle clearly says "professional". A professional tool in the hands of an amateur can do wonders.
Anyway, the zinc stick snapped. That means I was left with a plugged zinc hole; which called for more grunting, sweating and expletives while working on my knees and forehead, with my arms down in the engine gutter. I had the hole almost cleared when I suddenly ran out of grunts, sweat and expletives. To hell with it; I screwed the little stub back on and took a deep breath. Enough is enough!
Heat exchanger setup
Easy to look at, not so easy to work on with both hands - thus the knees and forehead technique.
Ran the engine in gear for a while, had lunch, and went for a walk.


  1. Ah, a beautiful boat day free of non boat related hassles. Now the snapped zinc... that's another story. I'd like to hear more on how you got your alignment near perfect ...alone. I understand the knees and forehead technique.... but where's the big red round mark on you forehead?? (my knee pads didn't come with a forehead pad!)
    Looking good! Here's to next week with more of the same (minus the zinc)

    1. I used a soft rubber sandal for my forehead.
      You've just unlocked the door to the secret of writing a better blog by saying "I'd like to hear more on how you got your alignment near perfect."
      That should have been my post, with pictures and instructions. That's what the audience is looking for.
      It's fairly easy (in theory). Remove the bolts attaching the shaft coupling to the transmission. This time I used a X-acto knife blade as a spacer - real thin. Last time I used the "leave one bolt on, snug tight method and.... - maybe not such a good idea).
      The gap was wider at the top, regardless of which part was a the top, the sides were almost good. So I slowly lowered the front of the engine down (I have two wrenches I cut in half in order to fit in the tight space).
      Lowered one side a bit, then the other, and so on, kept poking the knife into the coupling joint until it just barely penetrated any given spot at all rotation points. And voilá, started the engine put it in gear and no more vibration. Felt good? you damn right it did.
      Still have to deal with the zinc.

  2. Fabulous! Now this is necessary that continuous communication with rudder for boat sailing and comeback station. zincs for boats Zinc anodes for sale. Order your sacrificial zinc anodes today and save. All size Zimar zinc anodes available for shipment today.

    1. Mr. Babu, how the hell did you slip through the spam filter. Yeah, send me a container of zincs and I'll be sure to used them to communicate with my "comeback station."

  3. Cutting wrenches in half.... why didn't I think of that. And the x-acto knife... good, now I don't have to put it off till I get filler gauges. Thanks bro
    All bolts off... check!

    1. Since you're an engineer, I'll throw another one at you: you're supposed to figure out the weight of your shaft (tables available on the Internet) from the strut to the transmission, divide it by half and then add the weight of the shaft coupler. Then, using a fish scale. pull the shaft up using that much force. Of course, if you have a normal drip stuffing box and if the shaft length from there to the transmission is short, disregard the whole procedure.