Sunday, April 24, 2016

In with the new

Well, I'm pleased to report that Compadre went back in the water on April 12 with the new engine project largely finished.  After aligning the engines and completing a few remaining tasks, we were ready for sea trials on Monday, April 18.

What a success!  The engines run very smoothly and are quieter than I expected.  Fuel economy is better than with the old gas engines, which was no surprise.  What I didn't expect was a big increase in performance.  After all, the new diesel engines are only 80 hp, whereas the old gas engines were 110 hp.  But performance we got... We will now cruise at 9 knots, compared to 8 knots before.  Fuel consumption appears to be a little less than 3 gallons per hour at our new cruising speed, compared to 3.5 gallons per hour before.  So we are going faster using less fuel.  It's not magic, but close to it.  Chalk it up to the much greater efficiency of these modern, computer-controlled diesels.

In our last post I described some of the projects that needed to be done before the new engines could be installed:  New engine beds, fuel-tank changes, etc.  Another task was to build two new drip pans to place beneath each engine (a Coast Guard requirement).  These are usually made of stainless steel sheet or fiberglass.  It just happened that the Shipwrights Coop had some extra copper sheet left over from another project.  The least expensive option (I almost said "cheapest", but on a boat few things are cheap) was to use the copper, so now we have two beautiful copper drip pans in the bilge.  Few people will notice, but I hope the Coast Guard will appreciate them the next time we are stopped for inspection.
New copper drip pans
After what seemed like an endless string of preparatory tasks, we were finally ready to hoist in the first new engine.  Having already taken out the old ones, we pretty much had the process figured out.  With one person running the overhead crane and the fork lift (not at the same time!), another to give commands, and a third (me), to guide the new engines into place, everything went smoothly -- we had it all done in one afternoon. 

Up with the overhead crane.

Through the door with the fork lift.

Arren rests the engine on temporary cribbing before lowering it into place

Port engine in -- one more to go!
We're done -- ready for sea trials.
One of the great advantages of having work done at the Port Townsend Shipwrights Coop is the wealth of resources available under one roof.  In addition to wood-working expertise, there is metal fabrication of all sorts, machining, electrical, refrigeration, etc.  For our engine cooling system we needed some hose menders that stepped down from 1-1/4 inches to 1 inch.  We could have ordered stainless steel menders online for about $35 each, but our project manager, Arren Day, suggested he could turn some on the lathe more quickly and for less cost.  So before long we had the ones shown below.  Too beautiful to hide in an old hose! 
Custom bronze hose menders.
As we undertake various upgrades to Compadre, we strive to retain as much of her original structure and hardware as possible.  One of our key requirements for the re-power project was to retain our original chrome shift levers in the wheelhouse.  These stand on opposite sides of the wheel and are about 18 inches long.  The long levers where necessary with the old engines and gears because quite a lot of leverage was required to shift gears.  Our new gears shift very easily, so we don't need the leverage, but we need to retain the levers for historical reasons. 
Control console with original chrome shift levers.
Arren and I discussed several options for mating the old shift levers to modern control cables.  His solution was as elegant as it was ingenious.  He discarded most of the old mechanical linkage that once connected the levers to the gears, but retained a short lever attached to the shifters on the inside of the control console.  To this existing bronze lever he added a ball fitting to connect a modern control cable.  The cable is anchored to a custom bracket fashioned from aluminum channel stock.  Now we could connect the old shifters successfully to the new gears.  Arren then fashioned a custom detent mechanism so that the chrome shifters snapped into forward, neutral, and reverse, and held their position until a gear change was needed.  Needless to say I was extremely pleased with the result.
View inside control console, showing new shift cable anchor bracket and shift detent mechanism.  The detent ball is inside the set screw on the right end of the bronze lever.  The ball follows the arc of the lever and falls into recesses in the bronze plate, marking forward, reverse, and neutral.
While we were out of the water and under cover I took the opportunity to put fresh paint on the hull.  Two coats was all I had time for with the press of other tasks; that will have to do until we haul out next time (three or four years if all goes as planned). 

New hull and bottom paint -- looking good!
We have had trouble keeping paint on the anchor guard since we purchased Compadre.  The problem is partly because the guard is stainless steel, which doesn't accept paint well, and partly because the anchor slams into the guard every time it is raised (which of course is why we have a guard in the first place).  The solution seemed to be to coat the guard with something other than the Interlux Yacht Enamel we have used on the wooden hull with great success for years.  But what to use?  Arren and I discussed this at length, first considering epoxy paint, then 2-part linear polyurethane, both of which are pretty durable.  But we were still worried about the impact from the anchor.  What we needed was a tough but flexible coating -- something like pick-up truck bed liner (if only it came in semi-gloss white!) 

Enter Moby Deck.  Or what used to be called Moby Deck anyway.  It's got another name now, which no one except the painter at the Coop seems to remember.  Designed as a non-skid deck coating, it's tough and flexible, and adheres well to metal.  With a special primer made specifically for stainless, this sounded ideal.  So we turned the painter loose, and 6 coats later we had a very nice, semi-gloss white anchor guard.  When I reattached the anchor just before we launched, it gave the guard a pretty good bump (not on purpose mind you).  No harm -- no foul. We'll see how it does this summer while cruising.  Stay tuned.
The stainless steel primer is bright yellow.  Some folks at the Coop suggested we keep it this way.  I thought not.
Anchor guard with it's new coating of Moby Deck.  Very stylish.
So with new engines, a successful sea trial, and best wishes from the Coop crew, we headed back to our home port at Bremerton Yacht Club on the morning of April 19.  The day was calm and sunny, and the current was with us the whole way.  Four hours later we were home.  It was a great ending to a great project. 

Once again, I can't say enough about the crew at Port Townsend Shipwrights Coop, and especially our project manager and friend Arren Day.  We could not have asked for a more positive experience.  From the very day we arrived, partners and employees of the Coop would stop by regularly and ask me how things were going, and whether I had everything I needed.  If they spotted me doing a particular task, it was not unusual for them to say "wait a minute, we have a special tool for that --  would you like to borrow it?"  Not once did they make me feel like I was the amateur and they were the pros, although that certainly was the case.  And the project was on budget and on time.  I cannot imagine working in a more helpful and supportive environment.  Thanks to all at the Coop for a job well done.