We have been without internet this week, so I’m now catching up on posting:
Scott is a stickler for routine maintenance, believing that it extends the longevity of systems. Afterward, he makes a point to check what’s been done, testing a new part that has been replaced or looking for leaks if hoses have been disconnected during maintenance, etc. He also does a thorough visual check of the area. This can expose small, affordable problems before they become big, expensive ones, usually rearing their head at an inopportune time.
So as we waited for good winds to travel south to Puerto Morelos, Scott planned to spend a few hours cleaning out our sea strainers (which get clogged every few days with sea grass here) and topping off the water in our battery bank. The anodes in the motor were to be changed, and the heat exchangers on the raw water circuit cleaned.
Cleaning the heat exchangers required taking hoses off, and while off, Scott checked to see that they were clear of any debris (bits of the old anode, etc.). When finished, he ran the motor to test everything and check for any leaks, from having the hoses off. Running the motor revealed a leak in the raw water pump, which he hadn’t worked on at all. Then, when he tried to shut the motor off it wouldn’t stop, so it had to be shut off manually at the motor.
Scott addressed a leaking shaft seal on the raw water pump first. We didn’t have a spare seal kit onboard (shocking, as I feel we have two to three of everything part and tool related), but did have two back up pumps (one, brand new and the other a used one that came with the boat). Scott started by installing the used pump, but it leaked at the seal even worse, so it came out and the new one went in. So we went from having two spares to zero, but the pump is now back to working leak-free.
Now to the motor shut off. Scott smelled some electrical burn at the exact time the motor wouldn’t shut down, and then the start circuit breaker would trip. Our solenoid, (An electrically powered magnetic switch that pushes a lever to snuff off the fuel, stopping the motor) was original to the boat, which is 32 years old. As a side note, Scott loves that our motor needs no electric power to run. When it wouldn’t shut down, he could manually power it off. We can have a complete power failure, and still have the motor chug along.
Scott had purchased a new solenoid to have on hand, knowing ours was old, but it didn’t come with a bracket that holds it in place. So he set about removing the old solenoid from it’s bracket. It proved challenging, and it finally had to be cut out with an angle grinder (complete with sparks). The solenoid was replaced, and the motor would now stop when called for, but there was still the electrical burning smell.
The initial thought was a short circuit in the wiring harness of the motor. Upon further investigation, this proved not to be the source of the problem. Scott continued to performed multiple tests, and determined that the exciter circuit for the starboard alternator was drawing too many amps. He changed out the alternator with a spare that we had, which was again on the boat when we bought it. By the way, all of these things were at the far depths of the storage under our bed. Not fun to get to! We’re not sure how long this one will go, due to it’s age and wear, so we plan to have the old one rebuilt.
So, an easy day of regular maintenance turned into two full days of repairs. But, because the issues were found during regular maintenance and visual inspection, they were easy fixes while at anchor. Had Scott not done his maintenance and found this, we would have had salt water in the bilge and could have eventually overheated the motor.
We’re now ready to make our way to Puerto Morelos, jobs and fixes complete!
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”