Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Repower Project Part One Complete

On Saturday after we docked at AYH we mostly took it easy, checking out the local shops and hitting up Tap & Still for Happy Hour. We'd been to the Tap & Still in Charlotte Amalie with Mak, Dane and Isla from Sea Otter back in May, good spot. We returned there Sunday night to watch the Vikings lose in fairly predictable fashion to the Patriots.

Before that, though, our Sunday was spent preparing for the engine removal. We started by taking apart our engine room, which was an amazingly easy process involving ten screws and maybe 30 minutes. Suddenly we had fantastic access to our engine...I'd be tempted to do this for more routine projects, except you have to find a place to store everything. For now that's the V-berth, and once that filled up then parts and tools started occupying the forward head and the port side of the salon. It's a cramped boat for the duration.

After one final ceremonial startup and short run, I removed our big Balmar alternator, bracket and belts, the voltage regulator and harness, and the stock alternator along with engine battery cables to starter and ground. I took off the airbox, drained the oil and coolant, and disconnected raw water hoses. I disconnected fuel lines and let them drain into my used diesel jug overnight, and also left the oil filter off overnight to drain into a baggie as I suspected we'd need the filter off to fit the engine through our cabin door. I disconnected the throttle link mechanism. Finally, I took the bolts out of the drive shaft-prop shaft coupling, as I figured we'd leave the transmission and drive shaft in place while picking the engine and then take off the tranny once we had better access.

On Monday morning Kevin from Mi'kmaq Marine showed up right on time and got straight to work. Basically the only prep work that was left was the transmission shift linkage and the four engine mount bolts. After that he got out his gear. Kevin has a really impressive and slick system for engine removal and installation. Usually he does this himself, so having two extra people just made it easier. Basically, he uses two jack stands to support an eight-foot I-beam, on which runs a little trolley. He hangs a chain hoist from the trolley and can then crank up the engine and move it up to eight feet. Then he puts the engine down, moves the jackstands and I-beam, and repeats the process.

It took four of these moves to get our engine off the boat. For the first move, the I-beam was suspended diagonally across the (former) engine room, with one jack stand in our cabin and the other in the passageway to the salon. This got the engine to the passageway, where Kevin removed the transmission & driveshaft, as well as the oil filter and fuel distributor to get it through our cabin door. After we pushed it through the cabin door, Keven used the trolley to get the engine up and over an awkward corner of the nav station seat into the salon. Then he repositioned the jackstands and I-beam up topside, over the cockpit (we had removed the dodger and folded the Bimini back that morning), and I cranked the engine up through the companionway hatch. Talk about a tight fit! Finally, he put one jack stand in the cockpit and the other on the dock, and he was able to slide the engine right through the lifeline gate to his engine cart on the dock. The whole process, from Kevin showing up to the engine sitting in his shop, took only about two hours.

That made us really optimistic about the while process going that smoothly, but of course it hasn't. We left the transmission on a piece of cardboard in the port half of the salon, and the next morning it was soaked with oil. It was leaking from the shaft seal. I brought the transmission to Kevin's shop and in short order got some very bad news. There was water in the transmission oil, and Kevin had talked to ZF and they said it would need new bearings, seals and races. Add in Kevin's labor, and it was just cheaper to get a new transmission. I had previously checked the oil after the transmission got dunked, and it seemed clean, but I apparently didn't get my tube quite deep enough into the transmission's innards. This really sucks, because as you may recall I just replaced the transmission in Cape May in September 2017. The good news was that ZF was able to rush a replacement from Florida to St. Thomas and it should arrive tomorrow or the next day, beating the engine here and probably not slowing down our timeline. It'll set us back an extra $2800 for now, but we added it to the insurance claim. We'll see how that shakes out, our insurance company has been pretty unresponsive but seems to finally have kicked things into high gear today. I'll be calling them daily to keep them on point.

Other than that, I've been busy in the engine room. The ultimate goal for the next week is to clean and repaint the bilge, get new bilge pumps secured in place, clean up the wiring and plumbing, and add new insulation to all the walls we didn't do last year. To just get started on that required removing quite a few hoses, engine mounts, and miscellaneous items. Cleaning has proven a pretty huge and disgusting chore, made worse by the flooding that spread the accumulated sludge to every corner of the bilge. I spent much of today literally head down in the bilge. I looked like Swamp Thing by the end. But it's finally clean, I started standing today and will start painting tomorrow, the bilge pumps are done, much of the wiring and plumbing cleanup is done, and we're ready to start prettying up the engine room with new insulation. They don't give that stuff away, by the way. The local Budget Marine charged $120 for a 3x4 sheet. Fortunately I also had about that much left over from our previous engine room project. Hopefully we'll have enough.

Meanwhile the engine supposedly made it on the boat today, should get here Friday, and will be available for pickup Monday. We're planning on Tuesday and Wednesday for installation, and weather permitting we're hoping to head to St. Maarten ASAP, skipping the BVI altogether this time. We're eager to get this big project behind us and get on with our cruising season. 


  1. Although I follow your blog rather well, I seem to have completely missed the occasion when the "big dunk" actually happened. Where might I find that in the archives?

  2. @Pete Templin: he wrote about the engine in More Offseason Adventures post. You have to scroll down to th last three paragraphs.

  3. Ah, there it is...thanks for the pointer!