Saturday, July 16, 2011

A belt that fits...

West Marine in St. Charles is a regular stop. Art had a little trouble finding our order because they had the spelled "Akey" as "Hackey". He felt kind of bad about that since, as he put it, "You have certainly been in here enough for me to remember your last name.

"No problem. I'm getting a 30-year-old, 42 foot sailboat ready for open water, we have a lot of parts to go yet."

I've done a lot of projects in my life; home repairs, remodeling and additions. I've overhauled engines for 500cc motorcycles, 540 cubic inch / turbocharged flat 6s and 750 HP turbo-prop engines for aircraft, and V-dub to V8s for cars. In addition to engines there have been landing gear system overhauls, repairs and modifications to flight control systems, and massive amounts of sheet metal and airframe work on various airplanes trashed when their pilots weren't up to the task of that particular flight. Very often the first person to fly said engine overhaul or airframe repair was me. But somehow, getting a 42 foot sailboat ready for open water seems in a class of project all its own.

Today the focal point for the project was the engine "room". I'm not sure why they call it that as the one thing seriously lacking is "room". In any case the good news was the howling noise was the alternator belt. Here's a surprise, someone had installed a belt that was too thin for the pulleys. There were 2 spare belts in a drawer marked "Alt". Right width, but they were too short. Deb found a part number for the proper belt in the manual somewhere, so I drove to Mr. O'Rielys automobile parts emporium and got me a couple.

They were too long.

It seems this boat has an after-market alternator. "Ratserfratseridiotsandtheirtoolboxes." So I took another gander at the too short belt - removed the alternator from the engine, adjusted the angle of this and the dangle of that, fit the belt, reinstalled the main mount bolt, repeated same 2 or 3 times, and got it to work. Mind you, part of the job involved removing the water pump belt as well; it runs forward (aft) of the alternator belt. Fore and aft are a bit confusing on this motor as it sits bass-ackwards in the boat; crankshaft pulley and belts facing the stern, transmission toward the bow, and the drive shaft emerging in a kind of "V" shaped configuration. Not sure why, but a guess would be to get a better angle on the prop. Since the "room" was open, it also seemed a good idea to tidy up some wiring, clean the raw-water strainer, inspect the impeller, check the fluid levels, and do some general "getting to know you" poking around.

With a full day's work on deck teak and the engine once again operable above idle we went on a nice night sail...on a friend's trimaran. In spite of the near total lack of serious wind Thor spent most of the time at better than 4 knots, sometimes touched 6, and once made nearly 8. Light from a full moon danced across the wavelets and was bright enough for us to spot the NO WAKE markers on the way back in. It was a fine way to end a day of working on Kintala.


Anonymous said...

If you completed those projects with just 1 trip to Mr. Auto-O'reiley-Zone-Marine, you're a much better mechanic than anyone I know! Still, sounds like more fun than cutting the grass and assembling a trampoline (40 somethings are not made for those things!).

Deb said...

Cameron if you thing 40 somethings aren't made for those things, wait till you cross the double nickle...