Monday, October 17, 2011

V-Drive Blues

Not so much a case of the blues, maybe a case of the flu, or even pneumonia?  A few weeks ago when the new engine noise showed up I said something about it sounding like the V-drive, maybe the transmission, but probably the drive.  Silly me.  It is both.

The racket we heard as Kintala drifted to a stop in the marina last weekend was the V-drive disintegrating into a housing full of chewed up parts and 90 wt gear oil gravy steeped in metal shards.  No big surprise there, though it has been a long time since I have pulled such a blowed-up bit out of a machine.  When the drive went it took the output flange of the transmission with it.  That flange is part of the shaft, which is apparently as deep into the transmission as one can delve.  So the transmission is toast.  We just ordered a replacement for a few pennies less than two SBUs.  (SBU = Standard Boat Unit = $1000.)  The V-drive folks say they may be able to overhaul their unit, so Deb is out shipping it.  I'm guessing they will open the box, snort and laugh and poke each other, and then we will buy a new V-drive to go with our new tranny.  Total for getting Kintala under power once again?  If it comes out any less than 4 SBUs it will be a surprise.

Today has been a day full of learning new things; how to take a V-drive out of a Tartan, that I need a special wrench to get the lower port mount bolt of the transmission loose (I believe I have just such a home...transmission removal to be completed at a later date.) and, if you move the prop drive shaft just 1/2 inch forward once it is free from the V-drive, lake water will will spew into the bilge at an astounding rate and startle the snot out of an aircraft mechanic.  (The shaft is now securely fixed in place so it can't move again!)

When we bought this boat I tried as best as I know how to avoid just such a development, spending SBUs on inspections and repairs done by reputable people and organizations.  This one though, is really getting me close to being an unhappy camper.  One look was all it took to know that this V-drive has been making shinies for a long, long time.  When it started making noise it wasn't telling me it was getting ready to fail.  No, it was telling me that it had failed a long time ago and was about to implode.  Since I have no history with this boat I missed the memo.  But the son-of-a-wanna-be-wrench-bending-bozo who changed the gear oil the last time, and probably the time before that, and maybe the time before that, should have gotten it highlighted and in bold print.  And tell me, just what does a mechanic do during a $600 mechanical inspection, count the sockets in his tool drawer?  Polish screwdrivers?  Juggle spanner wrenches?  If only I had known then what I know now I would have paid him an extra half a SBU to take a dribble of V-drive, tranny and engine oil, rub it between his finger and thumb, and hold it up to the sunlight.  I fear though that even if he had, and as a result had driven a quarter inch shard of tortured metal into his skin, he would have completely missed the relevance of the blood flowing down his finger and called the drive good to go. 

Since it would be impossible not to be discouraged at getting burned by so-called experts, I'm just going to go ahead and be discouraged.  One never knows how things will end up but the thought is that this is going to delay our departure some.  What was a "to-do" list has exploded into a major work order.  Getting it all done and then paying for it is going to take considerable effort - and maybe a little more time than originally hoped.

So I'm not going to waste any effort trying to keep a stiff upper lip, look at the good side, think positive, or any other such idiotic make-nice chatter.  I'm just going to accept discouragement as part of the deal, grab a rag, and get back to work.

p.s.  The tranny came out today.  For the mechanics among you...getting to the problem bolt required; a) pull the starter, b) pull the shifter arm off the shaft, c) remove 4 nuts and pull the shifter housing, d) pull the bottom two shifter housing studs out of the tranny case.  (There isn't near enough room in there for a stud puller, which was okay since I didn't have one at hand.  Two nuts locked together did the trick.)  Then a 9/16 crow's foot on a long extension was just enough leverage to break the bolt loose without harming the engine case; which was the real concern since the tranny is trashed anyway.

p.p.s.  I promise to be in a better mood when stuff starts going back on the boat that actually works.

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