Thursday, November 14, 2013


Deb tells me that my mechanical instinct is pretty good; that I should trust it more.  Ten days ago, although I couldn't put eyes on the leaking fuel because of a lack of access, instinct suggested that Kintala's injection pump was giving up the ghost and fuel was leaking out a weep hole in the pump flange (designed to protect the engine from just such a failure).  This would have been bad news.  Injection pumps are pricy.  Getting one overhauled was sure to take some time.  And getting this one out of Kintala looked to be anything but easy.

Various Westerbeke support experts insisted my instinct was wrong, that such was impossible because a) the pump couldn't fail that way and, b) there was no such weep hole.  So I shrugged off my instinct.  After all (and this is not instinct but sure knowledge born of 40+ years of fixing stuff) though I know a lot about some things, and some about a lot of things, I don't know everything about anything.  When the folks that design, manufacture, and maintain a thing point blank tell you something can't be, in all likelihood that something can't be.  Who am I to argue with experts?

The intervening ten day struggle, with these same experts, was to actually lay hands on the parts they suggested were the most likely source of the problem.  Parts that, by the by, cost roughly 6 times what they would have cost if we could but lay our hands on the generic version not carrying a Westerbeke part number.  Even being robbed,  it took Deb talking to a Westerbeke dealer in California to get the parts ball rolling.  The Virginia dealer who didn't have what we needed in stock, was insisting he had to get them shipped from the factory to him, and then he could ship them to us   (the reason it took close to a week to get the bit of tubing).

But he was wrong.  According to the CA dealer, the MA dealer (who Deb found had the parts in stock) could sell the parts to us with the VA dealer's permission and could also drop ship them straight to us, a fact that the MA dealer never bothered to mention.  Deb called the MA dealer, educated them as to their own company S.O.P. and got the parts here yesterday afternoon. (Tangle with one of the better parts people on the planet, especially when her boat is broken, and you will get your head handed to you on a platter.)

Randy showed up this morning to help me install said parts and bleed the engine.  A couple of hours later Kintala chuffed a bit of smoke, the engine caught, and immediately starting barfing fuel exactly as before.  This time I shoved face, mirror and light as deep as possible into the engine bay (risking catching my goatee in the water pump belt in the process) in order to see once, and for sure, from whence came the leak.

Yep, you guessed it already.  Fuel was spraying out of the weep hole - that does not exist - in the mount flange of the pump - that cannot fail in such a manner.  I guess I shouldn't feel too bad since I, an amateur diesel mechanic and wanna-be sailor, apparently knows more about diesel engines than the people who design, manufacture, and maintain marine specific Westerbeke diesel engines.  That's pretty good for a person who likes to think of himself as somewhat competent around a toolbox.

On the other hand I, an amateur diesel mechanic and wanna-be sailor, apparently knows more about diesel engines than the people who design, build, and maintain marine specific Westerbeke diesel engines.  How is that even possible?  How does an industry get this monumentally screwed up?  And why does it have to be an industry I have to deal with?  I wouldn't care if the wood burning stove industry was this bad, or the chicken feed industry.  At this point I don't even care if the automobile industry is shooting itself in both feet several times a day.  But I live on a boat and can't escape the marine industry.  This is not a good thing.

Deb found a place not too far away that will repair and / or overhaul the unit.  I tried to settle down enough to get the pump off the engine.  Completely frustrated and spitting mad is not a good frame of mind for starting a completely frustrating task like removing the fuel injection pump from a Westerbeke 50 crammed into a Tartan 42's miniscule engine bay.  Parts installed for 30 years are reluctantly uninstalled, a couple of things simply broke in my hands, (more Westerbeke parts to deal with) wrenches slippery with fuel dance away from cramped fingers, and itty-bitty parts disappear into the bilge mess never to be seen again.  Almost in spite of myself, by 1700 the pump was extracted, tools were stored, and the companionway engine covers / ladders were back in place. 

Oriental is a nice town.  Which is good since there is no telling when we will be moving on.  Instinct tells me we are far from having a running engine.  I have surely kicked over the nest of sleeping gremlins that has been lurking in Kintala's engine compartment since we bought her.  Corralling them all is going to take some time.


Unknown said...

well, if there is no hole, as indicated from all the experts, why don't you just put a screw into it an plug it.... lol

of course better to fix that thing right. You are on the way buddy, while we are all sitting behind our office desks and watching from afar.
Better times ahead, don't worry.

we all will have a bite of turkey and some libations in your honor on Saturday at the marina, you will be missed :-)

TJ said...

We will be missing you guys as well. We are "out here" (though not very far) "doing it" (though the IT is mostly fixing things) and I wouldn't want it any other way. We are just far enough south so the weather shouldn't beat us up too bad for a while yet, it was 29 here this morning but supposed to be near 70 in a couple of days.

Unknown said...

I kept checking for a blog entry and when none came I knew you were having a bad day, so sorry. The good news, (if you look real hard) there is now another part of your boat you understand better today, then last week. And at your current pace you will know everything real soon!!

Yes, way more money and time was spent then it should have.
Again sorry and you will be sailing soon,

Don Parsons said...

Awww...just put in a Pt-6 and be done :-)

Deb said...

@Don - believe you me the thought has occurred...