Monday, September 15, 2014

Heat exchanger, round 2 ...

I started wrestling with the WesterBeast again today. That was supposed to happen yesterday but it was just a bridge too far. There was never any thought that cruising was going to be “retirement” (in spite of this blog's name). The work involved is just too demanding, there is too much potential risk, and too many win-it-or-bin-it decisions, for this to be anything like easy living. But once in a while a day comes along where I just can't man-up and get to work. Yesterday was one of those days.

I was still planning on working on the Beast when I ran across Friend James. James is the marina's resident “wooist”. If you want to know about what is going on in the ether, why the Mayan calendar was correct about the end of the age, how to cure almost any disease with the proper herbal tea and a “healing attitude”, what happens now that the solar systems is passing through the galactic plain, who is really in charge of the world, or when the aliens may arrive to lead us all to true enlightenment, James is the man in the know. Though I am way too much of a hard-nosed ex-street fighter to climb into his starship, we enjoy volleying back and forth in spite of our vastly different world views. And even taken by the woo, James is a better person than just about anyone I can think of in either politics or business. James is never going to hurt anyone, making him a pretty upright human being so far as I am concerned.

Then I walked over to Publix and made use of their hi-speed Internet connection to watch hometown hero and multiple-times World Champion Valentino Rossi win the Italian MotoGP, his first win in more than a year. After that Deb and I spent an extraordinary evening with new Friends Frank and Audrey. They are graduate alumni from the Civil Rights Movement and current environmental activists. Hearing their story and listening to their hopes for the future for their grand children and mine ranks as one of the five top conversations I have ever enjoyed. I don't generally give our species much of a chance. But if people like Frank and Audrey win the day there may yet be hope that our grand kid's inheritance will include air they can breathe, water they can drink, and oceans they can swim in. All in all it was a great day, but I didn't get anything done on the WesterBeast.

So today it was back in the ring to take another swing. Several people have mentioned that taking the heat exchanger off without removing the exhaust riser is difficult. (And they were right!) Getting it back on, they suggested, is well nigh impossible. For a while it looked like the naysayers would be proven wrong. Less than an hour after starting work the heat exchanger was hung on the bottom of the exhaust riser. All four nuts were started on their respective studs and awaiting proper torquage to be applied. Alas, said torquage turned into a problem. None of the nuts felt “right” and the aft inboard one, the one most difficult to reach, was clearly not a happy nut. After much internal debate between the cruiser who really needs to get this job done, and the aircraft mechanic who can't let things go, it was decided the exhaust manifold / heat exchanger assembly simply had to be removed. The naysayers were two for two.

Contemplating pulling the exhaust riser caused all kinds of consternation. First and foremost is that the exhaust gasket is an $80 – $100 engine bit. Another fear was that touching anything on the WesterBeast will surely lead to many other things needing “touched” as well. A fear well founded.

Six fasteners hold the exhaust riser to the engine, four studs and two cap screws. Two of the four studs came out of the engine. One of the studs that holds the intake muffler was already pulled out (I just lifted it out of the hole), and the exhaust gasket was indeed thrashed, though it wasn't me who did the thrashing. Apparently this is, minimum, the second time this gasket has been pressed into service. As for the studs for the heat exchanger, the reason for going down this path in the first place, they appear to be too short. Deb is currently sourcing the proper paper gaskets and I am considering the use of low profile nuts and lock washers, but it may will end up that replacing all of the studs with new is the only proper fix. At least the one stud I feared had been put in backwards, and thus trashing the riser, turned out to be the wrong stud; -18 / -18 instead of -18 / -24. Still installed by a Fool, but at least not as bad as it could have been.

By the end of the day both the heat exchanger and the exhaust riser were sitting on the bench waiting to be installed. By any reckoning that is a pretty big step backwards, particularly since the days are rapidly counting down to the killer-rise-in-dock-fees deadline. But this is cruising and, more to the point, this is me cruising on Kintala. Truth to tell I had a nasty hunch this was where today was going to lead all along.

Which may be why I took yesterday off. Once in a while even a tough guy needs a break from taking a daily beating. I am way too far down the road to be a tough guy any more, and this run of daily mechanical boxing matches going back to The Bear, has about done me in.

Maybe I need a glass of herbal tea and a trip through the ether.


Rick Laporte said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing the experience. That's a job I hope I don't have to tackle.

I see you got some SPAM comments on your blog. It's kind of like someone coming to your door asking to use your bathroom and taking a dump on the floor. :-(

This post reminds me of a quote from 'The Bit Lebowski' where the stranger is talking to the Dude at the bar in the bowling alley.

"Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you".

Carry on. We're watching.

Yours Aye!


Deb said...

@Rick - yes, I've been dealing with a lot more spam lately on the blog. I've been hoping to delay the moderator approval for comments but it may finally be time.

Latitude 43 said...

Hope you catch a long break from project work soon. Sounds like you need it. Once we get down there we will totally distract you from that project stuff. Of course, by the time we get there I will probably have my own damn projects to worry about.

Good thing it's a labor of love :(

John Clark said...

All right Tim, it's time you change your thought process towards the engine. By calling it the "beast" you are speaking difficulties into it's existence. If a ship is a she, and a mythical living being, then the engine is her heart. You're a surgeon repairing the damage of her past. Engio-plasti, carb-cath, manifold replacement, or a pace maker.


You could think of it as a rescue pet. It's that lovable dog or cat that has been mistreated, not necessarily abused, but just in need of a bath, good food, and some love.

Remember, she's a sailboat, not a motorboat.

I know this is all easy to say from my desk, but I am in the process of selling and building my land housing, so we're all fools in one way or another, you just have an ocean view!

TJ said...

John ... or ...

I can recall our history, the Beast an I, and know it to be a misbegotten chunk of badly engineered, mean spirited metal right off the production line of the ninth circle of Hell (treachery). I can best it, I can force it into submission, I can expand all my skills to keep us moving, but if I turn my back on it, the thing will smile, rear up, and bit me on the ass.

Think of it this way... there is a balance to the cosmos. 100 sailors are out there right now, at peace with their engines and motoring serenely through calm waters, because the Beast has sucked the evil out of their Yanmars and Beta Marines, gathered it up and thrown it my way.

I am doing a public service here ...

Matt Mc. said...

When I teach writing, I have often used humorist Dave Barry to illustrate the full-circle technique where the writer mentions something seemingly off-topic, but then comes around to it and it fits perfectly.

You use it often and to perfection. I also might steal the term "woo-ist."