Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Days off?

The solar panel install is off to a slow start with much of yesterday's efforts going into picking out parts and suppliers. Most of that burden falls on Deb with her decades of parts buying and selling experience. I was busy enough talking things over with her and then helping to secure the forestay on a friend's boat that I barely laid a hand on Kintala. So today, needing to accomplish something to feel like progress is still being made, Deb took to starting a sewing project and I turned my attention to the WesterBeast.

Like most gear heads I have changed more than my share of engine belts. Some are easy and some are less so. The Beast, no surprise here, falls into the “less so” bracket. There has always been some wonk surrounding the alternator belt. The Beast's manual shows a list of standard and optional alternators, a list that does not include the Balmar 75 that is actually jammed into the little space available. Part of that jamming included cutting away part of the engine box next to the fridge to make room for the slotted bracket used for setting the belt tension. Every time I have changed that belt it was clear that, someday, whatever it was that was wonked up in there would have to be unwonked. Today was “someday”.

Looking over the top of the alternator at the cutout in the fiberglass for the bracket
Exorcising the wonk included doing a better job of cutting the engine box so that the bracket really did fit in there. The alternator was on and off more than a few times while things were fit, cut, lined up, tweaked, twisted, tightened, loosened, cussed at, and bled over. A life-long mechanic, I don't really enjoy doing mechanical work anymore. I would much rather play with wood, finish decks, or paint interior bits. And I really don't enjoy figuring out ways to patch up the hack-jobs someone else left behind. It is bad enough when I have to patch up my own.

But one must do what one must do so, with much ado, I beat the alternator belt into submission. It is a little tighter than I like. The spare / next belt will be just a little bit longer. At least it shouldn't leave black marks on the case any more.

The water pump belt, on the other hand, is still missing in action. It turns out all of the spares we had on board were spares for the generator that disappeared long ago. As were the impeller spares. Its a bit embarrassing to admit that I allowed us to go wandering around so ill equipped, but there you have it. We got away with it and will not be taunting King Neptune in like manor when we depart this time.

The old impeller looks, looked, almost brand new. Unfortunately it is jammed solid on its shaft and now looks much less new after attempts to pry it loose failed. Come the morrow we will be looking for the special tool it takes to extract a reluctant impeller, and hopefully some reassembly will be accomplished since the whole pump assembly is currently sitting on the work bench. But the Beast may have additional ugly surprises to spring, so no promises on the amount of progress to be made. There is oil and filters yet to be replaced so the Beast may be out of commission until next week, just when the solar panel support bits are due to arrive.

My weekend off already feels like a long time ago.

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