Friday, August 7, 2015

Its Alive!

The Beast rumbled to life mid-afternoon. On one side the alternator hummed content in its remounted bracket, belt running true and quiet. On the other a shiny, new raw water pump spun happily it its bracket. Water spewed out the side of the boat. No water leaked into the boat. There is something about shiny new parts doing what they should do that helps one forget about the price paid for the privilege.

Since an oil and filter change are also due we let the Beast mumble along for a bit. Sucking even moderately thick oil up through the oil stick tube takes a while. Thinning it out by heating it up is the only way to go. Forty years as a mechanic, I never knew any machine with such poor maintenance access that one had to suck the oil up through the stick hole to change it. That is a tiny little hole. There is a gallon of thick, gooey oil in there. What kind of idiot would design a thing like that?

Then I got tangled up in boats.

About four minutes into the run I was out in the cockpit chatting with Deb and watching the water spurt out the water spurt out the port side. “Screech”. It wasn't a full screech, more like a chirp, but my countenance fell right through the cockpit floor, through the hull, and to the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. The noise faded but, in my heart of hearts, I knew it would be right back. I also knew what it meant.

In less than five minutes of run time our shiny, new raw water pump had reached the end of its service life. Unfortunately I am but a lowly aircraft mechanic / inspector. Therefore I have no standing in the boat maintenance world. The pump couldn't really be bad, not right out of the box. I must have done something wrong.

Boat guru # 1 was nearby and came to take a listen. The noise had faded a bit by the time he climbed aboard. “Bearings setting in,” he said. I demurred. “That doesn't sound like bearings to me.” About then the screech came back at full song and guru #1 allowed that it didn't really sound right. I should call the people we bought the pump from, see what they say. So I did.

It turns out they just sell pumps, they don't really know anything about them. They gave me a second number to call. So I did.

Whoever answered that second number said, “Oh Jabsco? You need to call this (third) number.” So I did. The person who answered that phone then transferred me to that of The Jabsco tech rep. The one and only Jabsco tech rep they had in house, was busy. I should leave a message. So I did.

Waiting as I was, it was suggested that I go talk to Guru #2 here on site. So I did. He wanted to know if maybe it was the alternator or belt making the ruckus, since Jabsco pumps don't ever make any kind of noise when they run. He also suggested that I loosen up the water pump belt to make sure that wasn't the noise, and run the engine with the belt completely removed to make sure it wasn't the alternator.

About this time I had a first class ticket on the train to Total Frustration City, and it was about to jump the tracks. The alternator is on the other side of the engine from the noise. I know how to tension a belt, and I know a failing pump when I hear one. But I am only a aircraft mechanic /inspector, and apparently we don't know anything about water pumps, belts, or the noises they are not supposed to make.

With my head about to explode Deb took over the phone / tech search and finally got a Jabsco pump guru on the line for me to talk to. I explained exactly what I heard and what I had done to isolate the noise to the pulley end of the pump.

He, bless his little pump guru soul, stated that such a noise could only mean that the pump was bad. We should contact the people who sold it to us, tell them is was a warranty claim, and get a shiny, new raw water pump to hang on the side of the Beast.

So we did. A new pump is on the way. They will even include a shipping label so we can send the bad pump back with the shipping pre-paid.

But I think I figured out the scam. I was so utterly cranked up about knowing this pump was bad, but not being able to convince anyone that I knew of what I spoke, that when the Jabsco pump guy agreed with me it made me HAPPY that the pump was bad. I was a dancing little kid who finally got someone to believe him. So what it that means I am changing the pump, fittings, hoses, pulley, and mount, again? We have figured out what is wrong with the Beast. Except …

I figured out what was wrong with the Beast about a week ago. It needs a shiny, new raw water pump. One that doesn't SCREECH.

The next person who suggests that I really don't know too much about this kind of stuff is going swimming.

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