At Anchor

At Anchor
Whiskyjack at anchor in Garrison Bay, San Juan Island

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Alarming Discovery

New temperature switch.
Sometime after I purchased WhiskyJack I discovered that some one had made a change to the engine monitoring system.  They had replaced the engine temperature switch with a temperature sender and hooked that sender to a temperature gauge.  While it is all well and good to know the temperature of the engine, making this modification disabled the over temperature alarm.  What this means in a practical way, is that you must be looking at the temperature gauge to know that the engine is overheating.  Even with the most diligence, the chance of this happening is slim to none.  While I had the top end of the engine apart, I rectified this.

Temperature sender for gauge.
I removed the temperature sender and replaced it with the proper switch.  Since this engine was designed as a raw water cooled engine, the switch is designed to close when the engine temperature exceeds 140F.  Because I wanted a temperature gauge on the dash, I installed a temperature sender at the other end of the head.  This required drilling and tapping an unused plug where the cooling water exits the head, on its way to the exhaust manifold, with 1/4" NPT threads.  It is in a location that is difficult to access when the engine is assembled, but very well protected.  Now, I have the best of both worlds:  I can observe the temperature of the cooling water as it exits the head, AND, I have an active alarm system that will alert me to an engine over-temperature situation.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Engine Assembly and a Poor Man's SpeedSeal

The engine starting to be assembled.
  A couple of weeks ago, I began the work on the engine.  I removed the alternator  and exhaust manifold along with a plethora of smaller items from the engine and then removed the head (with injectors) and fuel injector pump.  The  head, injectors, and injector pump were taken to Cook Engine, the local Yanmar dealer.  I had them grind the valves, replace the valve stem seals, replace the pre-combustion chamber, rebuild the injectors and injector pump.  This work took some time, as some of the parts had to be brought in from  from Japan.  A note here:  It is absolutely outstanding that Yanmar, would still stock all of the parts of an engine that is over 35 years old and was only made for 2 years.

Almost done!

 The assembly work went off without many problems.  It just took time.  The head gasket was installed and the head torqued down.  The rocker arm assemblies were installed, the valve tappets adjusted, the fuel injector pump was installed and re-connected to the governor, and the cooling lines were hooked up.  One of the most difficult parts of the assembly process is getting the small ball on the fuel pump metering rack into the slot in the control arm from the governor.  This happens inside the governor housing, open to the front, but not visible.  You need to stick your hands inside the governor housing, which has very little room, and try to line up the ball with the slot as you lower the injector pump.  It took me several tries.  Then, after successfully completing the task, I realized  that the pump had to come back out because I had not placed a pencil line on the rack to make a future adjustment.

M4 SHCS and Knob
 This engine was designed as a raw water cooled engine and therefore has an external circulating pump to pump sea water through the engine.  The pump is hidden under the governor housing and is nearly inaccessible.  Changing an impeller with pump installed is a real pain in the keester and pulling the pump is even worse.  To help with this and while the pump was out, I replaced the screws that hold the Rear Cover the with stainless steel M4 socket head cap screws (SHCS) fitted with an Acetal resin knurled socket knob.  The "socket knobs" are available by the "each" at Fastenal for $0.22.  They press onto the SHCS and the two parts are assembled, make it a knurled knob (use the jaws of a vise to assemble).

Pump with Knobs
With these knobs, I can install and remove the fasteners with my fingers, without the use of a wrench or screwdriver.  Now, when I need to inspect or change the impeller, I can do it in a jiffy.  I also use a gasket sealant to hold the gasket onto the the Rear Cover and a thin film of grease on the pump body.  That way, when the Rear Cover comes off there is a good chance that the gasket will stay with the Cover and will not be damaged.  This is a poor man's SpeedSeal without the O-ring.  (SpeedSeal does not make a Cover for my pump.)

After the water pump was installed, I bled the fuel system and fired it up.  This old Yanmar hummed like a Swiss sewing machine!  Well,  not really, but it ran well.  There were a few adjustments to be made, but overall, the engine runs great.  Note:  I did not install the alternator and charging system components, nor did I hook up all the engine monitoring.  The charging system is getting an overhaul and will be completed next weekend along with the engine monitoring and alarm system.

So, if you, dear reader, have been following along, I'll bet that you are curious about whether the rebuild accomplished the goal of increasing the engine RPM at wide open throttle (WOT).  I know I was curious and couldn't wait to engage the prop.  Well, it did not!  All of this for a negligible performance increase?  You've got to be kidding!  .....more to come......

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm pickin' up (good) vibrations? Enough for all winter!

"I'm pickin' up good vibrations, she's giving me excitations'" so go the lyrics of the 1960's Beach Boys song.  It all began with a little vibration!  Last year I notice that I was getting a vibration when I advanced the throttle over about 2500 RPM.  Nothing to worry about, I thought, because I cruise around 2000 RPM.  But once I feel something like that my mind begins to wander and I start thinking about fixing it.  I knew from the purchase survey that I would need a new prop sooner, rather than later.  So, in the fall of 2011 we hauled the boat at Rocky Point Marina and I installed a new Campbell Sailor prop.

And what a beauty that prop was!  I couldn't wait  to get WhiskyJack back in the water and try it out.  And what a surprise that was.  I left the Rocky Point Marina and headed back toward my my slip a mile or two away.  I throttled up and was surprised that I couldn't get over 1900 RPM without black smoke from the exhaust the boat was flat out at 2200 RPM and blowing black smoke like a steam locomotive.  What's wrong here?  Too much pitch?  Bad prop?

I called West by North to discuss the issue with them.  I was assured that the prop was what it supposed to be and that my engine should turn that screw (I already knew that).  WxN was very helpful and pointed me in the direction of a common problem with the small Yanmar engines.  "Have you checked your exhaust elbow?" they asked.  "They have a tendency to plug up with a sooty deposit and inhibit the exhaust from being discharged.  Have you checked it lately?"  Right, that's certainly something that I check regularly---NOT!  But what a great suggestion.  I thanked them and immediately knew what II was going to be doing the following Saturday.  They ran through some other possibilities but I was not listening.

The following Saturday, I began the task of swapping out the exhaust elbow.  A couple of years earlier I had noticed an exhaust elbow on eBay and bought it for a very reasonable price, thinking that I would need it someday.  That day was today.  The exhaust hose was cut off and the elbow came off with a large pipe wrench with very little trouble.  When I looked into the discharge side of the elbow I saw a large deposit of soot, nearly blocking the passage.  Eureka!  That's it.  What an easy fix.  A trip to West Marine and I had some new exhaust hose.  The new elbow went on without a hitch and I was back in business.  I could wait to finally test the new prop.

Boy, was I surprised when there was little change in the max RPM or the amount of black smoke being produced.  What were those other possibilities for low engine power?  Oh, yes, the injectors!  The Yanmar 2QM15 in WhiskyJack has 2200 hrs and does not appear to have had any major overhauls.  I received a thorough briefing from her previous owner at the time of purchase and no mention was made to anything being done to the engines.  The maintenance manual suggests inspection at 500 hours and that has surely come and gone.  Any what about the small amount of oil coming out of the air intake.  Could that be a sign of a leaking valve stem seal?  My fate was sealed:  The head was coming off.

The winter's project was before me:  While the engine was apart a change in the engine instrumentation and alarm system seemed to make sense.  What about a new alternator (I never liked nor trusted the one I installed 5 years ago), and with the new alternator shouldn't I install the Xantrex Link 10 I bought on sale a last year?  And what about changing from raw water cooling to fresh water cooling?  I already have the heat exchanger.  Let's do that too.  Boy, I hope it's a long winter.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Trip Down the River, Part II (aka: the Beauty & the Beast)

A dingy on a boat at the Westport Marina
We left Anunde Island via Wallace Slough and found anchorage for the evening in Westport Slough above the power lines.  The following morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we again head down river, taking Cliffton Channel between the Oregon Shore and Tenasillahe Island, past the relics of the abandoned communities of Bradwood and Cliffton.  We are bound for, what for me, is one of the most peaceful, serine, and beautiful places in this world.  Is is the Lewis & Clarke National Wildlife Refuge which encompasses 35,000 acres of tideland, marshes, and sandbars in the Columbia River estuary about 25 miles upstream from the sea.

Looking west toward Tongue Point
We pass through the Devil's Elbow into Prairie Channel, following it between Karlson and Marsh Islands and anchor in a spot about 1 mile west of Blind Slough.  (See NOAA Chart 18523.)

Here, we are surrounded by water and low lying islands for a radius of over a mile with the western foothills of the Coast Range lying beyond that.  For 360 degrees a vista of nothing but water, trees, hills, and islands.  And no sound of man.  Nothing but the sound of the water lapping at the hull and a symphony from some of thousands of birds that occupy this place.  

Looking east.

While the sound of an individual bird may not be so very loud, when hundreds all sing together, it can be deafening.  I lay in the warm sun on my back on the trunk cabin, my eyes are closed, the warm breeze is blowing over my body and I am listening for the solo runs from the individual members of this avian choir.  What are they singing about?

Marsh Island
 This peace and beauty calms my soul.  This is my special place to unwind; to rejuvenate myself.  We spend the afternoon here but time has a different meaning in this place.  It doesn't pass fast, or slow.  There is so much to drink in, so many acts that pass over Nature's stage, that it seems surreal.  The setting and a breeze that has been picking up over the hours remind us that we need to seek a more sheltered anchorage and prepare our evening meal.  Reluctantly we leave, retiring to protected anchorage in Knappa Slough.  Tomorrow is going to be Karen's big day.  A day to poke around the shops in Astoria.

I awake early, it is just beginning to get light.  I go over the chart and plot a course through this maze of islands to Astoria.  For some still unknown reason, I think it is good to catch a ride on the ebb tide.  When you ride along in a vessel that makes only 5 knots, catching an additional 2 to 3 knots of current makes the trip to Astoria a 2 hour event, while have a 2 knot current "on you nose" makes the trip a 5 hour one.  Wouldn't it be nice to get Karen to Astoria in the early morning rather than in the afternoon?  Well, yes!

With Karen comfortably sleeping in the V-berth, I start the engine, weigh anchor, and head west in Prairie Channel, following the course that I have drawn on the chart and entered into the GPS.  I pass the place where we spent the previous afternoon and all of the memories of the day come flooding back.  I'm drunk with the serenity of it all.  I make the turn south, slowing because it has been years since I have been through here.  The water begins to shallow and I slow even more.  The channel is not where it is supposed to be.  (It might be well to mention here that these small channels are not sounded often meanin the data on the charts is often 20, 30, or 40 years old.)  The water continues to shallow and I am getting nervous.  Reluctantly, I turn around and follow my reciprocal course, deciding that another route to Astoria will need to be found.  I throttle up a bit to 3 knots, the all of a sudden it happened.

Not a happy camper!

I feel the boat rise slightly as it slows to a stop.  From the fore-cabin:  "What's wrong?  What just happened?" OMG!  We're aground!  Whose idea was it to explore on a falling tide?  I know that time is of the essence and I quickly put the anchor into the dingy and paddle astern hoping I can kedge off.  No luck!  In just the few minutes that it takes to row the anchor astern, the boat as already starting to list to starboard.  This is not good.  Thoughts are running through my mind.  I can let the boat go onto it's beam.  I quickly form a plan.  Again I get into the dingy, but this time I row the anchor out as far as I can toward the deepest water which is off the port beam.  I drop the anchor, row back to WhiskyJack, and get a purchase as high on the mast as I can reach from the deck.  I haul against the anchor and begin to pull the boat back upright, stopping when I get it to about 5 degrees heel to starboard.
Birds sitting on the anchor rode

Then we wait.  Any movement of us on the boat from one side to the other causes the boat to heel more or less.  We cannot let the vessel go to port, she must stay with a slight starboard heel because there is no line on the starboard side to prevent a roll to port.  For about 30 minutes it's a balancing act.  Stand slightly to starboard, if the boat starts to move to port, I move to starboard, and visa-versa.  I do not know just how much force it will take for the anchor to drag, and it if does we're done.  Finally, the boat settles slightly into the muddy bottom and becomes stable.

The tide fell, making bare some of the land around the boat.  When it does, the channel becomes apparent.  It is 50 yards to the west of where is was charted.  And, what about the First Mate.  To say she was not happy might be understating the emotions.  And I can understand her point of view.  How is it to be awakened from peaceful sleep into the chaos of a grounding.  How helpless we feel at the mercy of the tide.

Sunset, just east of Astoria near Tongue Point

  "And, what about my day in Astoria?", she asks.  Needless to say when I explain that high tide isn't until 1500 hrs, that we won't float until about 1300 hours, that the trip to Astoria against the flood tide is now estimated to about 5 hours, my mate's response was less than  joyful.  The best that I could offer as a "light at the end of the tunnel" was that we would be arriving about dinner time and that I would be happy to buy her dinner with wine and dessert (and anything else she wanted).  And it didn't hurt that I explained that we had an extra day in our itinerary and that it would be spend in Astoria.

So ends this story of the Beauty of the Estuary and the Beast of Grounding.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A trip down the river like no other

Having WhiskyJack at our doorstep (almost) was wonderful.  After a winter of the northwest's dreary and rainy weather, we were ready for an extended trip down river.  So in the summer of 2005 we headed down river for a week.  With an outgoing tide we ran from Scappoose to Beaver Slough in just over 8 hours.

WhiskyJack at the Point Adams Receiving Station

We had scheduled to meet up with Bill and Darlene, a couple that we met a few months earlier in St. Helens, Oregon, to look at the restoration they had done on on of the old fish Receiving Stations.  In this area, it is (or at least was) illegal for a fisherman to off-load fish from his boat at a place other than a cannery.  In other words, he could not throw the fish into his truck and drive them to the cannery he had to take them there in his boat.  Many of the fisherman fished areas that were many miles from a cannery, and thus a good part of the time that they had to spend on the water was the time necessary to run from the fishing grounds to the cannery and back.  The canneries were sympathetic to this and would have "receiving stations" strategically placed up and down the river.  The cannery company then trucked the fish to Astoria (in this case) for processing.

The boat repair shed

Bill and Darlene had purchased an old Point Adams Receiving Station on Anunde Island in the Beaver Slough region where the Clatskanie River enters the Columbia River.  Most of this receiving station had been built by a co-op of Finnish fisherman.  They had a large barn-like shed with hoist where they could repair their boats.  They had a net drying shed at the water's edge where they could bring up the nets out of their boats for drying and repair.  Remember that the nets were not made of synthetic material at that time and drying was essential to keep them from rotting.

The "Longhouse" on the left and net drying shed on the right

But most impressive (to me) was a building the fisherman built to house themselves while they were fishing.  The fisherman in the co-op did not all fish at the same time.  The co-op had a portion of the river that they exclusively maintained and fished.  Not all of the fisherman could fish this area at once, so they had a method of allotting times for each of the members.  So while one member was fishing another would be sleeping, eating, repairing nets, etc.  The co-op build a long building divided into identical rooms.  Each room had a bed, a wood stove, and a table.  There were 9 or 10 of these rooms in this "long house."  In front of this building was the net drying shed with the area in front of each room being the drying space for the member that occupied that room.  Bill and Darlene used this building as their house with one room for a kitchen, one for a living room, one for the bedroom, one for a guest bedroom, one for storage, etc.  And they used the net drying shed as their " front porch."

The "front porch" with net drying racks in the background

From their "front porch", Bill and Darlene had a commanding view of Beaver Slough, Wallace Island, and the Eagle Cliff area on the Washington side of the river.  Bill would sit here and watch the river traffic and the wild life.  If you were a friend, he could see you coming while you were miles away and would come out and greet you in his skiff.  "Follow me in," he would say.

The view (north) from the "porch" with another net shed in the background

We spent a wonderful afternoon with Bill and Darlene.  The buildings had been left without maintenance for some time and were in a state of disrepair.  And according to Bill, the co-op members only did the repairs necessary to get by another season with no attention to long range planning.  Some of the structures were beyond saving and had to be demolished, but what remained had the look and feel of something out of another century.

A great book that provides a glimpse of the life on the river in the early 1900's is "Reach of Tide, Ring of History" by the late Sam McKinney.  McKinney spent time in his youth in one of the now abandoned villages--Chinookville, Frankfort, Knappton, and Cliffton.  He built a small, wooden boat and beginning at the mouth of the Columbia, travels up river as far as the tidal influence (Bonneville) telling the story of his youth and his memories of the past.

This was just the first part of a week's vacation filled with surprises.  Next:  The "Beauty and the Beast."  (One of the most beautiful places on earth and a dastardly error.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Welcome! Newbie blogger here.

Welcome all. I purchased WhiskyJack in the spring of 2004, and was moored in Sydney, BC.  That summer was spent cruising the Gulf Islands and getting acquainted with the vessel.  In the fall of 2004 we trucked WJ to our home waters, the Columbia River, and took moorage a few miles from our house on Multnomah Channel.  

We made very few changes to WJ in the first years.  One of the first changes that was made was converting the galley stove from kerosene to alcohol.  The the use of my trusty computer, I searched the world over looking for alcohol burners.  I knew that a burner was made that used alcohol that was the same form-factor to the kerosene burner that was in the stove.  I was unable to find a pair anywhere, even though I found a company in England that specialized in these burners.  I then went on a search of used alcohol stoves via eBay until I found an old used stove that had the burners I wanted.  By switching to alcohol fuel, I was able to use the Force 10 stove but get rid of the awful smell and sooty residue from the old burners.  We are still using this set-up but I am considering moving from a pressurized alcohol stove to a non-pressurized like an Origo 3000.

I'm going to sign-off for now, but I encourage readers to comment and/or offer suggestions.