Saturday, 24 March 2012

Engine Adventures

Hi all,
Another busy month with more preparations for our departure from the marina in May.  More on that below.

We had one week with lots of rain courtesy of a wannabe cyclone which crossed the coast well SW of Darwin.  Since then the monsoon trough has disappeared and there's talk that could have been the last heavy rain of the season.  We'll see.  The mornings certainly seem to be cooler.

The most important work we've been doing recently relates to our trusty Yanmar 3GM30F diesel.  The engine was installed by the first owners in South America in about 1990.  She seems to have been well looked after but we thought we'd give her a good look-over before departure.  As mentioned in the preceding blog we had purchased a set of spares.

New raw water pump
The spares included new starter motor / solenoid assembly, water pump and mixing elbow.  The first two we installed ourselves since they are readily accessible.  The new starter motor made a huge difference to starting the motor!

New mixing elbow
Today the local Yanmar mechanic from ShipStores checked and adjusted the tappets, removed the injectors for service, and removed the old mixing elbow.  The elbow was severely blocked, with only about 1/4 of the cross-section still clear.  The exhaust pipe was about 1/2 blocked so he removed the exhaust manifold, and found the passages from the engine block to the manifold were about 1/3 blocked too.  We'll replace the elbow and clean the others.  We should have a lot more power once this is fixed!

Old exhaust pipe 50% blocked
Old exhaust ports 1/3 blocked
The mechanic checked the compression of the cylinders and they seem to be OK.  The anodes were checked too and were fine.

All in all, I'm glad I reread Nigel Calder's book "Marine Diesel Engines" and took his excellent advice!

The engine hasn't been the only "adventure" we've had recently.  We've also...
  • Compiled an inventory of (so far) 500 items stowed aboard
  • Checked and topped-up the First Aid kit
  • Updated the boat manual
  • Scanned all equipment manuals and other paperwork, and disposed of the paper!
  • Removed u/s ST40 Wind instrument
  • Mounted diesel jerry cans on side decks
  • Fitted lights in the engine compartment
  • Reorganised cockpit locker stowage
  • Loaded bags of cold weather clothing to put into storage
About one month to go before we escape the marina!

Hope all's well where you are.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

B-52s, Ducks and Antennas

Hi everyone,
February was a busy month with both of us hard at work increasing the cruising kitty.  We did get out to visit the Darwin Aviation Heritage Museum, monitored the rapid growth of the resident duck family and did a little boat work.

The museum has one of few B-52s outside the US, a Sabre fighter, many other aircraft and lots of interesting exhibits (for those interested in aviation of course).

B52 cockpit
A family of ducks is doing well this year in the marina.  Apparently last year none of the ducklings survived.  This year there are still six of the original nine (or so).  Amazing how fast they grow.

Aside from all this fun we've been working on the boat.  Recent achievements include:
  • had gas piping replaced after the regulator was destroyed by break-down of the lining of the old gas line;
  • installed aquapanel "whiteboard" in the navstation (very useful those headliner offcuts!);
  • built and installed wooden boards to secure jerry cans of diesel on the side decks;
  • mounted a new set of galley knives inside a galley locker door (nice solution to that problem!);
  • received a Comar Systems NMEA-2-WIFI unit to relay instrument data to our iPad/laptop; 
  • installed and tested the OpenCPN navigation software package on our Mac OS X laptop;
  • received a set of spares for our Yanmar engine from Diesel Engine Parts in Sydney;
  • built and installed an antenna cross-connect panel; and 
  • sorted out insurance for our 2012 cruising overseas.
The antenna cross-connect allows us to connect our four antennas (HF backstay, HF whip, masthead VHF antenna and pushpit VHF antenna) to our four radios (HF transceiver, HF DSC receiver, VHF transceiver and all-band receiver).

Oh yes, we also bought a labelling machine!  :)

It's been darn hot in Darwin recently.  NSW and Victoria seem to have stolen our wet season.  Our $50 air-conditioner is wearing out.  It occasionally sounds like an old car's worn-out differential.  We have to WD40 the fan motor bearings frequently.  Hopefully it will last another month!

Two months to go until the cyclone season's over and we can finally escape the marina and go sailing again - can't wait!

Hope all's well where you are.