Engine Love in the Fall

It’s been a couple of months since I have written about Satori. The last sailing trip was in October, for Race Your House. Between September and October I had some of my favorite days on the water. I did a solo run down to Blake Island to raft up with some friends, then did a little spinnaker run to prepare for the only race Satori has been in since I bought her. Now that it’s blowing gales and snowing in the mountains, I have a little break to talk about project season.

Satori and her crew sailing in the Race Your House Regatta
Satori and her crew sailing in the Race Your House Regatta. Photo by Mark Aberle, copied from Off the Coast of Ballard.
Race Your House 2015 - photo by Gary Peterson
Race Your House 2015 – photo by Gary Peterson

The first topic is the jiffy reefing system. I’ve never been a fan of how she’s rigged. You generally want to be on a starboard tack when reefing the mainsail with the existing setup. Otherwise you’ll be on the leeward side of the boom when pulling the clew cringle down. Usually when you’re reefing the wind has picked up enough to buck the boat bit. The first reef isn’t too bad, but the second reef is a ride that is better suited on the windward side of the mast when reefing. I decided to focus on the engine this fall and winter, and since Satori was out of commission I could also work on her boom. The day after the race, I took all of her sails down and put them in a dry place until I’m finished. I also took the boom off and stripped all of the hardware off so I could work on it alongside of the engine project. I plan to add winches and run lines to both sides of the boom, through rope clutches to make reefing much easier.

Showing a single reef with the clew cringle crossing over to eliminate the friction caused by the sail bunching up under the reefing line
Showing a single reef with the clew cringle line crossing over to eliminate the friction caused by the sail bunching up under the reefing line. This will be eliminated with the new setup.

Satori’s engine was installed by Stewarts Marine here in Ballard. The day the owners motored away with the new Bukh DV 36 was on June 6th, 1986. By June 2016, Satori’s engine will be thirty years old. When I bought Satori, she had a little more than five-hundred hours on the engine which is not much at all, but she was showing signs of severe corrosion on the starboard side of the engine. This was from weeping of seawater due to worn seals on the impeller water pump, and some poorly sealed hoses. To recap the amount of work I have already completed… The original water lift muffler had some pinholes that was causing it to corrode. The old Racor filter looked a bit old and I wasn’t able to find any replacement filters any longer. The original fuel lines were also starting to leak due to plastic fittings wearing out and hose that was at it’s final days. I addressed the fuel lines first. Later I added a new muffler. I lost part of the summer sailing last year due to an oil pipe bursting. I placed an order from Bukh for the new parts, which took the better part of a month. Since then I have only replaced the oil and fuel filters, plus made an attempt to reduce the corrosion by spraying solvents onto the effected area. I’m sure that addressing it sooner would have been better, but I put other projects in front of the line until the fall weather settled in. Now that we have periods of monsoon rains and cold temperatures, I can finally address the issues once and for all. Instead of just replacing the water pump, I decided to replace the entire cooling system and service the parts that remain in good condition. It may seem hard to believe but I am really enjoying this project.

Showing the corrosion and original oil pipe prior to repair in 2014
Showing the corrosion and original oil pipe prior to repair in 2014
Engine block and mount prior to cleaning the iron oxide
Engine block and mount prior to cleaning the iron oxide
Beginning of the clean up project
Beginning of the clean up project with attempts to extract the rusted bolts.

I started by removing all hoses, rubber end caps, pipes, heat exchangers, water pump, and anything else related to the cooling system. I was a little concerned that I would not be able to find replacement parts, but I was relieved to find all of the parts available in the US and UK via mail order. The first thing to address while I wait for parts delivery is the corroded engine mount. The bolts attached to the mounting bracket were heavily corroded, and possibly bonded to the engine. I began scraping and brushing away the iron oxide until I could see the shiny steel underneath. I started to turn the first bolt head, but it would not budge, and ended up stripping the bolt even more. While I was working on the engine mount, I decided to take a look at the front engine mounts to see the difference. When I looked at the bracket I realized that the bolts had completely sheared away, leaving the bracket disconnected from the block. This was an unexpected situation and needed to be addressed immediately. I removed the front mounting bracket which revealed the sheared bolts. Fortunately I had enough space to work on drilling out the bolts. Over the next week I proceeded to drill out the first bolt and remove it with an extractor. The second one would not come out with soaked aero-kroil or torch, so I drilled it out and tapped it for installing a heli-coil. I double stacked two coils and added Loctite to keep the bolt torqued down.

Engine mount sheared bolts
Engine mount sheared bolts
Using an extractor to remove a sheared bolt
Using an extractor to remove a sheared bolt
Cleaned mounting bracket and new bolts with heli-coil
Cleaned mounting bracket and new bolts with heli-coil

After the unexpected distraction I moved onto the oil coolant pipes, front mounting bracket, and heat exchangers. I brought them into a machine shop so they could soak everything in a hot tank. Hopefully it would strip most of the paint off and clean the steel parts a bit. In hindsight I should have just used  phosphoric acid to clean them due to the expensive price of $45 for bathing. I took the parts to a wire brush on the end of a drill to bring the parts down to mostly bare metal again. After seeing the oil heat exchanger transform into a shiny brass lantern, I bought some high-temp clear paint to allow the brass to keep shining. The coolant pipes and engine mount were painted red after a coat of ospho for converting the surface oxide to a ready-to-paint surface . I was able to work another corroded engine block bolt out and replace it as well. I ordered some new custom hoses, heat exchanger end caps, and put the water pump on order. The turn around time is apparently a month and a half before the pump is delivered to the parts dealer here in Seattle. Until then I’ve decided to clean up the engine and repaint part of it where the water pump has caused severe corrosion. I have also decided to find a drain for the stainless steel water lift muffler. I received a brass plug when I had the muffler fabricated, but that has since corroded severely. After only one and a half years I’m already repairing the plug to allow the seawater to drain easily into the bilge. I will keep working on preparing the engine for painting by removing corrosion, and cleaning the surface back down to bare metal again. Some areas will receive just a little touchup paint, but others will be prepped with ospho and then painted over with a couple of coats of red krylon rattle can paint. I sent the oil in to have analyzed so I can keep an eye on the level of iron and calcium in the oil. I should have a good sense of the amount of degradation that is to be expected with the piston compression based on how fast it’s loosing metal. Three samples over the next year can tell me how much I should be concerned.

Cooling system parts after removing from the engine
Cooling system parts after removing from the engine
Oil heat exchanger before cleaning
Oil heat exchanger before cleaning
Oil heat exchanger after polishing
Oil heat exchanger after polishing
The seawater heat exchanger looks surprisingly good considering the age of it. Not much needed to get this cleaned up.
The seawater heat exchanger looks surprisingly good considering the age of it. Not much needed to get this cleaned up.

The next phase will be removing the rear mounting bracket, and getting it repaired or replaced with a new one. Once the engine is cleaned up and painted around the engine mount, I can install the bracket and put the cooling system back together. Although I won’t have repaired all of the corrosion, I will be more confident that it will not continue as it did. The rest of the engine could be cleaned and touched up over time, without worrying about any further damage. It’s a serious challenge to decide where to stop repairing. I have heard several people suggest pulling it out, but that would cost me a considerable amount of money. If I removed it I would need to have someone transport it to somewhere I can work on it. I would need to pay someone to give me the space to work on it, plus a daily rental charge for the engine stand. If I keep the engine inside of the boat I have all of the time that I need to get the engine done. There will be other projects down the road to address some of the foreseen issues. I only need to decide what will be acceptable to leave as is until I have more downtime to address the next corroded part. Hopefully when I post about the engine project completion it will still be 2015. I don’t expect the boom to be finished by then, but that’s okay. I’ll motor to weather and run with the foresails.

The caliper and micrometer are invaluable for taking measurements for getting replacement parts.
The caliper and micrometer are invaluable for taking measurements for getting replacement parts.

Lazy Jacks

I took the new mainsail on a sea trial across to Port Madison. We were hoping to tie up to the tribal dock in Suquamish but we did not have enough room to be on the protected side of the dock. Winds and waves were building and what should have been a pizza and beer moment ended up being a let’s hurry home moment. A gale warning began at 6pm and we had an hour before things became unmanageable. Quickly we untied the lines, secured the sails and pointed it towards Shilshole with the motor pushing us along. The more exposed part of the Puget Sound channel had wind gusts to 35 knots and seas were big enough to warrant a lookout for breaking seas and big waves. Spray was constant and thankfully much of it was coming right on the bow and hitting the dodger but in order to keep us heading eastward we needed to expose ourselves to the wind and waves. I was hit several times with more than just spray. Once we made it to the other side, the winds did not let up so getting into the slip took more than one attempt. Coming from the north I did not want to commit to the turn so I passed the lane, turned around at the fuel dock and then attempted it from downwind. We pulled up to the dock and struggled to tie up the boat. Satori was safe and I rode out the winds from inside of the protected marina. Due to the level of concentration, I did not have a moment to spare to snap photos of the big waves.

New lazy jacks installed
New lazy jacks installed

One important part of upgrading the mainsail is setting a flaking pattern so that the sail retains a memory and is easier to flake on top of the mast every time. The previous mainsail did not really have such a pattern but the sail was also much lighter and quite a bit softer than the new one. When including full battens, it is imperative to align the sail and be able to flake it singlehandedly. Getting a new sail also meant offering a new means to secure the sail to the boom. I personally like sail ties as this keeps it secured but easy to deploy without too much work. I decided to choose lazy jacks to simplify the flaking process and also did some research on the best choice for materials and arrangement for the lines. Most sails employ eye straps that are secured to the boom but the Schattauer way is to add rings on four of the slugs at the foot of the sail instead. So instead of using the eye straps on the boom, I attach directly to the sail. Satori already had tangs up above for lazy jacks so I just needed the lines, some cleats, blocks and some rings. I found a new way that Brion Toss seems to like by using twelve-strand Dyneema; Amsteel since they are very low friction, easy to splice and really strong. I bought two-hundred feet of 1/8″ white Amsteel and two-hundred feet of 3/16″ yacht braid for the lines, two Harken carbon blocks, two Antal low friction rings and four Ronstan Shocks. The Shocks are also low friction rings but they are tiny, really strong and cheap. The whole setup cost about $250 and also leaves me with some extra line to play with. The yacht braid is spliced to the Antal rings, then two of the Shocks are on either end of the first lower Amsteel fork. Amsteel then threads through the two Shocks and then attaches to the slug rings using soft shackles. The system is a hybrid of Brion’s system but uses a slightly different attachment and also employs the low friction rings. The yacht braid is cleated to the belay pin rails with a small friction cleat to keep the lines away from the mast. Personally I think this setup is simple but also very effective. You could probably modify any sail for the attachments. You will also need tangs up above to attach the blocks to. I was fortunate to already have them ready to use.

Lazy jacks mast blocks
Lazy jacks mast blocks

Here is my suggested inventory to install lazy jacks:

  • 8 soft shackles using 1/8″ amsteel, approx 16′ (24″ each shackle)
  • 4 Ronstan Shocks
  • 2 Antal low friction rings, 7mm
  • lashing twine and a large needle
  • lower lines are 1/8″ amsteel, approx 150′
  • upper lines are 3/16″ yacht braid, approx 100′
  • 2 small jam cleats with eye guides

The lashing twine is the splice the yacht braid to the low friction rings. I opted to eye splice the core and then thread the sheath into the other side, then lash them together to hold the ring in place and provide enough tension to ensure the top ring never breaks free. Given the choice, I would rather have used a twelve-strand core double braid to make the splice easier. I did test the strength of the splice and it seems to be more than strong enough. Flaking the sail seems to be much more straightforward. Once the sail is flaked and tied up, the low friction rings are secured to the sail’s halyard grommet. The deploy again, you simply disconnect the rings and pull the lines tight. Once the sail is raised, back off the leeward side to make sure there is no chafe on the sail and again.

Ronstan Shocks and Amsteel for the lower jacks
Ronstan Shocks and Amsteel for the lower jacks
Cleat for the yacht braid on the belay pin rail
Cleat for the yacht braid on the belay pin rail
Soft shackle connection to the sail slug
Soft shackle connection to the sail slug
Sail is flaked and top rings secured, ready for canvas
Sail is flaked and top rings secured, ready for canvas

Project Season

There are so many projects on the eternal to-do list that only budget or weather determines the priorities for Satori. It’s time to settle into the fall-winter-spring seasons where storms roll through to cool and dampen the air. I’m not struggling to keep the boat’s interior dry. The forced air heater blows the forward berth dry while the small oil heater in the settee keeps the main cabin dry. Together they work to eliminate mildew and damp air. Combined with the hot water tank, they are also the largest consumers of electricity from the 110 volt shore power circuit. Last year I prioritized the hot water system and it has proven invaluable now but I decided to leave out a major advantage to a marine hot water tank. I discovered that the hot water tank contained a heating element which is designed to be connected to the engine’s cooling system, using the coolant tank for the air expansion system. I thought about the idea of plumbing the engine to the tank but I couldn’t imagine running the engine often enough to warrant the extra project. When I started using the Dickinson diesel stove I realized that a pipe was installed inside of the stove and at some point the hot water tank had been heated using the stove. The only issue was the coil had been broken in half and no longer functioned. Since the connection was made I have been planning on installing the water heating system but it involved a fairly involved and risky installation but I finally figured out how to do it correctly.  It only involves fixing the stove and reconnecting the copper lines to the stove and water heater, plus installing an expansion tank, and a few nice components to ensure a comfortable water temperature. I can run propylene glycol through the system and effectively heat the water heater and reduce the amount of 110 volt electricity I am using.

A couple of interesting books shroud the new expansion tank
A couple of interesting books shroud the new expansion tank

I stopped in at the sail loft to see how the mainsail is coming along. Frank mentioned last week that the sail will likely be completed by this week and although I did not have any expectations, the sail was freshly completed just minutes before I arrived. The unveiling of the first sail in the series is one of the most exciting moments in this refitting project. A new set of sails and a new sail plan improves Satori’s sailing performance considerably. For each new sail also comes new lines and systems to trim, haul and reef. The mainsheet has been repositioned and works great. The halyard will be replaced and I will add lazy jacks to enable the mainsail to be dropped and flaked without the sail falling off the boom. The reefing lines, topping lift and outhaul will be replaced with dyneema and chafe protection used where needed. Frank needs to add the rings in the foot slides so I can rig the lazy jacks before I take it out for a test drive. He seems to be concerned about the battens being a little to flimsy so they may be replaced but otherwise she’s ready to fly.

Mainsail bag
Mainsail bag

battens

Frank unveiling the new mainsail
Frank unveiling the new mainsail
Mainsail tack
Mainsail tack
Mainsail head
Mainsail head

Another interest that has been on my mind since July is the engine cooling system. Since the oil pipe burst and leaked all of the engine oil into the bilge, I thought for a while about the importance of the engine as an important and necessary part of the dependable systems. Although an engine tends to be mainly for getting in and out of a marina but there are exceptions. When the seas are fighting with your sanity, such as when there are no winds. When you need to rescue someone who fell overboard and you know the time limit to a successful rescue. When the batteries need to be charged because the renewable energy is unavailable. Finally when you are fighting a lee shore and loosing, it’s nice to kick the motor on and head into the opposite direction. These seem to be the very things that make an engine safe to have aboard and logically mandatory that it will keep running under any circumstance. A large part of the issues I’m dealing with are mainly the amount of corrosion that the engine will accept before it fails and needs to be replaced. I have a choice to pay an insane amount of money to get a new engine or fix mine to a high level of confidence that it will keep running for another five years. Five years is enough time to discover some interesting places and slow down the amount of money it takes to keep cruising in remote parts of the globe. With all of the upgrades I have completed and the ones yet to come in the next six months, I am looking at a break from spending. The list is still quite long for the important offshore components so the first trips may be without some of the more common offshore components but the engine will be good enough to work well, without as much corrosion. I will begin replacing the cooling system next month which will leave Satori inoperable until the project is complete. I need to replace the water pump and then rebuild the existing one as a backup.

After 50,000 Miles shows Hal collecting rain water from his Schattauer mainsail
After 50,000 Miles shows Hal Roth collecting rain water from his Schattauer mainsail

Once I have upgraded the engine, I should also have some new sails to try out. Unfortunately the jib might have to wait until I can afford the furling system. The staysail will need two new winches and two new tracks along the cabin top. There is a cowl and mushroom vent on either side that could cause an issue with certain sheeting angles but I will fix the issue so I can still sheet the staysail without interference. The new furling system and jib, a new loose-footed staysail, and the new fully-battened mainsail, along with a more dependable engine will be the foundation to a successful sailing adventure. In case you’re wondering about the life of a sail, the legendary Hal Roth once sailed his boat 50,000 miles and wrote about his experiences in a book labeled “After 50,000 miles”. His sails were made by Franz Schattauer and propelled his boat the entire distance. Now it’s my turn. These are my current projects and perhaps the most important part of preparing Satori for offshore sailing.