Open heart surgery (part II)

Magic happens when I’m out dancing!

In the last few weeks, while I was indulging my parallel life as a dance addict (3 classes and 3 social dancing events of salsa, bachata, kizomba, tango and african dance in the last week alone), Thomas has been hard at work, coordinating and finalising the install of our new marinised Lister Petter engine. And on Sunday, when I was out (needless to say dancing, to wrap up a frustrating week-end of domestic chores, and witnessing a couple of failed attempts at adjusting the throttle control which took almost a day each), he texted me saying “it’s done!”. Of course I shared his excitement from a distance, nevertheless I had to hear it for myself, so, when I got back at 10:30pm, I didn’t wait for the morning and switched it on to check. Then we could celebrate.

I feel guilt and shame (emotions I now know to be on the lowest end of the spectrum of human consciousness according to Dr. Hawkins, as quoted in a workshop at NZ Spirit Fest) for my lack of involvement, but hey, at least I wasn’t much in the way, and nor were the kids who were at a holiday camp for the best part of last week.

Here is the new engine arriving a couple of days before Thomas’ birthday all suitably wrapped up, and all the action I missed as I was snorkeling in Kelly Tarlton’s fish tank in an attempt to tame my fear of sharks:

It took a few extra weeks to find time between the mechanics and us to:

  • adjust the mounts to fix it to the boat
  • connect the new dashboard
  • change the fuel lines entirely (which involved cutting new paths for the bigger pipes and switching to two returns instead of one, allowing us to run on one tank only should the need arise)
  • clean the hardly accessible fuel tanks (an entire Wednesday night squatting on the floor equipped with a dish brush circlipped to a wooden stick, a funnel, a bottle of kerosene and a Alemlube pump, and head torches, transferring all the fuel from one tank to the other, trying to dilute and ‘vacuum’ all the dirt at the bottom, and repeating the operation for the second tank)
  • get new fuel filters, from a friend who, bless serendipity, happens to be one of the biggest clients for this brand of engines and add some spares
  • manufacture and install a bracket to mount the new fuel filters
  • fix the electricity (the first time they tried to start the engine the engine battery wouldn’t work while the switch to emergency paralleling blew a fuse)
  • switch and adjust the two alternators
  • manufacture and install a new exhaust
  • add priming pumps on each fuel line
  • adjust the throttle control (final tweaks done last night while I was out dancing, again, to make sure the idle position was at reasonable low rev)
Overview of the mess when working on the fuel lines…

It’s been a long time coming, but after three months of forced sedentary life, the gaping hole in the engine room is no longer, and Obelix is all set to go out to sea again!!!

Who’s keen for a celebration sail on Sunday?

Obelix open heart surgery (part I)

Or how to extract an inboard engine in 30 steps.

Equipment

  • CRC/WD40
  • Spanners
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill
  • Grinder
  • Crowbar
  • Chain-block x2
  • Lashings x2
  • Wooden blocks
  • Straps with ratchet x2
  • Sacrificial towels
  • Dan (a friend with lots of equipment borrowed from his boat builder dad, it helps, a lot)
  • Patience
  • Time: 10 hours (excl. prep work the days before)

STEPS

  1. Remove all secondary bits from the engine block while still in place (injector pump, )
  2. Spray CRC/WD40 on bolts holding the engine to the gearbox and hull – every evening during the week preceding the operation
  3. Wake up early-ish
  4. Put on blue overalls, ready to roll
  5. Loosen the bolts that needs undone (easier said than done, fortunately no knuckles were harmed in the process)
  6. Build a structure to secure the gearbox (horizontal beam fixed to holds screwed on the engine room walls)
  7. Secure the gearbox so that it doesn’t collapse when free from the engine (using the aforementioned structure, strap, and wooden blocks)
  8. Remove bolts on gearbox (x12) and screws fixing the engine legs to the boat (x8)
  9. THINK
  10. Grind the one bolt that refuses to give (near miss: a towel used as rag nearly caught fire)
  11. Jump in the car to get Dan’s scaffolding equipment stored in our friend Gaspar’s garden
  12. Build a makeshift crane in the cockpit
  13. THINK
  14. Jump in the car and rush to the nearest construction site to collect some additional wooden bits to brace the scaffolding with diagonal beams.
  15. Secure the engine to the chain-block
  16. THINK
  17. Move the engine horizontally front to back to come free of the gearbox shaft (involves crowbar)
  18. Lift the engine through the cockpit hatch
  19. Remove cockpit awning and metallic structure holding it
  20. Slide engine backwards rolling the metallic tubes
  21. Rotate engine sideways
  22. Build a second makeshift crane hanging from the boom for transfer on the pier (using main halyard + jib halyard as backup, and reef line used as out-haul)
  23. Wait for the rain to pass (includes preparing and drinking hot chocolate, and ordering some takeaway pizza in anticipation of the evening celebration)
  24. THINK
  25. Secure engine to the second crane
  26. Put back engine room lid
  27. Lift engine enough to clear cockpit walls and winch
  28. Push boom to the side
  29. Lower engine in trolley
  30. CELEBRATE!

Once again I couldn’t hold my cry of elation when the whole operation ended successfully. Dan’s family heard us a few piers away and immediately joined the party, followed by our friend Max (who conveniently came to offer his help once everything was over ;P). I escaped to get our pizzas, which must have been waiting to be collected for a good couple of hours (I was resolutely optimistic about the time it would to complete the job). And as I returned with our large luke warm Il Giardino and Sotto il Mare (from Toni’s), and our kids who had spent most of the day watching cartoons and playing computer games in the marina lounge, we were offered extra pieces of pizza left over by our pier neighbour Rod. We must have been hungry by then (~7pm) as the pizzas all disappeared in a flash, while Dan and Max were busy discussing Classic Yacht Association related stuff…