Copyright (c) Marc Dacey/Dark Star Media unless otherwise indicated. Above photo (c) Marc Dacey. Powered by Blogger.

2013-03-21

Product preview: Think this might be useful on a boat?

Like so many evil things, it worked.
This is Scotch-Gard, and like it says on the can, it's a "heavy duty water repellent". It used to be quite common to see people set up a tent on a sunny day and spray the hell out of it with a can of this. And it worked. The other place you could see cans of it flashing in the sun was over biminis and dodgers in spring as it would waterproof all but the most ragged of "cockpit cloth", and would do a fair job making cheapo nylon jackets imitate Gore-Tex or other miracle water-resistent "high-tech" gear. You'd have to get closer than a boat-length to realize you were looking at at $20 Boat Show special instead of Gill Offshore Whathaveyou sweltering under new Sunbrella.

Turns out, however, that the various formulations of Scotch-Gard weren't great for the environment or, likely, for human health, and it was phased out...although it is still available for sale in many places, which is somewhat of a mockery of the process.

While alternatives to Scotch-Gard exist under the category of durable water repellents, some are very expensive and do not either work well or last particularly long. Others can compromise the breathability of clothing, which is something people pay big bucks for, particularly in foul-weather gear.

Throw in the nicest Spinlock DeckVest and we are cresting $1,300 and you still have a bare ass.

So when I came across this somewhat surreal video...


...I had to look more closely. "Ultra Ever Dry" is the product of an industrial firm that seems to specialize in oil spill containment, absorbent pads and decontamination of the type required when the trainload of peanut oil hits the abbatoir at speed. Apparently, it's superhydrophobic, a term I only grasp thanks to being one of four kids taking Latin in high school. I find it significant that it's some sort of industrial goo that's got nearly 5,000,000 YouTube views.

Just watch the video. I won't spoil it for you. I will just say that if this stuff really works as shown, and won't give you buboes atop of tumours, or children with sunroofs and gills, it could be an incredibly useful product all around the average cruising boat. That's a place where, as you might assume, things are always getting wet.

2013-03-19

Propositioning, or getting a right shafting, Part 2

Machinations and fabrications, it's all getting done aboard the beached steel whale known as Alchemy. This proper update is primarily pictorial, most of this tending toward the self-explanatory.

Measure for measure, this bargain digital micrometer has been very useful
Keen-eyed followers of this record of minor achievement may recall that I needed a different Aquadrive-to-engine flange adapter plate, as I had gone and changed engines. These sort of things can happen when one buys boat gear three or four years out of sync with the actual completion of specific systems. Eh, je ne regrette rien.

The new adapter plate, obtained at a turn your head and cough price from the efficient and knowledgeable Brent of Mermaid Marine of Charlottetown, PEI, proved sufficiently Germanic in its honed exactitude to pass the penultimate fitting, of the dry kind. But a number of processes had to come to fruition before a real live welder was brought in to lay the strong seams.

For one, the engine stringer stages had to be fabricated.
A bridge over troubled bilges.
...and laid in place...

Yes, this will be cleaned, primed and painted. All of it.
Then the engine had to be flown and "blocked" with planks designed to stop (or at least slow) its descent should the chain fail fail during the welder's labours noted in a recent post.

Only apparently half-assed: This reinforcement has raised and lowered the engine a few dozen times with nary a creak.
In order to raise the engine above the level of the pilothouse floor, which itself was necessary to place planking under it and give maximum scope to anyone working in the engine bay, some modifications were made to raise the cross-beam about one foot higher than originally designed.

Not seen is how damn frosty and windy that day was. Or indeed most of days during which this work has been done. Boo-freakin' hoo. I'm Canadian. It's character building, this boat building.

The touch-up colour for Beta Marine engines is Plasti-Kote Enamel 209. Now you know.

That one-belted double wheel is the "double power take-off" custom selected for this engine. It will enable either two smaller alternators to be run (redundancy) or one alternator and an engine-driven compressor or bilge pump.

Reaming the cutlass bearing. Like most boat related activities, it sounds like nasty slang from a drama set in a particularly grim prison.
Getting the new Aquamet 22 shaft in was enough of a two-man trial that myself and the redoubtable Captain Matt have renewed confidence in the integrity of the Thordon Elastomeric cutlass bearing getting oiled up in the previous shot. There's plenty of life left in it to judge by its reassuring lack of play.


As for this shaft, it's arguably the strongest thing aboard.

Back inside, the engine mounts looked "dry-fit OK".

Thanks to the four-inch tall stringers, there's plenty of clearance below the oil pan and above the as-yet unplumbed and somewhat provisional day tank.

One minor difficulty was resolved by the removal of the lowest pilothouse companionway step, which will be hinged shortly in order to allow fabricated engine bay doors to open along the entire length of the engine bay opening.

Now you see it...

...now you don't. The bungees hold the tongue and groove trim over the steel bulkhead in place.

The needed adapter arrived and was found Aquaquate, so to speak.

Adaptation of the species
After that pricy little item went on, we had to slip on the Packless Sealing System, confusingly and redundantly frequently called the "PSS Shaft Seal". The principles on which this popular device operates are well known enough that I won't recount them here, but the important bit for the novice to grasp is that this replaces the traditional flax-string stuffing box, which is the only barrier between the sea and the interior of the boat via the prop shaft's "tunnel".

I could grow fond of the accordion.
Traditional stuffing boxes must drip as part of their operation. PSSes do not. On a steel boat, this is desirable and worth the cost of purchase.


Set-screws on the shiny part against which the "bellows" of the PSS presses are a touch unusual in that they are stacked one atop the other. I have to obtain spares of these little hex bolts should I ever, Neptune forbid, have to disassemble any of this stuff.

After the welding came the drilling and the fitting. If this process seems excruciating, time-intensive and laborious, it's because it is. The idea is to line up the new engine on its new mounts and stringers with the old shaft log (and the new shaft, new prop, etc.) as if it was a solid coupling. The Aquadrive is there to mitigate vibration, to isolate shock loads from shifting on the transmission, and to allow "play" in the engine's drivetrain so that wear is greatly lessened on the component parts.

This means the Aquadrive installers must "zero in" on the initial alignment just as with a more traditional boat drivetrain installation. Another parameter that has to be addressed is the proper torquing down of the bolts that connect the shaft to the "yoke hub" and the CV joint to it and the engine's flange.

The old prop serves an unaccustomed purpose.
This is done with the prop shaft held in place in a somewhat unusual fashion. The old prop and some F-clamped lengths of wood served to keep the shaft still while the bolting down of the part of the Aquadrive that grips the (non-keyed) shaft end happened.

Torquing about a revolution.
Lest it appear in these photos that I am restoring a rusted-out wreck, most of the visible rust here is actually superficial waste from previous grinding operations. There's little point in removing it until it's warm enough to paint in, I hope, April.

Thus endeth the dry-fitting.
What follows is me finalling the alignment (see Part 3...yes, really) by using a bevel and tiny, tiny movements of the heavy engine until I feel confident that I can scribe drill marks atop the stringers. Then up goes the motor again, down goes the drill and in go the engine mounting bolts.

Is this my good side?

There's no point in putting on the new prop and Shaft Shark or indeed painting all this until it's all aligned to an obsessive level of precision, or to whatever level of which I am capable. Then back goes Mister Rudder. There's a day tank to create and a new instrument panel and engine controls (and some provision for temporary fuel and batteries) to install next. Seems a lot of work to drive to a dock all summer, but such are the baby steps of Adventures in Refitting.