Some friends have remarked that it's been a little quiet on this front lately, not only with the blog, but with Facebook too. The reason is that lots of things are coming together here as we are within three weeks of a scheduled departure.
Swing Set was launched after bottom painting eight days ago on the Monday after Easter. Two weeks of sitting in the boatyard left a fine film of dust and dirt on the boat that I rinsed off after securing Swing Set in her slip. The pollen in the air up here in Missouri is the largest contributor to a dirty boat this time of year, covered slip or not. Boats don't stay clean more than a couple of days, but the green tint doesn't stain and washes off easily. A thorough washing was planned for the upcoming weekend.
Karl Kotraba met me early the next morning armed with parts. Karl brought V-belts for the main engines and the generator. He also had impellers, wear plates, and cams for the raw water pumps on the main engines and another rebuild kit for the generator pump. The impeller puller I bought was useless because the T-handle wouldn't fit between the pump and other parts on the engine, but Karl had his own puller and offered a suggestion as to how to make my puller work in the future. While watching Karl climb in and out of tight places around our Caterpillars, it occurred to me that the chances of my actually making use of an impeller puller of any type is fairly slim. There were several vanes on all three pumps that were missing, but were searched for and found in the inlet to the heat exchangers. Those impellers were about 3 years old with only about 300 hours on them, so notes were made in my maintenance log.
I had cleaned the K-N air filters on the Walker Air-Seps before Karl arrived by soaking the filter elements in a bucket of Oxyclean, much cheaper than the filter cleaning kit that I made the mistake of buying one time. Once the elements were rinsed off and dried, a coating of air filter oil was applied and the filters were re-installed when all the other work was complete.
We had the main engine hatches open to allow for easier access to everything and I was able to learn a few things about our engines by watching Karl at work, along with his patient explanation of the things I found to question him about.
The V-belts were mostly original, over 16 years old with over 1400 hours. We have all new ones now with a set of spares. Pumps are now virtually brand new, again with spare impellers onboard. New raw water hoses were installed, cut from a large roll that Karl brought with him.
The engine zincs were all in good shape except for a couple that had broken. The broken parts were easily fished out. Checking the zincs at least monthly will be the plan, and plenty of spares will be on hand in case we aren't near a good supplier. Access to the zincs is very good, so this won't be a chore.
I was left own my own the next day where I set to work rearranging some components in the engine room. I pulled out the accumulator tank (a pressure tank for the fresh water system), a box that holds two five gallon containers for oil changes, and both fresh water pumps. I had replaced one of the fresh water pumps about two years ago, and it was in fine shape once I cleaned out the strainer on the inlet of the pump. The other pump was original and was toast.
I ordered another pump so that both were the same; this allows for a better fit for the installation and also the circuit breakers will also be the same.
With these items pulled out, I was able to access the trim tab pump and oil reservoir and top it off with a few ounces of ATF, something I've only had to do once in eight years. Trim tabs don't get much use when the majority of the time we're running at displacement speeds.
I had built a bracket for the accumulator tank last year, but it was too tall for where I now wanted to put it. I modified the bracket and installed it back towards the hull sides, but left room to still access the trim tab reservoir when needed. I constructed a mounting board to place the fresh water pumps closer to the middle of the engine room so I could access them and clean the inlet strainers on a regular basis. To make room to move the pumps, I made brackets to place over the engine shaft seals, still with enough room to easily see the dripless shaft seals, but very easily removable to install new seals if needed. One of these brackets hold those two five gallon containers, and the other one holds engine oil and coolant to use during regular checks in the engine room.
This work took place over the course of two days, allowing time for me to contemplate and plan, the result being a hopefully well thought out placement of components that require regular attention.
I spent a full day or two at home, during which I finalized our "move" to Florida, filling out forms for Florida residency and activating our mail forwarding account with St. Brendan's Isle. I also contacted a State Farm agent in Green Cove Springs and bought a non-owner auto policy that will cover our liability when we rent or borrow a vehicle. As of May 1st, we'll be "car less" for the first time in over 41 years for me.
This time at home included some much needed couch time for me and Holly, as she had been neglected for longer than she is used to since we brought her home in December. My aching back needed some R and R too.
We were back to the boat on Friday night, loaded with plumbing parts to hook up the fresh water pumps and to plumb the water maker. I had previous used J-B Weld to attach some fittings to a drain and supply for the water maker and had good solid mounts for the water lines when I attacked that project early on Saturday morning. This project was not technically hard, but access to areas that I had to get to in order to route hose wasn't easy. I found good use of a pair of those "grabber" devices that they sell for older folks to reach things off the top shelf at the grocery store. Things dropped in the remote corners of the bilge are no longer given up to the bilge gods with one of these devices on hand.
My hose routing was interrupted by other chores too. I started the day by removing each set of Racor fuel filters so that I could trim down the mounting boards for them. This allowed easier access to areas behind each board; the hot water heater is behind one, and a battery bank and holding tank is behind another. I continued to run hose to the water maker as each coat of paint dried on the Racor mounting boards where I had hacked them off with the jigsaw. In between all this, I had to make a run to the auto parts store for a fuel line fitting that I needed. Make that three auto parts stores. It wasn't until I was at Advanced Auto that I was told that it would be doubtful that any auto parts store would have what I needed, but would easily be found at the hardware store. I was going there anyway, so I got the part cheaper, but the whole process took two hours out of my day.
I finished up for the day as darkness fell on Saturday evening. With no water onboard with the pumps not presently installed, I made use of the showers at the Duck Club as Rosie made a couple of the best steaks I ever ate in our convection oven on Swing Set. It was fairly quiet on the dock that evening, as our dock mates partied it up pretty good the night before, but we relaxed after dinner with a couple of beers and turned in early and enjoyed a quiet nights sleep at the dock instead of our preferred choice of on the hook.
I finished up what I could in the engine room on Sunday morning and by mid-morning it was time for a break. Rosie volunteered to give Swing Set a good bath and I was glad to comply and make myself scarce. Before I left, I pulled out the cockpit seat and scrubbed the cockpit floor with Soft Scrub, then I grabbed a beer and went to visit with some other Duck Club members.
As Rosie finished up and we thought we might go for a spin, rain moved in and we gathered around the dock with several dock mates and various passers by. The next best thing besides boating is sitting around talking about boating, and Sunday afternoon was spent doing plenty of that and telling other lies. As the afternoon wore on, a bunch of us decided to descend upon the Duck Club to catch the end of the Cardinal game and have dinner. A big old bacon cheeseburger along with tater tots from the Duck Club goes a long way to soak up a few Bud Lights. We treated ourselves in this manner after a couple of very productive days working on the boat and turned in fairly early so Rosie could start her last week of work, and then we'll move onto the boat full time by the end of this week.
I have to finish up plumbing the fresh water pumps this week and then we start moving the last of our clothing and computer equipment onto the boat. We'll stop by the condo for the last time next week before we leave it in the hands of a new real estate agent that we are employing, before we get on our way to our lawyers office for some last minute legal matters and a doctor's visit for Rosie.
We're confident that the burden of not having a vehicle anymore will be more than offset by the regular tranquility of life on the hook. I may find myself forgetting how to drive; Rosie says I already have.