Monday, 27 April 2015

Fishing for my phone in the bottomless pit of bilge

I wanted to clean the engine bilge before putting back the engine, now its oil leaks are cured.
Belts and belts and braces. Well strapped down on trailer with ratchet straps fore and aft as well. The engine is screwed to he wooden engine barers too.
For some reason I don't understand an Oyster 39 has a 4 foot deep hole under the engine to drop things down. The rest of the bilge is shallow but this goes right down in to the keel. The hole is triangular in cross section and has a confusion of pipes over it including grey water in and out. The grey water tank occupies the bilge forward of the bottomless pit. I was leaning in to it to reach down to get out the much when I heard a plop. My Samsung S4 phone had fallen in the hole. It was waterpoof ad I could still hear it beep but it did not float. Moreover the water at the bottom was to dirty to see it. As I couldn't reach it I thought I would continue pumping and washing in the hope of seeing it. My bilge pump did not manange to get up the last bit of water and now I had foam obscuring it instead of oil.

Retrieved... look its still alive
It began to feel like one of those cave rescue sagas where you could still hear the victim wedged in the cave but the rescuers could not reach them.  The clock was ticking as we had to go home and the engine is being craned in tomorrow. I was wondering if I was going to have to abandon the phone even though it was still alive. I imagined if we inverted in the open ocean and the boat came up with gear everywhere fallen out of lockers the rig damaged but my phone appeared shaken from the bilge.

Several helpful suggestions (and some unhelpful ones) arrived via Facebook and email. The phone pinging from the depths. They also appeared on my work phone and from America Simon suggested duck tape, sticky side out, on the end of he bilge pump.

Sarah, frustrated that she wanted to ge home now joined the fishing expedition. She caught an old screwdriver, the strainer end of the pipe for the manual bilge pump, and eventually she eased he phone up at the narrow end until I could grab it.

The case is a Red Pepper waterproof case for Samsung S4.  I bought it for about £20 in a phone shop in Cardiff. It is rated at 2m for 45 mins. It survived several hours in several tens of cm of oily water and was subjected to a high pressure jet of water too. It dropped about 1.3m into shallow water.  There was a very slight ingress of oil on one of the seals. As a case it is of course a little bulky and the screen does not respond as well as without but it is manageable and I leave the case on most of the time. I usually have big pockets and the case makes it easier to get hold of if anything. There is a special waterproof adapter if you want to use the ear phone jack (I don't). It has a simple flip down lid for the charging socket which is not waterproof. Some micro USB so plugs, not the official Samsung ones, are too fat to go in.  The phone does not float in the case in water.

Lessons learnt include putting some kind of grill over this hole, and fitting a landyard to the phone case (it has a hole). Certainly that would make it easier to fish out!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Engine out for major service

Time to fix the oil leaks that plagued us last year. The beast is a Thornycroft 154, a 2.5L marinized BMC diesel engine. Mine was originally supplied in 1981 by ARS in Norfolk when Tui was made. The mechanic at Dekanian Yachts (who finished the hull bought from Oyster) ,  moved there when MacWester went bust. Older gaskets were made of cork, and I have a fairly complete set that came with the boat and we carry as spares. However they have a limited life and modern gasket material is much more long lasting.

The cockpit sole and "dinghy locker" removed its a long way down to the engine!

Finally its free

Flying engine

In the trailer and partly strapped down.

I had the engine craned out at Hull Marina, using the jib on their Wise hoist. I needed to remove the service alternator, the water pump and one of the legs  (the engine's mounting legs  not mine) to get it out and then it required some careful tilting and manoeuvring. The team at Hull Marina were very experienced, calm and helpful. For me it was somewhat stressful. Especially when we realised I had not disconnect everything (engine stop cable was one I missed).

 I had borrowed a small trailer (from Shipshape) and had wedged in large bits of wood so the engine mounts could sit on them and then held it down with ratchet straps and covered with a plastic tarp.

 The sump and two other gaskets were leaking and there was a hairline crack in the sump as well, that only leaked when the engine got up to working temperature. Rodney from Shipshape Marine Engineering in Hazel Grove has it all done now, and a coat of battle ship grey heat resistant paint. The lighter colour paint should make it easy to see any further oil leaks in the future.

I am going to call it Gandalf. Next time I will paint it white. We held it on to the wood using big wood screws and coach bolts but still used lots of ratchet straps.  This type of box trailer is not ideal - it has no suspension or brakes and while it is rated to take the weight I had to make sure the load was taken by the chassis not the flimsy box. I even reinforced the base of the load space with some hefty plywood.

Rodney suspected that we had used the wrong grade of oil. We use 20/50 multigrade mineral oil generally which agrees with the engine service manual.  In Tyboron we couldn't get that so used one with a lower SAE. Rodney recommends single grade SAE 30 oil (the older owners manual say SAE 20 or 30 depending on ambient temperature).

I painted the Bowman heat exchanger, oil coolers and associated pipes in blue Hammerite. Here it is ready to go back to Hull. I might have used an excessive number of ratchet straps but I am nervous about heavy things on trailers.