Sunday, 15 May 2016

Of Engines And Yet More Hope

Oh dear, I was sidetracked.  I meant to write about my boat engine again, but I got thinking about P and the love he mixes into his delicious food. He has always been like that. When much younger, and his father took him and his brothers skiing, P would get out of the torture of being pushed down inappropriately steep mountains by opting to stay home and undertake kitchen duties.  He would stay home and play the piano all day until it was time to get a hot meal ready. He undertook both activities with love. He still does.

Over the years I have lived on it, and having not been able to have any faith in the boat reaching a destination whenever I set out, I decided reluctantly to take it to the yard where the mechanics would not only be qualified but also accountable. Doubtless it would cost far more than the very little The Engineer was willing to charge, but at least the job should be finished in one or, at least, fewer goes than it had been taking so far. I mentioned this before being betruffled in the previous entry.

My main concern now was the leak of diesel fuel that was swilling around in the engine tray. If it got any higher it would trigger the float switch operating the bilge pump and dump diesel directly into the river.  I could not have that and mopped it out again before I left. The yard had little work on at the time and were able to accept my boat at a couple of days' notice.  By the time I had travelled the ten miles or so to the marina the bilge was filling again with diesel.

The two mechanics took one look at the engine and concluded the main culprit was, once again, the fuel injection pump. Two visits to a specialist repairer and servicing agent were obviously not enough in the course of a year so the pump was removed and would be collected after the weekend. That accounted for my first three days in the boatyard.  While I was there I asked if they could do some other bits of work that needed doing. They fitted the replacement inverter, repaired the horn and fitted a spotlight which I had never had.  The inverter is a 3kw pure sine wave type and will now charge my computer battery.  The 3kw is, of course, not at all necessary for such a job, but the pure sine wave bit is. The previous inverter that came with the boat was of the modified sine wave type and sent the computer into a total tizzy when I attempted to charge it up. The confused device didn't know whether it was coming or going and beeped continuously as the digital power cut in and out. However the new inverter has since also proven useful when running the engine and using the washing machine.  Without running the engine such an operation would have emptied the batteries completely in almost no time at all. At the end of a full wash cycle the battery bank was still reading full. Letting the engine idle while using a vacuum cleaner seems to lead to a net reduction in battery voltage.  I don't know yet whether that will improve with the increased revs required when the engine powers the boat along. I'll need a domestic assistant or another driver to try that out. I have also yet to try baking a loaf of bread in the breadmaker using the batteries via the inverter, for which the engine would also need to be running.   I would only be able to attempt that on a longer trip of about four hours, so I may try that out when I get round to taking the accounts books and other paraphernalia to the accountant.   Out of interest the sky is cloudy at present and I am sitting in a cloud of foul smoke from the horse woman's fire.  She's burning the bedding from the horse boxes again and the wind is blowing this way.  Naturally I have just put out a line of washing to dry.  When I bring it in it will be well-smoked and I shall trail the aroma behind me wheresoever I wend.   In these conditions the panels are putting out 32w and 2.2A of power are going into the batteries. They are reading at 13.8v. Not bad.

Meanwhile, back in the boatyard and when the pump returned nearly a fortnight later they put it back back and serviced the engine. We also looked at the gas locker where holes to allow any stray gas to escape had been drilled through the hull at or under the waterline.  Whenever I fill the fresh water tank these holes sink below the surface and my gas bottles stand in a couple of inches of water until I have used sufficient water for one of the holes to allow egress of stray gas above the water line. This always struck me as weird. The mechanics concurred. It has never made sense to me that part of the boat should be designed to take on water that swills about at will.  We made plans to add to the list of tasks that need to be done when I bring the boat in for the whole of August to have the paintwork blasted back to bare metal and the painting done properly.  Hopefully that will at last stop rust from bleeding through.  My efforts to deal with the ongoing rust situation have proven futile. Raising the floor in the gas locker, plugging the existing drainage holes and making new ones higher up would make it a little easier to keep the rust out of that compartment too.  I expected my trip to the boatyard to be over with in a day or two but, two weeks later and nearly £900 lighter, I could make my way back to the farm. My next trip could see me laying out nearly ten times that amount.

During those two weeks I had to sacrifice my usual beautiful views for these. Now I know precisely why I have no wish to live in a marina.  Through the window on the port side I could see whatever boat had been buttied up with me. 

On the starboard side, however, was this stunning vista of the corrugated workshop wall.

The journey back took me some three hours and it was with no real sense of hope that I lifted the boards covering the engine.  At least I couldn't see any diesel.  There was, however, rather a lot of oil and a great deal of water.  Ughhh!

Obviously to be continued ...

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