Sunday, November 2, 2014

History repeats itself

We are still at the boatyard in Deltaville, Virginia, notwithstanding my expressed hope, last post, that we'd be out of here by Halloween.  The yard is closed today, and I'm trapped inside the boat due to extremely cold and blustery conditions.  Having again run out of indoor projects, I have a bit of time to blog.

Regular readers may remember that we were also here in the yard last year at this time, pulling in at the beginning of November for a couple of weeks of adjustments to various things on our way south.  I lamented then that we were a bit late in the season, having to run all of our little portable heaters to try to keep the boat livable while on the hard, and we're having to do that again -- outside temps are in the 30's overnight and today's high was 48.

In another moment of déjà vu, I learned today that the Great Bridge Lock will be closed later this month for maintenance.  That's more than two weeks from now, though, and we'll have bigger problems if we are still here by then.

Last weekend we rented another ten-dollar-a-day car and made two trips back to the bus.  I'm happy to report that a week on the charger brought the expensive house batteries back to life, and I ran both the A/C and the electric heat from them, by way of the inverter, to discharge them all the way down to the LBCO on Saturday.  I then set the charger for an "equalize" cycle and we left them to charge again over night.

Sunday we returned and a quick check found they had recovered yet some more of their capacity.  As we did not really have the luxury of doing several full discharge/charge cycles, I charged them back up as best I could and then fully disconnected them, this time including the equalizer and the SOC meter.  That, I hope, will have them in a bit better shape next time we return, which we'll endeavor to do sooner than a full year from now.

When we returned Sunday afternoon we caught up with our friends Pauline and Rod, who are also southbound and opted to stop in Deltaville to see us.  They tied up while we were still on our way back from the bus, and we made good use of the rental car to go out for a nice dinner in town.  More déjà vu, as we saw them here on our November visit last year as well.

In the past two weeks, the yard has managed to get most of the bottom paint on, including moving the jack stands to paint behind them.  They also cleaned out the stern tube and re-coated the inside, by closing off the end and pouring the coatings in from the front.  That started with a wash of phosphoric acid to treat the rust, followed by epoxy barrier coat, and finally bottom paint.  They'll have to sand some of the last coatings out near the tube ends to get the cutless bearings in place.

The yard also removed the props from the thruster, and then it was a pretty simple matter to drift the drive leg out from the inside to get the pinion off.  The new leg is now ready to go back in, and I hope that will happen tomorrow.  They've also started on the anchor locker hatch, remediating the rust, barrier coating the deck, and rebedding the hatch seat.  The anchor and all the chain is on the ground, so I've started to treat the rust on the hammer-lock connector, which I will paint with zinc tomorrow.

On my own project list, I managed to get the rust remediated on the bow pad-eye and four coats of zinc paint (aka "cold galvanizing compound") put on.  The shackle was in good shape, and I re-installed it with some stainless mousing.  I did flip it around, so the mousing wire is now on the starboard side, whereas it has been on the port side for the last year.

It's not been a good few weeks for batteries, and my scooter is the latest casualty. It still has its original battery, now over seven years old, and it just won't start the old girl any longer.  I took it out, popped the "sealed" caps off, and found two cells low on water, so I added some, but it's really too far gone.  As a result, I've been having to kick-start the scooter on the first start of each day.

All well and good, but after several days of this, the kick-starter had had enough and decided to jam randomly rather than start the bike, which is a finicky starter to begin with.  I ended up pulling the case off and basically rebuilding the kick-starter, which is probably the subject of a post in its own right.

After doing that I tried to get the scooter started, to no avail in the cold weather. Again, finicky, plus I know that the "choke," which the Taiwanese call an "auto bystarter" in the manual, is spotty at best.  After two dozen or more unsuccessful attempts, I decided to crack the throttle a bit to see if that would help.

Now, in order to start these scooters, one of the two brakes needs to be applied. Since I really need to stand left of and behind the scooter to give it a real kick, I strapped the rear brake lever down to the handgrip.  Being alone, I used my poor-mans cruise control, basically an O-ring that jams between the throttle and the bar-end weight, to keep the throttle open a bit.

That did the trick, and it started on the first kick.  Unfortunately, I had the throttle cracked just a bit too far, and, despite the brake lever being strapped down, the scoot immediately took off without me, the throttle being open far enough to engage the centrifugal clutch.

It came right off the center stand and took off for points south.  It got only about three feet, though, before crashing spectacularly into the remains of a shore-side pumpout station that was relocated to the docks sometime in the last year.  In the process it broke the fairing, smashed out the right front marker/turn lamp, knocked the mirror out of whack, and damaged my pride as whoever was left in the shop after hours came running out for a look. (I'm sure it didn't help that I started laughing immediately after determining that he wasn't hurt. -Louise)

While I was pretty upset about the damage, I am quite relieved that it did not get far enough to crash into a car, a boat, a passer-by, or myself.  All's well that ends well, but it added another dozen hours to the project list.

I've spent great parts of the last four days mixing up epoxy and repairing the marker lamp and the fairing itself.  To get to them I had to strip half the front fairing off the bike, a chore all by itself.  I've got it all back together now, and it looks no worse for wear, but it's eaten into my boat project time budget a bit.  I did take the opportunity to clean up some wiring behind the fairing and spray some T9 corrosion blocker on everything.

A new battery is already on the way to me, along with the last of the boat project parts coming from far and wide.  I also ordered some Anderson connectors and some #10 wire to add "jump start" plugs to both scooters as well as the dinghy; we've had to jump-start enough times now that the convenience will be well worth the minimal expense.

My big project for the last few days has been replacing the raw water pump.  I decided to use the opportunity to change out the decade-old hoses as well, and getting the new intake hose threaded into place was a challenge.  It's all finished now, but I left the seacock closed so there are no surprises when we splash. We'll spend a few minutes looking at all the hose connections when we first open it, to make sure nothing is leaking.

I've also finished the great LED lighting project, and now every DC light in the boat is LED except the galley and the seven "reading" lamps.  The latter are seldom used -- neither of us reads in bed, and the ones in the pilot house are used for only a few seconds each time on overnight runs -- so there is little benefit in underwriting the expense of changing them.  The galley really needs the much brighter light that the 20-watt halogens provide, although I will consider changing them whenever a bright enough drop-in replacement comes along. Fortunately, those lights are in use less than an hour a day.

As long as we had the bed torn up in the guest stateroom to work on the thruster, I spent a day adding another power outlet in that room.  We really needed one closer to the headboard, for guests to have an alarm clock, cell charger, or whatever up there, and Louise wanted one on the starboard side (the lone existing outlet was to port) for her sewing machine when she is using the room for quilting.  So I put the new outlet on the starboard side of the bed, just aft of the headboard.

I'm hopeful that we will be able to put the guest stateroom back together in another day or two, and I can start moving things back to the engine room by mid-week.  With any luck, the shaft and propeller will be back on the boat by Wednesday and we should be able to go back in the water.  The ability to run the heat will be most welcome.

With any luck, we will be on the move again by a week from today.  That said, we are coming into the time of year where waiting on weather is the norm. Yesterday afternoon there were seven foot seas on Chesapeake Bay; the dinghy dock here at the yard was eight inches under water.  Starting mid-week we will be focusing on weather, to see when we might make a break for it and hustle down the bay to the relative safety of the Elizabeth River at Norfolk.


  1. LOL on the scooter. I had a similar experience with my '59 Volvo fastback. Stuck in the snow, I put it in 1st, pulled the hand throttle (early cruise control) getting the rear wheels spinning and went behind to push the car. Free of the snow, the car drove itself down the road with me running after it. I managed to jump in and stop it just before it hit a parked car.

  2. Does your scooter have a center stand that lifts the rear wheel off the pavement? In my younger days I had a Honda 360 m/c with both electric and kick start. Great for when the battery went dead, you were never stuck someplace with no help. It had both a kick stand and a center stand. Wish I had kept it, as I got only $425 for it when I sold it. I would ride today if I still had it.

    1. It does have a center stand, and the bike pretty much has to be on the center stand to even attempt to kick-start it. That said, while the center stand does keep the rear wheel off the pavement, the kickstart lever is well aft of the stand, and so the act of kicking it presses the wheel down to the ground. Also, this was on pretty soft ground rather than pavement, so the wheel is nearly touching to begin with. Once the engine turned over, there was really no chance for the wheel to unweight enough to keep it from taking off.

  3. Just as an aside.......if you have to deal with hoses again, a crock pot or other pot containing boiling water will make the hoses much easier to work with. Soaking them in the boiling water provides a very even temperature that GREATLY increases their flexibility. Don't ask how I know.................

    1. I know about the boiling water trick, which is mostly helpful when trying to get a stiff end over a barb. However, this is a 2" diameter, quadruple-reinforced (two polyester plies and two spiral wires) suction hose. It was really just a hair too thick to slide easily where I needed it. I don't think hot water would have helped, if I could even heat the part I needed (the last two feet worth). If I thought heat was the answer here, I do have a heat gun. Ultimately dish soap and elbow grease got the job done, but I was sore the next day.


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