Drying out against a wall

10 Feb

A quick antifoul against a harbour wall is much cheaper than a lift and scrub… but much scarier as well. And you’re obviously at the mercy of the tide when it comes to floating off… but once it’s all over you feel a real sense of achievement. And you’ve saved enough money for a few nights out.

As the technical officer of the Sabre 27 Association recommendedFin Sabres are well balanced for drying out against a wall, providing all the normal procedures are adhered to. Do your homework diligently, three and a half tons sitting on a tapered, not flat keel base will require firm and stable ground.

We found (after all the stress of grounding in the right place) that the boat was remarkably well balanced; and the keel was easily strong enough to take the weight.

antifouling-against-a-wall drying-out hyjanorra-against-wall

sabre27-against-a-wall

Where Did the Summer Go?

14 Oct

We found ourselves removing cushions, topping up the diesel and putting down the winter duckboards yesterday. Very depressing. Especially considering that the diesel bill only came to £13.00 including VAT. This wouldn’t mean much unless I knew that most of the (few) trips we made this year (when it wasn’t a rainy weekend) were made motor sailing rather than sailing. £13.00 of fuel wouldn’t take you far.

So where the hell did the summer go?

I probably spent more time updating the Sabre 27 Association website than I did in the cockpit of my own boat. Something to be corrected next year. Having said that, this weekend was lovely and sunny, if a little chilly. I left the sails up in an uncharacteristically optimistic act; I have a sneaky feeling there’ll be one or two more sails to be had.

Yanmar YSE12 Exhaust Elbow Issues

24 Mar

Have you ever been in the position where you just want to get a job done today? Being of an impatient disposition, I find myself wanting instant results all the time. Especially when it comes to my boat engine.


Having successfully de-winterised my Yanmar YSE 12, I fired it up and looked on as a column of exhaust smoke rose up from somewhere on the engine block. If I’d been as green as when I first bought the boat I would have instantly panicked and been on the phone to a marine mechanic before I could blink.

Yanmar YSE 12 exhaust elbow before removal

Yanmar YSE 12 exhaust elbow before removal

This time though, I adopted a more diagnostic approach. The first port of call was the exhaust elbow. I replaced this a few years ago so I know they are prone to disintegration – and I wasn’t wrong. As I watched I saw the smoke clearly emanating from where the elbow joined the engine block. Sigh.

The thing to do would be to replace the exhaust elbow if there is a hole in it (obviously) but I was hoping it would just be a replacement gasket that would be needed.

So I took the old one off, and upon examination it seemed in pretty good shape – except at the top where it screws onto the bronze exhaust bend. Here it was getting a bit too rusty for my liking, but I felt it had a few more miles left in it – so I decided to make a mental note to get a replacement elbow and have it on standby for when it was definitely required.

The triangular gasket is visible

The triangular gasket is visible

This left the gasket. I felt around the awkwardly positioned hole in the engine block and my heart sank when a crumbling mass of what felt like rusty metal started to come away in my hand. My instant thought was ‘I can replace the exhaust elbow – but not the engine block‘… but fortunately it turned out to be what was left of the gasket. It had become so fused to the engine block that it had started to resemble (and behave like) rusty metal. I carefully peeled it away and reassembled it to satisfy myself that it was what I thought.

Peeling of the gasket

Peeling off the gasket

Reassembled exhaust elbow gasket

Reassembled exhaust elbow gasket

Here’s where I became impatient and frustrated. I wanted to just put on a new gasket and call it a day – but I didn’t have one and had no chance of getting one for a few days. So resorted (for better or for worse) to using ‘squeeze-on instant gasket’; in this case Loctite Blue Silicone Gasket. On the packaging it said that it could be used for engine gaskets and could withstand up to 200°C… so I thought I’d give it a try.

Loctite Blue Silicone Gasket

Loctite Blue Silicone Gasket

I applied a bead around the face of the exhaust elbow join as directed after sanding it down.

Loctite gasket applied to exhaust elbow

Loctite gasket applied to exhaust elbow

Sanded down receiving plate

Sanded down receiving plate

I also sanded the corresponding face on the engine block and cleaned it as best I could. I then re-attached the exhaust elbow being careful not to over-tighten the bolts – and then called it a day. It takes 24 hours for the seal to cure, so I’ll start up the engine tomorrow and see if it has done the trick.

Re-attached exhaust elbow with instant gasket

Re-attached exhaust elbow with instant gasket

Yanmar YSE 12 exhaust elbow attached with Loctite Blue Silicone Gasket

Yanmar YSE 12 exhaust elbow attached with Loctite Blue Silicone Gasket

Annoyingly, when I got home I happened to find in my big box of spares both a spare exhaust elbow and a spare (as new) gasket that fit perfectly. That almost never happens. Oh well. At least I have them for when the current one gives up the ghost.

ps. Here is the original exhaust elbow before it was replaced…

Yanmar YSE12, 2011 Winterising

9 Nov

After last year’s debacle I made sure that I printed out a list of what to do (in order) and took it down to the boat along with my tools, oil and antifreeze. The boat had been moved due to dredging and I then had to row everything half a mile up river to get aboard. Only then did I discover that the list had been lost and I’d have to do everything from memory after all.

My list of stuff to do (from memory) was as follows:

  1. Run the engine for about 20-30 minutes to get it up to operating temperature so that the oil could be pumped out easier.
  2. Feed a tube into the oil sump from my oil sump pump (very Dr Seuss) and pump out the oil. The sump pump I have creates a vacuum and sucks out the oil very slowly – the whole process takes about 30 minutes. With a pump like this you have to be careful to resist the temptation to keep pumping, as the rubber seal will blow with too much pressure. You just have to be patient. If the oil is cold this is much harder.

    Pumping oil out, pouring new oil in

    Pumping oil out, pouring new oil in

  3. Whilst pumping out the oil I removed the thermostat so that when flushing with antifreeze there would be no barrier to the core of the engine. It was at this point that I also checked the condition of the sacrificial engine anode.

    Thermostat housing off, thermostat out

    Thermostat housing off, thermostat out

  4. Fill with new engine oil. Once the old oil is out (about 2.5 litres were collected) I poured in new oil (basic 15W40 mineral engine oil) and ran the engine for another 15-20 minutes to give it a chance to settle in.
  5. Now came the time to flush the engine with antifreeze. Last year I removed the hose from the sea cock and put the end into a bowl of antifreeze. I didn’t like doing this afloat, as there’s always the chance the sea cock would be weakened in some way – so this time I did it differently. I attached a temporary hose direct to the water pump (after disconnecting the hose from the water strainer). As the engine ran I poured antifreeze into the hose, directly into the water pump. Just before the liquid ran out I stopped the engine and put soft wood bungs into any open hoses to seal the antifreeze in.

    Antifreeze In

    Antifreeze In

  6. I loosened the water pump bolts and alternator bolts so that I could remove the two drive belts. I’ll try to get replacements for these by next year.
  7. Turn off the fuel tap at the tank.
  8. Drain and replace the fuel filter. I’m going to leave this until the start of the season. Normally I’d do this at season’s end but last year the filter was as clean as a whistle and the boat hasn’t been used much this year, so I might even leave this one in for another year.
  9. Top up the fuel tank with diesel to the very top and grease around the fuel cap thread. Replace fuel cap.
  10. Remove and replace the impeller. Again, I’ll leave this until next year. By this stage the water pump is (hopefully) full of antifreeze, so removing the impeller will only serve to drain some of it off – so I’ll do it at season’s start.
  11. Check jubilee clips, hoses and general engine condition.
  12. Spray the angine with WD40.
  13. Disconnect the batteries.
  14. Disconnect the gas hoses to the gas cannisters (stored outside in a cockpit locker).

As satisfying as it feels doing all of this myself, I always get the feeling as I leave the boat (or row half a mile away from it on this occasion) that I’ve either forgotten something, done something wrong or overlooked something altogether… but I feel a little more confident this year than I did last year. So if anyone has any comments, amendments or criticism to add regarding the above process they’d be very welcome.

Pumping out oil from Yanmar YSE12

Pumping out oil from Yanmar YSE12

The Anode and the Thermostat. A Tale of Yanmar YSE Spare Parts… and a Mystery.

7 Nov

I had a little mystery to solve in the summer. At least, it was a mystery to the likes of me, a non-mechanic. I knew that somewhere in my Yanmar YSE 12 was a sacrificial anode, but I hadn’t located it. I was encouraged to seek it out when a member of the Sabre 27 Association website forum asked me to check the shape of my anode so that he could confirm he’d received the correctly-sized replacement. This forced the issue. I located it behind the housing for the thermostat.

Yanmar YSE 12 marine engine

The white arrow points at the thermostat housing. Behind this is the anode housing.

When I finally got the anode out it looked decidedly rusty and un-corroded:

Yanmar YSE12 sacrificial anode

A rustly and apparently ineffective (un-corroded) sacrificial anode.

In order to get at it I had to remove the thermostat housing as well (something I had never until this moment done)… and I discovered that the thermostat was in pieces:

Yanmar YSE12 thermostats, old and new.

The old and new thermostats. The old one is the one on the left...

After some sitting down and head scratching I came to the conclusion that the reason the anode had not corroded was because no water was getting in though the utterly destroyed thermostat. Solution: replace the thermostat (and anode to be safe) and hope for the best. I tried to ignore the elephant in the room which kept attempting to remind me that if the thermostat had been in such poor condition for a number of years then the core of the engine had been running without being cooled…

Fortunately we have a great local supplier – Dave Crawford Marine – who had both a new thermostat and anode in stock. Not bad for a 37 year old engine:

Spare parts for a Yanmar YSE 12

Spare thermostat, anode and gaskets for a Yanmar YSE 12.

So here we are, four months later, and I’m winterising the engine again. Since I had to remove the thermostat to flush the engine with anti-freeze, it seemed a perfect opportunity to check to see if the new anode was corroding, and (therefore) whether or not the new thermostat was letting in water to cool the engine:

Corroding sacrificial anode

A nicely corroding anode with blob of grease.

The results are heartening – the anode has started to corrode. Mystery solved, feeling good about myself achieved.

…and winter comes around again

3 Nov

I’m so glad I made that list last year – after a pretty poor summer I can’t believe it’s time to winterise again – and this time (for reasons too dull to explain) I have to row at least half a mile to the boat before starting.

Anyway – it was too cold last year so I’m going to do the winterising this weekend while it’s still mild… I’ll follow up with my progress. And I found the elusive engine block anode – pics to follow.

Winterising a Yanmar YSE12 Marine Diesel Engine

29 Nov

I made time this year to winterise my Yanmar YSE12 engine instead of relying on mechanics to do it all for me. It was a very cold, often nerve-wracking but ultimately rewarding experience. And I got most of what I wanted taken care of – although not necessarily in the right order, as Eric Morecambe would say.

Drawing on the RYA Marine Diesel Engine course I’m currently undertaking and the notes gleaned from the excellent winterising article from the Sea Start website, and armed with a new Seago oil extractor, a chain wrench, some antifreeze, all the leftover engine oil from previous services and a bag full of tools, I made my way nervously to the boat. And couldn’t get the engine started.

One of the things I’ve always been warned against was using Easy Start. It was only after a couple of engine maintenance lessons that I finally found out why – the pressure from its combustion could slam the top of the piston into the cylinder head, thus the loud knocking immediately after using it to start the engine.

However, when the 16v hairdryer blowing into the air intake to warm the air in the combustion chamber failed (but weakened the battery), as did my attempt to jump start the frozen beast by holding and releasing the decompression lever, I was at a loss as to get the thing warmed up. So a quick squirt of Easy Start had to save the day again. That’ll be the last time, I promise…

I knew that at the very least I had to flush the cooling system with antifreeze, change the oil, change the fuel filter, loosen the belts and get the old impeller out. This being my first winterisation, my nervousness and the intense cold (unusual for November) clouded my logic somewhat and I ended up flushing the cooling system before changing the oil… which meant that I couldn’t run the engine with the new oil without starting all over again – I had no more antifreeze. My RYA instructor also subsequently told me I should have removed the thermostat before flushing the system… but I suppose this is all what is known as ‘learning on the job’.

Yanmar YSE 12 with missing water pump

As an aide-mémoire for next year, here is a list of what needs to be done (in the right order…):

  1. Fill the diesel tank to the top to prevent condensation (done)
  2. Smear grease around the fuel filler cap and thread (done)
  3. Drain and change the fuel filter (didn’t do this – no new filter to hand)
  4. Change the engine oil (mistakenly did this last)
  5. Change the oil filter (couldn’t find it – is there one on the YSE12?)
  6. Flush the cooling system with antifreeze (did this too soon)
  7. Remove the impeller (I removed the whole pump for inspection)
  8. Relax the drive belts (done)
  9. Check jubilee clips, hoses and general engine condition (done)
  10. Disconnect the batteries (done)
  11. Block off exhaust inlet with soft wood plug (done)
  12. Turn off fuel tap (done)
  13. Disconnect gas pipes (turned off gas tap but forgot to disconnect pipes)
  14. Ensure all sea cocks are closed so the boat doesn’t sink (done…)

Additional things to consider are:

  • Checking the sea cocks (boat is in the water – couldn’t service these)
  • Checking the engine anode(s) (couldn’t identify these)
  • Check the thermostat (didn’t do this but did identify location of thermostat)

I’ll check these steps with the instructor and update information here, but hopefully next year I’ll do it better! And with the boat out of the water I might be a little more relaxed about playing with sea cocks and hoses.

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