Sunday, January 3, 2016

15 minute boat jobs

Howdy Folks,

As mentioned in the previous post, today was a busy day of meeting with boat contractors, to plan our refit.  Between meetings we decided to knock out a few "quick' projects...when will we learn?

Kara, spent a couple hours brushing on 303 protectant on the current original dodger.  We're trying to get another year out of it and it leaks when it rains which is a drag.  This should help solve that problem for the immediate future.  We'll call that one a success, good job chicky!

While she was doing that, I decide to tackle something that's been bugging me for a while now.  We have an engine driven Sea Frost refrigeration system.  It works great and freezes a huge block very quickly if we're running the engine.  It will also run off the inverter but takes longer to freeze the block and eats power.  Part of the refit will likely include a DC option...but I digress

So we've replaced all the zincs on the boat with the exception of the one for the Sea Frost cooling tower, because much to my own embarrassment...I wasn't exactly sure where it was...and it's been eating at me.  So I today I found it in the engine compartment...imagin engine driven refrigeration system that runs of the same raw water actually located next to both of those things...who'd a thunk it.

Yours truly - beginning the zinc removal process

Sweet, changing a zing, I'll be done in 15 minutes chicky and then maybe we can go sailing.  I consulted the 15 year old xerox copied owners manual for instructions.  Let's just say they where less than clear, so I took my time interpreting them and finally figured out how to remove the zinc.  The problem was, when I unscrewed the bronze plug that I should hold the zinc, from the zinc.  Oh I in the right place or is there a bigger problem?  On closer inspection I realized the zinc had simply snapped of while I was removing the plug, at least I'm in the right place.  How hard could this possibly be?

Now we have two problems to deal with.  1) There's a big chuck of zinc in the cooling tower and I know if we leave it in there, it'll clog the system and likely cause major damage.  2) The threaded hole in the bronze fitting appears to be a single solid piece of zinc, the threads for the new zinc aren't even visible since a half inch of the old one snapped off flush with the plug...good times.

Oh well, one problem at a time.  First let's get that zinc out of the tower.  Problem is the hole in the tower is small enough you need to be a freaking smurf to reach in and actually do anything.  So I waste a bunch of time trying to fish the cigar shaped zinc out of a little hole.  The small diameter means it's only coming out if it's oriented perfectly (picture trying to pull a cigar out of a hole that's barely large enough to accommodate it's circumference, upside down and partially obstructed (of course).  After brushing up on my impressive sailor's (swearing) vocabulary...I ask Kara if she'll give it a try.  Fortunately, her fingers are small enough she can reach in and feel around a bit.  After removing the intake house from the housing we have a larger hole to work with and more importantly two holes on apposing sides of the tower.

Did I mention this is a stupid design?

So like a racoon with a shiny object, Kara goes to work fishing around inside the housing trying to push the broken pieces out.  After an hour...or more of work and missing a few layers of skin from her fingers, it's out and we're good to go.  Did I mention she's a trooper and this is a stupid design?

The remains of the zinc

So now all that's left is to remove the broken piece from the plug. so we can screw in the new one.'s perfectly flush with the brass plug that it mounts in.  After a little research I realize that zinc melts at a significantly lower temperature than brass.  Time for a run to Home Depot for a blow torch, this is where I'm really glad we chose Kemah and the marina we did to keep Vela while we prep her for departure.  We thought very hard about going to Port Aransas instead, due to the fact that it's a cool little town with a  much more chill vibe (which we prefer).  We chose Kemah because it's close to Houston where our company has an office we can work out of, and it has access to just about every kind of boat related gear/service you could ever yeah that's paid off 1000 times already.

Let's get this party started

Fortunately, our marina has a nice little work bench with a table vice for us too use.  After 45 minutes, the majority of the zinc has dripped out on the concrete under the vice.  Problem not the same as all.  The threads are still too gunked up with zinc to install the new zinc.  Looks like I'm headed back to the store for a tap and die set.  Oh and I also left my drill at home, because you know...we live there and stuff.  So we find the tap/die kit and sweet talk our way into using a cordless drill and a table clamp in the store (flash back to our departure and bumming a clamp at lowes to replace the propane Solenoid).  But hey, this looks good, lets go knock this out.

Heating the zinc

Finally starting to melt

Bombs away

The aftermath

Back aboard Vela, the Zinc fits perfectly and 10 minutes later, we're able to run the engine and fridge compressor leaks success!

So that 15 minute job only took...a little over 8 hours.  Sweet, lets grab some grub and drive the 4 hours back home.   Yep, prepping for cruising is pretty freaking glamorous.

Suffice it to say that from now on, I'll be replacing that zinc on a VERY regular basis, to avoid a repeat.

Anyway, thanks for stopping in and if you actually made it this far, let us hear from you.


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