Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Systems Review - (Warning: Potentially boring)

We're still in North Sound, Virgin Gorda, waiting for a good opportunity to head for St Martin.  Perhaps next Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, here's the next installment of the renovation. Parts of this post might be a little "dry", as I review the original systems  that were replaced with new components (not very sexy to some - very sexy to others). I made every effort to bring "Saralane" up to 'code' for boats constructed today, but may have fallen short in a few areas.


Electrical standards have improved over the years and in my experience every old boat suffers from too much former owner tinkering to get things to work, but leaving the old wiring or plumbing in place. Since we’d pulled every inch of wire out of the boat, we installed a brand new, very simple system, re-shaping then re-using the original C&C breaker panel after testing all of the breakers. 

New/old electric panel
All wiring is of the approved tinned variety. Two new 4D AGM batteries were installed under the galley sink to keep the weight central in the boat and all of the primary circuits were run using extra large tinned wire. Since we were also installing an electric anchor windlass at the bow, a long run of battery size cable had to be run forward. When all of the new wire was delivered, I was surprised how much weight it represented. Fortunately we used a supplier who shipped for free!

We operate with a large “house” battery bank of 400 amp-hours, and a separate dedicated engine “start” battery. These are charged independently by separate alternators mounted on the engine – one 45 amps and the larger 125 amps. Charging is also achieved via a 50 amp charger when we are plugged into shore power. This unit has an inverter which provides us with 120V AC from our 12V batteries. We installed an array of solar panels in the Bahamas after we left in 2010 which takes care of about 80% of our electrical needs (see "Saralane Goes Solar" March 2011). 

 A note about the "start" battery. When we bought her, the boat had one small battery aboard. It sat on our front porch for about 6 months, then was put into service to run our heater the first winter. Three years later it was pressed into service as our "start" battery, and now 5 years later, it has just died. It certainly owed us nothing and we replaced it while in St Thomas just last week.

We modified our old overhead light fixtures to LED and put LED bulbs in new reading lights. Our navigation lights are also LED. This conversion to LED lighting saves a huge amount of energy and the quality of the light itself has improved greatly with new technology.

W ealso rewired the mast. Twice in fact, after chipmunks took up residence during the renovation and chewed up our brand new wires! 

As with the electrical, all of the hoses had been removed - most were old and cracked anyway. Since we had also reduced the number of through hulls, we laid out a new, simpler plumbing system.
The old gate valves on the through hulls were replaced with “Marelon” nylon valves, approved for yachts.

Marelon through hull valve
Copper plumbing was replaced with plastic, as were bronze valves. The new toilet, new head sink, new galley sink, new drains, new pumps, and new engine supply hoses were all installed. One of the new through hulls was porposely oversized to create a salt water manifold to serve multiple functions. One of those new functions is a new deck wash to make cleaning the anchor chain easier when it’s being pulled up.

While the tanks were out of the boat during the cleaning process we pressure tested them and they checked out OK. Inspection ports and tank level indicators were installed before they went back in. "Saralane” was one of the few C&C 40s built that has stainless steel water tanks – most were fiberglass I think. In the interest of minimizing the number of holes in the hull and deck, we sealed up the two deck fills for our water tanks, so now we fill directly into the tanks by bringing a hose below. Our 100 gallon water capacity seems like a fair bit, but a means to "tank up" independently was considered. Many of our friends have watermakers (fresh water from seawater) but they are expensive, so we opted for a simpler solution. As built, the deck has two drains, port & starboard that run aft and overboard to deal with water on deck when it rains. We installed a simple valve arrangement on each drain to divert rainwater into the tanks when it rains. 

Valves to divert rainwater
When it rains, we let the decks rinse for a bit, then close the overboard drains and open the hoses to the tanks! It's amazing how much water can be collected in a short period of time - and it's terrific water with no chlorine or other chemicals. We do need to be vigilant about closing the tank valves when underway. One time, with nearly full tanks, we forgot and got some salt water on deck which contaminated the tanks. There were semi fresh showers galore for a few days!

Our hot water heater was shot, so we replaced it too (and renewed again in Norfolk - see "Norfolk" November 2010).

Current laws require that all vessels have a holding tank (sewage) aboard. In 1979 these regulations were pretty much ignored, so installing a proper holding tank was on the list as well. The head compartment got the same cleaning/paint treatment as the rest of the boat and the old toilet and sink went directly to the dumpster. There was a cupboard behind the toilet that was appropriated to house the new holding tank. I patterned the odd shape (the tapering curve of the hull) and built a fiberglass tank that gives us about a 28 gallon capacity – lots by today’s standards. I installed the tank and made a new panel to cover the plumbing.   
Left - Before holding tank
Right - Holding tank installed (behind towel)
The tank is elevated above the waterline so gravity is our discharge pump, and y-valves, macerators and extra hose connections are eliminated. The primary source of tank odor is not the tank itself but rather the hoses which are declared "odor resistant" but do smell over time. To address this, I plumbed the entire waste system with rigid PVC (like you find in Home Depot). It's a pain to work with, but cheap. Connections to the tank and head are with flexible exhaust hose which is "odor proof". To finish up the head I installed a new toilet, sink and new varnished wooden countertop. 

We didn’t even try to start the engine when we bought the boat. The amount of rust and oil - and the fact that someone wrote 06/2003 on the oil filter - weren’t good indicators. And the old engine was BIG! Someone had installed a large alternator at some point which really didn’t fit in the engine space – so they cut a hole in the side of the engine box (also the side of the fridge) and removed the insulation to allow the alternator belt to be tightened, essentially putting a 200 degree heater in the fridge.

The old Westerbeke before removal
We considered the industry standard – Yanmar – as a replacement, but it was expensive. I’d met a Phasor (engine) supplier at the boat shows who sold a line of marinized Kubota engines and he gave us a great price for a new 4 cylinder 37 hp diesel – so we went for it. The Phasor saved 150 pounds and is dramatically smaller than the old Westerbeke. 

I cleaned and painted the engine space and insulated it on all sides with 2 inch acoustic insulation. I had to modify the engine beds a bit (once from the drawings and once again just before we put it in) and replaced the leaky stainless steel muffler with a fiberglass unit. I opted for a dripless shaft seal and also changed the cutlass bearing in the strut. 

The old and tired Westerbeke 4-107
A messy and oily engine space
Our friends George and Christina from s/v Sophie were in town during the engine replacement and helped with the installation. We cut a hole in the protective covering on the starboard side and borrowed a forklift from the yard to raise the new engine into place.

Our new Kubota 37
A borrowed fork lift helps
Nice and easy...
Almost there...
Room to spare!
We installed a second large alternator to charge the new house battery bank which required a complicated bracket. John Whitney, a machinist friend in Newport, did a great job fabricating this for us. The new alternator did create one issue though; the oil filter couldn’t be removed for service with this new arrangement. I solved this by installing a remotely located oil filter – a real plus now when changing the oil.

With the new engine, a different propeller was needed and we opted for a feathering Maxprop propeller. The three blade was kind of pricey, so we got a two blade and works it perfectly.

Finally, the original boat had separate throttle and shift levers which has potential gear shift at high RPMs when maneuvering gets dicey. I installed a single lever shifter, that has the throttle and shift together and can only shift at idle, as well as all new cables.
New single lever engine control
The original aluminum fuel tank holds only 20 gallons and we'll need more for long distance cruising. The weight savings on the engine (150#) was a plus as it allowed us to add an additional 27 gallon fuel tank (150# full) under the quarter berth next to the engine. It required some shuffling, but in the end it all fit. We now have about 75 - 85 hours worth of fuel aboard in two tanks (and we carry an extra 5 in a jug). The fuel fills were also relocated from the side deck to an interior surface to keep them out of the elements.

That's pretty much it for the "infrastructure". Stay tuned for more where you will see how we brought "Saralane" into the 21st century with some modern alterations.


clay said...

Hi Skip

Good write-up. Lots of good work done. I think you should write a article and submit it to Good Old
Boat Magazine I bet lots of people that read that magazine would profit from your experiance and knowledge of boat systems.

Regards Clay

Cindy Barnard said...

While I didn't understand much about this post.....way too technical....such manly stuff. I actually skimmed if you want to know the truth......still, I understood enough to know that you are incredible. I know, Mad, I know, you don't want me to say that, but when it comes to rebuilding a boat, he is amazing. Not so good at putting his socks away but.......he's even taken care of that by moving to a place where socks are...what?.....NOT HARDLY NECESSARY? Amazing.

Crew / Besättning said...

Hello! So nice that you are back on the boat again! Saw that you tried the strong drinks on top of the world!!!;) hope you had a great sail to st Martin !!! / jo and Martin