Well, after a long lockdown winter, and a rather cold snap, we decided we were certainly ready to unwrap Befur and get back on the water.
Work Done in Preparation
Air Pump Speed Change
In our continuing program of “chasing the missing vacuum” we had decided that maybe we needed to increase the speed of the air pump, as it is dealing with the condensate from both the Leak Compound and the Worthington Simpson coolant pump. (As you will see this had no obvious effect 😒)
This speed-up was accomplished by changing the worm box in the pump/alternator drive, to a 5:1 (from 7.5:1). This involved a deal of swearing and two days work, as it is really difficult to dismantle/rebuild the drive system with the boat in the engine. A lesson I learn while racing cars and bikes, is that the most successful design is the one that can be maintained or fixed at the track, and this is certainly also true of mechanisms you want to maintain while in a boat!
Either way, it was done, and while it had no effect on the apparent vacuum, it also speeded-up (increased capacity of) the feed pumps. It remains to be seen if this is in fact a benefit, as they were very close to balanced before, so it requires more “jiggling” of the bypass valves now. …I can see us reverting to the old arrangement in the end 🤔
A lot of cleaning
Louise put in a lot of effort to deal with the crud accumulated over the winter (inside and out and above and below the waterline) … and she looks in fine fettle now!
Prior to the winter, we had broken down a lot of the plumbing on the boat to try to drain all the water, in the hope we could avoid any freezing problems, and this (together with the tubular heaters) did work!
However, it does entail putting it all back together, and while apparently simple, it is amazing how many refitted joints you can forget to tighten – about 4 this time!
But we achieved this and refilled the system and lit the burner (fired first time). Prior to this we had had quite a struggle to get the engine to turn over, stiction and surface rust from ~6 months of sitting still not wanting to let go….
It runs!….Oh, no it doesn’t
And with 50psi on the gauge we opened the throttle and it started… 15 mins of running on the dock seemed to prove the system (other than what I think was a dirty connection on the magic eye on the burner causing it to stop two or three times), so Lou took all the clutter back to the car, and we prepared to cast off, when the engine stopped and would not start arrrrgh!
A little diagnosis showed there was no LP pressure, and a lot of exhaust steam making it to the hotwell – the obvious conclusion being that there was a problem with the LP Balanced Slide Valve. Another hour or so of stripping said valve, and revisiting the “we need to make this easier to work on” thought process, proved this to be the case.
The balance part of the valve was stuck in the valve part of the valve (yes, I know that’s an impenetrable description, but this link to the making of the valve might help. It includes a picture in the “slide valve” section that shows the assembled valve, with the circular balance part nearest to the camera and the rectangular valve part at the rear of the assembly). In reality a clout with a fist freed it off (more stiction), but we pulled it apart and inspected/test assembled/fiddled to make sure it was free… more awkward reassembly ensued.
At this point (about 6-hours into “preparing to launch”) we were about ready to quit, but Dot (from the SBA) arrived to meet up, and encouraged us to have a trip. So, as she is a much more experienced local boater, we put her on the helm…
A Jaunt Round Belle Isle
So, we took a quick jaunt around the Belle Isle on the lake, and everything seemed to work! The weather was gorgeous and it was a good end to a long day!
It was dead calm, so no attempt to raise sail, but Dot did a grand job of being Befur’s Local Pilot – thanks Dot!
…so we are all looking forward to a better year (all vaccinated etc.) and the August 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the SBA on Windermere….. onwards!