Adventures in "shake down" cruising......

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by missinginaction, Sep 12, 2015.

  1. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    Why are my nut's in the bilge (a few broken bolts too)
    My shaft (almost) fell out!
    Where the heck is that little leak?
    Who turned off the lights?

    As some of you might remember I launched my restored little 1973 Silverton last August. After a seven year odyssey (or torture) she finally went in. She's been in the river for two seasons now and I'm more pleased with her than the day I launched her last August. For the benefit of some of the amateurs like me out there I thought I'd mention my discoveries during the shakedown period. I'm going to save some money over the winter and head west on the Mohawk/Erie canal for Lake Ontario and maybe 1000 islands next year. I'm confident that I've worked all of the bugs out, we'll see.

    1. Even when you strip a boat down to the bare hull and rebuild her you're never really finished. I thought most of my spending was over. Wrong. I didn't appreciate the fitting out part. BOAT does indeed mean break out another thousand even when you think you're about finished. Ground tackle, lines, flybridge seating, refrigeration, curtains for the cabin or cellular shades, microwaves, coffee makers, grills and more begin to really add up. I never really thought much about all this until I was in the water. Don't make my mistake, plan ahead and stay out of debt.

    2. I still don't quite understand why so many of my fasteners came loose but I think it has something to do with stainless steel. Here is a list of items that loosened up, exhaust manifolds, engine mounts, prop shaft coupling and terminal feed through connectors.
    All of these fasteners had lock washers on them except for the exhaust manifold bolts. There was never any noticeable vibration in the boat, the alignment was good (I pulled the shaft last fall to check the cutlass bearing) and all bolts were torqued to spec a couple of times but they still worked loose. I discovered this last fall when I heard a strange ticking noise when the shaft was spinning. It turned out 3 out of 4 coupling bolts had sheared off when they loosened. I was able to idle back to the slip with only one bolt holding the coupling together. With the PSS I wouldn't have actually lost the shaft but it could have been a real problem with a conventional packing.
    I guess that's why Loctite is made. I never had an issue like this before in my mainly automotive work.
    My advise, use Loctite Blue or Red in critical areas like the coupling.

    3. One night I'm anchored out and zap! Down goes the entire electrical system, AC and DC. I have a digital volt meter on the dash as part of my inverter setup. It's out but comes back after I had shut off all the mains and let the system rest for a couple of minutes. My LED lights are dim and the meter is telling me my batteries are dead. I know they're not.
    Well, I keep checking things with my multimeter, the inverter won't run, my DC voltage is weird......what the hell's going on??
    Suddenly it occurs to me, I open an inspection port inside a cabinet near my electrical cabinet and reach under the cabin sole (you did put inspection ports in, right?) holy cow! All the nuts on the bottom of the terminal feed through's are loose. I'm trying to feed all those electrons through a tiny point I'll bet. Out comes the Loctite again!
    By the way, for a while before my big electrical failure I had noticed that the Xantrax volt meter on the inverter didn't quite match the reading I got at the battery terminals with my multimeter. I took the time to understand and install the correct size wiring for my loads. I wondered about this but put off doing anything about it because everything seemed to be working right. After I fixed the loose connections both meters matched up. Moral of the story: If two known good digital voltmeters give you conflicting information keep digging until you figure out why.

    4. Rarely, but sometimes you just get lucky. No not like PAR get lucky, I mean with the boat. I had a small leak that I spent quite a bit of time trying to track down last fall and this spring. I knew the Packless Shaft Seal wasn't the culprit. The only thing I could think of after looking and looking was that the shaft log might be leaking. I'd planned to pull the shaft this fall and rebed the log. Well a few weeks ago I mopped up the bilge, came back a few days later and bingo! Dry bilge. Ever since it's been dry as a bone. All I can think of is that the keel has wood inside of the fiberglass shell and it took a long time for the wood to swell after this boat had been on dry land for 10 years.

    5. Last thing. I learned this very quickly. Don't think for a minute that because you learned how to build a boat that you know how to run the boat. Small stern drives are pretty easy but my 27' single vee-drive is a whole different animal.

    OK, I know this was a long post but hey, I haven't had much to say for a long time. Thanks again to all the people here that helped me over the years. I could not have built my boat nearly as well as I did without your valuable advise.

  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Well big guy, welcome to boat ownership. Sucks doesn't it? The only time I get lucky is when I've accrued sufficient spontaneous nookie credits, though recently I've wasted quite a few, so I'm on the uphill side as usual.

    Loctite the crap out of everything. Powerboats tend to shake out anything that isn't dogged down harder than you think it should be.
  3. missinginaction
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: New York

    missinginaction Senior Member

    I'm really happy that I took on the boat but I don't think I'd do it again. I don't have to though as I'm sure I"ll keep this boat till I'm done someday. I'm not out there looking for accolades and a lot of people don't even notice my boat because it is relatively small. Once in awhile though somebody makes a comment and I know that they "get it". That's a nice feeling.

    I had an old friend from college visit over the summer, he's a mechanical engineer. I got one of the nicest compliments from this guy as he sat up on the flybridge and said "There's a lot of angles up here Bart, how did you do this?" As I'm sure most of you know, most people have no idea how difficult designing something can be, let alone actually building it. I looked at him and said "Thank you for noticing."
  4. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    You deserve the accolades, my friend, I've seen the progression and you certainly deserve a back pat and a few beers too. Most would have never taken on a project like yours and the boat would have eventually been landfill fodder. You're this boat's hero, so live up to it and have fun. Crack one for me the next time you're out . . . ;)
  5. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    it is quite common on engines, particularly on parts that get really hot like the exhaust manifold, for the mounting nuts and bolts to work loose from temperature cycling. I work on a lot of old cars (and even a few old tractors), and I try and make a habit of checking manifold bolt torque when are re-torque the head gasket, and than once a year or so after that.

    I imagine the electrical contacts likely also go through temperature cycling, which would lead to the nuts backing off. locktight should stop that, but can also get in the way of removing them when you are stuck somewhere in the dark with improper tools.
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Re-torquing used to be a common and mandatory thing after a rebuild or major piece replacement (heads, intake, manifolds, etc.). I don't re-torque as much as I used to, though I do check torque periodically. Somethings just always seem to shake loose and exhaust manifolds are notorious for it.

    With electrical systems, there's a lot of things that can get you, but most often it's "strain relief" that's needed, to prevent things from shaking loose. Having a wire terminate on a lug or something, with it's asss hanging out, just means it'll shake and vibrate and test the collection. I always insure the wire is dogged down with a clamp, as close to the connection as practical, so any free movement of this wire, is only across a short length.

  7. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Ike Senior Member

    When I hear things like this I think of what Andy Rooney said:

    I grew up with boats on a lake we went to summers, but boating is one of the most tense ways to relax. Unlike cars, boats very often don't work. There's often something wrong with a boat and boats are certainly one of the most expensive pleasures known to man. A boat is more expensive than a hotel and then you have to pay to put it away in winter. I often pass a big boatyard or docking area with hundreds of boats just sitting there in the water, doing nothing. There is no single toy Americans own so many of that they use so infrequently, as their boats.

    As for manifolds, I am going through the painful process of having the manifolds on my motorhome replaced. Much like on boats every thing comes loose. Like on my boat, I am always re-tightening, replacing and re-screwing.
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