C'est la Vie is a 1966 Charlie Morgan 34.

Her home port is Everglades City, FL. Our typical cruising area is Southwest Florida, the Florida Keys, the Southeastern Atlantic Seaboard, and the Bahamas. We are C'est la Vie's third owners and purchased her in 2005. We continue to maintain and update this classic vessel. Please post any questions or comments about C'est la Vie or our travels via the comment links below.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Engine Haul Project - week two update

Here is the week two progress report...

I completed the repairs to the port side battery shelf and added a strip of 4" wide fiberglass mat along all the joints in the engine compartment.  The bilge and engine compartment are now painted - two coats of primer and two coats of Interlux Bilge Kote.

One week ago...

repairs and painting in the bilge and engine compartment complete
Ironically,  I completed the repairs and painting while working around the shaft and couple only to remove them once the paint dried.  Removing the shaft, shaft couple, shaft seal, prop, and cutlass bearing were time and energy consuming projects this week.  These adventures are highlighted in a previous update - Project Creep Sets In On The Engine Haul. 

Here is the run down on the drive system:

  • The shaft and couple are visiting the machine shop for a "facing"
  • A PYI-PSS service kit for shaft seal is on order
  • A new cutlass bearing is on order
  •  Prop is scrubbed and polished

 The exterior of the water lift muffler received a couple fresh coats of paint.  Using 1/2 plywood I created a new shelf for the water lift muffler.  To seal the new muffler shelf and the existing shelf for the bilge pump float switches, I applied four coats of epoxy to each.

clockwise from the back - refinished water lift muffler, shelf for  bilge pump float switches; shelf for muffler
The engine received a second coat of  red prior to Mike, the diesel mechanic, arrival this week.  Upon his arrival we continued the tear down of the engine.

clockwise from the top - engine, transmission, and fly wheel
Base on the age of the engine - 16 years and the run time - 2800 hours, Mike suggested to:

  • Inspect and clean the heat exchanger core - We removed the core. Now it is my task to clean the core and the fresh water channels in the engine block
  • Test and tune the fuel injectors - I dropped them off at Coastal Diesel Service in New Bern.
  • Replace the drift plate - linkage between engine and transmission - part ordered
  • Replace the rear seal - keeps engine from leaking into the fly wheel housing.  Not an anticipated repair , but we discovered some oil around the fly wheel.
  • Replace motor mounts - No surprise here.  The new mounts are on order.

A sure sign you're in deep?

left - heat exchanger core needs cleaning
right - prop recently scrubbed and polished
When your heat exchanger core and prop are hanging out together on a table beside the boat.

I'm off to the boat to install the new sound proofing while I await the arrival of serviced and new engine parts.

Here is a link to a photo album of the entire project - Haul Engine - Fall 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Project Creep sets in on the engine haul - arrgh!

After discovering the alarming state of the shaft seal hose clamps (see post - Have you checked you hose clamps recently?), I reviewed the installation data on the PYI-PSS Shaft Seal and learned that they recommend the replacement of the bellows every 6 years.   Well we are currently at the five year mark and replacing the bellows requires pulling the shaft couple or the prop and rudder. Since only the shaft couple stood between me and the replacement of the bellows, I ordered an new bellows and set to removing the couple on the shaft.  The couple (pictured below) links the shaft to the transmission on the engine.  Two set screws secure the couple to the shaft. How hard can it be?

3/8" stainless steel bolts connect the puller on left and the shaft couple on the right
The boatyard loaned me a puller and a small copper sledge hammer.  I spent three cramped and sweaty hours coaxing the couple off the shaft.  Pullers and shaft couples now reside in my nightmares.  In the end persistence won out... 
shaft attachments from left to right (or stern to bow) - shaft seal bellows with hose clamps above; carbon rotor of shaft seal; stainless rotor of shaft seal; and couple with set screws above
I presented the liberated couple to the boat yard staff along with the borrowed puller and hammer.  The boat yard then informed me of the need to "face" the couple prior re-installation.  Facing the couple requires a metal lathe to clean up any irregularities in forward surface.  Couple in hand I set off to the machine shop where I was informed that facing the couple also required the shaft.  And back to the boat...

Ever supportive, the boat yard staff now loaned me a prop puller.  Fortunately the prop succumb to removal efforts in under an hour.

Shaft in tow, I returned to the machine shop.  Noting some wear on the shaft, Fred, the machinist, knitted his brow as he inquired as to the age of the shaft.  We replaced the shaft five years ago.  The wear on the shaft was isolated to the section of the shaft in contact the our cutlass bearing.  So with the encouragement of Fred and the boat yard staff, I set about removing the cutlass bearing.

Fortunately an overnight of rest separated my couple and shaft pulling from my cutlass bearing removal.

shaft long atop and cutlass bearing in my hand
Par for the course, the cutlass bearing required hours of effort and extreme measures to remove.  The shaft log is a bronze tube that lines the hole in the hull through which the drive shaft passes.  The cutlass bearing is a  bronze tube lined with rubber flanges that minimizes wear on the prop shaft as it passed through the log. Water serves as a lubricant in the cutlass bearing.  C'est la Vie's log is in good condition. We will replace the cutlass bearing.

We have now reached a point where every component of the engine and drive system are removed from the boat.  It is time be begin to rebuild!

More images from the project are available via our photo album - Engine Haul Project - fall 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Have You Checked Your Hose Clamps Recently?

One of the few items remaining in C'est la Vie's engine compartment is the drive shaft.  The drive shaft is a solid stainless steel rod that connects the engine inside the boat to the prop outside the boat.
C'est la Vie's shaft and shaft seal were replaced in 2007 
 Traveling from the prop towards the engine, the point where the shaft passes through the hull it is supported by shaft log.  The log is a bronze tube with rubber bushings.  The log relies on water from outside the hull to serves as a lubricate thus reducing wear and friction. Directly forward of the log is our shaft seal.  The shaft seal allows the shaft to spin freely yet prevents water from entering the boat.   In 2007, we replaced the shaft, shaft log, and the shaft seal (here is a link to the photo album - Replace Shaft, Log, and Seal - fall 07

During the 2007 project, we purchased a PYI-PSS shaft seal and had the boat yard complete the installation work.  The shaft seal uses a rubber bellows as a spring to press a carbon flange against a spinning stainless steel rotor.  The carbon flange and stainless steel rotor are very smooth and when pressed together create a water proof seal.  As with any hole in the hull of the boat a failure of this system can cause the boat to sink.
the newly installed shaft seal - Fall 2007
Since all the components of the shaft system were new in 2007, I left them in place and did not intend to replace any parts.  My experience over the weekend has me questioning this decision.

C'est la Vie's Shaft Seal - Sept 30, 2012
While sanding between coats of primer in the bilge, I noticed a paint drip on the aft most of the shaft seal's four hose clamps.  Using a scotch bite scrubbing pad, I reached back to remove the paint drip.  Instantly the hose clamp broke in my hands. 

the  stainless steel hose clamp that broke in my hands after 5 years of
service on our shaft seal.
 Alarmed I grabbed a nut tool and attempted to loosen the other hose clamps for an inspection.  The very next hose clamp I touched, the forward most clamp, broke as I torqued on the hex head.  Yikes!  Failure of this clamps can sink the boat.  The clamps used on shaft seal were provided by the manufacturer, but are not of the quality I expect for critical through hull fittings.   Not all hose clamps are created equal.  

Without a doubt all hose clamps on board a boat should be stainless steel, but even among stainless clamps there is a broad spectrum of quality.  Clamps used in critical areas (i.e. through hull fittings, engine coolant lines, engine exhaust lines, black water systems, etc.) must be ABYC approved  316 stainless steel with a non-perforated band.    
an ABYC approved 316 SS hose clamp with a non-perforated bans will replace
the bands on our shaft seal.
How does one identify the various quality of clamps?  The easiest test is to run a magnet across all hose clamps on the boat.  If the magnet is attracted to the clamp then the clamp contains ferrous metal that will easily rust. Any clamp attracted to a magnet needs to be kicked off the boat ASAP.  I keep a magnet in my tool box expressly for testing hose clamps, bolts, screws, etc.  If any of these items do not pass the magnet test then off they go.

Hose clamps that will pass the magnet test are appropriate for non-critical boat systems (i.e. tank vent lines, fresh water plumbing, etc.).   If the clamp is destined for a system that is considered critical then it must pass two additional tests.  First is the band non-perforated?  A non perforated band is stronger, better resists rust, and provides more uniform pressure around a hose.  Secondly the hex head on the clamp must be 7mm.

I'm unsure if the 7mm hex head is a brand specific standard or if it is set by the ABYC.  All high quality AWAB Hose clamps have a 7mm head so I look to this as an identifying feature of high quality clamps.

If your using the 7mm head as standard of quality then I recommend purchasing a  flexible shaft 7mm nut tool  to compliment the clamps.  

It is worth noting an exception to my hose clamp rant.  As hose diameter increases to 2" or greater and/or if the hose has a wire for additional strength (e.g. engine exhaust systems), then t-bolt hose clamps are recommended due to their ability to provide increase pressure on the hose.