Sunday, 14 December 2014

It's the time of boat chores. (4)

Cold days are not good for working in the the boats engine bay. Well not unless you run the engine for a while to create a nice warm engine block to sit on. I like to do this in cold weather. especially when I change the various fluids and filters. Yes, its that time of the year - its engine maintenance time. 
The engine alternator belts will need adjusting from time to time. We have two alternators on Rosie. One is for the engine starter battery rated at 40ah. The second alternator rated at 110ah maintains the leisure battery bank. The belts are also subject to wear over time. The trick is to find the right tension - if a belt squeals - it is too slack. Belts that are - too tight - can damage the alternator pulley bearings. I aim for half an inch of finger movement in the belts. I also use a conditioning spray to maintain them for as long as possible.

The last remaining engine job is to replace the Air Filter. Whilst the canal is not a dirty environment when it comes to air pollution. Filters do get blocked over time and I change the air filter every year.

We had a strange vibration which only occurred at one particular engine speed. When I inspected the engine mounting bolts I found that the one under the diesel filter had perished into a soft gooey mess. Diesel and engine mounting bolts don't mix. It's best to place absorbent material under any items that need periodic replacement like the engine mounted diesel filter cartridge. I counted the number of threads down the bolt and the replacement was set up with that same configuration. I rotated the prop shaft by hand after fitting the new mounting to make sure there were no tight spots. When testing with a running engine the vibration had gone away.

The next job is to check the prop shaft cushion drive and its associated bolts.  Before starting on repacking the stern gland. I never remove and replace all the packing in the stern gland. I just loosen off the nuts and slid the plate along the shaft. Giving me enough room to add some extra greased string into the gland. I finger tighten the bolts and then add half a turn before locking the bolts with the locking nut. The last item is to refill the stern greaser tube with waterproof grease. I always save the messy jobs until last. 

Spares: I like to keep a certain amount of spares and consumables on the boat. Apart from my tools I have fuses, alternator belts and oil filters, diesel filters, air filter, lengths of rubber hose and waterproof grease. I have lengths of electrical cable as well as a home made (get out of jail card) set of jumper leads to bridge the two battery banks. I have enough oil to do an engine oil change. The biggest item is a spare propeller!

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