Out with the Old, In with the New

When we began the process of building a new exhaust system. One piece that had to go was our muffler. Here it is welded out of stainless steel.

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After reading up on how the exhaust should be installed, all the experts agreed that after water was injected into the exhaust line it should run downhill all the way into the muffler. That makes the elbow on top of this muffler a real problem. It is on the inlet to the muffler, so the exhaust gases have to push the injected water uphill at least a little bit. In addition the welds were starting to rust on the bottom of the muffler, possibly leaking a little bit of salt water. We decided to replace the muffler with one better suited to our boat.

After speaking with Centek about the correct muffler for our engine we had a plan. We were going to replace our metal muffler with a fireproof, rust proof, fiberglass muffler. In addition we could get a muffler that had the inlet on the side, making it easier to mount the muffler below the water injection point. Just before calling Centek back to place the order I contacted Defender to see what their price was for a similar muffler. They had the exact same muffler listed for a much lower price. Unfortunately they didn’t have it in stock, but they could have Centek ship it directly to me…I don’t quite understand the pricing, but I’m happy to keep the extra dollars!

Here is the new muffler safely installed in the engine room.

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Now all we had to do was come up with something to do with the old muffler. We came up with a lot of ideas, but we’re starting to think this muffler-like object isn’t really good for anything anymore.

We tried using it as a dumbbell to keep us in shape since we’ve been anchored for so long.

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We tried using it as an anchor for the dinghy…

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We tried using it as a watering can for our new thyme plant..

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We tried using it as a teakettle…

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We tried using it as a new musical instrument, very tubalike but without any pleasing sounds.

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We had it try out for “The Wizard of OZ” but they found a better tin-man…

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However our muffler was most successful as an internet billboard to deliver this message!

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Engine Update

This blog post gives a summary of what was ACTUALLY wrong with our engine leading up to this point. It conveniently compresses two weeks of troubleshooting down into one post. If only I had read this post before starting the process…

When we suspected that our raw water pump was leaking into the engine the first step was to disconnect the pump from the engine so that no more water would get in. I continued to monitor the engine oil level even though we weren’t running the engine while waiting for the new pump. Even with raw water pump separated from the engine our oil level continued to rise! This meant that we must be getting water in through our exhaust system. As soon as I disconnected the exhaust hose leading to our muffler I found our “smoking gun”. I had finally found the real problem. The exhaust hose was full of water and it was at a level high enough to be running into our exhaust.

The short version of this problem is that the exhaust system was installed improperly, and has been allowing saltwater into our engine for a long time.

The long version is that three things were wrong at the same time which allowed water to backfill into the engine.
1. There was no anti-siphon loop on the water injection into the exhaust. This should have been installed with the engine.
2. The water lift muffler was mounted higher than the exhaust outlet. This is supposed to be at least a foot lower.
3. Our raw water pump was allowing a trickle of water to leak by when the engine was off.
The combination of these three items allowed the water into our engine.

This video shows these parts of our engine.

Once the problem was located we took steps to fix the situation. All of our resources indicated that with this much water coming in through the exhaust our engine should be at a high risk of “hydrolock”. Hydrolock is when one or more cylinders inside the engine are filled with water and since the water can’t be compressed the engine can’t turn over. Not wanting to do any damage to the engine trying to start it. I disconnected the exhaust system from the engine, and flushed the oil system. I moved the oil through the engine by turning the engine over by hand using a large wrench. After cleaning the lubrication system thoroughly we refilled the engine oil including a dose of Marvel Mystery Oil an oil additive designed to help clean the engine. I reconnected the muffler at a level lower than the engine exhaust and ran the engine long enough to get it up to temperature and drive out any residual moisture. The engine started much easier and ran smoothly!

An Endeavor 37 here in St. Mary’s also has a Perkins 4.108 and we went over and listened to his engine to make sure ours wasn’t make any highly unusual noises. The owner Josh was nice enough to start his engine up for us and let us listen at a variety of RPM’s. Josh’s engine was just as loud as ours, and sounded nearly the same!

After I setup a proper exhaust system our engine will be running better than ever. Hopefully having saltwater in the system hasn’t added too much wear to the engine.

Notes from a First Time Cruiser

There are many, many preparations made prior to moving aboard a sailboat; preparing the boat, preparing family and friends, and preparing oneself for the unknown ahead. A boat presents a challenging environment in which to achieve two objectives: safety and comfort. Before moving aboard I took it upon myself to read about others’ experiences, recommendations, and warnings. I took courses to learn the rules of the road for boating and to learn how to navigate. There were so many angles along the learning curve, it was mind boggling! Let’s not forget I was still (and still am) learning to sail! Along the way I am now learning I am quite possibly the least well read among fellow cruisers, those being of similar age, and I wonder when in the heck they had all this time to read between working, socializing, refitting boats, exercising, traveling…etc. I justify this by telling myself that I am a hands-on learner and often find that the best knowledge is learned through experience; my own and the trial and error of others to be avoided (thank goodness I’m such a good socializer). And so my own learning curve continues…here is a most recent lesson.

Lesson: The “forward” water tank is always the one closest to the v-berth, the “back” water tank is always the one closest to the ladder – no matter what direction I am facing.
I continue to have trouble with forward and back on the boat because I always assume that whatever I’m facing is forward of me and whatever is behind me is back. Whenever we fill the water tanks I have to point and Brian has to look to confirm that I am opening/closing the correct valves. So, earlier this week, I was up and moving early one morning and decided to pour our jerry can water into the tanks so that we can refill the jerry can with fresh water before leaving (if ever leaving). It is very easy to get water here at the docks.
I looked closely and the tanks, opened the valve, and hauled the jerry can up on deck to pour into the fill hole. This took what seemed like forever because the water kept bubbling out and I had to wait for it to go down before filling again. This often happens with a hose so I thought nothing of it. Then I heard a bunch of water gushing out of the boat. “Hmm, I didn’t think that much had bubbled out and through the scuppers. Ho, hum, continue slowly pouring.” Then water gushing out a second time. “DING! Oh yea, that means the tank is full. Hmm, had only poured about half of this 6.5 gal jerry can and thought I’d use the entire can.”
At about this time when I peek down to see that the water is rushing into the bilge, Brian sits up in bed and calmly asks, “What tank did you open?” The forward, the back, who knows! I opened the one that was closed, naturally. “We’re not drawing from the closed tank, we’re drawing from the open tank.” So this means…I filled the full tank.
PANIC!! I just dumped half of our emergency fresh water into the ocean!! Now we have a disabled engine and 3-gal of water. (We still have 40-gal, by the way, in the very full tank.) Thank goodness the water supply is a mere 300-yds away, we could totally swim that and paddle back on top of the jerry can. Saved! After this lesson learned I have labeled the water tank valves as “1” and “2” to avoid this “forward” “back” problem. I have also started to say “Shut Up, Brian!” much more than I ever thought I would.