¡Muy Importante!

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

6/19/2010 - report from the engine room

After putting it off as long as I could today, I climbed back down in the engine compartment to do another couple of chores. My first, and easiest job was to upsize a couple of the wires that I had replaced back when we had our exhaust elbow problem. If you remember, we found a mass of wires that had burned and fused together. I replaced them with what I had readily at hand onboard at the time: AWG #12 wire. This was more than adequate for most of the wires but there were three that were originally #10 wire. The repair worked OK but the engine did seem to have to crank a bit harder when starting than it used to and it didn't turn over as fast. So, today, although I still didn't have any #10 wire on hand, I replaced all three wires with pairs of #12. This should be more than adequate for the job. The job went well and was relatively clean work and, amazingly for an engine room job, everything was easily accessible.

The next part of today's job list consisted of trying to find where in the raw water supply the leak was. I knew it was in the engine compartment and I knew it was near the raw water pump. I opened the raw water inlet valve and watched. Nothing. Wait a little longer. Still nothing. Now I'm a great one for hoping for the best but even I knew that a leak like I was seeing before was not likely to fix itself. I wanted to believe it would but I knew it wouldn't. So, the only thing to do was to fire up the engine and see if it surfaced.

I opened the throttle, turned on the key, pushed the glow plug button and then the starter button. She cranked strong and fast. After a couple of false starts caused by a little air in the fuel lines after yesterday's filter change, the Westerbeke "self-priming" feature took over and did its thing. Once the fuel was flowing freely she kept running. No surge and, unlike how it's been lately, she was even able to keep running at idle before the engine had fully warmed up. So, the larger wires and the fuel filter change both seemed to have worked. Score 2 for our side.

Now, about the leak. I shone my flashlight down and could see water running along the floor. Followed it up and what should I find but water gurgling out of my raw water pump. WTF? This is the pump that I rebuilt in La Paz back in mid-February. We've put a few hours on it since then but not nearly enough to warrant a seal failure. This might also be the source of the water in the crankcase oil. The water spewing out of the pump was right above the crankcase dipstick hole. If the dipstick wasn't seated, it could account for both our loss of oil and our gaining of water. Won't really know for sure until I rebuild the pump AGAIN and then flush some fresh oil through the engine a few times to get rid of the contaminants. If we don't see any signs of water in the oil after that, we're home free. If we do... well, we'll just wait and see and hope for the best.

For the time being, I'm leaving everything alone. No, I take that back. I think I'll cover the dipstick area and then run the engine enough to warm the oil up and then drain it and replace it with some new stuff. Then I'll repeat the process at least once or until the crankcase oil looks good again. Yeah, the pump will be leaking during this but that's what bilge pumps are for. Better than leaving salt water in the engine any longer than necessary.

Of course, I have to order a rebuild kit for the raw water pump from the States. Last time I did that it got here fast enough but the duty was something like 25% on an already expensive kit. Since we have no real reason to leave Puerto Escondido until we return from our visit Stateside, I may just order the parts and have them shipped to our daughter Cody's house and then carry them back down here in our luggage. Sure do wonder what caused the seal to fail but, as we are currently motile, I believe I'll wait until I have a kit in hand before I remove the pump to investigate.

So, there you have it. More adventures in paradise.

Lulu's feeling a little better today. Not great, but better. We're going in to Loreto on either Monday or Tuesday so we'll go to a farmacia and get her whatever she needs. We'll go to one of the consulting physicians associated with the farmacia to find out just what that might be. Today she did a sewing project on one of our sunshades and some general boat cleaning. Oh yeah, and made yogurt, too.

Had Jay from s/v Wind Raven (from Newport, OR just like us) over for dinner tonight. It was only right since he provided the triggerfish filets. He also brought over some excellent guacamole. Of course he denied having any idea how to actually make guacamole but you sure couldn't tell that by how it tasted. Cooked the filets on the BBQ using Mexican charcoal which is chunks of charcoal (not briquettes) made from mesquite. Sure did taste good.

Just so you won't feel too sorry for us here with our engine woes, here's another photo of Agua Verde to put things in perspective:

For the record, we're no longer actually at Agua Verde but Puerto Escondido is nothing to sneeze at either. Without leaving the marina complex there is wifi, a convenience store with cold cerveza, a laundromat, showers (the water is cold but it feels really good that way, and it's not actually cold cold, just quite cool), a boatyard, a travelift, a restaurant, a spa pool and a small lap pool. Then, a short walk will take us to another small tienda, a hotel and a restaurant. So we're definitely not suffering.

So, send us your positive engine vibes and we'll soldier on. Seems like that should be "we'll sailor on". Oh well.


Anonymous said...

Lots of good vibes to you. Glad Lulu is doing a little better and great news that you found the "leak". Knowing is half the battle right? Can you tell which seal on the pump let go? If you rebuilt it recently did you smooth out the plate that covers the impeller? I've hard they leak often if you don't resurface them properly. If that is the seal that let go you could always through a little gasket maker in to slow it down until rebuild. Good luck!

Steve and Lulu said...

Thanks for the good vibes, Tate. The seal that gave way is a shaft seal. Can't imagine what caused it to go unless I got some sand in the pump that wore the seal or the shaft. As soon as I get a rebuild kit and/or replacement pump (I ordered both), I'll be able to tear the pump down and hopefully find the cause. The gasket on the plate that covers the impeller is actually an o-ring (Speedseal retrofit) and there's no sign of leakage there. No, this flow is coming right out along the shaft.