Sep 16

Engine Repair Part 1

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 1:39 pm

While on watch during my midnight to 4 am shift, the wind began to die.  We had been flying just our jib sail.  However, I thought flying the drifter would be a better choice and so set about changing it.  Since we were flying only the jib, I  needed to roll it up and then set the drifter.  Since between having the jib rolled up, and letting out the drifter there are minutes, sometimes many minutes because I sometimes have problems getting the drifter set, where we have no sail up.  To keep us moving in the right direction and not just bobbing around randomly, we turn on the engine.

So it was with the engine on that I moved onto the fore deck to finish setting up the drifter.

And then the engine shut off.  Matt popped his head up from the companionway and motioned me back.  Smoke he said, was being emitted from the engine room.  This is bad.  Ironic though it may seem to a sailboat, severe problems with the engine are one of the worst things that could go wrong.

The smoke was exhaust from the engine.  Normally, the exhaust goes from the combustion chambers inside the cylinders, out the engine block and into the exhaust manifold.  From the manifold, it exits to our new, heavy duty exhaust elbow, through some tubing, through the water-lift muffler, through some more tubing, and finally out the boat.

Now, the exhaust was going into our boat.  Bad.

Two of the four bolts that that hold the exhaust manifold to the engine block sheered off.  THEY WERE 30 years old, so you have to give the bolts some acknowledgment for lasting that long.  The new, heavy duty exhaust elbow Matt had installed a year ago probably contributed to increased vibration and force on the bolts holding the manifold.  But they were 30 years old.

The next day we start in on the work, drilling out the part of the bolt that was left behind in the engine block.  The bolts are corroded.  They don’t want to turn.  They are steel.  Our drill bits are dull.  Did I mention that the boat is rocking back and forth while sailing towards Tonga?

One drill bit dulls.  Another drill bit breaks.  Matt takes a breather and I give it a go. A drill bit breaks.  Another drill bit breaks.  Cursing ensues.

Matt gets back into it.  One of the bolts comes out.  After a while, he decides he has drilled enough of a divot into the other bolt that he wants to try using an extractor bit.  These bits are conical shaped and reverse threaded on the outside.  The idea is that as you drill them into the divot, they will force the bolt to spin the other way and the bolt will follow its threads out the hole.  Nice theory.  Terrible in practice.  Extractor bits, we will later realize, are forged from the blood of the devil and hardened as if they were the devils own stone heart.  Extractor bits are pure evil.

Matt snapped off the hardened steel extractor bit inside the bolt which is inside the engine block.  Large amounts of cursing ensues subsequently followed by large amounts of beer drinking to end the day.

The next day, we formulated a new plan.  Leave the extractor bit in the old bolt, doing nothing to help fasten the exhaust manifold there, put in a new bolt for the one we got out, and then put on hose clamps around the exhaust manifold and part of the engine.  Along with new gaskets, we hoped the hose clamps would dampen the vibration, and help squeeze the manifold towards the engine.

With everything put back together, it looked… suspect.  the hose clamps were fastened to a heavily corroded fitting on the exhaust manifold, bent through a 90 degree turn and over a slight bend on a different axis.  It looked janky.  We fired up the engine with our fingers crossed.

And it worked.  Exhaust went out the boat.  Not into the boat.  Hopefully this will hold up until we get to Fiji with larger cities and bigger stores and where friends can bring us spare parts to help with a more permanent fix. Tonga is just too small.  Here’s hoping.

One Response to “Engine Repair Part 1”

  1. Maintenance Log for Syzygy » Exhaust Manifold says:

    […] the exhaust manifold sheared two of the four bolt studs that hold the manifold onto the engine. Part 1 of the story is here. Part 2 is here. Much frustration was derived from making a temporary fix. This involved drilling […]

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