Sep 16

Engine Repair Part 2

Tag: UncategorizedJonathon Haradon @ 1:45 pm

After spending three days relaxing, hanging out in cafes, recovering from sailing so much the last two weeks, we decided we were ready to move on to other anchorages in Tonga.  Our engine had other plans.

The engine performed admirably since Matt and I patched it, motoring for ten hours or more enroute to Tonga.  But less than 60 seconds after having left the mooring we were at just off Neifu, less than 60 seconds into our foray into the fun side of Tonga and away from the cafe side of Tonga, the exhaust manifold sheered a bolt again.  And snapped the hose clamps we had added.  Back to the mooring ball.  Back to Aquarium requesting additional days on the mooring.  Back to mind-numbing cafes.

We formulated a new plan which involved putting all efforts into getting out the sheered bolt that still had the extractor bit inside it.  Then, we would construct a bracket to brace the heavy exhaust elbow infrastructure, hopefully reducing its vibration and consequently its tendency to sheer.

The next morning I took a taxi to the hardware stores and purchased eight new drill bits.  Getting out the extractor bit would be no easy task.  I then set upon trying.  I drilled.  1 bit broke.  And another.  And another.

Four hours later, I was exhausted, frustrated, indignant, furious, and capable of going no further.  I opened a beer and popped in an episode of West Wing.  One episode turned in to ten as I drowned my misery and anger in escapism.

The next day, Matt took his turn.  Similar results ensued.

The next day, I took the drill.  Our engine block at this point had drill holes down all four sides of the bolt with the extractor bit in it.  We had broken nearly a dozen drill bits.  Dulled beyond use another dozen.  Used drill bits ranging from 3/64” up to 1/2”.  The gauge around the extractor bit was twice as big as the bolt that originally went through it.

And then, after more multiple hours of drilling,  the extractor bit wiggled.  The smallest of movements!  This tiny victory buoyed my spirits as I drilled for another hour until it was finally freed!  Celebration ensued.  Much beer was drank.

The next day, Matt re-tapped holes into the engine block.  They are suspect, as the holes we tapped are 5/16” coarse thread instead of the original 5/16” fine thread.  And the hole which originally had the extractor bit inside the bolt in it, well the surface of that bolt hole is gouged down so far that very few threads seem to actually contact the new fine thread bolt.

We enlarged the bolt holes going through the exhaust manifold.  And most importantly, Matt added a beefy bracket that definitely reduced vibration in the exhaust elbow.

Four days later, we were ready to leave again.  We turned on the engine.  We waited anxiously.  Straining our ears for odd sounds.  Squinting our eyes to look for unusual vibration.  All appeared normal.  Maybe it worked!

We gingerly left Neifu and went exploring some other anchorages in Tonga.  Now in Fiji, the engine has motored plenty and is holding up fine.  We have guests arriving though, Gary, Anna, and Allison, and if the engine wanted to break again, now would be a most inopportune time to do it.  We really hope it doesn’t!

7 Responses to “Engine Repair Part 2”

  1. Rob says:

    Hey guys, I know this is probably a dumb question but did you check the motor mounts for looseness? Also, did you check the shaft packing for it being too tight which would cause alot of stress on the drive train? Shaft alignment could be an issue that would cause excessive wobble on the back end of the engine. Remember, Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. Don’t mess around! Good luck and All the best! Rob Levy

  2. Louis & Laura says:

    Looks like Syzygy has it’s own capable writer! Very nice!

    We just read the last 4 episodes of the Syzygy story sitting in our hotel room over looking Inarin River in Lapland, Finland @ latitude 69N (3 degrees north of the artic circle).

    You guys are wonderful….enjoy the good times & the repair times.

    Kippis (cheers in Finnish)
    Louis & Laura
    s/v CIRQUE

  3. Rowan says:

    Hey there. I recently stumbled upon your blog and have really been enjoying reading about your travels. Hopefully we’ll be not too far behind you! One minor observation: the posts on this blog are stamped with the time the post was uploaded but not the date. It would be really nice to have the date when reading back through the posts to get a sense of the time that elapses between posts, it just helps me to follow along. No big deal but just thought I’d mention it.

  4. Ross Mann says:

    Thanks for all the interesting stories of your adventure – great reading! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this exhaust patch holds.

    As I recall on my Perkins 4-108 there was a cast metal fitting that was part of the exhaust manifold that terminated in a downward directed 1 1/2″ male hose barb to which the exhaust hose was clamped. Just above this point the casting had 3/4″ hose attachment where the salt water that flowed from the heat exchanger was injected into the hot exhaust gas. By means of this arrangement (which I took to be typical) there wasn’t any rigid piping attached to the engine and thus it could vibrate without fear of anything breaking loose.

  5. Brenda and David says:

    Oh, we’ve had similar broken off extractor bit things happen–always on a back-road driving trip, not on the boat. However…

    JB Weld is your friend. You can put some into a drilled out hole and set the screw right into it. If you want to get the screw out in the future, spray the screw/bolt with PAM (olive oil) which should prevent the JB weld from adhering to the screw. Otherwise, helicoils can be used but they’re expensive and hard to come by. You might consider getting a set of helicoils in likely sizes and keep them aboard…but then again…JB Weld is much less costly and does the job.

    Fair winds,

  6. Mantastic says:

    Do you people ever just think to yourself, “Holy shit I’m in the middle of the effing ocean!” I have to admit the thought occurs to me every time I look at your little map with no land at all on it until you zoom out three or four times. I’m bored. I need an adventure. Canyoneering anyone? Ha! Oh and Jonny has convinced himself you guys are miserable. Seems to me, besides the misery of repairing the boat and actually sailing, seems like quite the adventure.

  7. mattholmes says:

    fascinating you should mention that; in fact we did exactly what you mention. However, that particular bolt still stripped post-JB weld, so we had some friends bring helicoils for us, and replacement studs, etc. All is well! Thanks for the advice!

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