Monthly Archives: October 2009

Halloween hazards…

It seems a fun holiday, harmless, really. Candy for the kiddies all dressed in their cute little costumes. But there’s a darker side often overlooked. It’s the annual carnage some hapless pumpkins suffer at the hands of knife-wielding maniacs in their quest to create Jack-O-Lanterns. Please be warned, the following images are rather graphic and may be upsetting to some viewers.

This poor victim, seen below, merely wanted to enjoy a late-season afternoon of boating, but in this case wound up on the wrong end of a Danforth. (Boat US Claim #9876543)

And a less known but disturbing fact about pumpkins is that they do at times turn to cannibalism. Shown here, one can clearly see the terror of the much smaller pumpkin, which doesn’t stand a chance against the ravenous produce eying it hungrily.

I wish I could provide better pictures of this year’s specimen. Unfortunately they have proven difficult to photograph, as flashbulbs and bright lights can scare them off. In the next image we see the Zombie-O-Lantern, with the brains of some unsuspecting pumpkin still dangling from its jagged grin.

Pumpkins be warned. It is not safe in suburbia

Acme Marine Repair Supplies?

The stuffing box is still within Annabel Lee. No efforts, banged knuckles or colorful language could persuade it otherwise.

It took some fine-tuning to make Really Big Wrench #2 fit properly but once it did Frank was able to turn the stuffing box, breaking it free from the bulkhead. So far, so good. Our next question — was it threaded on the stern tube or just pressed and bedded in — was answered when we found a gasket within the orange PhillyBond. I think it’s safe to say a gasket like that wouldn’t be present if it were threaded on. Unfortunately, without any means of apply pressure from behind our only option is to pull it from the bulkhead. That will require creating a bracket to mount on the stuffing box, a bracket we’ll mount to the motor mounts, and some turnbuckles to gradually increase the pull between while rotating the stuffing box back and forth within the bulkhead. More fabricating.

Sometimes we feel like Wile E. Coyote, constantly inventing our next solution. At least he had Acme. There are no tools built for this, or at least none we know of, (then again, dynamite might be an option!) no instruction manuals we can find, and the worst part is knowing we’ll have to put it all back together again when we’re done.

But at least it moves, and it it moves, that means it can come off. It’s just a matter of figuring how.

And now, in the sh*t you never think to check but should department… I give you the stern tube water intake.

(Missing picture, I’ll be updating these.)

We wanted to replace this plastic fitting on moral grounds. I strongly believe plastic like this has no place separating the inside of a boat from the water surrounding it. There is a reason bronze was created. Many reasons, in fact, and keeping the ocean out is high on that list. Anyhow, we removed it to facilitate stuffing box access and found it nearly plugged solid with some white substance… but what, and why? Closer inspection of the fitting itself revealed the problem. When this fitting was first installed someone applied a liberal amount of what I can imagine was Boatlife or a similar substance, with the intent of avoiding leaks. When the fitting was tightened down the sealant was displaced and formed a significant obstruction to water flow. It’s something to bear in mind when there’s an overheating problem, though fortunately in this case that hadn’t become an issue, and it’s definitely something to consider when installing fitting of this sort.

It most certainly didn’t leak, though.

Shipbuilders to the world for over a century…

That’s what it says on the Cheoy Lee web site, and through the weekend we gained a new appreciation for that statement. Since 1870 they’ve built a range of ships, tugs, and an assortment of yachts. Overbuilt is a more accurate term. The further we delve into our boat’s construction, removing the stuffing box and disassembling the steering, the more her shipyard lineage becomes apparent. Every book and article we find on stuffing boxes bear no resemblance to our specific stuffing box… until I found it! There it was… that one on the right! That’s our stuffing box. Then I scroll further down, only to see the image of an ocean liner. Oh-kay.

The steering is another curious situation. Again, nothing resembles the parts we’re dealing with, and there’s no manual to how it was assembled or how to take it apart. That is, if we can even get it apart. I’d swear this boat was built to break ice! Bit by bit we’re making cautious progress, learning more about our boat’s construction than we ever imagined. So for anyone treading this unfamiliar path, here’s what we’ve determined so far. The main steering housing is mounted to a massive block of solid teak, with the rudder and tiller removed.

With all bolts removed, it does NOT budge. It turns out the housing is threaded on, and with great effort is gradually turned counter-clockwise until it is unscrewed from the bronze pipe beneath.

The bronze pipe is then coaxed out the same way, leaving us with a cockpit full of parts. However….

The lower steering tube is bolted securely into the hull. We first removed the teak block, and discovered all four lag bolts were ever so slightly bent, a minor thing, but just enough to throw the main housing out of alignment with the lower housing. It’s likely this misalignment was just enough to result in last summer’s sticky steering. Whether the rudder or the bronze tube are bent remains to be determined. But it looks as though the main stress went to the weakest point, and that appears to be the lag bolts.

We removed the four carriage bolts, but no amount of persasion will separate this tube from the hull. We suspect there may be some 5200 at work here, and some research revealed a bit of assistance with a heat gun, combined with some gentle upward pressure and rotation may solve the problem. However, rotation is the problem, as no tools are large enough to grip the housing. This week Frank will be welding up some custom ‘wrenches’ to tackle this and the stuffing box base.

So here’s the sum of my weekend….

(Pic of truckload of boatparts has gone AWOL)

Funny thing is, when we bought this truck all those years ago, it was with the intent that it would tow something like a 23′ Steigercraft or the like. For several years it served as tow vehicle for Myra Lee. But never in my wildest imagination did I ever see it hauling parts like these.

WTF is that orange stuff???

That is the question of the day, (besides what did that guy do last night). It’s orange, and I mean BRIGHT orange.

So what is this stuff we’ve been scraping away? Turns out, it’s Phillybond Orange, a two component, epoxy paste, developed for sealing exposed edges on stern-tubes. Which is precisely what it’s doing, bonding the stuffing box to the stern-tube. And quite firmly sealed between them is the inner cutlass bearing. And by all appearances, that particular bearing is years past needing replacement, which brings us to why we’re trying to separate that brilliant orange bond.

Here’s the outer cutlass bearing and stern-tube. If you look real hard, you can almost see the engine from here. So what exactly is the stern tube constructed of? Yet another thing to ponder.

Something to ponder…

I stop in the A&P this afternoon to grab a few necessary provisions, plus some CheezDoodles (buy one, get one free, how could I resist?) I detest those ‘express yourself’ self-serve check-outs on the principal that as stores phase them in on the premise of improving customer convenience, they cut their costs (savings I doubt will be passed along to us shoppers) while eliminating jobs for people like the nice high-school age kid at the actual express lane. So I wait at the employee operated register behind a neatly groomed but rather grim looking fellow, very grim looking indeed, with a cart containing five gallon-size bottles of bleach, for which he paid with a fresh hundred dollar bill. The kid at the register gave him his change and said “Have a nice day.” He turned and left without a word.

I find myself wondering what that gentleman had planned for his Friday night.

Squirrels, Zombies, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster…

… are three things that have made me very happy over the last few days. Which, I suppose, says something about me and my warped sense of humor.

Loki loves to watch the squirrels on the front lawn, staring out the window and mumbling anxiously as they scamper to and fro. But he’d never encountered one first-hand as most squirrels avoid the fenced backyard. The other day I was outside with the dogs. Moxy and Rex followed me back into the kitchen, though Loki was still attending to some doggie business. As I step to the sink I see something has he’s finished up and taken to chasing a squirrel around a tree. Most squirrels have the sense to stay above ground, but this poor thing made the dreadful mistake of venturing to the ground. Over the years occasional critters have wandered into the fenced zone, and the results were never pretty. In a panic I rushed outside, shouting and trying to distract Loki. But it was too late, he’d caught it, and he trotted over proud as could be, squirrel dangling limply from his mouth. Tail wagging, he presented me with his trophy, gently laying it at my feet. The poor thing’s still breathing and from what I can see, unmarked. It stands up, a bit wobbly and dazed but otherwise fine, just very confused. I wrap it in a dishtowel and return it to the tree, where it runs up, slightly shaken but otherwise fine, and with any luck somewhat wiser. Loki’s looking at me, baffled as to why I released that wonderful furry toy. What amazes me is how very gently he must have carried it, and I’m so happy knowing he clearly lacks the killer instinct.

Zombies… What more can I say. Saturday night we went to see Zombieland, and I can’t recall the last time I laughed so hard. Yes, it’s gross. Yes, it’s violent. Yes, there is much in poor taste. In short, my kind of movie! My advice, don’t read the reviews and Wiki pages, spoilers abound. Just watch and enjoy. The ‘Rules’ are brilliant, and yay for Twinkies! This gets my vote as the ‘Feel Good’ movie of the year!

And the Flying Spaghetti Monster… Felicia is taking a course on ‘Argumentative Studies’ or something like that, though Frank suggested she should get credit for life experience. Argumentation has specific guidelines and rules, much like in the Zombie Apocalypse, and provides hours of fascinating amusement. Felicia seems to be enjoying this class, both in subject matter and the professor, who apparently brings up unique subjects for debate. Along the lines of religion and the whole evolution vs ‘intelligent design’ in schools, the topic was raised of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Following all proper rules of argumentation, this tackles the sticky topics of defining religion. I think their ‘about the cause’ page sums it up best, though I recommend reading through their other pages as well, especially the hate mail page. That one’s a real eye opener. All the same, I think I’ve found god!