You Win Some, You Lose Some

Ah, young love. That special time in a relationship when anything and everything seems possible. Pull the old transmission from your engine room? No problem! Repair your propane system? How hard can it be? Open a seacock? Don’t mind if I do!

Down there is a shaft coupling that will not bend to my will.

Most of my weekend was spent staring at the ass end of a Hurth 360 transmission wondering how four simple bolts could cause such woe. So far I have used PB Blaster, Transmission fluid and acetone and every socket and wrench combination in my arsenal to no avail.  Even with chemical help, I can’t seem to muster enough mechanical advantage in the small area available to break these bolts free. I even started, and then aborted an attempt to cut the shaft just forward of the PSS Shaft seal. So, with tail firmly tucked between my legs, I turned to removing much of the old wiring and some of the old plumbing in the engine room. This gave me some sense of accomplishment and a feeling of mastery over some small part of our very long project list.

Trust me. This is progress

Meanwhile, Melissa was going mano-a-mano with the propane system. The regulators and fittings were pretty grungy looking and didn’t inspire great confidence that we would not blow ourselves up. She disassembled all of the fittings, cleaned them up and reassembled with new Teflon tape. Unfortunately, a leak test revealed a failed swaged hose fitting but that is an easy fix. We also need to place a drain at the bottom of the locker and make some other modifications to bring the system up to standards.

The propane system before Melissa’s rehabilitation

And after.

Finally, we have a seacock issue that we are unsure of. I turned the discharge seacock to the forward head so that we could test the toilet there. That toilet pumps directly overboard so we can’t use it until we are offshore but I still want to check things out. When I turned the valve, a dribble of water came from the valve flange. I have deduced that these are Blakes Seacocks and are very well made and easily serviceable. Two bolts are used to tighten the flange down on top of the valve cone and provide a seal but I haven’t quite gotten it to stop the leak. The newer Blake seacocks have a grease nipple but these do not and so I am unsure of whether I need to wait to haul out before I start working on this or if I can somehow attempt to grease and seal these up while still in the water.

Have you seen this seacock?


One small victory was in reclaiming the workbench. Andromeda has a proper little shop just off from the entrance to the engine room. Like all proper little shops, it becomes a bit of a dumping ground for the various boat bits that don’t have a home or we are too lazy to put away. With so many wires, hoses and engine parts flying off the boat, the work bench was really filling up. But a few hours each day gained more and more usable space and allowed me to de-clutter and organize the shop. The previous owners left plenty of tools and parts which are quite welcome. Of course, I bring many more tools onto the boat and it is easy to fill every empty space with more stuff than we actually need. We are really going to enjoy having a proper work space for all of the projects.

Happiness is a clean workbench 

Lest you think all we do is work, on Sunday morning Melissa and I found just about the the greatest coffee house ever at the Three Cups Cafe. Maybe we just needed time to lick our wounds, but both of us fell into a plush couch and felt the stress melt away with some of the best coffee we have ever tasted. We are still talking about their Thundermuck coffee two days after our first visit and the only thing we are confused about is why we didn’t buy a few pounds for the house. The Columbia River Coffee Roaster is in the same building so the whole joint smells like some kind of awesome. Andromeda’s former owner was a regular here as well and now we know why.

Man that is good coffee!

Three Cups Cafe. Melissa and I are still talking about the greatness of their coffee.

Likewise we always need dinner, since the propane system is not up and running, nor do we have a refrigeration system yet. Our forays into the wilds of Astoria have turned up gem after gem in terms of eateries. This time we went the way of our friend Steve Yoder who always seems to find the perfect small cafe down in Mexico. We stopped in at Blue Ocean, a small and discreet Thai restaurant off the main drag. What a gem! Tall ceilings, quiet atmosphere, service with a smile, moderate prices, and the best Thai food we’ve had since Silk Thai in Tacoma.  It’s going on our list of regular haunts.

While we would both love to claim unconditional victory over every project we tackle on Andromeda, we know that just isn’t going to happen. So, we re-calibrate our expectations, enjoy our small wins and keep working towards the day when we slip her from the dock and onto the sea. And we drown our sorrows in excellent Thai food and coffee.

19 thoughts on “You Win Some, You Lose Some

  1. Great pix and good job on the propane. Those meters are very expensive. Nice coffee shop find. Good luck on those bolts. Such a bother.

    Good to see some of those wires going away or being rerouted to a better place than hanging. Would like to see more electronic or electrical panel stuff.

    • Al,
      We have a number of electrical projects on tap, so you will see future posts on that. The DC panel actually looks pretty good. My first projects will involve updating the Shore power service. I am also wondering if I can simplify the charging system. We currently have a Xantrex 40 amp charger for the house bank and a Newmar charger for the Start battery. If I can eliminate the older Newmar, it could make maintenance a bit easier.

  2. The propane regulator bezel looks great. Not sure if this helps but we placed a big cork into our heads leaky seacock allowing removal of hoses and head. It leaked a little so I figured the cork would be fine for now. Then when we haulout in the spring we can service the seacock.

    • Michael, I pinged the former owner and he suggested that I try turning the seacock valve 180 degrees to gain a different mating surface. I may try that. The proper servicing drill is to lap the two mating surfaces with a fine polishing compound, clean and grease. Clearly a project for haulout.

    • I have soaked these bolts in so much flammable material that I am reluctant to heat them with a torch. If the flames got out of control I don’t know if I could put out a fire in such an inaccessible location. I did bring a torch but didn’t have the nerve to try it.

  3. Using heat on the nuts is a good suggestion. Failing that, using a cold-chisel it is possible to split the nut to remove it. Since you’ll likely not be reusing the same hardware to recouple your transmission to your shaft, there’s no harm in using a destructive means to part them. Whatever you replace them with, you might want to consider using a slather of ‘Never-sieze’ on them when re-installing. Good luck.

    • One of my friends from work just gave me his impact wrench to try and I have a good feeling that will do the trick along with all of the chemical loosening agents I have applied.

      I am perfectly game to breaking the bolts if I could get a good swing at them. And you better believe the replacement will have plenty of never-sieze on them. I am pretty sure these bolts are stainless but you can hardly tell to look them.

      • I concur with the use of a cold chisel but for a different purpose. Use the chisel to try to turn the nut. That is, angle the chisel on one of the nut’s flat surfaces so that, when smacked, it would tend to turn the nut counterclockwise. You’ll end up cutting a groove in the nut that the chisel will stay in. It ruins the nut for use with a socket wrench but what they hey? I’ve used this tactic successfully many times, one of which was on my transmission coupling nuts.

        You guys try the fish and chips at the Bowpicker yet?


        • Steve,
          Along with the impact wrench, my friend gave me a pneumatic chisel. This would give me the force I need without having to actually swing a hammer in such a restricted area. I’ll try the wrench first though.

          And no, we have not tried Bowpickers yet. Too many good places to eat and too little time.

  4. My rule about seacocks is that you absolutely do not try to service them while in the water. I had to put my foot down with Mark on this one and Melissa needs to do the same with you! Just because you can does not mean you should. 😉 Mark has not seen your work bench and I will not show him because he will cry. Nothing sadder than a teary eyed Scotsman. The propane clean up is looking really great and as to those bolts? The answer is to buy an expensive tool for the job, buy a new shaft coupling and then those bolts will magically come loose with nothing more than a wrench you already own.

    • Only one wife may scold me at a time. So get in line.
      The seacocks will definitely have to wait as I have learned from the previous owner that the process for servicing them is rather more involved. He did suggest some other tactics for staunching the dribble which I can try without removing anything.

      The work bench is quite the luxury and I can understand your reluctance to share such decadent photos with your husband. I know I will be re-decorating for a while till I get the area just so. I am looking for something with antlers to mount on the aft bulkhead.

      Look for a post next week with a photo of me hoisting an old Hurth 360 transmission like the slain Medusa’s head. If I can lift it that high.

    • Oh, yes! I am in complete agreement about seacocks and water. “Can do” is SO not the same as “should do”. We will be leaving that baby exactly where it is. In terms of the workbench, I have been seriously warned to keep out of that area. So i have decided that I get the equivalent area on the other side of the boat. This will give me an extra bunk, plus an extra hanging locker. I have not yet decided what I will require to balance the scales of justice in terms of that engine room.

  5. Last summer I had to cut my 1 1/2″” shaft to remove it as I could not free the bolts. Took about 5 sawzall blades and did it in under an hour

    • I can see that I am not alone in my shaft coupling struggles. I got about half way through the shaft and began to worry about an unsecured or at least poorly secured prop shaft and what would happen if it slipped down into the shaft tube. It is secured by the PSS shaft seal bearing but that is all. if that slipped, it would be really hard to stop the inflow of water. A wooden plug could probably not be driven in far enough. At any rate, too many unknowns for my taste.

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