Diesel Socks. An excellent name for a rock band? Agreed, but stay with me.
I tootled on down to Astoria this past Friday, full of turkey and ambitions to knock out about twenty projects that realistically will take a month to complete. I’m okay with failing utterly on most of my goals and I did get some good work done. But life kept happening, distracting me from my noble intentions. Stupid life.
First on the agenda was to completely remove the last of the hardware from our increasingly blank equipment panel in the engine room. All that was left were the fuel filters and the raw water strainer. Once those were off, I applied BligeKote to those last areas and let that dry over night.
While the BilgeKote fumes worked their magic on my little grey cells, I disassembled the Racor 120 fuel filters and cleaned them up as best I could. These filters are perfectly serviceable and with new A1 fuel line would protect our new engine well. But I really like the drop in cartridge style filters like the Racor 500s. They are much easier to replace and visually inspect. It has also been pointed out that the cartridges are much cheaper.
Now doubt is creeping in. Should I reinstall these now and make do or buy the new ones and be done with it? Of course, until I can make that decision, I can’t put the existing units back on my pretty white wall.
Okay, let’s forget the fuel filters. I’ll just put the raw water strainer back on after the paint dries. At least one thing will be reinstalled before I leave. But… What if the raw water inlet is further forward than the strainer outlet? Then the hose will make a tortuous bend and my life will be ruined! I can’t possibly make so momentous a decision as the location of the raw water strainer without investigating the Beta Marine drawings and researching optimal height above/below the waterline, plus leering over current engine installations. Before you know it, it’s one in the morning and all I’ve done is paint about two square feet of a wall.
Diesel Socks? Oh, right. One of the things Melissa and I have really enjoyed on Andromeda is the Sig Marine Diesel Heater. It is mounted on the forward bulkhead in the saloon and just makes the whole boat a warm, dry oasis in the midst of a howling, rainy Astoria winter.
So, while pouring over filters, strainers and engine data, the little diesel heater kept me company. When I went to bed, I turned down the heat and drifted off to sleep knowing that a storm was blowing in from the Pacific and already feeling, and hearing the wind singing in our rigging. I have installed a brand new CO detector right by the heater so that danger is mitigated but I did not anticipate what would happen next.
As the wind increased through the night (a max speed of 44 knots at 3:00 AM), a down draft blew out the fire in the heater. That isn’t too big of a deal except that in the morning it was rather cold and the burner had half a cup of unburned fuel standing in it. Now my to-do list suddenly includes clearing the fuel from the system and trying to re-light the heater. And making coffee.
For the uninitiated, diesel heaters are pretty safe and simple, but they can be messy. When you try to drain half a cup of oil from the heater, four ounces go into the container, four ounces go under the container and the rest goes onto your hands, hair, underpants and the tip of your nose. After changing underpants, I tried to restart the fire with a now relatively empty burner. Alas, the continued high winds kept blowing the feeble flame out before it could heat the chamber sufficiently for proper combustion.
Looking inside, I could see that there was a lot of carbon build up in there. Since a warm fire seemed to be off the table, I elected to remove the burner and take it home for a good cleaning. That will surely fix this problem in the future and I will once again be productively working on the boat.
After removing a few screws and then re-installing those screws so that I could remove the right screws, the burner came away from the heater. Immediately the remaining four ounces of fuel left inside began to leak on to me, my fresh underpants and the sole of the boat. I quickly placed a plastic trash bag under the burner to gain time and figure out how to get this mess out of my boat. Hopping up into the cockpit, I grabbed a five gallon bucket and put the burner inside and placed it back in the cockpit.
Now turning my attention to the carnage I had wrought, I noticed little shiny dabs of oily spots all over the sole of the salon and galley. I had managed to step in a nice puddle of fuel and then track it through the middle third of the boat thereby distributing the last four ounces of fuel from the burner. That was my last pair of socks.
I will say that diesel does impart a lustrous shine on old teak and holly soles. But it just doesn’t feel safe to have a slippery, combustible oil on our sole. So I cleaned that mess up and tried to salvage my day by installing a new ABYC compliant 30 amp shore power breaker.
I shall end this post by showing you that I did clean the burner and it was way over due. I now suspect that the extraordinary carbon buildup inside the burner was largely responsible for its inability to efficiently burn. I am looking forward to re-installing everything and once again enjoying our cozy little fireplace.
Next weekend I will start anew. Fresh socks? Check. Fresh underpants? Check. 2 projects down, 18 to go.