The Beta has Landed

The dirty little secret among sailors is that while all we talk about is sailing, what we all long for is an engine that can reliably get us into and out of marinas, anchorages and dicey situations. An engine helps us work our way around the crunchy bits of the watery world we want to explore.

Today we have that engine.

This is where having someone experienced in the art of lifting heavy objects comes in handy. Shawn had many tricks to make fitting the 49 inch tall engine and boom fit into the 39 inch tall opening under the dodger. He also sacrificed a shirt to keep the shiny red paint looking good.

The morning broke in Astoria clear, cold and with a wind blowing fierce out of the east. Shawn the diesel mechanic showed up with our engine for the second time in seven days but we were both determined to drop this puppy into Andromeda before the day was out.

The Port of Astoria has turned out to be a terrific place for the repower project. On a Sunday, the forklift had the key in the ignition and the boom was well built and ready for use.

The effort was not without its challenges. Shawn did the math and quickly concluded that the engine and boom height combined would not go between the top of the dodger and the cockpit coaming. His solution? Take off the oil pan and sump pickup. That gave us about eight additional inches of clearance, which was about a quarter of an inch more than we needed.

The Tricky Part

Our engine sans oil pan.

Once the engine was  under the dodger, we removed the cockpit sole and placed some blocking to allow us to set down the engine and set up our chain hoist.

An engine room with a view. The two by twelves above me were used to set the engine down while we got the chain hoist in place.

I love field engineering solutions to problems like this and it was great to work with a guy like Shawn who won’t be deterred by something trivial like no brakes on the forklift.

Once the engine was in the hole, Shawn re-installed the oil pan. That is a brand new, one ton chain hoist that Shawn is depending on.

The new rails required some modification. Shawn had to drill new holes to match the existing threaded inserts installed into the boat’s engine beds. Once that task was completed we were able to bolt down the new rails and lower the engine onto the rails.

Shawn tweaks the feet on the back of the engine. Until we get the new cutless bearing and prop shaft, this is all roughed in.

I think the engine is a little further back than either of us thought it would be, but the transmission dipstick and filler are pretty easy to access. The electrical control cable is just long enough to reach and connect to the engine without an extension and both the raw water and fuel lines are just a short jump from the starboard wall where the raw water strainer and fuel filters are located. There is also plenty of room in front of the engine to work tension belts or replace the raw water impeller. All in all we have great access to every part of the engine.

Shawn putting the finishing touches on the engine rail bolts. The old threads were pretty grungy and needed a little love from the impact driver.

We had Shawn’s tools packed and in his truck just as the sun was setting. He was happy to not be lugging a 600 pound engine up and down the Columbia river for another week. It had been a long day but finally, we have a new engine in Andromeda. We will disregard for a moment that it has no fuel, water, oil or battery. Those will come later.

It may seem trite to some that a big hunk of steel could be so important to the success of our cunning plan, but it is true. We are products of a culture that is in love with the power to just get up and go. Whether it is a 67 Mustang or 60 horse Beta, being able move under our own terms, on our own schedule, is important to us. Knowing that our new beta engine will be there for us around the crunchy bits will give us the false sense of security we need to really get in trouble.

16 thoughts on “The Beta has Landed

    • Shawn did a great job setting up the hoist and guiding her in. I was grateful that he let me act as assistant. I learned a great deal about the nuts and bolts of lifting heavy objects without hurting anyone or the engine.

  1. Very nice! Nothing like an engine replacement to get the creative parts of the brain in full gear.

    When we were looking at boats to purchase, we scratched Island Packet off the list because when I asked about engine replacement, I was told we would need a better carpenter than mechanic. As far as our broker was aware, he had never seen it done.

    Its amazing on some boats how it appears they start with the engine and then build the boat around it.

    This will give you immense peace of mind knowing you are going to hear vroom vroom whenever you turn the key.


    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

    • I too have been perplexed at how little thought is given in some boats to engine service and access. Melissa and I made such access a very high priority in our search. Our Cal 34 had fairly decent access most of the engine and I was grateful for that. Andromeda has incedible engine access and it was certainly big reason why we began to think that 47 feet would not be too big.

      This re-power has been so educational and has removed much of the mystery and fear of performing such a job on another boat. I could easily see this as a do it yourself job on a smaller boat.

  2. YAY! Oh man, this is SO exciting 🙂 So, does this mean when its all powered up that you will splash her and sail her closer to where you live? Looking forward to sailing posts of you out the Puget Sound!

    • If I have enough vacation time, We hope to cruise to Barkley Sound in the summer and then bring her down to Tacoma so that we can sail and work on her without having to drive two and a half hours each way. While we are really looking forward to having her close to our home, our moorage in Astoria is paid up through the end of 2014 and it is so much cheaper to keep her down there. So, we may end up sailing her back down to Astoria in the fall.

    • I thought that was clever too. I was a little anxious when Shawn started taking the engine apart before we had even started her up. But it did allow me to clean the oil pan of any residual oil from the test run and you could see some dirt in the oil. Shawn and I then cleaned the flanges with acetone and applied gasket sealer to make a new seal. I really like the photo of Shawn under the engine re-installing the pan.

      We will be bringing Andromeda to the Sound this summer. The plan du jour is to have the re-power and some instrumentation completed in Astoria and then cruise to Barkley Sound for a week before heading to Tacoma. That way we can use her more and work on her more while the weather is fine. But we are thinking that we may want to take her back down to Astoria in the fall to save on moorage expenses. Moorage in Astoria is a quarter of what it is in Tacoma!

      • Sounds like a great plan. Barkley Sound is great. Lots of nooks and crannies to explore as you know. Look forward to your engine prop alignment & hookups. Too bad about Tacoma being too expensive. Lots more road miles. :-(. We feel for you. Ouch. That is why we moved aboard. No more long commutes or worries about two homes.

        • We took our Cal 34 to Barkley Sound in 2010 and it was one of our best trips. Getting to Barkley Sound from Astoria is probably easier than getting there from Tacoma.

          The moorage issue will be resolved eventually. Since we are paid up in Astoria, it will be a little hard to to pay for another slip but the convenience will be worth it.

  3. I used to think we had a lot of room around our engine but it almost looks like your engine room really is a room. Incredible amounts of space. Getting the engine down on the mounts is the scary part, hooking up the systems is the fun stuff !

    • It is a an actual room with doors and standing headroom. Downton Abby it is not but it is pretty sweet. Lifting the cockpit sole up to drop the engine in is not something you would want to do every day but it certainly made the installation easy.

      Since we don’t have the prop shaft installed (or the cutless bearing) we can’t really do the fine alignment, but we are close enough to get the other systems hooked up. And I am looking forward to that.

  4. YAY! It’s red! It’t shiny! It’s in!!!
    Someday (hopefully not TOO soon) when we repower it will be with a Beta. Until then, I shall just admire your shiny new engine. You know you have to video the start up so we can hear just how gentle a diesel engine can sound.

    • If you are considering a Beta, we will be sure to let you know how she performs. I also seriously considered the Yanmar. They have a great reputation and are lighter. However in this size, I think they are all turbos and I felt that the added complexity might be an issue.

      I have three panels of one inch, two pound soundown sound insulation that we will be installing in the engine room. Now are worried that the engine will be too quiet.

  5. Great to see the engine in. My wife and I spent part of last week in Cannon Beach and drove into the yard in Astoria about the time you must have been taking the first photo. (Naw – I didn’t stop – figured you had enough on your plate.)
    Sure was easy spotting that bright red engine on the forklift.
    BTW – we just got a 10% increase at Tyee Marina!

    • Sorry we could not have met on Sunday but you could tell we were pretty busy. I saw a few cars cruise by the boatyard and vanity always informs me that they are driving by to look at our pretty boat.

      That is troubling news about Tyee. Foss Harbor is surely to follow in raising their rates. We kept our Catalina 27 in Tyee and really liked the marina. It was especially handy for racing and for getting into the wind quickly. I like Foss Harbor for its easy access from I-5 though.

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