Flies in the Ointment

We trundled down to Astoria again this weekend with big plans to accomplish ‘stuff’. Seems like we always have big plans. I think the problem is that in our heads, things are very simple. Just do this, then this, and then THAT will happen and voila! Finis! Probably it’s a good thing that we have the simple minds of children in this way. We’ve accomplished a lot in our lives by being either ignorant or innocent or both.

In theory we should have been able to pick up the special piece of exhaust pipe we are allegedly having made and we should have been able, then, to install said piece, after which our mechanic could come back and get the engine aligned again. In addition, lest you forget, we’d left the top plate the compass rests on soaking in Kroil Penetrating Oil all week, hoping to get it to let go its death grip on the stainless steel pedestal guard.

That’s how much movement we needed to get out of that metal piece.

When we walked down to the boat, we noticed a very cute little wooden sailboat in the first guest slip. Adorable! And there was a nice looking Hunter docked just across from us. Usually we are the only sailboat on our dock.  We got to visit with the owners of both boats, sitting in the cockpit of our S/V Nameless One. It was a first for us, and reminded us why we are going to like being aboard more often once we are further along with the refit. Our cockpit is big enough for visitors, and that hard dodger protects everyone from the rain. Lovely! I admit to being just a wee bit envious of Tom and Mary on their big 1990’s Hunter, though. They spent their time relaxing in their cockpit while we worked on our growing list of projects. Oh well, we chose our poison. So be it.

This boat can be stored inside because the mast is hinged. It’s a really sweet boat!

Our best laid plans began to unravel when we went below and noticed that the special piece of wire, the one the exhaust system artiste was supposed to pick up so there could be a custom piece machined, was still on the table. Okay. So the person never followed through this week, in spite of Mike’s two phone calls. I could have been irritated by that, but I chose instead to be relieved.

Yes, that is correct. I was very relieved. Why? Because I’m still not convinced that the piece is going to solve the problem.  I’m not convinced that the loop is actually high enough for our boat. I could just see us getting the piece made, and then having the same issue because it wasn’t tall enough. Talk about nightmares. An anonymous reader commented on our post when we first found out that it was the exhaust loop that looked to be the problem and we took his/her comment seriously. The comment echoed my own concern that if the problem was that the loop was too low, then the higher the better and we do have plenty of room in the engine room. Thanks, anonymous, for giving voice to my worry that we still didn’t have it right and why.

So I emailed the owners of a sister ship to ours, S/V Black Swan, on the east coast. I asked them to email me a photo of their exhaust loop and low and behold theirs is mighty tall. It goes almost all the way to the ceiling of the engine room.  I know they have a different engine than ours, but their boat is the same, the cooling water exits their boat the same place ours does,  and their exhaust loop is much higher than the one we were supposed to be getting (not to mention it’s about 5 times higher than the ‘tall’ loop we bought from Beta Marine).

I’ve learned over the years that even though I don’t know as much about boat systems as Mike does, when I have a gut feeling about things, I should speak up. Sometimes I am wrong and I just need more information to understand correctly. But sometimes I am right and it’s better to know this before something goes wrong than for me to be saying, ‘Damn! I should have said something.’ after the fact. I hate when that happens.  I’m pretty sure that I’m in good company with many women who sail with men who know more than they do about boats. It’s pretty easy for us to keep our mouths shut. In fact, it’s much easier that way sometimes. But we have to learn to speak up, even if our questions might sometimes feel foolish.

See the gray shelf with the water heater on it? The piece would come up to that shelf. But you can see that we have plenty of room for it to be even taller. Is it possible for it to be too tall?

So I was relieved that this piece of wire was still on the counter and Mike and I talked about my concerns. Turns out he wasn’t so sure about it either after reading the helpful comments and after seeing the photo of Black Swan’s set up. So we’re thinking we will get someone who specializes in exhaust systems to consult with us about this. We just want a fourth pair of eyeballs to look at this thing because we love this engine with all of our wallet and want it to be right. If they look at it and agree that the piece of wire represents a shape and size that should solve the problem, then groovy. But if not, we will be glad we had another opinion before spending the money on this custom part.

So I’m not sure if this is a good thing, (because I don’t really need anything else that can keep me up at night), but last night I had trouble falling asleep because I was going over that exhaust system in my head and asking myself why we needed to pay someone to make something that it sounded like we might be able to make ourselves. That, my friends, is a slippery slope I’m not sure I want to go down yet. When I mentioned it to Mike this morning turns out he was thinking the same thing. It’s probably good to think that way, but it’s also good to know when your money is better spent paying someone to make something for you because it’s what they do all the time. I’m pretty sure this is one of those times. But we shall see.

So Mike turned his attention to that piece of seized up metal. After a lot of this:

Using heat in his little manly workshop. 

A ton of this:

This makes an ungodly noise.

Then more fire until it was almost red hot, then dashing cold water on it, then more whanging, he finally got this:

Free at last.

That’s 100$ saved. I love it. Really, all other seized metal on this boat should be on notice. Mike WILL have his way with you. He will not give up. You WILL do as he says. He beat the transmission into submission, he wheedled the propeller into letting go, and he will beat the pants off of you, too, so you may as well put your hands up now.

He cleaned the piece up with the dremel, then I had the easy job of painting it to look new. He used Flitz to clean up the stainless steel guard and I was surprised as how well it looked. We’ll do a photo when everything is put back together.

By the time the metal gave up the ghost, Mike was looking pretty green around the gills and, feeling his forehead with my medically accurate mother’s hand, I noticed he had a fever. He was feeling pretty awful and took to his bunk early.

Today, he felt no better and, in addition, it was pouring cold rain and the occasional hail; not exactly the kind of weather a sick person needs to be working in. Or anyone, really.  Just say ‘no’ to working in hail.  We puttered around inside the boat doing nothing, then decided to call it a weekend and hit the road so he could get home and to bed. Sometimes you just have to listen to the body and give it what it wants.

We seriously need a break from this 3 hour drive to Astoria every weekend and this week we’ll get one. Mike’s sister is coming for a visit, Andrew is coming home for the weekend, and we are going to step away from the boat issues for a few days and catch our breath. We are more than ready to have this boat up in Foss Harbor Marina where we can work on her more often, and just hang out on her more often. But she has to be able to safely make the trip up the Washington Coast for that to happen. So onward to Astoria until this engine and transmission refit is finished.

Mike used this stuff to clean up the stainless steel pedestal guard and it worked really nicely.

Mike used this stuff to clean up the stainless steel pedestal guard and it worked really nicely.




25 thoughts on “Flies in the Ointment

  1. I always find it so interesting how things sometimes work out due to procrastination. For example just last week I was about to order 3 solar panels to go on top of the tower. Tate and I both agreed we’d try to put 3 80W’s up for a total of 240 back there. If I hadn’t been so busy at work I would have ordered them already, luckily however I didn’t because upon further examination of option and the space/arrangement we could do at the back I realized that we may instead be able to fit two 150W’s! Also the 3 80W’s might have been too big in which case if we had ordered them we’d be stuck with only 2 80W’s on the back when we can actually fit 2 100W’s.

    So it worked out.

    I bet you are tired of that drive!! Insanity, hopefully you’ll get her back one day soon.

    • Yeah, it’s funny how sometimes we are picking up on our own hesitation to get things done and then find out it’s good we didn’t try to move too fast. The solar panels sound awesome. The ones on our boat are toast so we’ll be in the market for new ones. I’m sure we’ll want to see how yours turn out! It’s very handy having you guys ahead of us in this game!

    • Solar panels sound pretty good. I’d like to get at least one panel, maybe 100W but trying to figure out how I would mount it. Right now, I’m leaning more toward the sides between a couple stations but it’s low on the project list so I have plenty of time to look things over. Nice arch by the way. Look forward to seeing panels up there. 😉

      • S/V Nameless One had some pivoting mounts attached to her stern rail, meant for solar panels. The panels are gone, but we still have the mounts for later. Maybe something like that would work for your boat? The panels she used to have were rectangular; long and narrow.

  2. Tell you what…. we can trade drives. I’m just as sick of my three hour drives to Seattle….so I’ll trade you.it’s about an hour to Astoria from here, and about an hour to Seattle for you…I’m not sure it will do your boat any good, though. 😉

    • Sue, that is a wicked drive you have, especially with traffic. As the weather gets nicer we are both going to be sitting in traffic on I-5 more often. Yuck. It’s enough to make me want to ‘sail away’ 🙂

  3. I also have the same set up with the exhaust heading out the transom. My water lift muffler lifts about 5 above the engine then there is about a 30 inch drop before it turns to head out the aft end of the boat on a gentle slope.

    The vented loop for the water injection elbow also goes up to the same height. There is also an extension going up to the water injection elbow taking it above the boats static waterline.

    I think since you have the room making the loops go higher is better. Always better to have “crew” speak up when they see a problem/concern. Easier to explain something or change the design then to fix it later..

    • Thanks, Andy. I will make sure Mike sees this comment. I think we can do this thing ourselves, but the more we read about wet exhaust systems the more they seem a little like rocket science because there are so many components that are custom to each boat. Our exhaust exits the starboard side of the boat, pointed downward. I told Mike yesterday that we really need to rip apart the aft cabin, opening all the lockers, so we can get a complete view of how this thing runs out the boat. We want to be double dog sure that the loop is higher than whatever the waterline might be when she is fully loaded. She is high in the water just now because there is nothing aboard except what is attached to the boat.

  4. I have a similar configuration of boat and the exhaust when I bought the boat was similar also. When I repowered I changed the exhaust to install a water separator. The exhaust leaves the engine and goes directly into the water lift muffler then it goes straight up to the separator. The dry exhaust continues to the stern (under the aft cabin bunk) and the water drains out the side of the boat. So far it has worked great! Another option to for you to think about.

    • Since you have brought up the topic I have been researching the water separators. Does this mean the dry exhaust is cooled sufficiently to pass through the wet exhaust hose with out damage? I need to learn more about these systems.

      • Yes, the water is with the exhaust for plenty of time to cool it. I have a run of probably 12-15 feet of hose after the water is separated and it has never had any problems overheating in nearly 4 years and 300 hours of operation.

        I have a standard Yanmar U exhaust mixing elbow. The total length of hose is maybe 5 feet before the water is separated. The exhaust lift muffler has more than enough capacity to hold any water remaining in the hose before it’s separated. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I was able to mount the muffler directly aft of the motor so heeling doesn’t ever affect the height. Even if water comes into the stern hose connection it would go into the water separator and drain away before ever getting to the motor. The only down side I know of is cost and having to install the drain for the separator.

        I even have a spare 2 inch Centek separator that I used before I repowered if you’re interested. I had to switch to a 3 inch Vetus separator for the Yanmar.

  5. Hello Melissa and Michael,
    Thank you for a very informative and interesting post. The last time we spoke was on Moonrise at D’arcy island. We’re interested in your wi fi booster.
    The Admiral (Terri) would like more signal although I prefer more solitude.i am out ranked
    unfortunately. Where did you purchase your unit and at what cost- much difficulty in setting it up? Any tips would be appreciated.

    Fair Winds and following seas,

    Terri and Milo Shemilt

    • Terri an Milo,

      I remember our visit off of D’Arcy fondly. In fact, memories of our past anchorages is one of the things that keep Melissa and me going these days. This refit is wearing us down and the thought of a calm anchorage in the Gulf Islands is a balm to us now.

      As it happens, I wrote a short piece on two components that I used to build our on board WiFi system. If you haven’t read that, here is a link: http://littlecunningplan.com/2013/11/must-keep-working/

      The article contains Amazon links to the components I used (we get a nickle if you buy after linking from our site)

      However for a very simple WiFi range booster, you can save some money and just buy the Alfa 2000 Range extender and plug it into the USB port on your laptop. Here is the URL to that product: http://tinyurl.com/mgsl3dr.

      The WiFi Booster comes with a long USB Cable that will allow you to place the antenna inside or outside of the boat with decent visibility to any available networks while you and your laptop can be snug on the settee. In our setup, I mounted this device on the mizzen mast and ran the cable into a small lazarette where I plugged it into a WiFi Router. That is a more complex (and potentially frustrating) setup but it does allow multiple users to enjoy a WiFi connection. If you have just one laptop on board or don’t mind taking turns, just get the Alfa 2000 Range extender. It is dead easy to use.

      I hope that helps. May our paths cross again sometime soon.

  6. if you are making a new dry section of exhaust pipe, I suggest you have a 1/8″ pipe half coupling welded into it as close to exhaust manifold flange as possible. This will allow you to test the exhaust back pressure with a water tube manometer. I have done this for my own and other engines, It is discouraging to see how much back pressure is created on these long lines. Most manufacturers limit the exhaust back pressures to 27-30 inches of water. I subsequently used the coupling to install a pyrometer to monitor exhaust temperature. Interesting to see how various loads affect the temperature.

    • Steve,

      Thanks for the tip. I had read elsewhere that a port for a manometer is a good idea. I spoke with a marine engine guy today and we are going to meet so that he can advise and fab a new hi-rise exhaust elbow. We talked about adding a measurement port as well.

      The back pressure issue complicates the notion of building an elbow that is as high as possible. The Beta 60 wants a max of 3.1 inches of mercury (42 inches of water) The original exhaust system was a sixty mm diameter system but this new engine has a 50mm outlet. That means our wet exhaust and water lift mufflers are a bit bigger and so should lower the back pressure some.

      Hopefully we will have a plan on Monday that will keep the engine safe and efficient (and quiet).

  7. Hi, this comment got a bit long winded . Sorry. 🙂

    You have determined that the water entered through the exhaust. As you’ve stated, one step is to confirm your actual height differences in the exhaust system. (Also engine in respect to water line.)

    How to find out what is level over a long distance and around corner?
    A hose level, aka a piece of clear hose of sufficient length filled with colored water. Less or no color means less mess (or, depending on the color, permanent stains) unless you have a fancy spill free version.

    In a perfect world the goal to get the dry part of the exhaust as high as possible. Then drop back down a bit and inject the water. From here on gravity should only work for you. And while we are at it, also get the lowest point of the injector above the residual water line. No residual salt water when the engine is off means *much* less corrosion.
    The very good part is that you have lots of room and thus options. For example you should be able to use larger radius that the shop can bend using their pipe bending machine instead of welding in pre bend sections. Talk to a custom exhaust shop on the car side of things. They work on exhausts all day long and turbo exhausts tend to be a much larger diameter (wall thickness too) than the normal car stuff. No idea if you really need an stainless exhaust though.

    The problem of such a long riser is that it’s also a large lever. You *must* hold it in place with bracing or it will shear off. Either with brackets from the engine or from the walls / roof. Not that complicated since stainless is a good isolator. Don’t forget to insulate the pipe to keep the temperature down.

    A dry riser does not add that much of back pressure, you are not pushing water uphill. A really high dry riser also means that you can, if there is the space, remove uphill from the rest of the system. Say by placing the waterloch / muffler higher. If the top of the riser is higher than the top of the gooseneck at the stern this forms a second waterlock.
    Changing the exhaust system further with a water separator or north sea exhaust (you already seem to have half of one) would reduce back pressure further. – But that’s lot’s of work and expense.

    Let’s plug in some numbers.

    The Beta 60 – Which one? Seems there are two versions, 2.4 litre in the UK, 2.8 litre in the US.
    Anyway. Lets run with a somewhat similar naturally aspirated cummins engine because I can find exhaust flow guesstimates for it. Cummins 4B, 3.9 litre, no turbo, 76hp, intake 150 cfm, exhaust 419 cfm.
    (Data from here which also contains the formula to guess the Beta.)

    Plugging that into a Cummins diagram. (Figure 6-13 )

    50mm pipe at 400 cfm has a pressure increase of 0.75″ water column per foot.
    65mm pipe at 400 cfm has a pressure increase of 0.24″ water column per foot.
    80mm pipe at 400 cfm has a pressure increase of 0.10″ water column per foot.

    So worst case going all the way up to the cockpit floor, I guess 5 feet up, another foot down, add two more feet allowance for bends. Say 8 additional feet. In 50mm pipe that would add 6″ of water column to the system. – Not impossible.

    My take on this:
    A really high dry riser, as much as practicable, maybe even almost up to the floor to stay above waterline while heeled, with generous bends and a 3/8″ NPT port (for the pressure gauge, later the pyrometer) at the manifold side. From a car shop, because they should be able to do this without marine tax. If in 60mm or so the increase in back pressure should be irrelevant. Screw in a pressure gauge and find out what your actual back pressure is. Only if it’s to high spend more money. Cheap changes are: If you can, place the existing water muffler higher and maybe reroute parts of the exhaust hose. The goal is to reduce uphill portions with water.

    If 50mm is much cheaper than 60mm (or whatever the shop has) it should still be doable, but is not such a total nobrainer.

    Once the pressure measurements are done please add a pyrometer. Recreational marine engines die from three causes: rust (= water intrusion), overheat (= clogged HX or closed sea cock) or overload (= over propped or propped to the limit and then adding weight [cruiser!] and/or a fouled bottom.). A very good load indicator for engines is the exhaust temperature, thus the pyrometer (aka thermocouple).

    On the cheap you can get away with a 3/8″ NPT thermocouple and a hand held or panel meter for about $20 total. If you exceed the maximum exhaust temp (see datasheet for your engine) at full rpm you need to clean bottom, unload stuff or depitch the prop. 😉 Same if you can’t make full rpm.

    Long enough. As with everything in the internet, all the above could be total BS, so better double check. 😉

    • Chasm,

      Thanks for the detailed analysis. Since the maximum back pressure for the 60hp is 43 inches of water, it sounds like I don’t have to worry too much about going as high as I need to for the riser. And, as you point out, the riser should not represent any more of an increase in pressure beyond its own normal resistance by length since we aren’t pushing water at that point. The structural implications of building one that high are a complication though.

      I do plan to add a port so that we can easily check pressure. I’ll look into the use of the pyrometer for helping deterrmine engine condition. It sounds like a simple and convenient data point.

  8. Pingback: Engine Exhaust(ing) Episode 254 and Counting | Little Cunning Plan

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