Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jan 31, 2012 - Boat Projects

The weather hasn't been great since we got back from Florida's warm vacation, so I decided to get a few projects done on the boat.  I ordered some custom built mufflers late last year and I'm finally getting around to putting them on.  I measured several times and had the company make the largest ones that I thought I could squeeze into the confines of the engine room.  The bigger the muffler the quieter the exhaust.  Our boat exhaust was VERY loud.  So loud in fact that I've had several people comment on it.

Anyway, I've now gotten around to installing them.  They are much bigger than the old mufflers.  I think I calculated they are 2.5 times bigger (interior volume).  They JUST fit our boat.  I don't think I could have gotten anything bigger to fit.  Phew!

The old muffler (small) compared to the new muffler (large).

The starboard side old muffler.
New muffler installed.  Also some fresh paint.  Bright and cheery.

New muffler on the port side.  This one JUST fit!  Only an inch to spare.
These mufflers were made by the same company that made our original mufflers.  They are a newer design that reduces the noise even further.  The new design has two chambers and is this companies quietest muffler.  For every 10dB reduction in volume, your ear perceives it as being 1/2 as loud.  I was hoping to see the exaust noise with the new mufflers about 1/2 as loud, which would be a 10dB reduction in the sound level.  I measured a reduction of about 20dB.  This is a HUGE improvement, and well worth the money, at least in my opinion (and probably a few of my neighbor's too).
Before: 100.6dB.  Standing on the dock.  LOUD!
After: 79dB.  The new mufflers are MUCH quieter.
While I was at it I cleaned and painted the areas that would be impossible to paint with the new mufflers installed.  It's a start and someday I'll get the whole engine room painted.  This special engine room paint (Interlux BilgeKote) makes it much easier to spot leaks and drips.  It's also easy to clean, it's brighter, and just plain nicer to work in an engine room that is spotless.

I also removed the old square sine wave inverter/charger and replaced it with a nice true sine wave inverter/charger.  It's a big upgrade for the boat.  Now every AC powered device on the boat will be getting power like it would at home, not the chopped-up and crude power it was getting from 20 year old inverter technology.  This means battery chargers won't overcharge and ruin our batteries in laptops, cellphones, cordless drills, Nintendo DS's, etc anymore.  It means the microwave won't buzz loudly when in use.  It means clocks will keep time and the navigation computer will be more reliable.  It also means the TV won't make it's slight buzzing noise anymore, and will have an even better picture.  Plus it's a much better boat battery charger meaning our expensive house battery bank should live a longer life.

The old inverter.  I'm going to wire it up as a spare, just in case.

The nice new, high-tech inverter.  It produces much better AC power.
I have a few little projects left on the inverter installation.  I have to install the battery temperature sensor that senses overcharging (which causes overheating) and regulates the chargers output.  I also have to install the battery monitor kit which will tell me exactly how much electricity is flowing in or out of the battery, and keep track of it for me so I can just look at the display panel to see where the batteries are.  It will show up as a percentage.  If it says 68% then the batteries are 32% down from their max charge.  This is a big help in determining when to start recharging, and when to stop.  You never want them to get below 50% because discharging below 50% is tough on the batteries and they won't last as long.  You generally want to recharge to about 85%.  You can keep going in an attempt to reach 100% but you could end up leaving the generator running for half a day just to put back that last 15%.

I fixed a really bad transmission fluid leak.  It started a few months ago and would leak a quart in about 15 hours of engine run time.  That's a bad leak.  It was simple to fix once I figured out where it was coming from.  The O-ring that seals the shift rod was leaking. I just had to pull the shifter shaft out of the transmission and install a new O-ring and the problem was solved.  I replaced the O-ring on the other transmission as a precautionary measure, just to be safe.

I also installed some new digital tachometers.  It took a bit of messing around with to get them to match up correctly with our tach senders.  I finally figured out that our Detroit Diesel senders output three pulses per engine revolution and once I set the tach's for that, they were perfectly accurate.  I compared them to my hand-held digital laser tachometer and they are PERFECT.  These tach's are accurate to within one RPM.  The old mechanical tachs were off by hundreds of RPM's and were virtually useless.

New digital tachometers, with engine hour meters (top readout)
Our new 2nd refrigerator arrived yesterday.  So, now I need to turn to the galley cabinet project so we can have both refrigerators.  I also have a trash compactor to install in the galley which will mean cutting up and reconfiguring a cabinet to make room.  I know what I'll be doing in my spare time during the next month or so.

Stay tuned for updates...

Jan 15, 2012 - Florida and Bahamas vacation

We got a break from the usual cold, gray, cloudy NW winter and a had a family reunion/vacation in Florida.  Well, actually the reunion was aboard Disney's newest cruise-ship, the Disney Dream.  This is the 3rd largest cruise ship in the world.  4000 passengers and 1600 crew.  That's a LOT of people!

Kathy's entire family was there; her brother Brad and family from NY, brother Les and family from Colorado, and her parent's from Idaho.  There were 15 of us and we had adjacent rooms on the ship.  We were even able to have the crew open up the decks so we had one long balcony connecting all 4 rooms.  The kids loved this.  The ship left Port Canaveral FL and cruised overnight to Disney's private island in the Bahamas (Castaway Cay), then over to Nassau for a day, then out to sea for a day, then back to Castaway Cay, and finally back to Florida.  It was a great 5-day cruise.

We then spent the next week going to Epcot, a Disney Waterpark, a Disney indoor arcade, a Disney minerature golf, several other miniature golfs, an airboat ride through the swamps, and Universal Studios.  Prior to the cruise we spent several days exploring Florida by car.  We made stops at West Palm Beach, South Miami, and drove into the keys.  We put about 900 miles on our rental car in the two weeks we had it.  I feel like we saw quite a bit of southern Florida although it would have been nice to have another week to explore

Here are some pictures from the trip.

Florida Keys

The name of the cruise ship

Early morning walk while the boat was underway

Kevin catches a wave at Universal Studios

Getting ready for our air boat ride to see aligators and turtles.

Playing in the warm water - Florida Keys

People, one of the swimming pools, people, the cool waterslide, and people.
That's a huge TV that plays Disney movies during the day.  Did I mention People?

Kevin and Steve on a water toy ride.  The ship was HUGE.  1150' long.

Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.  Fantastic!
Heading into Epcot.
 After a great trip in the sun, playing in warm ocean water in the middle of winter, and the bright blue skies of Florida, we had to come home.  And guess what?  It was snowing in Seattle for our return.  The van was encaesd in a layer of ice and one of the sliding van doors was frozen shut from the ice.  It makes me re-evaluate where I live  :-)

We came back to this!  Snow in La Conner.  Brrrrr.......
Our kids had been out of school for the 2 weeks of winter break, followed immediately by our 2 week vacation.  Then, due to the snow and ice there was no school for an entire week.  Wow! 5 weeks with no school?  I hope they don't get held back a grade because of this...  :-)

Back to reality for all four of us; I hope we can take it.