Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Popping my Engineering Cherry.

Two weekends ago I was back on board Wendy Ann again, taking out the mothballs with the help of my friend Supersam. Among the more important discoveries we made whilst doing so was that my generator would start only with fairly extreme persuasion, indeed I flattened one starting battery whilst attempting to get it going, luckily I keep a spare fully charged just for this kind of eventuality. Except for the ship’s stereo and a fairly pathetic pair of 12v fluorescents that I run off an old car battery, our vessel is unfortunately currently completely dependent on that lovely big machine for all electrical power- so sorting this engine starting issue was an immediate concern.
Working on the restoration of our boat has taught me an awful lot of skills so far, but since we’re devoid of a main engine diesel mechanics is not one of them. Luckily however while I was working on the tug Storebror I did learn a few basics, although I must stress that I cannot by any stretch of the imagination call myself an engineer. One thing I undertook regularly (but admittedly usually with supervision) was filter changes on Storebror’s engines, including her own generator which had a three cylinder perkins engine for a prime mover.
Although I was worried that something bad could’ve happened to Wendy Ann’s generator I decided that the best course of action would be to start simple, and undertake a complete oil and filter change; which I figured was about overdue anyway and therefore couldn’t do any harm. A quick visit to my local agricultural plant suppliers armed me with the correct replacement parts and I approached my task with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Overalls on, I drained the old oil, turned the fuel valve to ‘off’ and began- all the time reminding myself to take it slowly and to be methodical. After changing the oil and fuel filters, filling the day tank to the top and cleaning up, I loosened off the three fuel lines to the injectors and cranked the engine over to bleed them through- which seemed to go straightforwardly enough. That done and everything once again checked for leaks I crossed my fingers and cranked her up in earnest.

No, she still wouldn’t start, same as before, loads of smoke and no soap. I stilled the rising sensation of panic and tried to think calmly. I thought, ‘now, what does an engine need to make it go? Fuel, lubrication…. and air! you dummy!’ In a proper eureka moment I realised that my generator has an air filter too, so I took the big air inlet pipe to the engine off of it in order to test my principle and behold, one three cylinder Kubota D905 with 8kW of generator started first time and running sweet as you like. You can really hear it sucking without the muffling effect of a filter over the intake. Out came the big old air filter from it’s casing and I mused about how best to clean it, or whether I should attempt the purchase of a new one, and also whether or not I could run my engine with no air filter for a day. So I phoned a friend, no- I phoned two. Jon of Griffin Towage and Bill of Becky’s Dad both provided me with some further illumination to add to my learning and now I’m considering a couple of extra small engineering projects as a result, so thanks to them both for their helpful insights.

The success of this little adventure meant I could get on with making a beginning at some work for the rest of Sunday, Sunday night and Monday. I had a tiny little bit of welding to do in order to provide some bearers for something big I’m working on, a bunch of stuff to organise/move about, and two tons of water ballast to pump off from those pesky IBC’s to provide some much needed space in the engine room for something else I’m about to begin too…

Yes folks, we’re back.


Anonymous snowbiker said...

Welcome back! I wouldn't be able to stay away either.

2:23 am  
Anonymous Marc H said...

Your back! Good to hear, can't wait for more updates

3:32 am  
Blogger Bill K said...

I am still here and checking weekly. :))

Glad your back.

Bill Kelleher

8:29 am  
Blogger Sweetpea in France said...

Bonjour encore,

Currently speaking... I think you missed the fun pun in the first paragraph! Great action! You can do it!

9:00 am  
Blogger Sweetpea in France said...

Bonjour encore, Currently speaking... I think you missed the fun pun in the first paragraph! Great action! You can do it! Madrex

9:01 am  
Blogger Janys said...

Eureeeeeeeeka! Now I can learn some more about generators!!!
Glad you are back in business...

10:49 pm  
Blogger Janys said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:26 am  
Blogger Janys said...

ps. Seb... just found this url for anodes in the uk. What is interesting is that this is the only place I have found which gives a price list. Do you remember what your anodes weigh?

(first post removed because I forgot to add in the url)

9:27 am  
Blogger IsmilebecauseIhavenoideawhatsgoingon said...

Hi Janys,

Extended answer on your own blog.

Wendy Ann has Aluminium alloy anodes, with a supposed design life of three years- don't believe it, see above.

she has 12 of 4.6kg anodes around the hull, and 4 of 1.8kg anodes on the rudder.

Any help?

5:23 pm  
Blogger Janys said...

Thanks... and maybe. But the suppliers you mentioned have included a table for calculating your anode needs on their web site.
Any use to you? I might have added the page for zinc and not alluminium, but there is the table for that also of course.

5:39 pm  
Blogger rob said...

There are available on the market washable (in petrol) filters that when clean you allow to dry (of petrol)then dows in oil and leave to drip dry before fitting back. So little or no replacement is needed a google search should show the manufacturers I replaced my two £70 each, volvo replacemenbt paper air filters with them and they worked well.The principle is ancient and initially all motorbikes and early cars had this type but they are a little more sophisticated now-a-days

10:20 pm  
Blogger Tim Zim said...

Hi Seb

Welcome back.

As it happens, I struggled to start my donkey engine on the weekend.

With that thing, I just know it hates the cold so never wants to get out of bed!

A few minutes pre-heat does wonders...



12:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your blog states,4 years ago my girlfriend Bee and I went temporarily mad,ect! now all that has happened is for a short while you both became sane.But now the madness is returning all will be well again.trust me I am totally barking and life is great.regards John from the patrol boat.

3:11 pm  
Blogger bowiechick said...

I've seen many take the nozzle of an air compressor to a filter to clean them out until such time as they can be replaced if need be.

6:59 pm  
Blogger Jamie said...

Oh sweet! New posts - a hearty welcome back from me too! You've been missed.

4:25 am  

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