[Public-List] Another confession...

Gordon Laco via Public-List public-list at lists.alberg30.org
Tue Jul 11 06:53:37 PDT 2017

Hello gang,


Well I hope what I just put myself through is both enlightening and entertaining.  Here’s another confession.


Last year I noticed that occasionally I’d find a lot of water in SURPRISE’s bilges.  Having been a wooden boat person and still deep down identifying with that crowd, I made it a point of honour not to hit the panic button about ‘a little water’.  Fibre glass boat people do that, not wooden boat people.


The issue steadily got worse.  Then winter haulout came and and I could forget about it… this spring when SURPRISE went back in the drink.  You’ve already read about her mysterious ability to fill her bilges while still ashore and the cause of that… well once she was in the water, I found that her bilges would fill after about a week.  The problem was worse if we’d run the engine, and really much worse if we ran the engine a lot, such as two weeks ago when we went up the coast on Canada Day weekend.


I began imagining what was wrong.  I wondered if I had a through hull going bad… did I really bed them all properly when I replaced them all?  Yes I think I did… then perhaps I should have replaced more of the ancient wooden backing plates on them… such as the one way down there that serves the engine cooling intake.  Damn, it seemed OK but I should have replaced it.   Then there’s the old #10 sized bolt holes from the long-gone VDO knotmeter sender… I closed those up by cutting threads in the holes and putting larger machine screws into them, with a slap of caulk on top.  I knew I should have epoxy’d them up properly… why did I cut a corner like that…  but what about the engine in the equation… why did it seem to leak more after the engine had been running?  Maybe I have a rusted out engine manifold!  Oh how will I ever get that off without removing the engine… I don’t want to face that…    and so on and so on.


All this thinking going on of course when the boat was not accessable to me… I was on a business trip.  Why did I not start thinking seriously about this earlier?  I’m a wooden boat guy, a little water is nothing… or is it….


So, yesterday, I went down to the boat armed with a fresh roll of paper towel determined to find the leak.   The day before I’d pumped the full bilge dry and left the cabin sole up so that things would dry out down there… my wise wooden boat technique for finding a leak was to wipe various surfaces and fittings to see if they are wet, and if I find wet, to wipe THAT and see from which direction the wet fills in again.   


Engine manifold… dry.   All through hulls, dry and backing plates dry and hard (all nuts up tight too)  All hoses, dry.  Knotmeter and depth sounder senders… dry.   Hmmm.


I looked at the stuffing box again and it appeared dry as usual.   Dry?  Where is the drip?  I wriggled in over the engine to get my face closer and pushed the bilge pump suction and air blower suction each out of the way…. AHA!  No drip… rather a steady 3/16” diameter pisser of water coming in through the stuffing box. An apparent ‘tube’ of water with no flutter…  Solid enough that there was no tinkling sound, and hidden by the hoses.


Out came the channel-lock plyers.  I squirted a little ‘Liquid Wrench’ on the threads of the stuffing box, backed off the retaining ring nut… turned in the main end nut till I had the proscribed drip every four or five seconds… tighten retainer back up.  Done.


Pleased with myself?  Yup.   Should I have looked at this first (and regularly as a matter of course)  Yup.




Gord #426 Surprise

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