Swing Set

Sep 12, 201309:27 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

The Key to Having a Good Idea is to Have Lots of Ideas

If you've been keeping up with our blog, you know that we've been having some issues with our main engines overheating. While in the Bahamas, both raw-water pump impellers were replaced, and this improved the operating temperature of the starboard engine, but when the impeller on the port engine was replaced some months later, the high operating temperature was not solved on that engine. Therefore, we "limped" home to the U.S. at our normal cruising speed of nine miles per hour.

I began to focus on the heat exchangers on our engines and made a call to Key West Engines to verify a few things, then I began a mission to clean the heat exchangers on our engines. We made no less than five trips to Shell Lumber and Hardware in Miami to purchase what I needed to CIP both raw-water cooling systems on our Caterpillars at the same time.

I rigged up a bilge pump to supply the inlet to the port engine. I used this Igloo cooler because I figured that a bigger supply vessel would in turn provide a larger return vessel, allowing the particulates to settle out in the larger vessel and not be pumped back into the system. The return line from the outlet of the starboard engine was smaller than the supply, assuring that the lines would stay packed, eliminating a need for a cutback valve on the solution return.

My mistake was using the cooler as a solution vessel, because it was too big and I had to add more water to the acid concentrate to allow the pump to be deep enough in the solution to keep pumping. In the picture, the solution is just starting to turn dark, confirming that the acid is doing its job.

In this photo, you can see the PVC elbow on the inlet to the starboard engine. Why I had to make so many trips to the hardware store is because I kept improving my method to do this job in my mind. I was going to clean each of the four components separately, but this would have wasted a lot of Barnacle Buster, at $70 per gallon.

I used a similar device as the one pictured above on the port engine, which is the inlet to the engine heat exchanger, which then exits that heat exchanger and runs to the oil cooler. So, then I routed the hose shown above from the outlet of the port engine oil cooler to the raw-water inlet on the starboard engine. From the outlet of the starboard oil cooler, I ran the return line back to the Igloo cooler.

I ran the solution for 90 minutes. In retrospect, I should have run the solution and then let it sit overnight in the acid bath. I think this would have cleaned the system better. Next time, I'll also use a smaller solution vessel (a regular bucket) and I'll use two gallons of Barnacle Buster to strengthen the acid solution, as there is quite of bit of raw water in the cooling system of our Caterpillar 3116s.

The key here is safety. An initial rinsing of the whole system is critical. I used rubber gloves in handling the return hoses, and then set up a fresh water supply and rinsed the whole system for 10 minutes before I disconnected all my hoses and fittings. Once everything was put back in place, firing up both engines allowed the ocean water to complete my rinsing process. I couldn't wait to take Swing Set out for a trial run to see if the cleaning made a difference!

 

Rosie and I put all our tools away, then we took showers. Next, we popped a couple of beers and left the mooring field. I was in no hurry for potential disappointment.

We had some packages at the marina office, and we had to fill our water tank, so the next stop was the Dinner Key Marina. Rosie made the trek up to the office to retrieve our packages while Holly and I filled our water tank.

Finally, we were headed out to Biscayne Bay. Both engines were warmed up, and I put the coals to them. We ran up and down Biscayne Bay without any temperature alarms, and I verified our panel gauges with the engine room gauges, and we were well within proper operating temperatures on both engines. Rosie and I gave each other a high five.

I still think we could be running at cooler temperatures, so I'm going to make sure we have no restrictions in any of the heat exchangers in the way of errant broken off zincs, but for the time being, Swing Set is running, and running well.

I had been thinking about the little sunshade umbrella that we bought to use on the dinghy so Holly wouldn't have to sit in the sun all day, and was wondering why she got all the shade and we had to endure the sun all day.

I searched Amazon, and then West Marine, and then some other umbrella manufacturers, and would up ordering a non-corrosive umbrella from Amazon to use on the beach, or in the rod holders on the dinghy, so that we could all have some shade when we took the dinghy to the beach.

What we bought has an aluminum pole and nylon ribs so that nothing will rust. While the umbrella was being shipped, I thought of an additional use for it on the boat, as you can see from the photo.

It always happens that our cockpit faces the setting sun in the afternoon for some reason, and the heat is unbearable at times. My idea was to use the umbrella as shown in the picture, so that we could get a little more shade in the cockpit than our small overhang on the flybridge provides. The rope keeps the umbrella post from turning when the umbrella is in the tilted position.

I can envision our friends in a raft up back in Missouri using an umbrella like this to provide some shade as they gather behind their boats having a cold one.

So, today was a good day. After our trial run, we cruised to downtown Miami. Not many boaters were out, because today was overcast all day, but we became a little more familiar with the area. We took a spin through the other Municipal Marina and saw a boat similar to Swing Set at a dock, surrounded by much larger boats, and we were reminded of just how small of a boat we are living on. And we don't care.

This little tub may be small in comparison to some of the other boats we are running across, but dockage is charged by the foot, and a bigger boat just means more cleaning, not to mention more fuel to make it go. The most important thing is that, with each maintenance issue that we're able to do on our own, we put another notch in our belt of independence, and although total independence from outside sources will never be accomplished, just getting closer to being "off the grid" is very satisfying.

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