Since my last post, I’m delighted to announce that Blue Heeler now has a new Volvo Penta D2-50 engine. That sounds so easy when written down, but changing engines hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park.
We were asked why we eventually decided on a Volvo over a Beta or Yanmar engine. For a while Wayne had his sights set on a Beta engine, mostly due to its ongoing affordable parts and good reviews. Volvo parts on the other hand are horrendously expensive compared to other manufacturers, but in the end, the overall cost of the Volvo versus the Beta wasn’t so different, and the mounting ‘footprint’ of the old Volvo was the same for the new Volvo – so the scales tipped in Volvo’s favour.
Over the past month, we’ve worked every day towards improving our little Blue Heeler – some days the smallest seemingly most insignificant jobs can take hours. The four main projects this year– new engine and propeller, drop rudder to replace skeg and bearings, install new toilet and holding tank, and replace all the skin-fittings. In addition are the usual jobs we do when the boat is hauled such as antifouling.
During this same period, my sister Diana visited us at Whitehaven. But as we are living up high in the boatyard in a state of relative disorder aboard, the boat was in no state for guests so she found a BNB in town not far away. Despite me helping Wayne with some jobs and running to the marina office to pick up parcels and deliveries each day, we managed to spend most of our days together taking day trips to Workington and Cockermouth, or just walking around the hills overlooking the town of Whitehaven to finish up with dinner aboard and a few drinks. Fortunately the weather was pretty good during her visit.
On one of those fine, calm sunny days during Di’s visit, we’d arranged to lift in the new engine. Had we waited any longer the lift would’ve been delayed for two weeks as the travel-lift was due for a service. After the bimini roof was removed, the travel-lift was expertly driven close to the boat by Ritchie so the jib crane attached to the travel-lift was in the optimum position to raise the new engine six metres from the ground to the engine room. Wayne, myself and boatyard hand Dave stayed on deck to direct the engine through the small opening of the bimini structure then down through the cockpit floor into the engine room. My sister Di had the important role of event photographer.
The engine length is exactly the same size as the cockpit opening, but with cables and wires in the way, suddenly it seemed smaller. Inch by inch, Ritchie lowered the wire with the engine dangling on the end until the 250kg motor was at the entrance to the engine room. Using an additional lever hoist, we angled the engine so that it eventually made its way down below the forest of cables and wires. From here Wayne could direct the new engine onto the floor of the boat. We would fit the engine on the new mounts ourselves. Now at the bottom of the engine bay, the hoist was removed and the boys backed the travel-lift away and helped us return the lid of the bimini. All done in an hour!
From here the fun begins…
To ensure the angle of the propeller shaft meets the gearbox at the exact angle, the engine mounts needed to be raised at least 43mm. Thinking about what would be the most suitable material to use, I suggested G10 epoxy glass blocks rather than stainless steel, as the epoxy is tough and can be easily drilled. We’d recently bought 10mm sheets of G10 to use as backing plates for the skin-fittings and it was fairly easy to cut. Having four blocks ordered was straightforward and these arrived within two days. Everything we need for these projects has to be delivered, but good job the delivery system in the UK is really good so everything arrives fairly quickly from all corners of the UK (except our toilet which came completely smashed in a box).
Again, this job sounds easy when written down, but eventually Wayne worked out the exact locations of the mounts and using a newly purchased 500kg lever hoist, we raised the engine and Wayne secured the blocks after which we lowered the engine on the mounting pads for the final time.
With the engine finally in place our attention was drawn back to completing the final couple of skin-fittings. Unable to have too many jobs on the go at one time, it’s better if we both work at one thing at a time – it’s more efficient and less chaotic on board. Although while he has his head buried in the engine room, I might finish off some plumbing, prepare the hull for antifouling or duck out to Tesco for groceries.
This week we installed our rudder, new skeg and bearings so that big job is almost finished, with the cosmetic exterior work remaining. As I’d already spent a couple of days painting the hull while Wayne worked inside, only the rudder and a few other areas need antifoul before we are launched.
Our new Jabsco toilet is waiting for its turn – still upside down in the saloon with the holding tank and new valves also yet to be installed, but that’s an interior job and less important than making sure the exterior work is done. As it is, I’ve had to wait until midday to start painting as the dew-point is too close to the outside temperature, which is not ideal for painting.
Of all the jobs, the skin-fittings and valves are finally completed; the rudder is in, and the engine is in with only the connection of hoses and wires. The antifouling is 99% done and daily deliveries to keep the marina office staff busy are finally dwindling.
Last weekend the clocks changed back to UTC time so now the sun rises around 7am and sets around 5pm and the days will get much shorter as winter approaches. The days are quite cold now – already the mercury has dipped to 1degC. This time last year we were heading south from Norway on our way to Germany to hole up in Flensburg for the winter.
To finish off October we had a surprise visit from old friends Rex and Claire from Perth, Australia. With a table of Halloween ghouls seated nearby, we enjoyed a meal and a few drinks and talked about what we’ve been doing for 12 years since we last met and how we’ve aged since the 1980s since we first met Rex! Great to see you both!
So, with most of the work done that require four hands, I’m taking a jaunt myself, flying to Melbourne for a fleeting visit to see the family, who I haven’t seen in two years. This leaves Wayne to spend some quality time with his new engine and work on the final stage of the engine repower. When I return we’ll start the engine up then we can return our little Blue Heeler back into the water. Oh, and there’s still the loo to put back together.