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Barry's Blog #159 - As nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

Thinking back to November 2019 (exactly 1 year ago as I write this blog), when I removed the exhaust elbow from the engine of A B Sea, I naively thought it would be a simple task to repair the hole in it, then reattach it to the engine and that would be the end of the story. Not so fast tiger.

The hole in the exhaust elbow had spent the last few months of our 2019 sailing season steadily spewing black oily soot all around the engine bay and a large amount of it had been sucked into the engine air intake. I removed that for cleaning and discovered we had a turbo or more precisely that we had a seized turbo.

I took the turbo apart, cleaned it, freed it up, put it all back together and replaced everything back on the engine. Departing Greece and heading east the engine and turbo appeared to work flawlessly, however within a month of our arrival in Turkey, A B Sea began blowing lots of white smoke from the exhaust and burning through engine oil at an alarming rate that was a sure sign that the turbo had failed completely.

Plan A was to remove the failed turbo innards, blank it off and head off into the sunset without a turbo and that's what we did. It seemed to be all working perfectly, then a couple of experts said what we'd done was going to slowly kill the engine so we should replace the turbo. They also said that we should strip down the top half of the engine to make sure there were no turbo metal fragments slowly and silently causing irreparable engine damage.

After some consideration plan B was born out of our need to ensure that the faithful heart of A B Sea kept on beating for many years to come. Plan B involved removing the air intake manifold, the exhaust manifold and the cylinder head.

At the beginning of the job I was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but with the reassurance from Kev that it could be successfully completed I took the bull by the horns and tackled the biggest job I've ever done on A B Sea.

In this week's YouTube video you can see the whole process of getting the parts together from various places around Turkey and Kev and I rebuilding the engine. There's a direct link to the video at the bottom of this blog.

Dinghy chaps

The saltwater environment is harsh and slowly corrosive to most items, add to that the relentless degradation from the Sun's ultraviolet radiation and after a little over 2 years some of the rubber parts of our dinghy were looking the worse for wear.

The seat of the dinghy and the storage bag that hangs underneath it looked like they been through a nuclear war. For some strange reason, known only to the Zodiac designers and manufacturers, they use metal zips and don't use UV resistant material. For a dinghy that's meant to be used in a saltwater environment, they didn't think it through at all.

When we arrived in Turkey one of the first jobs on the list was to contact a local canvas worker and get a quote for dinghy chaps to cover all around the top of the inflatable tubes, a new seat and bag and a cover for the top of the engine with a built in lifting strap.

The guy from Kaş marina technical services did some measuring, took notes and said he'd be back with a quote. That's when I showed him the bags full of brand new Sunbrella material that we'd been carting around since we bought the boat. The hope was that by supplying the bulk of the material to be used on the job we could keep the cost down as much as possible.

Two days later we got a quote of 650 Euros (AU$1,055), I thought it was a bit steep considering that we were supplying most of the material which is the most expensive part. I told him that I'd think about it and get back to him.

A week later in his workshop I managed to bargain him down to 580 Euros and he said he could begin work on it in a couple of weeks and that once started it should take 3 to 5 days.

To cut a long story short it took him until the middle of November to get everything done with the exception of a sewn-in lifting strap for the engine cover because he said it couldn't be done with the shape of our engine. That's incorrect because we've previously had a lifting strap on our engine.

When paying the invoice I pointed out that they hadn't included a lift strap and they knocked 200 Turkish Lire off the price. In the end we paid 4,800 Turkish Lira (AU$841). I still think that was steep and I certainly wouldn't recommend them, as the whole process, which could've been completed in a week took them over three months. The plus side is that our dinghy looks schmick and more importantly is protected from further UV damage.

The take away from these events is that one boat job always leads to another boat job and things always take a lot longer than you think.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.


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