Monday, September 25, 2006
Outboards, Barnacles, Vectors, and Why the Blind Cat Crossed the Road
First off...happy (belated) autumnal equinox to one and all. Life continues at a liesurely pace in Ft. Myers Beach with some moments of hard work and sweat.
We spent Saturday working on the outboard for the dingy. It had been running great but on this day it would start but not idle. I took it all apart (my favorite thing to do) and put it all back together. Four times. At one point cleaning out the little hole in the carburator where fuel passes seemed to help but it didn't last. That's me and my carburator below. Amazing...I wonder how it works? Everyone kept telling us that we probably had "bad gas". Now I'm as guilty as any other beer drinking guy of having bad gas but I still don't see how that could affect my engine. But what the hell? I took a couple of antacid tablets and got back to work. While I was at it I went and bought some new gasoline as well. Neither had any effect and now the engine won't start either. What else is there? How about a nice, shiny, new spark plug. Put that in, with the new gas and with the cleaned out carburator and that seemed to do it. Runs fine now and I have the confidence to dissasemble the engine in the future. I didn't even drop any parts into the sea...this time.
While we were at it we hauled the engine up on deck to scrape barnacles. YUCK! Man these things are nasty! We took the prop off to make sure we could get the barnacles that were sneaking up the water intake. From now on we ALWAYS haul the boat up on the davits at night and always tip the motor up when we are at the dingy dock. I imagine the underside of the dingy looks bad as well but that's a job for another day.
Look...Sue gets all the fun jobs!
Today we decided to put the fins back on the wind generator. We took them off in preparation for Ernesto which probably wasn't necessary but oh well. It was a real pain taking them off as each of three fins has 3 bolts and by standing on the rail and wrapping one arm around the pole that holds up the generator I can just reach with the socket wrench and work the bolts. Takes forever.
OK, I'll tell you...the other problem is that when you take one fin off the whole thing is top heavy and free to rotate and it could happen that some hard working physicist who just didn't happen to be thinking about that right then could get a fin right in the forehead. It could happen.
So we decided to lower the whole pole and wind generator. This would allow me to do three things. Re-tap one of the holes where the threads got ruined, take the generator off the pole and grease that bearing, and easily put the fins back on. Good. Of course we're talking an 8 foot pole with about a 30 pound piece of machinery on top. There are two struts that hold this up. One is angled forward and the other goes across the stern making a 90 degree angle with the other strut. The pole itself sits in a little bracket that is free to pivot the pole for and aft. We tied the main halyard near the top of the pole and removed the struts. We planned to lower the assembly so the generator ended up in the dingy where I could then work on it. OK, lower away. Of course as it starts down there is nothing to keep the darn thing from swinging all over the place side to side. We took care of that with much swearing and sweating and grunting and swearing. Finally got the thing to sit in the dingy. Whew.
No problem re-tapping the bad hole (thanks Dad!) and putting the fins back on (not counting that it is now 93 degrees, bright sun, and NO wind). Now we realize that raising it is going to be a bit of an adventure. The main problem is that the pole sits in the very aft, starboard corner of the boat. I can put a line over to port to keep the pole from swinging to starboard but there is nothing to tie a line to to keep it from swinging to port. Hmmm...
After some test runs we arrived at a nice solution. I put another line on the pole and took it into the dingy. I kept the bow line on the dingy and put the engine in reverse while holding on the the line that went to the pole. I then motored out until the bow line was taut, kept the engine in reverse and tightened the line to the pole. Now I can (maybe) control things from the dingy (steer, rpms, tension on the line) while Sue hoists on the main halyard. It worked! Once the pole was vertical Sue could cleat her line and come aft and just hold the pole in place while I came back aboard. We put one strut back on but the other will have to wait as the collar that connects it to the pole ended up in the sea. Another 1 hour job that took all morning.
Finally, a report on Gracie. She is settling in nicely with Pete, her new owner. The other day Gracie and Mr. Butters (Pete's other cat) were outside in the little patio area at Pete's house. Pete says he looked away for about 30 seconds to talk to a neighbor and when he looked back...no Gracie. He looked high and low! An HOUR later he went out front and there, ACROSS BUSY ESTERO BULEVARD Gracie was trotting south with her tail straight up in the air. Why did the blind cat cross the busy road? More importantly...HOW? Well, she's back and Pete will have to watch her. She still likes to go adventuring I guess.