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Melissa & Dave - Adventures at Sea

Index of Interesting Blog Posts

Most Amazing

 A Lone Humpback Whale    

 Panama Canal Crossing

 Isla Talon


 French pastries delivered?!

 El Salvadorian chicken boat

 America's Cup Races

 French Canal Boat


Emotional or Funny

 Reaching the Canal

 We can't catch a thing

 Flying the Dingy

 Snakes on a boat Part 1

 Snakes on a boat Part 2

 Melissa can't fly a Spinnaker

 Embarrassing laundromat trip


 Helping the Mexican bureaucracy

 Squid attack!


Best Land Side Trips

 Caiman Capture!

 Swimming in the Amazon River

 Arches National Park

 Machu Picchu

 Best Zip Line

 Paying our first bribe

 Seeing our first wild monkeys

 Evening in Tlaquepaque

 Melissa attacked by monkeys

 Most beautiful cities in the world

 Oaxaca market day

 Monte Alban ruins

 El Salvadorian wedding

 Copan ruins

Scary Stuff

 A bump in the night

 Remind me why Greece is fun?

 Tried to kill the boat owner

 Getting caught in a fishing line

 Apsaras tries to sink herself

 Dark and stormy night at sea

 Fire aboard the boat!

 A scary marina entrance

 Michoacan Mexico Unrest

 Engine trouble at sea at night

 Automatic weapons fire?

 Frogman Mike


The MacGyver Stories

 Debugging the starter problems

 Outwitting the Panama Canal

 Bringing back the icemaker

 Fixing Saltydog's autopilot

 Saltydog gets a new navigation system

 Towing a boat across the bay

 SSB Seminar

 Stabbed by a broken beer bottle in Mexico

 Autopilot failure in Alaska

 Removing the washer/dryer

 Where is that leak anyway?

 The day Dave wanted to sell the boat

Rescue Stories

 Paddleboard Rescue

 Rescue on the Amazon River

 Fuel transfer at sea

 Aground & Rescue of Joint Decision

 Day 1 and Day 2 of fixing the generator




Current Journey - RSS Feed at http://svapsaras.com/entries.atom

You wouldn't think one little bolt would be so much trouble

A couple months ago Dave smelled burnt rubber coming from the engine compartment. Upon examination, he found the bolt that holds the alternator tensioning arm to the water pump had broken clean off and fallen into the bilge. 

The lack of tension caused the alternator belt to slip and burn. He remembered that it felt weird the last time he tightened that bolt - he was kind of worried that it might have been wanting to shear off.  This picture is of an engine similar to ours. Though infinitely more accessible. And way cleaner. Ours is deep in a compartment that requires a contortionist to work on it. The red arrow shows the broken bolt.


The first attempt to fix it involved drilling a hole into the bolt, hammering an “Easy-Out” into the hole and attempting to twist the broken bolt out. (For those not familiar with an Easy-Out for removal of broken bolts see this.)  Alas the blot was stuck but good. So Dave just left the Easy-Out sticking out of the bolt and let it support the alternator tensioning arm. Later, he added to the jury rig by pulling the tensioning arm into place with a ratcheting strap. 

Dave decided it was time to fix it right. This involved removing the water pump on the front of the engine and the various 20-year old hoses. The worry all along was that one bolt has broken so which of the other 5 bolts will break, too. He solicited help from a friend and started work first thing Saturday morning. It turned out that the bolts all cooperated and the pump was extracted with no further incident. Even the hoses came off without much effort. Hmmm, weird. 

A very confusing scene unfolded. Dave and Kirk expected to see the stud of the bolt sticking out of the block. The bolt head sheared off at water pump so there must have been at least the thickness of the water pump body sticking out of the block once the pump was removed. But that was not so - the bolt was sheared clean off at the engine block. So where is the rest of the bolt??? Well - it was still stuck in the water pump body. Huh, how can it break in two places?

So, here is what must have happened over the years:

  1. Years ago, somebody broke the bolt off in the block when working on the alternator tensioning arm.
  2. Instead of fixing it correctly (remove pump, extract bolt), they threaded the water pump body to accept a new, shorter bolt to hold the tensioning arm. (Dave always wondered why that bolt was a different size than the others.)
  3. The new bolt broke (probably because it bottomed out) recently.

There are two bolts involved: An old bolt was broken and left in the engine block; A new bolt is broken off in the water pump. 

The new broken bolt that was stuck in the water pump was fairly easy to remove once Dave had the water pump on the bench. However, the old bolt broken in the engine was going to be a bear to drill out accurately. Kirk and Dave went to the work’s shop and fabricated a jig to precisely guide the drilling operation. 

It worked fabulously. 

Unfortunately, Dave got the bright idea to try to remove the bolt with another Easy-Out. Bad idea. The Easy-Out broke clean off in the bolt. Now, there is a super hard Easy-Out busted in the stuck bolt that is near impossible to drill out. Easy-Outs should be outlawed. 

An Easy-Out is made of super hardened steel that is impossible to drill with normal drill bits. After watching various YouTubes Saturday night, Dave went back to the boat Sunday with $50 worth of various recommended expensive drill bits and Dremel grinding stones. After wiping out every tool and going back for more, the bolt was finally drilled out.

A painless tapping job gave the engine block its threaded hole back! 

And voila!  A nice new hole that fits the proper sized bolt perfectly!

Dave managed to reinstall the water pump and various hoses but was tuckered out after working on it for two solid days. There still is a couple hours of installation and clean up left for after work this week. Ok, cleanup alone might take a couple of hours!



The ice maker rises again

There are moments.  Moments where you think to yourself – “No!  It shall not be!”.  Moments when you refuse to accept fate.  Moments when you resist the natural entropy of the universe which dictates that all things must come to an end.

Dave vs the Ice Maker is one of these things.

For those with good memories, Dave has been battling the Ice Maker for a long time.  While we were in Mexico, he found a critical design flaw that caused the motor to wrench on the internal assembly till it broke.  He reinforced the internal mechanism so in theory this couldn’t happen anymore.  And we installed a cooling fan to ensure the thing did not overheat in the small space in which it was installed.

But in the end, it still died a sad death.  Its controller board burned up.  So it no longer even powers up.  Bummer because there is no unit on the market small enough to fit in the cabinet in which we have it installed.  And seriously.  Ice.  Need it for a plethora of things including Sangria and Martinis.  We do have our priorities after all.

And well, good thing there just isn’t that much good TV to watch because apparently that gives MacGyver time on his hands.  In his own words: “I just now realized that the tray motor is a CW/CCW synchronous AC motor with 2 wires. How in the world does an AC motor reverse with only two wires? Something must be built into the motor to reverse the direction each time it is powered up. This changes the design flaw I originally speculated to they used a cheap motor with ambiguous start up direction. This revelation means the algorithm needs to be reworked to determine the motor direction at initial start (and hope it stays in sync).”

Yeah.  Welcome to the world of being married to MacGyver.

So what does he decide to do?  Well, what any self-respecting engineer would do.  Program up an Arduino (minicomputer about the size of a deck of cards) to replace the controller board of course.  Here’s the design specification document.  Um yeah.  The TV version of MacGyver might have been known for doing things by the seat of his pants.  My MacGyver is known for being not only good in a crisis but also methodical when time allows.  “This project replaces the power supply, display and control logic with M5stack, a couple relay boards, some switches, LEDs and a power supply. The new assembly will connect to existing inputs and outputs of the ice maker. The software is written in Arduino using a familiar round robin state machine.”

And just in case he gets bored, there’s a list of future improvements planned (and documented in the specification):

  • WiFi control
  • WiFi software upload
  • IOT control/status
  • Scheduling - turn off and on at certain times
  • External water supply/reservoir - if water low and ice not full, get some water
  • Can make noises with M5stack - e.g. water low
  • Variable length freeze cycles depending on temperature

So what was the end result?  We may never know.  Dave needed to take some voltage measurements to ensure his new electronics would interface correctly.  He powered the unit back up so he could take his measurements, and Voila!  It started working again all on its own.

Apparently, it just needed more love and attention.  Its back in its happy home aboard Apsaras.