Sunday, March 31, 2024

A Big Milestone - A Fitting Day for a Westerbeke Resurrection

So after 3 weeks, I finally got my pump back from the injection shop on Friday.  It was all rebuilt, shot blasted and painted. Hopefully it would work, but unfortunately I had a bunch of family Easter stuff going on for most of the weekend so I had to put it on hold until this afternoon.  When I finally freed up, it was go time.

It only took about 10 minutes to re-install the fuel injection pump and timing shim, and getting the governor tie rod and spring back on the pump rack in the little hole in the side of the block was surprisingly easy because I had tied on a piece of fishing line onto them so if I dropped them inside the case I could retrieve them easily.  Because I've done it several times already, the rest of the fuel system was easy, but time consuming (2 hours). 

Once everything was back together and everything checked and re-checked, I rolled the engine over to the shop door, grabbed a pail of water and starting battery and hooked up the ignition panel. My son came over to the shop and we checked to make sure power was going to the glow plugs and fuel pump. It took a bit of time to get the high pressure side of the fuel system primed, but once it was, it fired right up and sounded great.  We ran it through the throttle range with no issues other than adjusting the throttle idle setting (a bit too low).  Also notable was that there was zero smoke and there was good water flow out the exhaust.  

I'm ecstatic that this milestone is complete. My original plan was to get the rebuild done 'over the winter', so technically spring has started and I missed my deadline, but I'm still calling it a win.  Of course there's still a ton to do to get the motor back in the boat and installed, but this was a big one.

Here's a link to the YouTube video if you want to hear it purr: It's Alive!

Thursday, March 14, 2024

While I wait

With the injection pump at Diesels Fuel Injection Services for a rebuild (should be completed next week) and the weather still a bit too cold to work on the boat itself, I decided to tackle rebuilding the propeller. With previous boats I've owned, I've only had 2 blade fixed props, but Velorum came with a MaxProp classic which is a 3 blade automatic feathering prop.  I've seen them before on other boats at the yard, but never really paid attention or gave them a second look.  I'm not convinced that a slowish cruising boat needs a feathering prop but I'm sure I will appreciate the additional power a 3 blade will deliver and not be concerned with the drag that a fixed 3 blade would have on performance.

Anyway, the prop was in a box in several pieces and covered in grease and barnacles, so I wanted to clean it up to assess if it needed to be serviced.  I started by degreasing all the parts and doing a rough scrub to get as much old marine growth off as I could.  

After the first round, it really didn't look any better than when I started except there was less grease. 'Less' is the keyword here because even the industrial strength grease remover I was using didn't seem to do much other than spread it around.  Close to a roll of paper towels and more degreaser finally proved effective and I was finally able to handle the parts without my hands turning black.  

Next, I tried a brass wire brush to get the rest of the barnacles off and finally resorted to a wire wheel, but it still looked pretty sad.  After a little online research, I picked up a gallon of vinager and soaked all the parts in a bucket overnight.  That seemed to loosen up the remaining barnacle 'roots' and I was finally down to a mottled brownish bronze finish. 

I felt like I was finally making some progress (albeit slow). My wife suggested I use Bartenders Helper to get it shined up.  Apparently, it's a powdered form of oxalic acid with some sort of abrasive in it.  Once again, I'll admit my wife is brilliant, that stuff works great.  Just shake some on the part and scrub it with a wet sponge and it works wonders. After a few rounds of that stuff, it looked great (at least the pieces did).  

Now it was time to put it all back together and hope all the pieces were there.  I found that PYI Inc is the distributor and service center for MaxProp in addition to the very popular PSS dripless shaft seal (I'll be installing that once the engine is back in the boat).  They have a great site and even though the MaxProp Classic (the model I own) is discontinued, PYI still services them and sells parts.  I contacted the service department and they got back to me with all the info I needed along with a detailed pdf on assembly.  They even took the time to run Velorum (displacement), along with engine size, and transmission gear ratio to give me a recommended pitch setting for the prop.  

Putting it back together was pretty straightforward given how precise everything needs to be in order to have a smooth, balanced, and powerful propeller.  It's really a lovely piece of kit and the engineering is downright elegant. It's simplicity is deceiving, it really has a difficult job in a very unforgiving environment.  Once I got it back together for a test fit (once it goes back on the boat it will be stuffed with grease like a turkey), it looked amazing and operated smoothly.  I was told by support that it should have a tiny amount of play, but more than an 1/8" and I should think about a rebuild.  Fortunately, everything checked out and it's in remarkably good condition.  I don't know the history of this prop, but it should last me for some time as long as I keep the internals greased every year and don't back it over a rock :)


Sunday, March 3, 2024

Rattle Can Rebuild Part X

I decided that I wouldn't subject people to any more engine rebuild updates until it was finished, but even though I was technically finished last week, it turns out I wasn't.  I won't go through all the gory details of the final pieces of the rebuild, but I will say that I thought it was going better than I expected.  I picked away at it almost every day since the last time I posted, focusing on each system individually.  By far the biggest challenge was figuring out the new wiring harness, sensors and a new low pressure fuel pump that was not a westerbeke product, but with a little advice from Hansen Marine Engineering, I got it all done.

With everything back together and after lots of electrical testing, it was time to fire it up.  I wired up the battery to the starter solenoid, plugged in the new Admiral panel and oil/water alarm harness and got a bucket of water to run through the raw water pump.  I turned the key and hit the preheat button for 10 seconds to fire up the glow plugs and then pressed the start button.  The engine cranked and cranked, but wouldn't catch.  I stopped and re-checked everything and repeated the process.  Still nothing. The engine cranked fine, but wouldn't catch.  

First I tested that the glow plugs were working; they were. Then I moved onto the only other possibility: the fuel system.  I knew that fuel was making it through the low pressure pump and into the secondary filter and to the injection pump.  However, when I cracked the fuel line at one of the injectors, I found no fuel...  It appeared that the injection pump wasn't working properly, but I spent a day or two scouring online forums to definitively prove that the injection pump was the problem.  I found my answer quickly on the Cruisers Forum where one of the users (SkipperPete) gave me the answer I needed. Yes it was more than likely the injection pump.

During the rebuild, I studiously avoided the injection pump because I naively hoped that it would run after 10 years sitting without running and with old fuel in it.  An additional problem with the injection pump is that it is difficult to get at and in order to remove it, you have to disconnect a very fiddly spring and tie rod that attaches the govenor to the rack on the pump.  I honestly thought it was 'above my paygrade' and seriously considered putting the engine on a trailer and taking it to a diesel repair shop.

I'm glad I didn't and the help I got from the Cruisers Forum gave me the courage to tackle the project. I did have to disassemble the entire fuel system surrounding the injection pump to get at it, but at this point I was sure that I could reassemble it again without too much trouble (but I took lots of photos). However, in the end, pulling the injection pump wasn't actually that bad and I probably saved at least $500 just in the disassembly process.  Now I have the pump out of the engine and will take it to a injection pump shop to have it rebuilt. Yes, this will be expensive, but this is something that is not for amatuers and requires specialized high pressure testing equipment and expertise that I just don't have.  

So tomorrow morning, I'll be dropping it off at Diesels Fuel Injection shop to have them rebuild the pump.  I used them to rebuild the injectors (which also require specialized equipment).  Hopefully, my next post will include a video of the engine running.  Below are a few shots of the injection pump: