Tuesday, 15 April 2014

One day to go!

Another day spent in the engine compartment tending to the bilge.  After two winters it looked like this…..

None of this was caused by a dripping stern gland.  Actually we have a Vetus water lubricated dripless stern gland and as far as I can tell no water has entered the boat via the stern gland.  This has been caused by two problems.  The greatest cause has been the original leak of calorfier anti-freeze which occurred during the commissioning process.  If I had realised the anti-freeze was going to be so corrosive I would have taken immediate remedial action. Moreover,when the paint started to blister and crumble I assumed it was a consequence of my poor application. The second, lesser, problem has been caused by condensation during the two winters.  I need to be more diligent and remove the condensation promptly.

The first task today was to remove the bilge pump.  It is screwed to an ‘L’ shaped piece of flat plate which in turn is screwed to the engine mounting end plate.  The pump mounting plate separated quite easily from the engine mount, probably because I had used brass machine screws rather than steel.  There was nothing deliberate about my using brass screws but I’m grateful for the fluke.  The machine screws holding the pump to the ‘L’ mounting plate were removed thus enabling me to carefully check the bilge pump.  Apart from the need of a good clean, it was in excellent condition.  Looking at the bulge pump it appears that it has never run.  However the bilge pump mounting plate was in need of some serious cleaning. 

After previously spending several days cleaning rust and failed paint manually using a wire brush I’d decided to get clever and purchased a circular wire brush to fit in the portable drill.  It did a brilliant job of removing the rust and crumbling paint but I hadn’t anticipated how much dust would be created.  I should have bought a disposable face mask.  One thing is for certain; I’m definitely not iron or oxygen deficient after breathing in so much Fe203 today.  I now have shortness of breath and could probably grow potatoes in my nose!  However the good news is the bilge is back to a condition where it can be repainted.

After removing the rust and failed paint I managed to get the bilge back to mostly bare steel.  Then the area was cleaned, removing what appeared to be a significant amount of scale and paint chips.  Next I cleaned the surfaces with a mixture of water and Cif (Jif) to scour the surface removing any dust and dirt.  Finally the area was washed with clean water before being allowed to dry ready for painting.

Jan has been busy baking an apple, blackberry and elderberry sponge pudding using the last of the fruit in the freezer.  As I’m the only one aboard eating puddings I can see it will take me at least a week to get through such a large pudding!

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