DREAM AWAY Update 04-12-2012


Our passage from Georgetown, South Carolina, to Delcambre, Louisiana, via Marathon, Florida, was aborted by the Borg Warner Velvet Drive transmission. The initial failure was the oil cooler for the transmission. The failed oil cooler was allowing sea water into the transmission.

When the transmission failed we were just leaving Winyah Bay, on an outgoing tide, and luckily were able to anchor, but on a lee shore. Pretty scary, but we got it done. We then checked the situation and that is when we discovered the real problem with the transmission. Being prepared, I had a spare oil cooler on board, so we were able to remove the defective oil cooler and replace it with the new one.

We then started the process of cleaning out the dirty oil/sea water mix in the transmission. We did this by filling up the transmission with diesel, starting the engine, engaging the transmission, and allowing the transmission to pump the mixture out through the hoses to the oil cooler. The hoses had not been connected to the oil cooler at this time. We did this five times, and the fluid out of the transmission looked pretty clean. We then poured the actual transmission oil into the transmission, and pumped it out twice. By this time, the oil being pumped out was looking pretty good, so we topped off the oil in the transmission, and decided to give it a go.

The transmission worked, we were able to get the anchor up, and continue on our way, about five hours later, around 2330 the night of 04-07-12, we had the same problem with transmission, meaning it would not turn the prop. We checked the oil in the transmission, and it was gone. The front seal in the transmission was bad and after a couple of hours of use, the oil was all pumped out, into the bilge!

I decided at that time, to turn around and come back to Georgetown to repair the problem. The winds at that time were from the southwest, so we could not sail to Charleston, I was unfamiliar with Charleston, and I was very familiar with Georgetown, and knew folks in Georgetown.

As we were heading back to Georgetown, we checked the tides for Winyah Bay, with our projected arrival time, and they were favorable. I also topped off the transmission with oil, so we would have it for use if needed. As it turned out the transmission was needed. When we came in the entrance to Winyah Bay we had to head west, and the wind had shifted, and was out of the west. We were able to motor all the way into our anchorage that Kitty and I used when we first came to Winyah Bay. We got the anchor down and set, had a great breakfast, and rested, as we were all very tired.

Our plan, again influenced by the tides, was to wait until the next morning, 04-09-12, then head up the bay to Georgetown, sailing most of the way, and using the motor only when necessary. While we were at anchor, I topped off the transmission with oil.

The plan worked very well, and we were able to sail most of the way up the bay, and then use the engine/transmission to actually get into Georgetown, and back to the dock we had left a couple of days ago. I had called Bucky, our land lord from our long stay in Georgetown, and he said we could have our place back with no problem. During the trip up the bay I contacted Captain Ronnie at TowBoat US, and warned him we might need a tow, which we did not, but being prepared was good.

Now we are in the process of getting the transmission out of the boat, which is no easy task. I have contacted a person in Georgetown who will rebuild the transmission, and I have purchased a rebuild kit for the transmission, that should arrive Wednesday or Thursday.

The process to remove the transmission is interesting! First we have to remove and move the hard Bimini. This is to allow using the main boom to lift out the generator and transmission. Then we must take the generator out of the boat to gain access to the transmission, then actually remove the transmission.

On Monday, 04-09-12, after we got the boat securly tied up to the dock, electricity installed and had a nice breakfast, we went to work. We got the boat scrubbed down, all of the sheets, halyards and control lines put away. We then got the Dutchman System secured on each mast, and the sail covers put on. We then disconnected the hard Bimini and moved it to the bow of the boat. We then went to work on the generator, and disconnected the exhaust hose, cooling water input hoses, the oil filtration system hoses, and made it ready for removal in the morning. We did not disconnect the fuel system hoses. By this time we were pretty tired, so we had dinner, and chatted for some time concerning the process of the generator removal, and the transmission removal. We then went to bed.

On Tuesday, 04-10-12, we finished disconnecting the generator, by removing the fuel lines. We then verified that all wiring was removed and all hoses and pipes that were being moved with the generator were secured to it. We got our lifting tackle arranged and connected to the boom, and to the generator, then started sliding the generator out of its mounts. We got the generator out and started lifting the generator out of the hatch over the garage. At this time we decided the lifting tackle was too small. We set the generator on the deck in the garage and changed the tackle. Now we were able to lift the generator out through the hatch, but realized we did not raise the boom high enough to get the generator over the binnacle. Rather than raising the mast more, we changed the lifting point on the boom. We then lifted the generator, and were able to move the generator around the binnacle, over the life rail, and safely onto the dock. That was a huge accomplishment!

With the generator out, we were able to remove the generator support bracket, the water lift muffler for the generator, and the shelf for the water lift mufflers. We decided it was not necessary to remove the water lift muffler for the main engine. The prop shaft had to be backed out of the way to back out the transmission. We noticed several rust spots on the shaft, so the shaft was sanded down and cleaned up. we removed everything out of the way so the transmission could be lifted out of the engine room. By this time it was obvious we had a lot of oily water in the bilge that had to be removed. My problem was, I had no containers to pump the oily water into. I solved this problem by calling a friend who makes his own bio diesel with waste cooking oil. He was out of town, but his truck was in the parking lot next to DREAM AWAY, and had several five gallon containers of waste cooking oil in it. I asked him if I put the waste cooking oil into my diesel Jerry Jugs, could I have the empty containers. He happily said yes! I had one partially filled Jerry Jug of diesel, and a full one that I emptied into the starboard fuel tank, which topped it off. I also had an empty gasoline Jerry Jug, which we used. We then went over to his truck, and decanted the waste cooking oil into my three Jerry Jugs. We ended up with three containers which we could use for the oily bilge water. It was late, so we had a light dinner. Stacy, Noel and I stayed up chatting about all sorts of issues, and finally went on to bed.

On Wednesday, 04-11-12, we got onto the transmission removal project after a nice breakfast. I had to get to the manual electric bilge pump under the galley sink. We were disconnecting the output of the manual electric bilge pump from the overboard discharge, and putting it into our empty waste cooking oil containers. I got everything cleaned out from under the galley sink and got the output hose from the bilge pump into the empty waste cooking oil container. The bilge pump pickup hose was in the bilge, we turned on the pump, and nothing came out! This pump was working three weeks ago!! To make a long story short, it was discovered the input hose was blocked with debris just before the strainer. The debris was allowed into the hose because the screen on the pickup hose had come off. We finally got all of the issues fixed, and the pump started working. We got the bilge pumped out, and now were able to continue with the transmission removal project.

I had kept blocks of wood from my last engine project so we got one of the blocks into the bilge, and under the back of the engine. We then put the bottle jack on the wooden block in the bilge, and were able to jack up the back of the engine. We then disconnected the prop shaft from the transmission, and pushed the shaft back about five inches. We verified all of the bolts and nuts holding the transmission to the engine were broken loose. Next we wrapped some line around the cockpit and through the engine room to attach our lifting tackle. We got the lifting tackle attached, and additional lines around the transmission, and were able to lift the transmission. We then jacked up the back of the engine to get the mounts on the transmission out of the way of everything. We removed all of the bolts and nuts holding the transmission to the engine. With our lifting tackle we raised the transmission up as high as it would go, then swung the transmission into the galley. We disconnected the lifting tackle from the lines in the engine room, and attached the tackle to the main boom. We lifted the transmission out of the galley, and over to the dock!! Job well done.

I removed the mounts from the transmission, and it was ready to go. The rebuild kit arrived, I called the designated mechanic and made arrangements for the pickup. He came and picked up the parts kit and the transmission. He told us he would get back to me later after he had torn down the transmission. We cleaned up a bit, and went out to lunch. We came back to the boat, and spent the remainder of the day cleaning the oily water out of the bilge. I also used my wet/dry vac to vacuum up all of the remaining debris left in the bilge. when we finished the day, the bilge was in very decent shape, and all of the oily water in containers on the dock ready to recycle.

On Thursday, April 12th, we were getting ready to clean up the engine room and other items to get ready to put the transmission back in when I realized the mechanic had not called. Just as I had the thought, he called with the great news the transmission was complete! He had to put in some additional parts because they did not look good. So I was getting a completely rebuilt transmission. He said he was on his way down to the boat with the transmission. As it turned out, he got hung up on a project, and did not get the transmission down to the boat until 1300. It was no problem as we had plenty of other projects to get done. I assigned Stacy the project of sanding, scraping, and painting the aft motor mounts that attached to the transmission. Noel and I went to work finishing off the cleaning up of the engine room, and cleaning all of the containers, including the wet/dry vac used to clean out the bilge. I also put the manual electric bilge pump hoses back into position so it would pump overboard, instead of the waste oil containers. I also put all of the items back, that went under the galley sink. By the time the transmission arrived, we were ready for it.

We started getting the transmission back into the boat, which overall went very well. We got the transmission in, and bolted up to the engine, and bolted down to the motor mounts. We checked the allignment of the shaft, and it was under .012", so we felt good about that. we bolted up the shaft to the transmission, but had to take it apart again. We forgot to remove the bottle jack that was supporting the engine, and could not get the jack out with the shaft bolted up. We got the bottle jack out of the bilge including the wooden blocks used to support the engine, then we bolted the shaft back up to the transmission. We got the oil cooler installed, along with all of the water and oil hoses. I put a new oil soak pad under the engine bell housing so we would be able to check for leaks. We then filled the transmission with oil, started the engine, and engaged the transmission. It was great, the transmission worked in forward and reverse! We stopped the engine, and checked and topped off the oil in the transmission. We again started the engine, verified we had forward and reverse, then left it running at 1200 RPM in forward. This was 1630, and we were very happy. We celebrated with a tot of rum. As we were enjoying the tot of rum, the engine started to surge, and then it hit me, I had switched off the fuel tank when we disconnected the generator! I quickly shut down the engine, and went below, switched on the fuel, and waited 10 minutes, hoping the fuel woul get back into the system. All for naught, the engine would not run. I told Stacy and Noel, it was going to wait until tomorrow, because I was tired, and wanted a shower. We quit for the day. Everyone had showers, and we engoyed a meal of steak, baked potatoes, and salad.

The plan for tomorrow is to bleed the main engine and get it running, put the generator back into the boat and get it runnng, and get the hard Bimini back over the cockpit, and all of the wiring put back together.

Obviously our trip has been delayed. Since my son Stacy, had planned this time period out and around all his travels, he will not be able to continue with the passage from Georgetown to Marathon. Because it will just be Noel and I, we need another crew person. We feel it would not be smart for the two of us to make a six day passage. Tired crew make stupid mistakes.

Plans have changed, and Kitty and Nicola have cancelled some of the road trip. They were able to visit with our friend Dale, in Cross Hill, South Carolina, for one night. They then went up to Hendersonville, North Carolina, for two nights to visit the Biltmore Estate, with all of its gardens, and the winery. Kitty and Nicola will meet us in Georgetown tomorrow. Stacy will drive the Black Beast to Atlanta, and Kitty and Nicola will be our crew for the Georgetown to Marathon and continue on to Morgan City. We are hoping to depart Georgetown on the 15th of April, with the morning high tide.

I will get another update out, maybe when we reach Marathon, but most probably from Morgan City. When we get to Louisiana, we will not have transportation, but hopefully we can work something out. We will get to the airport in New Orleans, fly to Atlanta, and get our truck, The Black Beast, and drive back to Louisiana.

I have also made some corrections to the Anchor and Windlass Upgrade section of the Construction and Projects web page. I also added some pictures of the sunubber and contactor in the Ground Tackle section of the About DREAM AWAY web page.



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