Scott and Connie pursue a new course. Go now, go cheap. So we shed our belongings, simplified our lives, saved up a little money, and started learning Spanish. After four years cruising Mexico we decided to bring Traveler to the Pacific Northwest. We crossed the mighty Pacific to Hawaii first. Then after cruising Hawaii we crossed over to Alaska, then south to the Salish sea.
I give my apologies to the non-technical types, the dreamers
and romantics who just want a good story.The next two posts are a little technical in nature and so may not
appeal to you.Read on anyway.You might learn something.
Marina Seca Guaymas - A great place to haul out.
Last year we limped into Mazatlan with a transmission that
slipped in and out of gear and an engine that was blowing soot out of the air
intake.We consulted Bob Buchanan at
Total Yacht Works, a man who was well recommended in those parts.He listened to the engine and tranny, held
his hand over the air intake as I gunned then engine, then gave me his
opinion.The valve train in the top of
the engine had positive air pressure that resulted in oil being blown out the
breather cap. The top end is supposed to have a slight vacuum instead.
Typically this is caused by bad rings that allow crankcase air to slip by the
pistons, thus pressurizing the top end.
Bob had his partner Rafael take his gauges to the boat and do
a compression check.This confirmed that
we had something serious wrong with the piston or rings. We pulled the boat out
of the water, pulled the engine out of the boat, and Rafael dissembled it to
find the problem.It turned out not to
be bad rings, but instead a cracked piston!
Now this was a serious problem.If the engine had been driven a little harder
it would have come apart and we’d have thrown a rod through the crankcase,
stopping the engine instantly.Lucky was
the day we stopped at the Fonatur Marina and talked to Bob.Or was it not so lucky?
Our decision now was simple:Repower or Rebuild.
Rafael assured us the he could rebuild the old Perkins
4-108.It would cost in the neighborhood
of four to six thousand USD.Bob said he
could order a new diesel engine and outfit us with a new Yanmar or Beta for
about twelve thousand give or take a few thousand dollars.We chose the rebuild.We chose wrong.
Out comes the old Perkins
Six thousand dollars later plus other refits such as a new transmission,
prop shaft, cutlass bearing, and drip-less stuffing box we were ready to splash
the boat. We also had the hull ground down and re-glassed to help cure the blister problem.Also the rudder was pulled and the upper
bearing replaced. I flew down from Seattle in July to put her in the water.
When the travel lift lowered her into the estuary I tried the starter and it
just grinded and grinded.The engine
would not start.Rafael came aboard and
sprayed some starter fluid into the air intake and she kicked right off.I backed her out of the ways and brought her
around to the slip at Marina Mazatlan where she would lie for the rest of the
summer.The next morning I tried to
start the engine and again she would not go.Rafael came over and again used the starter fluid to get her going.When I left for the airport I told Bob that
I’d see him in October and we’d have to figure out why the engine was not
Three months later Connie and I arrived back in Mazatlan to
find that Bob and Rafael were split up, each taking half of the business.Bob came aboard and brought an older man with
him, a diesel mechanic, who adjusted the timing on the injector pump.When the old gentleman was done the engine
started up instantly, just as it should.At that time Bob was pretty critical of Rafael’s work and Connie and I
wondered just how well our engine had been reassembled.But we hoped for the best and soon left the
harbor heading south for the cruising season.
Later we heard that Bob and Rafael had more heated
discussions that led to some legal problems and Bob ended up abandoning his
business and high tailing it out of town, headed across the ocean to
Hawaii.This news did not bode well for
us.Nor was it good news for the other
folks who had work done at Total Yacht Works that spring and summer. So Total Yacht Works went belly up, the owner disappeared. Rafael started up his own business next door and Bob's other workers took over the original space and now call themselves Active Marine. These guys are doing well and do a great job with painting and fiberglass work.
We enjoyed our cruising season on the Pacific coast of
Mexico last year. For those of you who read our blog, you know that we made it
all the way down to Zihuatanjo then back up into the Sea of Cortez.In May our Perkins 4-108 failed with only
120 hours on the rebuild. The problem started out with a motor mount coming
loose and the engine vibrating.That
quickly morphed into a loud clacking noise and a broken crankshaft.We heard of three other boats that had Rafael
rebuild their engines that season and all three failed as well in a similar
I look back on that decision.Repower or rebuild.I made the wrong choice.My advice to anyone now is that before you
choose to rebuild an engine, make darn sure that the mechanic knows what he is
doing and can give you references from happy customers.Make sure the business is a stable one and
that the warranty will stand.
Here it is a year later and Traveler is in the yard with its
new Beta 43 installed, waiting for a new transmission to arrive.The Beta cost us around nine thousand. The
customs, freight, and install will be another three K.That’s about twelve thousand USD and what I
should have spent a year ago if I’d had more sense. Live and learn.
Out next post will be about the challenges we faced putting
a new engine into our dear boat Traveler and how one small detail can set up a
series of cascading events.