Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fischer Panda Cooling System Modification

Do you have a Fischer Panda generator? Depending on its age, the following improvement by Paul of s/v Solace will be verrry interesting to you...

Fischer Panda (FP) Generators are now cooled by fresh water and the sea water only passes through the heat exchanger and then out via the exhaust hose. BUT it didn't use to be that way. My  FP is around a 2001 model, 5.5KVA. In my FP the cooling is done with sea water, which first goes around the generator casing and then to the heat exchanger, before exiting via the usual exhaust method. The fresh water gets circulated around the engine and through the heat exchanger to get cooled from the seawater that has picked up a little heat from the generator casing.

You can see the heat exchanger situated underneath the generator in the picture below. I consider that poor design and changed my heat exchanger location which you can read about here and also here

To change my cooling system, I figured it was only a case of changing a few hoses over and I could have both my generator casing AND my engine cooled by fresh water and use the raw water only for cooling through the heat exchanger. Read below how I did it...

FP blurb about their water cooling.

First I removed the freshwater hose that went from the engine to the heat exchanger. You can see the fresh water hose coming from the pump (above generator belt) to a metal tube which then does a small bend and goes down and sits just behind the Johnson raw water pump. The removed hose is sitting in front of the pulley.

Next I removed the hose from the raw water pump which goes straight down to a pipe that dives under the motor to the generator casing.

The idea is to swap these two over. Fresh water will now go to the generator casing, and raw water to the heat exchanger.

In the picture to the right, you will now notice, the pipe that sat under the raw water pump has been moved to the right a little and hooked up with the fresh water pipe coming down from the fresh water pump. (pump not seen). I had to cut about two inches (50mm) off the pipe so that a hose will connect.

I had this 20mm pipe (in picture to the left) made for this change over.

In the picture to the right, you can just make out the curved pipe as it is now attached to the raw water pump and the pipe continues to the heat exchanger underneath the pulley.

Now, at the heat exchanger. the pipe that use to be fresh water is now raw water and should be connected to the raw water input at the heat exchanger.... AND the raw water input hose at the heat exchanger is now fresh water. Just swap the two over.

So, lets follow the path of the fresh water first.

From the fresh water pump, it goes down beside the crank pulley and dives under the motor to the generator casing. From the generator casing, the fresh water goes to the heat exchanger to be cooled and then returned to the engine at the header tank. From the header tank, it gets circulated around the engine and repeats the cycle.

Now the raw water.... It leaves the raw water pump and goes straight to the heat exchanger; picks up the heat and then exits via the exhaust. Just like the new FP's.

Finale hookup with generator belt back on.

BUT, that's not the end of it. You might imagine that the generator casing may have some internal salt deposits. So, I first ran the engine up with fresh water to temperature and then after cooling down some, drained that water  away. I then did another run up using a product called "Salt-X". I mixed with water as per directions and repeated the draining of the fluid after cooling down some. This Salt-X is a produce for removing salt deposits in outboard engines and should be available in most marine Chandler stores. Finally, I did another fresh water run up and emptied that too, before using a ethylene glycol "antifreeze/antiboil" product. I'll change that in about 9 months time as well; to make sure all salts that remained have left the cooling system.

We also have a fresh water flush system for both our engine and Genset. As we get ready to shut them down for a while, we open a valve to our fresh water tank and close the sea cock. We let the engine run for a minute or two and this then flushes out the seawater from the heat exchanger. Thus prolonging the life of the heat exchanger. Then, after shuting down the motor, it is important to close that fresh water valve; otherwise, the next time you open the sea cock, it can back pressure to the fresh water and ruin your tank supply. It usually only happens once. :-D

All up, it took about 2 hours and a ten dollar item to complete. Antifreeze and Salt-X were extra costs; but you should replace you antifreeze once a year anyway. It's mostly for the anti corrosion properties that we use it.The engine actually runs slightly cooler, and with a trip up to the tropics soon, will be beneficial.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Small Clothes Drying

Paul on s/v Solace has an easy answer for drying small clothing items - made from items you probably already have on board:

Some years ago, we were in the Pacific islands and my wife bought at a market, a round plastic hanger with multiple clothes pegs hanging off it. She used this to hang her underwear and socks from, both outside and inside the boat. Well, eventually the plastic thing broke and she lamented the loss of her "never, never holder". She says, "underwear should never be seen hanging off life lines or even a clothes line".

So I set about one evening to duplicate what she had before. I used two garden irrigation "T's and some reinforced hose to make the basic shape. I drilled through the plastic hose and placed short sections of about 3mm line through; held from slipping through, with just an overhand knot on top. Next I drilled the pegs and did a similar knot to hold the pegs. Finally I made a bridle in the middle cross piece and placed a cheap small carabiner at the center of the bridle by which to hang the contraption.

About 1 hour to make and less than $10

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Brushed again

Have any brushed stainless on your boat? On Eolian, our stove is brushed stainless.  This finish is produced in the factory by sanding the metal surface.  

The thing is, stainless is hard, but not so hard that use, and more importantly cleaning attempts, can scratch it, ruining that beautiful, uniform appearance.

On our stove, between the two burners you see here, a typical dishwashing sponge with a scratchy side was used to remove some baked on food.  Sadly, it left a clearly visible remnant of the effort:  an area where the scratches ran up-and-down rather than side-to-side.

Since the finish is originally created by sanding, I thought it might be repaired in the same fashion.  But what grit should I use?  Originally I tried 400, but it was too fine, producing an almost polished finish.  So I backed down to 320:  perfect.  I know the photography doesn't really show it, but the cleaning 'fingerprint' is gone, completely.

NOTE:  When sanding, you must be careful to always move the sand paper in the same direction that the original "brushing" went.

Of course, if the scratches are deeper than the ones that 320 grit makes, then it will take a long time to sand down past them.

I did the actual sanding with a 3M sanding sponge that I now have dedicated to the purpose, but I suppose that any sandpaper would work.

(BTW, I used the sanding sponge to renew a stainless head sink too.  It worked just as well there.  In this case, the brushing was circular, around the inside of the sink, rather than linear.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Recycling continues

Out on s/v Janna, an old sail is not a disposal problem, it is a resource! See what Petr and Jana have done with it...
When I was a small kid back in the communist Czech and Slovak Socialistic Republic, a friend of mine introduced me to this marvelous new gadget – a digital watch.  The Vietnamese throw them into the garbage when the battery is dead, said my friend. Yes, that marvel was battery operated.   I’ve never seen battery operated watch. Why wouldn’t the Vietnamese replace the battery instead of tossing the whole watch I didn’t understand.  My friend just shook his head and pointed out to me again that the fact that these can be found in garbage cans is what I should be concentrating on.

Surely I did peek to garbage cans for a while then before emptying the content of our household bin.  Yes, there were no plastic bags used then.  All went to the bin, we would fold an old newspaper on the bottom, and the bin would have to be cleaned from time to time, because it would start to smell quite badly.  I guess we were quite ecological back then, regardless of the fact that people didn’t know much about being ecological.


But the times they are a-changin’ and we buy and discard on a daily basis.  Those who take a screw driver and disassemble are breaking warranties and are being labeled as handyman or in more contemporary lingo as hackers.

I digress, however.  We try to remain faithful to our promise to the mother Earth and create as little garbage as possible. Thus, knife in one hand scissors in the other, I started butchering one of our old mainsails.  You see, right now we have three mainsails on board.  A very old one, then the one that was rigged when we bought the boat and now the new one, we just bought in Hong Kong.  The time for the other too has come, holes here and there and patches, chafed all around, grommets corroded, leech lines, stuck to the fabric.

I stretched that large piece of shred and started to plot my attack.  We need leecloths, helmsman awning, weathercloths, and couple of bags for lines, bag for cloth pins, there’s never enough bags on a boat.  So far we’ve been using plastic bags (sic), because there’s such an abundance of those things and especially in Taiwan, most things are usually packages at least twice.  Receiving piles of plastic bags seems unavoidable, but it’s time for us to say no.  Not to mention that some of the plastic bags are so noisy.

So after a few hours effort, we got new leecloths, bottom firmly screwed to our berths and the top hanged on the cabin handholds and a massive eye through bolted to a bulkhead.  We can stretch nice helmsmen awning, called “the square” over our cockpit.  Our 100m mooring lines are now stowed properly in their own bags, line flaked inside so that it can be let out quickly without snags.  And we have a new bag for a mainsheet in the cockpit (the photo of which will remain unpublished, because it’s a recycled cover from an outboard and it does not look particularly nice – but it works…).

In the conclusion I can say only this: Long live our fabulous Singer machine!



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boat Shopping 101, Part 1: Making the Case for the Wrong Boat

Over at Dock Six, Brian has a bit of advice that I think every potential boat buyer should read. I think it is important enough that I include it here, even tho it is not a project. Read on:

     "Another season passes by you..."
                          -Big Country

....  and you are one more season lost, another season spent dock-walking, fender kicking, online ad surfing,  ladder climbing, grinning, nodding, and doing everything but the very thing you need to be doing:

Pulling the trigger on buying a boat.

    If you're still standing on the dirt wishing you were feet-wet, and this condition has persisted more than 26 weeks, do not consult a physician.

   You're simply doing it wrong.

   Those of you who are thinking about buying a boat, a bigger boat, a different boat?

   Quit looking for the right boat.
   Find the boat, right now.

   See, here's the deal:

   There IS no "right boat."

   There is, however, a right TIME.


   Look, you can spend the rest of your dirt-bound life thinking, wishing, planning, hoping, dreaming, conniving, scheming, fantasizing, about loosening the ties that bind...

   And all of that strategizing still leaves you on the dirt.
   Gazing longingly out to sea.

   Which is wrong.  Way wrong.

   I'll let you in on a secret:

   Most of us are sailing on the wrong. Damn. Boat.

   That's cool.

   We're sailing.

   *Cue the music*

   Right now.

   Why is "sailing right now" so important, my friends?

   Because no one knows what tomorrow may bring,

   There is a proverb which, in Yiddish, is written:

         דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט

   Loosely translated, "Man plans, God laughs."

   What has worked for me and for other Docksters may work for you...
... Or  may not,

   ....  and I accept no liability, nor any congratulations, nor any damn thing, incurred along the way.

  But, having said that,
  We are on the water, and you are on the dirt.
  How's that working out for you?   

   Friends of the Dock (henceforth known, anonymously, as FODs) are looking for a boat. 

   9 months ago they were looking seriously at a Bayfield 25.

     They asked me for my advice.

     I offered it:  

      (Come on, you think I am gonna keep my piehole shut?

       A Bayfield 25  is a good, solid, capable, full-keeled, well-equipped, comfortable, small cruising boat.  Under $10 K.

      Want a cheap, solid $ 4 figure cruiser? 

      The Bayfield 25 is a good bet.

      A boat that would be the queen of Dock Six.

      If it suits them, they should buy it.  

      Others offered the same advice.

      It was the first boat they crawled aboard; conventional wisdom says no one should ever buy the first boat they inspect.

      So, they didn't.

      It sold.

      No problem. 

      It's fall.  Other boats will come along before spring.

      Then, I screwed up.

      I suggested they attend the Toronto Boat Show .

      The FODs climbed all over the big shiny new boats on display.

      They talked to brokers. 
      Some good brokers. 
      Brokers I trust.  

      Brokers from whom I would buy a boat.

      Brokers who happily and patiently  listened to their needs and wants, and decided that the boat in which they were originally interested, a Bayfield 25, was...

      Too small, too slow, too spartan, too under-equipped.

      The Boat Show consensus was, and the shoppers involved agreed, that they needed a newer, more equipped,  big body, big dollar boat...

      ... like walk-through transom Catalina over 30 feet LOA, starting over $80 000.00

     10-15 times as much as the Bayfield 25 that was in their budget and their dreams last season.

      Those brokers who recommended expanding their budget and getting a bigger, plusher, newer, better equipped, more expensive boat aren't wrong...

      If their customer can comfortably write a mid- five- figure cheque for the purchase price...

      ....And if the broker and the customer are 100% sure of the customer's needs....

      ...  And if an example  of that "right" boat is available on the market.

      If not?

      Another season lost. 

      I argue that the perfect boat for you, (for anybody, for that matter,) is smaller, older, cheaper, slower and uglier than you think it is.


      See these folks?

      Marco  and Dee are less than $3K into their boat.

      Is it perfect?

      Is it their "ideal" boat?


      Are they out on the water, grinning?  

      Hell, yeah.

      Meanwhile,  waaayy too many other would-be sailors are burning off another season searching for the "right " boat.

      Those of you stupid enough to still be reading, here's what I want you to do:

      Figure out how much you can comfortably write a cheque for, today, right now. 

     Find a boat in 80% of that price range.

     Buy it.


     Next post I will explain why.

     Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Borax: Stopping Mildew and Rot on the Cheap... and How the EPA Can Make Everything Complicated

Today we get a little chemistry from Drew over at Sail Delmarva:
Websters' version

Borax: 1. a white crystalline compound that consists of a hydrated sodium borate Na2B4O7·10H2O, that occurs as a mineral or is prepared from other minerals, and that is used especially as a flux, cleansing agent, and water softener, as a preservative, and as a fireproofing agent.

EPA's Version

Borax: pesticide products containing boric acid and its sodium salts (borax) are registered in the U.S. for use as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. As insecticides, some act as stomach poisons in ants, cockroaches, silverfish and termites, while others abrade the exoskeletons of insects. As herbicides, some cause desiccation or interrupt photosynthesis in plants, while others suppress algae in swimming pools and sewage systems. As fungicides, several are wood preservatives which control decay-producing fungi in lumber and timber products.

While generally considered safe, if I claim a cleaning formulation containing borax keeps mildew away, I have to register it with the EPA before marketing. But I can sell you a box of borax without registration. Go figure. Is it really about toxicity? I don't really think so. It is about twice as toxic as washing soda (LD50 borax and boric acid are about 2500 mg/kg BM. Although borax is suspected in certain reproductive problems in laboratory animal testing, it is not associated with cancer and does not bio-accumulate.).

It seems that anything that works must be poison, or at least regulated. That is governments purpose.
As part of a future Practical Sailor article I began exploring fumigating agents and anti-mildew products. I truth, most projects I take on are because I've had some troubles related to the subject in question and thus have some understanding and some additional motivation. Every boat has at least one damp spot prone to mildew, and in my case, I have a basement prone to wet carpets every few years. Not flooding, but mildew potencial.
I began exploring the formulations of some successful products. Concrobium is one, dredfully over priced at the local hardware, particularly considering you can look up the underlying pattents (EP 1104450 B1) and learn that each quart bottle ($18.00) contains nothing but:
  • 1 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbs washing soda
  • 2 tbs TSP
Simple and effective. The chemistry makes perfect sense; it is applied without rinsing and thus leaves behind a thin alkiline coating that repells bacterial and fungal growth (fungi require acid conditions) and provides no food for growth (soaps contain fatty acids and make great fungi food). More is not better because it is used without rinsing, the limitied concentration is important.
That got me thinking, so I began trying other variations including my favorite, also in 1 quart:
  • 1 tbs baking sopa
  • 1 tbs borax
  • 1 tbs TSP
If there is grease or some stuborn soil, washing first with Simple Green or laundry detergent followed by a rinse makes sense. But get the soap out.

I've been testing all three on some mildewed carpet sections, cleaning by scrubbing lightly and then extracting with a vacuum. Which is best? After 6 months they are both perfect, although the borax version killed the smell a bit faster.

Other Applications

Preventing Wood Rot
Borax is VERY effective in preventing wood rot. I've used it myself mixed with ethylene glycol (Goolge it) to preserve a common pine totem pole in damp soil and remain impressed; it's staying as though it were pressure treated, 6 years and counting. West Systems Epoxy has posted on this subject. The National Park Service posted this on preserving totem poles in the PNW with borate/glycol.
Obviously, they can't stand boric acid. One of the most common extermination products, particularly around kitchens and bedrooms (works on matresses). It's not going to work on the flying pests, though, the only ones I have trouble with. Darn.
Wooden Decks
Seems like a good cleaning choise. Should help keep the algae away. Limit the TSP if you wish to be bay-friendly. Try it on your home deck for a little boost to the pressure treatment.
Combine it with some bleach as needed.
A less alkiline variation is well known and should keep the mildew away. Reduce the dose:
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp borax
Oh, the power of good marketing. I swear I'm not just trying to be trying to be cheap. Furthermore, I'm a chemical engineer and have no phobia regarding synthetic chemicals. I'm not pushing this because of some hidden green agenda or because it is less toxic. The strength of these formulations is basic:
  • No organic mildew food
  • Mildly alkiline film
  • Borate as mildewstat
I'm also reviewing some nice complex synthetic formulations that promise to be more water resistant. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chain Stripper Modification

Paul on s/v Solace makes a significant improvement in his windlass by redesigning the chain stripper.  This is inspirational to me (since Eolian doesn't have a stripper on her windlass); perhaps it will be for you too:

Bent stripper compared to new stripper

Last year I had a guest on board who was trying to be helpful and undertake some of the chores on the boat. He was going through the anchoring process and while anchoring, I (he) found a deficiency in my capstan while easing out chain as one puts on the snubber.

Normally, when bringing in the chain with the capstan, a stripper is in place to ensure the chain comes off the capstan and goes down the Hawse pipe. Otherwise, it can get caught in the gypsy (wildcat in the USA) and wind up the chain around itself. Easing chain out, say when anchoring, the weight of the chain is usually sufficient to take the chain of the capstan gypsy. But in my case, my guest was not aware of the potential issue and as he eased the chain out while holding tension on the snubber line, the chain stayed in the gypsy and bent the chain stripper on the opposing side. You can see the bent stainless stripper above.

Plastic compared to SS

We were in the middle of "nowhere" and there was no way I could straighten that stainless. So what to do? I used one of my wife's "polyplastic" chopping boards and cut it up to make a plastic, but temporary chain stripper. While getting everything ready, including a cardboard template, I decided to design it so it was able to strip the chain whether it was coming in, or going out. I used both hacksaw and Dremel for fashioning the plastic stripper and the thing worked so well, it stayed on for the whole cruising season (6 months). I improved the cardboard cut out a little and had a piece of 6mm stainless laser cut when I went home.

Plastic stripper in place

New SS stripper to replace plastic in place
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