Belts and Beverage

Solved the sheared nut issue over a stuffy Monday afternoon in the engine compartment.

Dad’s summation of the problem was 99% correct—the nut at the back of the tensioning bolt, though unnecessary, actually came off fine. However the bolt itself had become corroded and seized in the alternator, carrying off not only the bolt head in my ratchet, but breaking a rock-hard extractor that we hammered into the bolt.

 One rusty bolt

At length, we needed to progressively drill into the bolt with bigger bits until the thing was literally a hollow shell of its former self. Once it was reduced to about a millimetre in thickness, it came out rather well. Shockingly, the thread of the alternator wasn’t damaged, and we were able to thread in the new bolt without issue!

Drilling tinsel out of the bolt; trying to leave some of it outside the alternator

Bolt holed 

We had a spare belt of dubious origin to put onto the assembly—it slips a little upon startup—but it will do for the time being until we can get a couple of spare Westerbeke parts. Sure enough, after the belt caught hold, the tachometer and voltmeter worked without issue, and the engine remained cool after cruising around False Creek.

Victory. This came after a mildly eventful weekend aboard with Laurel. We went out for a day-sail, which was the first opportunity to get IG to speed after dad’s gift—a scuba man scrubbing down the hull and knocking the barnacles off the propeller. Holy smokes, that boat does better with a clean bottom. Back to >5kts at 1800 RPM, and sustained speeds of 7.5kts under moderate wind and reduced sail.

I cut our run a little short, noting both that the tachometer had died and our engine water temperature was apparently off the gauge. I put this off to a short in the instrumentation, but nonetheless I suggested we put into False Creek for safety.

We had another great visit with Dylan and Sarah—moored most handsomely for the work-week in the creek—and most of the party went ashore to David Lam Park for the Jazz fest. I stayed aboard to tighten the way-too-loose stuffing box (way easier than last year! A few little ball peen hammer taps to get the lock nut going) and to consider the connections behind the engine instrument panel. All looked ok at first glance, and I elected to call the evening a victory and put up the hammock. The team came back from shore; tea and hot chocolate was served; much enjoyment all around. 

Next morning after coffee and hammock I reviewed the tachometer connections and emptied the starboard cockpit locker to inspect the alternator. Sure enough: the belt was in tatters. Drat. Well, a complete explanation. So I got motivated after my successful dance with the stuffing box, brought out the ratchet set, and you know the rest…

All said and done: a good learning experience. I was too busy to look closely at what the Stem to Stern guy did with our alternator last year, and I now know exactly what’s going on down there. Chalk up one more lesson at the mere expense of six hours or so sweating buckets next to the engine.

Tightened up the frighteningly loose bolts under the rudder post too. That ought to avoid a proper cock-up later in the season.