July 6, 2011.
Today at work was one of those special days where everything goes right. Every boat had the potential for disaster but somehow everything went right.
The last boat of the day needed a new hand held control for the windlass. The old one had rotted away and of course the wiring harnesses were different so it had to be replaced as well.
The minor issue. The old switch only had 3 wires. One for *up*, one for *down* and one for power, simple. The new harness had 8 wires of which I had to use 5. The issue was that all this great stuff came without a schematic. Sure, there was a diagram complete with color coding but nothing else. It actually listed all the wires by color but didn’t break it down into what each wire actually was designed to do. It was like somebody had hit *send* before finishing the diagram. Phone calls to the manufacturer didn’t help so it came down to intuition, dumb luck and a smattering of skill. Intuitively I knew that dumb luck was my greatest skill so it all worked out without me frying anything.
The boat before that was a 28 foot speed boat with dual inboard V-8 gasoline engines. The woman reported that she was blasting along (because that’s what powerboaters do) when the port engine “stopped”. She didn’t say that it sputtered and died, she said it “stopped”. Gas engines aren’t in my area of expertise but her description of the problem had me thinking electrical, so I opted to drive to the boat and give it a shot. Actually, I had no choice, the boss sent me.
After schlepping all my crap down to her boat I opened up the engine enclosure and was immediately awestruck. The manufacturers of this jewel of a speedboat had actually stuffed 2 huge V-8 engines into a hole the size of a hamster’s ass. There wasn’t room in there for anything let alone me. Worse yet, there were several greasy palm prints on the smooth fiberglass surfaces. Somebody had been here before me and failed…..Crap.
I’m kneeling in front of this useless iron monster and I can’t see or touch at least half of the electrical system and its components. I said to myself “Jesus, where’s the coil, I can’t even see it”. I dunno why but for whatever reason, all of a sudden the coil was very important to me. So I ran my hand down the wire from the distributor in search of the coil. And the back of my hand brushed something….a broken wire. Holy shit, I found the problem 9 seconds after I opened the engine compartment. I couldn’t see it and could only get some of my fingers from one hand on it but I found it. Talk about divine intervention.
It took me an hour and a half to replace this one short section of wire. I never saw it, could barely touch it but God damn, I found it. Once the new wire was in place the engine fired right up and purred like a hamster with 2 giant V-8’s crammed in his ass. Right about now I’m pretty much invincible.
But the day didn’t start out that way. I had to remove an old PSS dripless shaft seal and replace it with a new one. Kinda cramped position but simple enough, no problemo, right?
Of course this entailed taking the shaft coupling off the shaft. Predictably it was a pain in the ass since its been on there since the Eisenhower administration. Oh look, I can’t pull the shaft back far enough so the propeller also has to come off. Its like 200° in my tiny little tomb and I’m here dealing with the “snowball effect”.
The couplings off, the props gone the shaft is out of the way and after 2 hose clamps and the old seal will be out. Do you notice anything odd, unusual or even sadistic about this particular hose clamp?
Try figuring that out while upside down without being able to see it. I was happy just to be able to get the screwdriver into the slot. I could actually feel a vein bulging in my head.
The worse thing about it was that the schlub that put this together umpteen years ago was probably laughing when he did it.
Normal is on the left while fiendish is on the right….