Engine excitement

11029513_733115730167127_5507250782570436044_nI (Sara) don’t know a whole lot about diesel engines. But I do know a whole lot more now than I did two years ago. And I’m actually fascinated watching and hearing about Doug’s work on rebuilding Illusion‘s. In fact, I recently found myself reading, with interest, this great post which explains some of the basics of a diesel engine – and was (almost) amused by this bit:

  “The whole process – pistons going up and down, the crankshaft going round and round, valves opening and closing, and tiny squirts of fuel being sprayed into the cylinders – happens dozens of times a second, but we really don’t need to bother about it here. If these parts fail, there is nothing a DIY mechanic can do about it on board.”

One of the approximately million of pictures I've sent to Doug while we've been apart
One of the approximately million pictures I’ve sent to Doug while we’ve been apart

Yup. There wasn’t much we could do about it on board – in fact, by trying to fix it with limited equipment on Rapa and at anchor on Raivavae, we managed to mess it up even more. But now things are happening and the engine starts and stops as it should, doesn’t cause a smoky cloud around the boat, and runs more or less as it ought to. It’s not quite ready to be deemed fixed. Every day Doug sends me WhatsApp messages along the lines of “Found another leak”, “Fixed another leak”, “It got too dark to see the leaks, will have to continue tomorrow” and other such sweet nothings. (I mainly send him photos of Toby – things have changed a little since two years ago, but WhatsApp is still keeping our relationship alive and well.)


He’s been meaning to write a post about all the work he’s doing to get our engine working again, but he’s a bit too busy actually doing the work, just occasionally coming out of the engine room to do some stretches so he doesn’t do his back in again or for a quick beer with friends, new and old. Eventually I’m hoping he’ll make the time to describe the process as maybe it can be useful for somebody else or just interesting to those who find that kind of thing interesting. In the meantime, here are some pictures showing little glimpses into his exciting life on the boat right now…….

Pulling off the intake manifold and intercooler
Pulling off the intake manifold and intercooler
A peek inside the intercooler: seawater runs through those pipes to cool the air going into the engine.
A peek inside the intercooler: seawater runs through those pipes to cool the air going into the engine.
Tools for gasket making!
Tools for gasket making!
Remaking the intake gaskets
Remaking the intake gaskets
Access to all the head bolts
Access to all the head bolts
Resealing the end of the heat exchanger. Top cylinder: coolant, small one below: oil
Resealing the end of the heat exchanger. Top cylinder: coolant, small one below: oil
Front of the engine with the timing cover off
Front of the engine with the timing cover off
Repaired timing cover
Repaired timing cover

We’re still sort of hoping he’ll get finished and get the boat up to Vancouver, but starting to think maybe it won’t be this summer. We’re already two years behind schedule, so I guess we can deal with another delay! In 2013 it got too late in the season to do the final stretch with decent conditions, in 2014 Doug had recently had shoulder surgery and was told not to sail – we were prepared to ignore that, but then he had a bad back too so we had to give up on our hope that the two of us could sail, minus engine, to Vancouver. Hmm. Obviously we’re not delighted at the idea of another year without the boat in Vancouver, but we can’t help but feel pretty pleased that so much progress has been made.  The engine now starts and runs. Hurrah!! This is the first time in two years we can say that, so that in itself is fantastic. Doug’s plugging away, trying to sort out one final issue, which may or may not be quickly fixable. He’s also watching the weather closely. If it makes sense to set off soon, he will. If not, well, we nearly have a working engine so if Illusion stays in Hawaii a bit longer at least we can go visit and maybe (dare I mention the idea?) GO SAILING!!

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2 thoughts on “Engine excitement”

  1. Glad to hear things are coming together. I sure hope the weather holds out!

    If not, we’ll make sure you guys do some sailing with us this fall on our Niagara 35 based in False Creek.

    Chris

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