Monday, June 29, 2009

Dolphins in Long Island Sound

I once had a magical experience swimming with some wild Dolphins off the coast of the Big Island in Hawaii. But, in over twenty years of sailing in Long Island Sound I have never see a Dolphin in my local waters but it seems they are here....

It looks like it could turn out to be a magical summer of sailing this year on the Sound if they stick around.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Going electric: Part 1: The why and how


Well the diesel engine that bought both joy and misery to my sailing seasons is finally out of the boat.

I had at first planed to re power with another diesel. But, Westerbeke had no drop in replacement. So I began looking around for other diesels engines too. Finally, I was pretty sure I would go with a Beta Marine diesel. I had heard some good recommendations and I like location of the major items to service were located It would make changing oil filters, and impellers very easy. Unlike the Westerbeke 27 where I had to change the raw water impeller pretty much by feel and hoping I did not drop any screws in the process.
Then one day I was on my boat and heard the whistle of the Port Jefferson to Bridgeport ferry as it left the dock. I recalled a conversation I had with one of the crew a few years ago about what powered the ferry. He said it was diesel electric. It was an "Aha!" moment. So I began to look at the idea of repowering BIANKA with an electric motor.

After much research and mulling it over in my mind and going back and forth on what the implications of going over to electric propulsion. It would require some rethinking and precautions when planning for trips. But, always in the end I reminded myself that BIANKA is a sailboat. So I decided to do it. It may be the best decision or an expensive mistake. So come along with me as I turn BIANKA into an electric powered Nonsuch.
Because I missed out on sailing all last season I did not want to spend to much time tinkering with components. So I decided to go with a Thoosa 9000 system from ASMO Marine. I looked like the best route for me to go and pretty cost competitive with a replacement diesel and much better for the environment and those who will be sailing on board. So after contacting the ASMO Marine rep here in the U.S. I started down the road to spec the correct ASMO system for my Nonsuch and my needs. It took a few months to convince myself that this was the route to go down. There were not any comparable boats to mine that had done this. But, as the fuel prices continued to rise and my less than pleasant experiences with repairing the former diesel I decided to take the plunge and order a Thoosa 9000 electric propulsion system.


When it's a damp drizzly April in my soul there is nothing like the feeling of pulling into your driveway and finding two 45 lb packages that represent the entire new propulsion system for your boat. Well not exactly entire system. As the TV ads say "batteries not included" still I was happy to see those boxes rather than a four hundred pound diesel sitting there.

Going Electric: Part 2: The engines out! Now what?

What a relief to get the motor out of the boat and gaze at all the room now that the diesel engine has been removed.

The first thing I need to do is a little cleanup. After over twenty years of oil leaks and other spills a good scrubbing is in order to get things smelling less of diesel, oil and antifreeze and more like clean. For cleaning jobs around the boat I like to use a product called Simple Green. I buy it by the gallon at Home Depot and can use it in various dilutions depending on the cleaning job at hand. I might have to use it full strength to start the cleaning process here.

Next I'll start looking around for all the items I will no longer need as I convert the boat to electric propulsion. I can start with that spare yellow diesel container in the photo above. I carried this on board when cruising because I could never really trust the fuel gauge on the boat. I would show full or nearly full for a long time then drop fast suddenly as it emptied. I carried this diesel jug as insurance knowing I had at least six hours of fuel in case the fuel gauge played tricks on me.

When you have a diesel engine you've got hoses. The hose situation on my boat was also more complicated because a previous owner had installed a Frigoboat Series 500 engine driven refrigeration system. Which I'm sure cost a pretty penny when it was installed but, has not worked in a few years and when the engine died made repair of it moot. Below is just a sample of the hoses that were no longer needed:

Also in the photo above is the Groco raw water filter which was connected to the now missing engine. This item no longer needed and cleaning it is one less maintenance chore that no longer needs to be done when going electric. It will be nice to get this mess of hoses off the boat for good. Here's another item that will no longer be needed:

The Engine Shutoff! This essential item was needed to stop the diesel engine but, could also cause a lot of cursing when I forgot to to push it back down and it then prevented the engine from starting. It also has ripped and ruined a number of shirts on it's metal bracket as I climbed down into the engine area to work on the engine. I am very happy to see it leave the boat.

To be continued.....



Going Electric: Part 3: Before and after...

Click on the video below to see and before and after shot of the starboard side of the engine area view in the start for electrification process on BIANKA. It shows what things start to look like after removing the raw water and the Frigoboat refrigeration hoses and components.

Looks good no. But, look closer there is more stuff to be removed as I point out in this photo:

Let's not forget the raw water filter brackets mounted on the left and that Promariner electric noise/protection device (Blue labeled box) mounted above the foam installation. This device was connected to the alternator which of course went out of the boat with the engine. The hose in front of the Hydro Hush muffler once ran from the heat exchanger to to the fresh water antifreeze pump. It will soon be taken off the boat. I could leave the foil faced foam sound insulation in place but, it will not be needed with the quietness of of electric propulsion. But there are other more important reasons for removing it which I'll get to in a later post.


GOING ELECTRIC: Part 4: Still they'll be more

There is a Procol Harum song that ominously tells of all the bad things that can happen and the chorus is "still they'll be more".

Well that is kind of what happens when one starts the electrification process on a boat. Most of us don't spend a lot of time underneath the cockpit in and around the engine if we don't have to. But, at the beginning of the conversion to electric propulsion you will. As you look around you keep finding more and more things that you can or need to remove off the boat.

The photo above shows additional parts of the Frigoboat 500 marine refrigeration system that I removed. The red item is the water condenser for the refrigeration system. This was connected to some of the items removed that were shown in Going Electric:Part 3. I still don't know what the purpose of the grey canister almost hidden underneath the red condenser is for but, it's going out too. You can see the white hoses which actually cover copper tubing that contained the refrigerant. These go off to the right to another canister that will also be removed. Then there is the sight glass in the lower right which was used to monitor the flow of the refrigerant. Lot's of hoses, wiring, connections and complexity. Finally there is the coolant container that held extra antifreeze for the diesel engine that was attached to the exhaust manifold that will be gone too. Looking around in other areas what do you find:

MORE HOSES! In this case they are the fuel lines that once provided fuel to the now removed diesel engine. You could leave them if you make sure they no longer contain any fuel. But, why carry extra weight that is no longer needed.

As you can see the Coast Guard and Marine insurance companies are very picky (for good reasons) on making sure boat fuel lines are securely installed. Once the electric system is installed you will no longer have as easy access to this area as you do now. So you might as well remove the obsolete fuel lines and other items while you can get at them easily.


Going Electric Part 5: Another milestone!

Well vacation is over so it's time to get back to work on the blog and the electrification of Bianka.

At this point I've removed the engine and the useless engine driven refrigeration components. But, I still need to remove the refrigeration piping that ran from the port side amidships all the way to the aft starboard side where the compressor and other components were located. Someone spent some time and money installing this system.

As much as I hated to remove it. It looks like some expensive tubing as show here (white hose) it is copper tubing surrounded by insulation and a durable outer cover. I had no plans to replace the refrigeration system. But, as long as I have easy access to it's location this is time to remove it. Actually, I may use it for a solar energy heating project in my home so it won't be just thrown out. But, what's that yellow canister on the right side of the photo?

Why it's the Racor fuel filter! This certainly will have no use on board once I install electric propulsion. Since I have already drained the fuel tank the photo shows me about to start draining the last few ounces of diesel on board. I consider that another milestone!


Going Electric Part 6: Scene of the grime

Well, I've got most everything that was involved with the now removed diesel engine off of the boat. However, the eight hundred pound gorilla in the engine area or maybe ten pound container is this: It's the Hydro Hush water filled muffler. It was supposed to help keep the exhaust from the diesel engine quiet. Relatively speaking. Of course it has no use on board a boat with electric propulsion. I tried to remove the hose that leads the the exhaust outlet in the transom. But, it would not come off easily and life is too short. So...................
Time to bring out the hacksaw. I won't be removing this part of the exhaust system that leads to the transom. I think it will have some future use either as a vent port for the battery bank area. Or it could be turned into an additional cockpit drain or maybe connect it up to an additional bilge pump. It is about the only thing involved with the diesel engine I'm keeping on board.

Getting back to something I mentioned in Going Electric Part 3. The foil faced foam installed in the engine area.

It's purpose was supposedly make the noise from the diesel engine a little quieter. I've always thought it's effectiveness was minimal at best. But, I did not pay to have it installed and there would be no harm in not removing it. But, I have reasons to remove it at least on the starboard side of the engine area. After I install the electric motor I will be running the wires to and from the controller in this area. So I will be wanting to secure those and other wires. The wood that the foam attached to is the perfect surface to do this. Taking the foam off will make this job easier. But, after it's removal I came upon the scene of the grime:

This photo shows just how much grime gets thrown off by the diesel engine over the years. I did have an exhaust elbow develop a hole a few years ago. After the repair I pulled everything out of the locker and wiped the whole locker down with a sponge and cleaner. Looks like I did not get to all the areas or this oil or some other grime thrown off by the engine belt. Since the engine area is pretty cleared out. You will find other areas like this:

This is looking upward toward the cockpit deck which shows another area covered with grime. This is a good time to look around and find all the places that you might have missed cleaning before. The nice thing about going to electric propulsion these areas will not get this grimy in the future.



Going Electric Part 7: Hosed again!

Now that most of the engine parts have been removed and the area has been cleared of all unnecessary vestiges of the internal combustion engine. It's time to focus on the area where the electric motor will be installed.
As you can see there is not a lot of room for it's installation. It would be much easier to install the Thoosa 9000 or any electric propulsion system for that matter if I had a straight line engine and transmission setup. But, unfortunately BIANKA had a Hurth V drive transmission and this is the area where the transmission connected up to the prop shaft as shown below: This arrangement I assume helps to save space with the engine installation as the engine sits over the prop shaft and the V Drive transmission allows for connection to the prop shaft. Even though there is not a lot of room one of the real nice things about the Thoosa 9000 motor is that is small. How small is it?
Small enough to be carried on board in a boat bag! Try that with a replacement diesel. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I still need to clean and clear out this area before one can start to install the motor. The photo below shows that yes there is indeed MORE HOSES to move along with a bunch of wiring. But, these items are only going to be removed temporarily. They will be reinstalled once the motor has been installed. Below is a photo that identifies some of the items to be moved:
Also hidden under the bilge hoses on the right is an AC wire and the propane line. NOTE: Make sure the propane tank is disconnected before you disconnect the propane lines. Also make sure all of the equipment is turned off before you disconnect the wiring to get it out of the way. Also note the you may have to reconnect the ground wires of the boat to a new terminal connection point . On BIANKA these wires were formally connected up to a single point on the now removed engine. As shown below:
You need to take a little time to think about how you are going to remove the wires and hoses. Because you may find that some are best to be disconnected and moved temporarily forward and other items are better to be pulled aft. Some of the wires may run through supports and are were run before connectors were put on the ends so removing them entirely may be more difficult than others.

Shown above are the wires for the bilge pump and the cables for the depth sounder, wind indicator and speedometer along with assorted ground wires.
I found that all the hoses that ran into the bilge it was easier to pull them back aft. While the wiring was pulled forward. Also these hoses have been sitting there for over twenty years and have gotten a little grimy making it a good time to clean things up. NOTE: Keep the bilge vent hose handy after you pull it back. It will be very helpful in venting the work area during installation as things will be getting dusty and it will also help in removing fumes once the fiberglass work begins.




Well, I've moved the wires and hoses out of the way as the photo shows. While the area without the diesel engine is large. You still can't sit up in it. At least I can't. Working in the area is still a challenge especially for a big guy like me. Here is a tip I found to make working in this area more comfortable:
Mooring Balls. They are very comfortable to lay on and roll about easily as you move. I could have laid boards on the engine stringers too. But, laying on the mooring balls allows you to roll out of the space much easier than laying on the hard boards. They also help protect the prop shaft and are just plain comfortable.



Alrighty then! I've removed and cleaned out the area where I will need to install the Thoosa 9000 Lynch electric motor. The question for me is how? As you can see in the photo below there is not a lot of room here:
I sketched up some ideas on a napkin. I showed some of my ideas to some coworkers who are more mechanically inclined than I am. They were greeted with mixed results. So I decided I probably needed some professional help. While I have done some simple fiberglass repairs over the years. I was not about to learn fiber glassing and stringer fabrication 101 on my boat by myself. So I turned to a local fellow named Malcom who I had first contacted when I was considering replacing the Westerbeke diesel with a new Beta Marine engine as he was the local representative for Beta. But, he also refurbishes yachts of all sizes and does repairs. To me he was exactly the guy I wanted to help me with this part of the electrification project. So here is what he came up with:
The first step was to extend the existing stringers all the way to the edge of the cabin as shown above. The existing stringer edge was routered out and the new stringer additions were glued and screwed to them.
Here's a shot from above showing both extension stringers installed. The next step was to rough up the area around the stringers to remove the paint and provide a surface that the epoxy would better adhere to when fiber glassing begins:

The above photo shows another angle. Notice the bilge blower hose in middle of the picture. Here is a tip: As I mentioned in a previous post using the bilge blower came in handy to help remove the dust and particles created by grinding down the surface around the stringers. It will also help with the removing the fumes involved with the next step: Fiber glassing.


GOING ELECTRIC: Part 10 Glassing

The extension stringers are in. Now it's time to fiberglass them in place. Here is how the workspace was setup. The precut fiberglass was in the tray on the left and the epoxy was in the tray on the right.

No, this is not me praying before the old Diesel engine. It is Malcom hard at work glassing the stringers in. As you can see this is a one person operation. Preferably one who knows what they are doing which Malcom did. Below is the order the glassing was done:

All Done! Now it's time to let the epoxy set and come back in a few days after it's hardened to move to the next phase of moving to electric propulsion.
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So the epoxy has done it's job and has firmly attached the extension stringers to the hull and existing stringers. The next step is to cut them down to size. But, first we need to transcribe the angle of the prop shaft onto them so we know what angle to cut as shown below:

So the prop shaft angle has been transcribed onto the stringer. All that we have to do is cut the stringer so we can move on to installing the motor mount brackets, motor mounts and of course the motor. But, never, never forget Murphy's Marine law of modifications on board and that is:

Posted by PicasaIf there is a nail or screw in the piece of wood you are cutting the saw blade will find it and attempt to cut through it. In the above case it found two. Mike's Going Electric Tip: Make sure you have extra blades for your saw.

Now that's more like it. It is starting to look like the motor once it's installed will actually line up with the shaft. But, in this installation a lot of the new stringer and part of the old stringer setup was removed as you can see by the piece laying next to the shaft in the photo.


GOING ELECTRIC PART 12: Installing the mounts

Now that the stringers have been cut to to the prop shaft angle. Now we need to install the brackets to the stringer bed. There are made up of heavy gauge aluminum as shown below:

First we make sure that they fit and will provide the proper base for the motor mounts.

The next step was to provide a level base on the stringers. Epoxy was thickened and applied to the cut stringers. This will seal the open grain and provide for a solid flat surface for the aluminum angle brackets to lay on.

If you look closely at the above picture the thickened epoxy has been laid on the stringers. Some plastic wrap has been applied over it. The aluminum angle bracket has been laid on top of this plastic. This allows the aluminum bracket to be made level without sticking to the still wet epoxy. The metal bar laying on top of the stringer will be used to make sure the bracket is level. After this step the epoxy will be allowed to cure. The plastic will be removed the aluminum brackets secured to the stringers with bolts. Then the motor mounts will be attached to the aluminum brackets and then the brackets that will hold the motor are attached to the motor mounts as shown below:

If you look closely at the prop shaft in comparison with the previous pictures you will notice the prop shaft has also been cut down by about 9 inches. In the above photo you can see that the shaft face is flush while the previous photo shows the original shaft with the key way groove. The next step is to mount the motor.



At this point the diesel has been removed, the area cleared out of any unnecessary items, the stringers have been extended and cut, brackets and motor mounts have been installed. It almost is anti climatic how easy it was to install the motor. But, here it is:

Below is an overhead view. You can see the tabs where the wires will be connected and also the stuffing box through which the prop shaft travels. Speaking of the prop shaft....

Below is a photo of the original V drive transmission setup from the diesel days. The prop shaft ran under the transmission and engine. This made for some difficult maintenance issues of the stuffing box.
Below is a photo of what it looked like underneath the transmission. There was not a lot of room underneath to try and loosen the stuffing box nut. This made changing the packing in the stuffing box very difficult. It was also out of sight. You can also see the corrosion on the transmission flange from salt water that dripped on it over the years . The conversion to electric propulsion has made changing the packing a much easier procedure.

With the electric motor installed (below) the stuffing box is out in the open and much easier to get to compared to the photo above. This will make adjustment very easy. But, there is no free lunch. I will have to remove the Stafford coupling that connects the motor shaft to the prop shaft to replace the packing but, since it too is easily accessible and removable it is a much better setup from a maintenance standpoint.
I am very pleased with the installation. But, it is useless without some of the other components. Most importantly the batteries. So it's time to move on to the next phase which is installing the batteries, controller other components.

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