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Old 08-19-2012
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How stuff happens

I am not sure if the title of this thread is a comment or a question. All I know is that it sometimes is amazing how stuff happens.

I previously documented my destruction and repair of the impeller and replacing the hoses that seemed old. We went on a day trip with mostly sailing on the way out and motoring home in the evening as the wind had died. I checked the engine several times on the way out and before we started back and all was well, no water in the bilge and water flowing nicely thru the exhaust.

We pulled into the dock at nearly dark, but I had set up lights so we could see. We unloaded the cockpit, we had another couple with us and we had snacked along the way, and I went below to close things up. I was shocked to find water nearly filling the bilge at the base of the steps that had overflowed from the engine compartment bilge. What had happened in the short one hour return trip that did not happen going out? I had shut the engine down but I could see no leaks anywhere and the hoses and all were OK. I decided to just close the thru hull and figure out the mystery tomorrow. For now I just wanted to pump out the water. I went to my trusty Jabsco electric bilge pump and started pumping, but the water was not going down! The pump ran but it would not pull water. When did this happen! I use it every week to drain rain water from head/shower bilge that runs down the mast track. So my back up was a hand whale pump operated from the cockpit to drain the engine bilge and a small hand pump and bucket for the water under the steps. The bilges on Heron are shallow, so we are not talking about a lot of water, but what if our return trip had been longer and we were not safely at the dock? It looked like this could have sunk the boat if we had not noticed it at all!
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

Like you so eloquently said, stuff happens. I wired in separate high water bilge alarms for that exact reason. My biggest fear is having a hose, thru hull, etc. letting loose and not knowing about it until the water level gets high enough to do some damage and/or cut out the engine. Keep us advised once you find what caused the problem....
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

The next day I started investigating, opened the thru hull and found a small drip coming from the new hose that goes from the raw water pump to the engine. The hose seemed fine and the clamps were tight, no leaks there, but the hose had drops forming along the bottom. I could not see all of the hose as it is behind the pulleys, so I removed it and this is what I found.



The raw water pulley, behind the alternator pulley had wore a hole thru the hose. The hose was not constantly rubbing against the pulley, but vibrated up against it when the engine was running. I know it was not always up against the pulley as I had checked that when I replaced by running my hand along the hose, there was a gap (small but a gap) between the hose and pulley. I checked an earlier picture I had of the engine and compared it to my installation.



I had replaced the hose just like I had seen it before, with the hose running thru a hose guide mounted on the engine (this picture is from 3 years ago). See the arrow in the picture for the orientation of the hose, the guide and its bolt. However, upon searching the web for Yanmar installation pictures I found this one;


The arrow points at the same hose guide, but note that it is on the other side of the bolt! That small difference pushes the hose out far enough to keep it away from the raw water pump pulley. Apparently the previous hose had a slightly different bend (or something) and it never came in contact with the pulley. So much for thinking I was doing the right thing in replacing the hose even though it looked serviceable.
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

So with this solved (hopefully) and another new hose installed this way I moved to the Jabsco pump. I pulled the pump and tried running it at a sink. It ran fine and drew water ok. But if I put any length on the input hose it would not draw. I took it apart and found the diaphragm and valves in great shape. But this pump model has a 'vibration suppression' rubber member in the bottom of the pump. When I opened the bottom I found it looking like this:



That rubber base had pulled back from seal and probably was leaking air preventing the pump from pulling water from any distance. It too was an easy fix (although the rebuild kit for this pump is $130, a new pump only runs for several hundred!). Fortunately in my local marine parts center I found just the part I needed and did not need to buy the whole kit. The new one was not warped and seated just fine. I had not previously noticed any issue with the pump because it is mounted under the sink in the head and I had only used it to empty the shower bilge in the head. Once I tried moving the hose to the bilge at the steps the draw depth was different (however the hose length was always the same so I am not so sure about this explanation) and it would not pull the water up.

What are the odds of these two failures happening at the same time. On a 20 year old boat I guess they are pretty good unless you do more than just maintain stuff when it breaks!

I am just glad this all happened when I was at the dock. I still could have dealt with it all as I had kept the old hose as a back up and I had hand backup for the pump. But it would have been a nervous few minutes out on the water in the dark. Fortunately, my batteries are in good shape.

I hope!!
Cal28 and juggleandhope like this.
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

On the photo with the moving belts, the water pump belt looks extremely loose, especially compared with the other one. The looseness of the slapping belt could be enough to wear the hose.

We had a very, very similar incidence occur years ago in our Sabre 28. We saw soot in the drawers near the engine while on a 2 week cruise. When entering Milford Haven from the Chesapeake side of Gwynn Island, we grounded. We worked the engine and got ourselves loose after a few minutes. I glanced below and saw 3 inches of water above the floorboards where none had been a few minutes earlier. The welded Y joining the engine exhaust and the seawater exhaust separated and we'd been pumping water into the boat. The warning sign had been a pinhole in the weld that left soot in the drawers. We'd ignored the warning and ended up with a 3 day wait for parts at an exorbitant marina that knew we were captive.

I've learned that bad things in life are usually preceded by warnings. It's up to us to heed them.

I'm glad that your problem was minor, easy to fix, and had no ill effect.
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Re: How stuff happens

Sabre,
Thats an old picture and its actually the alternator belt that is loose. The raw water pump is way down on the left and you cannot see its pulley as it is behind the double pulley on the engine. I have a refrig compressor in the upper right and that is why there is a set of pulleys (actually 3, raw water, alternator, compressor ) on the engine. It is the small water pump pulley that wore the hole, but as I said you could not see this as it is behind the other pulleys.

Ron
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

I'm fascinated by that unnoticed situation (the belt that didn't touch until it started to vibrate,) and how it turned into a potentially dangerous problem. It's amazing how a couple minor things can combine to create a disaster. Thanks for posting.

One of my former professions involved studying aircraft mishaps, and they were often caused by similarly innocuous circumstances. One of my favorite examples (pardon the choice of word) was several deadly crashes in the same model of small private aircraft. The cause turned out to be the star washers on the bolts that held the oil filter in. When reused after a filter change, these washers no longer provided the locking friction that they did when new, causing the bolts to back out with resultant loss of oil pressure.

Note to self: check what a belt might rub up against when vibrating. And don't reuse star washers.
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Old 08-20-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

Folks have been commenting about the way little problems can mount up since the 14th century:



For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


I remember being impressed by one brand (I think the original Bell & Howell company) of movie projectors which had the correct film threading path marked by a red line enamelled onto the projectors, so there was just no way to screw it up. In the same way, a hose clamp or engine block can be designed so things only fit one way--the right way. Used to be that designers, engineers, manufacturers, were proud when they could put themselves ahead of the ordinary by doing things that way, with simple elegance.

I wonder if it would pay to have a piece of sheet metal bent up, so that even if the belt or clamp slipped, there was a guard over the hose?
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Old 08-20-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
...Used to be that designers, engineers, manufacturers, were proud when they could put themselves ahead of the ordinary by doing things that way, with simple elegance.
I don't want to fall into the trap of thinking that everything these days is crap, but sometimes I use a product and would bet a large amount of money that nobody at the manufacturer had actually used that product before it was put on the market. Either that or they knew it simply couldn't work properly but tried to sell it anyway. Know what I mean? A part that can't move because another part is in the way? Or a piece that is made from a material other than the original design, and the new material doesn't work whereas the original material would have worked?
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Old 08-20-2012
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Re: How stuff happens

All,
thanks for the comments. I know many sailors (boaters) do a lot of their own work on their boats. It makes economical sense, it is satisfying and it is important to know how stuff works when you need it. I think the take away for me is that it is not enough to fix stuff (it is going to break or die sometime), but you then need to use it as you intend to use it under all circumstances to make sure your fix is good enough. Like the pump under my sink, I (somewhat) depend on it, but never used it to empty other bilges (fortunately because I have a very dry boat). That it worked should not be my mind set, I should check it to see that it works all the places I will use it. Just part of the learning experience, it is my first boat. It is 20 years old, I have had it for 4, so I still have lots to learn.

Ron
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