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Discussion Starter #1
I had always prided myself in being one step ahead of maintenance issues. You know, "Fix it before it's broke!" But, then we took our cruise to Maine.

A few days into the trip I found a nut in the bilge below the engine. Paint on the nut indicated it was from the engine. Origin? Not immediately apparent. I got out the mirror and worked my way around the engine -- No joy!

A week later, during the morning engine checks I put my finger on the engine belt to test tension and the alternator moved. Cause: nut missing from the bolt that holds the alternator on. No, t'was not the nut found earlier. Repair was simple with a new nut from the spares inventory and a quick replacement of the old belt that had been worn badly by the loose alternator.

Several days later on the way back to Cape Cod we stopped for the night in Gloucester. After dropping the anchor into the muck of the city's harbor, I asked the mate to put the engine in dead slow reverse to set the anchor. In response the engine errupted in a metal-on-metal racket that sounded like a chain around the prop banging on the hull. A quick engine shut-down followed by a visual inspection of the engine compartment revealed that all four nuts holding the shaft to the gear box had come off. The noise was the gear box flange banging into the ends of bolts in the flexible coupling. No, none of these four loose nuts were of the size of the one found in the bilge earlier in the cruise.

We spent the next four hours removing the flexible coupling form the shaft and then re-attaching everything with as much torque that could be applied given the wrench that would fit in the space was only 7" long. In the morning we were on our way again.

So....my question for the mechanics out there is: What's your method for finding loose nuts before an alternator or shaft falls off? At what interval should one go over the engine to tighten things up? I had always figured that once the nut was properly torqued (and in some cases with a dab of Locktite applied) that one needn't worry, but my recent experience suggests otherwise.

Any advice in this area would be most welcome.

And I still don't know where the first nut came from! Fingers are crossed that it's not critical.
 

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I check once a year, plus a quick feel of connectors when working on something. Just checked all 200+ nuts for the deck seam and hardware: labourious but worth it.
 

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Ain't no real way to check everything. Engine vibration, over time, can loosen lots of stuff that you thought was tight.

All you can do is check what you can before you leave , continue to perform daily inspections, have spares available, and hope for the best.

It's funny how we have this type of discussion all the time about our boats, but we don't think twice about jumping in our cars and driving hundreds of miles. Why doesn't stuff fall off them?
 

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It's funny how we have this type of discussion all the time about our boats, but we don't think twice about jumping in our cars and driving hundreds of miles. Why doesn't stuff fall off them?
Either from necessity or misplaced bravado, people who ordinarily wouldn't touch anything under the hood of their cars, feel quite comfortable doing maintenance and repairs to their boat engines.
 

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Either from necessity or misplaced bravado, people who ordinarily wouldn't touch anything under the hood of their cars, feel quite comfortable doing maintenance and repairs to their boat engines.
I think it's partly those two and the fact that, for sailors, cars are often simply uninteresting :).

Jim
 

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Clearly you have never paid good money to a monkey to hack your boat up

There are plenty of GOOD craft people out there BUT it can be painfull weeding out the BAD
 

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Locktite on CLEAN fasteners will not come loose unless heated.
 

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I've had a similar problem. Everything seems to come loose on the engine. The shaft has come out of the transmission twice underway. Yesterday I repaired it again, also replacing the shaft oil seal (very difficult in such a tight space). One of the tangs on the nut locking mechanism was bent and damaged, I hope my repair lasts. Much of what I've retightened in the last 3 months has stayed tight though.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
More NUTS!!!!

Today I was aboard checking out why the steering suddenly got stiff as we approached home at the end of the recent cruise.

Initially, I atttributed it to a failure of the pedestal steering lock to release completely. Today, I started at the business end of the steering -- overboard to look at the rudder. Nothing fouling the rudder on the outside. Then I disconnected the steering cables from the quadrant to see if the rudder would turn freely.

Much to my dismay, turning the quadrant by hand with no steering gear attached produced a grinding noise accompanied by difficulty in moving the quadrant. But, I say to myself, I had the rudder bearings checked last year!!! I pumped a lot of grease into the rudder zirk fittings, but the noise persisted.

Then I noticed that the quadrant was just a tad lower than it should be and it was binding on the wood frame of the gas box.

You guessed it! LOOSE NUTS on the quadrant :mad: :mad: :mad: had caused it to slide a couple inches down the rudder stock coming to rest on the frame to the gas box.

WTF is going on on my boat!!!! BR just turned 15 -- must be something to do with being a teenager.
 

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Clearly you have never paid good money to a monkey to hack your boat up

There are plenty of GOOD craft people out there BUT it can be painful weeding out the BAD
Billy: I am with you on the Never thought it should have budged opinion.

Sadly I dont think.... I know tommays has got it right on this one...

I have never ran into so consistent lot of, if not incompetent and least distracted and uninterested bunch of mechanics as there are in the marine industry.

I will apologise right now to all of you good ones out there servicing your customers well and doing your industry proud. And there are many I am sure.

But...and here I go again with my Heavy equipment analogy ( Sorry for beating the same horse but it applies in so many areas )...But I dont have stuff break loose on anything worked on by others in that arena...and we jar and vibrate and rattle the heck out of the stuff...we wear bolt head clean off we dont shake them loose but ever so vary, very, very rarely... And thats due to wearing the steel out between the hole and the bolt usually not them backing off.

I cant see it being any other reason myself....How did they get water in my boat?....yep they forgot to tighten something...plane and simple.

In my close to 3 year ordeal now dealing with 2 boatyards ...distraction and by that Im meaning yanking a guy off one boat to go do something on another seems way to prevalent and I have seen first hand lots of head scratching buy the new one assigned to the project to try and pick up where the first, second or third guy left off.
 

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Jeez Billy - hang in there man! What a freakin' nightmare!

Still - that's why people like Knothead really standout. People that see what they do as a craft - not simply a means to beer.

That has to be frustrating.
 

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Let me go on the record as saying that I did NOT put a loose nut in your engine bilge. But if I ever visit Smack's boat I may do that. (Smack - quick, tell me what color your engine is painted.)

Sorry to hear about the nuts. Good luck with them.
 

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I also sympathize. On a recent 800NM trip I had the temp alarm go off and by the time the steam had cleared I found the four bolts holding the water pump drive belt had worked loose and stopped the water pump. Luckily no engine damage (I really now appreciate the audible eng temp alarm) however the bolts had sheared their thread and of the literally hundreds of bolts on board do you think I could find 4 with the same thread!!!!! Result was 36 hours sailing to complete a 60NM coastal hop (my boat really does not like sailing into a 25kt headwind with sloppy seas), a tow by the sea search & rescue & a very pissed off wife!

In future I'm planning on getting some more plastic bins to sort all the bolts, nuts, etc, including different thread type, imperial / metric, as well as size & length. Every time I have needed one or two bolts I have always brought double the quantity to have spares. Hopefully continuation of this practice will help in the future.

Like a few other have said, I think it is impossible to check every single nut / bolt & screw. Having a maintenance plan helps, however I'm starting to concentrate on having the right spare bolt onboard.

Ilenart
 

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Handsome devil
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Hey billy...ya might want to give thoes keel bolts a couple quick spins by hand to the right.........


Just Kidding My friend ....Just Kidding..:D


Believe me I feel your frustration...I'll trade you boat problems or for that matter boats any day!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Let me go on the record as saying that I did NOT put a loose nut in your engine bilge. But if I ever visit Smack's boat I may do that. (Smack - quick, tell me what color your engine is painted.)

Sorry to hear about the nuts. Good luck with them.

Bene -- IT WAS YOU! :eek: :eek: Come aboard for a few days and the boat gets loose!

What kind of spell did you cast on good ol' Billy R?
 
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