Tech Talk No 2.Fan Belts and Stabilizers

One outstanding item when we left Mindarie was the fan belt performance on our main engine a Lugger 1066T. In the past this belt had worn far faster than what would be considered normal. Our last belt only lasted 200 hours with a lot of belt debris being deposited around the engine room. With a lot of travelling to do we were keen to resolve what was causing this as we did not feel like changing belts while at sea; that is no fun at all.

As part of resolving the issue we had the tensioner replaced in Perth and then monitored the belt while travelling to Geraldton. By the time we got to Jurien Bay it was clear the issue was not yet fixed, so upon reaching Geraldton we had the Geraldton branch of Afgri, who deal with John Deere, to have a look (as our Lugger is essentially a marinized John Deere engine). Two things came out of this. Firstly the “new” tensioner was faulty so this was replaced under warranty. More importantly they found the recommended belt in the manual was incorrect and too long for the task, which meant the tensioner could not work correctly and the belt was slapping against the guard causing the wear. This was finally discovered after 5 different people, at different times, had looked at it.  So well done to Leigh and Hayden from Afgri for resolving the issue. (Having now reached the MonteBellos there has been no further problems with this belt, but we have a spare of the right size just in case).

The trip to Dirk Hartog Island from Geraldton was a 30 hour overnight run with nowhere to stop on the way, so some apprehension on our part as you can imagine. When we started from Geraldton at 8:30 in the morning, the weather was great with light winds and low swell. The forecast was for this to continue overnight. At 1 am it all changed with winds increasing to 15-20 knots and very choppy seas building up with a 3m swell on a short period to also contend with. At the same time, we heard a strange noise coming from the starboard stabiliser. For those not aware, Opal Lady has hydraulic stabilisers which do a magic job normally. When I investigated what the noise was, I found that the hydraulic ram that moves the hydraulic stabiliser fin had separated from its end piece rendering the stabiliser useless. We locked the starboard fin and proceeded the rest of the way on the Port fin, until we arrived around noon the following day at Steep Point. It is interesting to note that we had previously read that even with only one fin operating you got about 70% of the stabilising effect, which we are happy to report with the sort of seas we were in, this is the case.

After arriving at Denham in Shark Bay later that week, I contacted Gary from Stella Marine in Brisbane, who are the dealers for ABT Stabilisers in Australia. Gary was fantastic to talk to and as it turned out he had guys in Perth he used, who were very familiar with both ABT Stabilisers and Nordhavns. We agreed we would do a full service on the in-hull section of both stabilisers.  As a result, Susie and I got to spend a couple of weeks in Denham fishing and squidding while waiting for parts to arrive from the US. Finally they arrived, and Sam and Ollie from Dingo Yachts left at 3am and arrived at Denham around 11am on a Saturday! What a great effort. By that evening the services were complete and we can’t speak highly enough of the service Sam and Ollie provided.  Unfortunately, one of the hydraulic hoses connections was found to be cracked, so Sam organised for this to be fixed when we got to Exmouth. This meant we travelled to Exmouth using only the Port Stabiliser but was not an issue. Upon arriving at Exmouth Charlie from Exmouth Industrial Services at Exmouth was also brilliant.  He not only changed out the hoses but provided the new ones with chafe prevention and also made up some spare hydraulic hoses for future use.

This fixing of the stabilisers is great example of boats enabling you to do interesting maintenance in far-away places. I have to say though, the assistance and professionalism of Gary, Sam and Ollie was brilliant, along with the prompt service from Charlie in Exmouth. We left Exmouth for the MonteBellos and although the seas were relatively calm, it was nice to have both stabilisers back in action.

Other smaller items that we attended to while waiting in Denham:

  • Replacing the DC light in the engine room with a brighter (and flatter) LED model.

. Fixing the Edson Manual Bilge Pump

The work on the Edson manual bilge pump continues.  Not that we would use this pump as an actual backup (we have a fire pump for that) but I would like to be able to keep the bilge as water free as possible and the electric pump can’t get the level down that far.

The design of this pump is pretty poor with a lot of corrosion occurring in the main bowl due to salt water that is left in the bowl during normal operation corroding the aluminium base. This has been repaired with ‘liquid metal’ epoxy and then ground back to make it all flat again.  The epoxy dripped into the bolt holes for the flap valves so they had to be re-tapped which we did successfully as I carry a tap and die set.  We thought we had lost the spare parts that were ordered from the US and were loath to re order them, but they turned up when the front room that was being used as a storage area finally got sorted in Geraldton.  So, all the new fittings were put in place and the pump now works a treat. 

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