3/29/2012 – Found that little bastard!

This morning, after the bilge pump had not run even once in the last 24 hours, it was pretty evident that my mysterious leak was in the engine cooling water system somewhere. Now all I had to do was find it.

As I said yesterday, this is sort of a relief as it points out a number of things that are NOT leaking like the fresh water tank, the 3 seacocks associated with the sinks, the two plugged off to-be-removed seacocks formerly associated with the head, and the dripless shaft seal.

Once again, I unbolted and removed the cockpit sole to allow easier access to the engine compartment as well as to let in more light. And here’s why things take so long to do on a boat. I turned on the light in the engine room. Well, that is, I flipped the switch but nothing happened. Checked the breakers and none were tripped. Checked the voltage and it was good. Unscrewed the cover on the fixture and removed the bulb. Checked it with the VOM meter and it was fine. Plugged it back in. No go. Removed it. Plugged it back in and jiggled it. It came on. Then went out. If I could have just held on to it in a certain position it would work just fine. But that wasn’t an option so I decided to try another bulb. Not sure what I thought that was going to do but sometimes you just do stuff to fill the time. Turned out I didn’t have any other bulbs for that fixture. Now that’s pretty strange as I replaced the bulbs in 4 identical fixtures with LEDs. So where did the old bulbs go? I’m sure they’re here somewhere but they’re not where they’re supposed to be, in the little plastic bin marked “light bulbs”. Oh well. Tried to squeeze the bulb socket together a little but I’m not sure if I managed it as it’s in a really awkward spot. But, whatever, when I put the bulb back in it lit up and stayed lit. Put the cover back on the fixture and got back to work.

OK, now what was I doing? Oh, yeah, I was trying to find the source of the leaking cooling water. First, I took a dry paper towel and wiped the bottom of the water pump and the bottom of the heat exchanger since those are the only things I disturbed yesterday. Both were completely dry after a night with the cooling water seacock closed. I opened the seacock and fired up the engine to get the water circulating and to vibrate anything loose that was going to vibrate loose.

After a few minutes running, I noticed that the clamp that holds the heat exchanger in place was really loose. Okay, another diversion. Shut down the engine and tighten the clamps. Of course, in front of the heat exchanger is another thingamajig that was also loose. But to be able to reach the bolts to tighten it up, I first had to remove the electric fuel pump. But, ultimately, after about a half hour or so, everything was nice and tight again.

I fired the engine up again.

After she ran for a few minutes, I started looking around. I checked the water pump and heat exchanger with a dry paper towel and both were as dry as the Baja peninsula. Turned on the flashlight and started poking around. Down by the rear engine mount on the port side, I thought I saw something shimmering in the flashlight’s beam. I looked closer and there it was, a small but steady trickle of water coming from a hose that ran cooling water through a heat exchanger on the front of the transmission. Eureka!

I shut the engine down and worked on removing the leaky hose. I’ve got a bit of a bone to pick with Westerbeke on this one. The fitting that the hose attaches to comes out of the heat exchanger and points directly at the rail that the engine is mounted on. Why they didn’t use an elbow instead, I have no idea. But, I managed to pull the leaky hose out. It had another piece of radiator hose tied to it with a wire tie to act as a chafe guard. Unfortunately, the chafe guard had worn clear through from rubbing on the engine mount.

And underneath the chafe guard, the engine mount had worn a groove that finally broke through, creating a small hole in the hose itself.

BTW, this is apparently not the first time this has happened. How do I know? Because the hose with the hole worn in it was from CarQuest.

Now on this next picture you’ll be able to see the fitting that the hose attaches to and its proximity to the engine mount. Please don’t get all bent about how rusty and cruddy everything looks. It’s a close-up photo which always looks worse than it is and, besides that, this is a really tough spot to get into to do any cleaning or painting. After seeing this photo, we are thinking that it might be a good idea, when we’re hauled out in Guaymas this summer, to lift the engine so we can clean and paint everything. OK, with that said, here’s the photo.

The distance between the fitting and the motor mount really is as close as it looks in the photo. There is absolutely NO way to put a hose on there that would not rub on the mount. I did manage to track down a replacement hose with the appropriate bend (at the 3rd auto parts store I tried) and I’m going to use a piece of really high quality, wire-reinforced hose as the chafe guard. But that’s for tomorrow.

BTW, go back up to that last photo. Just above the fitting you can see two white-ish plastic things. The chafe guard was held to the hose by a wire tie. I snipped the tie but couldn’t pull it off. Once I got the hose out I looked closer to see how the nylon tie was attached to the motor/transmission. Well, it turns out it’s attached by a complete screw-up. Remember last spring when I was pulling my transmission over and over again to install and then re-install a seal? Well, it looks like I caught the tail of a wire tie between the transmission and the bell housing. This is a metal-to-metal fit and there is absolutely NO WAY that this screw-up couldn’t be leaking. But it’s not. I ran a paper towel over it to check for even trace amounts of oil. Nothing. And we don’t lose oil from the transmission either. It’s simply not leaking. What I should have done today is loosen the transmission and remove the nylon piece. But, let me repeat, it’s not leaking!! And, since it’s not leaking, if you think I’m going to make any changes at all and risk starting a leak, well, you don’t know me very well.

So, anyway, the water leak has been found. No telling how long this has been leaking but I suspect it’s been quite awhile. It’ll be weird if this repair leads to a dry bilge (as it should). I don’t remember ever having a dry bilge. I’d like to look down there a year from now and see cobwebs.

We’re on schedule on the getting out of town front. I check 3 weather sites every day and everything is looking good for our planned Sunday departure. We might get the right winds but, if not, we’re prepared to sail due west about halfway across the sea and the tack due north until we’re far enough north to tack to the west again to hit land wherever we choose. Right now, I’m leaning towards Isla San Francisco or San Evaristo as our first landfall. Lulu went out today and got the last of the groceries we need. Tomorrow I’ll finish up the engine room work and get the paperwork going for checking out of Mazatlán. Then Saturday it’s laundry, produce and fill the water tank. And then we’ll be completely ready to go.

In an hour or so we’re heading up to Cerritos beach for a (probably) last dinner out (unless we decide on Saturday that we owe it to ourselves to have a going away dinner) in Mazatlán and to stock up on some tequila from The Last Drop.


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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10 Responses to 3/29/2012 – Found that little bastard!

  1. sailmama says:

    Delighted that you are almost ready to head over this way. Just sorry we aren’t going to rendezvous until haul-out time at end of June, but we WILL see you then. Have a wonderful, safe trip across the Sea.

  2. rich says:

    Hey Steve- don’t yaluvit whenyou fix a boat problem?? Hey thanks for the speedseal info. I emailed the company in England yesterday after I read your blog…………Alex from the company called me this morning and I ordered the Deluxe seal kit with the bearing that is supposed to extend impeller life 3X…..we’ll see, He said that the kit should be here in about a week. Can’t wait to get it installed and not have to angst any longer about changing impellers …..I know you guys will have a wonderful crossing………..seeya

    • sryoder says:

      Hey, I should get a commission. The SpeedSeal is great if you have the typical tucked-away water pump. All those guys with the new Betas with the water pump up front where you can get at it may not be impressed but for the rest of us it’s really nice.

  3. stu says:

    Did I read correctly ….. haulout in Guaymas in the SUMMER????
    Yank and paint the engine in 100 degree heat???

  4. Why is it that any time you decide to tackle a problem a new, little problem crops up that requires attention before you can get to the original problem? Some day I will invent a marine engine that is small enough to actually work around with straight forward attachment points and hardware. might not make a fortune, but I would have a legion of boat owner fans who adore me.

    100 f isn’t so bad. You just need to schedule in beer and siesta time and its all good. Hoping for great weather for you and Lulu!

    • sryoder says:

      Only trouble with your plan Cidnie, s that the boat builders would see all this new space available to add another berth so they could advertise that their 35′ boat “sleeps 12”. So, when you’re inventing your engine, make it super light and then fasten it in place with some kind of latch. Something goes wrong, you unlatch it and carry it up into the cockpit where you’d have lots of room and light.

  5. Dani says:

    So happy you found the leak!!! Sending good weather vibes your way.

    Thank goodness for the engine hatch huh!

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