6/28/2012 – When it rains…

I climbed down into the engine room this morning to see what was what. And, as I might have expected, I got more than I bargained for.

First step was to pull the transmission to see what I could see. Now what I don’t know about transmissions would fill a whole box of books but, I figured I’d see if anything looked broken or if there were metal shavings in the oil or something. Having pulled the transmission several times last year to replace the oil seal, I didn’t have any surprises as far as actually removing it from the engine went. Once I got it out and looked inside, everything looked neat and clean and there were no broken pieces and no metal shavings. It also looks pretty straightforward. I couldn’t see anything wrong but I still suspected that something was wrong.

Next I started the engine and it proceeded to run a few seconds and then die. It also sounded kind of rough for the short time that it ran. Repeated the start and die routine several times and then broke for lunch. Obviously, it’s not the transmission problem that caused the motor to die. At least not directly. So, now we have a slipping transmission and an engine that won’t run. Great. Of course, if I knew then what I learned a few minutes later, I would have been happy that that’s all it was.

However, I thought the engine looked like it was kind of jumping around when it was running. I had noticed back when I was test-running it after installing the alternator, that it seemed to flex a bit when the boat rolled. Didn’t think that was right but, what do I know? Apparently, more than I thought. As I started getting up close and personal with the base of the engine I found at least three and possibly all four of the engine mount bolts were shorn clean in two. So, assuming the fourth one is also broken, we now have an engine that won’t run, coupled to a transmission that slips badly, and nothing except its own weight holding the engine in place. None of this is a good thing.

Lulu and I talked it over and decided that pretty much our only course of action would be to sail to San Carlos or Guaymas, anchor wherever we could manage to get to, and then call for assistance (a tow). Usually lots of boaters willing and able to jump in their dinghies and rescue a disabled boat. The problem will be sailing to San Carlos or Guaymas. The winds are predicted to be primarily from the SE (where we want to go)for the immediate future. There are occasional calls for some wind from another direction for a little while but certainly not from where we need them for as long as we need them. (If push comes to shove, we can sail the “clipper route”. That’s where we sail straight south from here until we’re a ways south of Guaymas and then hook a left and sail the downwind-ish route back up to Guaymas. It’ll take awhile but it’s do-able. Or at least I think it is.

Called Michael on s/v Fan to give him an update and find out how his project is going. He got his emergency rudder built and mounted. He’s not sure it’s strong enough but he’s hoping to cove-hop his way down to San Carlos at slow speed and hoping the rudder holds out. As he said several times this afternoon, “It’s only got to make it 23 miles”. Michael is the retired machinist anchored alongside us. He came over to Siempre Sabado to take a look-see and see if he could lend a hand or make any suggestions. He explained to me how the clutch pack works in the transmission and said that our tranny looks like a good robust, well-built unit. From his description, it definitely sounds like the clutch pack is slipping and will either need to be replaced or rebuilt. He looked at the engine mounts and came up with a possible jury-rig fix involving hose clamps. In have some big hose clamps, if I can remember where I stowed them. His idea sounded doable and, after all, it only has to make it 23 miles.

So the plan now is to try to stabilize the engine on the old broken mounts using hose clamps. Then re-install the transmission. Finally, I have to go through the various troubleshooting procedures and get the engine running again. Once all that’s done, we can sail back down to Guaymas (sounds so easy when you just say it) and have the engine available for pulling into port, slipping clutch and all. If I can’t get the engine running or the hose clamps don’t hold, we can still radio for assistance once we get there.

Tomorrow is going to be engine mount repair and transmission re-install day. On Saturday, I’ll try to get the engine up and running. Unfortunately, here’s the long range weather prediction for hereabouts:

SATURDAY – Northern Half S 6-9, Seas SSW 0-1 feet @ 2sec
SUNDAY – Northern Half SE 12-17, Seas SE 1-3 feet @ 3sec
MONDAY – Northern Half SSE 16-22, Seas SE 3-5 feet @ 4sec
TUESDAY – Northern Half SE 13-17, Seas SE 2-4 feet @ 4sec
WEDNESDAY – Northern Half SE 12-16, Seas SE 2-3 feet @ 3sec

With those winds we are almost definitely looking at the clipper route. Plenty of wind for a fairly fast trip but those seas look mighty uncomfortable. But I guess we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. Monday is when we’re scheduled to haul out in Guaymas. Guess I’d better e-mail Gabriel and let him know we might be late.


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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8 Responses to 6/28/2012 – When it rains…

  1. Tate says:


    Some thoughts.

    1) Do you lock your shaft while sailing? Does the transmission call for being locked? That can really screw up a clutch if you let the prop freewheel and its a type of transmission that doesn’t like that.
    2) For all the mounts to sheer off sounds a lot like an alignment issue which can put a lot of wear on the transmission too. Have you checked your alignment in a while? Do you have an engine room liner like some of the W32s? I’ve heard they can break free and need to be tabbed and that if broken they can cause vibration that can break mounts. When was the last time you ran a feeler gauge around that transmission coupler? 😛
    3) Motor mounts themselves are not hard to install. That is good news right! You can do them one at a time. I can give you the procedure we used if you need it.
    4) I do wonder whats up with the engine running rough and dying. Hopefully nothing nasty. Those motors really only need clean fuel and air so possibly a fuel issue? Have you checked your filters for crud and bled out the system?

    Pulling for you Yoders!

    • sryoder says:

      Some replies:

      1.) I leave the transmission in neutral when sailing as recommended by Westerbeke 2.) The mounts shearing off may have been more of a corrosion issue. The poor old things were majorly rusty when we got the boat and I haven’t done them any favors since. I plan to pull the engine and replace the mounting beds as well as the motor mounts, clean everything I can’t normally reach, and paint everything as well. As far as alignment goes, there’s an interesting issue there. When I replaced my rear transmission oil seal last year, I tried to align the transmisson with the driveshaft flange. Trouble is, I have a dripless shaft seal. The way they’re built allows for quite a lot of play in every direction, so the transmission end of the shaft can just flop around anywhere (within a few millimeters). It’s not supported until it’s bolted to the transmission output shaft coupler. Not sure how one is supposed to align that. Maybe I should check out my Nigel Calder books. 3.) I’m not too worried about the motor mount installation. Be happy to hear your procedure, though. 4.) As you know by now, the engine is fine. The fuel pump wasn’t. Now it is.

      Thanks for the help and encouragement.

  2. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    Oh, honey, my heart bleeds for you both. It is terrible to have any troubles but out in the ocean at the mercy of the winds. That is terrible. I know that you will come up with something. My money is on you. Love, Mom

  3. Man, got to love a mom like yours! Such faith! And a good thing, too.
    I hear tell that engines that jump around are not a good idea. But think of the stories you’ll have to tell! I completely agree with Tate, while I’m at it. Good idea to check the alignment. That’s pretty intuitive, I think, based on my incredibly long years of experience with engines of all kinds. And, of course, based on Mike probably agreeing with Tate. Go for that. Feel out the coupler.
    But first, get a beer and relax because you’ll get through this just fine.

  4. I have faith in Team Siempre Sabado! Here’s hoping the weather cooperates and you can get to Guayamos with no difficulties. We replaced our engine mounts and I will reafirm what Tate said- you can do it without too much difficulty. Hang in there and once its all sorted screw the beer and go straight to the margaritas!

    • sryoder says:

      Team Siempre Sabado did make it although not to Guaymas and not without difficulties. Straight to margaritas? Dare we? Ooh, I feel so naughty just thinking about it.

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