1/3/2013 – Good thing we like Santa Rosalía

Today I was determined to attack a job I was not particularly looking forward to: checking and realigning the engine.  The reason I dread it is because, although the results need to be very precise, the means of achieving them are extremely crude.

Aligning the engine consists of making sure that the face of the transmission coupling half is exactly parallel to the prop shaft coupling half.  Okay, maybe not exactly parallel.  I am allowed to have them off by as much as 0.001″ per inch of coupling diameter.  That means that, with my 4″ coupling, I can be up to 0.004″ off.  But let me tell you, 0.004″ ain’t much.  Now if the means to achieve this exactitude was done through some nice little vernier adjustments, everything would be jake.  But NOOOOOOOOO!  Getting the gap on the top and bottom of the flanges isn’t too bad because the vibration isolators that the motor mounts connect to have nuts that can either lift or drop the engine in small increments.  But the side-to-side adjustment?  That’s where things really get crude.

The bases of the vibration isolators have slotted holes in them as do the engine beds.  This leaves a number of places that can be loosened to allow the engine to be moved one way or the other, side to side.  Say I want to close a gap on the right side of the coupling.  I would need to leave the left-rear mount tight and loosen the other three.  Then I have to figure some way to shove the front of the engine to the right.  I’ve done this by trying to whop on the engine with a rubber mallet (didn’t impress it at all) and also by using a pry bar which was more successful.  But, you have to get the thing pushed over until the gap is less than 0.004″ and then tighten everything down.  And then check the gap again.  If you don’t think that tightening down the nuts and bolts will have a measurable effect on the gap, then you don’t know how small 0.001″ (the difference between “good-to-go” and “do it again”) is.

It has to be done and I have to do it, but at least now you know why I dread the job.  Nevertheless, I jumped into the engine compartment this morning just chock full of positive attitude.  I checked the alignment and I had a 0.005″ gap on the top and extending down the left side a little ways.  I started loosening the hold-down nuts on the vibration isolators but when I reached the one on the front-right side, something didn’t feel right.  I contorted to where I could see and found this.

Not exactly what I was hoping to find.

Not exactly what I was hoping to find.

The black piece is the vibration isolator.  The red piece just to its left is the actual motor mount.  Looks like the sudden stop brought on by our wrapped prop shaft on the way here snapped the end right off the motor mount.  Not sure yet why the isolator appears to be so much further forward than the hole in the motor mount.  I still have to dig further to see what else moved.

But, in the meantime, we are now sitting in Santa Rosalía with a genuine broken motor mount.  I pulled the mount off the engine to see if maybe I could get it fixed here in town. Fortunately, it broke cleanly into only two pieces.

Managed to find the broken-off piece in the bilge.

Managed to find the broken-off piece in the bilge.

A nice clean break.

A nice clean break.

The other 3 motor mounts are huge compared to this one.  They have big square shoulders and at least 3/4″ of material on all three open sides of the hole.  Don’t know why they made this one so puny.  Anyway, I talked to Toby up in The Palapa of Knowledge and he directed me to a shop in town that could probably do the welding.  Then I talked to Chuck on the boat next to us and he took me to a welding shop which was probably the same one Toby recommended.

At the shop I asked if he could weld cast iron and he assured me he could.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything as “no problema” is the standard answer when asking almost anything.  He went over to the grinder and made a groove to take the welding material.  About then, I asked how much it would cost and he told me “100 pesos”.  That’s about 8 bucks which sounds good to me.  He pulled out a piece of welding rod and showed it to me and told me it cost 50 pesos.  Anyway, he welded it up and handed it over.  There was still a crack on the inside that looked like a weak spot so I asked him to fill it, which he did.  Then he cleaned the hole out with the drill press.  Looks good to me but what do I know?  I just hope it holds.

Good as new?

Good as new?

When he was done, I asked him if it was 100 pesos for the repair and 50 pesos for the rod.  He said no, it was just 100 pesos.  I guess that when he showed me the rod and told me how much it cost it was so I’d understand why the job was so expensive (expensive??).

So, tomorrow I’ll install the fixed piece and try again to get the engine aligned properly.  That way we’ll be mobile in case we need to be for some reason.  But, I believe that I’ll try to figure out how to get a new motor mount down here from the States so I can use it instead and keep this one as a spare.

So, good thing we like Santa Rosalía since we may be here awhile longer.  No matter really because the strong north winds are predicted to continue right through the weekend.  Then maybe a short respite on Monday followed by more strong northerlies next week.  Of course, next week is a long way off, weather-wise.



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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6 Responses to 1/3/2013 – Good thing we like Santa Rosalía

  1. Adele Foster says:

    I am so thankful that you have managed to find these things that need to be corrected before you sail farther. I think that story was meant to be read!! I can truly appreciate all of the maintenance that you do. We have been happy with the outboard so far. However, filling the gas tank is a pain…and we seem to pick up a lot of kelp!

    Happy and SAFE sailing in 2013!

    Thanks to all for the birthday greetings. (Charles, I actually found and consulted my Spanish dictionary.)

    Happy and love-filled days in 2013 to all. 🙂 Adele

  2. Chuck says:

    Steve – Another thought if you have not already put the welded motor bracket back in is to take it back to the guy and have him weld a 1/4″ plate over the top of the hole then redrill it. This will spread the load out onto the whole bracket. The way it is now is putting all the load right onto the weld. Only if you have the thread length when aligned to pass thru the hole and extra 1/4″ plate…..

    Or have the guy make you a whole new bracket. Looks pretty staright foreward to me. Maybe ask him what he would charge?

    Also post something on the SBG for anyone driving down in the next week. Maybe you could order the part and have shipped to them for delivery 🙂 Or put the word out on the LP cruiser net as well

    Good luck

    • sryoder says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, Chuck. I’d actually thought about having a piece welded on top but I have to check to see if the bolt on the vibration isolator is long enough. And I like the idea of having another one made locally. Might have to wander back over to the shop today and see about both things. And, that gives me the added advantage of not having to work on my alignment again today. I’m thinking 3/8″ steel. Sound strong enough to you?

      I’m still waiting to hear from the Westerbeke parts guy up in the States but I like the idea of querying SBG and the La Paz Gringos groups as Sta. Rosala is definitely right on the path for any north- south traffic in Baja.

      Thanks again.

      • s/v Eolian says:

        3/8″ should be a good size. But check to see whether the reduced thickness will cause any geometric problems.

  3. s/v Eolian says:

    I agree with Chuck. Rather than going thru the hassle of getting a new cast one, have your welding shop make up a new one from steel plate. Aside from the fact that it will be much stronger, it will probably be cheaper. See my post for a similar experience, but with a much more complicated part to fab.


  4. sryoder says:

    Following up on both Chuck and Bob’s suggestions above as well as those of Chuck from m/v “No Mas” next door, I took the repaired motor mount back to the shop today. I asked the welder if he thought he could make me a copy out of steel. He turned it over and over, discussed it with a couple other guys, scratched his head a little and said that Yes, he could do it but it wouldn’t be until later. I said no problem and he seemed relieved. I asked about how much it would cost and he gave me a figure somewhere around 350 pesos which is maybe 30 bucks or so. I said that would be fine. I asked him if I could pick it up tomorrow and he very happily told me that tomorrow would be great. I guess by “tarde” he meant later today and was a little concerned about getting it done in time. Anyway, a custom built piece for $30 and done overnight. Can’t wait to see how it comes out. I need to start remembering that we’re not in the “throw it away” USA. Down here, they still fix and make stuff. You know, like we used to do. Remember “tube testers” for checking the vacuum tubes in your radio and TV? We had them in virtually every supermarket and lots of hardware stores. haven’t actually seen one of those down here yet, but I did see a TV repair shop the other day. I need to remember to take advantage of the opportunities.

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