Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring - Maintenance Time

Spring means maintenance time - time to change the oil, go through the engine to ensure a successful cruising season, and clean up the winter's mold & mildew.
First, I tackled the oil change. A friend gave me one of them new-fangled oil changers connected to a bucket. I couldn't get the fittings right so I went back to my old method of using a small pump motor. I had problems trying to get the dip stick hose to suck up the oil and then once I got a good suction I had to hold the outlet hose. (I hate the taste of oil.) Failing to hold the outlet hose resulted in oil being sprayed all over me and the engine room. (Lots of curses) That was the only incident. It still took more time than I had planned - 3 gallons is a lot of oil.

My inspections revealed that I need a new oil cooler and a new transmission cooler. There were signs of "salt weeps" on them. I also noticed that my coolant expansion tank was dry. Hmmm? Where did the coolant go? I don't see any spots in the bilge. I guess that's another future research project. The secondary fuel filters continue to leak diesel, luckily I had a container to catch the drips and an "oil zorb" pillow. Again, another future project.

I checked the battery fluid levels - all ok. I wondered about the alternator. Should I get that re-wired? Its been 15 years. I need a new starting battery too. More future projects.

Outside the boat and decks were showing serious signs of winter and neglect. Mold and mildew particularly up by the bow and on the focsle. And, some hideous stains from water dripping off the cap rail, down the inside of fiberglass on the bow, and then down the deck. Ugh. How tough will those stains be to clean up? They're embarrassing. Turns out bleach, Soft Scrub with bleach, a green scrubby pad, and some 'elbow grease' took care of those stains fairly easily. Whew, gotta remember that one. However, I discovered that paint is peeling and cracking on the house. Another future project.

After many hours of work the MV Independence is starting to look somewhat presentable. As with any boat project, as you work you discover more projects. It's a typical 'two steps forward, one step backward' thing. Except for me it seemed to be a 'two steps forward, five or six steps backward kind of realization. Oh, the joys of boat ownership. I reminded myself what BOAT stands for, "Bring On Another Thousand." Additionally, I also am discovering that the older I get the more tougher it gets to contort into those tight engine spaces. My muscles seem to remember with greater vividity the day's efforts - I guess that's what whiskey and Advil are for.

I finished the day in my usual position - up by the helm, viewing the marina view out of my forward windows, sipping a few fingers of whiskey and enjoying the remains of the day. Am I ready for distant waters? No, I've got some future projects to accomplish.

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