07/05/2011

High Season and the Boat’s Still Dry

Guest are flooding into our SeaCat’s Rest Oceanside Suite and are very tolerant about the rough-looking host working away on the boat in the garage. I even got an impromptu shove from two guests who saw me pushing my boat back into the garage after I switched it end for end. This came after the realization that I couldn’t load it onto the trailer transom-first.  So a quartet of wagon wheels fastened onto the cradle and away I went.

I have begun messing with the outboard. The vile stink engine has been removed and I am now puzzling with how to connect the DC electric motor which will run on the 36 volts produced by the six 6 volt batteries. Out came the water pump (pictured) which resulted in much less friction. It won’t be needed for an electric set-up. The shaft turned much more easily with the thing gone.

The other water cooling related item to remove was the outlet pipe where the heated water exited the outboard. This was unceremoniously dispatched with a sawsall, and plugged with wood and epoxy. This task was recommended to me by a helpful boat guy on the west coast, who did a similar conversion on his outboard. He has a nifty .pdf file of his conversion. Go here and right click “Swe’Pea Conversion Story” and save or open with your .pdf reader.

I also checked the gearbox, which contrary to perceptions, is (or should be) completely sealed so that the water stays out and the gear oil stays in. I found mine to be in perfect shape. Still, I plan on draining and changing the oil before I finish.

Sort of like vanilla and strawberry

Back on the boat it was time for floatation. This will keep those heavy lead batteries from sinking the boat like, well,  six lead-filled batteries. I cut up and put about 7 cubic feet of foam into area under the floor. A cubic foot of salt water weighs 64 lbs, so seven cubic feet of foam would displace 448 lbs minus the weight of the foam, which is about 11 pounds. This gives me a net buoyancy of 437 lbs, more than enough to counteract the 370 pounds of batteries plus a bit more. Now,  even a partial flooding would be ruinous for the batteries, so I don’t plan to let salt water over the tops of the batteries. They are each in their own plastic boxes and are protected by a sump pump which will keep the bilge dry…hopefully. Still, if the worst happens I may lose the batteries but not the boat, thanks to the foam.

Now the foam is epoxied into place, the floor can get screwed on and no more bad footing while working inside the boat.

Next:  It’s time to build the bulkhead which will isolate the motor well and serve as a mount for the outboard.

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