Monday, May 6, 2013

Alignment, re-assembly, painting, prop work, Oh My!

Another weekend of work on Aeolus while she is sadly high and dry in Friday Harbor. I can't say enough about how much I love being hauled out at Jensen's Shipyard (despite being sad to be out of the water). Besides being in an idyllic location, the place just wreaks of island history with old buildings and equipment lying around. So if you have to be stuck on the hard, it is a great place to do it. And the people are as nice as can be.
Hauled out at Jensen's Shipyard in Friday Harbor

But back to boat projects. My last post sounds a bit whiny to my ears now, but it told the truth of how last weekend felt. This current weekend was nothing so tough, and instead went like clockwork with no particular difficulties. I worked from dawn to dusk every day, but there was none of the body torqueing gymnastics that were so punishing last week. I'll present the weekend projects in a list format:

1. NEWLY CUT SHAFT: Perhaps most importantly, the newly cut shaft turned out to be an exact fit. I had it cut down to my specifications at Prop Shop LTD in Mukilteo WA, and though they were a bit unfriendly and I felt a bit overcharged (they charged me $85 to cut down the shaft, which was quoted, and then an extra $35 to clean the shaft of some light growth, which was unexpected and seemed way too high), their work seemed to be fine. Between the added flexible coupling and the longer transmission, I needed to take 3.01" off the shaft. Talk about measure twice and cut once. I must have measured this cut 100 times. So it was very gratifying to put the new shaft in place and see that the length was perfect.

I would have thought it best to place the shaft back in Aeolus from the outside, but after several attempts it kept binding and catching, and so I resorted to sliding it in from inside the boat. I had to lift the engine anyway to adjust the mounts and alignment, and it was smooth and easy for the shaft to fit from this side. I don't know why the difference existed, but it did.

2. ATTACH ALL SHAFT HARDWARE: Once the cut shaft was installed, I then had to slide back on my PSS shaft seal with the new O rings and such. After this, I slide on my solid coupling, which was a fairly tight friction fit. I had to tap it on a bit, but nothing too much. You want this to be a tight fit so there is no chance of wobble. The shaft had recessed dimples cut into it for the two set screws. The coupling fits just flush with the end of the shaft, and then you install the two set screws. I used a little anti-seize on those screws for good measure. And then I put some seizing wire through the screws to make sure they go nowhere.
The whole works. R&D flex coupling is new element.

3. ENGINE ALIGNMENT: Next came the critical task of aligning the engine and shaft. This was my second time doing this, and so it was a familiar process. With the come along already in place and everything already disconnected, it is straightforward to raise and lower the old lady. It turns out that the MG360 is about 1" taller than the old Hurth HBW 100. This required raising the nuts on the engine mounts by that amount. I did this for all three, and then fine tuned the fit with the shaft coupling and transmission flange. Even though I was going to install a flexible coupling, I first did all this without it in place. I wanted to make sure the two metal halves were properly aligned. You can read about how to do this in Nigel Calder's books, and I can't improve upon his descriptions. I used a feeler gauge to find that I was within the .003" allowance for variance, and this is far less than the .01 allowed by the R&D flexible coupling. I then installed the flexible coupling, bolted everything together, and spun the shaft by hand to see that it felt free. It felt great. There is some concern about doing alignment with your boat out of the water, for obvious hull shape reasons, but a Gulf 32 is particularly stout and shaped in a way that there is less chance of this making a difference. I will still spin the shaft when she is back in the water and make sure she feels loose and smooth.

4. REATTACH ENGINE EQUIPMENT: All fuel, electrical and water hoses had to be reattached. And the exhaust flange had to be reattached as well. I took this chance to check and clean everything else and installed a new belt.

5. BOOT STRIPE REPAINTING: The boot strip on Aeolus is a nice deep blue single part polyurethane from the Brightside brand. I painted it on in 2008 and in many places it still looks like new. Because I had done it with single part originally, I had to redo it with single part because the solvents in two part will eat up single part paint. I chose single part to begin with because it is cheaper and easier to work with for a boot stripe, which will need frequent attention due to impacts with logs and slime and such. I cleaned off the boot stripe and then roughed it up with a Scotch Brite pad to remove the shine. And then a single coat of new paint and she looked better than ever.
See how she shines!

6. PAINTING THE HULL STRIPE: This was such a satisfying thing to do. For years, forever, I have loathed the faded gel coat of the hull stripe on Aeolus. Endless polishing and waxing and still it looked bad in 5 months. So I tackled this project with zeal. I had already thoroughly scrubbed the stripe with TSP and everything else to remove old silicone and wax. This weekend, I first had to sand the stripe, which I did with something like 150 grit paper. Oh, first I taped it off. Once it was sanded, I then wiped it down with Acetone to remove all dust and get it sparkling clean. Yes, I were a solvent mask. After all this prep, she was ready for primer. I was using Perfection two part polyurethane paint and so you use the two part primer. No problem. I mixed up the primer and applied it using a foam roller. I didn't roll and tip this because I would be sanding it pretty well anyway. I let this dry all day and by late evening it was ready for sanding. The next morning I was able to apply the Mauritius Blue polyurethane, which is about an exact match to the one part paint on the boot stripe, as well as matching all the canvas on the boat which is Sunbrella Captain's Navy. I rolled and tipped the paint on, working about 12-18" at a time. I had added just a bit of their solvent because it was fairly dry and warm weather. I'm happy to say that it flowed beautifully and that first coat already sparkles, even though it is thin in places. WOW, WOW, WOW. So excited about upgrading the appearance of Aeolus after all these years of focusing on her internal systems.
Showing untreated gel coat, and some primer
Windows removed. Fully primered.
Once coat of two part and she's already beautiful.
How nice it looks to have all the colors match

7. LANACOTE ON PROP: I have previously posted on my good luck using Lanacote (actually anhydrous lanolin from the drug store) on my prop. I figure it lasted a good long time and way, way better than an uncoated prop around here. I slathered the lanolin on in the sunshine, after having already cleaned the prop thoroughly. I made a point to pack it on around the prop nut because I always get growth there.

Lanolin liberally applied all over prop and nuts

 8. KIWI GRIP ON COCKPIT: I still had to coat the starboard side of the cockpit rim with Kiwi Grip and I managed to find time to do it. It looks great, and really does the job. I love that it is easy to patch and repair. A truly user friendly substance.

Starboard cockpit rim with Kiwi Grip
Looking good


Milo said...

Hi Brian, I've been following your blog for 4 years, great work, i enjoy all your posts. could you tell me the size of your propeller?
we have a 1987 gulf 32 with a 16RH 12 2 blade & think we would like a 3 blade. thanks and kepp writting.


Brian W. said...

Hi Milo,
Nice to e-meet you. Our prop is a 3 blade with 16X10. It was originally 16X12 but we found she wouldn't come up to full RPM. At 16X10 we cruise at 2200 RPM, at hull speed, and this is 80% of maximum. On a few occasions in nasty conditions I have had to push her to 2400 and it is good to know there is some reserve power in the diesel and prop.

With our cruising grounds having such incredibly strong currents, and because we cruise in all sorts of weather, we find a 3 blade prop a good trade off for the loss of sailing speed. On many occasions I have been grateful for every HP and every blade!

Jeff Duncan said...


I have an 86 Gulf 32 and need to replace the cutlass bearing. When the shop took a look at the rudder and prop, they said they would have to drop the rudder to get the prop off. I'm wondering if your prop comes off with the rudder on and what you had to do to get it to clear the rudder. It looks as if your rudder may be trimmed a bit so the prop will squeeze by.

Nice work on your Gulf...Keep the blogs coming they are very helpful!

Jeff (in Virginia)

Brian W. said...

Hi Jeff,
This is the situation. On a stock Gulf you cannot get the prop shaft out without pulling the ruder, which no one wants to do. So back when I first bought Aeolus, I had the yard go ahead and grind the rudder just enough to allow the shaft to slide out. It is hardly noticeable, just a little dish in the leading edge, and makes the whole thing easy. You can easily do this yourself. Grind away with your tool of choice, glass it back smooth with epoxy, prime it, paint it, and you are set forever.

I'm glad you find my scribblings useful!