I’m not sure how it happened but another week and almost another month has somehow zipped by and it feels like Spring is finally in the air as the weather begins to warm here in Southern Turkey. Still a bit of a chill at nights but they are trending upwards and the forecast is calling for that to continue.
With Mr. Gee now back on his feet we are now ramping up our efforts to make Möbius fully ship shape and ready to head out to sea as the weather improves. It is now mostly all the little things that need to be done but they do take time and at the end of many days when I look around I don’t seem to see much visual progress but I does feel good to be checking items off of the To do list.
So let’s jump right in and get you updated on all that happened this week that I could photograph. Oh, and stick around for the Bonus video at the end!
Since getting Mr. Gee back up and running I’ve been spending a lot of my time doing all the “little” things on him such as getting all the various sensors wired up that measure things like oil pressure, engine oil, gearbox oil and coolant temperature.
If you look closely at this labelled photo (click any photo to enlarge) of the pressure and temperature senders on Mr. Gee you will notice that in addition to the analog gauges there is a second electric sensor that measures these same things. Here for example, is the Sika temperature gauge for the engine oil and on the left of it is the electric temperature sender which sends the oil temperature over to our Maretron boat monitoring system.
Over on the left side of the oil filter you can see the same combination of two analog oil pressure gauges and then a third electric sender at the very bottom. Over on the right front of Mr. Gee on the coolant manifold we find the analog temperature gauge and its electric cousin on the right.
It was finicky work running all the wires for these electric sensors and finding the best route to as I like to keep them well hidden and safe from chaffing so took the better part of a day to get these installed. Then I needed to chase a multi strand cable to get all output from these sensors over to the front Port/Left side of the Workshop where these Maretron black boxes and the Actisense EMU-1 are located. The EMU-1 is needed to convert the signals from the electric sensors and put this data on our NMEA2000 or N2K network which runs throughout the boat and carries all the boat data. This N2K network carries all the data to and from each sensor on the boat and allows us to display all this data on any of our many monitors onboard, our phones, laptops and tablets. This is the wiring diagram for the analog side of things with the wires from each sender going into the EMU-1. Which now looks like this. I will finish this job tomorrow by wiring the EMU-1 for the 24 volt power it needs. When we next have Mr. Gee running we can then check that the pressure and temperature data is showing up on the N2K network and Christine can build the screens to display all this info. We have done this dual analog/digital combination for most of the things we monitor on Möbius such as tank levels, water pressure, DHW temperature and many more. It is time consuming and costly but being able to monitor and log all this data is critical to being able to run Möbius safely and efficiently and to get early warning signals of equipment or systems as soon as they start to malfunction or fail. A big part of this is to be able to see this information from any screen anywhere on, as well as off, the boat so we find this to be well worth the effort and cost.
Having the backup analog gauges provides redundancy should any of the digital senders fail and also enables us confirm that the N2K data is accurate. As the recent mysterious missing oil pressure adventure proved, this double checking can prove to be eXtremely important!
My ER is Back!
Another one of those little and time consuming jobs was putting the grated flooring back in the Engine Room. We have used this composite grating in many other spaces such as the Workshop and Forepeak and it has worked out eXtremely well. Strong, solid, oblivious to any liquids and very non skid. Each grid has a frame surrounding it that is fabricated using aluminium L-bar which are then bolted to vertical L-bar supports welded to the frames. In the ER this grid flooring wraps all around Mr. Gee and is a huge safety factor when we ae underway and in rough seas as you always have a solid slip free floor under your feet. Not difficult work, just finicky to get the jig saw puzzle of all the individual frames fit back into their spaces and then bolted to their support bars.
At least in this case the results of all my time were very easy to see and it does feel particularly great to have the Engine Room back again since I first removed it back in June of last year.
Mr. Gee Video Tour Bonus
As promised, here is the bonus video so many of you have been requesting for so long. I don’t have the time to do any editing so this is going to be a very “uncut” and amateurish video I’m afraid but for all you Mr. .Gee fan boys and girls out there, hopefully this will hold you over until I can do a better version.
And for those who may have missed it, here is the video that was in last week’s update of the first starting of Mr. Gee version 3.0 after fixing the recalcitrant O-rings and finding the faulty oil pressure gauge that finally solved the mystery of the disappearing oil pressure.
Hope you enjoy these “rough and ready” videos from your trusty reporter and please type your questions and comments to let me know in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
A very busy week filled with several major milestones just flew by that included some fun birthday celebrations, an eXciting birthday gift and some eXcitement in the Engine Room with Mr. Gee 3.0.
I’ll cover them in that order so let’s jump right in and bring you up to date on the week that was the 14th through 20th of March, 2022.
Christine’s Birthday Breakfast
Captain Christine completed her latest circumnavigation of the sun and started her next one on Tuesday the 15th. We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning with no wind so her first gift was for us to walk over to our favorite little spot on the beach here in Finike which is about a kilometer around the waterfront from the marina.
As you can see they serve quite the traditional Turkish breakfast and the only problem is finding enough room on the table for all the plates! NOTE: If you look up at the top of the photo above Christine’s head you can see the masts of all the sailboats in the Finike Marina where Möbius is docked.
This is me wondering just how many people they thought were going to be attending this birthday breakfast? We did not manage to eat it all but we put a good dent in it. On the walk back along the beach, we stopped in to check out this little building that we had passed on all our previous trips to the restaurant. Can you guess what this is? How about if I include this bench as a very good clue? Correct! It is a mini library! You pick out the book you want from the shelves here and then walk up the spiral staircase and ………………. …… read your book while sitting in this 360 degree glass reading room while taking in the view.
Just a few of the reasons we love living here for the past 8 months.
Christine has been researching eBikes for at least a year and so it seemed like the perfect birthday gift. The one she decided on is made in Turkey by Alba and she chose their 2022 Fold2 model. It is quite impressive with 8 speed Shimano Altus chain shifter and then 5 power assist levels from the 36V/7.8Ah Li-Ion Battery Pack that gives her an average range of 50km.
Sports this easy to read screen and even has a USB port to charge her phone when she is out riding around town. The box arrived at the marina from the factory in the center of Turkey in 3 days and came almost completely assembled, just needed to have the seat and handlebars set up.
Made with all aluminium construction which we obviously prefer and keeps the weight down to just 19.5kg / 43lbs which is very good for a folding eBike. It was cold and a bit wet outside when the box arrived so we moved it inside the Workshop and quickly went through the unboxing. et Voila! A VERY happy B’day girl was soon zipping up and down the concrete dock behind us at up to 26 km/hr!!!
She has since been out to the market twice and now has about 20 km on it and she says the battery still says full so she is very pleased that all her research paid off. Happy Birthday my Captain!
Guess what? As Mr. Gee Turns is a Trilogy!
Meanwhile, I was making good progress with Mr. Gee as I come to find out that the mystery series I’ve been writing here on the ever elusive oil pressure is a actually a trilogy! Who knew? All along I had thought there was just one dastardly plot to foil me but it turns out that there were three different stories to be told here. I now believe that I am finally ready to write the final episode in this three part series so read on to see how this all ends.
When I left off last week I had just completed checking out the drive gears for the oil pump and confirmed that they were all working properly. All my testing and evidence suggested that the oil pump, which I had recently replaced with a new one, was working properly and putting out good volume and pressure.
This past week I renewed my focus on the second scenario of there being an internal oil leak that was still eluding me and could explain the lack of oil pressure. In what I now realize was the second book in this trilogy, I had found and fixed the problem with the rubber O-rings so I was very sure that these were now sealing well and if there was a leak it had to be somewhere else internally. With Mr. Gee still up in the air with his oil pan/sump still off it wasn’t possible to run the oil pump so I decided to build a little tank that I could fill with oil and pressurize to simulate the output of the oil pump. Last weekend, in one of our many calls my dear friend Greg and I came up with a series of tests and this was one of them.
Turns out that great minds do think alike as Gary, one of our fabulous followers, left a comment here on the blog with the same suggestion a few days later. Thanks Gary!
Making the most of what I’ve got available and in true McIvor fashion, this yellow 5 liter jug had quite thick and sturdy walls that I thought would work to turn into a pressure oil tank with two modifications. First I needed an outlet in the bottom where I could hook up a hose to carry the pressurized oil from the tank to Mr. Gee so I drilled and tapped, aka threaded, a hole in the bottom end. This allowed me to thread in this brass fitting for the ball valve and hose barb to attach to. The threads did not reach all the way to the top of the hex surface of the fitting so I mixed up some epoxy filler and liberally coated the threads before putting it in place and hoped that it would be good enough to stay sealed when under pressure. For the pressure, I kidnapped a Schrader valve from a poor unsuspecting bicycle tube in our spares department and threaded the black cap on the jug and screwed this in place with some epoxy to seal it as well. Now I needed a way of getting the pressurized oil into Mr. Gee so I fabricated a little flanged adapter that I could bolt on in place of the copper pipe that carries the oil from the oil pump up to the Pressure Relief Valve or PRV that you can see in the labeled photo above. A bit more epoxy sealer and I had this bronze hose barb threaded into and sealed to the flange. Which I now bolted to the bottom of the PRV where the pressurized oil from the oil pump on Mr. Gee would have normally been attached. Next I fitted one end of a reinforced hose to the fitting on the PRV and the other end to the fitting on the yellow tank. The final actor in this scene was my trusty bicycle pump which attached to the Schrader valve and enabled me to pressurize the oil in the jug. Well, Christine actually did all the pumping as I was positioned under Mr. Gee with my flashlight watching the crankshaft area for any signs of oil coming out where it should not.
It was not the most conclusive test as there was of course oil coming out of each of the main and con rod bearings as there should be so oil was dripping down everywhere. But after thoroughly checking from all angles as Christine kept the oil pressurized, I could not see oil coming out anywhere that it shouldn’t be. That was all the testing I could do at this point but just for good measure I decided to add a second oil pressure gauge to the same junction block on the left side of the oil filter. Both of these are brand new gauges and the one on the bottom is the one that has been on Mr. Gee since the very first rebuild and had been working reliably. Once again, great minds thinking alike as two days later two other helpful followers, Gary and “Sail Free Spirit” added their comments here asking if it might be possible that the oil pressure gauge wasn’t working? Thanks guys.
Didn’t seem likely as it had been working fine and reading properly for all the times Mr. Gee has been running, about 20 hours in total, but still worth checking right?
Finally time to put Mr. Gee back together again and lower him down onto his engine beds one more time. Not my first rodeo doing this so I’m getting pretty fast and only takes me a couple of hours now.
I filled him up with oil and connected the starter motor so I could use that to crank him over for a few seconds and check to see if there was any movement on the oil pressure gauges. Both needles moved so it was looking promising and I continued connecting water and exhaust hoses and everything needed to start. As usual, Mr. Gee fired up on the first spin of his crankshaft but my heart sank as I looked at the oil pressure gauge I was holding in my hand! Only 16 PSI when it should be 35!!
But hang on a minute!
What’s up with the second gauge behind it? It IS reading 35 PSI, a difference of almost 20 PSI! WTF!?!? Now the question became which gauge was correct? Interesting challenge. Fortunately I happen to have no less than 10 other pressure gauges on board, several used ones from back in my mechanic and hot rod days and some brand new liquid filled ones I use for providing pressures of oil, water and fuel throughout the boat.
As you can see here, now things got eXtremely curious! Here I have THREE different gauges attached and THREE DIFFERENT readings; 45, 34 and 30 PSI. After testing 7 different gauges, I finally got two that read the same! The one on top is one of the new liquid filled gauges that I use throughout the boat and have at least 10 on hand. They have all proven to be very accurate and each one of those read the same when attached to Mr. Gee. The smaller black Gardner gauge below is a previously unused new Gardner gauge that I had for a spare.
In this photo, Mr. Gee is running at about 1000 RPM and the PRV adjuster on the far Right is adjusted to proper Gardner specs with 5 threads showing above the lock nut.
Holy jumpin’ gauge needles Batman! We have proper oil pressure!!!!
I have since permanently mounted these two gauges to Mr. Gee just in case one should decide to go MIA in the future and I got busy getting Mr. Gee fully installed and ready to head out to sea.
Such as checking and adjusting all the intake and exhaust valve clearances to be 0.004 and 0.008’” respectively. Finish mounting the SS support rods for the overhead wet exhaust system.
Connect all the AC power cables to the two Electrodyne alternators. Reconnect and precisely align the Nogva CPP output flange to the propeller flange and then torque them all down. And with all that done Mr. Gee is now running like his famous self and oil pressure is holding steady at 35 PSI!
So here at last is the video that so many of us have been waiting so long for:
I am putting together a longer video tour of Mr. Gee that so many of you have been asking for and hope to get that posted later this week. We are experiencing excruciatingly slow upload speed right now for some reason but hope to have those fixed soon.
In putting all the evidence together now, here is what seems to have played out. Rather than a single problem causing the oil pressure to drop, it seems that there were three completely separate problems that shared the common thread of low oil pressure.
Series #1 Massive Overloading. In the first episode an inept captain who had been hired to do the first sea trials, had pushed both throttle and pitch levers to their maximum position and left them there causing massive overloading on a brand new engine. This lead to rapid wear on the main bearings and caused the oil pressure to drop.
Series #2 Too Tolerant O-Rings. After the second rebuild to fix the damage caused by the massive overloading all seemed to be well and the engine ran with full oil pressure for the first 7 hours of sea trials. Then it started to drop off slowly again. After tearing down the engine once again, I discovered that the O-rings sealing the crankshaft main bearing oil pipework had been damaged on installation because O-rings with maximum sectional diameter happened to be installed in grooves with minimum depth such that there was more rubber than space and the O-rings were pinched and sliced open when they were installed. After about 7 hours of run time these damaged O-rings began to leak which caused the oil pressure to drop once again.
Series #3 Faulty Oil Pressure Gauge In this week’s final episode of the trilogy, for reasons that remain unclear at this time, the oil pressure gauge that had been working fine, continued to show pressure but as was in fact showing 20 PSI less than the actual oil pressure. Over adjusting the PRV had been successful at raising the oil pressure so that this faulty gauge would show 35 PSI but what I went on to discover with a second gauges was that in fact the actual oil pressure was about 55 PSI! The oil pressure had been correct 35 PSI with the PRV adjusted as it should be with about 5 threads showing, but because the gauge was just off by about 20 PSI it was only reading 15. Truth is always stranger than fiction right??
This latest situation with the new Gardner oil pressure gauge working fine for many months and then suddenly giving a false reading that was 20 PSI lower than the actual pressure present remains a mystery to me. I guess this is another example of how assumptions can always bite you in the #$ss and that I probably should have tried swapping out the gauge sooner. Having had the gauge be reading correctly right up until it didn’t took me by surprise as normally these mechanical oil pressure gauges either work or they don’t. I’ve not previously experienced this sudden change in the pressure reported by the gauge itself when the actual oil pressure stays the same, but I am now!
As you can see these mechanical gauges are very simple and not too much to go wrong with them but obviously its possible. I may open up the one that failed to see what I can find inside but so far nothing appears to be amiss, all clean and it does work, just all of a sudden not giving the correct reading. For those of you with some thoughts on this please put them in the ‘Join the Discussion’ box at the bottom. While I won’t feel like this final episode is completely finished until I put 20-50 hours of sea trials on Mr. Gee 3.0 but right now both Christine and I are feeling the best we have in many months as this mystery series seemed to be unending.
There are a LOT of lessons to be learned here and I will be processing all this for some time. And while it has been an eXtremely long and winding road, it has not only lead to what appears to be a very happy ending, it has also reminded me just how fortunate I am to have such a supportive Captain and such awemazing friends, family and followers who have been there throughout this entire trilogy. Thanks and I am eXtremely grateful to ALL of you!
Hope you will all stick around for the fun part of enjoying the flip side of when you make it through a big storm at sea with how much better you appreciate the sunsets that follow. My sincere thanks to ALL of you who have been on the adventure with me and I’ll continue to do my best to bring you more interesting and entertaining content on topics other than oil pressure!!!
Brrrrrrr, it is back to feeling a bit wintery here in Finike the past few days as night time temps suddenly dropped down from 12C / 54F to 1C / 34F last night. Not that cold for many of you and my Canadian friends in particular but for us tropical wimps, this qualifies as cccccccold. Good reminders to us why we went so far overboard with insulation on Möbius and makes us eXtremely grateful for our heated floors and heated mattress pads. Most of the other live aboards here in Finike Marina are on fiberglass production boats which have little to no insulation which reminds us all the more just how fortunate we are. The other great thing about the weather here of late is how clear the skies and the air are. The colder temps have also added to the snowfall frosting on the taller mountains that create the dramatic backdrop you see here. Fills me with joy every time I look up from my screen as I put this blog update together for you here on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
What’s up with this week’s title?
A bit of background for those who might not recognize the reference I’ve played with for this week’s title. While I’ve never been into sports very much, I do recall being with my Dad as a young boy while he was watching Wide World of Sports on the TV so I became familiar with what became the infamous opening to what was went on to become one of the longest running sports shows ever from its start in 1961.
For those who may not have seen this or its been a long time, below is a clip of the opening from YouTube.
I don’t know if they continued to use this opening throughout the long run of ABC’s Wide World of Sports but it ran for many, many years and the opening line of “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” played overtop of the same set of sports clips every week for years. Pity the poor ski jumper who had to watch this one nasty fall of his over and over and over again.
I’m not sure but I think this may also have been the catalyst for the similarly inverted saying of ‘”Snatching failure from the jaws of victory’” which would have worked as well, but I’m going with the iconic WWS version for this week.
I’ve taken a bit of literary license with this quote by inverting it and here’s why. I was reminded this week how some of the best experiences in our lives come out of some of what we thought at the time were the worst ones. in this most recent example the past few weeks have been very frustrating as my search for the root cause of the dropping oil pressure on Mr. Gee seems to always be just beyond my grasp. As all you regular followers of this mystery novel know, time and again I find what seems sure to be the problem and fix it, only to watch the oil pressure elude me yet again. So I’ve been feeling the “agony of defeat” quite frequently of late.
But on Wednesday morning, while catching up to all the overnight Emails I came across one from a long time follower of the Möbius blog which opened with this;
Good morning Wayne & Christine, I’m a boat addicted person that lives part time up and down the Queensland coast on my own steel Yacht/Money pit. Love my Yacht ANAWAI dearly for she is not only an adventurous mobile home but an ongoing Engineering Project that gives me great satisfaction. Sounds like ???…..
Monday mornings have become a thing to look forward to over the last three years as your MOBIUS adventures unfold. Your opportunity to choose and use a Gardener just leaves my blue with envy. Sometimes I take a cup of coffee and just look up the Mr. G parts of your posts. So rest assured that when I proffer the comments that follow I’m firmly on Team Mobius.
My Engineering career has made me a devotee of the humble and yet sophisticated O-ring. As youngster deep down Oil wells and later underwater marine seals and Industrial Hydraulic designs have had my finger prints on them. I live in Adelaide but the big hundred kilowatt machines have been built in Vancouver BC. A good reason to visit your home town. This career does not make me an expert but rather a devotee of the design principles laid out in the Parker O-Ring design manual.
From there, Stewart went on to provide me with his very thoughtful ideas on the problems I had been experiencing with the O-rings on Mr. Gee and attached a plethora of detailed specifications and best practices for O-ring design and installation. Thus began a very deep dive into O-rings and we were soon Emailing and texting each other and sending photos and attachments back and forth across the dateline that separated us with the cause that united us.
Stew also drafted up some of our conversation which is super helpful and definately my kind of guy! As of this morning we are still at it and believing that we have resolved the O-ring issues we have now moved on to our possible culprits I need to apprehend in the ongoing dastardly oil pressure caper which unfortunately continues. How fortunate am I to have someone with such expertise to so generously reach out and give me so much of his time?!
And Stew now joins the other alumni of Team Möbius such as my University buddy Greg who is my top mechanic minded friend of all time along with Michael, James and David at Gardner Marine Diesel, who have been sharing their expertise and time equally generously with me for several months now. You can therefore understand how the inverted version of that opening TV line seemed to describe this past week so well as I reveled in the joys and thrills of defeat to have people like this rally around me while I am simultaneously experiencing the agony of victory that continues to elude me. The latter might not be what I’d wish for but the former makes me SO much richer.
Picking up where we left off…..
At the end of last week’s update, I left you with Mr. Gee hanging in the ER ready to be lowered onto his awaiting engine beds and closed out the blog with this;
As is my habit every time I start Mr. Gee, I will use the hand crank first to spin him up for a few minutes and check that there is oil pressure registering on the gauge. This ensures that all the oil galleries and bearings are full of oil prior to starting and reduces the chances of premature wear in the first few seconds after start up.
On Monday morning I soon had Mr. Gee back on his feet and as described above, I used the hand crank to spin him over for a few minutes to get all the oil galleries filled with oil while intently watching the needle on the oil pressure gauge. Sure enough, just before I huffed my last puff, the needle moved up to about 10 PSI. Yayyy, we’ve got some oil pressure!!! Checked oil level and other vitals and then I used the 24 volt starter to turn Mr. Gee over with the compression release levers still on and fuel still off and again watched the oil pressure needle which soon registered about 12 PSI so things continued to look promising.
With these initial tests complete and oil pressure showing, I could now finish making the reconnections for coolant, exhaust and other systems and Mr. Gee was at last ready to be fired up.
First step prior to starting is to use the starter motor to be sure that all the critical bearings have oil in them so I hit the starter button and watched as the engine turned over for a few seconds but the oil pressure needle did not move this time. What!?!? How’s that possible? It was just there! Tried again several more times but nada. Very strange and new behavior not seen before.
To investigate further I started to adjust the oil Pressure Relief Valve or PRV on the Right side of the oil filter housing which you can see in the photo above and the illustration on the Left here. The PRV acts as a pressure regulator to keep the oil pressure at the required 35 PSI @ 1000 RPM and the oil at 60C/140F. Typically this is used to fine tune the oil pressure when the engine is running and lock in the oil pressure at 35PSI. Turning the adjuster down creates more spring pressure which puts more downward force on the valve which reduces the amount of oil that bypasses the PRV and exits out the back in this illustration and flows by gravity to lubricate other parts such as the fuel injection pump and timing chain before draining back into the sump.
Given the lack of oil pressure now, I started to adjust the PRV down in steps of several turns each and then cranked the engine with the starter motor. it took several times but eventually I was able to get the oil pressure to finally come up so I now knew that the oil pump, which is also brand new BTW, was at least working. I turned the PRV one further bit till it was bottomed out and hit the start button and this ‘pegged’ the oil pressure gauge as the pressure shot up briefly to at least 80 PSI or more.
I knew more now, but things were obviously not right yet and I did not want to take the risk of starting the engine in this state. This color coded illustration of the lube oil systems on a 6LXB will help you visualize things. While I could get the oil pressure up to 35 PSI by over adjusting the PRV, this reduces the volume of oil bypassing the PRV and going on to lubricate the fuel injection pump and timing chain so this is not a condition that can continue. Back to the agony of defeat for now!
You may recall from previous posts that as part of my earlier efforts to resolve the dropping oil pressure situation I had replaced the PRV with a new one just to be sure this was not part of the problem but now seemed worth double checking so I removed the PRV.
You can compare these photos to the exploded illustration above and see that the piston like valve is at the bottom, spring in the middle and threaded adjuster at the top. This close up of the PRV itself shows how it works. The oil pressure coming directly from the oil pump enters the PRV at the bottom and right below this valve. In the illustration above you can see how this pressurized oil makes a left turn out and into the filter body just below the bottom of the valve. By design and as with most oil pumps, there is more volume than is required for the crankshaft bearings, valves, etc. on the pressurized side so this valve gets pushed up to allow some of the volume of oil to bypass the valve through the two elongated slots you see here. When the pressure of the spring is just right, it allows the valve to ‘bleed off’ enough of the excess oil to keep the oil pressure below the valve at the required 35 PSI. A very simple pressure regulator.
Everything checked out fine, no dirt or sticking, so does not seem like this is the source of any problems and has just been useful in my detective work to help solve this recalcitrant mystery. By adjusting this PRV I was able to confirm that the pump was at lest working and capable of producing enough volume to bring the pressure way past what is required, BUT this only happens when I restrict the bypass volume so there are just two scenarios now;
The oil pump is not producing as much volume as it should to provide enough oil for both the pressurized side for the crankshaft and valves, and for the non pressurized bypass side for the fuel injector pump etc..
The pump is working properly and there is an internal leak that is allowing oil to escape which reduces the oil pressure when the PRV is in its normal position.
To find out which one of these scenarios is happening I have lifted Mr. Gee back up and removed the oil pan, oil pump and its drive gears and spent most of this week inspecting and testing these.
As the hunt for the culprit continues to intensify, we are now moving into the “anything is possible” phase and asking all the “stupid questions” which often turn out to put you on the right track in the end. One of the remote possibilities asks if the gears that drive the oil pump off of the camshaft could possibly be slipping?
in the upper Right corner of this illustration, part #11 is the drive gear that is press fitted onto the rear cam lobe body on the camshaft. This is the smaller gear that meshes with the gear on the camshaft and wile difficult to do, I was able to unbolt this cover #1 from the side of the crankcase and gain access to both gears. Here is what that smaller driven gear looks like. The larger drive gear on the camshaft is inside on the far Right.
To test both gears I locked their respective shafts in place while using a pry bar and a torque wrench to apply as much torque to each gear as possible and see I could make either of them turn on the outside chance that one of these was slipping and not driving the oil pump properly. Good news and bad was that they both checked out and did not budge, so I put them all back together. This and the fact that I am able to get lots of oil pressure out of the pump by overadjusting the PRV would seem to eliminate scenario #1 so I am now moving on to scenario #2, an internal leak somewhere that is still haunting Mr. Gee’s innards. This is the original scenario that led me to find the problem with the O-rings which was very promising and clearly a problem that needed to be solved in any case. However with the new smaller O-rings and new deeper grooved fittings, that problem has been resolved but apparently another is lurking inside of Mr. Gee and that’s what the focus of all my attention now.
So I will be back to work again in the Engine Room tomorrow morning to implement the latest round of testing that the detective division of Team Möbius have put together over the weekend and with any luck this will lead us to finding and fixing the underlying problem so stay tuned for that.
Well detective fans, that’s a wrap for the week that was March 7 to 12, 2022 and where I will leave you for now. if you have some new ideas or some of those “right stupid questions” please type those into the “Join the Discussion” box below with my thanks and I hope you’ll be back for the next episode of “As Mr. Gee Turns”
After a week of spectacularly sunny weather with highs around 15C / 60F it is now a notably colder 10C/50F and drizzly Sunday so I’m taking the day off from boat work and enjoying being snuggled into Möbius’ toasty warm SuperSalon taking in the world outside the 360 degrees of windows.
We’ve got a bowl of buttery fresh popcorn and the two pups beside us so makes for a very comfy spot to be in. A time like this has us reflecting on the crazy and challenging times we all find ourselves living in the past few years and the past week in particular. Difficult to take it all in and make any sense of it, yet most of all we are feeling especially grateful and thankful to be so fortunate. Turkey has treated us eXtremely well in so many wonderful ways. We have family and friends we love who virtually surround us in spite of being literally spread all over the world. In the most literal sense, we have each other and are living in this wonderful floating home. Could we be more fortunate?
Methinks not! The above perspective is also very helpful in powering our patience and persistence with the challenges that we, like everyone else, do face from time to time. As many of you following our adventures here know all too well, of late one of those has been the ongoing hunt for the elusive cause of Mr. Gee’s lack of proper oil pressure. Thanks to all the comments, texts and Emails we receive from all of you I know that you are almost as anxious as we are to get to the bottom of this and put this recalcitrant problem in our wake. So, without any further delay …..
Mr. Gee Update
I last left you and Mr. Gee quite literally hanging in the Engine Room in THIS post back at the end of January and then last week I let you know that I had just returned from a short trip up to Canterbury England to spend some time with THE eXperts at Gardner Marine Diesel and bring back a few parts.
Picking up from there, here’s how all those pieces fit together this past week. This coloured illustration of the lubrication oil pipework system from the Gardner 6LXB manual will help orient you as to how the oil flows. The marine version of the 6LXB does not have the Green ‘scavenger’ oil system so you can ignore that.
Focus on the Red circuit that goes from the oil pump inside the sump in the bottom Right corner which pumps the oil to the horizontal Red pipes and fittings you see on the bottom of the Main Bearings on the crankshaft.
This illustration from the 6LXB Parts Manual helps to show the lubrication oil pipework a bit better.
Take particular note (click to expand any photo) to the cast iron fittings # 40, 41, 42 and their rubber O-rings #30 7 47. Here is what those parts looks like in reality on the bottom end of Mr. Gee with the Oil Pump on the far Right. This is what that whole pipework’s system looks like when removed and note the black rubber O-rings in the middle of each fitting.
As I’ve been chasing down every possible lead on where the oil pressure could be leaking out, I kept coming back to these rubber O-rings that seal the pressurized oil flowing through each cast iron fitting bolted to the Main Bearing caps. At first glance after removing these fittings you might think that everything looks fine and you would just move on to look elsewhere. But you’d be wrong! Looking closer you start to notice that the rubber has marks around the outer and inner diameter where the rubber seems to have been pinched and cut? When you remove the O-rings and zoom in closer with your magnifying glass it gets worse. The rubber has been sliced open. Oh, and did I mention that all the photos of the O-rings above are brand new and only been installed and then removed from the engine without starting it. Here is what happens after the engine has been run for about 7 hours. The pressurized oil flowing past the cut open O-rings appears to erode the exposed inner rubber more and more until the seal is broken and the oil pressure begins to drop more and more as the engine runs. At least that is the best scenario I could come up with. However, in the many hours of discussions I’ve had over the past few months with true experts on Gardner engines and diesel engines in general this just did not make any sense. GMD and other Gardner shops have rebuilt literally hundreds, likely thousands of 6LXB engines overall and using these exact same parts and O-rings and none of these have experienced any such problems with decreasing oil pressure, so there was no consensus on the conclusion I had come to.
What else to do but dig in deeper and continue testing and checking EVERY part of the lube oil system. Still finding no trace of other problems that would explain the loss of oil pressure, I felt it best to eliminate even remote possibilities so I replaced the oil pump seen here that checked out fine but just in case I ordered a new one … …. and similarly replaced the copper oil cooler tube with new ones. eXtremely looooooooong story short, the low oil pressure continued and the root cause of this remained more elusive than ever.
The damage to the O-rings continued to baffle us all and none of us could explain how or why this was happening and seeming to only happen on Mr. Gee and not on all the other 6LXB’s restored with all the same parts. Yet, I had conclusive proof that they were being damaged immediately upon installation and whether it was the cause of the low oil pressure or not, I had no choice but to resolve this and be able to know for sure that the next time I installed a new set of O-rings they would NOT be damaged.
By now I had quite the collection of O-rings from the various rebuilds and all my tests and all the evidence and data I had from all of this caused me to conclude, even though it made no sense, that there was simply more volume of rubber than there was volume of space in the groove they fit into that was machined in each cast iron fitting.
You can see this quite clearly here with a new never installed O-ring on the Right and one previously installed and removed on the left. While I could not explain the why or how, my testing seemed to prove that this was indeed what was happening.
Here is one of my “test reports” I wrote up and sent to Michael and James at GMD and my good friend and diesel expert Greg.
Can you spot the pattern that is the clue to this riddle? Read on to see if you’ve got it.
The ONE data point we did not have was what the factory depth and tolerance was for those grooves. GMD had sets of the original drawings from the Gardner factory but this dimension was not shown. I measured the depth on the fittings out of Mr. Gee and the ever helpful James at GMD measured some he had on hand and they seemed to be about the same but I decided the best if not only thing left to do was for me to fly up to GMD and pick up a set of all these cast iron fittings they had on hand out of other Gardner engines they had dismantled.
James very kindly spent several hours with me as we went through all my photos and data as well as looking over my growing collection of badly damaged O-rings from the previous rebuilds and my many bench tests. It also helped that we had had a stripped down 6LXB that James was just starting to rebuild to refer to.
I kept hoping for some Aha! moment to happen, to find something I had not checked or replaced or some mistake I was making but I left GMD and flew back to Möbius without any such revelation or resolution. BUT, I did come back with a set of new fittings in my backpack which fortunately did not get red flagged by airport security!
OK, a long and winding road to get to this point but here is what I did upon my return.
First and perhaps most important step was to bring in the true expert and supervisor; Barney the Yorkshire Terror to assist.
As you have been picking up I’m sure, in the course of all my work on this oil pressure problem, I’ve become a Frankensteinian combination of a detective and a scientist so I laid out all the original fittings from Mr. Gee in the foreground here and all the new ones I just brought back from GMD in the background. The numbers are the depth of each groove in thousands of an inch. Here is my summary of the test results.
Aha! Check out the difference in tolerances of the groove depth between the original fittings out of Mr. Gee and the new/old ones I brought back from GMD. Then check out the tolerance difference of the sectional diameter of the O-rings. I think we may finally be onto something here Watson!
Note that there is a HUGE 0.028” difference between the best and worst scenarios of how much the rubber O-rings are being compressed.! In terms of space available for the O-ring rubber, the worst scenario would be when one of the largest or “fattest” 0.192” sectional diameter O-rings is put into the smallest “shallowest” depth groove of 0.109” as this combination would compress the rubber O-ring 0.083”. Best scenario would be if the smallest or “skinniest” O-ring of 0.178’ diameter is put into the deepest 0.123’ grooves and only compress 0.055”
Perfect Storm of Tolerances
Let me put it this way; can you be too tolerant? Let’s run one more test to find out.
I took the full set of new fittings I had brought back from GMD, installed a set of the smallest skinny sectional diameter O-rings that James had so kindly sorted through their new stock to find. These ranged from 0.178 to 0.180 diameter.
Then I assembled the whole pipework system and bolted it onto the Main Bearings on Mr. Gee who was hanging out in the ER. I left these overnight and removed them the next day.
Just to be sure of my conclusions and for some final proof, I repeated this same “dry fit’ test with the original and more shallow groove depth fittings. The final result?
ALL the O-rings in the new and deeper groove fittings came out like new. No pinch out, no cutting, no marks of any kind!
Whereas, all the O-rings in the test using the original fittings came out damaged which matches the results of all my previous tests on the original fittings where most of the O-rings came out with cuts and slices on them.
From my perspective I think this shows that all the evidence and test results match what I kept coming back to which was the proverbial dilemma of “trying to stuff ten pounds into a five pound bag” so to speak. In this case, more volume of rubber than could fit in the space available in the grooves.
Why Me? asks Mr. Gee & Me
This is the question that has bedeviled me and everyone at Gardner and I’m not sure if we will ever know the answer for sure. Based on all my testing, my best guess is that Mr. Gee and I simply ended up with the “perfect storm” situation where we ended up having fittings with “shallow” grooves that were below the minimum tolerance and these got matched up with “fat” O-rings at or above the upper end of their tolerance. Whatever the opposite of just right Goldilocks is, fat O-rings in shallow grooves are it! Not knowing what the factory specs are for the groove depth we can’t know if the original fittings on Mr. Gee were for some reason below the minimum and I would have certainly exacerbated the problem when I flat filed them to remove their equally difficult to explain bowed out condition and make these surfaces flat.
As is the norm, “perfect storms” come about when a unique combination of factors or events takes place which makes them very rare. In the case of the Gardner LXB, it would indeed be unlikely that such a situation of overly shallow grooves would happen to be fitted with overly large O-rings and thus be extremely rare. What I have shared with GMD and any other Gardner rebuilders, is that it is well worth the few minutes it takes to use a digital Vernier caliper to confirm that the depth of the grooves is never less than 0.120 and that the sectional diameter of the O-rings is never more than about 0.185”. I would imagine that this range is the norm and so even left unchecked there would rarely ever be the kind of loss of oil pressure that has plagued Mr. Gee and me.
In any case, at last I had a path forward where I could be confident that by using all ‘skinny’ 0.178-0.180 sectional diameter O-rings and putting these in fittings with the deeper grooves, there would be the Goldilocks amount of space for the volume of rubber so there would be no squeeze out and pinching. At the very least I have now removed the O-rings from the Most Wanted list of suspects.
I think so. I hope so! But alas, I won’t know for sure if I have finally found and fixed the root problem causing the oil pressure to drop until I have got Mr. Gee up and running with full oil pressure for a few hours and then head out on some more sea trials to ensure that the oil pressure holds up under load.
At the very least I’m delighted to have at least finally resolved the mystery of how and why the O-rings were being damaged which has been the conundrum wrapped in an enigma that has been vexing and eluding me for months now.
Yesterday I spent all my time putting Mr. Gee back together again; hopefully for the last time! Tomorrow I will lower him back onto his engine bed, fill him up with oil, reconnect all the hoses and re align the prop shaft and CPP output flanges. With any luck I should be able to start him up later this week.
As is my habit every time I start Mr. Gee, I will use the hand crank first to spin him up for a few minutes and check that there is oil pressure registering on the gauge. This ensures that all the oil galleries and bearings are full of oil prior to starting and reduces the chances of premature wear in the first few seconds after start up.
If all goes well this week I will at least be able to bring you news and video in next week’s Möbius World update that Mr. Gee is back up and running AND with full 35 PSI oil pressure.
Stay Tuned for the Season Finale!
Whew! if you’re still reading, you’re to be commended for your patience and persistence. This has been an eXtremely long and winding journey for all of us and I do thank you all for joining me along the way. I will do my best to wrap up this ‘murder mystery’ series and bring you the final episode in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for that and in the interim please put your comments and questions in the ‘join the Discussion” box below.