The newest update to Möbius is that our all new House Bank batteries are now fully installed and up and running!
As you may recall from THIS post almost a year ago, our original FireFly Carbon Foam batteries had sadly lost most o f their “fire” aka capacity and repeated efforts using the FireFly prescribed “Restoration Charge” was not able to bring the capacity back. Fortunately the combination of having a total capacity of 1800Ah @ 24V and our large solar capacity from 14 320W solar panels allowed us to go for almost a year of full time live aboard cruising running all systems other than extended AC use, without needing to ever plug into Shore Power. So we did pretty well I think!? But about a month ago while docked here in Norfolk, one of the four FF banks started to overheat and so their time was up.
With our new situation (details if interested here) I had hoped that the FF batteries would last until we find the new owners and they take over so they could chose the new replacement batteries that were just right for them But the “fire” had sadly gone out on the FireFly batteries and so I needed to make that call and have all new House batteries installed.
For those interested, this post will give you an overview of how that progressed.
CHOOSING the GOLDILOCKS NEW BATTERIES
The quick summary of my requirements and priorities to determine the just right Goldilocks batteries for Möbius’ and our use case is as follows: (in no particular order)
WEIGHT: Somewhat unique to us perhaps, weight is not a factor for choosing the batteries. In fact we actually want/need as much weight as possible as we had designed the boat around the batteries to some extent and treated the 1022Kg/2250 lbs of FF batteries as part of the lead ballast of the boat.
SIZE: Battery size is also not a factor as we had to some extent designed the hull around the battery compartments which ended up being three large watertight and positively vented compartments which spanned and were centered on the 1″ thick x 18″ keel bar that runs from the transom all the way up to the top of the bow. See the GA drawing below to see this layout.
WIDE TEMPERATURE RANGE: Working well and safely within in as wide a range of operating temperatures as as possible. Our intended use case for Möbius was to go everywhere from the Arctic/Antarctic and high latitude cccccccold climates to scorching hot locations. (which seems to be more and more locations in our world these days!)
FAULT TOLERANT: In addition to temperature it was also important that the new House batteries were as robust as possible in that they would be able to deal with the typical “accidents” that happen over the years with the battery systems on boats. Things like full discharges when the boat has been left for long periods of time and the charging system fails for some reason.
SAFETY: Always a top priority of course but in the end I had no concerns with safety of either Lithium or AGM as I’m of the opinion that battery safety is all a matter of good design and installation of the electrical system and battery management, as well as sticking to top quality manufacturers. So I did not consider any of the “off brand” batteries and companies.
VALUE: Cost is an ever present factor for most of us but I think in terms of overall value rather than price alone. I will gladly pay for quality and other features listed above to get the best match of batteries and our use case criteria. I think this is well evidenced by all the equipment we have installed on Möbius. So I did not consider any batteries or companies that were not IMO offering high quality batteries.
EXTENDED 100% SOC + FLOAT TIMES: This is a relatively new factor I have come to appreciate and which I believe may have contributed to the early demise of the Carbon Foam FF batteries. Most of us have experienced how leaving things like laptops and phones plugged into their chargers and kept at 100% fully charged for most of the time leads to them loosing more and more of their capacity and shortening their lifespan. I don’t have the expertise to prove this but my first hand experience over the years and my research into that of others has led me to suspect that there is a similar situation with LiFePO4 and Carbon Foam batteries.
Due to our large almost 5KW solar power the batteries on Möbius sit at 100% fully charged state almost all the time. With the large overall available capacity we typically only take the House batteries down to about 85% SoC or less between the end and start of each solar day and most days the solar charging brings them back to 100% fully charged by 10 to noon depending on solar conditions, time of year, geo location, etc. You would think that this would be ideal for battery health. However, I am finding increased evidence and examples that not only do LiiFePO4 and Carbon Foam type batteries deal very well with being in PSoC or Partial State of Charge for extended periods of time, they actually PREFER to be in a PSoC condition the majority of time. Being kept in Float mode at 100% SoC can lesson their capacity over time. It is possible to deal with this by carefully customizing the charging profiles of all the charging sources on the boat and our WS500 regulators for the alternators, MPPT controllers for the solar panels, and MultiPlus chargers all have this ability. However based on my experience to date I think that AGM type batteries actually prefer to be kept at 100% fully charged SoC which is the situation as I’ve outlined above on Möbius. I’m sure this factored to some degree in my final decision.
I should add that the rest of the equipment that forms the overall House Battery system would work well with any of the LiFePO4 or AGM batteries I considered. Things such as the twin 250A 24V Electrodyne alternators with external rectifiers, WakeSpeed 500 Smart Regulators and Victron BMV712 battery monitors, would all work for any of the batteries I was looking at be they Lithium or AGM so this was a non factor in my decision making. Lithium batteries would of course require equally high quality BMS either internal or external so I only considered LiFePO4 batteries with dedicated BMS from their manufacturer.
Click to enlarge and see the location of the three battery compartments on Möbius
I’ve written about this topic of batteries for Mobius multiple postings here on the blog and I spent a LOT of hours discussing this with experts and other boat owners and researching the latest offerings of high quality batteries. This lead me to narrow it down to a choice between Lithium (LiFePO4) and AGM batteries from the likes of Victron, Battleborn/DragonFly, Lithionics, etc. all of whom had some very high quality options. For example, this new form factor of “12V 270Ah GameChanger 3.0” LiFePO4 batteries from DragonFly had some very attractive features.
I also went back to the original batteries that I had considered for Möbius during the initial design phase which were these type of OPZv Gel type “traction batteries” and they were in the running again in this most recent search. I paid close attention to how “bullet proof” the batteries were in terms of being able to deal with such factors as the likelihood of a few times in their long lifespan where they would end up being completely discharged for some reason or another. Never planned of course but always possible and when we start talking about lifespans of 10+ years the probability of such “accidents” becomes quite high.
I’m well aware that many of you would make a different choice for YOUR boat, but I do my best with all equipment decisions to find the “Goldilocks” just right choice that best matches with Möbius’ use case.
In the end, this is what I chose; (drum roll please …………………….)
………….. After a LOT of deliberation I decided to go with Victron and chose their “Super Cycle” AGM batteries. We chose Victron equipment for the entire electrical system on Möbius including their Isolation Transformer, MultiPlus Inverter/Chargers, MPPT controllers, Octo and Cerbo GX monitoring, etc. so they are a company that we have come to know well and not doubt have a bias for and I’m sure this did influence my final choice and Victron offered multiple batteries in both LiFePO4 and AGM to chose from. These Victron SC AGM battery model are 12V @ 230Ah C20 and one of their more interesting qualities that caught my attention was their stated ability to withstand 300 complete 100% discharges without any damage to them although it certainly would shorten their lifespan if you were to do that. Having gone with Victron for almost all of the equipment that makes up the overall electrical system on Möbius, I have come to trust and respect them as a company but I still wanted to verify these claims and was fortunate to find that Bruce Schwab at Ocean Planet Energy OPE, was able to personally verify Victron’s claims of these Super Cycle batteries based on OPE’s direct testing and he wrote:
Being a Victron distributor, we have tested the Victron Super Cycle AGM 125Ah (G31 size) in our PSOC regime. Nearly all Pb batteries suffer permanent capacity loss when run through this 30-cycle PSOC test. We’re happy to say that the Super Cycle AGM passed with flying colors, with no discernable loss of capacity.
I was therefore delighted to be able to work directly with Bruce and his tech Kevin at Ocean Planet Energy and can not recommend them more highly. Bruce was incredibly responsive throughout the whole process, answering all my barrage of questions leading up to the choice of these Victron batteries and then getting the new batteries along with some additional Victron equipment ordered and delivered to the marina here in Norfolk VA.
Bruce and Kevin worked with me very closely during the entire installation and configuration of the whole new electrical system to get it dialed in “just right”. It is all too rare in my experience that you find such high degree of expertise along with truly exemplary service and so my hat off to Bruce and Kevin, can’t thank you both enough. If any of you have any electrical needs for your boat I’m sure you will thank me later for contacting Bruce and his staff at OPE and similarly benefiting from their expertise and incredible customer service.
* NOTE: Just to be clear and transparent, I am not sponsored by OPE or Victron or any other manufacturer, just a very satisfied customer wanting to share my first hand experiences with these high quality companies and people.
OUT WITH THE OLD;
Here is the schematic showing how the original House Bank of 24 FireFly L15+ Carbon Foam batteries was setup.
(click to enlarge this or any other photo)
This is one of the three sealed battery compartments that are built into the hull with the batteries stradling the 1″ thick center keel bar so that all their weight acts as nicely centered “lead ballast”. As per the schematic above, each of the four banks of FireFly batteries were wired directly to the positive and negative main bus bars inside the Grey DC Distribution box you see here. All cables are of equal gauge and length, hence the looped Red & Black cables, Positive cables from each bank have their own Off/On Battery Switch (Grey switches top left corner) and the negative cables each connect to the Neg bus bar through their own shunt for the Victron BMV712 battery monitors. Fortunately I was able to reuse all these cables and battery monitors for the new batteries. This is the forwardmost battery compartment with the lid removed to start disconnecting all the batteries. With all the interconnecting battery cables and copper bars removed these 8 batteries are ready to leave the building. Each FireFly battery weighs 43Kg/94lbs but fortunately they had very good handles on both sides so lifting them up and out went well. This is the first eight of 24 batteries out on the dock beside the boat.
OUT OUT OUT with the OLD!
A bit of a sad end to what should have been a much happier relationship with these FireFly batteries, but it is what it is. Enlisting the generously offered assistance of the marina staff and their golf cart to make the looooooooong trek along the maze of docks to get from the boat to the shore, we were able to transfer the batteries from boat to shore to pickup truck to take them to the battery salvage yard.
A forklift sure makes life easier once I got the batteries to the salvage yard! At least I was able to offset the cost of the new batteries with the money for the 2317 lbs of lead contained within the 24 FF batteries. (less weight of case, gel, etc.)
Bye bye FireFly; Hello Victron!
IN with the NEW
The new batteries were delivered a few days later and with some help from the marina staff and their golf cart, we were able to bring the new batteries out to the dock beside Möbius. .With the old FF batteries removed I could take out the fiberglass pans and modify them to fit the new batteries. Not actually required by ABYC for these sealed batteries but a smart “belt & suspender” safety feature I think. Each of the three pans needed to be extended in length so I just cut them in half with my circular saw ………. and then glassed in the space between with new cloth and resin.
Just visible on the far left end of this pan you can see the new SS tie down D rings I installed for the ratchet webbing used to secure the batteries in place.
Now all that was needed was to lift each of the 125lb new batteries from the dock down into the Basement and then lower them into their new home inside each battery compartment.
IN WITH THE NEW:
This schematic illustration will show you how the new House Bank is wired up. Over the many years of boat ownership I have come to appreciate how important it is to keep ALL batteries very well balanced as they are being charged and discharged.
NOTE: this is a schematic diagram only, cable sizes and lengths not shown to scale
This boils down to ensuring that each battery has the exact same resistance as their electrons flow in and out which is mostly determined by having the exact same size and length of cable connecting them to each other in the parallel and series arrangement required for such a multi battery bank setup. It is similarly important that each individual battery bank also has the exact same cable gauge and length for their connections to the main positive and negative bus bars.
Also worth noting that all battery cables are oversized to 120mm2 (two sizes larger than AWG 4/0) to have less than 1% voltage drop.
I have also come to appreciate how much it helps to go the “extra mile” with the interconnecting cables to make all the series and parallel connections between each of the four batteries that make up each bank. I first learned this method many years ago from Nigel Calder’s invaluable “Boatowners Mechanical & Electrical Manual” which you can see in Fig 1.21 page 22 if interested.
This is the wiring I used for each of the four batteries in each battery bank.
You can see this in the schematic above and here in the actual cables installed on the new Victron SC AGM batteries.
Small gauge wires you see here are for the various temperature and voltage sensors for monitoring these batteries with both Victron and Maretron. Christine’s son Tim flew up for a visit during all of this and being a very good certified electrician he generously worked with me for the whole installation process. Here seen crimping the lugs onto the new interconnecting cables that needed to be made up. Tim does very high quality work which I certainly value highly and is also great to see in this new generation of electricians and workforce. Good example here of affixing the SS ratchets and straps to this battery bank. Tim also took on the finicky mounting and then wiring of the three Victron Battery Balancers that we added to the installation.
Thanks Tim, couldn’t have done it without you!! For those interested, these battery balancers work as follows:
The Battery Balancer equalizes the state of charge of two series connected 12V batteries, or of several parallel strings of series connected batteries. When the charge voltage of a 24V battery system increases to more than 27V, the Battery Balancer will turn on and compare the voltage over the two series connected batteries. The Battery Balancer will draw a current of up to 1A from the battery (or parallel connected batteries) with the highest voltage. The resulting charge current differential will ensure that all batteries will converge to the same state of charge.
With the kind of $$ we boat owners invest in our battery banks, every bit that we can extend their lifespan helps and is well worth doing in my experience. Not quite finished, still need to tidy up the cables and small wire sensor cables with zip ties but here is what House Bank #1 looks like. And this is the aft most Bank #3 just about ready to have the lid bolted on to finish this installation.
It took a few days working with Bruce and Kevin at OPE to get all the settings setup just right in the MPPT controllers, WakeSpeed regulators, MultiPlus chargers and BMV sensors and they went the extra mile and then some to help configure and finish up the installation. We have been running the new Victron House Battery setup for about three weeks now and it is performing flawlessly. I’ve tested it both with and without shore power and the each battery and each battery bank has stayed perfectly balanced and performing just as hoped.
A very good feeling after nursing the original House Battery along for the past year but we now have a great setup that should continue to meet all the significant electrical demands aboard Möbius. This is very much a “battery based” boat with all DC and AC power coming from these batteries so this really adds to the SWAN or Sleep Well At Night factor on our beloved Möbius.
Congratulations if you’ve made it this far in this all too typical “brevity challenged” update. With any luck there won’t be any more big jobs like this to report on but I will post updates from time to time as things evolve aboard and soon hopefully off of the Good Ship Möbius.
NOTE: Still have frustrating technical issues preventing me from posting this latest update as I usually do. We have been creating these posts for five years with nary a problem but suddenly it isn’t working so I’ve created this update manually direct online to just get it out while we resolve the technical issues. I’m sure you can all relate from having similar challenges with technology and appreciate your understanding and patience.
As you can see the photos are much larger and don’t expand when you click on them so I will put the relevant text below each photo. But, should give you a good overview of what’s been going on the past two weeks and hopefully the next update will be back to normal format.
Möbius is still safely docked in this beautiful harbour on the South end of the Greek island of Kalymnos and other than some very gusty Meltemi winds the last two weeks have been unusually quiet aboard with the absence of Captain Christine. So we are down to just the three pupsketeers of Ruby, Barney and I aboard.
Christine has been enjoying some much needed Gramma time with our Grandson Liam and spending time with her family and friends. Liam has always been enthralled with tornados and loves making his own in bottles like this one while his Dad, Christine’s son Tim, enjoys the glee.
They have been enjoying outings like this one to a great hands on science museum in Ft. Lauderdale to Liam’s obvious delight.
Christine has been able to squeeze in time for a new hairdo and glasses and a visit with her very dear and longtime friends Kathleen and Steve.
She will be flying back here next Monday and the pups and I will be VERY glad to have her back.
Meanwhile back on Möbius I’ve been busy with several projects and ordering boat bits we can’t get over here that Sherpa Christine can bring back with her.
I am also regularly in touch with the good people at Gardner Marine Diesel GMD as they complete the building of Mr. Gee version 2.0. That has been going very well along with the forensic analysis of Mr. Gee 1.0 and they have been taking photos along the way and I should have more details and photos of that in the next blog post.
It took over six weeks for the engine to get from Kalymnos to the Gardner factory in Canterbury in the UK due to the huge crush of tourists in the EU this summer that took up all the spaces on the three ferries it takes to get there. Most companies in Europe also shut down for holidays in the month of August so that delayed things further but he finally made it. GMD have been removing all the parts that will be swapped over to the new engine. If all continues to goes well, the new engine should be fully completed and run in on the dyno in about two more weeks and start his hopefully much faster return trip!
This part of Greece we are in has always had very strong summer winds out of the North called “Meltemi” winds which are the result of a high-pressure system over the Balkans area and a relatively low-pressure system over Turkey. Most of the time they are good news to us as they provide a natural form of air conditioning to keep you cool day and night. Typically these gust up to 25 knots or so but in the wee hours on Monday they gusted up to over 50 knots! (57 MPH/92KPH)
Which leads me to the title of this week’s post…….
Things were howling pretty good all night but about 3AM there were several huge crashing sounds up on deck above where I was sleeping in the Master Cabin so I scrambled out of bed and up on deck to see what was going on.
In the early morning darkness it took me awhile to figure out what had happened but became pretty clear when I got up on the forward deck, turned around and looked back over the hinged solar panel array in front of the SkyBridge.
As you may recall, this set of three 300W solar panels are mounted in an aluminium frame that is hinged on the aft end so that it can be lifted up like this when we are at anchor or on a dock. This has double benefits of getting the solar panels horizontal which is often a better sun angle and then creates this huge wind funnel that takes the breezes over the bow back to a mist eliminating grill set in the far back wall.
Which then flows into the middle of the SuperSalon through the White air diffusers in the ceiling. The Black ones further forward get their air from another vent tucked under the overhang of the roof above the front window. Helps keep good airflows.
When we are underway, the panels simply fold down like this so they are flush with the angled roof section of the SuperSalon.
I’ll bet you can’t guess which position they were in on Monday night/Tuesday morning??!!
Took me awhile to put it all together as I tried to figure out what had punched that gaping hole in the middle panel?
At first I thought perhaps the strong winds had carried some hard heavy something crashing down onto the panel and there was a good culprit staring right at me from the bow of the oil tanker that overlaps our bow on the dock we are tied up to.
Made sense, but then I looked up…………….
I’d estimate it takes me about 20Kg/44lbs to lift the front of this panel up when I want to put it in the UP position so you would think that it would be pretty stable. But you’d be wrong!
These panels have been in the horizontal UP position for the past two months with nary a problem but what had happened was that Meltemi winds had shifted on Monday night so that they were coming more directly over the bow rather than over the Port/Left side they usually blow over, and one of those big gusts had lifted up the whole rack, slammed it against the front of the roof over the SkyBridge and the video camera had punched itself right through the solar panel.
Fortunately I have several new solar panels onboard for spares and so it only took me a few hours to unbolt the broken PV panel and bolt in a new one. These panels use these handy MC4 connectors with a built in fuse so all I had to do was unsnap the old ones and click the new ones in place and we were back to full solar capacity with all 14 panels now working.
Christine had a new and improved video cam that she had put on my ToDo list to replace the original one. How convenient!
Easy enough to unbolt what was left of the base of the old camera and bolt the new one in place. This new camera uses PoE or Power over Ethernet so only requires a single Ethernet RJ45 (waterproof) connector and it was good to test out.
Fired up the main boat computer in the SuperSalon and a few clicks later had the new camera streaking this video over the bow.
Right now we have four cameras onboard with a rear facing one off the transom which is great for docking and then two in the currently very empty engine room to keep an eye on Mr. Gee once he gets back in there.
Lots of other smaller jobs and time online sorting things out for the new engine and boat bits but nothing too entertaining to show so I’ll close out for this post and will be back when I have enough interesting content to share with you in the next week or two.
I will leave you with Gramma’s bed buddy and fellow geek.
Thanks for your patience in dealing with this delayed and different looking update. Hopefully we will get the technical posting problems sorted out and be back to the usual format in the next week or two.
Please put any questions and comments in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
Another very busy week here in Finike as we work our way through the last boat jobs that need to be completed before we can set sail (yes, we still refer to it as “sailing”) and finally put Turkey in our wake. In what feels a bit like some marine version of Groundhog Day (the movie), we thought we had left Finike for the last time about a month ago but life intervened with some new twists, quite literally. Christine “twisted” her knee and needed to go back to Antalya to get that operated on and when we first launched the Tender the overhead beam portion of the Davit Arch “twisted” and needed to be replaced. So we find ourselves back here in what was our home base for almost the past year to look after these and several other key items on our To Do lists. All working out very well as we know and like this area and have a good network of people we can call on to help find things we need which really speeds up the process and allows us to get these jobs done much faster than if we were in a new town.
Weather here continues to be outstanding and much “cooler” than past summers. Hottest we’ve been up to in the past few weeks is about 33-34C / 91-94F and nights have been down in the low 20’s / 70’s so makes for very pleasant evenings and sleeping and not too sweltering in the daytime though it does get toasty when you’re in the direct sun which I was for much of this past week and have the “farmers tan” to show for it. But we go for a swim in the ocean on the other side of the rock seawall behind us and that is a great way to cool down and good exercise for Christine’s knee which continues to improve and get stronger and stronger.
A good variety of jobs on the go this week including building DIY Paravanes, assembling and installing he new Davit Arch v2.0 and getting all its rigging in place. So let’s dive right in…………
Last week you may recall that I completed the rigging for the aluminium A-frames that fold out from each side of Möbius and have lines going down from their ends to a paravane of “fish” that glides about 6m/20’ below the water level. The rendering here is from when I was doing the calculations for line lengths so you are seeing multiple positions of the paravanes whereas there is only one on each side in reality. Paravanes are know as a “passive” system to help stabilize the motion, side to side rolling in particular, of the boat in large seas and in rolly anchorages. The other option is to use active stabilizers such as fins or gyroscopes which work very well and at more of a flip of a switch, but they require a lot of power, a lot of $$ and are relatively complex systems known to be quite prone to failures or at least a lot of maintenance and so we’ve chosen to go with all mechanical and very simple paravanes which are commonly used by commercial fishing boats. Our intent is to use this paravane system for the next year or so and if we decide we want to change to active stabilizers in the future, the hull already has all the internal framing and watertight coffer dams which will make the installation of active stabilizers relatively quick and easy.
FWIW, if we were to do go with active stabilization today we would probably chose to go with the Magnus Effect type of stabilizers as these can be folded inline with the hull when not in use. This greatly reduces the danger of hitting something with the fins that permanently protrude out much further and can add some risk when in areas with lots of coral, rocks or ice. And who knows what new systems might be developed by the time we might be looking into active stabilization? This is an example of the most commonly available paravanes from Kolstrand company and used by many commercial fishing vessels. Galvanized steel and work very well but very heavy and a lot of drag. However, some fellow Canadian boaters have been having very good success with these DIY paravanes built using plywood for the horizontal wings and a metal T-bracket to attach to the line above and a lead weight on the front, so I’m going with this design. Relatively low cost and easy to build and these will let me do a lot of experimenting in the next year of use to try different sizes of wing surface area, front weight, attachment line positions, etc. The ideal is to get the maximum roll resistance with the minimum drag. Over on the always helpful Trawler Forum, a trawler owner “Cold Smoked” had provided some photos of this type of paravane he was building and …. ended up looking like this. This is an example off this same style on the trawler mv Hobo all rigged up and ready to be tossed overboard. Here is a shot when this paravane is at work and helps to show you how the A-frame on this boat works. With the Paravane A-frames all rigged, this week I started building the paravanes or “fish” themselves. To my surprise, finding good plywood suddenly seems to be very difficult but on our trip to Antalya last week we were finally able to find a lumber shop that had some pieces on the side they were willing to cut for me. I worked out my best estimate of the various dimensions and scale for what I think will be close to the Goldilocks size of paravanes for Möbius and got to work cutting the plywood. My ever handy 18V Milwaukee router made it easy to put this bullnose profile on all the edges to help reduce the drag when these are flying through the water. Two coats of white epoxy to make the plywood waterproof and easy to see when deployed. I’ll add a third and perhaps fourth coat tomorrow and can then start attaching the hardware. Ideally I would like to have used a round lead fishing weight cut in half but could not find any here in Turkey so I’m going to use these large disc zinc anodes that I found in a marine shop when we were in Marmaris a few weeks ago. This one weighs about 7kg/15lbs and I will through bolt two of these to the bottom of the nose of the plywood.
Didn’t seem worth it to fire up Fusion 360 for such a simple bracket and fin so I just made this quick and dirty hand sketch as I worked out the dimensions and proportions for the T-bracket and the Tail Vane. I’m still tracking down someone in Antalya who has the AL plate I need and hope to have these here next week so I can finish building the fish for Möbius and start testing the whole paravane system out. Stay tuned as that happens. As I do with so many other systems, my intent is to use these first fish as prototypes and spend the first year or so experimenting with them to find that sweet spot of best roll resistance with least drag and all the tricks to deploying and retrieving them. This design allows me to easily change the size and shape of the plywood wings as well as trying different amounts of front weights with the different zinc anodes I now have onboard. And I can try different attachment points of the line to the fish to get the down angle just right and I try out different positions at different boat speeds in different sea conditions. Should be fun and educational so stay tuned for more as I finish building and start using these paravanes in future blog posts.
Mr. Gee 3.0 First Oil Change
Mr. Gee has now been thrumming away very happily for almost 50 hours now so this week I did his first oil change to make sure I could get rid of any particles that had gotten flushed out after the last rebuild. He holds about 28 liters and I use a 24V transfer pump to make it very quick and easy to pull out all the old oil and then pump in all the new. Mr. Gee has the optional hand pump for removing the oil so the oil pan is all plumbed for this and I just push on a vinyl hose and use the transfer pump instead.
Gardner recommends oil changes at about 400 hours so should not need to do this again until next year but I carry an extra 50 liters of 15W40 oil and several new oil and fuel filters so I can change these at any time.
Captain Christine’s Tech World
While I was busy with all the mechanical work this week, Christine continued her non stop game of Whack-a-Mole as she gets our complex set of electronic systems for navigation and monitoring all working and playing nice with each other. Not something that lends itself to much in the way of photos but trust me she works harder than I do! As just one example of hundreds, this is the screen she uses in Maretron N2K View to create the oil pressure gauge with all its settings, color coding, warning light, etc. It is a super system for monitoring everything on board but you pay the price in both cost and time.
Davit Arch Beam v2.0
When we first launched the Tender several weeks ago the overhead beam of the three piece Davit Arch failed and so we needed to have a new one designed and built. Fortunately Dennis, our awemazing Naval Architect at Artnautica in New Zealand, was kindly able to squeeze in my request to design this new version and have it fully tested by a structural engineer. As we had done with the design of Möbius, we were able to collaborate on the design via Email to exchange models and test results. Dennis was able to use some structural engineering plugins with Rhino3D that showed the various loads in all locations and guide us through the new design. Then Dennis sent it to his engineer colleague Peter who did the full set of structural testing and gave it his OK. All of this was then sent to Naval who also managed to squeeze building this new arch into their very busy schedule and had it build in less than a week. Next challenge was how to get this beam out of the Free Zone and trucked the 120km to where Möbius is in Finike. As usual the solution involved hiring a customs broker, paying lots of fees and completing lots of forms but eventually the bonded truck showed up at Finike Marina on Monday. Precious cargo inside. And we soon had it out of the truck and onto the concrete behind Möbius. The original two vertical legs of the Davit Arch were fine so it should have been a simple matter of bolting the three pieces together. However nothing with boats is ever easy and the new beam was 40mm too short. Grrrrrrr So I designed some adaptor plates to get the vertical legs in the right position and Naval kindly sent up a small crew with a welder and we were able to build and weld in the adaptor plates on Wednesday. With the new beam now fully bolted in place the next challenge was to get the new Arch lifted aboard Möbius, aligned with the hefty brackets welded to the deck and the 50mm OD SS hinge pins pushed in place. Fortunately crane trucks like this are ubiquitous in this area so Christine was able to quickly arrange for this one to show up.
Sure makes it easy to move heavy items from one spot to the next. The fit is very close so it took some time to get everything lined up so the hinge pins would slide into place as you have to get the bored pin holes lined up within about 1mm or the pins won’t slide in. But with some help by our local marina handyman Faik, we finally got everything lined up and the SS pins pressed in place. And version two of the Davit Arch was now in place and ready to be rigged. The rigging I had built for the first Arch had worked out fine but Dennis and I changed the Pivot Control Line blocks to be over on the far Port side (left in this photo) so that the angle the lines going to the beam were at the largest angle to reduce compression of the beam a bit. The lines you can see on the right going up the vertical leg is a 6:1 set of triple blocks which lead to the hand winch on each vertical leg. These lines lift the Tender Up/Down inside the arch to get the Tender up high enough to clear the deck chocks and the rub rail as it goes over the side. The Pivot Control Line goes through this 3:1 set of blocks and then …. ……. over to the big Lewmar 65 electric winch in the centerline of the Aft Deck. Davit Arch all rigged and ready for first test launch this coming week and I’ll bring you all of that and more in next week’s Möbius.World update.
And that’s a wrap for yet another week and almost another month! Thanks SO much for taking the time to join us and follow along on our adventures. Hope you will tune in again next week for the latest update and please continue to add your most appreciated comments and questions by typing them into the “Join the Discussion” box below.
We have spent this past week in the relatively small but very marine based town of Marmaris. For orientation, here is Marmaris relative to the others nearby islands and coastline around us. You’ll recall this map from previous posts and we started out in Antalya where Möbius was built and have been slowly making our way West and North along the Turquoise Coast. We spent the winter in Finike and left there to begin our cruising season back on May 17th. As you have read in the previous weekly updates since then we have stopped in Kekova, Kaş, Fethiye, Göcek and now Marmaris. We have spent the past week here in Netsel Marina in Marmaris and the arrow shows where Möbius is docked. The city of Marmaris itself isn’t that large but as you can see the marina is literally part of the city. Netsel is one of the 10 Setur Marinas along the Turquoise Coast that we have access to as part of our annual contract with Setur Marinas. If you click to enlarge you can all the red Setur Marina pins. Antalya is the most Eastern Setur Marina and then the other 9 marinas are spread out as the coastline moves West and North to Istanbul.
Christine’s Knee Update
This is a very large and very full marina and not usually our cup of tea but as I mentioned last week, Christine had torn her meniscus in her left knee and getting that fixed became our #1 priority and Marmaris was the best place to put in to. After several appointments with doctors in several other ports we stopped at along the way we decided that the best course of action was to go back to the same hospital in Antalya that we both had outstanding experience with while living there. Sunday morning Christine made the 6+ hour ride on a very luxurious bus that she said was more like an airline than a bus and on Monday morning she met with the surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic knee surgery at 9:30. After going over all the specifics of Christine’s history with this knee, their consensus was that arthroscopic surgery was the best choice. The surgeon asked “When would you like to have the surgery done?” and when she said as soon as possible he said “OK, how about tomorrow?”. Fifteen minutes later Christine was in a hospital bed being prepped for surgery on Tuesday. As amazing as this might sound to many of you, this is our experience with hospitals and medical care in Turkey and makes it easy to understand why Antalya in particular is such a popular destination for medical tourism.
Good news is that the surgery went very well and both the surgeon and Christine were very pleased so I rented a car on Wednesday morning, packed the pups and was in Antalya by noon to pick Christine up and bring her back to Möbius. She has been confined to the boat since then which has been challenging for her but as per the title of this week’s update, one of the ways in which “The Pressure is ON” is that she has been able to put more and more pressure on the knee as she hobbles around Möbius a bit better each day. While not something any of us would want this has been one of those good reminders of just how important our health and mobility is and as Christine soon remarked “I had no idea we had so many steps on this boat!”.
The surgeon wants to see Christine again in about two weeks so we are now thinking that it may be best to motor our way back East and get closer to Antalya for her follow up and to make sure that she has her knee well looked after. Stay tuned for updates on where we decide to go next.
Oil Pressure is ON too!
You may recall from the great oil pressure hunt with Mr. Gee, I had installed two oil pressure gauges after discovering that the original one had been falsely reading 20 PSI too low and causing me a LOT of angst until I discovered this. Mr. Gee now has over 40 hours of run time and has been purring along with a steady 35 PSI of oil pressure just as a healthy Gardner 6LXB should and so one of my jobs this week was to create the more permanent setup for monitoring Mr. Gee’s oil pressure. Here is the cleaned up and likely permanent setup on the four port bronze oil pressure manifold on the side of the oil filter. Moving down from the liquid dampened oil pressure gauge on top, the other three ports are:
1. black pipe that takes pressurized oil over to the valve rockers on each head,
2. Silver fitting that takes oil pressure through a flexible hose over to an electric oil pressure sensor mounted on the opposite side of the black oil filter housing
3. Low Oil pressure warning switch which will also provide power to the engine hour meter anytime Mr. Gee is running The silver canister is the electric oil pressure sensor which sends its analog data over to ……… …… this Actisense EMU-1 engine monitor which converts all the analog engine data such as oil pressure, oil & coolant temperature, CPP oil temp & pressure, into digital signals and sends these onto our N2K network that is used to communicate ALL the boat’s data to the boat computers and onto any of the six monitors we have on the Upper and Lower Helm stations as well as broadcasting this wirelessly to our phones, tablets and any other monitors we chose. This is an example of the kind of dashboards that Christine is building using our Maretron N2K View software which allows us to create virtual gauges, switches, warning lights, alarms, etc. We are slowly learning our way around this eXtremely powerful and diverse tool but we have a long ways to go and there really is no end to the different screens, gauge types, switches, alarms, lights, logs, graphs and other info we can display using this Maretron N2K View software. There is also a free Maretron N2K View mobile app which we have on our phones so we can also see all this data on these screens as well. Not something we use a lot as the larger screens provide a much more comprehensive collection of data on their larger real estate at each Helm but the phones are super handy when you are somewhere else on the boat and just want to check how things are working. I also tend to use this while I’m working on some system somewhere else on the boat and can use my phone to show me what’s going on as I adjust things in the Engine Room or down in the Basement where most of the Victron electronics are located. eXtremely handy and powerful and will only get more so as we learn to use these tools better over time and create all the Goldilocks displays that each of us prefer. Now that we had Mr. Gee’s oil pressure on the N2K network via the EMU-1, we were able to create the virtual oil pressure gauge you see here and with a bit of tweaking we were able to configure this so that the pressure shown on this gauge matched the PSI shown on the liquid filled gauge on Mr. Gee. Having all this data able to be displayed on any screen on the boat is a huge benefit while we are underway keeping us fully informed as to how everything on the boat is functioning. We have a LOT of work to do to build out all the various screens we want for different contexts but this is a good start for now.
Configuring the Auto Pilots
While I was in configuration mode I decided to also finish configuring our two Furuno 711C Auto Pilots. The 711C display head you see on the bottom Left of the Main Helm provides all the data and controls for our Auto Pilots and there is a duplicate setup at the Upper Helm on the SkyBridge. To the right of the 711C AP is the Furuno Jog Lever which is the second way we can steer the boat by simply moving that Black knob whichever way we want the rudder to move. The rotary switch to the Right of the Jog Lever is used to select which of the two helm stations is active. The two silver levers on the far Right are how we control the throttle and the pitch.
Took a few hours but all of these are now working properly and next trip we will do the final tweaks to the Auto Pilot while we are underway and can dial in the actual zero rudder position. These Furuno AP’s have the very great feature of “auto learning” and so as we use the boat more the AP system is learning the specifics of how Möbius handles, turns, rolls, etc. and uses this to dial in all the settings better and better over time.
Of course this being a boat, there were plenty of other little gremlins and “moles” to whack back down like the house water pump that I just spent the past 5 hours replacing today, but that’s how our start to yet another new month played out and I hope that yours was equally productive.
How can it be another month already and almost half way through 2022?!? However, with our recent reminder as to how precious time is we continue to be grateful for every day that speeds by and can only hope to have many more to come and enjoy each one as it passes.
Hope you will join us again for next week’s update and till then please be sure to add your comments in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
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.