The cooling trend continues with the weather here in Finike Turkey as the daytime highs drop down below 34C/93F most days this week and the forecast calls for our first sub 30C/86F high next week. We are very fortunate in that we have a huge swimming pool here at Finike Marina, aka the Mediterranean Ocean, that is just a short walk down along the sea wall from where Möbius is docked. We are able to have our nightly swims thanks to a set of stairs up over the sea wall that the Finike municipality put in several years ago.
You can see more of our nightly swim spot in the fun video HERE which Christine put up last week of her first solo piloting of our Mavic Air 2 drone. So every evening around 7pm or so, we exchange our work clothes for our bathing suits and make the short walk down to this set of stairs up over the sea wall every evening after we stop working and swim off this landing for 15 minutes or so. We even a fresh water shower to rinse off all the salt on our way back to the boat.
Oh! AND we also have the AirCon working very well now for those days that are still a wee bit too warm, so we are very comfy and grateful to be here. I am running late here getting this blog written on Sunday afternoons as usual and it has been another very busy work week getting more and more of the jobs done on Möbius but I’d like to share some details on a set of related topics which I get asked quite about very often and which seems to be surrounded by SO much confusion and misinformation; Power, Load and fuel consumption.
What moves a boat?
Seems like such a simple question, and the answer really is equally as simple and yet, in talking with other boat owners over the years, both in person and online in various forums such as Trawler Forum, I’m often surprised at some of the things I hear otherwise very savvy and smart people say when it comes to things like Horse Power, fuel consumption, propellers and other aspects of the propulsion of their or other people’s boats. I was reminded of this again just this week by a post that Steve D’Antonio sent out in his August 2021 Newsletter “Full Throttle vs. Full Load”. If you are not already subscribed to Steve’s newsletter I recommend it highly as a super valuable source of very thoughtful advise and info on all things boating.
In this most recent article, Steve goes over the often confused differences between full throttle and full load and more importantly he links to a much longer and well written article of his called “Wide Open Throttle” from back in 2010 for Professional Boat magazine which I also recommend eXtremely highly if you are not already subscribed (free) as ProBoat is one of my best learning resources and I have their entire library of magazines.
Both of these articles are must reads in my opinion if you would like to understand the relationship of HP, fuel burn and power going to your propeller. However THE best explanation of this relatively simple set of relationships is written by Tony Athens at Seaboard Marine in his very well titled article “Propellers Move Boats, Engines Just Turn Them”. All three of these articles are very much worth your time and I will circle back around from what they address in a future article here to talk more about why we have a Controllable Pitch Propeller or CPP on Möbius. It will also address why we chose to have a Gardner 6LXB turn that CPP
Once you have read these over I think that you will clearly understand what so many don’t seem to. The major points are as follows:
The rated HP of any engine tells you very little about the amount of fuel it will burn or the load that engine will be running at.
When I am having these discussions my key point is that HP = amount of fuel burned, full stop, no other information or variables required.
However, to quote a much fuller explanation from Tony’s article the single best relationship to understand is “… the amount “FUEL BURNED” is the amount of “HORSEPOWER PRODUCED.” That is the COMMON DENOMINATOR, not ENGINE RPM, and NOT the actual rating of the engine. And, what makes the engine produce a given amount of horsepower is how the propeller loads the engine.”
Using one of the example’s Tony uses near the end of his article, if you have the same make and model of engine in two identical boats, but one is set up by the factory, to BE ABLE TO reach a maximum of 300 HP and the other boat with the same engine is set up by the factory to reach a maximum of 715HP, when these two identical boats are running side by side, their fuel consumption will be the SAME because the amount of HP that the boat requires is also the SAME.
Load can be very deceiving because it is based on the RATED HP of that engine and has very little to do with how long an engine will last. (assuming it is not overloaded). As Tony outlines in his article, you can set up the same Cummins QSM11 300HP to 715HP, for the otherwise exact same engine. So if the propeller requires 215HP to move this boat at a certain speed and set of conditions, then the load gauge on the 300HP engine would read 72% whereas the 715HP version would say the load was 30% and BOTH engines would last or have the same amount of “wear and tear”. So contrary to very popular opinion, load % has very little to do with how long any marine engine will last.
If this does not make sense to you, or you have always been told otherwise, please do give these articles above a read and then let me know in your comments if you still think this does not make sense or is not correct. Once we all have the same understanding of these basic components of boat propulsion and how they are related to each other, I will address one of the most asked questions I receive; why did you chose to use a CPP on your boat?
I know these more technical topics are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those it is, I hope you enjoy the articles above and I look forward to any additional discussion or questions you have.
Another hot and busy week onboard the Good Ship Möbius here in the Finike marina as we continue to work on the seemingly endless ToDo list of jobs we need to complete to get Möbius fully ship shape to the degree that we can be confident to go to sea on her. Weather here continues to be wonderful although the daytime temps have been creeping up to the mid 30’s (mid 90’s for those who are metric challenged) but we have the AirCon working very well now and use that to cool down Christine’s office during the daytime, the SuperSalon for dinners and our Master Cabin just before we head off to bed. The “eXcessive” EPDM insulation we installed throughout the boat is really paying great dividends now as it keeps the heat out and the cooled down temps in so the loads on our AirCon chiller system are minimized.
This great weather, which is normal for us in this part of Turkey, also inspired Captain Christine to take to the air as she started to log more hours with our DJI Mavic Air 2 drone. We’ve had it for quite a while but have both been so busy with boat work that we just have not had the time to fly it and become familiar with it. Christine will put together some videos she took with it and post these a bit later for you to enjoy and I can give you this aerial view of Möbius as a teaser.
This is where we are tied up at Finike Marina and will give you a different perspective on what Möbius looks like from above. Easy to see the 14 solar panels from this viewpoint. Flying a bit further away to give you this view looking back at Möbius to help orient you as to where we are within the marina. You can Click to enlarge this or any other photo. This pano shot from a bit further out will give you a better sense of our surroundings and where we go for our evening swim after quitting work every day.
You may recall that back in June we drove up to a big hardware store north of us to pick up a new air compressor for the Workshop and after testing it out and thinking over the best location, I got around to permanently mounting it this week.
Reminding you that this is a WORK shop, so a bit messy, but you can see the white Kuletas compressor mounted underneath the Aft end of my Port/Left side workbench.
This is one of the newer types of compressors that has two motors each with two compressors so four compressors all together. This enables each one to be smaller and run at lower RPM’s and run eXtremely quietly! I can hear it come on when I’m in the workshop but it doesn’t interrupt a conversation and you can’t hear it at all outside of the workshop.
This air compressor is a super handy bit of kit to have and in addition to using it to power some pneumatic tools, clean tight passages out and blow up inflatable kayaks and the like, we use this to provide air to breathe using our Hookah or Snuba gear to work underneath or dive down to about 20m/65ft up to 100 feet around the boat.
It was definately a shoehorned fit with less than 1cm to clear at the top but this location keeps the compressor out of the way, easy to service and uses an otherwise not so usable wedge shaped space. And of course we continue to have some “infant mortality” jobs on the list such as when this seam in our brand new sand filter burst and started spraying seawater all over the Workshop.
While I hunt down a newer and better version I have just bypassed this for now and run the seawater supply to our Delfin 200L/hr watermaker through just our primary and secondary sediment filters for now. These “media” or sand filters are most commonly used for swimming pools so many of you will recognize this. However they are the secret weapon for dramatically reducing the maintenance of a watermaker by filtering out almost everything down to about 5 microns prior to going to the two sediment filters. We would normally need to clean those filters every 10 hours of use and replace them every month or so whereas with the media filter in front, the sediment filters last for over a year.
What I will do for the rest of this posting is go through the belt drive system I designed and built to power the seawater pump and Electrodyne alternator mounted on the front of Mr. Gee. I’ve been reminded by several of you that I promised to do this many months ago so my thanks for your patience in waiting until now. Hope the wait will have been worth it.
To put this all in context, I had a relatively large seawater pump and two very large alternators that I needed to mount on Mr. Gee our Gardner 6XB and then drive them both from his crankshaft.
The seawater pump weighs about 7kg/15lbs and each of the Electrodyne 250A @ 24V alternators weigh 40kg/88lbs so the mounting system needs to be eXtremely strong and solid. Both the pump and the alternator require a good bit of power to drive them so the drive system needed to be equally as tough and to be up for this task of years of trouble free service.
I won’t go into much detail on this but the seawater pump pulls seawater direct from the sea chest in the Engine Room and then pumps this water through three heat exchangers/coolers, one to cool engine oil, one to cool the engine’s water/antifreeze coolant and one to cool the Nogva gearbox oil before it finally and perhaps most importantly gets sprayed into the exhaust elbow to cool down the exhaust gas and then exit out of the boat. If this pump fails for any reason, the engine would overheat quickly and cause some extreme damage. Both of these bits of kit are therefore very critical to keeping the boat running, the seawater pump in particular so I needed to come up with a design that would be as bullet proof as possible.
There are two of these big red Electrodyne brutes which have a de-rated output of 250A @ 24V and each one weighs in at 40kg/88lbs and can take up to 20HP to drive at maximum output so their mounting and driving systems have to be equally as eXtreme.
However this essentially gives us the equivalent of a 12kW “generator” whenever Mr. Gee is running so these ensure that we never have any shortage of amps to keep our batteries fully charged and power all our electrical systems whenever we are underway.
Of course we are at anchor much more than we are underway so our 4.4kWp solar array keeps the batteries fully charged the majority of the time.
But how to mount them and drive them was the big question?
Direct PTO Mounting for Electrodyne #1
Mounting one of the #1 Electrodyne alternator was relatively easy as Gardner LXB engines have a dedicated PTO driven system for driving one alternator. I had a short jack shaft in my spare parts that I was able to machine some adaptors for that connect the end of the jack shaft to the PTO output and the input shaft of the Electrodyne. Then I was able to machine some other adaptors for these ribs where the alternator body bolts directly to the side of the Gardner crankcase. Using this Black metal band strap to hold it all together. KISS and eXtremely strong, what’s not to like?
As you can see this was quite the shoehorned fit but was relatively straightforward to do compared to coming up with a way of mounting the second Electrodyne.
Mounting Big Red #2
Physically mounting the second alternator was actually not too difficult thanks to the nice large flat mounting pad that the Gardner 6LXB’s have on their front Left corner. This was originally used to mount things such as air compressors on the automotive version of LXB’s used in trucks or to mount water pumps on the marine versions. I had another place in mind for the seawater pump so I used this mounting pad for the second Electrodyne instead. Pretty straight forward, I machined two 25mm thick AL plates and drilled them to match the spacing of the four threaded holes that were already in the mounting pad.
Then I machined and drilled the riser for the through bolt on the bottom of the Electrodyne and welded this all together. This created a super solid mounting system for this second Electrodyne. Then I fabricated a SS bar that connects to the red tab you see just in front of my knuckles here, which holds the alternator in its final position and it was now fully mounted.
But how to drive this second Electrodyne AND the sea water pump was the big question!
Mounting the Jabsco 6400 Series Sea Water Pump
Having used the Left side mounting pad on the Gardner for Big Red #2 I now needed to come up with an equally robust mount for the Jabsco seawater pump.
As you can see the pump has a simple flat mounting pad on the bottom with four bolt holes to fasten it down and wanting to KISS (Keep It Simple & Safe) I decided to go with an equally simple flat bar of 25mm thick AL which I could quite easily mount vertically over on the Right side of Mr. Gee. Didn’t take me long to fabricate this mounting bar, bolt the Jabsco pump to it and create some simple mounts for this bar to bolt onto the front right side of Mr. Gee.
As with the Electrodyne alternators, the mounting part of this puzzle was relatively easy, now on to the bigger challenge of driving both the water pump and the alternator.
Designing the Drive System
I spent a LOT of time sketching out ideas on my favorite medium; old cardboard boxes! I would sketch up very rough ideas of every possible drive system I could imagine and pulled lots of dimensions off of Mr. Gee, the Electrodyne and the Jabsco sea water pump as I refined the design. As my idea took shape I started searching for the components I would need for the actual drive components such as the pulleys for the belt and what their requirements were for power, RPM, etc.. I knew this was going to be a rubber belt drive system but traditional V-belts were just not up for the job even if I used two or three of them and they tend to slip quite easily if the belt tension is not just right and very tight. They also require very close alignment or else they start to wear and through black rubber dust all over the engine room.
Ask me how I know all this?!! For a long while I thought I was going to use a multi V serpentine belt drive setup, As per this nice lineup of different V belt types of pulleys, you can see that these multi rib belts and pulleys are able to handle much bigger loads and are more durable. These are used on millions of cars and trucks around the world to drive their alternators, water pumps, etc. so they are well proven. Better yet, I already had two of these as they came with the Electrodyne alternators I already had on hand. You can see one inside the white rectangle on the left. However, this still left me with having to custom build a multi V groove pulley to drive all this off of the front end of Mr. Gee’s crankshaft and one to mount on the keyed shaft of the Jabsco water pump. Not a big deal in and of itself, BUT if I was going to have to build custom pulleys, why not go for an even better belt drive system?
Good – Better – Best
Traditional V belt drives are good and serpentine multi groove V belts are better but cogged belts are THE best when it comes to driving high power shafts. My Harley Davidson motorcycles used these instead of chain drives so I was very familiar with them and how well they worked.
Many of you might know of these and refer to them as “timing belts” as they are used in millions of gas and diesel engines in cars, trucks, busses and boats around the world to very accurately drive the camshaft in those engines. In that job they are required to have zero “slip” or else the timing of the valves opening and closing won’t work and they need to be eXtremely long lasting as replacing them can be very expensive due to all the labour required to remove and replace them on most engines.
Once I got onto that line of thinking the choice was simple. Amongst other benefits these cogged belts gave me the following benefits:
Tried and True having been used for decades in millions if not billions of exiting engines
Readily available to buy new ones around the world if ever needed. (I of course have two spare on hand already)
Zero slip = zero belt dust = super accurate tachometer sensing on the alternator
fast, easy, tool-less belt changing
automatic tensioning with readily available spring loaded tensioners used in those millions of other engines
low axial (sideways) loads on the bearings of the alternator and water pump which in my experience is the #1 cause of failure.
Dead quiet operation; no belt squealing or squeaking
As you can see, this decision was easy, now on to designing a way to make this all work and find the cogged belt drive pulleys I would need to buy or make.
McMaster-Carr to the Rescue!
Where do you go when you have these kinds of needs for mechanical parts?? THE best source I know of, which also happens to have one of THE best designed web sites I’ve ever used; McMaster-Carr.
Within seconds, I got to this page that had eXactly what I needed. A full range of these beautifully machined cogged belt pulleys. Took me a few more hours playing around with different sizes for the three pulleys I needed to get the RPM just right for the outputs of the water pump and the alternator;
* one large 142mm pitch diameter for the main drive off the Crankshaft,
* one medium size 142mm pitch diameter to drive the Jabsco pump at its sweet spot of output when Mr. Gee is at 1400 RPM cruising speed
* and one smaller 66 Pitch diameter pulley to drive the Electrodyne at its Goldilocks RPM.
In addition to the three pulleys; I also ordered the just right sized cog belts made by Gates. Only one belt is needed but I ordered 3 so I have two for spares in the unlikely event that one belt breaks at some point. The real Pièce de résistance though came when I happened to notice down at the very bottom of the McMaster-Carr page you see up above, these “quick disconnect bushings”.
Took me a few minutes to realize just how ingenious this design was and the short story is that the smaller diameter of the quick disconnect part in my hand has a slight taper to it which fits into the matching inner hole of the cogged pulleys. This allows the Quick Connect to slide all the way inside the cogged belt pully and you’ll notice that these Quick Connects are slit on one side opposite the keyway. Holding the two parts together you tighten down the three bolts which forces the tapered QC to expand and jam itself tightly onto both the keyed shaft and the outer cogged pulley.
Brilliant! You will be forgiven for not sharing my eXcitement but for me this mounting system to attach the cogged belt pulleys to just about any size of keyed shaft was was like a gift from the mechanical gods. I quickly added three to my order and it was on its way to me.
Putting All the Puzzle Pieces Together
I now had all the pieces for this fun puzzle but still had to design it all up so that it could be installed on Mr. Gee. So I turned to my favorite 3D modeller, Autodesk’s Fusion 360 and was able to convert all my cardboard sketches into 3D models of each of the pieces and then accurately position them. McMaster-Carr provides 3D model files for everything they sell so I could quickly download the three pulleys and three Quick Connect fittings. Took a bit longer to create the 3D models for the Jabsco pump and the Gardner parts surrounding the crankshaft but with those on my screen I could then try out different positions within the constraints I had from Mr. Gee.
This was additionally challenged by the fact that I had also designed a custom version of the Gardner chain drive hand starter system which is the black line diagram you see overlaid here. Things were particularly “interesting” and close fitting down around the crankshaft where I needed to fit the red chainwheel for the hand starting chain and then come up with the Blue AL adaptor for it to spin on which in turn would be just the right spacing for the cogged belt pulley mounted on the custom Olive Green adaptor to attach the cogged pulley to the crankshaft. As you may have figured out by now I don’t throw ANYTHING away and so I had kept the original 4 V belt pulley that came with Mr. Gee, even though it had a large piece of it broken away. But this gave me the center piece that was already machined to just right fit on the keyed end of Mr. Gee’s crankshaft so I cut it out with a plasma gun and used it …. ….. to quickly machine it into this part which is the Olive Green part in the 3D model above. After making a few more parts, I could now dry assemble everything to see how well my 3D modeling transformed into the real world on the front of Mr. Gee.
Now to test how the belt fit and if all the pulley’s aligned with each other in all three planes so the belt would run true and free with no binding or chafing.
Worked out great!
BUT, there was still one critical part missing.
Can you figure out what that missing part is? Correct! I need to add in that spring loaded automatic belt tensioner!
To mount this onto the front of Mr. Gee in just the right fore/aft position so that the black idler pulley rides exactly in the center of the rubber cogged belt, I needed to space it out about 38mm so I quickly used by drill press/milling machine to build this solid AL spacer. Next I made up a template for the 10mm thick AL plate that this would mount onto. Like this. Bolted that to the Gardner cast AL support bracket supporting the cast AL cooling water holding tank, held the spring loaded tension wheel out of the way while I slid the cogged belt into lace and released the tensioner.
Et Voila! It all came together and works like a charm. Final piece of this multipart puzzle was to add in the chain drive hand crank system to make sure all the many players in this very busy front end all played nice together. You can see just how tight some of these clearances were in all this but it worked out just as I had modelled it, all the belt pulleys and chain wheels aligned with each other so they were all happy and it has been running like a charm for the past few months now.
Whew! Sure glad I was finally able to put this all together for you and for those who were brave enough and preserved to get to the end of this long and winding explanation. Congrats to all of you who did and for the smart ones who just skipped to the end.
I’ll leave you with one parting shot from Christine’s recent photo shot with the drone. It is a bit distorted with such a wide angle but this is looking across the entrance to the marina where Möbius is a bit left of center along that stone breakwater.
Thanks for joining me here again and don’t forget to add your comments and questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
As most of you know by now, Christine is American and I am Canadian so this was a big week as both our countries celebrated their independence within days of each other; Canada day on Thursday July 1st and today being July 4th for the USA. However, Friday July 2nd, was THE most special independence day celebration for us as this was the day we felt we and our new world aboard Möbius achieved our true independence. Why Friday? Well because that was the day that we took Möbius out for her maiden voyage and a whole set of firsts such as our first overnight on anchor. Hard to capture how this felt having been five years in the making but I’ll do my best, try to keep it short and let the photos do most of the talking with that “photo is worth a thousand words” thought in mind. Here goes ………
After waiting SO long for this to all happen the past few days have been a bit of a blur and reminds me of the “hurry up and wait” condition I learned in the Canadian military.
Mid day on Monday Christine went up to the marina office to let them know that we would be ready to launch in the next few days and they told her that the TraveLift was going in for service tomorrow so if we wanted to launch it had to be NOW! Fortunately I had Mr. Gee all back together again and running the day before which was where I left off in last week’s update posting and the remaining jobs could be done in the water so we were good to Go! This is actually the third time we have splashed Möbius here at Setur marina so it didn’t take them long to get the slings positioned under Möbius round belly and we had lift off in no time flat. Down came all the vertical posts holding us up and we were headed for the TraveLift launch pads. Which are less than 100 meters away so again, mere minutes. We hover over the water for a few minutes and then down we go till the straps are loose and I can head below to check for any leaks. All’s well down below, just the way we like it, not a drop of salt water to be found and so we give the thumbs up to the crew with our thanks and the TraveLift is off for its servicing leaving us floating merrily in the water at last.
Flange Alignment v2.0
One of the last jobs of putting Mr. Gee all back together again was to recheck the alignment of the flanges that couple the output of the Nogva CPP gearbox to the prop shaft.
If you have been following the whole Mr. Gee v2.0 rebuild you may recall that I left the Nogva gearbox bolted in place to the engine beds with the two anti-vibration mounts on either side so it *should* not have moved but this alignment is critical to smooth vibration free power transfer from Mr. Gee through to the 1 meter OD 4 bladed CPP propeller and as per the illustration above, the two flanges have to be near perfectly aligned with no more than 0.05 of a millimeter deviation. For reference a strand of average human hair has a diameter between 0.06 and 0.08 mm.
Not a difficult job, fist step is to remove the composite grated flooring and unbolt the sealed AL panel underneath to reveal the space where the prop shaft enters the boat. Then remove all 8 hardened bolts around the flanges, pull the flanges apart by sliding the prop shaft back a few inches and then moving it forward till the two flanges touch. Then you use feeler gauges to determine the exact size of any gap between the two flanges. In my case the gap was 0.06mm so it only required a tweak with a pry bar on the front of the Gardner to eliminate that and then I could torque the 8 bolts back to a grunt worthy 240 Newton Meters and the propulsion system was good to Go! It was also time to say bye bye to Mr. Gee’s original crankshaft and pack him all up for a safe trip back to Gardner Marine Diesel in Canterbury England where they will grind all the journals and have it ready to be installed in the next marine 6LXB engine they build.
At about 220kg / 485 Lbs, the wooden crate that GMD had made to send the new crank to me, would work well for the return flights and I added a few 2×2 timbers through screwed into the framing of their crate for good measure and one more component is Good to Go!
SkyBridge Lounge Act v1.0
As we are doing with many aspects of this very new boat, we are using this first year of living aboard to make lots of adjustments as we determine just how we tend to use various spaces and equipment and THEN we will build them in permanently. The most recent example is the layout and furniture for the upper SkyBridge area in front of the Helm Station.
What we decided to do is buy some inexpensive modular outdoor patio furniture which we could rearrange into various different configurations to see what we tended to gravitate to and use most often. Once we know that I can build in a more permanent set of furniture next year.
So Captain Christine has been on the hunt for the past few months at all the home supply stores here in Antalya and her choice arrived on this pallet on Wednesday. The L-shaped sectional couch and glass topped table are made from aluminium tube covered with plastic rattan like weaving so they are super lightweight and will work well in our salty environment.
Minutes later, the Captain could take the new lounge setup out for a quick test drive and seems to be pleased with her choices. I soon followed suit and am sitting here now typing up this blog post for you. Not a bad office, and one of several we no have onboard.
Wayne’s Newest Toy!
Christine and I are both running on fumes energy wise and so on Thursday we took the day off to drive about 2hrs north to the big city of Denizli where a brand new air compressor was waiting to be picked up. I had sent a new compressor over from Florida with all our other effects and boat parts a few years ago but it was DOA due to a faulty install and the best option for this critical bit of kit was to go for an upgraded new version which you see here on the Swim Platform Thursday afternoon.
2HP dual motors with dual compressors on each, 60L AL tank and super quiet!
I will soon be mounting this compressor under one of the AL workbenches in the Workshop where I will plumb it into the PVC pipes that run the full length of the Port side of the hull all the way up to the Forepeak with quick connect fittings in each area along the way. I’ve had compressed air on boats for so long I can’t imagine a boat without and use it daily for powering pneumatic tools such as sanders and impact guns and being able to clear out debris from clogged tubes and just general cleanup. Also super handy for quickly filling things like air mattresses and our inflatable kayak.
Compressed air is also how I clear any clogs in our Sea Chest with a quick blast in the fittings installed in each plexiglass lid.
But perhaps our favorite use is to supply the air for our two Hookah regulators which allow us to stay underwater with just a regulator in our mouth, no tanks, to do maintenance on the hull such as keeping the silicone foul release paint super slick and clean or to explore some of the nearby coral and underwater life around Möbius. We will also have a 12V Hookah setup in the Tender to be able to enjoy underwater wonders further afield.
Maiden Voyage v1.0
Still not quite believing it, we seemed to finally be ready to head out to open ocean waters for the first time and have Mr. Gee take Möbius and us out for our Maiden Voyage! With everything from Mr. Gee to so many other systems being all new or on version 2.0, we spent Friday morning checking everything over multiple times, getting Mr. Gee warmed up, bow thrusters working, steering working, charting and all nav systems working and at 13:20 Friday July 2nd, 2021 we cast off the dock lines and headed out through the breakwater of the Antalya harbour to officially begin our latest adventure.
In a rare attempt at brevity to try to say how pleased we are, I will simply show you a set of shots of the wake we left as we slowly increased the pitch and thus speed through the water as we pointed Möbius’ bow to the horizon. These shots of the wake behind Möbius at different speeds probably won’t be too exciting for many of you but for us, this is a huge part of the “proof of the pudding” from all the time we invested with Dennis in designing this hull to be eXtremely efficient for maximum speed with minimum power and fuel burn and to be slick, slippery and smooth as she slices through the water.
This is the wake at 7.2 kts off the Swim Platform. Longer range shot still at 7.2 kts 20 minutes later, dialing in a bit more pitch this is what it looked like at 8.5 kts Just a bit more speed with a bit more pitch but still keeping well under full load as we break in Mr. Gee very gently, this was our top speed for this first outing of 9.2 kts. I will publish tables of data like this in the coming weeks but one quick shot for those curious, this is the EGT and Fuel burn rate at 8.5 kts with Mr. Gee spinning at 1500 RPM. For reference, EGT at full continuous load rating for Mr. Gee at 1650 is 400C
After two hours testing out different pitch/speed combinations, some hard turns and circles to familiarize ourselves with steering and handling Captain Christine headed us for this small nearby uninhabited island. At her cue I dropped “Rocky” our 110Kg / 243 Lb Rocna anchor into the sea for his first bite of bottom sand. As usual for a Rocna he bit right away in about 30 feet of water, Christine backed down to give him a good pull for a few minutes and Möbius settled back with the 13mm / 1/2” chain hanging straight down in these calm waters. First order of business?
Our first dives off the Swim Platform!
(you can just make out Christine about to enjoy her first dive into these cool clear blue Aegean waters.) We swam around Möbius for the very fist time under Barney’s close scrutiny from deck. While this view of the shoreline of the mainland off our Port side isn’t too bad, what was breathtaking for us as we did our first lap around Möbius, was to be looking up to see our visions we developed over all these past years now be a realty looming overhead.
Suffice it to say that our fist night at anchor was pure bliss!
Oh, and for those curious, Mr. Gee performed flawlessly throughout the 5.5 hours we ran him out and back on this Maiden Voyage. Here is a shot of his oil pressure and oil temperature after running at various loads for about 2 hours on the way back to the marina on Saturday doing about 8.5 kts @ 1500 RPM. As happy as you can imagine we were when we returned to the marina yesterday afternoon after about 3 hours of more testing and maneuvering, we are even MORE excited here on Sunday night as we fly to Istanbul in the morning to meet our daughter Lia, husband Brian and our two granddaughters Brynn and Blair! This is a family get together that has been delayed for over 2 years and we are eXtremely eXcited to see this vision also become reality and I’ll have a bit more about this in next week’s post when we fly back here with all of them next Thursday.
Thanks for joining us through this eXtremely long and winding adventure that it has taken us to get here. Hope you have enjoyed it and we will continue to keep you posted as we switch into cruising mode and can provide more of the real world data and experiences aboard XPM78-01 Möbius that many of you are apparently anxious to receive.
Whew, I am one pooped pirate! Partly because like many of you apparently, we have had an eXtremely HOT week here in Antalya weather wise with daily highs around 40C/104F and we hit 42C/108F yesterday during the day and only dropped down to about 30C/86F for the evening so its been a bit toasty. And as “luck” would have it, being out of the water right now we can’t run our AirCon system as it requires seawater for its cooling pump.
Things have also been smokin’ hot progress wise this week as the GA1 aka Gardner Army of One aka yours truly continues to put in very full days getting Mr. Gee, our beloved Gardner 6LXB main (and only) engine, all back together again, running and soon thereafter ………………… splashing back into the water!
Captain Christine and I are now affectionately referring to him as Mr. Gee 2.0 which seems appropriate as he really has been “born again” as this is his 2nd full renovation after the first one I did last year after we acquired Mr. Gee from a tugboat on the Thames River in England. As all you regular readers know from following along on this adventure (Thanks!!), we had a disheartening debacle during the first few minutes of the first sea trial when the CPP Pitch lever was pushed fully forward to maximum pitch which put an eXtremely large and sustained overload condition rather than the gradual breaking in of this brand new engine that the hired captain had been asked to do.
As all you faithful followers now know, this required that we lift Mr. Gee up about 1 meter above his comfy Engine Room bed to allow me to do a second full tear down in order to replace the crankshaft, bearings, rings, etc. with all new parts and get Mr. Gee back to his next new life. Hence version 2.0 which should last us for many decades to come which is the norm for these eXtremely strong and simple Gardner engines.
So I will pick up where I left off last week, with the last of the reassembly process, lowering Mr. Gee back down onto his Engine Beds and hopefully getting him running again, adjusted and ready to go back where he and we belong; in the water!
Ready? Got a comfy chair in a cool spot with a cool beverage? Great, let’s jump right in……………
Even the Turkish Polish Approve!
Mid morning on Monday (June 21, 2021) as I was working away on Mr. Gee in the Engine Room, I heard a knock on the hull and a voice calling to me. You can picture my face as I emerged to find five fully uniformed Turkish Marine Police standing on the Swim Platform and peeking through the door into the Workshop! What else would a Canadian say but “Hi, can I help you and would you like to come in?
We had seen the TraveLift pull up in front of us with this relatively new Police Patrol boat as this was where the marina staff do all the pressure washing of vessels that get hauled out so we didn’t think anything more of it.
Turns out that they had seen Möbius for some time and had been quite intrigued by this very unusual almost military looking boat and wanted to know all about it.
Turns out that they are in the process of designing their next new boat and the Captain on the far Left in the photo below, was very taken with the design and features of Möbius and wanted to know much more about it.
The Officer in the middle here spoke quite a bit of English so he did all the translations for the others and they spent about an hour with us asking more and more questions. As usual Barney was an instant hit and spent the whole time being held and well attended to by all the officers as they spent about an hour onboard with us until their boat was ready to go back into the water and they had to leave.
Now THAT is the way to be boarded by the marine Police!
Making Mr. Gee 2.0 Better Yet
When I do repairs on boats I always try to do more than “just” fix the problem and do some things which will make the boat better than before and so I took a bit of time to give some of Mr. Gee’s parts a fresh new coat of tough epoxy paint.
I set up this temporary workbench outside with my trusty grinder and wire wheel to clean up parts such as these main bearing cap cross bolts, nuts and washers. I also decided to change a few of these external parts to a contrasting glossy Black rather then the previous Burgundy color to make Mr. Gee even classier than he already was. Oil Filter housing and cap on the Left then Fuel Lift Pump, Oil Heat Exchanger Pump, and Oil Pressure relief valve on the far Right. The kind, wise and beautiful Captain decided to treat me to a bit of a “makeover” as well by having her print shop buddy she had gotten to know over the past 3 years, to print and bind the Gardner parts and technical manuals that I rely on SO much every day. I only had the one on the far Left previously printed a few years ago but had since acquired several even better ones and a full parts manual (top middle) and so it was a wonderful surprise when the printer dropped them off with his son as they too wanted to get a tour of Möbius.
Back On His Feet Again!
When we left off last week, I had the new crankshaft in place along with all its attached bearings, connecting rods, pistons, rings, etc. and had bolted up the massive cast AL oil sump to the bottom so Mr. Gee was now ready to be reunited with his buddy “Normy” the Nogva CPP or Controllable Pitch Propeller gear box.
This required lowering Mr. Gee from his lofty position you see here, and he also needed to move aft about 25cm/1 ft so that their two mating SAE housing surfaces lined up precisely.
I called for the expert, Captain Christine ** to run the front chain block while I managed the aft end where hidden from view inside the AL housing on the bottom here is the CentaMax flexible coupling. ** Note the Captain’s hair here. You’ll understand why at the end.
The massive torque Mr. Gee puts out gets smoothly transferred to the Nogva CPP via this CentaMax 1600 SAE14 flexible drive system which makes it relatively easy to line up all those aluminium “fingers” with their mating U shaped grooves in the thick rubber disk that is bolted to the input shaft of the Nogva gearbox. I had rigged up two chain hoists for just this reason as it made it easy to adjust the angle as we lowered Mr. Gee in place and put him back on his Feet again where he attaches to the 25mm/1” thick AL engine beds on either side.
Click to enlarge and immediately above that Blue masking tape patch, you can see the outer AL portion of the CentaMax drive that is bolted to the Gardner’s flywheel sitting in between the Burgundy Nogva SAE 14 housing and the matching Gardner flywheel housing. Going in stages down and aft and wiggling the suspended Mr. Gee, it was quite easy to get the two halves of the CentaMax drive system lined up and slid together.
Lined up perfectly here and just the last centimeter to go. That last cm is a bit trickier as these two housings had to line up precisely to allow the sliding fit of the hardened bolts to go through their holes on the Noga and thread into the holes on the Gardner’s AL housing. But didn’t take too much “wiggling” to get them lined up and you can see the bolts now in place here so Mr. Gee and Normy are solid once again!
Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again
Now it was largely a matter of putting all of the removed parts back onto Mr. Gee which is quite straightforward but does take time as you have to fit all new gaskets and seals, adjust things like valve clearances, injection timing and so on. Having already done this once before helped it go very smoothly and the new manuals and sage advise via WhatsApp text messages from my Gardner expert and counsellor, Michael Harrison at Gardner Marine Diesel in Canterbury England who is always ready to provide me with invaluable assistance.
Thanks Michael and all your crew at GMD.
Shiny Black Oil Filter housing with original Gardner Brass Oil Temp thermometer in the bottom Right and I’m also now installing all the copper external oil tubes and fuel lines.
While I was at it, I freshened up the Gardner logos with matching Black paint background and repolished the raised logos on the six access ports on the upper sides of the cylinder heads. These covers are now bolted on and take their place along with the three matching Gardner logos I have also freshened up on the Fuel Injection Pump assembly below. A bit closer look at where the oil tube attaches to the bronze manifold on the side of the Oil Filter housing below the Oil Pressure gauge and carries fresh pressurized oil into galleries cast into the cylinder heads which pump oil into each of the valve rocker arms to keep them well lubricated and smoothly running for decades to come.
Hand Crank Starting System!
This is perhaps Captain Christine’s favorite features of Mr. Gee, his hand crank starter! Yes, you read that right and No I am not kidding, should our starter or batteries fail it is no problem to start Mr. Gee by hand cranking him!
Top chainwheel is connected to a long shaft that runs all the way to the handle on the aft end and then the chain goes down around the Black chainwheel at the very bottom here which is attached to the crankshaft. Careful observers will also note the AL idler chainwheel in the bottom Right corner that keeps the tension on the chain just right. Here is the long drive shaft I mentioned above, making its way to the very back of the engine where the hand crank attaches.
While the hand crank was a standard Gardner option, they had changed to put the crank handle on the front of the 6LXB models and so I had to do quite a bit of tricky engineering using Gardner parts from the old and new models along with some that I machined myself to keep the hand crank at the rear as there is no room to do this at the front on Möbius. As you can see here the fit is just a wee bit close!
But it works like a charm and I use this hand crank almost every day when I need to rotate the crank to a new position for doing valve or injection timing and things like that.
I will do a little video of hand starting Mr. Gee in the next few weeks for you non-believers!
Cogged Belt Drive Alternator & SW Pump
As tricky as the hybrid old/new hand crank system was, the true test was this cogged belt drive system I designed and built for Mr. Gee to power one of the two monster Electrodyne 250Ah @ 28V alternators (the 2nd one is powered by the built in Gardner PTO) and the bronze sea water pump that circulates cool seawater through all the heat exchangers and the wet exhaust system.
You can see the 3 special pulleys for the cogged belt’s “cogs” to run in and many of you would know these systems as serpentine belts or timing belts which drive the camshafts in most modern engines both gas and diesel for the past 30+ years. Super long lasting with zero slippage and able to drive large loads with no belt wear or stretching. Easy to see how this works when I fit the cogged belt loosely in place around all three pulleys.
I won’t bore you with all that it took to design, build and mount this this cogged belt system, at least not now, trust me when I say that this eXtremely unique to Möbius setup was a very fun challenge and I’m delighted with how well it all worked out.
One of the reasons why these belt systems are so widely used and so long lasting is that they also require zero maintenance or adjusting. This is partly achieved by the special Kevlar reinforced cogged belts, and I chose ones by Gates as they are the most commonly available worldwide. But the real trick to long, maintenance free life is that they use a heavy spring loaded belt tensioner to keep the tension always the same Goldilocks just right amount.
So I ordered a Gates tensioner pulley that is used on Toyota and many many other brands, again for worldwide parts availability, and them built the AL plate to mount it on that you see bolted to the Gardner AL A-frame for the Hand Crank chainwheel up on top. It was difficult to film single handed but to install the belt in the photo above, I just pull the spring loaded Black pulley up and slide the belt underneath.
Est voilà c’est tout!!
As timing belts in cars and trucks, these belt systems last for 100-150,00 miles of use under much more stress and strain so this setup should outlast me and Mr. Gee!
However, should this belt ever fail, there is a spare new one mounted above and as you have seen here it would take mere seconds and NO tools, to install a new one in an emergency at sea.
Fuel Injection System
The final and perhaps most important system to install is the Fuel Injection Pump, pipework’s and Injectors.
The Injection Pump that creates the eXtremely high pressure that forces the diesel fuel to atomise as it exits the tiny little holes in the tips of the injectors, is seen here with the 6 vertical Black “priming” levers. This is one of the 6 injectors and as is the norm with Gardners, these are all mechanical and super simple. No moving parts inside just eXtremely precisely machined parts to ensure a smooth travel of the high pressure diesel from the pump down the the 3 holes in the bottom of the injector nozzle. One of the features of a Gardner that I SO appreciate is that they designed and built them with servicing and service people in mind. What a concept!
In this case, I wanted to test each injector to make doubly sure they were all working and putting out the same injector pattern. Need to take to a Gardner testing shop? Nope!!
Just rotate the fuel pipe that connects the Fuel Injection Pump to the Injector body so it is outside the engine, tighten the injector to the pipe and then give the Priming Lever a few sharp hard pulls while you watch the spray pattern coming out of the 3 holes in the nozzle.
KISS at its best! Smart, Simple, Safe! All 6 injectors had the exact same spray pattern and so they were ready to drop gently in place into the cylinder heads and toque down the simple lever arm that holds the tapered end of the injector body against the matching face inside the head. No gaskets or seals requires, simple metal to metal tapered seat sealing.
I finally treated myself to a 1/4” drive torque wrench and this was its first use to torque down the 6 fuel injector body clamps just right. The threaded hold down “nuts” are castellated rather than hex head so I made up this special tool to fit and enable me to use the torque wrench to tighten them precisely. Used and old socket and my handy dandy Dremel tool to cut away these 4 teeth to fit the slots in the nuts. Together with my lovely new 1/4” torque wrench this worked like a charm and the injectors were quickly torqued down to factory specs and I could finish tightening up all the Black pipes to each injector and the return ones which take the unused fuel back to the tank. All the fuel injection pipes in place and torqued to the Injection Pump Body. Fuel injection system installed, tested and ready for service Captain Christine!
About all that’s left now before starting Mr. Gee up is to pour in the 28 liters of oil and 24 liters of water (to be replaced with antifreeze when fully tested for leaks and such) which is what I did just before starting to write up this blog post. So I will leave you here for now.
What’s that you say?
How dare I leave you hanging like this?
What more could you possibly want???
Oh, you wanted to know if Mr. Gee started??!?!?!?
Well, OK then, seeing as how you have been such patient boys and girls throughout Mr. Gee’s version 2.0 rebuild ………………..
LOVE that sound! Truly music to our ears!
We only ran Mr. Gee for a few minutes today because we are on the hard and have no seawater source.
I’ll have more testing and updates for you next week but as you have just seen, Mr. Gee 2.0 is ALIVE! and running once again!
I know all of Mr. Gee’s loyal fan base will be disappointed but this is likely the second to last episode in the Low Oil Pressure Season of As Mr. Gee Turns. Have no fear however as I am already cueing up the next Season where Mr. Gee will be living up to the series title as he turns his crankshaft round and round with ease to similarly powers Möbius’ CPP propeller to spin as we go round and round this awemazing world of ours.
Those of you who are waiting on the edge of your seats for the final outcome of this season’s mystery thriller to find out who it is that is finally found guilty of murdering poor Mr. Gee will be glad to know that the jury is finally back with its definitive verdict! The title of this week’s update will give you a clue but you’ll have to read on to find out who turned out to be the dastardly killer on that ill fated maiden sea trial.
With that baited opening, let’s jump right in and pick up where we left off last week.
Circumstantial Evidence is Suspect for Good Reason!
In typical TV Series fashion, here is a quick summary of “as seen in previous episodes” …………
All of you who have been following along so closely (thanks!) will recall that from the very beginning the prime suspect in this murder mystery has been “Nick”, this mysterious dent in the steel oil pipe inside the crankshaft that carries the vital pressurized oil from the main bearings up to the connecting rod bearings.
It will likely remain a mystery as to what/how/who could have inflicted this dent in the oil pipe to begin with but the suspicion has been that Nick created a hole or a thin crack in the oil pipe at cylinder #1 and when Mr. Gee got up to operating temperature and loads, the oil sprayed out of the oil tube causing the deadly loss of oil pressure and the subsequent destruction of the main and connecting rod bearings. When I did the first full factory level rebuild of Mr. Gee las year and found Nick hiding in the recess of the lightening hole at Cylinder #1 my conclusion after doing some preliminary testing was that it was “just” a nick and that the walls of the oil pipe had not been breached and did not leak. However, after the sudden loss of oil pressure during the first sea trial and the subsequent discovery upon tearing down Mr. Gee of this catastrophic failure of the main and connecting rod bearings you can see here, all the evidence pointed to me having been wrong about the oil tube and I immediately gave myself a good kick in the a$$ and pleaded guilty of letting Mr. Gee and the whole Gardner engine family down by not living up to the highest level of Gardner standards for 100% confidence inspiring quality of workmanship.
In that first rebuild, I took what I thought at the time was more than enough of a “belt & suspenders” approach when I silver soldered Nick for an extra measure of security just in case there was a hole or a crack in the oil tube. However, as the evidence accumulated as I stripped poor Mr. Gee naked, it all pointed to ME having screwed up by not replacing the crankshaft of at least replacing the oil tube with a new one.
Circumstantial Evidence Just Won’t Do
When I removed the crankshaft and was able to inspect it even more carefully, it still did not appear that there was any hole or crack in the oil tube BUT this time I was going to leave nothing to chance and so I had a whole new crankshaft along with a lot of other parts, gaskets, filters, etc. shipped from Gardner Marine Diesel in Canterbury England and they all arrived just in time last week.
However, I was just not going to be able to SWAN or Sleep Well At Night just putting Humpty Dumpty aka Mr. Gee back together again with just all this circumstantial evidence. I had to know for sure what had caused the oil pressure to drop and the bearings to fail.
So I came up with a way to test the suspected oil tube and prove once and for all if it was the guilty party or not?
First, I threaded one end of the oil tube and screwed in a SS set screw coated with sealing compound. Next, I taped the other end of the oil tube where it exited out of the main bearing journal with an M6 thread. This kind of rigorous laboratory testing does not come cheap and unfortunately two innocent bicycle tubes paid the ultimate price and gave their lives to the cause. They contributed these two valve stems, which were the key to this test by allowing me to pressurize the oil tube to a known level and keep it there. I carry a full set of Imperial, Metric, British Standard and Whitworth taps and dies (the tools that cut male/female threads in metal) and so I quickly cut some M6 threads on the valve stem I liked the most. And screwed it into the open end of the oil tube which I had previously tapped above with matching M6 threads.
I removed the valve from the stem and poured 10W40 engine oil to fill up the oil tube and put the valve back in. Out came my trusty hand pump which also has a gauge at its base and I pumped it up to about 120PSI, which is more than three times the normal 38 PSI oil pressure of a Gardner 6LXB. I had my hands full so didn’t get any photos, but I then used my industrial heat gun to heat up the oil tube and the surrounding area of the crankshaft to about 70C / 160F which is higher than the normal operating temperature of oil in a 6LXB which is about 60C. Having replicated all the conditions the oil tube would have been under when Mr. Gee was spinning away on that fateful day, this test would tell me once and for all if there was the least bit of leakage of oil from this oil tube.
Prior to testing, I had scrubbed the whole area around the oil tube surgically clean so even a drop of oil would be easy to see. It was with very mixed emotions that after repeated tests, not a single drop or dribble of oil emerged!
Nice to be vindicated and have proved that either the dent or Nick had not penetrated the walls of the tube and/or my silver solder patch had done the job.
Nick was immediately released from custody with the sincere apologies of this kangaroo court, but I was now left back where I started, not knowing what the source of the problem was!
So I did what you do in such situations, you“go to the mattresses” and call in the experts. In this case I reached out to my two best experts in such areas; Michael Harrison who is “Mr. Gardner” and owns/runs Gardner Marine in Canterbury and Greg, one of my longest running best friends from back in the days when we were both working nights and weekends as heavy duty mechanics at a large lumber trucking company in Vancouver BC while we were both going to a combination of UBC the University of British Columbia and BCIT the British Columbia Institute of Technology, to become Industrial Education teachers aka “Shop Teachers”.
I had been in touch with Michael and Greg since the low oil pressure fiasco had begun and was sharing lots of photos online and daily updates as I worked on Mr. Gee. Michael, who has worked on hundreds of Gardner powered boats all over the world, came up with the key when he posited that we/me were thinking about this backwards. It was not that the wear on the bearings was caused by low oil pressure, it was the other way around! The low oil pressure was CAUSED BY the wearing of the bearing material which allowed more and more oil to escape out the growing space as the bearing material wore away.
OK you might ask, but then what caused the wear in the fist place?!?!?!
If you really want to know the answer to this question, please keep reading but there are no photos to go with this so it will just be my text based explanation to walk you through it. You will be fully forgiven if you want to skip down to where we resume our normal photo based programming!
After walking through the events more thoroughly and with Michael’s vast experience with Gardner engines and Greg’s decades of experience with diesel truck engines of all kinds and then my notes and recollection of the events leading up to the failure, we were able to figure out the TWO contributing factors that caused to the rapid wearing of the bearings and the subsequent loss of oil pressure.
Factor #1 is that I had reused Mr. Gee’s original crankshaft “as is”. That is to say I did not replace it or send it out to have all the journal surfaces reground.
I have rebuilt a LOT of engines over the past 50 years and what you/I normally do is completely inspect the crankshaft of the engine you are rebuilding. You use very accurate micrometers to measure the diameter and concentricity of all the journals and compare these to the factory specifications to determine what amount of wear had taken place over the life of that engine/crankshaft. Then you also carefully inspect all the surfaces of the old bearings and the crankshaft journals with a magnifying glass for any wear, grooves, scratches, etc. If the crankshaft is within specs, not worn and all the journal surfaces are still like new, then you can reuse that crankshaft. If not you most often send it out to have all the journals ground down smooth and use oversize bearings to make up for the material that has been ground off.
Factor #2, is that one of the two captains who had been hired to take Möbius out on sea trials prior to Christine and I accepting the boat from the builder and taking full possession and responsibility of the boat, did not have any experience or knowledge of CPP or Controllable Pitch Propellers. It did not seem like a major issue at the time as I explained how they worked and showed him how to slowly move the Pitch lever at the Helm forward to increase the Pitch angle and cause the CPP prop to “bite” or grab the water more and more to pick up boat speed through the water. I showed him the Pitch gauge and explained that he needed to increase the pitch very slowly and not to take it past half way during this first test while we were “breaking” everything in.
With the engine being brand new and coming up to temperature for the fist time, there was some smoke coming off the engine from all the new paint and left over bits of grease and oil from working on the engine so I had left the Helm and gone back to keep a close eye on Mr. Gee as he went through his paces. While I was there I tell from the sound that the engine was under a lot of load and I saw that the oil pressure gauge had dropped to just below 20 PSI and I immediately pulled Mr. Gee’s shutoff lever and shut him down. But it was too late, the damage as it turns out had already been done!
What had happened was that the Pitch lever had been pushed all the way forward which dialed in the maximum pitch angle on the four massive prop blades and with Mr. Gee running at lower RPM of about 1100 this massive sustained load had caused the brand new bearing surfaces to rapidly wear under the load as the original crankshaft journal surfaces labored over them. For those of you who have driven a standard shift car or truck, this would be like trying to climb a steep hill in high gear with the “pedal to the metal”. You get the idea!
Now the puzzle pieces all fell into place; the huge loads on the new bearing surfaces had worn rapidly which increased the microscopic space where the oil normally keeps the two surfaces from touching and so as this space increased with the ongoing wear, more and more oil was able to escape or “leak” out the sides and fall back into the oil sump. A vicious cycle then repeats itself with more wear leading to lower oil pressure which leads to more wear which leads to ………… where we are today!
While disappointing to say the least, at least I was now confident that we had found the true cause of the wear and the low oil pressure and Michael added that he had seen this exact same scenario play out on several Gardner powered boats over the past 20+ years so I can at least SWAN and get on with putting Mr. Gee back together again with his all new crankshaft, bearings and even more TLC than I already lavish upon him.
OK, back to our regular Show & Tell programming!
In Go the Pistons
When I left off last week, I had installed the new crankshaft and main bearings so now it was time to install the pistons and their con rod bearings which you see here as they come out of the Gardner factory box. Here are two of the six pistons as I prep them to be installed. Yes they are massive, each piston displaces a volume of 1750cc on each power stroke. NO! that is not a typo, that means that the volume of each one of these six cylinders is larger than most 4 cylinder engines in the cars you drive! Each cylinder has been freshly honed to create the Goldilocks surface finish for the new rings to all seat in just right. This original Gardner illustration out of one of the manuals I have will help show the relationship between the pistons, crankshaft, connecting rods, etc.. Each piston is liberally coated with clean engine oil and then very gently lowered into its cylinder.
Each of the three rings are then compressed so that they fit inside the cylinder and when the last ring is in the piston slides down the last bit to where the top con rod bearing rests on the awaiting con rod journal. Next I rotate the crankshaft 90 degrees to put the con rod at its lowest position so I can install the bearing caps. The coloured plastic tubes are there to make sure that the four con rod bolts can never Nick (remember him??) the journal surfaces as it is lowered in place. Now I can slide each con rod bearing cap in place over those four bolts and cinch down the nuts in stages to the Gardner specified torque. Here is the last Piston/Con Rod on Cylinder #6 with the protective cardboard wrapper still on the journal which I now remove, turn the crank 90 degrees to put the journal up at Top Dead Center or TDC and lower Piston #6 in place.
A classic example of just how and why Gardner engines are so robust and long lasting is this added feature that creates one of the most solid “bottom ends” of any engine I know. In addition to the massive aluminium caps that hold the main bearings in place, these two cross rods run through each of those caps and create a super solid main bearing system to keep that crankshaft rotating merrily for many many years. Once all 12 of those cross rods are torqued down and all the pistons have been installed and their caps fully torqued down the “Bottom End” as it is called is now all assembled and the last remaining item is to install the external pipework assembly that takes the pressurized oil to those holes you see in the flat oval bosses with 2 bolts in them here.
Main Bearing Lube Oil Pipework Assembly
Here is that lubricating oil pipework’s all disassembled ready for final cleaning and then installation of the sealing O rings that go inside each of the cast iron junctions that bolt to the main bearing caps you see in the photo above. Five of the seven main bearing fittings are assembled here and then ……. …… they slide into this T junction where the oil comes in from the oil pump and filter and get distributed fore and aft to all 7 of the main bearings.
BTW, for those wondering why the wear on the bearings #1 and 2 up at the front was the most and then became a bit less as you went aft, you can now see why as bearing on Cylinder #1 is at “the end of the line” or furthest away from the source of the oil pressure. So as the wear began and the oil leaked out, the pressure drop became progressively greater as it worked its way back from this T joint.
Piston Head Clearance
I won’t bore you with the full installation but there are lots of critical dimensions that need to be measured as you assemble a new engine and one of these you see here which is measuring the exact distance from the top of the piston to the top freshly ground surface of the surrounding cylinder block. I set up my dial indicator on top of the piston and move the piston to exactly Top Dead Center TDC and set the dial to Zero at this position. Then I rotate the dial indicator so that the pointer now rests on the cylinder block surface and check how much higher this is.
If you look at the photo above you can see that the difference is 0.015 or 15 thousandths of an inch and the factory specification is that it must be between 0.012 and 0.020 so this is Goldilocks “just right”.
Heads Go On
With the Bottom End all now fully assembled it is time to move up top and put the two heads back on. Freshly cleaned studs are all installed with Loctite to keep them properly torqued for the next 50 years.
Wondering what all the black “donut holes” surrounding each cylinder are?? These allow the coolant (water + antifreeze) to circulate between the lower cylinder block and the upper heads to keep everything at just the right operating temperature which in the case of a 6LXB is quite low at about 60C / 140F whereas modern engines run at about 80 – 95C. Obviously that coolant needs to say where it belongs and not lead out into the cylinders so this is the smart simple way Gardner seals each connection. The silver ferrules slide through the fat O-ring and them you press fit this assembly into each hole in the cylinder block. When the head is bolted down it squishes each rubber O-ring to form a permanent watertight seal. Thin steel head gaskets go on next to create the extremely critical seal that keeps all the huge pressures created when each cylinder fires to stay inside and provide the massive “push” of each piston as it travels downward creating all the HP and especially so the massive torque or “twisting power” that Gardner engines are so renowned for. Everything all done in the Engine Room and now time to prep the cylinder heads to be installed. I’d estimate that Mr. Gee had a total run time so far of less than 5 hours so it was pretty quick and easy to clean up each head and the valves of the carbon deposits from that run time. My best guesstimate is that each head weighs about 70kg/155lb so hoisting the off my workbench and up on top of all those studs and lining them all up so the head slides down onto the cylinder block is some eXtremely good eXercise! Front head goes on first as I have to slide in the ground shafts that each valve rocker arm rotates on so I install all the rocker arms, push rods and decompression levers first and then hoist the aft cylinder head into place and do the same valve assembly to it.
One of the last steps before I can lower Mr. Gee back in place and attach him to his buddy “Normy”, the Nogva CPP gear box, is to lift that humungous flywheel back up and slide it onto those 6 big studs you can see sticking out of the aft end of the crankshaft in the bottom Right.
I’m in fairly good shape and so is Christine but this flywheel is about 125mm/5” thick solid steel and weighs in at a svelte 120Kg / 265lbs so I used my brains instead of my “brawn” and rigged up some of our triple blocks that we will use to hoist our Tender Davit up and down and rigged them with some stronger than steel Dyneema line to make it eXtremely easy to lift the flywheel back up in place and line it up with all those bolts. Once I had torqued down the six bolts that hold the flywheel solidly onto the end of the crankshaft I could lift the other half of the flywheel housing in place and bolt those two halves together. This solid pair of housing create the big flat surface for the two rear engine mounting brackets to bolt to so they go on next. I custom designed these last year and we fabricated them out of 25mm / 1” thick AL plate that is TIG welded together and then each of these have the vibration dampening engine “feet” or mounts bolted to them and these feet are then bolted to the 25mm thick engine beds below. This is where I left Mr. Gee hanging a few hours ago and while it was Fathers Day today, it felt appropriate that as Mr. Gee’s “Dad” I should be giving him all this TLC and attention today.
I hope all you Dads out there had a fabulous Father’s Day that was just right, just for you!
So this is where I will also leave all of you “hanging” for this episode of As Mr. Gee Turns and I hope to have him fully mounted and possibly running again in time to bring you perhaps the final episode of the season!
Thanks for your time to join me here today for this latest Möbius Show & Tell, and please come join me again next week to find out how this season ends and I do hope you will add your comments and questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
Last week’s title teased you with “Mr. Gee The Whole Story of the Hole” but turns out there is more to the story so that will be the focus of this week’s update with Part II of the story of the hole in Mr. Gee’s crankshaft. This whole saga has become a bit of murder mystery story as I try to find who/what/how of the “murder” of Mr. Gee when he lost most of his oil pressure while out on his first sea trial run and there may well be a Part III next week! Being a single engine boat, it is imperative that Christine and I can have 100% confidence in Mr. Gee so I need to make sure that I have tracked down the murderer as well as any accomplices and know that I have fully solved the case for certain and can get Mr. Gee back to better than new condition. We need him to be in tip top condition so he can power us through all our upcoming eXtreme eXploration Passages as we get back to sailing the world’s seas.
But enough intro, grab a comfy seat and beverage and join me on this Week’s episode of As Mr. Gee Turns
A Whole New Ocean to eXplore!
Getting Mr. Gee back to better than new condition became all the more important now that there is a whole new ocean for us to eXplore with our XPM!
In case you missed it, this week National Geographic officially announced that in addition to the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans, our awemazing world now has a new Fifth ocean: the icy waters surrounding Antarctica below the Earth’s southern 60th parallel which is officially being named the Southern Ocean.
This newest ocean is also quite unique in that it is not defined the same way the other four are, by the land masses that surround them. Instead he Southern Ocean is defined by the rapid currents in the oceans to the north which circles the Earth from west to east around Antarctica in a band centered around a latitude of 60 degrees south.
I like to live life practicing what I call “Readiness for the Unexpected” and so this is a perfect example which helps explain some of the reasons why XPM78-01 Möbius has been so overbuilt which such thick hull plates, massive keel bar and better insulated than a Thermos bottle! Look for lots more stories and photos in upcoming blog posts when we are out eXploring this “new” Southern Ocean in the coming years.
Telling the Whole Hole Story
Picking up where I left off in last week’s Möbius Update posting, this colored illustration of the internal and external pathways of the engine oil in a Gardner 6LXB engine. Look at the Brown colored path at the bottom where the oil pump in the bottom right corner pumps oil directly to a series of external pipework’s that supply pressurized oil to each of the seven crankshaft main bearings.
This is what the crankshaft itself looks like.
Zooming in on the crankshaft the dotted lines in this illustration shows the suspected oil tubes which provide the pathway for the pressurized oil to go from the main bearing journal at #2 over to the connecting rod journal. Thanks to “Mr. Gardner” aka Michael Harrison who runs Gardner Marine Diesel in Canterbury England, he was even able to get me this original drawing from the Gardner factory where his father worked for most of his working life.
* I have circled the suspect oil tubes in red and ask the court to record these for evidence please.
With Mr. Gee’s crankshaft now removed I can do a much better job of showing you this mug shot of the prime suspect in this Whodunit mystery. Hiding inside the bored out “lightening holes” inside the chrome molly crankshaft, you can now clearly see one of these oil tubes. Each oil tube exits either the Main Bearing journal or the Con Rod journal like this. The oil tubes are centered on the journal so that the pressurized oil can circulate through the grooves you see in each bearing shell. While only a micron thick, the oil between the surface of the journals and the surface of the bearings is just enough to ensure that these surfaces never touch so there is never any physical contact of these two metal surfaces.
However, as you can see by all the copper that has been exposed when the two upper layers of these bearings has been worn away, there has been some serious “touching” going on inside Mr. Gee when that crucial oil pressure dropped. OK, we have lots of evidence and we’re getting closer to solving this crime, but where’s the smoking gun or other explanation for WHAT caused the drop in oil pressure in the first place?
When I was first rebuilding Mr. Gee and I was cleaning the crankshaft prior to installing it over a year ago, I happened to notice that there was a strange and nasty “nick” hiding in the dark recess of the oil tube going out to the journal for Piston #1.
Again, I have circled the suspect oil tube “nick” in red and ask the court to record these for evidence please. I discussed this at length with Michael @ GMD and we both poured over lots of photos and did a LOT of head scratching. In the end, Michael had never seen anything like this in the hundreds of Gardner engines he has worked on and so to this day, it remains an unsolved mystery as to what or how anything heavy enough could get in here and cause this nick, but there it was, plain as day.
And now for my full disclosure and mea culpa!
With the clarity that hindsight always provides, I can clearly see that I screwed up!
I tested the oil tube as best I could and the nick seemed to have just dented the tube not cracked or penetrated it. So rather than fixing this fully by machining a new oil tube, (which I now have this original Garner factory dimensioned drawing of thanks to again to Michael) and then pressing out the old and in the new, I decided to repair the existing oil tube by silver soldering the nick. Here is what that repaired area looks like today and if you click to enlarge you can see the silver solder filling the nick. I have taken more than 50 photos of this nick using all sorts of different lighting and camera positions and this is one of the best close ups that is in reasonable focus. Is there a hole or a crack in there? Perhaps and I have again tried to pressure test this tube but can’t do so with much more than a few PSI and it does not leak at this pressure. BUT I submit to the court, that the circumstantial evidence supports the charge that when the engine and the oil heats up and the pressure is running around 40 PSI, then oil could be forced through a pinhole or hairline crack sufficient to cause the drop in oil pressure and all the subsequent wear seen here on the Main bearings getting progressively less from Cylinder #1 back. However, I still plead GUILTY as charged of screwing up and I offer my sincere apologies to Mr. Gee and the entire Gardner family! I can only assure you that such non Gardner like behavior shall never happen again!
Reinforcements have Arrived!
Having suspected that this nick was the source of the problem as soon as it happened almost two months ago, I made the call shortly afterwards to “go big or go home” and ordered a whole new crankshaft, bearings, gaskets, valves, pistons, etc. from GMD. Shipping things into Turkey is usually fraught with problems and lots of “extra” charges so I decided to order all these 2 months ago and after “only” $2k in “extra” fees, Alaaddin arrived in this truck last week. Inside was this beautiful box which the good lads at GMD had made up to safely carry the little 240kg crankshaft and all the other parts from Canterbury to Setur Marina in Antalya. Everything was well packed and all parts arrived in perfect condition. Most importantly including this freshly machined original marine version Gardner 6LXB crankshaft!
Did I have to go this route? Could I not have machined a new oil tube now that I have the drawings and pressed it in place? Sure, but I also needed to find a machine shop capable of re-machining the Main and Con Rod journals on Mr. Gee’s now damaged crankshaft and given my recent mea culpa experience and promise to Mr. Gee AND Captain Christine, this was a no brainer decision and just one of those expensive lessons in life.
About four years ago, while Christine and I were living in Portugal for six months, I had Michael ship Mr. Gee to me shortly after he found this completely original marine 6LXB and I took every single nut, bolt and part off to thoroughly clean, inspect, replace as needed and then start a full rebuild with all new factory parts including pistons, cylinder liners, bearings, valves, and pretty much every part other than the large aluminium and cast iron castings.
At that time I removed the crankshaft the hard way, without the benefit of any of the specialty tools that one should really have to fully rebuild a Gardner. One of these is this special tool for removing the pressed in solid AL caps that hold the Main Bearings in place. Here is an illustration from one of my original Gardner manuals showing the crankcase upside down with one of those “saddle” style Main Bearing caps removed. The challenge is that these are a very tight press fit into the machined surfaces of the crankcase so it takes a LOT of force to get them out. James at GMD was kind enough to take some photos with a ruler for reference dimensions of the Main Bearing Cap removal tool that they use. I had to guess at a few of the dimensions but those photos were enough for me to be able to use Fusion 360 to create this 3D model of a Gardner Main Bearing Cap removal tool.
I sent a copy of these files to Michael and James at GMD and got them to check the critical dimensions which required a bit of tweaking of my model. But I was quickly able to generate these 2D dimensioned drawings and get started making one. Alaaddin was his usual helpful “fixer” self and brought my drawings to a local machine shop for them to fabricate all the parts and he was soon back at Möbius with this for me to test out. I made a few modifications to get it just right and soon had this new tool mounted on the Rear Main Bearing cap #7 for the first test run. Worked like a charm by allowing me to tighten that big hex nut on the tool which pulls the AL bearing cap by pushing on the two big 16mm / 5/8” bearing studs. and out comes the cap!
One down, six more to go…….. And I soon had all seven Main Bearing caps added to the growing collection of parts on my workbench center table.
Let the jury please note again the evidence consistent with the murder charge against Mr. Nick as you can clearly see now the wear is most at Main Bearing #1 and gets less and less as you move aft to #7. All this after less than 5 hours run time total and less than one hour with the lower oil pressure.
Out with the Old!
Replacing a crankshaft pretty much requires an entire tear down of an engine and so that’s what I’ve been working at non stop for the past month as evidenced by the growing pile of bits and bobs I’ve been removing from Mr. Gee. Now, with all the Main Bearing caps removed I was able to rig up some more block and tackles with Dyneema line and use these to carefully lower the lightweight (best guestimate 230 kg / 507 lbs) crankshaft.
I set up a series of thick wood planks and huffed and puffed better than the Big Bad Wolf, to inch the crankshaft out of the Engine Room and into the Workshop. But soon enough Mr. Gee’s crankshaft joined all his other buddies on my workbench. Final step in the full dismantling was to press off this anti-vibration damper and the triple roller chain timing sprocket from the front of the crankshaft.
In with the New
To make it a bit easier on my aching body, I dragged the new crankshaft part way into the Engine Room and propped it up on some sturdy wood blocks for mounting the Damper and chainwheel to the front as these weighed about 35 kg themselves. Then like an inchworm, I was able to carefully push and shove the crankshaft up alongside of Mr. Gee I attached the Dyneema lines to the front and aft end of the crank and lift it up in place with the 6:1 block and tackles.
Worked like a charm to allow me to slowly raise the crankshaft up into the upper main bearings which I had now greased up and pressed in place in the Crankcase. Carefully raising each end of the crank with the blocks and tackle the new crank was soon resting in its new home and Mr. Gee was already feeling MUCH better! Clean up all seven Main Bearing caps to make sure they are squeaky clean. Grab the box of new 0.010” oversize 6LXB Main Bearing set. A beautiful sight to my eyes!
And Mr. Gee! Unboxed and unpacked, cleaned, inspected and now a light coast of lithium grease to help with their initial assembly into Mr. Gee. Same process for the two sets of Thrust Bearings that look after any pressures fore/aft on Mr. Gee’s crankshaft. Now all that remained to do was install all 7 of the Main Bearing Caps with their new bearing shells inside and start bolting the crankshaft into place.
I got #1, 3 and 7 done this afternoon (Sunday 13, June 2021) before I had to quit to write up this blog before dinner and so I’ll have to leave you here and pick up again in next week’s episode of “As Mr. Gee Turns”.
Beauty and the Beast
I use this “Beauty & the Beast” reference quite often and certainly seemed to be just right after you’ve endured being with beastly me and Mr. Gee, and leave you with one last update with the arrival of THIS beauty of a Turkish Wine Decanter.
But wait! There’s more beauty!
This was a very unexpected but thoroughly appreciated gift from a lovely Turkish gentleman “Cem” who has become eXtremely interested in the XPM boats had asked if he could come onboard for a tour. Unfortunately for Cem he first stepped into the Workshop when he got onboard so he was stuck wtih me give him the tour, and you can guess how that went with “brevity challenged” Wayne!
Thanks Cem! Apparently I was not too brutal and Cem brought this beautiful “house/boat warming” gift for us a few days later.
Once again I get to surround myself in beauty with not only such a special decanter but one held by my smiling Beautiful Bride!
Could I be any more fortunate? Methinks NOT! That’s a wrap for this week’s XPM78-01 Möbius progress update and I hope it was enjoyable and entertaining.
As always PLEASE add your comments and questions in the “join the discussion” box below and I hope to see you here again same time, same place, next week for the next installment of As Mr. Gee Turns.