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.
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!
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!
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.