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With all of the larger tasks that we had planned to do out of the way, we began the day yesterday with the question “what should we do today?” One of the things that I suggested was exploring why our bilge high water alarm went off during the night. You have to admit, that’s a pretty strange thing to occur when the boat is out of the water! Unfortunately, climbing into the engine room to check on that one thing escalated into a full day’s work, and then some.

The first thing I did when I crawled back into the space by the bilge was break a wire off the alternator, a wire that I did not have a lug large enough to crimp onto it. That alone required a trip to the yard’s chandlery. What I found later after acquiring the appropriate lug was that I didn’t have a crimper large enough to handle it. After trying every tool I had that I could think of to get the job done, we walked to a couple of stores to search for one. We were unsuccessful.

So, leaving that issue aside, we continued looking for the source of the leak. Working on the assumption that it had to be a fresh water leak, it didn’t take us long to find the source: our water heater. Old and corroded, the leak was coming from the back end, not one of the easier to deal with fittings on the front. It would have to be replaced.

By mid-afternoon, after two more trips to Budget Marine, we had a new water heater on board, and could begin the task of swapping them. What followed was a greater than 1 hour battle to “simply” remove the three bolts holding the old one in. I put simply in quotes because there really is no simply on a boat! We managed to get only two of the bolts removed before we had to call it a day.

Quote from one of the guys who was working on our boat this past week:
“I can’t believe that anyone who works on boats for a living would want to own a boat. I certainly don’t.”

Here is what I noted on our Facebook page: You need to have LOTS of tools on board, including SHORT wrenches! I also had to use the socket extensions from two different sets, pairing them together, to reach a particular bolt. Additionally, I had to use our iPhone on video to even find the head of one of them! Ratcheting wrenches like these would have been very helpful to have!

24 Comments

  1. Perhaps you should rap on the hull and ask your boat to expose all near tearm issues!

    A motionless boat must be easier to work on!

  2. Agreed re; racheting wrenches.

    In the meantime I have a racheting crescent wrench that I found at Lee Valley Tools. It was just an in-store special but I liked it so much that I bought one for a friend who has a Cal 27.

    This wrench extender would be useful:
    http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=67696&cat=1,70373,70375&ap=1

    or these:
    http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=70644&cat=1,70373,70375&ap=1

    or this..
    http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=72422&cat=1,70373,70375,72414

    Lee Valley is a candy store full of tools

  3. One thing I found mildly amusing in this post Mike was the name of the store from where you were purchasing your boat supplies and I’m sure others have commented on this same thing over the years. Is there really any truth to the name of any boating store such as “Budget Marine”. It sure sounds like an oxymoron to me! lol Good luck with switching out the tanks.

    • Yes, it is funny, but they have been good to us. In this particular case, one of the staff actually drove us and the new water heater back to our boat, a service not normally available on a Saturday.

  4. Those ratcheting wrenches are are the handiest tool to come along ever, as a wrench turning professional I use them all the time and probably more than sockets lately. I would suggest that if you want them to check out Harbor Freight tools, I use the gear wrench brand which were the first ones on the market. I still work on boats and own one and always find myself wondering why did they put that there.

  5. Now you really discovered what boat yoga is all about. I found that removing the old water heater was more difficult than installing the new one. On my Maramu after hours of trying to remove it whole, I ended up diving in head first with a saws-all to cut it in half, I had to tie a line to my foot and have my wife help pull me back up. Did you get the one (pictured) with the heat exchanger to heat the water when the engine is running?
    Yes those ratchet wrenches are necessary, if you do order from HF then check out the Hydraulic Wire Crimping Tool too, it has saved me countless trips to a store with a large crimper when installing my new alternator, solar panels, inverter and more, if I remember correctly it goes up to 2 gauge but not real “0” battery cables.
    Hey what happened to the rudder post? What went wrong? How was it fixed? Did you improve anything over the original design? Pics?

  6. I had a buddy of mine weld up a couple wrenches with odd angles to get into some hard to reach places.

  7. “Working on the assumption that it had to be a fresh water leak…”

    By God, it’d better be!

  8. A couple of relatively cheap tools I keep onboard that might have helped you today:
    1. A waterproof borescope/enedescope. Mine plugs into a USB port on my laptop, but there are ones available for iphones and androids. About $20, lets you see into all the tight dark spaces on the boat.
    2. A flare tool. Not intended for crimping, but I’ve found it does a decent job on battery lugs and swaged fittings. It’s simple and compact, about $15.

  9. Many large crimps can be very effectively made with a normal hammer on an ánvil´ of steel or concrete. Flatten the lug-surround around the wire with the hammer. I was initially VERY skeptical of this, but the technician who showed this method to me ran pull-out tests and four-point resistance measurements as well as current carrying capacity / thermal rise tests. This method was found to be equivalent to other manners of crimping. If curious, I can send pics of crimps done in this manner.

  10. Phil– I have never heard of a Concrete Anvil.. Sounds like it wouldn’t last very long– And.. I wonder who would carry any type of Anvil on a boat??

    PS: I personally– Would not hire that technician..

  11. Mike;
    I have a set of metric and standard craftsman speed wrenches that have moveable heads – that can then be locked in place. I liked them so much I bought another set for my house..We have a Beneteau 36.7 so metric and standard get a workout!

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