With a nod towards Henry David Thoreau’s spirit, I am over-simplifying everything.
Used the electric drive for 10-minutes to get out of the slip and out on the fairway, then raised sails and enjoyed the 12-15 knots of wind out on San Diego Bay. As we were sailing at 6+ knots most of the time the electric drive was able to regenerate and recharge the batteries a bit. On the way in, we motor sailed for about an hour instead of tacking about half a dozen times to round Shelter Island. Net Result, we ended up arriving back at the dock with 0 (zero) voltage used! Still at 100% after a day’s use. I don’t think my solar panels will know what to do with the time.
I mounted a couple of pieces of King Starboard inside the starboard pilot berth’s storage area and used that to mount both the 12 and 48 volt distribution systems.
Here is the heart of the electric drive’s 48 volt distribution system. Banks three, two and (to be installed at time of photo) one for left to right on both positive and negative sides, with the various charges and taps. The fourth spot is the eDrive’s power feed (to the 250-Amp, Class-T fuse — then the On/Off switch — then the capacitor that feeds the 3.8klw electric drive system itself.
I am making progress, finally, and it is true harmony!
For three months the mast was down and the boat was a work in frustration, sweat and expletives. And blood. Lot’s of blood. My blood. From where I smashed my thumb with a hammer, to when I almost drove the Dremel blade through my hand, to the too many to count cuts, scraps and no-clue how or why I started bleeding from a random extremity… I have literally shed enough blood to make Sine Metu a relative!
From the new teak and the refurbished bronze stemhead to new 316 stainless steel chainplates and duel lowers, to massively overbuilt backing plates made from 3/8″ thick G10 plates, epoxied into place, the new standing rigging is solid.
The electric drive system is fully installed and, so far, I have about eight hours of time running it in the slip and all around Shelter Island here in San Diego Bay. The wiring needs to be cleaned up a bit, but that’s for my esthetics and not for the Coast Guard. It’s a solid install, but not pretty enough to show off. As a DIYer, I’m more function than fashion.
But the main thing is this — the mast is up, the new boom is installed and the Lazy Jacks have been fitted! Next week the new mainsail from Ullman Sails will be raised for the first time with someone from the local loft being present to make sure everything is good to go.
I’ve found that I enjoy rope work like splicing and rigging control lines. There’s harmony in bringing order to the tangles.
I would like to thank all of the vendors that helped me make this possible:
- Rigworks – standing and running rigging and for the Profurl C290 roller-furler.
- Harrison Marine – metalwork and sheaves
- Ullman Sails – sails
- Downwind Marine – parts, parts and more parts
- West Marine – the go-to place for those need-it-now parts
- Island Nautical Enterprises, Inc. – for the aluminum spreaders
- McMaster-Carr – for raw materials
- Allied Titanium.
Okay, it’s been a shockingly long time since the last post, but I’ve been busy! When it comes to Sine Metu, a lot of things are going on: The mast is down and I am rebuilding it myself (i.e., replacing all stainless steel bolts, screws and clevis pins with titanium parts via Allied Titanium, removing those annoying mast steps above the spreaders, and dropping 20 pounds from on high); new rigging and a Profurl C290 furler are on the way; as are new sails from Ullman Sails; not to mention that the electric drive and lithium battery banks are finally complete; and new, aluminum spreaders are being fabricated by Island Nautical out of St. Petersburg, Florida; and I finished rebuilding both the lazarette and foredeck hatches…whew, I need a Jameson Gold just thinking about all of the plates I’m spinning in the air right now! And maybe another shot on spec!
More to come, I promise!
Okay, I am going to keep updating this post instead of individual posts. Please excuse the dust.
February 20, 2016: rebuilt the mast’s winch and removed all of the chain plates.
They actually look okay for being 53 years old, but upon closer inspection there’s a lot of corrosion that’s full of tiny pinholes — time for new ones! So, my homework assignment for tonight is to decide what I’m going to do; build them myself or hand them off to Harrison Marine on Shelter Island. To have them do would cost about $100-$125 each; to do it myself would cost $X and require the purchase of XYZ tools to fabricate it, oh and about three or four hours…
Tomorrow I hope to get the stem head removed — which is going to Harrison Marine to get rebuilt if possible, or used as a pattern for a new fabrication.
Sunday, February 28, 2016. My day at the boat is done! Got the spreader bases trimmed and measured (still need to grind them down a bit more, but my battery died) and cut the 3/8-inch G10 backing plate for the bow, now all I have to do is sand the area down a bit so that the epoxy bonds to the original fiberglass. It doesn’t need to be perfect as the epoxy’s main function is to mate up perfectly to the underside’s contours. When it hardens, it will act as a support, but the G10 will carry the loads. Now it’s time for a cigar and a whiskey as I contemplate the lack of visible progress, which I know only to be just that, visible. The chainplate mounts are my next G10 project, but for those I will be using the 1/4-inch thick stuff.
This sailboat still finds ways to amaze me. With frames exposed and 53-year old bolts and places removed it’s been nothing but gorgeous, solid wood down below. Damn, this is a solid little sailboat!
Next item to source and buy is a tri-color navigation light and the masthead will be complete. Aft, I will have the VHF/AIS antenna with a Davis windvane slipped over it, then the tri-color and forward will be the Maretron wind sensor.
Well, it’s tax time once again, and I had to pay more than I thought was fair, but freedom isn’t free as they say…
All of the projects seem to be coming together without too many conflicts. The biggest change was the decision to omit the masthead navigation light. The first choice was to install a tricolor light, then simply an LED anchor light, but in the end to choice came down to the mantra of simplicity. With my unwillingness to move the Maretron WSO100 wind sensor, and its unyielding shadowing of any navigation light, I am opting to keep the nav lights on the bow, stern and just above the spreaders; this will help facilitate future maintenance. When anchored, I will simply raise an LED anchor light. Keeping the boat simple.
The rigging is also complete, both standing and running. Samson MLX halyards for the genoa, main, spinnaker and Solent stay, in addition to the topping lift/spare mainsail halyard. The heavier boom will be controlled by a Boom Kicker vang with an 8:1 pulley or low friction ring cascade — I have not decided on which one, yet. I’m getting good at making dyneema soft shackles so the LFR cascade sounds like a fun project.
I’m also adding lazy jacks to help control the new mainsail from Ullman sails. It will have two reefing points, cunningham, and it will also feature a 2+2 batten configuration: two, full-length upper battens and two lower, traditional, partial battens. The mainsail should enjoy its life as it will raise and lower almost effortlessly along the Tides Marine Strongtrack system.
So, with the new rigging will come new tools for me to control and adjust the mainsail: An outhaul, slab reefing, loaded vang and cunningham. Definite upgrades for a sailboat that I own, that’s for sure! I plan on only running the outhaul, cunningham and vang controls back to the cockpit and leaving the main sail and reefing controls at the mast.
Okay, this is going to be a quick, down and dirty article in an effort to respond to a post on Facebook’s Liveaboard Sailboat group and it’s also Part 2 of the original article about not sinking my boat when…
An inside view of the packing nut (I think that’s what it’s called). When the flax is inserted, and when screwed down onto the stuffing box, it compresses and makes a “water-tight’ seal. By “water-tight” I mean that it should keep the ocean out when the propeller shaft isn’t spinning (either by engine power or by the flow of water making the propeller rotate while sailing and the engine is in neutral, et cetera). When is use, there should be a few drips of water. THIS IS NORMAL and a required part of it’s function — if it is packed with simply flax. The water is needed to both lubricate and cool the seal.
For Sine Metu, I wanted a dryer bilge area and went with the Drip Less Moldable Packing Kit as shown. This green putty needs to be sandwiched between layers of old-school flax, and there is a special kind of grease that also gets added to the mix. Make sure you read the directions!
This shot doesn’t show the final strand of flax…which I forgot to add and thus, had to remove a little of the Drip Less packing to make room for. Again, read directions!
Here is the packing nut all filled up and ready to go! A little trick I learned was to screw it on down and compress the packing material, remove it once more and then I was able to add more Drip Less packing material between the layers of flax. Obviously, as I was doing this in the comfort of my cockpit and not contorted over and around the engine, this is a best case example. But, with my 52 pound electric drive, I would have certainly removed the dozen odd bolts and pulled the engine anyway.
Keep in mind that my boat was in the water when I did this. It’s really easy with the shaft removed and a soft wood plug tapped into the underwater cutless bearing. And as you can see, there isnt a drop of water flowing in.
For what it’s worth, that’s the original, 50 year old stuffing box, which I had to use a hacksaw to split open to remove.
Here is the brand new stuff in box in place. Fabio of WEST COAST DIVING SERVICES was coming by the next day to help me install the propeller shaft and prop. Everything went great and, well, you’ll have to wait and read about the eDrive’s performance with the new prop!
Speaking of which, this is the new, over pitched prop from Deep Blue Yacht Supply, Inc.; a MP33B10B: 10 x 12 Bronze with 3/4 Bore, RH Rotation and No Cupping. This is the “before’ photo. I applied three coats of Petit Zinc Coat Barnacle Barrier as it works great over here in Southern California and Mexican waters.
So, there you have it, a successful in-the-water shaft and stuffing box replacement. All in all, a little less than a gallon of water came in during the entire process, but I was prepared for a worst-case events with two electric bilge pumps freshly tested and ready to go, a manual, gallon-per-stroke monster in the cockpit and I had confirmed that the dock master had their massive, heavy-duty pump at the ready. Better to be prepared than to be blowing bubbles!
How to replace the shaft while in the water…without sinking! Part 1
So, it’s the end of July and the diver who cleans my hull monthly mentions that the prop is loose. Turns out, the threaded area has been eaten away by electrolysis after being submerged for 50 years…go figure. So, we pull pull the shaft (it took 45 minutes!) and discover that the 3/4″ bronze shaft has been eaten away too much to be re-machined.
What to do?
Well, I ordered a new Aqualoy 22 stainless steel shaft from Deep Blue Yacht Supply (http://www.deepblueyachtsupply.com) along with an aggressive 10×12 Michigan MP3 prop to compliment the electric drive’s high torque curve. It should be here by the end of August, so I will let you know how it works out!
As of October 28, 2013, the prop project is complete! And to top everything off we only let in about a cup of water to boot!
|Aqualoy Stainless Propeller Shaft A_22 – 29″ x 3/4″ – Single Taper – –|
Here is a photo of the new Aqualoy stainless propeller shaft from Deep Blue Yacht Supply (http://www.deepblueyachtsupply.com/prop-shafts) lined up with the original bronze shaft. I have no idea what the original shaft’s composition was, if it was bronze or silicon bronze or melted down pennies with a little tin added. All i know about it is what you can deduce from the photos: It was old, severely eaten away through electrolysis, but not from wear.
I also replaced the original 10×8 prop (ten inches in diameter with an eight inch pitch) with a 10×12 over pitched prop to take advantage of the electric drives massive torque at low RPMs (you don’t have to rev the engine up to someplace like 900-1,100 RPMs to keep it from stalling). As of this writing I have not tested its theoretical performance so I don’t have any real world numbers, yet…
Here is a side by side comparison of the old 10×8 and the new 10×12 prop and you can clearly see the change in pitch. The new prop is a custom made MP3 Michigan Prop in bronze (http://www.deepblueyachtsupply.com/propellers/mp3-propeller). Along with the prop they also sent a machinist’s report. I am not versed in what everything means, but I can deduce that it is in balance.
Oaky, so now it’s time to also replace the stuffing box! I have to admit, this is what caused me the most sleeplessness with nightmare scenario dreams of water gushing into the boat and me being the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike.
Today was a very productive day! I finally managed to get that 49 year old engine coupling off the shaft this afternoon… And the only reason it took 4 hours was due to the Dremel 8220 needing to be recharged halfway through the project. As I didn’t want to cut into the bronze shaft and risk there being a balance issue I choose to use a Dremel 8220 instead of a dedicated grinder: Too much muscle in such a confined space. With the Dremel, I was able to use one hand and have a better chance at being careful.
I won’t bore you to death the with blow by blows (literally, as I also pulled a ball peen hammer out of the tool box to help me persuade the rust to give up its death-grip), but I finally managed to get that damn thing off!
While grinding and tapping with the ball peen, the stuffing box began to drip excessively. This wasn’t unexpected, after all that drip was why I was able to buy the boat for $800 in the first place, I knew I had to repack the stuffing box anyway. So, after I removed the coupling, I backed the stuffing box off the lock-nut and removed it completely. Free for the first time in 49 years, I cleaned, carefully repacked and reinstalled it. Doing so, of course, let about a gallon of seawater in, but I had it taken apart and let it free-flow for about half an hour.
Okay, no problem, I knew that would be the case. After all of that grinding, of dropping small chunks of rusted metal, and repacking of the stuffing box, I knew that the cleanup of this little project would include cleaning the bilge.
After cleaning up the shaft a little I also cleaned out the bilge with a couple of gallons of water and West Marine’s Pure Oceans Citrus Bilge Cleaner ($10). After dumping it in, pumping a little of it out through both bilge pumps (an electric and a Whale Gusher via the cockpit) I decided to give the deck a quick scrub down and let it slosh in the bilge for half an hour before pumping it out, flushing the bilge with fresh water, then using my wet/dry vac to suck every last drop out of the bilge.
Okay, now that I had everything back to back to being nice and clean, I again dry-fitted all of the electric drive components and Lithium LifePo4 batteries, the Sevcom 48v to 12v converter, the BMS, and of couse, the Electric Yachts of Southern California’s 100ibl electric drive assembly (the single, heaviest piece of equipment, yet only about 50 pounds).
Here’s a picture of the entire electronic beast sans the charging system (to be continued, I promise). For comparison, I have also included a photo of the original single cylinder, 8HP Farymann diesel for a before and after comparison:
Now, keep in mind that when everything gets mounted, secured down and/or removed from its packaging it will be a whole lot neater and better organized. The reason I did this was to get a better idea of the weight distribution. With no water in the tanks, lockers basically empty and no anchor chain in the bow I can confirm that everything is in trim, balanced, and bobbing high on her waterline like a happy little duck!
I also now know that I will have more room than before and can rebuild the stairs to give me a tad more standing room under an open hatch. I can even add a third step/trash can to the plan.
Anyway, today was a productive day. After everything was ground off (thanks, Mike Gunning from Electric Yachts of Southern California, for the obvious, but overlooked suggestion!) and hammered to within an inch of its life, scrubbed, washed, dried with a shop vac and mocked up to check weight distribution I now know what will be on next week’s To Do list: Battery mounts; 12v house battery location (I might move the outside Lithium batteries to under the settees and move the 12v house battery (I’m thinking about getting a single Mastervolt SlimLine 185AH, compressed AGM ($700 & 119 pounds) to a lower, more centered position for better weight distribution. And, it would be easy to make it accessible and secured under the lowest step.
Future thoughts and to be continued…
With Electric Yachts of Southern California’s Mike Gunning’s expert assistance, Sine Metu is being refit with a 100 ibl Quietorque™ electric drive system (March, 2012). While the reasons behind this refit are numerous, it all starts with the fact that the original 8 HP, Farymann Diesel was nothing more than 150 pounds of unrepairable, rusted scrap iron, not to mention its dead fuel system and a dangerously neglected raw-water intake through hull (which, by the way, broke off in my hand as I was replacing it while hauled out in July, 2011)…did I mention that I bought the sailboat for $800? In its place will be a 48 volt, 3.5 kw, brushless electric motor that’s powered by three banks of LiFePO4 Lithium batteries with 120 amp hours of near-silent muscle.
48v, 120 Amp Lithium Battery System
The battery configuration consists of a dozen Valence UX-P, 12v, 40 Ah Lithium LiFePO4 batteries. With three banks of four batteries wired in series, then in parallel, the system will deliver 48v at 120 Ah. Ideally, the system will provide the capability to motor at top speed – theoretical hull speed – for over five miles;at two-thirds power, I should have a range of just over fifteen miles. And as an auxiliary engine for a small pocket cruiser, that’s pretty damn great considering that I also gain an extra cockpit locker (removed the fuel tank); can quietly “motor-sail” for hours at a time (thus maintaining my top hull speed if the winds are a little fickle); and never have to worry about smelly diesel fumes, oil leaks or spills at the fuel dock. As you can see by the following chart, nudging the engine for a couple of extra knots of power while sailing can be done for 12 or so hours – which translates into an extra 43 miles of distance.
And, with the system being “refueled” as I sail either through Regeneration (prop spinning due to the force of the water (maybe, if I am lucky, this will add about 5% to the fuel tank)), a wind generator and possibly even a solar panel or two if I can find a place to place on this tiny cruiser, I will constantly be refueled as I cruise the Pacific.
Yes, the initial costs are steep, but the long-term costs are dramatically less and I’ll never have to worry about the price-per-gallon, having enough cans of motor oil stored aboard, fuel filters (and spares), and on and on. With this electric engine, I will have to sail more than motor…Wow, that kind of sounds dumb, doesn’t it?
It’s a sailboat. The goal is to sail as much as possible. The eDrive is for docking, entering harbors and bays, anchoring (you need to back down and set that anchor!), and… Oh Hell, starting with Joshua Slocum’s circumnavigation of this bright blue planet, alone, without an engine in 1895, there is a lot of precedence for what I plan to do.
Also, since each battery weighs in at about 15 pounds (7 kilograms) each, roughly 185 pounds of weight will now be more evenly and logically distributed low inside the hull and improve stability.
As a rough comparison, here are a few weights of each system’s parts:
8HP Farymann Diesel (dry) – 150 pounds. 15 gallons of diesel fuel – 112 pounds. Wet-exhaust system – 15 pounds. Minimum weight of 277 pounds.
100 ibl Electric Engine – 52 pounds. 12 Lithium Batteries – 185 pounds. There isn’t exhaust – 0 pounds. Minimum weight of 237 pounds.
As you can see, converting from diesel to electric is not about reducing the overall weight of the sailboat’s drive system, that’s just a little bonus. But keep in mind that the single heaviest piece of equipment is now the motor itself at 52 pounds (23.4 kg), which is manageable for one person to deal with if needed – which, frankly, will not be very (if ever) often. Doubt me? Well, keep in mind that you already use an electric engine every time you start your fossil fuel engine…the starter! And when was the last time you took that in for a tune up or an oil change?
And if I can figure out how to embed video into this WordPress blog (never mind, it’s not worth $59 – yikes!), here is one I shot January 28, 2012 at the San Diego Boat Show of my actual engine! I let Electric Yachts of Southern California use it as a demonstration unit as I cannot install it for a month or so (redoing the cabin sole right now, but I am traveling too much to make a lot of progress on that right now. So, in the meantime, I have the flooring ripped up and I am airing out the bilge while I’m gone).
In the next article, I will discuss…
Battery Management System (BMS)
DC to DC Conversion (48v to 12v)
LiFePO4 Lithium Batteries
There will be 4 batteries just aft of the engine compartment; 4 batteries in front of the engine mounts; and 2 batteries on each side of the electric drive.
System will consist of 3 banks of 4, 12v batteries series for a 48v, 40 Ah bank. All banks will then be run in parallel to bring amp-hours up to 120 Ah at 48v.
Below are scans of the battery data sheets that I picked up at Valence’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, while I was there on business in August, 2012. I also learned on that visit that my batteries were their first generation batteries – they are now (as of this writing) on their third generation.
Tentatively, the battery wiring will follow the following diagram — NOTE: Where it indicates ‘Inverter,’ that’s where the edrive and charger are attached via individual pos/neg busbars.
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Sine Metu – Engine Compartment.pdf