Friday, 4 May 2012

Get the motor running

Well it seems the majority of the AC and DC electrics are installed and working, batteries charging, AC available via battery or shore power and we now have lighting throughout the boat - yipee! Focus has now switched to the engine installation, the two main areas being mechanical and electrical. Tony has already hooked up the engine start panel and installing the alternators will be next.

Various dark green painted tanks matching the engine, are looking pretty mounted on the shiny engine room bulkhead and will look better still with a few judiciously placed Lister decals. Most of the plumbing to/from them in shiny copper is completed, and its now possible to draw fuel from main to day fuel tank (top of picture) using that nice big waggle from side to side hand pump. Not sure how long the plastic sight tube will remain visible but there is a vent/overflow back to the main tank, so no harm can come from over enthusiastic pumping. The feed from this tank to the engine will be via an additional fuel filter with Lexan see-through bowl. Mounted on the side of the cupboard are the header tanks for central heating and engine below, the latter being already plumbed in. Sitting very comfortably between all these is the huge oil pressure gauge, with unions added to feed the smaller one on the roof for the benefit of the steerer.

The various connections to the main fuel tank including draw and return pipes to/from day tank, spill rail return from engine and feed to Mikuni diesel boiler which is still to be fitted. The fuel tank level sensor can also be seen. To the rear the horizontal calorifier is in place just awaiting plumbing.

On the engine panel, turning the key and pressing the big red start button produces a satisfying churning noise from below and an enthusiastic leap of that huge flywheel.

Much head scratching has been given to shoehorning the two alternators into the rapidly diminishing space in the engine room. A ladder shaped mount to sit sideways astride the flywheel, has been sturdily fabricated from 6mm steel to take the larger 140 amp one on the lower step, with the smaller immediately above. I say smaller but noted it has grown to a 90 amp unit, although not complaining. It may be pushing the envelope to expect this to be driven by a single belt, but as Steve provides positive belt adjustment, there won't be a belt tension issue.

Placement of the ladder mount firmly bolted to the engine bearers will also help protect passers by from the spinning flywheel, as well as providing easy access and simple removal of both alternators to allow work on the engine.
Most of the switch panel is now connected and installed in the upper cupboard with remote control panel for the Combi above and an immersion heater switch below. The service battery monitor is working as are both tank gauges, but still awaiting the bowthruster batteries so no indication from that monitor yet. They will be remotely and automatically isolated via a cunning relay operated motorised isolator which mimics the service battery one. In the lower cupboard keeping the AC and DC systems essentially separate, is the neatly installed small consumer unit for AC distribution and circuit protection. A multi-colour LED shore power polarity indicator has been fitted within it on the left. Galvanic isolator connections can be seen at the top.

Proving that Tony isn't just an electrics wizard, he was fitting the traditional push/pull control linkage to the hydraulic gearbox whilst I was there.

The Spinflo gas hob has been fitted and another of Steve's workforce was preparing the matching oven/grill for installation, whilst seemingly seconds later fitting the stern nav light in the continuous drizzle. Water pump with inlet filter and pressure accumulator have also been fitted, sitting immediately in front of the water tank, with easy access from behind the cabin steps.

Despite this activity there is still an awful lot of work to complete not least the sign writing. On first impression then during this visit, I was doubtful the boat would be able to move under its own steam before the end of this month. However I'm assured it will although final details like the bowthruster itself and the diesel heater installation may come later. In fairness many missing bits are already pre-fabricated and will be fitted soon with little further effort. Can't wait for next visit in about three weeks.

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