APRIL 1999 -- GOOD OLD BOAT NEWSLETTER

Contents (What's in this issue)

One more short board meeting . . .

Thanks for attending another informal board meeting. This month we're focusing on more guerrilla marketing, bringing up a few more housekeeping items, asking you to arbitrate on an internal "argument," and giving you the full list of John Vigor's boats scheduled for publication in the next three years of Good Old Boat.

First the marketing spotlight
We've just printed another 10,000 of our Good Old Boat fliers. They offer a free sample copy to people to help acquaint them with our magazine, since we can't be found on most newsstands. If you've got a sailing event coming up and would like to hand fliers out (or leave them somewhere for people to pick up), we'd happily send you some. Also we give away occasional one-year subscriptions to organizations to use for raffles, prizes, etc. at sailing events. If you've got a legitimate event coming up and have a need for prizes, we can come up with a couple of free subscriptions for your group. (It's good for us, too -- it gets us out there, talked about, and into people's hands. Heck, maybe they'll even subscribe the next year!)
We haven't been exactly overwhelmed by requests from libraries so far, so this reminder is in order: if you'd like to see Good Old Boat on the racks in your local library, ask your librarian to subscribe. We just bought space in two directories that librarians use for ordering subscriptions. Tell them they can subscribe to Good Old Boat through the Faxon or Ebsco directories.

The housekeeping items
We've moved our website to another location. (Apologies to any who were inconvenienced during the transition. We think it was mostly painless.) We will drop our dial-up service with Earthlink also. If you reply to any of our emails with Earthlink addresses in them, they will eventually stop working for you. So send mail to karen@goodoldboat.com and jerry@goodoldboat.com. Those will always work. (Earthlink has attached an arbitrary "www" to this email address making a new erroneous address of "karen@www.goodoldboat.com." Please don't use this style address either. It, too, will be rejected by the new server.)

By the time you get this, we will have run out of the Premier (June) and September issues of Good Old Boat. Those of you who have them, guard them with your life. There continues to be a demand for them. If you don't want yours and want to advertise them on the 'Net or in our magazine, we'll help you find them good homes. If there's a large interest in obtaining them, we will set up a "clearing house" for you. Copies of specific articles in these issues can be purhased from us for $2.50. People who ordered and paid for these back issues after we ran out will have their subscriptions extended to make up for the magazine issues they didn't receive.

And finally, how important is our caricature page to you? Let us tell it like it is. Dave Chase, our caricature artist, goes sailing all summer long and the designer (Karen) would like more content space in the magazine. So Karen would like to drop the caricature page of contributors. The other half of our editorial staff (Jerry), however, is fighting to keep this page. So just how important is this page to you? Let us know. We are planning to have one more caricature page in the July issue for sure. After that . . . well one of us will win the argument. By the September issue, you'll know what your response told us.

Vigor's 20 Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere We didn't want to spill the beans and tell everyone what boats we would be reviewing over the next three years, but now we have a need to do so and a request for you. So first, here are the boats we've got scheduled for review. (Don't forget that in each issue we also do a "feature boat" with a focus on the sailors who sail the boat. So we're not telling everything we've got planned.)

Why do we suddenly want to pass this information along to you? Well because the publisher of the book, Paradise Cay, has asked us to come up with illustrations for the book, which is to be published by fall. We naturally will be collecting illustrations as these issues roll along and will be asking you for your photos, manuals, and brochures (all to be returned of course) for illustrating our articles based on the book. But Paradise Cay needs line drawings on all these boats NOW! So please let us know if you've got old brochures or manuals with the side sketches, cross sections, top views, etc. We'll scan them in for our (later) publication and for publication in the book. Then we'll return them to you right away. Please contact us before mailing anything. We may have received what we're looking for from someone else already. We are covered on the Albin Vega, Falmouth Cutter, the Bristol Channel Cutter, and the Camper & Nicholsons, for example.

Here's what's coming in the May issue
The May (1999) issue is 96 pages! Huge! We couldn't control ourselves. It runs the complete list of sailboat associations and contacts (which we may never devote so much space to in the magazine again -- it's grown too large -- but perhaps we can run again in a newsletter sometime). Here's what else is in there:

How to contact us
Karen Larson, Editor
Jerry Powlas, Technical Editor
Good Old Boat Magazine
7340 Niagara Lane North
Maple Grove, MN 55311-2655
763-420-8923
763-420-8921 (fax)
http://www.goodoldboat.com

More on boat names

Boat name: INNdulgence. Reason for the name: my wife Sheila and I own an Inn on Nantucket Island.
Fred Heap
Hingham, Mass.

Our boat is named Sea Shanty. The dinghy is named Sea Sharp.
Richard and Sandra Wiesen
East Aurora, N.Y.

After reading the other boat names others sent in, I remembered this one. She was at our marina for a weekend only. Names are not my strong point, so for me to remember one is a milestone. But The Key of Sea with the tender Off Key will always be etched in my memory as one of those names I wish I had thought of first.
Gary Heinrich
Chippewa Falls, Wis.

I've been reminded of another of my favorites, too! Everytime I see the boat Plan B, I wonder what Plan A was.
ed.

Due to lots of Finnish heritage, we named our boat Tuulen Aura (Wind Plow) and the dinghy is Pieni Tuuli (Little Wind).
Hank and Pat Clow
L'Anse, Mich.

My boat is Glad Tidings with a dinghy named Good News.
Doug Axtell
Rochester, N.Y.

Sailors Lew and Vicky Williams have the letters "Tuit" on their boat arranged in a round shape, so that the boat can be named Round Tuit, as in getting "around to it." You have to see the lettering to truly appreciate a round tuit. The dinghy, for its part, has similar lettering and is named, Duit Tuit.
Lew and Vicky Williams
Dearborn Heights, Mich.

My boat is named Unlikley. My dinghy is named Least Likely.
Reese Palley
Key West, Fla.

Before my wife and I were married (but after we were "serious") she signed a note to me, "All my love always." I playfully replied, "Always & ALL WAYS!" It stuck, and to this day we each sign notes to the other, "Love, always and all ways." So when we got our good old boat (a Triton), we renamed her All Ways and the dinghy Always, so we have always and all ways to go sailing.
Mark Parker
Hancock, N.H.

I somehow missed the boat name/dinghy name request. Ours is Panache, which we feel describes this classy good old boat, along with helping people with the pronunciation of our name; the dinghy is Elan, which Webster defines as "vigorous spirit or enthusiasm," which describes my rowing style.
Allen Gamache
Spencer, Mass.

Are you still on the lookout for unique dinghy names? Here are my favorites, with the sailboat name listed first:

Carolyn Corbett
Backus, Minn.

One of my favorite boat names, for a boat kept many years on Madeline Island (in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands) was Madeline Home. The dinghy painted to match the motherboat and kept on davits, with its name on the dinghy's sides was called Paddlin.
Bill Rohde
New Brighton, Minn.

And this from Bill and Rockie Truxall, the folks with Seaquestor II (Everybody duck! This one may cause a range war! Have a look at the February newsletter to see what led up to this. I expect to be hearing from Kevin Hughes any day now.): "I know it's not nice to do this one-ups-manship stuff, but in addition to our Seaquestor II, Shorequestor II, and our Spiritquestor, which we still have by the way (we have to have something to sail when we're in Iowa every summer), and a skiboat Lakequestor, we also have a motorcoach, Terraquestor II, and last year we sold our Piper Arrow II (what else?) Aeroquestor."
Bill and Rockie Truxall
Reedville, Va.

And finally a new favorite: Never Again II. From Gerald Laudermilk, who says, "I think this name says a lot about good old boaters. No matter how much trouble boats give us and no matter how many times we swear 'never again,' somehow we always go back to them."
Gerald Laudermilk
North Marshfield, Mass.

More on boat shows

I'm enclosing information on the Portland (Maine) Boat Show, also known as the Maine Boatbuilders Show. Emphasis is on small boats and accessories. It's very "homey." (This show is in mid-March each year. Website is: http://www.portlandcompany.com.)
Allen Gamache
Spencer, Mass.
Thanks, Allen, we're hearing about that show from all corners of the country. It's a very unusual show and of special interest to good old boaters and boatbuilders, we're told.

When I went to the Boston Boat Show this winter, I had two problems that I had to solve, and at a reasonable cost to me. This usually is: I do it, and I don't pay anybody else to do it! The first problem is that my cast-iron keels are flaking. On the Internet, somebody talked about using a tar-based product which I can't find. So I asked the marine paint manufacturers. The first one I found was the International Paint salesman. He said I would have to sandblast my keels in order to take care of the problem. (This is expensive.) I asked him about a product that reacts to rust that would take care of the problem. He told me no such product existed. I kept touring the show and found the Pettit salesman hidden in a back area. I explained my problem, and he told me they had a product that would react with the rust to give me a strong surface and that in the future I would only need to touch up the areas that showed rust. The product is named Rustlock. He then asked if the International salesman had told me about this product. I replied that he hadn't. He said it didn't surprise him.

The second problem was to find if there was some way I could take my roller furling jib down without having to fool around with the cotter pins. I found a hardware booth and explained the problem. He showed me a pin that only had to be pulled out. They are called cotterless detent pins and are reasonably priced. When I asked a salesman in a marine store, he didn't have the answer.

The moral of this story is when going to the boat show, don't get depressed. Instead, investigate and find low-cost solutions to your problems in fixing up your good old boats.
Fred Heap
Hingham, Mass.

Mail Buoy

Nail glue? A few drops will do
This will come in handy sooner or later for all A4 owners. When hand lapping valves on the engine, the usual way to do it is to use one of those little suction-cups-on-a-stick holders to rotate the valve and apply some pressure for grinding. They never seem to really grip that well, especially after you've gooped the grinding compound everywhere. The alternative is doing it with your fingers working from above and below. That is hard on the fingers and slow going.

Here's a better idea: nail glue. No, not Liquid Nails construction adhesive, but the modified super glue sold with those plastic nails for ladies' fingers. A couple of drops of that on the suction cup, press firmly, and it's stuck. You can grind away to your heart's desire, spinning the stick between your hands (like a Boy Scout starting a fire). When you have finished that valve, carefully peel the suction cup off the valve, apply more glue and proceed to the next. The process eventually will ruin the suction cup, but you can get about four valves from each cup. Since there are two cups on each stick, you can do the whole engine on one $2.99 stick plus a few drops of your wife's nail glue! (So even if you have to buy the fake nails, they're under $10.)
Mark Parker
Hancock, N.H.

The GPS-style Y2K syndrome
Regarding the Y2K and our GPS equivalent this summer, the one thing we know for absolutely certain is that it is no use asking, "What did we do last time?" Neither of these things has happened, or could possibly have happened, before this year.

What is almost that certain is that "Y2K," the dreaded New Year's midnight when the year count goes from 99 to 00 will have no effect on your GPS receiver, no matter who made it or when it was made. The entire GPS phenomenon is entirely self-contained, with its own clock and time base and its own earth-centered spatial coordinate system. As one authoritative (but anonymous) poster on the net said, "The computer doesn't care whether you are measuring on a Gregorian calendar, a Moslem calendar, a Chinese calendar, a Jewish calendar, or one you just made up."

The issue is not so straightforward, and the answer not nearly so clear, with regard to the GPS System Time Week Rollover, on 22 August 1999. This is internal to the GPS system itself, and some receivers will handle it better than others, while some (a very few) might not handle it at all. The unit of counting in the GPS system is the week, and it was given 10 bits to use for that field. Ten bits can count to 1024 (two to the tenth power). Actually, being computers, they count from zero to 1023. The system was started on 5/6 Jan 1980, so the week counter will roll over (like your car's odometer) at midnight UTC on 21/22 August 1999.

If you are thinking of buying a GPS receiver today, go right ahead. All of them made in the last four or five years can handle this. If you have one of the first hand-cranked or steam-driven GPS receivers, it might not. If you're offered a super deal on one made a while back, call its maker before you leap. There are published lists of which receivers will or won't be affected, but skepticism is in order here. One maker has told me that, in the worst case with his machines, it will be like taking it out of the box for the first time and waiting a half-hour for it to find itself. The same one has said that if it is left running through the "event," it won't even be that bad. I own two, and am planning to try it both ways. GPS makers are studying the problem, and will probably have better answers as the time grows nearer. If you will actually be at sea on that day, best to read what it says on your chart: "The prudent mariner will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation."
Roy Kiesling
Santa Cruz, Calif.

Daffy ducks
On Page 24 of the March issue there is a picture of an Albin Vega, Wind Harmony, with the explanation that she is being used as "the platform for feeding the ducks." A closer examination of the photo will reveal that the birds in question are swans. More specifically two adult swans and five cygnets. What's my reward for setting the record straight on the "ducks?"
Jerry Levy
New York, N.Y.
Jerry, you're right, and I'm in trouble with my mother (the birder). Although you were supposed to be looking at the Albin Vega and not the wildlife, anyone can see (I can, too, now that you mention it) that those are not ducks. Your reward is the high esteem of your peers and recognition in print. You also earn the praise of my mother, who taught me better than that, perhaps even the praise of your own mother. Be sure you bring it to your mother's attention though; she may not be a Good Old Boat subscriber. You've brought it to mine, since she is a subscriber. (She should be calling me any day now, thanks to you.)

Take the plunge
My good old boat experience may encourage others to take the plunge, so here it is:
I had never even sailed on a full-keel boat. We have owned and raced dinghies and planing keel boats (Laser, Snipe, J/22. J/27, among others) and had a blast with them. We also had a Pearson 26 for relaxed daysailing and weekending. When we decided to bag the racing and start more cruising, I knew I wanted a larger, heavier boat, one that could take care of itself if I left the helm for more than three seconds. Last spring we decided to start our search for a new boat.

A fellow club member had a 30-foot Pearson Wanderer which we admired. And I knew I was comfortable with the Pearson reputation for design and build quality. With a displacement of five tons, long keel (with centerboard) and attached rudder, the Wanderer looked like a good bet. Through the Soundings website, we developed a list of five Pearson Wanderers in New England. On an early April weekend we did one lap of New England and found that two boats met our criteria. We pursued our first choice and were successful. The boat was surveyed, the deal closed, and the boat trucked to Rochester April 28.

In its first season the Wanderer has demonstrated that it is everything I had hoped. I have single-handed around Lake Ontario, including a 53-mile run in 20-knot winds. My wife and I have cruised in comfort. We had a nine-hour beat in 20-knot winds, with working jib and single-reefed main. The boat self-steered while we tucked up under the dodger and read, with only the occasional need to steer her back on course, when a rogue wave would knock the bow off course. No autopilot was needed. We were reasonably fresh and relaxed when we got into port.

We finished the season with a daysail of 78 nautical miles, moving the boat from Rochester to Sackets Harbor, where the bottom will be barrier-coated this winter. We accomplished this trip in 12 hours 40 minutes, for an average speed of 6.14 knots under an old, blown-out double-reefed main and equally tired working jib, broad-reaching in 23- to 28-knot winds and five- to seven-foot seas. We frequently surfed at 7.5 knots or more.

I was fortunate to buy a boat that had a very late (circa 1980) replacement Atomic 4 engine. It holds good oil pressure and compression. Fuel consumption seems to be about 6 mpg, while cruising at 5.5 to 6 knots. I had to have the starter rebuilt ($60) and, for purposes of reliability, I installed an Indigo electronic ignition ($250). Parts and even completely rebuilt engines are readily available. I have just received three new sails: a full-battened main, a 150% genoa, and a 100% jib, plus Furlex roller furling gear. From experience, I know that the 100% will be my standard sail for spring and fall sailing, while the 150% will be the standard for summer. Yet I will have the ability to switch sails when the "other" foresail would be more appropriate for the expected weather. The surveyor reported that there was some water in the core of the deck in three spots: Adjacent to the starboard side of the mast step, in the port side deck from a point abaft the chainplates to the forward end of the cockpit coaming, and in the after half of the cockpit sole. He judged that none of these areas needed immediate attention.

Granted, I am now older (62) and have raced enough that maybe I just don't need the thrills all that much anymore. And when I do, the OPB class (Other People's Boats) is flexible, economical, and very time-efficient!

I think sailors have been sold a bill of goods in the name of speed. The J/27 was a wonderful, magical boat. We campaigned it both on Lake Ontario and up and down the East Coast for two seasons. In the J/27, our trip to Sackets Harbor would have been somewhat faster, but far more fatiguing and would undoubtedly have included at least a couple of wipeouts. But it was also a demanding boat that would have left us exhausted after a such a long sail.

The traditional heavy, long keel, attached rudder racer/cruiser is still an excellent choice for couples and families who want to cruise in comfort and safety. There are sound examples coming on the market each month. Careful shopping should yield a good buy for the readers of Good Old Boat.
Peter Allen
Rochester, N.Y.

What's it cost?
I am trying to find out what is a typical yearly maintenance bill for a 44-ft sailboat with inboard diesel engine, I have become very interested in the idea of owning a sailboat, but I have no idea what it costs to keep one running smoothly. Do you think you can help me out? I understand there is probably a range were the cost might be, but any info. is welcomed.
Ed Raygada
The answer to your question could vary a lot, but I'll try to give you a systematic approach to estimating it. These items can be sourced and quoted:

For our '76 C&C 30, these items tend to run about $3,000 per year. They will be higher for a larger boat and fairly insensitive to the age of the boat, with the exception of the insurance, which will vary depending on the extent of insurance you carry.

These maintenance items will vary with the type, size, and age of your boat:

Things that can go really wrong:

That's it then. I'm sorry I can't give you hard numbers, but they would be meaningless or worse. As the boats get older, the maintenance goes up but the initial cost goes down. We are into promoting older boats here at Good Old Boat, and we think they are a good choice, all things considered.

If you use your boat in fresh water, everything lasts longer and costs less. If the used boat came from a fresh water environment, that is a real plus. Higher latitudes have less sun and shorter seasons. Each is a significant factor in the cost of ownership. Boats from these areas are usually in better condition for their age.

We would be interested in learning what you decide, and why when you take the plunge.

About those stove-top ovens
I received the February newsletter last night and just finished reading it this morning. As usual, I found it enjoyable ad informative. Regarding the request on stove-top ovens: many people use a pressure cooker without the regulator (no pressure inside). A more conventional solution is one of the folding ovens that Coleman makes for camp stoves. They are relatively inexpensive and feature a thermometer on the door. They may not last long in a marine environment, but replacement costs are not that great.
Norm Ralph
Mandeville, La.

A Texan speaks up
Like the other Texas sailor who dropped you a line about how tough we have it down here, I too have a bone to pick, but it has nothing to do with the fact that most of the sailing magazines are based on sailing on the East and West Coasts and the big ponds up north. My picking has to do with the lack of info sent to you guys from us southern sailors. Down here on the Gulf Coast, we do have great sailing all year round. All the way from Florida to Alabama to Mississippi to Louisiana to Texas, yet seldom do we hear from any of us in any of the sailing magazines. Why is this? Is it that we don't know how to write, or we don't have anything to say or contribute? I know (being a Texan) this can't be so; we always have something to say even if no one is listening. So I ask again, why is it that so little is written by and about us southern sailors? I guess we are just too busy sailing to write. So this is to all you southern sailors out there. Next time you're on the hook or tied up at the marina, sit down and fire off a letter to your favorite magazine and let them know we are out here. Love your Good Old Boat magazine.
Price Mayfield
Sugar Land, Tex.

Minnesota sailors don't get no respect
How the hell did you end up in Minnesota writing about old boats?
Barry Barnes
Virginia Beach, Va.
See, Price? The sailors from Minnesota don't get much respect either. Maybe, as a group, we're not writing enough?

Mears Marina "adopts" us
I very much enjoyed your premier issue (loaned to me by one of my slipholders at Mears Marina) and especially speaking with you the other day. You're doing a great job, and as a result, helping to maintain those warm fuzzy feelings of us older boat owners (owners of older boats, that is), as well as helping us in maintaining those older boats!
Bob De Young
Annapolis, Md.

What is a GOB anyway?
You now have a special folder on my hard drive for downloading information. I just received your febnews and was amazed by its content. I didn't have time to read the whole thing. I have passed it on to a friend for the weekend along with a couple of issues of the magazine. I guess this is part of what you call guerrilla marketing . . . I will do my best to do my duty and do my part to help the cause of GOB. Was the mnemonic intentional? Many of your audience, I'm sure, are old gobs. We spend gobs of money keeping our GOBs afloat. I hope this old gob can help get gobs of subscribers and friends of GOB. Maybe gob up an idea or two about a GOB subject to gab about.
Lew Williams
Dearborn Heights, Mich.
Actually Lew, the GOB was incidental. We just thought the words "good old boat" said it all about who we wanted to become. Later it did occur to us that gob is an old-fangled name for sailor. According to Webster, "gob: [slang] a sailor in the U.S. Navy." We wish we knew where THAT one came from. Perhaps someone can shed some light on it for us.

King's Cruiser rescued
Since I last contacted you, there has been an increase in King's Cruisers in my area. One was brought back from certain doom by a smitten sailor.
Barry Hewett
Morehead City, N.C.
(Barry just agreed to be a contact for others with King's Cruisers.)

Feed your mutinous crew members
Thank you for the copy of the January publication. It has generated interest in several other sailors. I am very jealous of my copies and only allow my mutinous crew (my grown children) to read them. Life here on the Chesapeake is slow during the winter so I am redesigning the electrical system for my Chris-Craft 30 Capri. This spring I hope to finish the refitting and launch the Surprise. My band of mutineers have been a great help, but they are threatening me with labor problems if I do not promote them to at least slave third class and feed them better. They are tired of Scottish gourmet food from "McDonnell's."
Frank Dean
Riesterstown, Md.

Powerboater is sheepish
OK, I admit it! I own a new runabout. Don't make me walk the plank! I am taking sailing classes, and I have my eye on a wooden sailboat, so I can give the sport a chance.
James Hail
Couer d'Alene, Idaho
(James requested a sample copy of the magazine. We cheerfully let him have it!)

Cheers!
The best magazine on the boating world yet!! I can't begin to tell you what a joy and pleasure it is to pick up your mag, read it, and share it with friends! I found my first issue in the laundry room at the marina I live at and have been drooling ever since. I love the old boats and love selling them. Your magazine will be a real help to me and my customers. Thank you for the interesting , helpful, and inspiring articles. If I have my way, you should be a great success! Good luck and welcome to the boating world. Cheers!
Deborah Crupper
Deale, Md.

His brother looks like the January issue
My brother visited for Christmas, and my kids think his face looks like a magazine with Atomic 4 parts on the cover. (Beautiful photograph by the way.) Here's my subscription. I look forward to spending many happy hours with your excellent articles and beautiful artwork. Love the webpage, too.
Rob Powers
Annapolis, Md.

Remarkable odds
We continue to be amazed at the coincidence of your having published (Sept. 1998, Page 32) a photo of our 19-year-old boat, Infinity, in its youth as Odyssey as it sailed past Mary Jane Hayes' camera on Cape Cod Bay sometime in the 1980s. Mary Jane has told me the photo is one of about 30,000 she might have sent you, which gives us odds of 1:30,000 right there of your having published it. The sailboat is a Cape Dory 33, which was redesigned by Carl Alberg after a fairly short run of 33s, and converted to a Cape Dory 330. The former were primarily sloop-rigged, whereas the latter are almost all cutter-rigged, with a few ketches sprinkled among the fleet. The number 30 sticks in my mind as the run of 33s that were built before switching to the 330s. If correct, that brings the odds of your printing a picture of our boat to 1 in 990,000. At the time the picture was taken, it was being skippered by James Upton out of Marblehead, Mass. . . . who knows what the odds were that he would have been in the Cape Cod Bay motor-sailing past Mary Jane's camera on that windless, overcast day. Given that she appears to snap a shot of every interesting boat in sight while she is sailing, let's put the odds there at 1:100, which brings us to one chance in 90 million that you would have printed a picture of that boat. Pretty remarkable.
Ken Corbin
Scandia, Minn.

Me and my old boat
Enclosed please find my subscription payment. As I mail this in, I am also canceling my subscription to another well-established national sailboat magazine. If I ever have enough money to buy a new boat every two years, I may go back to the other guys. In the meantime, me and my old boat will read Good Old Boat.
Robert Black
San Antonio, Texas

Now THAT's salty talk!
Sorry for the belay. Here's the booty for my subscription which started in Jan. 1999. I've also tacked on an additional $7 for the Nov. 1998 back issue. I was backwinded when I spied the Small Boat Journal logo. I look forward to harbouring Good Old Boat with my collection of SBJ. And they ALL slipped their anchor rodes and sped away under cover of darkness, hoping their direction of escape remained a mystery. Seriously, please consider giving our Victoria 18s a look; they're eye-catching little sloops and cutters with a pleasing manner of sail.
Casimir Ziezio
Mexico, N.Y.
Casimir, the Victoria is already on our list. Thanks for the fun note!

Don Moyer reports on Atomic 4 oil leaks

Serious oil leaks are not a frequent problem in the Atomic 4, but when they do occur, they can be quite difficult to locate. This "illusiveness" is caused by the fact that most engines slant to the rear, so most of the leaks tend to run back along the upper ledge of the oil pan and appear at the aft end of the engine. This tendency gives the impression (many times wrongly) that the rear coupling seal or oil pan gasket is leaking.

Here are some likely sources of oil leaks, starting from the front of the engine:

Cracked (or loose) 1/8-inch pipe nipple between the oil gauge sending unit and the block
This sending unit is attached to the block directly behind the flywheel housing on the carburetor side of the engine. The weight of the sending unit is apparently enough to cause fatigue cracks in the small nipple attaching the unit to the block. Approximately once or twice a year we hear reports of a nipple failing completely. While this is an extremely small failure rate, it deserves mention here due to the devastating consequences when a failure does occur: oil pressure drops to zero immediately, and all oil will be pumped into the bilge within seconds.

Leaky valve cover (mostly on late models)
On late model engines, the valve cover is made out of regular plate steel (approx. 3/16 inch) instead of the robust cast iron plate found on early model engines. If the plates on late-model engines become bowed slightly (which can happen if the two hold-down bolts in the center of the plate are over-tightened), oil can seep out from under the cork gasket along the lower part of the plate. If oil is discovered leaking from under the valve chamber cover, the cover will usually have to be removed, straightened, and reinstalled with a new gasket. It is seldom possible to stop a leak by simply tightening the bolts. In fact, the bolts will break fairly easily if you try too hard to fix a leak by over-tightening them. While it is usually necessary to put sealer only on one side of the gasket (toward the plate), in a case where a plate is showing itself difficult to seal, sealer can be used on both sides.

Leaky pump gasket
Now and then a fuel pump may become loose and allow a small oil seep to occur between its base and the block. These leaks can usually be stopped by simply tightening the two fuel pump hold-down bolts.

Leaky water pump shaft seal
There are two seals on all models of flexible impeller pumps. The seal nearest the impeller is, of course, intended to seal water within the impeller section. The seal nearest the engine housing is intended to prevent oil from seeping out of the crankcase along the pump shaft. If this seal is leaking, you will usually find an "oiliness" under the housing of the pump in the area of the weep hole. Sometimes you can actually catch a drip occurring if you can see this area and observe the underside of the pump while the engine is running, particularly if the engine is fully warmed up.

Leaky reversing gear covers
The reversing gear cluster continuously flings a considerable amount of oil against the bottom of the reversing gear cover plate whenever the engine is running. If oil is discovered seeping down along the side of the reversing gear housing, it is sometimes only necessary to tighten the four hold-down bolts. If oil seepage persists, it may be necessary to replace (and re-seal) the cork gasket under the plate. It is also important to use flat washers under the four bolts (preferably copper or brass) rather than lock washers. Oil can seep out through the gap in regular lock washers.

Leaky rear seal
As mentioned previously, the rear seal frequently gets blamed for an oil leak that originates elsewhere. To diagnose a leaky seal, it is usually only necessary to wipe the lower surface of the aft end of the oil pan clean and observe the area for fresh oil as the engine is run (preferably fully warmed up). Replacing a leaky rear seal is one of those myriad things that is so easy to do except for the fact that boatbuilders hardly ever planned any access for us to perform even essential preventive maintenance, let alone maintenance on things like rear seals. Basically you need only to separate the prop shaft and engine couplings, remove the engine coupling from the reversing gear tail shaft, remove the round thin cast plate from the rear of the engine which holds the seal (the plate itself is held on by six 5/16-inch bolts), and replace the seal. If a groove is worn on the part of the coupling where the seal seats, we have repair sleeves at Moyer Marine Inc. to restore that surface. Note: The lower three retaining bolts of the cast ring holding the rear seal should have flat washers (preferably copper or brass) under their heads instead of lock washers.

Here are some unlikely places for oil leaks:

Leaks from the front seal
There really is no conventional seal in the front of the engine. There is however, a "slinger" type of seal built into the front of the crankshaft and flywheel housing, directly behind the flywheel. This type of seal consists of a ring with a sharp edge around the outside circumference (on the crankshaft) which continually flings oil into a groove cast into the inside circumference of a matching hole in the flywheel housing. This groove in the flywheel housing has holes along its bottom radius to allow oil to drain back into the crankcase. Once in a very great while, we hear of oil dripping out of the bottom of the flywheel housing. The cause of this is the drain holes in the flywheel housing around this "slinger seal" being plugged with crud. This blockage prevents oil from draining back into the crankcase and causes it instead to drain down between the flywheel and the outside of the flywheel housing (and into the bilge). It is usually necessary to remove the flywheel and housing to access these drain holes.

Leaks in the oil pan gasket
It is extremely rare to find leaks in the oil pan gasket. About the only time a leak occurs in this area is immediately following an overhaul and usually in the place where the aft housing, block, and oil pan meet in a sort of "three-way intersection." This spot is just aft of the fuel pump (on the port side) or just forward of the water pump (on the starboard side). If a seep is discovered in this area while the engine is still in the shop, it is best to lift the aft housing and "straighten out" the oil pan gasket which probably got a bit "scrunched up" during assembly. If a seep is discovered after the engine is in the boat, a thin hardwood splinter (or toothpick) can probably be tapped into this spot to stop the seep.
Don Moyer
Harrisburg, Penn.

The boat storage project from hell

My previous boat, a Grampian 26, enjoyed the convenience and security of wintering on the lawn next to my garage in her cradle. During the long winters found around the Great Lakes, I took great comfort in being able to look out the window and see my pride and joy. It was also very therapeutic for this sailor to be able to board his vessel, tinker on some projects, and dream of warmer times that would be spent on the water.

When I bought an Alberg 35 a few years ago, I was unwilling to change my habits by consigning my new treasure to a boatyard for winter storage. Since the new boat weighed about 2.5 times that of the Grampian, I felt that the soil around my driveway and garage simply would not support the weight of the boat, its cradle, and the yard truck and trailer used to move them. In fact, during particularly wet springs we had had difficulty moving my 6,500-pound Grampian without getting stuck in the mud from time to time. With a 14,000-pound boat, 1,500-pound cradle and a new, larger truck in the boatyard, it was definitely time to do something.

I decided to extend my driveway so it would reach around the garage and provide a nice, level pad upon which to store the boat. I found a local farmer with some earth-moving equipment and contracted with him to dig out about 8 inches of topsoil so I could put down a reasonable bed of crushed stone. Using the tire ruts left by numerous years of hauling and storing our Grampian, I measured an area that was roughly 12 feet wide by about 70 feet long. Then it rained. And rained. And then it rained some more. In fact, it was one of the wettest Octobers on record for the Buffalo, N.Y., area.

Finally, the farmer came to dig up the soil and move it to a low spot elsewhere on my property. After digging out about half of the area, his tractor got stuck in the mud. He eventually got free and tried to dig from a different angle but got stuck again. After freeing himself a second time, he decided it was prudent not to dig any more. At least he was able to dig up the area where the boat was to be stored. I reasoned that the approach would only be used when the boat was in transit and needn't be as heavily constructed. Then it rained some more.

The following day a large dump truck arrived with 10 cubic yards of crushed stone -- about 20,000 pounds. My ciphering had convinced me that I needed about 9 yards of stone to fill the bed to the depth I desired. The truck driver took one look at the now water-filled cavity and announced that he wouldn't even attempt to drive into it for fear of getting stuck. Ten tons of stone were then unceremoniously dumped into my driveway. I spent the next three days moving the stone with a shovel and wheelbarrow. I'll let you guess what type of weather we were experiencing.

After the second day of moving stones from one place to another, I made the horrifying discovery that the pile of stones was shrinking faster than the hole I was filling. To this day I'm convinced that the rain was shrinking the stones because the truckload didn't even make it halfway. A quick call to the quarry secured a second truckload of 10 cubic yards.

A few days later the second truck arrived. The rain had subsided for the moment. The driver looked at the stone-paved approach and attempted to back down to dump his load into the area remaining to be filled. After backing down about 10 feet, the combined weight of the stone and dump truck began to sink through the 6-inch bed of crushed stone, forcing the driver to abort further progress. The truck was unloaded on the spot, and I spent the next several hours clearing enough of the stone so my wife could use her side of the garage. A few more days and the remainder of the stone was moved into position and the driveway extension was completed -- in the rain.

Just in time! The driveway was finished the day before my boat was hauled for the winter. The mast was unstepped, the boat was secured in her cradle, and the cradle was towed on the yard trailer up to my house (about three blocks). As the yard crew was backing down my new driveway extension, I realized I had made another terrible mistake. Remember how I had used the tire ruts as a basis for outlining the driveway extension? I failed to take into account that the new boat was about 18 inches wider!

The boat got about halfway down the approach before the right-hand wheels of the trailer ran off the edge of the stone, and the trailer sank to its axles in the mud. After three hours of attempting to move the trailer and boat, the yard crew gave up, blocked the cradle in place and pulled the (now much lighter) trailer free with the recommendation that I call in January once the ground had frozen solid.

At least the bright yellow tarp we used to cover the boat served as an excellent landmark when giving people directions to our house! Unfortunately, being on the south side of our driveway, the shadow of the boat prevented the sun from melting the ice as it usually does. Over the Thanksgiving weekend this resulted in yours truly coming to the quick realization that he is not an ice dancer and shortly thereafter coming into sharp contact with Mother Earth. A short time later he came into contact with medical professionals to treat the resulting injury to his shoulder, back, and elbow.

Time passed and eventually the spring ritual of boat preparation was in full swing. While thinking about how to get the boat back to the boatyard, I realized that, barring a severe drought, the yard would be just as water-logged as it had been in the fall and that the boat could not be moved with the yard trailer. I called the quarry to order another 10 cubic yards of stone to widen the driveway about 3 feet so that the trailer would fit.

The dump truck showed up on schedule, but there was this big boat in the way, so guess where the stone was dumped? Then it started to rain. I now have a beautiful extension to my driveway built from 60,000 pounds of crushed stone, each one lovingly placed by hand.

I've been thinking about putting in a patio. Just thinking, mind you . . .
Tom Alley
Buffalo, N.Y.

Coming next in the ongoing project from hell series:
How NOT to buy a dinghy, by Hal Smith.

Replies to the Onboard Equipment Hall of Fame quest (request?)

I would like to add my thoughts regarding equipment for the Onboard Equipment Hall of Fame. In particular, inexpensive but handy pieces of equipment.

Parts retrieval claw Without a doubt, one of the most valuable pieces of equipment on the top of my list for the boat (after all the safety equipment stuff) has to be the 24-inch-long flexible shaft parts retrieval claw for retrieving lost parts in deep narrow crevices or in inaccessible areas of the bilge, etc. This is for all those times when that one bolt or nut needed to secure all the wiring in place drops into the bilge or that crucial part, hose clamp, or screwdriver jumps out of your hand and ends up on an inaccessible ledge under the oil pan of the engine. Now they can be retrieved successfully using this inexpensive retrieval tool. Don't leave home without it.

Rubber gloves The second piece of equipment would have to be those heavy duty somewhat stiff "day-glow orange" rubberized work gloves with the elastic wrist cuffs. These "low-tech" gloves, sold in every hardware store, seem to be ideal when at the helm on a cold wet day. They insulate your hands from that cold stainless steel wheel or tiller very well. Although they are not insulated, they keep your hands dry and remarkably warm. Also, since they are very roomy inside, they allow for lots of warm air circulation. I've used these gloves successfully for many years when I sail in the winter "frostbite" races.

Mini-flashlights The third piece of equipment would be one of those cheap, disposable mini-flashlights that are activated by squeezing the body of the flashlight (often associated with key chain fobs). During nighttime sailing, I have found that if you squeeze these little flashlights with your mouth, they allow you to use both hands to do your task. I have found them to deliver enough light to illuminate the work area without ruining my night vision. Also, if you drop one overboard, just go get another for a dollar.
Hiro Nakajima
Stamford, Conn.

Just read the latest newsletter -- it's almost as interesting as the magazine. With regard to your request for three onboard pieces of equipment, Pat and I suggest:

Binoculars with a built-in compass Once the GPS gives you the heading for it, they are just great for finding that tiny green stick that is 1/4 mile away and marking the shoals in the three-foot green waves in front of the green island. They're also good for triangulating, just to check up on where the GPS says you are. These were given to me as a retirement present by friends in my department and are used often.

Folding swim ladder Standard issue on a Niagara 35 is a stern boarding ladder of tubular metal on the reverse transom. The angle of it and the tubes' impact on bare feet is awful -- don't try using this with ancient hips. Our alternative is a good folding swim ladder with wooden steps. It makes getting in and out of the water or dinghy a pleasure while cruising, and (left folded) is a good aid at strange docks that happen to be low in the water.

The bread box We extend our time away from port by making bread via a recipe quite similar to the one in the January issue of Good Old Boat. All the ingredients for a month's cruise fit neatly into a heavy-duty poly box with a tight-fitting lid, whose size (about 12 x 18 inches and 8 inches deep) was chosen for an otherwise nearly useless small locker.
Ken and Pat O'Driscoll
Waterloo, Ontario

VHF antenna coaxial cable

Cable Type

Attenuation

Cost

150 MHz db/100ft

$/ft

West Marine

RG58A/U

6.5

.22

.49

RG8/X MINI

4.7

.20

.69

RG213/U

2.8

.41

-

RG8/U FOAM

2.3

.39

1.19

9913 Flexible

1.6

.63

-

LMR-400-UF

1.7

.84

-

Type 9913 Flexible has a helical dielectric (insulator). It can therefore channel any water that might enter at the top of the mast directly down the cable. These folks did not recommend it for masthead antennas.

Cable X-Perts (800-828-3340) also has a large stock of connectors and lightning arrestors. They also have sealants designed for coax connectors.

I used the LMR-400-UF. I bought 120 feet (to get over 100-foot pricing) and shared it with a friend. I installed our connectors myself and checked the whole cable and antenna assemblies with an SWR meter. We both used the Metz antenna that got a poor rating from Practical Sailor. I suspected their test setup and wrote them about it. They did not test the antenna on a mast. I think that the mast provides part of the ground plane for this antenna. We got very good SWR readings for the antenna.
Greg Mansfield
Washington, N.C.


Published April, 1999

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