In 2018 the engineer at Pin Mill told me that he felt the life of Sumara’s engine was coming to an end and it could conk out at any time. He had replaced the inboard shaft bearing but it continued to spray some oil. Maybe the pressure was building up? Then my friend Philip told me all about runaway diesels – scary stuff. This new technical information added a frisson of excitement when motoring against a falling tide to reach your mooring after a long sail. I decided it was time for a new engine.
A couple of years previously Alan Staley, my surveyor, said that I should consider having my teak deck replaced. They were 30 years old and didn’t look too bad. However, each year about half a dozen teak plugs covering the screws would fall out and need replacing, the caulking needed doing too. A few millimetres of teak had worn away so the plugs were now only about 2 mm deep. The fixings would need sinking down lower. If the fixings were all reset and the decks recaulked it would still only give me another three or four years before the whole deck needed replacing. I decided now is the time to have the decks replaced.
For convenience, I decided to get the work done in Ullapool, a mere 590 miles away. OK, not very convenient but Tim Loftus and Dan Johnson run a boatyard there and I felt I could trust them to do justice to the boat.
A previous post describes the sail north, the engine conking out in Whitby and the final haul out onto a trailer from Amble. I was rather pleased the engine finally died to justify my choice of getting it replaced.
My old engine was a Kubota 12hp which was hand marinized by Terry Newman who built Sumara. It was raw water cooled, solidly mounted and controlled with rods and levers. I confess I rather liked its robust solidity.
The new engine was going to be a Beta 16hp. It is also Kubota based, but indirect cooled with flexible mountings. The new mountings meant rod controls wouldn’t work. I have little faith in most cable controls so Tim and Dan suggested I invest in a German Kobelt system. It did feel like a bit of an investment as the bronze lever cost twice what I pocketed by selling my old car. But you soon forget the price and just admire the sheer beauty of the thing.
Talking of bronze, I decided to have a prop cast in aluminium bronze for added strength. Tim and Dan did some research and calculations and selected a slightly larger prop (14 x 7) than my previous one. It shouldn’t need any anodes. I believe Clemments undertook the special casting.
Of course one thing leads to another, so the shaft was replaced due to some wear. There wasn’t any crevasse corrosion which I was worried about but too much general wear for Tim to be happy. A new greaser was fitted too. And of course while the fuel tank was out all the wood was scraped, sanded, touch primed and coated with a few coats of Danboline.
In theatreland, there’s an expression called a “bytheway”. A BTW is when someone adds something to a job – “By the way, did I mention replacing the bilge drain pipes?”. Some jobs end up being more BTW’s than the original task. Actually there weren’t too many BTW’s on the re-fit because I had been composing the list for a couple of years and indeed the drain hoses were on it! However, the Eberspacher heating hose was a BTW!
The drain cocks were replaced on the fuel tank before it was put back in. While all the varnishing work was going on, Tilman was keeping busy tidying up the beach.
We debated using a teak substitute called Lignia to do the decks. It was pretty impressive stuff but very new to the market. Tim had some stock of excellent teak which could be supplemented with more from Robbins Timber. I was a bit concerned how the Lignia would bond as we weren’t using screws this time. To be on the safe side, we stuck with teak, but it was a close call. They used TDS for the caulking which Tim highly recommends. Interestingly (well to some of us) TDS will not take paint or varnish at all. Not that that is an issue on this job but could be on some tasks.
All the varnish was stripped back to bare wood. This also involved removing the window surrounds and many fittings. I asked if they could run new cable through the pulpit as I had a niggling intermittent fault on the bow light. They found the pulpit was full of water! Some drain holes were added. There were a series of minor improvements and mods undertaken during the refit including welding a couple of cleats to the pushpit for the tricing lines and adding a couple of drain holes in a “catchrain” beside the companionway. Finally the engine start battery was found to be on its way out so we replaced the start battery and the 105 AH AGM general service battery. That wasn’t on the list!
And what did it all cost? Well let’s not go there, but worth every penny.