Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Traveler's Tale, Part II

The old traveler assembly

While Jo Beth was hauled at Tiger Point Marina & Boatyard in Fernandina Beach, Florida, we took care of a few projects that needed doing. Repainting the bottom and the below waterline fittings with anti-fouling paint was one job. Changing the sacrificial zinc anodes was one more, and another was the replacement of the propeller shaft seal and the cutlass bearing. The propeller shaft seal is just that; a seal that prevents water from entering the hull through the hole where the propeller shaft exits the hull. The cutlass bearing is a bronze tube with a slotted rubber sleeve and fits into the tube the propeller shaft fits in where it exits the hull.

The job of the cutlass bearing is to cool the shaft. The shaft is made of stainless steel and as it spins in the shaft tube, it creates a tremendous amount of friction and heat. The slotted rubber sleeve inside the bronze tune of the cutlass bearing allows seawater to surround the propeller shaft, cooling it as it spins. It also allows seawater to reach the propeller shaft seal for the same purpose.

Another job was the installation of a galvanic isolator in the boat’s shore side electrical system. Last year, I wrote about a corrosion issue we were having on board. (Click here to read that post.) After months of continuing searching and testing, I finally made the decision to install the isolator. So far, so good; we had a diver go down just before Christmas to check the condition of the propeller shaft zinc. Jo Beth had been re-launched two and a half months earlier. If the isolator wasn’t working properly, the propeller shaft zinc would be severely deteriorated. I’m happy to say the diver reported the zinc looked brand-new.

The other jobs done in the yard fell under the heading of routine maintenance: an oil change; cleaning and re-filtering (called ‘polishing’) the diesel fuel tank and fuel; and the replacement of the engine to tank fuel return line. Of course, the bigger jobs awaited us back home and those are the jobs associated with the traveler and running rigging, and the work which needs to be finished before we can fully transition to living aboard Jo Beth on a permanent basis.

The bolts attaching the traveler to the deck are removed with little difficulty

Back in her slip at Brunswick Landing, we tackled the job of removing the old traveler. This began with an exchange of telephone calls and emails with the service folks at Pacific Seacraft. The traveler, along with the other deck fittings on Jo Beth, is mounted through the deck. In order to provide access to these fittings and fasteners, the headliner in the cabin is zippered panels of vinyl, the idea being the zippers can be opened to gain access to deck fittings, wiring runs, etc. Unfortunately, 27 years exposure to the humid and salty ocean environment had taken their toll on some of the zippers, one of which we needed to open in order to remove the traveler assembly.

So began a cycle of several days soaking the zippers and external bolts and screws in the traveler with a variety of solvents. For the most part, the solvents did their job. Unfortunately, the one stuck zipper refused to budge and finally crumbled into pieces. Reluctantly, Lisa grabbed her X-Acto knife and cut the zipper tape. Another project added to the list.

With full access, we began the process of removing the traveler assembly. The traveler track and car are mounted to an arched aluminum piece which was through bolted to the cabin roof. The first bolts to be removed were those securing the aluminum arch to the deck. With Lisa below holding a socket on the nut and me on deck, turning the large slotted blot heads, these were out within thirty minutes. The aged bedding material let go easily and quite frankly, I was alarmed at how little of it remained – and how easily it released.

Tools of the trade...

With the traveler and support beam off, we carried it up off of the dock to the marina parking lot. Years of working on and around boats has taught me to do this whenever possible if what you’re working on is too large or unwieldy to be carried below. As one old-timer I worked for once told me, “when you pull whatever apart, put all the parts and pieces in a coffee can or jar,” he said. Confident, I added “so you don’t lose them.” He looked at me hard for a second and finally said, “yeah, there’s that. But mostly it’ll drive ya crazy to lose things one at a time overboard. This way, they all go at once.”

One small bolt proved stubborn...

We spread out an old bed sheet on the concrete and laid out our tools: screw drivers, sockets, a spray can of solvent, P.B. Blaster, a four pound mallet, and a manual impact driver. I sprayed each bolt head on the traveler track with the Blaster and one by one, we worked the nuts off and the screws out. Amazingly, we only had to use the impact driver on one bolt to break it free. All the others were wonderfully cooperative. The entire job was finished in an hour.


All that was left was to clean the old bedding from around the holes on deck and fill them with caulking, (we used 3M 4000), and get the new components ordered. This included replacement blocks for the entire mainsheet assembly and in addition, a set of lazy jacks and new bails for the boom.


I've made the decision to move this blog to WordPress. Putting it nicely, the Blogger interface is just too cumbersome and difficult. The next post will be the final one for Blogger, and will include the new address for Jo Beth's blog. please stay tuned and get ready to change those bookmarks!