Sunday, August 10, 2014


Our gen-set. 
A Kubota single cylinder diesel
driving a 210 Amp alternator

There are many styles of cruising.  One that gets a lot of lip service, but is not commonly adopted is KISS.  Folks who adopt this philosophy usually do not have refrigeration, electric water pumps, inverters, generators,short wave radios, water makers and all other sorts of complicated electrically driven conveniences that fare poorly in the salt laden air.  Some folks even forgo having engines, relying completely on wind power.  I respect these hardy souls, and I envy their free time.  While I drip sweat, shoe horning my body into places its not designed to fit repairing my luxuries, they are up in the bar relaxing over beers, or taking interesting land tours, or whatever.  I am becoming a believer in KISS, but would lose my crew if we had to drink warm beer, or warm rum and cokes.

Since we finished chasing our coolant leak I have rewired and rebuilt my water maker motor, removed the old refrigerator compressor and evaporator, installed a new system and finally dealt with  fuel supply and cooling problems on our generator.

The generator fuel supply issue was relatively easy.  The diesel supply pump had a speck of debris inside that was preventing its check valve from closing causing it to pump fuel backwards and forwards at the same time starving the engine of fuel.  It would start to run then die.  Once the speck was blown out of the pump it worked fine.

Fixing the cooling problem was a bit more difficult.  The problem was in the exhaust mixing elbow.  The mixing elbow is a device that mixes salt water into the engine exhaust cooling it to the point when it can be routed overboard through special high temp exhaust hose.  The hose is flexible and can run through the boat around obstacles on its way overboard.  The water injector in the elbow was defective and not well designed.  It had developed a number of pinhole leaks, one of which was spraying salt water back into the engine.  This would not normally happen when the engine was running as the flow of exhaust gas was sufficient to blow the water back, but I like to run the cooling pumps after I shut down the motor to extract a bit more heat from the engine and get it overboard.  This helps cool the space the generator shares with the refrigerator compressor and condenser.  If I had left the pumps run too long the backward spray could have flooded the engine cylinder with salt water, ruining it.

We didn't know about the bad water injector until we had removed the elbow.  The issue we were addressing was the bad shut off valve located below the elbow.  It was stuck in the open position and I had broken the handle off trying to close it.  It is necessary to close the valve while at sea to prevent water from backing up the exhaust hose and flooding the engine when the boat heels over.  The valve had gotten too hot, melting the Teflon seals blocking the valve in the open position.  We intended to just replace the valve, but when Kenny saw the water injector he recommended we remove the elbow and install a new one.  It is slightly longer and reaches further down toward the valve.  He also designed a kick ass spray tip that mixes the cooling water with the exhaust gas, cooling the valve much better then the old injector that had no tip.

The rebuilt exhaust elbow
and shut off valve

The new longer and larger diameter injector
with a spray tip

The old water injection tube

I have run the generator several hours now, and the valve feels cooler.  I am going to have to replace the valves sometime in the not to distant future anyway, as the quality of metal in the valves here in Panama is not good.  This nice shiny valve will not last long, but it will last longer with the new spray tip.  I bought two.

More to come....


  1. Ah the joys of owing a boat. After 3 years I finally have ALL systems running at the same time on my 30' Catalina. But I'm not holding my breath, just enjoying the (short) reprieve. You might look into getting a portable generator, like a Honda 2000, if costs of keeping your current gen get too high. a Honda will run 10 hours on 1 gal of gas.
    Love reading of your adventures.

    Brad W
    SV Perfect Wind
    San Diego

    1. Hi Brad, thanks for the comment. About the joys of owning a boat, one of them should be enjoying keeping it ship-shape. It will take care of you as well as you take care of it. I've been lucky so far to enjoy it. It's all new to me, and I have made so many mistakes it makes my head swim, but its all just a part of the adventure.

      Good suggestion about the Honda generator. I thought the same as you, and have a Honda 1000. I bought it last year just after our lightening strike. It fried all the voltage regulators on board. We couldn't generate power, our batteries were going flat and we would have no lights or refrigeration real soon. Steve on Armaugh loaned me his 1000 and I liked it a lot and got one as soon as I could. The 2000 seemed like it would be a real handful moving it around the boat. The 1000 is significantly smaller and lighter. I am hoping that it is as efficient as the 2000 in terms of amps/gallon and accept the fact that it will be grinding away twice as long.

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