Friday, July 22, 2016

Sailboat woes; Keeping the Critters out of the AC System. Corrosion and other fun stuff!

I'm sitting here doing what I do, working on a sailboat. Writing Code, Debugging data, and the Air conditioner shuts down. Now this is the end of July, South Florida in the Keys and it is HOT! Damn HOT! I immediately look up the code on the Unit and it says it overheated due to low freshwater volume. Damn It! I was going to clean that freshwater filter someday. Well, in this heat, probably once a week wouldn't hurt, it has been a month. Not a good thing.

When I open up up the strainer, it is full of creatures. Man, I wish I had the forethought to take a picture. Barnacles, shells, muscles worms, you name it, it was a party of the slimiest kind. The strainer is a simple device, it sits between the freshwater pump and the through hull valve where fresh sea water comes into the pump. 
Seawater Strainer (New and clean)

To clean the strainer, you shut off the pump, close the through hull seacock or valve in layman's terms (if you don't, you flood the boat because this is all under waterline) then you unscrew the container off the bottom and remove the screen. It is all full of nasties so be careful not to cut yourself, I use a knife to scrape out the barnacles and muscles. Cuts from these take forever to heal and can get infected. 

When everything is clean and put back together, you open the seacock to allow water in, start the AC pump and then open a small bleeder valve to assist the pump in priming. This is where it all went wrong today. 

As I opened the bleeder valve, it snapped off. SHIT! I knew it was in bad shape from the last time I cleaned. It was leaking ever so slightly and was corroded. I was going to order a new one... someday! damned procrastination, it turns daily routine into emergencies. Well, now I have to tear the damn thing apart and head on down to West Marine. 
The header with the broken valve. The header splits the water between the fore and aft Air Conditioner units. 

The Pump (upper left) and Strainer (bottom left).

So as what seems more usual than not, West Marine says they don't have the part. This is the story of my life, It is MacGyver time. I buy a brass Tee, a couple brass nipples, a brass ball valve and at $50, I think I can make this work. The original valve if you can see, was just a tee valve with a 1/4" nipple and a small line running to the bilge. I now have a gigantic valve with 1/2 opening and if this somehow accidentally gets opened, the boat will fill and sink. I tink I need to place a 1/2 inch plug in that opening. Just in case. I did remove the handle so it can't get bumped open. 

Here is the final product!

Now that it is all put back together, I open the Seacock, Start the pump, crack open the valve and immediately the pump primes and I am golden. The Marine Air Conditioner comes online and maybe in an hour the inside temperature will drop back in the 70's from the mid 90's it is at right now. 

Chock up another sea adventure to the MacGyver mind. 

May the winds always fill your sails and the sun and moon light your passage.

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