One practice that is wise to get into the habit of when cruising is the art of being observant. Your senses will undoubtedly become heightened on a boat. You will immediately notice an altered cadence, a different odor, a strange vibration... Depending on how complex your boat is, you will either have a lot to keep tabs on, or a little. Regardless, it pays to be observent and hone in your senses because - on a boat - what you don't know can hurt you.
Yesterday we ran our generator to put a little juice into our batteries. As we do whenever we start a mechanical system, we watched and listened for anything out of the ordinary. Thanks to this habit, Scott was able to notice a steady stream of water dripping out of the bottom of a bolt on our Westerbeke. Where it was coming from he had no idea (we're new to this whole "generator" thing, after all). So I shut of the generator and Scott went in to investigate.
What he learned was that the leak was coming off our heat exchanger and that inside that heat exchanger is a small sacrificial zinc. Initially, we thought that perhaps a bad zinc was to blame for the leak, so Scott decided to swap that little baby out. Luckily for us, I had ordered a nice arsenal of spare parts from Trans Atlantic Diesels for both our Westerbeke generator and our Perkins engine so we had what we needed to accomplish the task. When you change a zinc however, it's also wise to clean out the corroded remnants of that zinc that might still be in the housing, which Scott did. And that is when he noticed the crack in the heat exchanger cover. Leak source: discovered.
The only problem was the fact that in my awesome arsenal of spare goodies, I did not have a heat exchanger cap. Gasket, yes. Cap, no. What to do? We pondered...
Turns out we did have a spare heat exchanger cap for our Perkins engine so Scott decided to try that on for size. We fired up the generator again and this time, no leak. It worked like a charm. Problem: solved.
So...if the first habit to get into is observation, the second habit to pick up is creativity.
*Huge props and thanks to "Maine Sail" for creating THIS SITE and the fantastic tutorial of the autopsy of a Westerbeke. If you have not visited this page, you should. It is a WEALTH of awesome, first hand knowledge and Maine sail is a true expert on all things boat.
|That bolt on the left is where we noticed the dripping|
|So we decided to change the zinc and clean out the heat exchanger a bit. This is the old gasket.|
|Gnarly! Cleaning out the bits of corroded zinc.|
|The old zinc and bits of dead zinc removed from heat exchanger|
|Voila! Problem, solved!|