Item # 18 on Tim's list: Shifter cable needs replaced.
One of the problems with projects like that on a list are that those eight words represent three and a half weeks of calendar time (rainy days and other things like errands and waiting on parts get in the way), and 9 actual days of working time. That's a long time to go without checking anything off The List.
Now if you think that any monkey ought to be able to change out three control cables on a sailboat in less than 9 days, be sure you never purchase a sailboat with a V-drive, at least one that Tartan made. Westerbeke was kind enough to place all the common service items on one side of the engine - oil filter, fuel filters, fuel pump, injectors, control cables - and then Tartan promptly turned the engine around backwards, installed a V-drive, and jammed all those nicely accessible service items right up against the refrigerator with a whopping 1" of space between, and that includes the 1" thick sound insulation.
|It took every ounce of willpower this perfectionist could drum|
up not to rip everything out here and start over. Who installs
things this way?? Those are my pink messenger lines.
As if all of that wasn't enough, add the fact that some genius designer around the time of Noah decided that both the throttle and the shifter cables should be clamped in the same clamp, and that the clamp should reside 10 inches down inside the binnacle which has a diameter roughly the size of a grapefruit, and into which is stuffed a shaft, a shaft brake, steering chain, wire rope and lighting wiring. Of course, to do this one has to remove the shifter housing which is held on by four very long machine screws which have likely never been removed in 30 years and have frozen solid (3 hours, chisel, vice grips). No less, the genius (read: sadist) decided that to remove the cables (one of which comes up on either side of the wheel shaft), one has to disconnect the cable clamp, tie a line onto the cable ends, push the cable ends down into the binnacle, work the throttle cable under the shaft and then pull them both up on the port (shifter) side. Unfortunately, the genius failed to consider the fact that the clamp is larger than the space left between the shaft and the steering chain so it requires lifting the chain off the sprocket to provide the extra half inch missing.
|Rudder post and steering wire rope in the background|
|Three of my favorite tools. Two different lengths of bronze rod|
and a ball of butyl tape. Combined, they are life savers for
maneuvering and retrieving all sorts of things.
Remember the V-drive? To unhook the shifter cable from the engine end, you have to remove a cable clamp (one of the most accessible in the whole job), and then remove the cotter key holding the pin that runs through the clevis which attaches to the shifter arm. This was the easiest thing in the whole job and it took me two hours.
|One of the screws for the clamp deep inside the engine|
Since I was going to be doing the other two cables, I decided to replace the fuel cutoff cable as well. To remove the engine end attachments for the throttle and fuel cutoff, you have to remove the cables from the cable clamps and remove a nut from a ball fitting on the throttle and a set screw from the fuel cutoff. Each of those two attach points took over four hours. For two screws. Most of that time was spent laying on the engine with my arm nearly up to my elbow jammed between the fuel manifold and the exhaust anti-siphon hose. Working with one hand. Blind. The screws were standard, not phillips, and were less than an inch from the fridge side wall which meant using an offset screwdriver attached to my wrist with my handy 3-cent tool keeper, and getting about 1/32 of the full turn between each time I dropped the screwdriver. Easily retrieved by my tool keeper, wash, rinse, repeat...and repeat...and repeat...
Three days to remove three cables. The first delay was waiting on the cables. Our shifter cable was a 6400 model Teleflex, and the really good parts guru here at Snead Island couldn't find one. Turns out, the only reason we had a 6400 was because the boat was originally outfitted with a Paragon transmission which requires one. Now we have a Hurth transmission which can function on a 3300 model. Cheaper, more readily available and half the thickness. Score! Easier to run back through the stuffed bulkhead cutouts. Ahhh, but the plot thickens again.
Running the new cables turned out to be much less of an issue than removing them. The new cables were much more flexible and slippery. It took me less than 6 hours to run all three new cables. Keep in mind that it would take considerably less time to do all of this with a helper. Part of the reason it took me so long was I was climbing in and out of the boat constantly and the companionway stairs were removed to access the engine. It also involved going from access panel to access panel from cubbie to cubbie, each time moving the cable just a few inches. Color coding the messenger lines is extremely helpful in this process.
Installing the binnacle fittings and getting the cables anchored in the binnacle was next. This involves figuring out a way to hang a flashlight in such a way that it can shine past your head which is squeezed between the cup holder and the binnacle while holding a very long piece of bronze rod with a hook on the end. Why you say? Because the bronze rod will be used to try to prod the cable clamp bolt down into the binnacle in such a way as it lines up with the teeny little hole, push on the clamp to push the bolt through the hole, and then hold it there while you feed the nut on the outside of the binnacle. Oh joy.
|Edson binnacle cable clamp|
I finished the cable install on Friday, and wrote this post that evening, fully intending to get to publish it Saturday morning after Tim helped me do the engine run-up to test all the cable functions. Saturday morning came, the engine started, water poured nicely out of the exhaust thru-hull, the oil pressure came up and...the engine died. Somewhere during the contortions of getting my arms into the areas needed to remove and replace clamp screws, I must have pushed too hard on the many fuel lines and worked something loose and the engine got a little air in it. It doesn't take much on a diesel, like I said in a post not too long ago. Rats-n-frackin. The weekend passed with a bit of a gray cloud overhead. I really really wanted to check the project off my list before the weekend but it was not to be.
This morning I dug up all my enthusiasm and all my Westerbeast bleeding tools and set to work. An hour and a half later the engine roared to life and all my newly installed cables functioned as should be. A few lessons were learned here, which I thought I would recap:
- I should have just taken off the fuel manifold to give me access to the space where the clamp screws were. I thought of this, but since bleeding a Westerbeast is NOT FUN, and I had just done it a few weeks before, I didn't go that route. In the end it probably cost me two days. I confess to being worried about damaging a fuel line trying to take off the manifold which would have cost many, many more days so that's my main reasoning for not removing it
- Use good color-coded messenger lines.
- Double check the cable placement in the binnacle clamp before you go to all the trouble of installing the clamp. The cotter key has to be firmly in the groove in the cable. Ask me how I know.
- Disassemble your compass and binnacle pieces periodically and lube them with Tef-gel. You or some other future owner will greatly appreciate it some day
- Take the time to do things right. A previous owner had done a real hatchet job on repairing the block base on the fuel cutoff handle in the cockpit. It took me most of a day to fix.
- Make use of good techinical service when it's available. The guys on the Edson tech line are top-notch.
- If you're going to be working way back in the bowels of a 34-year old Westerbeke, be sure to take off your rings. This one I actually did think of before I started.
So before my English major daughter states the obvious that this post is almost one long run-on sentence, it was written that way on purpose because this project was the project from hell that just wouldn't end. And now, I believe, it's time for a project that's easier and a bit more fun. Stay tuned...