Monday, September 24, 2012

Closer each day

Projects, projects, projects. Over the weeks, we have been checking off the completed tasks. As we moved from the mechanical and the essential, to the brightwork and more cosmetic items, we began to see progress. Status update- You may be wondering what is next? We remain in Georgia, with some trips to NC for projects, but we have given final notice of our rental apartment. You may expect major events in the coming weeks.
Fresh paint, ready for batteries

After some repeated denials of the truth, we decided that the battery bank needed to be replaced. We had already replaced the starting battery, but two of the four house batteries had weak or dead cells. We could wait, or replace two batteries, or we could simply just get the new batteries. Besides, we knew if we were going to get refrigerator/freezer working, it was going to demand a good battery bank. 

New batteries and straps in place

We decided to go with the wet cell batteries as this required fewer changes.


CAREL controller
One of the biggest challenges was to get the refrigerator/freezer to work properly. We knew this Glacier Bay unit (a 12 volt holding plate system) is no longer made and parts were a challenge to find. But, we also believed that despite the age, this unit was powerful and could cool very well. Buying a new unit was out of the question. We understood that the problem was something to do with the thermostats. The message ''cool down" was simply not getting to the compressor. We could force the issue manually so we knew all of the mechanical stuff worked. And yes we needed one thermostat for the freezer and one for the refrigerator. As you would guess, contrary to what the technical reps promised, the new thermostats were not "just like the old ones" and you could not "simply plug 'em in". We had to go online to get the expanded installation manual. When we saw the manual was 60 PAGES, and that was just the English section, we began to doubt that we could do this. We discovered that we really had to read every page and, that this was going to test our relationship as we tested each new configuration. We soon discovered the previous system was not wired properly, and that it would be of limited help or wrong if we simply moved the wires directly to the new units. On the old freezer thermostat we had 8 wires for 9 positions. On the new thermostat we had two more positions. For example, the wires were rearranged where position 6 was now position eleven on the new one. And that was just the freezer. And it went on from there. And where was the wiring diagram for the refrigerator? Fortunately, there was some color coding for the wires and we could track them. After about 6 hours, we actually had both units working. And then of course we found the wiring diagram for the refrigerator and the diagram gave us some confidence that we might have done it correctly. As per the specs, the freezer holding plate cooled to -16F and shut itself off, and then the refer cooled to 40 F and shut itself off. Following several days of monitoring, the system continued to work better than expected. This has been one of our biggest achievements!

The fridge and freezer running as they should.  YEA!
  Bright work 

Bright work, as the name describes, is all of the woodwork and brass and bronze and more that demands you clean, polish, and shine. That is what everybody expects you to do, because that is what they see. They don't see or comment on that new battery bank, or that new thermostatic controller. No. They gently suggest though, that "you really do have a lot of work to do" as they turn their eyes to survey all of the peeling varnish and grey teak. It is a common debate about how much effort cruisers should put into this effort, and ultimately, whether it is really necessary. But the debate goes on as does the work.  We have begun a concerted effort on tackling the bright work, and there is quite a lot of it.

The little deck chests near the mast, for example, sure were an eyesore with their peeling varnish. A heat gun and scraper began to remedy that. It is actually very satisfying work. I would do this any day rather than mow the lawn.

Scraping the deck chest
Just another coat and it will be done
The ship's wheel was in need as well. Here we got a chance to drive the house around the neighborhood while we clean her up.

Driving around the neighborhood
Ready to go

We cleaned up the dinghy and motor (our car). "Zoe", as she is now called, will be ready to go when we are. 

One important lesson most boaters eventually learn is patience. I am learning this and working with it. Most things take longer than you think they should to complete. But maybe that is to simply a way for you to appreciate them more when they are finally done.

Here are some pictures of a project that is still underway. Can you guess what this thing is?

Stay tuned to see the transformation of this mystery contraption.