Sunday, April 18, 2010


Home in Port Charlotte
Raining but pleasant temps in the low 70s

Before leaving for California last week I put the boat steering system back together.  I concluded the clevis pin was fused to the steering arm to the point that I cannot remove it.  Without being able to seperate the hydraulic ram from the steering arm, I cannot take the ram out to repair the leak.  If I cannot get it repaired I will try the band-aid approach.  I will use Lucas Oil Powersteering Stop Leak fluid to try and fix it.  If it doesn't fix it, it will slow it down enough for me to drive the boat to a repair marina, where they will have a method for removing the clevis pin.

Friday I bought the stop leak and put in two bottles.  I followed the directions which called for having the wheel turned full port, fill to the cold level on the dipstick, start motor and let run momentarily, repeat until level stays full.  After filling system and lines, start motor and turn wheel from stop to stop, port to starboard, checking levels frequently.  Once full, leave overnight and check for leaks.

On Saturday the dipstick showed the system still full.  I wrapped shop towels around the ram and did the wheel check again.  The wheel turns as smooth as new but checking the shop towels found a small amount of leakage coming through.  My neighbor Rolando said this could be normal as the Stop Leak fluid penetrates the breach in the gasket/seals and fills the minute holes.  He recommended we leave it overnight and check again on Sunday.

I spent the remainder of Saturday cleaning and detailing the boat for the first time in about two months.  The new lift cover does an amazing job of keeping the boat clean.  I get about 10% of the green mold growth I did from before having the lift/boat covered.  I used my shop vac to pump the old spilled hydraulic fluid out of the engine bilge.  Between the three quarts of fluid I had used and the normal accumulation of water in the bilge I pumped out about 2.5 gallons of contaminated fluid.  I poured this into a Homer bucket and drove it to the Charlotte County Recycling/Waste transfer station where they took it off my hands for free.

The rest of the day was spent washing, scrubbing and cleaning the boat.  I began to wax the port side and got about 20% done before dinner was ready.  There is some "tea staining" near the water line that I can't get off with the 3M polish/wax.  I will have to carefully use murratic acid to remove that.  I'm not in a hurry to do that job.  I will get the top half of the waxing done as time allows.

It's 10:45 AM and the rain is slowing down some.  I'm going outside to check the steering ram for leaks again. 

Raining heavier at 11:45 - no, it's still got a slight leak.  Nothing compared to how it was, but it's not right.  I've spent the last hour continuing another ongoing project.  I'm trying to run a dedicated 12v line from the radio box (which is affixed to the hard top above my head at the helm) to the AC/DC panel inside the cabin.  My neighbor Ron drilled a hole in the support tubes (that hold the hard top in place, look like roll bars) and I fed the new 12v line through the tubes back in February.  I was never able to find where the line enters the gunwales so I could pull it through to the cabin.  These ongoing projects show you how long it's been since I've boated.

Anyway, I had to remove a wall from the bulkhead behind the helm/dashboard.  This opened up the gunwales to my limited view but I'm still looking for the new line amidst a field of dozens of electrical lines leading to the helm and panel.  Now the battery powered spotlight is giving me fits.  I took a break to come blog this.  I leave tonight to work Stuart on Monday.  I'll return Monday night, spend Tuesday in my office and take Kathy with me on the road Tuesday night.  Wednesday I work Miami and Thursday we will both fly to Puerto Rico to stay three days.

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