Sunday, August 1, 2010


6PM Update at bottom of page

Home Port
84*, 82% humidity
8am eastern
A large low pressure weather system is producing showers and thunderstorms southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, off the coast of Africa.  This is where many named storms are born.  The area depicted in red, in the above photograph is the system that has been slowly gaining in strength and organization.  There is a very good chance this will become the next named storm, Colin.  The area in yellow is a tropical wave that is less organized and producing mostly scattered storms over the southeastern Caribbean.  That system is moving toward Central America and is likely to break apart before full development can occur.  I will be watching the larger system closely since I am due to depart for Puerto Rico on Wednesday for a 5 day trip.

Closer to home we have been warm and humid all week with just isolated showers on occasion.  We haven't received any measurable rain at our house since Wednesday.  We have been in the mid 90's everyday and the humidity starts out at 100% each morning and stays above 50% throughout the day.  Our air handler, in the attic, started leaking through the ceiling.  I did the only thing I knew to do, use my shop vac to suck out the drain pipe, emptying the drip pan.  This didn't work so I went online.  I learned that when the temperature in your attic is 15* higher than the temperature in your house, this can create excessive condensation on the coil in the air handler and that moisture is not caught by the drip pan.  The solution is to create ventilation in the attic in order to cool it down.  Fortunately, this old house has an attic fan in the garage ceiling.  (I wonder why, duh?)  Our home, like many in Florida, has sliding screen doors on the garage front.  We closed the screens, left the garage door open about 1/4 and turned the attic fan on.  Not only did this solve the moisture drip problem, our whole house feels cooler.  At night, before we go to bed, we secure the garage and turn off the fan.  With nighttime temps in upper 70s to low 80s it doesn't seem to be a problem.

The boat saga continues.  During my last trip I found hydraulic fluid still leaking in the bilge.  I suspected maybe I hadn't tightened the hydraulic lines tight enough when I installed the new power steering ram.  After tightening them up I used my shop vac to suck 10 gallons of contaminated water out of the bilge and transfered it to homer buckets.  I took the contaminated water/fluid to the County waste station, where they took it for free.  I returned home to refill the hydraulic fluid resevoir with about 1/3 quart of fluid.  I had Billy assist me by starting the engine and turning the wheel as I stuck my head inside the bilge to look for leaks.  And leaks I found.  It wasn't coming from the lines where I had tightened them, it was coming from somewhere near the center of the engine.  After shutting down the engine I opened up my shop manuals.

I used the diagrams to trace the path of those hydraulic lines.  There's a supply line and a return line.  The supply line comes from the resevoir to the valve, or ram, and the return line brings it back, through an oil cooler or heat exchanger, to the power steering pump.  The pump has a purge valve that could activate in the event you over fill the system, resulting in excess fluid being sprayed out into the bilge.  I started my investigation there but didn't find any evidence of fluid anywhere around the pump.  The location of the oil cooler is more suspect of where I saw the drip coming from.

I crawled halfway into the bilge again, sticking my head waaaaay back and down behind the engine block.  (Man, our old Sea Ray in Arizona was a lot easier to get around.  It had an actual engine room where 3 adults could all stand together.)  I traced the return line to where it met a little pipe at the oil cooler.  As I touched the connection, corroded pieces of something came apart in my fingers.  I couldn't tell if it was paint flaking off, corroded metal or dried rubber hose.  With a flashlight I could see fluid had gathered beneath the connection.  I felt the return line connection again and came up with wet fingers, red like hydro fluid.  I think I've found it.

I brought Billy out to assist again.  This time, as he worked the wheel to full port and starboard, the shop towel I'd wrapped around the connection hemmoraged, blood red.  Shut her down, Billy, and schedule the old girl for vascular surgery.  I went to my local Volvo marine dealer and found the low pressure return line to be priced at $24.  The high pressure supply line, much longer in length, is $93.  The parts guy recommended changing both at the same time, although they didn't have either in stock.  He gave me the parts numbers and I went home to look online.  My online marine dealer, from Maine, has them for $22 and $81, with free shipping and no tax.  That's a savings of over $20, so I ordered them.

Below is a  photograph of the source of the leak.  It looks strangely like the photographs a doctor gave me of my appendix, while it was rupturing 6 years ago.  Boat-pendectomy anyone?

I just looked at the photos of the hydro hoses and I'm wondering if I haven't mis-diagnosed this problem.  I wonder if it could simply be a failed hose CLAMP, and not the hose itself.  Or it could be the actual oil cooler.  The picture I edited, pointing out parts, shows where the return line meets the oil cooler.  The little pipe that the hose clamps onto is very decayed and corroded.  The other photo shows a return line, where the fluid leaves the oil cooler and is returned to the pump .  Look how different the little pipe looks.  I'm going to try a new hose clamp first before it's too late to cancel the $107 order of new hoses tomorrow.  Stay tuned.  Any input is appreciated.

Above is the leak, where the fluid enters the oil cooler

Below is the other end of the oil cooler where the fluid goes back to the pump.

6PM update
A $1 hose clamp appears to have cured the leak.  I have cancelled the $107 new hose order.  I will keep an eye on it, moving forward.

The storm system described above continues to organize.  NOAA advises this system has an 80% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.  Colin's coming.

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