Last winter I wrote about the major project I had undertaken on our boat Keeper. In the article (Putting It All Together) I spoke of how the engines had been removed and I designed, among other items, a new raw water cooling system for the engines. While the seawater pumps were fine for cooling the engine, they had a horrible tendency to fail and leak saltwater onto the engine and engine mounts. In worst case scenarios this would cause severe engine damage when the drive shaft broke, allowing the drive gear to fall into the timing gear train. I vowed to have a new design in place before the engines went back into the boat. While going over the engines and replacing the gasket for the timing cover, Steve pointed out a spot opposite of the seawater pump drive gear that clearly showed how the gear had ground into the inside of the timing cover. I had never had a problem, and thinking about it now it must have happened to the original owner of the boat. Some of these pumps had failed very early on with low hours. That alone made me feel that changing the system was the right way to go. That and the fact that getting to the pump as installed was next to impossible and parts are now very hard to find and very expensive if you can find what you need.
Both during and after completing the re-design I had joined various online forums and posted updates on the progress being made and the way I went about it. I included many pictures along with videos of the engines running with the new raw water pumps in the new location. I had many online conversations about the project as there are more than a few people with the same engines and the same problems.
One man in particular seemed interested in doing this with his boat. As it turns out, he has the same exact boat with the same engines. We traded emails for months about our boats and all the different modifications we had put into them. It appears we are very similar, as many of our changes are the same. Dan ran commercial fishing boats both in Australia and in the United States and knows his way around boats and engines. I greatly enjoy sharing technical tips with him.
Eventually, Dan began talking about doing the same project on his boat but with some differences. Both of my pumps are mounted on the inboard side of the respective engine crankshafts, allowing me some ease in servicing them. Dan has gone to great lengths to clean up the area in front of his engines to gain access there. Putting these pumps there will cut back on that so he decided to mount them to the outboard side of each crankshaft.
We started talking about the brackets I had designed and what changes would be needed to swap the mounting locations. Since I designed them to work on the inside of each engine, all he would need to do is mount them on the outside of the opposite engine. In other words, the bracket I use on the inside of the starboard engine would be used on the outside of the port engine, and the port engine bracket would be used on the outside of the starboard engine. Simple. Or so we thought.
My brackets are designed to mount between the engine block and the motor mount bracket, sandwiched between them. It turns out Dan has different engine mount brackets, and had little to no room to sandwich a pump bracket between that and the engine block. So he needed a different solution. Dan sent me pictures and each of us thought about it for a day or so. The solution must have come to us at the same time because we sent emails about it at the same time. Dan would remove the engine mount brackets and have a piece welded to it allowing for a modification of the original to be installed. That problem now solved, it was time to move on to the next.
One of the hardest issues to overcome was finding an adapter that would mount on the crankshaft to drive a cog that would in turn spin another cog mounted on the seawater pump. I had hunted all around our area and online trying to find a machinist to make one to my specs. Finally, I found Charlie Hart of Shellfish Marine. He took two large adapters I had and turned them down on his lathe to exactly what I needed. Dan was also able to find a machine shop that specializes in making items like this, and they are making his as I write this.
I saved all the other part information and measurements needed to complete this project and have been able to pass all of this on to Dan. Second time around is a lot easier than the first!
Dan has been able to keep his boat operational for the most part while this has been ongoing. Once he had the specs and gave them to the fabrication shop and the machine shop, he was able to re-install any parts he took off to get dimensions and use the boat while his parts are being made. He should be all ready to go before the end of February. Did I mention he lives in Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico? Yes, he sends me pictures of his boat trips while our boats are sitting in their plastic shells! Am I jealous? Maybe just a little.