Was an electric Motor a Huge Mistake?

Sorry, it’s been a while since the last blog. Since our last loss of motor power event, we have since made some drastic changes to the boat to ensure that we have sufficient power for most circumstances.

It has been a little while now, but I recall it was quite the ride of time and money spent to restore our confidence in our electric motor’s available energy supply.

Here is the list of upgrades:
1) SS tubing and terminal ends to build a sturdy base above the Bimini while trying into the Bimini bars.
2) Replaced Bimini feet to Solid rigid style for strength and stability
3)  Purchased 2 Piomar (de Italia) –  200 Watt 24-volt panels wired in series (48 volts) above Bimini using 4 SS Ubolts per panel.


4) Purchased Midnight’s The Kid Charge Controller.
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5) Purchased two Battery switched and battery cables to switch between using and charging our FLA and AGM battery banks. Will probably run with 2 AGM banks in the future.
6) Last, but not least I built a platform for the second battery bank above the other and installed 4 Vmax tanks AGM MR137 (Amazon – Free shipping! Yeah baby!) wired in series for the second 48-volt bank.
7) Is that all? No!!!!!! We eventually purchased a shunt and Wiz Bang JR. From Midnight to measure amp-hours going into the bank when charging and amp hours and percentage of life being used. Really neet device to prevent overcharging which will destroy your batteries.

Sailing on a budget Haaaaaa!!!!! Is there really such a thing? With all of this though I am certain that we saved over $5,000 when compared to having a new diesel engine installed by pros. The total price of motor batteries, panels, etc. Still comes in at less than $10k DIY.

What I found the most frustrating was programming the controller correctly, but contacting the battery manufacturers and Midnight to dial in the numbers certainly eased my pain a bit. Just a bit.

Final tests are in. On a clean Hull, we should now be able to do somewhere between 3-5 knots (depending on wind resistance, tide, etc.) at a 20 Ah draw (seems to be a our sweet spot) for a little over 5 hours on strong, charged batteries before we end up at the 50 o/o level.
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Time to set sail again, finally!!!!!! So glad this chapter is over, for now!

See you on the water!

 

A No Cost Repair???

When we first purchased our beloved but in need of some TLC Sailboat she came with a new 3 winged prop and depth sounder puck that had yet to be installed. Finally installing something was not going to cost anything extra other than some silicone and time.

Let the demolition begin! I began by carefully slicing the old depth transducer outer edge I used a harbor freight dremel tool. Great little tool for these kinds of projects. After that I just wedged and pried out chunks until finally I was able to push it out. Replacing was pretty straight forward, just had to rout wires to the control unit which was interesting. Be sure to run your top cap through all the wiring first (so it sits on top of transducer) before you run your wires to unit otherwise you will need to completely re- do your wiring run like someone I know had to (not mentioning names here). Pretty easy job, except it’s freaking hot enclosed in the tiny little spots in a boat during the Florida Summer! I did fabricate a slanted base out of a fiberglass board so the puck could sit a little straighter and epoxied that in place before buttoning it all back together with 3M 4200. Hopefully all will work as it should now. In theory. We shall find out if all my hard work paid off when she is back in the water.

Replacing the prop was a bit more challenging, but I managed. By tapping the back end of the prop directly with a hammer, (should have used a large collar of some sort to prevent shaft dings) I was completely unsuccessful. I wasn’t fond of possibly damaging the motor coupling or motor using this method either. Time to bring out something that will do a bit more damage. 

I finally grabbed my jigsaw, removed the base from it and was able to saw the sucker off. I’m starting to enjoy this demolition stuff a bit by now. Anyway, on went the new 3 winged power prop that we were gifted. Your supposed to get more power from these with a slight increase of drag.  Maybe not the best in light wind situations, but let’s see how she does. Hell, it was free and it looks awesome!

After these projects, she should be ready for the water again right? Not quit yet. Catch you on the next blog!

Until Next Time,
Dennis

How the Insanity Began

Neither one of us has ever sailed so how did this whole sailing thing even come onto our radar? I blame it all on Dennis. He can have all the credit for the crazy idea this time. Dennis had stumbled on some sailing videos on You Tube and it took off from there. He went in search of a first boat that we could learn to sail on. I present to you our very first sailboat which we lovingly named Squirt.12143331_1054213897931751_7257496061172752968_n

Oh the fear that little yellow boat instilled in me. Dennis played fearless. There was a very big learning curve with Squirt that included but was not limited to getting stuck, drifting into the pier, running aground on oysters, getting stuck in a storm and almost flipping her over more than once. Needless to say it was never a dull moment when we took her out. There was definitely  a Lot of learning going on. It wasn’t all terrifyingly frought with misadventure though. We enjoyed ourselves on many sailing days also. There were dolphins that you could almost reach out and touch. The views and of course the sailing itself was Amazing.

After about two years or so of sailing Squirt we decided we wanted a bigger boat that can eventually take us further. Dennis had his list of musts. There were some long drives to look at some doozeys.  Time, patience, and quite a few boats later we found a Bristol 29.9. The price was right because she didn’t have an engine which was big on Dennis’s must list. He had his heart set on putting in an electric engine. He got his wish and then some.

Turns out this girl needs more work than originally anticipated. That is usually how it goes though isn’t it? She is coming along slowly but surely. All the projects and hard work will pay off.

Would love to hear how sailing came into your life? Did you grow up a salty sailor or did you find the adventure later on?

Until Next Time,
Señora del Mar

 

How many engines does it take?

A journey that expectedly took longer than expected. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? First off we got  a late start from Titusville and didn’t quite make it as far as we had hoped. The wind was not blowing and our engine is not set up for a long journey so we used the dinghy with the 9.8 outboard. Everything was cruising along smoothly and we anchored for the night. It is such an AWESOME feeling when things go so well.

How short lived that was. The 9.8 dies because we ran out of oil, the shaft slips on the inboard and it is no longer operational. We are now left with old reliable, the little 5hp champion that seems to always save our asses. Oh but it always gets better. The sun is setting, we are cruising at a super slow speed and not sure if we have enough gas to get to the marina to dock for the night. There is no place to anchor and we are not prepared to sail at night. The universe was not going to completely kill our spirit, we did make it to the dock. Have I mentioned that I have never in my life brought a boat into a slip. With a dinghy no less. A bit of a struggle but we got tied up for the night.

Morning comes and we start the day with the breakfast of champions, ice cream. We set off for the last leg of our trip. The power boats are out in full force so rather than get upset because the wake tosses the boat every which way, there was DINGHY SURFING to be done. I do believe Murphy was done with us at this point. Our travels to St. Augustine were pretty uneventful. We were going to have to dock again though. There are no moorings till after the 4th. The engine needs to be repaired already. I am saying my prayers and pleading with the universe that it is an easy fix.

Until next time,
Señora del Mar

Does it Run?

This is a long one so settle in and read on to find out if we were successful in installing the electric engine.

Ok, Finally after spending several days of attempted hand sawing (no shore power on a mooring) and killing drill batteries by drilling through the bolts in the collar that was hell bent on leaving the prop shaft, I prevailed.

Funny, even after preparing and buying a second drill for the daunting task that lay ahead, guess what was missing? Go ahead, Guess. The friggin charger! Needless to say there were many setbacks during the process but the first step (probably the most difficult) had been accomplished.

I managed to drill through 1 1/2 bolts that clamped the collar tight to the shaft and had to hammer it off after my drill died. Off she came.

VICTORY!
VICTORY

From there the next steps were fairly painless. The new propeller shaft collar was put in place. ***NOTE: Do NOT push the shaft back to far.*** Motor was mounted along with the gear reduction unit. Mounting the entire unit to the ground was super simple since there is no need for engine mounts (little vibration). I just simple drilled one pilot hole into each side of the motor runners (that is what I call what the motor mounts to because I like to make up my own names for stuff sometimes). Luckily most are just wood underneath fiberglass. I just ran one fairly thick lag screw on each side to hold the motor in place. I believe they were about an 1″ – 1 1/2″ long.

Next step I started applying the heat transfer grease onto the back of the heat sink which the Sevcon controller will be screwed into. I used my finger instead of a roller like they suggest because they give you a very small amount. I think using the roller would have absorbed it all and left me with nothing. A little extra would have been nice.

My plans were to mount the controller flush against the wall, but after consulting with Thunderstruck, they suggested mounting it on its side long ways top to bottom. This allows for better air circulation allowing the heat to rise away from the unit easier.
Do not place the relay switch under the controller as it creates a good amount of heat.

Next I just watched the Thunderstuck wiring video and got that all taken care of easy enough. I ended up placing the 4 group 27 batteries where the gas tank was for a nearly perfect fit. I am using wet cell batteries for now because they are cheap, but will most likely switch to AGMs in the future.

Installing the throttle cables gave me a bit of an issue. As hard as I tried, I could not get my current wire/lever assembly to give me the play I needed to get full throttle power in both directions (after fabricating throttle actuator-aluminum rod for cable attachment).

My intention by purchasing the Curtis ET-134 was to use my exsisiting cables so I wouldn’t have to mount the funny looking clown nose throttle lever anywhere near the cockpit area. The thing looks like a toy. I lost this battle, but I do intend on either covering or topping off the rod with something cool to distract from the cheesy red plastic knob. I really don’t like the thing.

Anyway, the existing throttle cable(s) were completely bypassed. ( They would have needed to be replaced anyway). The throttle is completely controlled digitally by the Curtis unit ,and yes we now have full throttle in both directions. Although I managed to install it backwards so forward is reverse and reverse is forward. But hey, it works and I am beyond ecstatic. It is now time to bring her home to St. Augustine. Let the move begin!

Until next time,
Dennis

 

 

 

Electric Engine it is

So the main reason (besides a great deal!) that I wanted a sailboat with a dead motor was because I had researched electric engines and how their owners liked them and I was sold. Our boat was going to have an electric engine.

From what I had heard, putting in a new diesel engine (not sure if new or rebuilt) can cost $10,000-$15,000 and is not a job for a non- mechanic. They have to be craned in and set-up by someone who is knowledgeable and experienced. Anyway, We are not fans of stinky diesel engines and all the headaches and maintenance nuances that come with them. I’ve seen enough youtube videos to realize that I prefer to enjoy our boat and not have to constantly repair and maintain the engine.

We did plenty of research and found that electric engines are very low maintenance,  are more powerful than diesels and are much more affordable. They make a great DIY project which also saves you $$$$! Who doesn’t want to save money.

We ended taking the middle ground and purchased a diy electric sailboat kit from Thunderstruck.ev. Instead of a complete set-up from other companies that we found on line. We decided to go with the 10 kilowatt model which is generally equivalent to a 15hp motor, but with more torque. 

The 10kw kit with the gear reduction, upgraded throttle control and shipping cost us $3,048 plus an extra $400 for the Exide batteries purchased at Tractor Supply. Also spent $75 for 3 18″ ancor cables from West Marine.

We will probably steer towards AGM batteries in the future (less maintenance), but since I purchased 2 wrong size batteries (group 27s Deep cycle) for the house bank, I decided to get two more of the same to create the 48 volt system needed to power the motor. We can always get AGMs later after these die.

Let the install begin!

Making sure everything is going to fit together and sit right. All good.

Okay not so fast. You thought this was going to go smoothly didn’t you? To be honest I was thinking the same thing. Stacey was about to do the dance of joy but held back because, Well……. she didn’t want to jinx it. I had already almost set the boat on fire. Listen to the wife when she reads the instructions to you. Don’t argue and insist you know better than some instruction manual. Needless to say I have to purchase a new charge controller for the house batteries.

So you can see why I was so happy that this whole engine thing  was going so smoothly. Some might say too smoothly. Then it happened, I was stopped in my tracks by two rusted bolts that had no intention of budging. Nope, not happening.  No matter how hard I try they are not going to move at all. So what do you do when you have no power for power tools at the moment  but a whole hell of a lot of determination? Out came the hand saw. I was going to saw those bolts off damn it. Stacey  just stared at me trying her damndest to control an outburst of laughter and asked me how long I thought it was going to take to do it with a handsaw. It could be done. It was just going to take a little bit longer is all, maybe an hour. Have at it was all she said and went back to what she was doing. I was determined that the engine was going in today DAMN IT! Needless to say those 2 rusty bolts had the upper hand for the day. I will come back and be victorious.

This did not go so well. Please try to contain your laughter. I was determined.

To end the day we got to see these guys. You can’t help but smile watching these beautiful creatures.

Until next time,
Dennis