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