Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Broken Bolt

Cruising is defined as “boat maintenance in exotic places” (without the benefit of available parts).  Motivator is no exception; however I attempt to reduce the number of breakdowns by being fastidious about preventive maintenance.  I also consider myself to be a fairly descent mechanic because in my more masochistic days I drove and worked on English cars.

Q: Why do Englishmen drink warm beer?
A:  Because they have Lucas refrigerators.

If you laughed at that, you have owned an English car.

The small generator’s diesel engine had reached 500 hours and the operator’s manual called for the head to be re-torqued and the valve lash to be adjusted.  The manual also stated that the bolts attaching the rocker arms to the head should be torqued to 80-85 pounds.  That seemed like a lot to me, but the engineers should know best, right?  No, I snapped off the center bolt leaving just enough sticking out for extraction using finesse and vise-grips.  Next step, find a replacement bolt.

We are anchored in White Sound, so we jumped in the dinghy and sped over to Settlement Creek where the historic town of New Plymouth is located only to find the whole town was closed for lunch.  So we had lunch.  New Plymouth, like many of the islands in the northern Bahamas was settled by Loyalists.  Loyalists were the fine citizens loyal to the King of England that were persecuted and driven out of the New World by insurgents during the Revolutionary War.  I share that with you so that you will understand that we are dealing with large, blond white people that share the same surname in many cases.  Located in New Plymouth are the New Plymouth Hardware and Roberts Hardware and Marine.  Surely, one of those establishments will have a selection of metric bolts where I can find a suitable replacement until I can find one with the correct hardness rating (7), wrong.  Neither establishment carried metric bolts, but they did suggest we try Abaco Yacht Services Shipyard (AYSS) in Black Sound.

Back in the dinghy, we zip around the corner to Black Sound and find AYSS.  The nice lady that we saw having lunch at Harvey’s Island Grill, informed us that they too did not carry a metric bolt selection, but suggested we check with Roberts Marine (RM) across the sound.  A quick dinghy ride brought us to RM where we found a gentleman sitting in a boat with his laptop attached to an Evinrude outboard engine.  He explained that he only worked on Evinrudes and they use SAE bolts.  “The day Evinrude switches to metric is the day I quit working on them.”  He went on to explain the history of Evinrude outboards and how the current manufacturer was killing his business.  Seems you have to have a computer and proprietary software to diagnose problems with the engines and the local fishermen were not keen on anything they cannot fix themselves.  Finally, he got around to explaining that Charlie was the go-to guy for anything besides Evinrudes.  Charley however was a free agent.  With his long blond hair, bare feet, and flat bottom skiff he sped around Green Turtle Cay fixing all sorts of boats.  Currently, Charley was rumored to be fixing Aquarella over at AYSS.

Thinking we had come to the end of the line, we returned to the dingy for the ride back to the boat and our broken generator.  But, on the way out of Black Sound, Pollie spots the boat Aquarella with a flat bottom skiff tied next to it.  Not believing our luck, we slowly motor up to the two ladies sitting on the bow of the boat and ask if they have seen Charley.  After explaining that Charley was in high demand and that we would have to get in line, they reluctantly pointed out Charley who was working on yet another boat.  We approached Charley and explained our predicament.  In a “folksy way,” Charley acknowledged our pain, and said that our request was not too demanding, but did not know when he could get to tracking down a bolt for us.  He however suggested that we return to AYSS and ask for Stewie to remove a bolt from one of the old Yamaha engines, because they are metric.

Back at AYSS, the nice lady from the restaurant paged Stewie by yelling out the back door.  Within minutes Stewie was able to find the correct diameter and length bolt with a hardness rating of 8!  When I asked how much I owed the nice lady said no charge.

It is celebration time.  Around the corner from Black Sound we tied the dinghy to a dock and went to Pineapples for their famous Rum Runner. 

The generator is now purring away and boat maintenance in exotic places can be entertaining.

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