November 2017
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Odds and Ends

The fuel uptake issue has been a major hurdle in preparing the Muthah-Ship for safe and reliable operation. During our first on-the-water operation of the Carver we could not get over 2500RPM which meant that the boat could not get onto a plane and reach design speeds of 15 to 20 kts. Although we intend to operate the boat at speeds of 6 to 7 knots 90% of the time, one of the major advantages of a planing hull is the ability to move the boat and its occupants to safety quickly if there is a need. Installation of a 12vdc priming pump helped to get the boat to 2500RPM and onto a plane at speeds of about 14kts but there were still significant symptoms of fuel starvation at 3,000 RPM and above.

Disassembly of the fuel uptake assembly revealed the cause of the problem. Over the past 37 years there has been significant deterioration of the materials used in this

Old Fuel Uptake Assembly

Old Fuel Uptake Assembly

assembly. In fact, the only thing holding the uptake tube together was corrosion! When it was bent slightly the unit completely disintegrated. Trying to find a replacement turned out to be impossible even at the major marine parts outlets in Anacortes, Washington (a major PNW fishing port). So I had to buy some parts and some tools and fabricate a new assembly using the tailgate of my Dodge pickup truck as a workshop.

New Portable Welding & Brazing #1

Workplace set up on the back of a Dodge pickup truck

The first priority was to buy the tools to solder or braze copper and bronze pipe fittings together. If you look closely at the photo of the old fuel uptake assembly you can see a small copper screen on the bottom that acted as a filter to keep the larger particles out of the fuel system. No one in the area carried copper screen.  Everyone agreed that 20 years ago they would have carried it but no longer. Just one more in a long list of articles that have fallen out of the system. My solution was to solder the end of the tube shut and drill a bunch of small holes around the tube at the bottom.

So after gathering up the parts and the tools I parked the pickup in the lee of a warehouse and set up my workshop. I had found a torch system that used both Mapp gas and oxygen to form a mini-welding set that is very convenient to carry around. I then

The new fuel uptake assembly

The new fuel uptake assembly

clamped a small vise to the end of a 2×4 to hold the workpieces steady. I had to use a flaring tool to expand the end of the copper tube enough so that it would sit in the 90-deg copper ell and be stable enough to solder. One problem with soldering outside is that the work cools so quickly that the solder doesn’t get a chance to do its work. The torch system was hot enough to keep the workpiece heated but if not used carefully it could actually burn holes in the copper. So I had to carefully keep the pieces hot by sweeping the flame around while feeding plumbing solder (after apply flux) into the appropriate areas. Then, after that cooled, I soldered the end of the pipe closed. When that was cool I blew into the assembly to test whether it was airtight. Then I took it to the boat and drilled a dozen tiny holes in the end.

Once this was done I bought a toolbag for $10 that would carry the parts of the “workshop” more conveniently than in the plastic shopping bag Home Depot sent me away with. Then I installed the assembly and took the boat out for a test run. Where we

Carrying Case with all Plumbing Tools Inside

Carrying Case with all Plumbing Tools Inside

could not get above 3,000RPM before, now we could get up to 3600RPM without any fuel starvation symptoms.  I turned around and went back into my slip only to discover that now the outdrive would not tilt up to the parked position. It’s always something. I’ll solve that next weekend.

I unloaded the F-1 kayak from the pickup truck and put it into place alongside the flying bridge of the muthah-ship. You can see from the photo that in this position it is secure and does not interfere with visibility either from the flybridge or the inside steering

Muthah-Ship with F-1 Kayak and Zodiac aboard

Muthah-Ship with F-1 Kayak and Zodiac aboard

station. It does interfere somewhat with getting on and off the boat. The Zodiac is visible tied down athwartships on the cockpit railings. From this position I can easily launch and retrieve the Zodiac single-handed. The F-1 is so light at 28 pounds that it doesn’t affect the balance of the boat even with me sitting at the helm on the flying bridge. It’s held in place by 3 flat bungee cords secured to the flybridge railling and the lifeline rail.

Next week Sue and I will take a 4-day trip to the San Juan Islands and catch some crab and some kayak time. At least we know the outdrive is down.

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