• Steven Hopkinson

Boat Maintenance Day


A recent entry from the City Dogs boat log:


It's another boat maintenance day. After noticing a small leak from the check valve plate on our Katadyn PowerSurvivor Watermaker during our sail the day before, I suspected a blown o-ring. But when I took it to pieces the problem became clear: one of the 5” bolts holding the unit together was missing the head so there was a bit of a pressure imbalance in the unit, leading to a small leak.


I don’t know how a stainless steel bolt head shears off, I mean, I know these units generate a lot of force but that seems crazy. It’s actually the second time this happened, so I'm going to contact Katadyn to see what they think. Maybe I'm over-tightening them? Regardless, I took a ride out to Ace Hardware, because what boat maintenance day would be complete without a visit to the hardware or marine supply store?


So I grabbed a couple new bolts, then scarfed down two chicken pastelitos and a coca cola sabor ligero from the Petro Sun gas station, then went back to the marina, cleaned the watermaker out, swapped in a new o-ring, changed the filter, reassembled it and viola, it worked like a charm without any leakage. We'll see how long the stainless steel bolt holds this time...


Then I moved on to servicing our four Lewmar two speed winches. It's one of those long overdue maintenance projects that we really should have done a while ago, but which there wasn't a pressing urgency demanding immediate action. They should have been broken down, cleaned with diesel, re-greased and put together again back in May or June (last service date was 10/31/17 back in Ponce Inlet, Florida). Better late than never, I guess. The first two and the fourth went fine, but the third (the port side front 40” winch) was a bit of a challenge.

The smaller gear was stuck together and wouldn't come apart. The pawls that lock the two pieces of the gear together were stuck, so I had to swap them out, and change the springs using a spare parts kit we thankfully had on board. Then, the central spindle piece would not come loose from the housing. It's always something.


If we didn’t have a lot of sails booked, I would have tried harder to get the spindle out, but as it was, I did what I could. I greased it up and put the winch back together without removing the spindle. Last thing I wanted to do was damage the spindle trying to remove it with too much force.

Seems like either the spindle or the housing for it must be bent or warped because it won’t budge beyond a certain point. Or maybe not, maybe there's just some corrosion or old grease in there gumming it up. We will need to keep an eye on this one in the future -- maybe use PB Blaster on it or undo the mounting bolts next time and hammer it out from beneath. The winch worked fine when I put it back together but I don't like knowing that spindle is stuck. It should come free with little or no effort.


Final job for the day was giving the teak a nice cleaning and a new coat of teak oil. It’s amazing how much better teak looks with a little oil and some love, but it’s humbling how quickly it fades. Almost makes me want to buy that fancy faux teak wood, just worried that’ll fade and end up looking even worse.


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