Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Removing and Replacing the Engines in a PDQ 32

 I wanted to choose a humorous title, but there just wasn't enough humor in the topic to pull it off. Or as I am fond of saying in unpleasant straights, "all's well that ends."
I recall the first engine troubles I had on my PDQ; just shortly after our delivery trip home the starboard engine would refuse to start. It would run just fine on ether, so it was clear it was getting no fuel. It wasn’t the fuel pump — enough was coming out the hose. I replaced the pump with a spare anyway, just to be certain and because it was easy to get to. Soon enough, after a few conversations with others, it became clear it was the carburetor, and the carburetor is just plain tough to get to on the starboard engine. I was sure I needed to pull the engine to see what was going on. Thankfully, a wise old PDQ sailor, Page83, came to the rescue with a manual and with the help of the manual I found it was actually quite simple to pull the barb off, after which cleaning and re-building it on the bench is a snap. No fuel injection, no computers. I grew up on old cars in the 70s and so it all looked familiar - just like my 76' Pacer. I hesitate admitting to that choice, but a college kid will buy anything that has reasonable milage, is cheap, and runs. Actually, the profile resembled the PDQ 32. Every so often I read of a PDQ sailor that is going to pull and engine to work on something minor, like like a carburetor cleaning. Please don’t. It's not that much fun.

During our last Delmarva trip I noticed that the starboard engine was beginning to drink oil. Where previously a few ounces would last a year, now a pint would last only a few hours, and eventually, perhaps only 20 minutes. While I was considering my options, it seized. Later investigation revealed that it did not seize in the sense that metal welded to metal; I think the combustion chamber somehow filled with oil, preventing the piston from going up (I found the intake manifold and carburetor full of oil during tear down. After draining, it turned easily). At the same time, the port engine stopped cooling. Oh, a very small portion of water was getting by, enough to just prevent overheating in cooler weather, but not enough to be safe. Because the pump had perhaps never been serviced, the lower casing refused to separate easily, or not even with heavy persuasion. 
Both engines had failed at the same time.

As luck would have it, Page83 had a pair of Yamaha 9.9 engines that he had swapped out in favor of 8 hp engines with power tilt. The Yamaha tilt system on the PDQs is always a sore spot with the owners, and must finally have exceeded his tolerance. Or perhaps his wallet was just heavy enough to tip the balance in favor of ease. Either way, I became the owner of a “new” pair of moderate hour Yamaha 9.9s. After a few evenings of tuning, maintenance, and minor part replacement, they were purring in a 55-gallon drum.  Of course, they were only beside my house instead of Page83’s house; they were not in the boat. 
Enough rambling over how the situation evolved. Down to details. 
Pulling the Old Engines 
I considered dropping them out on dry land. I gave that up for a number of reasons: I had just painted the bottom with 2-year paint in August and had no other reason to haul; it seemed to me that the hole in the bottom was not quite large enough to drop the engine through—close, but not quite; several owners have described hoisting them up. In fact, it was a reasonable 1-person job. Putting them back in with 2 people was better, but could have been managed by one person with a little more time. no step was strenuous or required 2 people.
Would I haul the boat and do it on dry land, given the choice?  No, I don't think so. It wouldn't be easier; it would be different. I think it was easier sliding them onto the dock than it would have been lowering them. It would have been nice to get under neither once or twice. Either way.
* Duct tape over the drain hole in front of the mounts. Bolts and tools are strongly attracted. 
* Bring lots of old quilts for padding the boat! There it no slamming involved, but there is much scraping potential. 
* Knee pads are a must. There is a lot of time spent leaning into the well to reach things. 
* Disconnect the starter, charging, and control wires. A prudent person would take the positive cables off the batteries. A cautious person will merely be very careful not to touch black to red while disconnecting. It may only be 12 volts, but the amps are nearly unlimited.
* Disconnect the gasoline line. I my case I had to remove a Raycor fuel filter just forward of the engines.
* Disconnect the shift and throttle cables. The linkage ends are simple slide-clips. A single bolt (10 mm wrench) underneath the clamp where they enter the engine, where you can’t see it, is all that secures them to the engine. There is a rubber grommet - I slit it from underneath with a knife and removed it that way. There is a grove at the end of the cable that fits in a pair of slots next to the 10 mm bolt. If there is not enough slack to pull the cables out, don’t force them - they will come out easily enough when the motor is lifted a few inches. The only real reason to get them out now is to provide better access to the transom clamps.
* Disconnect the tilt lock lever extension. 4mm allen wrench.
* Loosen the transom clamps. In my case this step took about 2 hours of painful work for the first engine, including lubricating the bolts several weeks beforehand. There is little space to work and no wrench fits those stupid little plastic handles. It required the use of vise grips and 2 different small pipe wrenches, each one specializing in one a small arc of a full revolution. I have been told that a self adjusting socket (Sears Gator Grip http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_00947078000P?vName=Tools&keyword=socket+pin or Gemplers Self-Adjusting sockets http://www.gemplers.com/product/134214/5-pc-Universal-Self-adjusting-Master-Socket-Kit) will do the job; the plastic handles will need to be removed first.  PB Blaster (penetrating oil available at most parts stores) is also a HUGE help. I discovered it just in time for the second engine. Just as tight as the first; after giving the PB Blaster 60 minutes to work and a few tough turns... I could turn the clamps with my fingers!
* Remove engine cowling and install a light chain lifting bridle to the flywheel. Three short 8M bolts are required.
* Position two 2x6 planks across the hard top with one end above the skylight and one hanging over the back. Lash them together, but not too tightly; you want to be able to reposition the tackle by sliding it (unloaded, of course). This will create a fore-aft adjustable mounting for your tackle. No, they do not need to be this large for strength, but it does help spread the load. (see photo below)
* Attach a 3:1 tackle between the engine and the planks, connected to the genoa winch. I used the port winch for both engines, since it is less crowded than the starboard side. You must winch through the genoa turning block to insure a good lead angle to the winch. By the way, the tackle is not needed for power; it helps slow the lifting, reduces the stress on the hardtop (140 pounds vs 220 pounds) and reduces the side pull on the planks. 
* Try to minimize the stack height of the tackle and bridle so that the motor will lift clear; measure the lifting range and compare it to the length of the motor from transom lip to skeg.
* Crank away. Be aware that the winch, with a 3:1 tackle, has enough power to break the hardtop in half. Don’t force it! Be warned that the transom bolts may be driven into the mounting; rock it loose by hand and without the winch first. Any time you feel any resistance through the winch, look to see what has caught. You will start and stop many times and go up and down a few times if working alone.
* There are some clearance issues. You will need to rock the lower end to the outboard side as it comes up through the hole. Be very careful with the carburetor and the ignition wiring panels. A second person underneath would be helpful, but it is not too bad from above.
* Disconnect the engine tilt line as it comes into reach. 
* Once clear of the well, set the skeg on the seat behind the well, disconnect the
tackle,and lift/slide/boost the engine up onto the padded aft cabin roof.

Engine Mount Repair
It seems PDQ could have put a few more layers of glass into this area. On both of my mounts the transom clamps had punched in about ¼-inch. This results in water getting into the core, necessitating repair. Additionally, it allows the motor to rise a bit during hard reverse, increasing the chance of sucking a lifting line into the prop (I'm guessing that the mount damage actually occurred when the hold down latch failed, allowing the line to wrap into the prop and placing a huge strain on the bolts, something they only see in reverse). The previous owner had made some ineffective repairs with Marine-Tex or something similar. The aft surface of the mounts were fine—the force is distributed over a much larger area.

A permanent repair is a simple matter of epoxying a section of ¼” pre-laminated FRP to the damaged surface using thickened epoxy. Grind everything down smooth, fill the holes, slather on a nice thick layer, and clamp it down to cure. Easy and much better than new, I think. Do confirm the maximum clamping range of your engines; This repair took me to within 1/8-inch of the maximum. If I ever need to do something with the aft surface of the mount in the future, I will need to grind off some glass and go in with something stronger instead of something thicker.

Getting Engines on and off the Boat at Dock

A piece of cake, as it turns out. A single section of an extension ladder with a piece of plywood fitted between the rails makes a nice gangplank with rails such that the engine cannot slide off into the briny.
* Secure the plywood to the rungs (a few holes with cable ties).
* Lash the ladder to the rear railing openings. It works best if you extend the ladder on-board until it touches the aft cabin roof; pad all of the contact points well. With enough padding, it is simple to spin the engine so that it goes prop first to the ladder, and then slides down the ramp. Pull it with a rope around the prop, as needed. Be careful, but the ladder rails should do a good job of keeping it centered.

Because getting the engines on-board was up-hill, we used a winch with a turning block extended from the aft hard top support. Take the cowling off the engine and use the chain lifting bridle to bring the engine up head first (to prevent the oil from going places it shouldn’t). Easy. Again, always lots of padding.

Installing the Engine

Much like pulling the engine, only more delicate… but you can see where the connections are better this time! I will discuss only those steps that are different.

* Remember to reconnect the engine lifting line! I forgot on the port engine until it was too far in to turn back. I ended up going for a swim to get it reattached. In the Chesapeake Bay in November this is not a lot of fun, but with a wet suit it wasn't really bad - just those first few moments as the water filled the suit. I have also done this from a tender before—swimming with a wet suit in 55 degree water was better than that torture. Fortunately, the water in my slip is only ~ 4 ½ feet deep, so it is more wading that swimming. 
* You may need to insert the shift linkages while still a 2-6 inches above the mounts. It was different on each side. However, do not attempt to attach the cables until the motors are clamped in place.
* Lube the shift and throttle cables, while you’re at it. IF you are replacing them at the same time, there are some tips here.
* The cables may require adjustment for proper operation; mine were perfect the first time. There are threads on the end for this purpose. Take a good look at them while the engine is out, so that you understand the operation.
* Use lots of anti-seize on the transom clamp bolts! No-Alox is my favorite for aluminum joints (see comments below).
* Clean all of the power cable connections completely with emery cloth; not just the ring you removed, but the entire stack. Coat with heavy terminal grease (any auto parts store), or better, No-Alox by Ideal . It is a corrosion preventative for cable connections (synthetic grease with zinc dust), specifically for aluminum wiring, but applicable to tin and copper as well. Waterproof grease is not as good in this application.  I have tested these products in a heated salt environment chamber, alongside both grease and aerosol products for a year for a sailing magazine article, and they were the winners. High resistance connections are the leading cause of cars and boats failing to start, right behind dead batteries and empty tanks!
Go sailing! You have earned it.

1 comment:

  1. As a owner of a PDQ 32 I am really enjoying this blog....
    I have my 1996 PDQ 32 on a lake in North Texas but hope to take it back to the ICW soon for extended sailing.