It’s Thursday morning and I find myself wondering if WILL PANDORA EVER SPLASH AGAIN!!!
For the last few days I have been fussing, no make that “screwing around” with the bow thruster to try and get the frozen parts out. I have learned more than I want to know about “freeing” up parts which includes a liberal application of heat. I have been using MAP gas, something new to me, which is way, way hotter than “your father’s propane torch”. “How hot is it Bob?” It’s SCARRY hot. This gas, which comes in a yellow bottle, comes out with an impressive roar and to apply it to the aluminum parts of the thruster, just inches from a “plastic boat” is pretty scary. As the gas rushes out in a white hot plume, the aluminum and stainless parts crackle and pop along with the smoking lubricant that I have been spraying all over everything. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
The key to freeing up frozen parts, I am told, is to get them plenty hot and then cold, over and over again. Each time heat is applied, things move around and it gets a little bit better. It’s quite depressing just how very, very small a “bit better” really is.
With the whole process going ON AND ON, I decided that I had to take over from the “thruster twins” and do some of the grunt work myself. To that point, I was talking with someone at the Essex Yacht Club bar last night and “spinning my tale of woe” about the thruster and she asked, “So, who’s doing the work for you”. I told her the name of the company and then added, in a much lower and barely audible voice, “And I am doing some the grunt work myself”. “Oh…”, she said, seeming to say, “you get your hands dirty, for real?” “I’m at peace with myself, I am at peace with myself”, I chanted silently.
At their daily rates, I would have ended up with a perfectly functioning thruster, compliments of the “paid help” and no “coin” left over to go anywhere. “I have good news and I have bad news Brenda. The good news is that Pandora’s ready to go. The bad news… We are broke!” So,it’s DO-IT-YOURSELF TIME! Yippee!
“That’s all fine and dandy Bob, but how’s it going, really?” Well, my mother used to have a phrase “It’s always darkest before the dawn” and let me tell you, I needed a very powerful spotlight to see where this was going for a while there. I had tried pounding, heating, pounding again and wasn’t making any progress. And to make matters worse, if I broke something, I’d have to have the replacement parts fabricated as the company that made the unit doesn’t make parts for this model any longer.
As I pounded away, knuckles bleeding, I also took time to soak the parts in penetrating lubricant. In order to be sure that things got “lubed” adequately, I fashioned a “lube pond” on top of the frozen shaft using a plastic cup and modeling clay. Very colorful, right? Then I POUNDED away some more. Still, nothing moved. Not after two days of beating. What’s a grunt to do…?
The “chief thruster guy” had mentioned that, if all else failed, I could cut some parts and take the pieces to his shop where they would press them out with hydraulic ram. However, that would cost plenty as the a replacement for the “cut” parts would have to be fabricated. There had to be a better way.
Here’s an idea. How about a gear puller, a tool that I have used to remove propellers over the years? So, after consulting with the “chief”, I constructed a modified puller, or in this case a “pusher” that would allow me to put tremendous pressure on the frozen shaft. Put a wrench on the black threaded shaft and crank away. And let me tell you… I cranked away plenty and then some, using my feet to apply pressure and turn the screw. “So how did it go Bob? Get to the point! You sure can go on and on about things.” Well I was able to move the shaft by 3/4″, and it only took two days! Yahoo! And let me tell you, any movement at all is a VERY big deal. So, I left it last night for another 8-10 hours of soaking with my “cup and clay lube contraption puddle thing”.
So, today the sun is out and I am optimistic. Now that there is some movement, I should be able to pull it the next 4″ and remove the shaft, once and for all. Fingers crossed. I still have a few ideas if that doesn’t work, but one way or the other, I am sure I can get it out as the modest movement yesterday seems to suggest that I have finally gotten things headed in the right direction.
Meanwhile, “back at the ranch” I have also been assembling provisions for the winter. The pantry is filled and this is the stuff that was left without a home. So, I looked around and made room in one of the lockers. Voila! It all fit. Now, isn’t that tidy?So now, with days ticking away I am thinking hard about when I’ll run Pandora to Hampton. The original plan was to take Pandora to the marina in Hampton, visit the boat show in Annapolis, come home and then head back to VA around the 24th to begin preparing to leave with the rally to the BVI.
However, given the way that things are going, I am reassessing things and am now thinking that perhaps I’ll just delay heading to Hampton till later in the month as it will save me from renting cars twice. It will certainly make finishing up Pandora’s prep much easier as she’s less than ten minutes away.
Well, if it isn’t contrary winds, it’s something else. I guess it will be clearer later today if I am successful, OR NOT, in getting things back on track. All of this also assumes that the “thruster guys” can get back down to Pandora and finish their repairs and upgrades. ChaChing, ChaChing…
Skinned knuckles and all, I guess that I need to focus on the goal. It’s warm down south, it’s warm down south, it’s warm down south… The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And when this is all done and the bills are paid, I’ll need one.