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  • Capt. Eric

Catching Up

Being full time live aboard means we use the boat's system on a regular basis. I argue that's a good thing and keeps everything working. Boats with systems that aren't used and exercised regularly create more maintenance issues.

Smooth living on a fully functional boat does mean that we have regular maintenance tasks, be they on a time or hours run schedule. Of course we also have a number of one-off maintenance and upgrades to replace or improve existing system.

For example, during the cruise we had problems with our shower sump pump. Our shower enclosure in the head is below the water line, so the shower water needs to be pumped back up above sea level to properly drain the shower pan. This is the role of the sump pump.

Our old model was a fairly reliable Jabsco that needed its pre-filter cleaned regularly, so I had it as an entry in our preventive maintenance program as an "every 2 weeks" item.

The water circuit for it is rather simple. Drain from the shower, through a pre-filter to the inlet side of the pump. Outlet goes to a thru hull valve via a one-way valve. The one-way valve is there to protect from back siphoning and flooding the boat in heavy seas condition. Classically simple.

Well, unbeknownst to me, there was another one-way valve on the inlet side as well, before the pre-filter, and not surprisingly since I had no idea it was there it got clogged. Whilst the pump can run dry for a short amount of time, it probably had to fight for too long, and started showing signs of being unhappy about the whole situation.

A thorough investigation on my part, following the whole circuit finally revealed the hidden one-way valve, well hidden behind a trap access door and other hoses. I'm pretty sure the second one-way valve is overkill, but I won't disagree with Nordhavn that it can't hurt.

Dismantling the valve and cleaning it got our sump pump working again. Or rather limping again, and it was clear I'd need to repair or upgrade it soon.

We carry a spare repair kit since the sump pump is rather central to enjoying good showers, but I decided the best approach would be a complete upgrade anyway.

The Nordhavn Owners' Group (NOG) had a few discussions about owners being very happy replacing their Jabsco sump pump to Whale Gulper: With the incredible knowledge found on the NOG, I decided I's do the same.

I ordered the pump during our cruise, and on arrival Portland, a brand new Whale Gulper 320 waited for us at our mailbox place. And of course, a spare repair kit as well so I can rebuild it in the future should it fail.

I had enough spare hoses of the right kind on board, together with all the connectors I could need.

A couple years ago I started preparing Enfin for long passages away from civilization and easy shopping, so we have a decent spare inventory on board that -I hope- should cover most typical repair and maintenance jobs for a while.

Installing the pump was fairly easy. Since it has its own one-way valve on the outlet, I eliminated the original Nordhavn supplied one, and kept the other one. So we still have the double safety, so typical of Nordhavn. I'm OK with that. It's the kind of thing that allows me to sleep soundly at night.

The original installation was too rough on the hoses to my taste, with sharp bends that tend to damage them quickly, so I took the opportunity to re-route them with less sharp curves. I also re-positioned the filter and one-way valve for easy access.

I kept the pre-filter on the inlet line, but since Whale and many owners say no filter is needed I took out the filter element. I will monitor the line closely at first, and decide if I need to reinstall the filter or not. At the moment it's one less regular maintenance task, so a welcome improvement.

New Whale Gulper sump pump with new re-routed hoses. Notice the re-positioned pre-filter (no element in the housing) and easily accessible one-way valve

Next, it took me a little too long to realize that the heater fan for the head, master and guest cabins had stopped working. That explained why I felt cold at night for a few nights!

Not too much boat yoga to access the heating plenum

Except from having to take everything out of my hanging locker to access the heating plenum, changing the fan is an easy job. I had a number of spares (a recurring theme?) so a new one was installed in no time, and of course a new spare was ordered to bring the inventory back up.

The new TV also went in. I had kept the original mounting screws for the special wall mount unit, but of course they were the furthest away in the spares locker and I had to take a lot out just to get to them. It's the norm on a small boat: Take everything out to get to something, then when you're done, put everything back in.

The TV is almost ready to get installed back in place

Last I also worked on the head's exhaust fan. It had become temperamental and needed a slap on the side to start. Taking a cabinet out (4 screws and any cabinet on board comes out for easy access to everything behind) and there is the fan. Same model as the galley and engine room exhaust fans, so you guessed it, I have a spare motor.

A short fault finding session and it's clear that the motor's bushes are old and have filled the engine's casing with carbon dust. A good clean and we're good to go. The bushes are worn out but have about 10% life left in them. That could be hundreds and hundreds of hours, so many years of use in this case. Back in it goes as is. I'll get some spare replacement bushes.

Annoyingly, so far, I have found no way to just replace the bushes, although it'd be a simple 2 minute soldering job. I can't find them anywhere for sale. Even worse, replacing the motor as a whole (rather than the $2 bushes) turns out as or even more expensive as getting a whole new fan, casing and motor included.

What a crazy world we live in where replacing a whole fan is the logical solution to worn bushes.

I'm still working on it, as I have a hard time pulling the trigger to order a whole fan where simple bushes will do. Hopefully I'll find bushes of the same size somewhere for another application?

Replace the whole fan because of worn motor bushes?

Or how simple projects trigger hours and hours of research.

And with that, and a few even more minor items crossed off the list, we can look around Enfin and feel like we've caught up to all of the one-off maintenance that impacts us in our daily lives.

It feels good, and will let us concentrate more on the various winter projects we have. Of course these include a lot of cruising too.

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