Thursday, August 30, 2012

The resurrection of Can Do III

I have been having an affair with this boat for over twenty years, and know her every nook and cranny. Can Do, the 1982 Wellcraft Californian's maintenance had been in abeyance for several years. Engines were started every now and then, but the economy had largely relegated her to just sitting at dock. Now that things are better, it was decided to resurrect her. An old picture of Can Do was pasted up inside the cabin as a reminder of her more regal appearance, and as a lure of trips to come. Stephen on the bridge is the owner, as well as an old friend. His wife Caryn is on the bow, and Kate and I are standing at the lower helm. The picture is well past a decade old, and I think we were going off to either Tween Waters, or Key West, but I don't really remember.

Can Do had a bunch of issues. There was accumulating water damage to the salon paneling, and woodwork. Windows were leaking. Engines were suffering from galvanic corrosion issues due to a deteriorated bonding system. The long gone zincs weren't helping things either. The ship's equipment was either original, or had just gone to the great beyond.

So a plan was hatched. Stephen would manage the woodwork, and cosmetic issues, and I would do the infrastructure, and ship systems including the engines. As Stephen jokes, a visitor never really sees any of my efforts.

We started all of this about a year ago. There was a budget that consisted of let's not jury rig anything, and don't waste any money. I was able to procure almost everything at wholesale, or wheel and deal for the rest. So here are some snap shots of the activities as they progressed.

The bonding system backbone was soldered together out solid copper, and had a patina that would make any antique hunter drool over. Wire cutters solve the removal issue.

The woodwork killed two birds with one stone. In order to install new paneling the window frames had to be removed. This allowed bad frames to be replaced, and also allowed waterproofing of all the windows.

The engine work was interesting. There was corrosion in several places that had to be contended with. These are Perkins turbo charged diesels circa early 1980's, and parts can be difficult to get for the marine versions.

In some cases you can buy the parts directly from Perkins. Some parts Perkins doesn't make any more, but third party vendors do, and in some cases you're just out of luck. In all cases the parts are expensive, and you have to be creative in doing repairs.

The big blue cooler had two issues. The first was the brass tube stack inside had damage. A new tube stack was located and bought from a third party vendor. The cooler had suffered corrosion at the water outflow end, and a new cooler alone was over $4000 from a third party vendor.

The cooler was removed, and taken to Roehr's machine shop who did a weld build up, and re-machined the interfaces for a fraction of the cost. The gasket for the cooler was a painful Perkins purchase. The only way you could get the gasket was in a full head rebuild gasket kit. This meant you had to buy $400 dollars of gaskets just to get the one you need.

Our other problem child was the riser for the same engine. this piece of gear has had a long "McGyvered" history. The round flange elbow was added to the riser many years ago by Roehr's to replace the original Perkin's steel elbow that had rusted into oblivion.

One hole in the flange had to be slightly enlarged due to your installer in situ drilling out the stump of the original bolt, and putting in a heli-coil. Okay, okay, I just missed by a couple of millimeters, but it works, and there is now no issue about orientation.

Wait now, it gets even more Machiavellian. I had the newly fabricated elbow and flange welded to the even earlier replacement for the original Perkin's steel riser which had also turned into red flakes.

Now what had happened was riser number two's interior had developed pin holes inside allowing water to aggressively drip into the turbo charger. Now I'm not a trained mechanic, but I have it on good authority that this is bad for the engine. So another trip to Roehr's occurs so it can be cut open and repaired.

A new head replaces an earlier and original throne. Since I don't know how to fix or install anything related to heads, I have no idea how it got there, but it was a well done job. 
We did have a couple of secret weapons in the project. Mine was my friend Chuck Vanness. He's a superb mechanic, with a wry sense of humor.

The other secret weapon was Stephen's friend Mike Jones seen below. Mike is one of the best marine woodworkers I have ever encountered.

Stream of consciousness work phase one. Fabricate bridge dash panels, install new windscreen panels, new running and anchor lights, new head, repair or replacement of coaming wood caps, hand rails, new bridge windshield frame, new salon paneling, new window frames, new counter tops, install glass window, and track, new electrical outlets, replace water inlet, new faucets for galley and head, replace bonding system, repair macerator pump, replace AC volt meter, have starboard engine cooler weld repaired and machined, weld repair starboard engine riser, replace exhaust hose as needed, change engine oil, and transmission fluid, replace filters, install chartplotter, install new batteries, VHF radios, and antennas, repaint blue bridge stripe, replace impellers, reachable fiberglass detailing, new instrument panels on bridge, and other things I have forgotten.

On a pretty morning a couple of weeks ago, it's finally time. The interior work is nearly wrapped up, and a TowBoatUS vessel appears at the dock. The boat is being towed to the boatyard for the first time in a long time.

Although the bottom wasn't pretty, it also was not as bad as I feared. We used some of the pearls found in the oysters to help offset costs.

Everything in the bilge was pretty much original, and needed work. The rudders were dropped, and new Penske board backing blocks were installed to replace the failing wood ones. 

All of the other through hulls were pulled, and also got new backing blocks. Valves were serviced, or replaced, and all had grease nipples installed. Rudder, and drive shaft stuffing boxes were repacked. Strainers were sand blasted back to pretty bronze, and re-installed on new blocks, and any bad hoses are replaced. 

The first class bottom job was done at the Yacht Center, and all of the bilge infrastructural work was done by Select Yacht Services. Both did an excellent job at a fair price. 

In about ten days Can Do is looking great. She is now in better shape than she has ever been during the twenty years I have been associated with her.
Given the age of the fuel, it was all pumped out. The tanks were topped off with new diesel, and into the water she goes.

Using just shifters we back out of the travel lift dock, and idle our way down the canal and into Sarasota bay. The throttles get run up, and Stephen takes the helm, and starts a port turn, and keeps turning the helm, and turning the helm, and turning the helm, but zero is happening at the rudders.

While at the dock for a considerable amount of time, the Hynautic reservoir had always been pumped up, and over time the fluid had very slowly leaked out. Can Do had been towed in, and the helm hadn't been touched. The rudders were straight when they were dropped, and re-installed the same way. Nobody had actually touched the helm. We limped into home port on shifters. In about an hour the system had been filled and purged. No sign of a leak can be found.

Can Do is so much better now. Her interior looks new and boaty with new upholstery. And the bridge sports a Northstar 6000i MFD, all new antennas, and all new shiny woodwork.

After a years effort of on and off work, Can Do takes off to Captiva island for a short weekend trip and seatrial. Mother installer is advising don't push things hard, and make a list of things that aren't right. Be careful, and keep an eye on tropical storm Issac. Have a good time, but be careful.

Can Do did have an almost successful voyage. When leaving Captiva island, the port engine wouldn't start, and they had to come back on the starboard engine.

The problem it turns out is the small rubber diaphragm in the manual lever driven fuel pump has cracked. Chuck and I will sort it out in the next few days, and replace the other one as well. There still are things left to do. One of the two refrigerators has given up the ghost, the Perkin's multi-coolers need to be torn down, and cleaned, and some minor cosmetics need to be addressed.

But Can Do is now back, and better than ever. For the first time in my  memory, a tool bag wasn't needed on a trip.


  1. Hey, throw enough money at any project, and it will be a success...this boat looks to be a typical victim of deferred maintenance...costing way more to fix than would have been required to keep it up in the first place...a penny saved?

  2. You're right sort of, but for many in this not so great economy, it often comes down to the choice of paying the mortgage, or fixing the boat. Or if we had some ham, we could have a ham sandwich, if we had some bread. Tnx Bill