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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Better acquainted with my batteries!

Last Sunday we went over to the boat at Blue Water Marina Thorne to do a few jobs and to see what had happened to our batteries. I had seen 'Spike' previously and we had agreed what was the work scope involved in moving the batteries out of the engine hole, where they were almost totally inaccessible to me, in to the seat locker of the semi trad stern. The work looked as though it had been fairly easy to carry out as really it just needed three holes drilling in the bottom of the locker for the cables to be run and as the locker is almost directly above the batteries any way, not too much else. There was all ready a wooden base in the locker and so it was just a matter of fitting a lid and a but to stop them sliding. In the fullness of time I will make a better box and move them a little further aft. The most difficult job would be disconnecting the batteries and then lifting them out of the stow and on to deck. Spike isn't quite as big as me, but he isn't that much smaller either. He must have had a struggle as I found £1-13 in change in the bilges! Anyway it is loads better now and I can actually see that each battery has an indicator on the top that is green if charged up and in good condition and dark when not. One of the batteries was dark indicating that they need charging. As we are on shore power we will see what is showing next time. The batteries were quite dry, especially the one with the poor indication so I hope that it perks up before the next visit.

The five batteries were on the steel shelf, or swim beneath the red isolator switches on the left of the picture. They are now in the locker above so not below deck.

I also changed the oil in the gear box and the engine. It should be done every 250 hours. The engine has a sump pump so that is very easy to drain the old oil after running the engine to get it warm. Just pumping the handle up and down with an old plastic bottle under the spout. The gear box is another matter. The drain is right at the bottom of the gearbox, where you can never see it, so everything is done by eye. There is hardly any room between the gearbox and the floor plates so you can hardly get anything under to catch the oil. When you have it can't have enough capacity to catch all the oil in one go so you have to refit the plug. Then the gap to bring the drip try out to empty the oil into a bigger container is so tight that in the end I just bailed it out into a larger container in a more open space. On top of that the dip stick is part of the drain plug so to check the level you have to screw the plug right in and then out. I wasn't really able to see any oil on the stick but knew that it had enough in. The new oil just wasn't visible on the dipstick. It will be when it has a bit of colour in it though. The oil filter was easy enough to change this time. Last time I had to make a Spanish windlass to start it moving in the thread. Next time will be the fuel and air filter too. I suppose the oil and filter are a bit less that £30 all in so not too expensive.

Engine hole looking forward. The gear box is the round thing with the two black hoses going into it. The oil sump pump is the green handle just at the end of the black air filter inlet.
Helen was hanging curtains and cleaning through. The boat soon warmed up when the Hurricane was put on and proved that it was operating. I was a little worried that the electrics my have gone for a Burton with the disconnecting of the batteries and somehow shorting stuff. Everything seemed fine though. I had taken the TV from home again but was still unable to get a picture on it. As it was dark and I was rushing I didn't give it too long. I must say that even now we are at home I am watching loads less TV than previously so that has to be more productive, doesn't it?

As can be seen in the photo above the bilge is starting to rust so I will have to scrape it as clean as possible then deal with the rust and then paint over it. It will mean I will be stiff for a few days afterwards as I will have to bend myself into funny shapes to get to the bottom of the bilge.


  1. For removing the gearbox oil, I have got a suction pump, so rather than struggling with the drain plug, I simply pass a tube through the filler hole & suck the old oil out. Much easier !

  2. Hi Alf, a guy at the marina was saying that's what he did, but obviously I didn't have one with me. I didn't even have the right size sockets. It is obviously the way to go and as with everything you slowly build up a supply of tools and equipment that make doing every job that much easier. I was struggling for ideas for gifts this Christmas. What type of pump do you have? Cheers, Tony

  3. Sorry for the delay in replying, been rather busy with work & sleep !
    Something like this -
    Best wishes

  4. Hi Alf,
    Thanks for that. As you may have seen I went for a smaller version, partly for storage size and partly as I didn't see the larger ones when I was looking! All the very best for the New Year.