Winterizing and The Pink Stuff

When we lived aboard, we didn’t winterize. Winterizing is a potentially big job. But we think we’re getting a grip on it. Except for one thing. And this year, it was a problem. So we had to do some diagnostic work.

Here’s the overview:

  1. Scout — the dinghy -- comes in. CA took a picture of Scout and I on the foredeck.
  2. Sails come down.
  3. Change the oil in the outboard.
  4. Put anti-freeze into the raw water system. (The Pink Stuff.)
  5. Drain (to the extent possible) the fresh water system. We don’t anticipate Great Lakes style super-cold winter conditions, so we can be a little flexible here.
  6. The bimini cover needs to come down to get cleaned, also.

The wind this past weekend was amazing. Gusting into the 20’s in the marina. So we left the sails in place for now. They’re hard to wrestle with if there’s any wind at all.

The raw water system has a clever winterizing setup. It starts with a case (6 gallons) of anti-freeze. 

We have a 6-gallon drywall bucket that has a hose fitting on the bottom. We have a 2-foot section of hose that feeds into the “sea chest.” (All of the raw water that comes into Red Ranger comes through a strainer into a box with outlets for the various systems.)

We close the through-hull input, attach the bucket to the sea chest, and work all of the raw-water systems.

  • The forward head flushes with raw water. We flush this until it runs pink. After that about a half-gallon will fill the hoses up through the anti-siphon fitting.
  • There’s a raw-water pump for the galley sink. Pump this until it runs pink.
  • The deck wash down uses raw water. Switch the valves and run the pump until it sprays pink on deck.
  • The engine uses raw water. This gets a little tricky.

(There used to be an aft head, air-conditioning, and refrigerations. They’re all gone, making our life simpler.)

The raw-water side of Mr. Lehman’s heat exchanger doesn’t really use too much anti-freeze. Only a gallon or so seems to sit in the heat-exchangers. The exhaust hoses may hold another gallon or so. 

The Tricky Part

The tricky part is getting Mr. Lehman to start in cold weather. He does not like the cold.

There’s a cold-start fuel override. This is really important because a cold engine won’t crank very much at all. It’s a huge burden on the starter motor, which means a huge burden on the starting battery.

The cold-weather start is a two-step process. Pull the engine cutoff and then push it in. Set the throttle pretty wide open. Then run down to the engine room and push a small “button” on the side of the fuel pump. There’s a little “clank” noise as a throttle bypass is set up.

DSC02218

Crank. The engine starts with a vengeance. It’s a sudden, loud firing of cylinders.

Leave the throttle wide open until all four a firing. Failure to do this means you have to do the process again.

And again.

Do Not try to simply crank a cold engine.

You know you’re in trouble when the alarm buzzers stop working. 

Yes. You read that right. The alarm buzzers stopped. Voltage displayed on the panel? 1.88V.

1.88V. 

That’s all of the batteries stone dead. Or is it?

Theory 1. They’re all actually dead. Volt-Ohm meter indicates they’re not dead. Also. Engine room light is on. So house is working. 

Theory 2. Starter battery is dead. I can use the emergency bridge to let house and starter work together. Or. I can just buy a new starter battery. It’s not complex to unwire the starter and lift it out.

So. I start unwiring the starter battery. Wait.

IMG_2358

The fuse looks “funny”

If you look closely just above the V in 58V, you’ll see that the conductor has burned away. 

And yes, that’s a 300A fuse. That’s about the ampacity rating of the huge #0 wires from battery to starter. That’s a lot of current. A real lot. This is a difficult fuse to burn out.

We have a spare. Volt-Ohm meter shows the starting battery at 12.8V. It’s still healthy. 

Put the battery back together. One more careful, careful try at this. 

  • Is the cold weather starter thingy set? Yes.
  • Throttle wide open? Yes.
  • Alarms buzzing? Yes.

The fourth or fifth try (I lost count) was the charm. Started. Ran. Flawlessly. It drained the last three gallons of pink stuff into the cooling system. 

Yay!

Afterwords? Overall system voltage at 13.55. Solar panels charging. Batteries reasonably happy.

Two more jobs to do: sails and fresh water. A few more weekends in which to do them.

  © Steven Lott 2017