It's that time of year. Folks are getting ready to head south. Last year at this time, we were Done Fooling Around, and had started planning to take Red Ranger to the Whitby-Brewer Rendezvous. Ultimately, that didn't work out (Sweaty Palms -- Best Laid Plans, and Gang aft agley.) We were too absorbed in our own jobs to see all of that was going on around us.
The Post-Rendezvous Rendezvous was an important lesson in the seasonal migration of the live-aboards.
Besides our own adventures last year, we didn't know as many boaters as we do now. This year, we're watching Fawkes, Liquid Therapy, Monday Morning, Grace and Joie de Vivre getting ready to go south for the winter. Plus Pajito (our neighbor in slip D28). And the parade of transients through the marina.
It's a lot of "maybe we'll see you next weekend." And, "if we don't see you next weekend, we'll see you next year." Or, "maybe we'll follow you south." As if. We're going to be working for at least another year. Sigh.
After Sudden Death—Joys and Concerns I determined (eventually) that Red Ranger's 2005-vintage house batteries were more-or-less dead. Technically, one battery had a shorted cell. The other three still worked. But they're all the same age, so they were all about to go.
Jen was visiting for the marina crab fest (Crabs and Friends—But No Crabby Friends). To be sure that Red Ranger had lights (and fresh-water and a working stove,) I pulled the dead battery (and it's partner) out of the boat, and configured the two good batteries as the house bank for the weekend.
This weekend's job was to horse all four of those 62-pound monsters back into the engine room. Without dropping them into Jackson creek or through the cabin sole under the companion way ladder.
Previously, all four batteries had been held down with a single, shared strap. I put in individual straps for each battery. That makes me feel a little more secure.
It was awkward (and painful). But we're all wired up with 250 lbs of new, 2011-vintage lead.
Three Missing Quarts
The owner's manual suggests an oil change every 200 hours. Weirdly, both hour meters seem to have errors. Both? I added an hour meter (Done Fooling Around) that's wired directly to the oil-pressure switch because the main tachometer didn't seem to count hours.
The main tachometer has since started working. During our DelMarVa circumnavigation, I noticed that it doesn't seem to work with the running lights on. The new hour meter doesn't seem to work once the engine room is hot. So, we don't really know how many operating hours since the oil change in May of 2010. Probably close to 100. But it's been 18 months. Oil breaks down over time. And it soaks up acids.
Time for a change. The oil pan is inaccessible. So is the dipstick. The previous owner installed a hose from the drain pan that allows pumping the oil out easily and cleanly. Nice. We have a small oil change pump, we have a Jabsco drill pump.
I pumped the oil pan with the Jabsco drill pump first, and got about five quarts. Not the eight that's supposed to be in there.
I switched from drill pump to the oil-change pump. It's wimpy. But I ascribed magical qualities to it, since it's built for oil changes. It's most important advantage is that it's not used for anything else. Who cares if it's covered in oil? However, it didn't get any more oil than the drill pump.
I ran out and bought an Attwood manual pump just to be absolutely sure I wasn't missing three quarts of oil. I pumped the oil pan drain line. I climbed over the engine and pumped from the dipstick hole.
Okay. I guess we burned three quarts of oil over the last 18 months.
A Pint of Prevention
I check the oil every time we run the engine. How could I miss a ⅜ decline in the oil level?
There's no proper "up to here" mark on the dipstick.
There is a clear "max" line on the dipstick. But that mark is for a horizontal engine installation. A marine installation (at a slight angle) means the dipstick "max" is not correct.
I need to scribe a line on the dipstick to mark the correct "full". That will provide more useful data on oil consumption. With (at least) 2000 hours on the engine, we may need to have the valve clearances and compression checked as well as a new head gasket (ouch). According to the owner's manual, this should be checked every 400 hours. Maybe it's time.