Monday, September 2, 2013

Almost Lost Another Nut

Since the boat hadn't been in the water for almost a month, Thursday night I fired her up in the trash can in the alley to make sure everything was running well. With all systems go,  We decided to take the boat out on Friday afternoon to start the Labor Day weekend off right.

We took the boat over to the dunes for load-in about 11:00 A.M. Everything went well and we loaded in. She fired right up and I was ready to pull away from the dock when I noticed I couldn't steer the boat. Really? After a month out of the water, it seems the steering ram had rusted into place. I borrowed a can of WD40 from a sailor who was tied up at the dock but I had no luck the steering wouldn't budge. We loaded up the boat and headed home.

In the alley, I disconnected the linkage and holding the ram straight up in the air I soaked the rod/ram with WD40 and let it soak in. Then I tapped the rod down with a hammer while a help turned the wheel (putting pulling pressure on the rod). Slowly the ram released and the rod began moving in. Once it was all the way down I pulled the rod with a pair of Vice grips and my helper turned the wheel the other way. I cleaned the rusty lubricant off the rod and we applied a could more coats turning the wheel lock to lock to pull more lubricant into the ram.

We headed back over to the Dunes and loaded-in without a hitch. The weather was beautiful albeit a little humid for SoCal but out on the water was perfect.

After a couple hours on the harbor we headed over to Hill's Boat Service which is our fuel dock. (Gary Hill is the owner and I coached his son Carson on the Balboa Bomber's our local ASYO Soccer team 20 years ago.) While at the fuel dock I decided to check my prop nut and pulled the motor up out of the water.

Much to my surprise the prop nut cotter pin was gone! You can clearly see it in the picture in the previous post it was properly installed with both legs properly turned over the nut. And there was my precious beehive nut sitting loose on the prop shaft! OK this is weird what tore off the cotter pin? Fortunately I had an additional cotter pin in my engine compartment, so I popped the hood and put the extra pin in the prop.

The long one in the photo was the one that I had just lost. I installed the short one but it was only long enough to bend over one leg. So I decided to head straight back to our dock which was only a few blocks away. When we got to the dock, I pulled the motor up and the second prop pin was gone!

We put the boat away at the dock and I spent the next 42 hours being totally perplexed. What was tearing the pins out of the nut?

Saturday it was overcast in the morning so I decided to tackle a tail-light rewiring project on my trailer. When I was out getting trailer parts, I headed over to West Marine and bought a pack of 3 Stainless Steel Cotter pins. On the way over to the dock I ran into one of my dock neighbors and explained my drama.

I told him how I tightened the beehive nut and then backed it out a 1/8-1/4 turn to align the nut hole with the hole in the prop shaft. He told me the nut needs to be tight. As bizzare as it sounds, evidently when I put the boat in gear the prop shaft was spinning up and the pressure on the pin from the weight of the brass nut would cause the (mild steel) pin to shear off!

On most automotive applications a cotter pin is a safety measure to keep a nut from rattling loose. On a front wheel bearing you turn the nut tight and back it off to the last position, but on a prop shaft, the cotter pin gets pressure so the nut needs to be tight. He told me I either needed washers to space the nut out or even better, I needed to turn the nut down tight. So, since I was close to the next nut-hole I got out my big Craftsman Crescent wrench and turned the nut down tight and I installed my new Stainless Steel cotter pin.

With crystal clear skies on Sunday we took the boat out for a Harbor Cruise and hoped for the best.

Here's the result... a classic day on the water and when we got home from cruising my prop, nut and cotter pin we all still in tact.

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