Holding tank – part one

After we sailed back to the city the first thing we did was to clean the boat up, taking down the sails, remove all the fabric inside etc. After that was done we started our first major project for the autumn, making a holding tank. As mentioned earlier we have read that in most countries there is no regulations towards holding tanks, but in Sweden (and some other european countries as well) it is if the boat has a toilet, so we will need a holding tank. It is not only because of regulations we want to have a holding tank, it is also nice to be able to swim close to the boat and empty blackwater away from anchorages and marinas and not just let it straight out.

We have thought a while what kind of holding tank we want. Our first thought was to weld a new tank and place it above the waterline. Then we would use gravity to empty to the water and connection towards deck to empty on land.

But after some thinking and investigation about this we decided to convert on of our three fresh water tanks and use it as a holding tank for black water. That fresh water tank is located close to the toilet. It is below the waterline so we will need a pump to be able to empty it.  But it is located below the toilet so we won’t risk having blackwater in the hoses from the toilet to the holding tank, as we would have with our first idea (then the tank would have been above the toilet. If you want to see an overview of our tanks and the sailboat, see the pictures on the page The Boat.

So when we had decided which solution to go with, it was time to take action. First up: removing the water tank.

Preparing to take out the water tank.
Water tank out of the bilge.
And we are out of the boat.

The tank already has connection for filling the tank and venting, but we need a new connection for emptying the tank, so time to make a hole in the tank.

holding tank

holding tank
A new hole made.

The tank is custom fitted for the bilge, which means that it is not possible to have a connection for emptying in the bottom of the tank. Instead we will use a pipe on the inside of the tank to be able to take blackwater from the bottom.

The pipe we will use to suck up blackwater from the bottom of the tank.
holding tank
Adjusting the pipe so that reaches the bottom.
Welding time 🙂
holding tank
The pipe + the muff in position on the tank.
The pipe inside the tank. The small pipe seen in the picture is the old pipe for the fresh water, which we had to cut in order to make room for the bigger pipe.
Here we will pump black water up from the bottom of the tank.

Next up will be to continue welding, test the pump, do some pressure testing on the tank and getting the tank in position together with the pump and all fancy hoses we just bought.

Continuation of our holding tank work can be found under the tag: Holding tank.


Propane installation

We have thought long and hard on how to solve the propane installation on our sailboat. The solution was not obvious. The first idea when we bought the boat was to have the propane in one of the hatches in the cockpit, where the pervious owner had their bottle. But when we started measuring we would not be able to fit the propane bottle we wanted to have through the opening of the hatch, there’s plenty of room inside the hatch but the opening is to small. We want to have pretty big bottles so that we don’t need to fill them up so often, and we also want to have two bottles.

The size of the opening wasn’t the only problem with the hatch in the cockpit. For safety reasons we also want to have good drainage in the bottom of the hatch where we store the propane. Propane is heavier than air and will sink and by having a hole in the bottom of the hatch the propane will pour out through them. The problem with the cockpit hatch is that it is very deep and if we would want a hole in the bottom, it would be below, or very close to the waterline and for another safety reason we don’t want that either.

When we ruled out the cockpit hatch, we started thinking about other places on the sailboat. One idea was to have them on deck, which would solve the drainage issues. But there’s not much room on deck so we didn’t chose that solution. We didn’t have a good idea how to make the installation in a good way when having the bottles on deck either.

Another idea was to build a separate box in the bed in the stern, properly sealed towards the living area. We definitely don’t want the propane inside the living areas, could be really dangerous!

The idea we finally proceed with was to have the propane bottle inside the anchor chain locker. The anchor chain locker already have drainage, for the water coming from the anchor chain. It is also sealed from the living area. The anchor chain locker is pretty big and have room for two of the propane bottles we want. One of the disadvantages we see with choosing the anchor chain locker is that there will be a lot of movement in the bow, much more than in the stern, and the holders we make for the propane bottle might not be strong enough to deal with those forces. But it is the best solution we could come up with and it will probably be good enough.

When we decided to go with the anchor chain locker idea we could continue with the propane installation.

First up, removing the anchor chain from the chain locker.
The chain locker needed some cleaning as well. We have a hatch from the living area towards the chain locker.
After cleaning the chain locker. At the bottom of the “triangle” in the bottom of the chain locker the drainage holes are located.

When the chain locker was clean we could start working with the holder for the propane bottle. We definitely don’t won’t the bottle loose in the chain locker.

Starting to measure the holder for the propane bottle.
We started welded the holder. Here Thomas is trying to see so that the strap fits in the holder.
Testing to see that the holder fits together with the propane bottle.
Next up was to get the copper pipe in position. The pipe goes from the chain locker to the kitchen area. To avoid leakages in the propane system we wanted to have as few connections as possible.
After the pipe was in position it was time to get the holder for the bottle in position. This is how the chain locker locked before.
A mahogany plywood glued onto the wall for extra stability for the bottle holder.
The holder for the propane bottle in position.
The propane bottle in the chain locker with the hose connected.
The hose connected to the pipe which goes almost all the way to the stove.

We bought a leak detector for the propane system, but the model we bought doesn’t fit in the chain locker. We will either buy a new one of another model or simply check the system for leakage by turning the propane of at the bottle, wait a while and the turn the stove on. If it burns for a while there are no leakages, but if it doesn’t light up we have a propane leakage somewhere in the system.

Testing the stove with the new propane installation, and it worked really good 🙂

Now we will be able to cook some dinner when we are out sailing, but we still need to install our new refrigerator to store the food, which will be next up! 🙂

Gearbox renovation and crankcase ventilation solution

In this blog post we will show our gearbox renovation and crankcase ventilation solution. For the crankcase ventilation solution we finally decided that we will pass the blow-by gases to the intake via the valve cover.

Gearbox renovation

We have a Volvo Penta RB gearbox, which we wanted to take apart to see that everything looked good, and change/repair what was necessary.

Starting to take the gearbox apart.
The interior of the gearbox.

We measured the wear on the gearbox. Everything was according to specification, so we will only change sealings and gaskets. One thing we noticed when taking it apart was that the old oil in the gearbox smelled like transmission oil, which is common to use for gearboxes, but for Volvo Penta RB gearbox you actually should use standard engine oil.

The new sealings, o-rings and copper washers for our gearbox. Volvo Penta spare parts are expensive so we bought all of these spare parts separately, which was much cheaper than it would have been to buy them as a complete kit. If you want to know where we found all our spare parts, click HERE.

Time for painting the gearbox!
Before painting…
… and after painting! 🙂

CrankCase ventilation solution

As said above, the solution we decided to settle with was to pass the blow-by gases to the intake via the valve cover. The reason we choose this solution is because we don’t want the blow by gases inside the boat.

A hole made on the valve cover.
The new fitting.
After welding on the valve cover. We (Thomas) aren’t very satisfied with this welding but it will do its job.
The fittings on the valve cover and the intake.
Finally adding some final paint on the valve cover and intake.

The next step of our Volvo Penta MD19 renovation will be to do the final painting and test-run it again to make sure that the leakages fixes we did works. If you want to read more about our engine renovation, all posts related to that can be found under the category Engine.

Volvo Penta Heat Exchanger Renovation

January 2019

After knowing that the engine started as it should, see video, we continued with the heat exchanger.  As our heat exchanger didn’t look very good we started calculating on the time and cost for designing a new cooling system, with a separate tube heat exchanger and a expansion tank. It ended up in that we decided to go for our old heat exchanger. One reason for that is that we have a spare heat exchanger element for our existing heat exchanger.

Our heat exchanger.

As you maybe remember from our teardown, the connection towards the exhaust manifold had some bad corrosion.

Bad corrosion on the connection towards the exhaust manifold. Also, seems that some “fixing”  has been done at some point in the history of the engine.

We outsourced the fix for the connection to another person. When we got it back it now looked like this:

The connection towards the exhaust manifold after service!

We also took out the heat exchanger element to clean it and check that is did not leak, and the it was to time to put it back…

It was very hard to get the heat exchanger element back in position.

We pushed to hard and had an accident with the gable of the heat exchanger:

Do you see the crack?
A more clear picture of the crack.

So now we had some welding to do. The gable is made of cast iron, so we borrowed the correct welding tools for cast iron and fixed the small part. We also borrowed the  correct tools for welding aluminum. To weld aluminum you need alternating current or pulsed current to break the oxide layer. The bottom of  the heat exchanger had some small corrosion holes on it and we wanted to weld them together as well.

After welding the corrosion damages at the bottom of the heat exchanger made of aluminum.
After welding the gable of the heat exchanger, which is made of cast iron.

Then it was time to try to get the heat exchanger element back into its position without breaking anything else. This time we were more careful and we managed to get it all back together.

Then it was time to mount the heat exchanger onto the engine:

The heat exchanger back onto the engine.
But it needs some new paint so that will look as nice as the rest of the engine!

And now when we had everything in place it was time for a test run with water connected.

We didn’t want to run the engine too long without having a load on the engine, but we wanted to run it long enough to find possible leakages. And we did find some! There were some leakages towards the connections of the heat exchanger and the circulation pump. The shaft sealing for the circulation pump probably needs some time to run in in order to fully seal. For the other connections we added flange sealant so that it would seal.

Adding flange sealant.

Now we are almost done with the engine, what we have left to do is:

  • final painting
  • solution for crank house ventilation
  • renovate the gearbox
  • start and run the engine once more to test the crank-house ventilation solution and see that there are no leakages.

If you want to read more about our previous work with the engine, see category Engine.