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Old 10-01-2013, 03:03 PM   #1
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My shame, my nasty engine room.

Hello All.

Once I am done discovering every way I can introduce air into my fuel lines, I'm off to another project. My nasty engine room.

I want to be like the REAL skippers and have a clean one. So I am hoping to get your tips.

Need help on:
  1. Best cleaning solvent for atomized engine oil everywhere.
  2. How to clean the bilge under the engine. The big challenge. Also can I fab some sort of drip-pan that slides in and out?
  3. Hints on organizing my wild wires that are currently everywhere.
  4. How many batteries is optimal? My PO thought the number is 12x6V. I think it's less. Call me crazy.
  5. How not to create an environmental nightmare.
  6. How to replace (and where to get it) those tiles with all the little holes.
My buddy Tom.B shames me regularly and vigorously on my engine room tidiness. The only way I can get him to lay off is ply him with alcohol and my booze budget is running low. So I need your best helpful hints.


Thanks!
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:26 AM   #2
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#1 - I think I would try a detergent first. Then if an small area is stubborn try the solvent. Solvents and I've used them, leave fumes which can be dangerous to your breathing and explosive. If you do insist on going with solvents then the very least is a GOOD quality FUME mask and a blower or two to help clear the air. I've done that too using two or more bilge blowers rated for gasoline service. For oil then paint thinner, diesel fuel, are possibly the least noxious. They can still be dangerous in closed areas.

#2 - The pan depends entirely on access. You could make a tray out of fiberglass. It doesn't need to be very heavily built. Try making a pattern out of cardboard first to find the pitfalls and obstructions. Maybe if really lucky you could cut down a plastic storage bin for a decent fit.
As for cleaning I vacuum all loose stuff out that I can. Then I use the blue Scott paper towels from Walmart or auto parts stores and wipe all that I can of any oily or messy residue. They are cheap and strong. Househlod types are a waste of time. Then go at it with a good detergent with a long handled brush to reach under the engine and gear. Wipe it all up. If the marina has an oily waste disposal bin the rags and towels can go there usually. I used to do it the enviromentally unfriendly way but have wised up , sort of.

#3 - Wiring rats nest. Oh fun, although it can be. Get some Tyraps or Zapstraps , the BLACK ones, and some screw fastened Tyrap mounts and just start tieing wires up and securing them. While at it do repairs as required. Closely inspect what you have for condition. Yes some will want to rewire the boat but unless the wiring is literally falling apart that is not necessary. Some wiring may be found to need replacement immediately and that should be done but other wise clean up and secure it all so things don't get worse. Pay particular attention to the bilge pumps and their wiring as this is often crappy and the pumps don't work. Depending on how the wire runs are laid out it may be worthwhile to secure some light board across joists and then the wiring can be nicely secured to the board.

#4 - really no optimal for all boats. It all depends upon the loads you have, how much power you use and therefore how much battery capacity you need. Take your time here, get Nigel Calders book Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual and read it, really read it. Pay attention to the sections on batteries , loads and how to estimate requirements, drawdown limits AND recharging requirements. Deciding beforehand without reasonable knowledge may result in spending more than necessary or not putting in enough, suffering power shutdowns and then later trying to figure out how to get more batteries without destroying previous work. I have the equivalent of 6 x 6V golf carts of 220 A.H. or 660A.H. or 3 x 12V 660 A.H. and find it's Ok for 3 days in hot weather but I have a smaller boat with deliberately not a lot of electrical stuff aboard. That may be why your P.O. had so many batteries. Of course better understanding the system and its and your needs may lead you to fewer batteries, OR NOT.

#5 - Environmental nightmare? Specific concerns? A little more clarity about your meaning would help. Unfortunately all boats have the possibility of creating an enviro. nightmare if not looked after properly. Sound like you won't unless something stupidly unlucky happens while you sort through things.
#6 - most of those tiles seem to have disappeared although similar products may be available. There are seveal older threads about this:
Trawler Forum - Search Results

I found these simply by Searching ceiling tiles

Have fun and if??? when you have specific questions get back. We' will gladly help???????? if help it seems at times.
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:05 AM   #3
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Hard to beat C lectric's episal on the subject. Well covered. I have a rear seal leak which is on the boat doctor's list for emement repair. What I did was describe to the sheet metal shop was to construct a 24 inch long bread pan. About 6 inches wide on the bottom and tapered to about 8.5 inches on the top with a 4 inch sides. It slides under the engine bed with good clearance. I found after a few weeks, that the pan, laying in the bilge floor in contact with what little bilge moister there is, began to be effected by the salt. Placed a piece of plastic under the pan to clear the floor, So fiberglass version may be better.
Good show, with C lectric's response.

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Old 10-02-2013, 05:25 AM   #4
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I'm in the same boat as you, Ben. Well - actually a smaller one; but probably looking the same.
My problem is my hull shape, which is rounded off to the keel, giving a narrow slot which the engine is wedged into. Access is only from above. Any sort of drip tray needs to be tilted sideways to remove via a 4" slot alongside the engine, as I am reaching down from 5 feet above.
Not very conducive to a nice clean bilge.
One of the negatives of having an efficient full displacement hull design.

One thing I find handy are oil spill pads, which will absorb hydrocarbons, but not water. This prevents any any oil & diesel from being pumped out with the bilge water.
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:28 AM   #5
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If you will be doing ER and bilge cleaning most of the stuff will be going overboard.

To avoid the Sheen Police take a couple of the 2x2 bilge absorbing pads and lay them on a screen and lower it outboard of the bilge pump discharge .

Loads of gunk will be collected by the pads , and the folks with fines and guns wont be called.
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:32 AM   #6
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C lectric - I'm not going to quote your post (it's long and detailed - thanks!), but you've given me a bunch of good points. I've got a black mess under the engine and I was thinking to get some kind of disposable scraper and pole I could reach under there with, and then after lay down some kind of oil catcher. I need to pull up wires, pull up and re-mount bilge pumps, sand or scrub and re-paint in some cases.

That's cosmetics.

My numerous (3) battery boxes block access to the engine in some cases, and the genset location makes things a tight squeeze, so I am planning some kind of convenience moves.

I can't remember who said it, but yes, my PO was concerned about alot of battery life. As told to me, he spent time between the Bahamas and Martha's Vineyard on the hook alot. But some of his mods were not well executed and in some cases not safe (electrical not grounded, no GFI).

So, I am going through the boat, starting with the engine room to try to get it as right as I can. I need to clean and re-paint my engine also, as well as re-plumb the coolant system.

So much to do...
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:50 AM   #7
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I like "simple green" for cleaning up the engine and surroundings. Supposedly it's environmental friendly.
Then I use a rag or paper towels to mop up the catch pan and/or bilge afterward.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:19 AM   #8
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My buddy Tom.B shames me regularly and vigorously on my engine room tidiness. The only way I can get him to lay off is ply him with alcohol and my booze budget is running low.
I dunno what you're talking about.

I keep telling him to just go at it just a little bit at a time. Prioritize your needs and start a list of all the things you want to do. Then just go through them one at a time. Personally, I have three lists. One is for major projects. Things like re-plumb the fuel system and replace the teak decks. The second is for more minor, yet less pressing, projects like replacing window felts and add another windshield wiper. Finally, there is the traveling clipboard that hold the current week-to-week projects that are underway. It contains the lists of items I need to buy or bring next time, and the sub-projects (or steps) that need to be done to move towards the completion of the bigger projects. I know it all sounds anal retentive, but it's not really that bad. In fact, all the lists are on a single clipboard, BUT you DO have to sit down and think them through. Just winging it and taking blind pot-shots at the things you think need doing will not do anything but keep you frustrated. IMHO...

With boats like ours (yours) there is a LOT to do. This is really all just a time management thing. It's a good way to prevent getting overwhelmed with the amount of shit there is to do just to keep boating. But also keeping your priorities inline so you don't go after a project you don't have time to complete and get you moving toward the projects that can have the most impact, and thus, improve your confidence.

I know this is a bit of thread creep, but in the list you provided, there are at least four topics that deserve their own thread. It sounds like you need to just pick one or two of them and focus on it until you are done and then move on. Try to find success in each one (or failure... which is still okay to learn from). Don't try to do them all at once.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:08 AM   #9
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The best thing I have found for cleaning up oil film especially if you plan on painting is good old TSP.

Tri sodium phosphate available at your big box stores.

The stuff is kind of caustic so use gloves,

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Old 10-02-2013, 11:20 AM   #10
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I dunno what you're talking about.

I know it all sounds anal retentive, but it's not really that bad. In fact, all the lists are on a single clipboard, BUT you DO have to sit down and think them through.

But also keeping your priorities inline so you don't go after a project you don't have time to complete and get you moving toward the projects that can have the most impact, and thus, improve your confidence.
Exactly my plan. My list is more like:

1. Critical things that can stop cruising.
2. Annoying things that make the Admiral unhappy.
3. Cosmetic things that my neighbors shame me about.
4. What's leftover.

If I can build mechanical confidence through exposure and experience, then cruising far from home (e.g. the Bahamas) is less frightening.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:20 AM   #11
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One forgotten factor in the optimum number of batteries formula is your ability to recharge them. You don't want so many that they can't be completely recharged with the equipment available in the steaming time between anchorages. So another case where less is sometimes more...
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:25 AM   #12
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As clean as it is goin' to get. Too busy runnin' the boat 12 months a year to worry about aesthetics,
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:40 AM   #13
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Start by stopping any leaks from stuffing boxes, then turn off the bilge pumps and sop up all of the water in the bilge. Then use the purple "Super Clean" product. It's much more aggressive than Simple Green and the label says "biodegradable detergents". Of course the grease and petroleum gunk that it emulsifies are not, so you want to clean up any liquid that ends up in the bilge when you're finished. By the way, this purple stuff is essentially what was used to emulsify and sink the oil slick after the BP oil rig fire....and it will make a diesel slick disappear in a New York minute. If I get a few ounces of diesel in the bilge during a filter change, I always spray some purple stuff in the bilge water... and it exits the boat without a slick. Anyway, it's great cleaner, but you still have to clean up the cleaner.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #14
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I may take a little flack for this but since there is nothing much to learn and no mancard hits to be taken........PAY SOMEONE!!!!

Most of the boat detailers(around here) also provide the service of cleaning engine rooms. In the grand scheme of things, it is not that expensive and they will do a MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better job than you will.

I had my last boat engine space done(Mainship Pilot 30) right before survey and regretted that I had not had it done the 6 years of owning the boat. Don't get me wrong, my engine space was fairly clean and nothing to be ashamed of. BUT, I am talking toothbrush-between-each-fuel-line-on-the-injector-pump....CLEAN. That is exactly what I find when I went to the boat and the guy doing the work had a toothbrush in hand and cleaning every nook and cranny on the engine. The engine space looked BRAND F*****G NEW!!!! I think I paid $125!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now I wouldn't expect that price on my current boat but even 3x that would be a bargain.

Anyway, just a thought. You WILL get your money's worth AND you can tell Tom to go pound sand!!!!!........and maybe even save a little money on your liquor budget since you won't have to tranquilize him!!!!
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:18 PM   #15
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BUT, I am talking toothbrush-between-each-fuel-line-on-the-injector-pump....CLEAN. That is exactly what I find when I went to the boat and the guy doing the work had a toothbrush in hand and cleaning every nook and cranny on the engine. The engine space looked BRAND F*****G NEW!!!! I think I paid $125

Anyway, just a thought. You WILL get your money's worth AND you can tell Tom to go pound sand!!!!!........and maybe even save a little money on your liquor budget since you won't have to tranquilize him!!!!
Well, calming Tom down can be costly.

My engine room needs organizing and cleaning for sure.
I need to organize and learn my engine room, and I'm not quite there yet, so for me to be there is important. I may be painting with a toothbrush at some point - I got alot of nooks and crannies. (who doesn't!)

I might like to locate a person like that in NC!
But first I gotta go through mechanically. Look for things. Water pumps, corroded fittings, things like that.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:55 PM   #16
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Baker's professional cleaning idea is a good one, but clean does not mean fixed. He's got a lot to do in there. I, for one, think cleaning the tiny spots in the engine room allows me to FIND the things that need attention. If a cleaning crew comes across a chaffed wire or clogged drain, they will just wipe it off and move on. No, Ben needs to really get in there, get his hands dirty, and see what there is to do in there.

BTW... Simple Green and red shop towels do wonders on an engine and oily spills.

(I'll get back to pounding sand)
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:15 PM   #17
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No, Ben needs to really get in there, get his hands dirty, and see what there is to do in there.
Thank you, Mother

Yeah, like my filters issue, I am striving to become one with the machine.

The mysteries of fuel and air having been my biggest, I will now move to water, salt, and corrosion.

Mostly, I need to organize a logical space in there to access critical areas of my engine.
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:24 PM   #18
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Greetings,
Ah yes. The dirty holy place. Although down the list, it's always in my face each and every time I enter.
Mr. Tom's ER is a REAL Holy Place. Clean, tidy and well appointed from what little I saw. As he alluded to, once I start, I suspect every loose tile, chafed or out of place/redundant wire will demand my immediate attention thus slowing a clean up to a snails pace.
Every 34 year old boat (mine) has it's share, some more than others, of "good enough, this will fit here, we don't need/use this anymore but we'll leave in the old wiring, nobody'll ever see that quart of used oil I spilled in that unseen place, tape 'll fix this, I'll get to this tomorrow and I didn't know that was broken..." left over from various PO's. Good grief. It makes me tired just thinking about it.
After the clean up, painting and detailing are in order....
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:16 PM   #19
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Greetings,
Mr. Tom's ER is a REAL Holy Place. Clean, tidy and well appointed from what little I saw.
After the clean up, painting and detailing are in order....
At least you can stand up in yours!

(and I think you saw the whole thing. )
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:29 PM   #20
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Like to address the rat's nest of electrical lines. On a 25+year old boat there have been many additions and changes to the wiring. If you find that you have a number of devices/appliances connected directly to the battery or otherwise connected with in line fuses, buy one of the 14 position dc distribution panels that use mini fuses and bring the wires to that panel.

If you find that you have a number of engines. generator cabled directly to the batteries, install two buss bars and have the cables go to the buss bars with only the battery connect cables coming off the batteries.

There were so many changes / additions on my 25 year old boat then when I redid the engine room with new wires, replacing only those that had been spliced or for whatever reason were longer than necessary, I was able to fill a cardboard box that was 18x18x18 inches with discarded wire. Replacing the spliced wires has reduced the number of "electrical problems" I have, and reducing the length of a number of wires increased the voltage to a couple of critical items (Watermaker, fresh water pump).

Good luck.

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