Date: 29 October 2016. Transmission
Fluid in Bilge.
The day started with a Good
Idea. A neighbor suggested we go for an outing on his boat. Like
prudent mariners, before starting the engine an inspection was taken
of the engine and bilge. One look told us the trip was off!
Transmission fluid was in the bilge.
A diaper (oil absorption pad) was
tinted dark pink. The color told us there was a transmission fluid
Checking the bilge each time
before you start your engine is wise. When I shut down Betsy (my
18hp Kubota) I also look.
I am not an expert at things mechanical however I can spot something
different. Different is bad. Usually! It is at the very least a
point to explore.
After spotting the transmission fluid the next thing
done was look to see if we could find the point of failure.
At the back of the transmission we saw what we did
not want to see:
I am well aware that wires should be secured. This is an older less expensive boat. Previous owners have
not always done right by her. After a dozen years sitting she is
being turned into a live-aboard vessel capable of coastal cruising.
There is a lot of work to do.
Though not perfect she soon will be Good Enough.
perfect boat on a limited
is like finding the needle in a haystack.
If you are like most of us you will buy a boat that is Good Enough
and work to make her yours. I know my Seaweed is nothing like the
boat I bought 8 1/2 years ago. She is practically perfect now. Your
work in progress can have similar results given time and persistence.
We identified the problem.
WIRE had wrapped around the shaft
behind the COUPLER:
↑ on a
The fist job was to remove the
GROUND WIRE from between the transmission and the coupler.
The Coupler holds the shaft to the transmission. Four
large bolts hold it to the transmission.
A Key holds the shaft so it spins when the engine is in
gear. To learn about Keys see the
Inexpensive Line Cutter
Side Note: I was familiar with the
wire around the shaft problem. Years ago I was working with a fellow wiring his
lights and came across a bundle of loose wires in his bilge near the
shaft. Two different times I asked if he wanted them removed.
He said "No" and to leave them. So
One day he started the engine and
those wires wrapped themselves around the shaft removing it from the
engine. He was very lucky he had good bilge pumps. His choice cost
him a tow to the boatyard and an emergency haul-out.
Then he paid me to remove the
wires. It would have been a lot easier to remove them before they
were tightly wrapped around the shaft! Additionally, I should have
been more insistent/explaining the reason why the wired needed to be
If someone more than one time makes the same suggestion, find out
I know I can initially be dismissive of suggestions from
others. That has been to my own detriment on more than one occasion.
Although I try to always consider what experienced boaters say sometimes I miss
important stuff. That said, it generally takes me a bit of time to have outside advice become Mine. And then of course it is a wonderful
To those whom I have caused
consternation because of delayed agreement, I apologize. I do
eventually come around. The old familiar ways are not always proper
nowadays. I would like to think I am teachable. Eventually.
As for the wire, we did manage to remove it all.
The next step was to fill the transmission with
We were not sure if any damage had been done to the
seal inside the transmission. To check that we filled the
transmission with ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) and placed a
diaper (oil absorbing pad) under the tranny.
The next day we saw a
That is an expensive drop of fluid. It meant the
transmission would have to come off the boat. We needed to have a
seal pressed on/in. The wire had caused internal damage. The local guys at
Mastry Engine Center have the tools
and experience to do the job properly.
Doug at Mastry [727-522-9471] took possession of
the tranny and a few days later we had it back.
Mastry Engine Center is
a Yanmar and Suzuki dealer located in St. Petersburg, FL.
We watched someone's big Yanmar engine get carefully
loaded on a truck for delivery.
Finally we had the transmission
back aboard the boat. Fortunately by that time my friend Edwin was
here. He put everything back together. That was a huge blessing. We
compliment him still for the work done. Edwin worked hard and made
miracles. We were very fortunate. Thank you Edwin!
Here is Edwin on the day the engines
ran for the first time since his arrival:
Edwin worked serious miracles. He understands engines and did
wonderful job. He is one of the good guys. Thank you again Edwin!
I am tickled with the
air-conditioner cover Edwin made for me. That made a great deal of
difference in my happiness quotient. Plus I am safer now. I told
you about that in the
Moby-Cool a/c cover Installed
article. He also helped me with the alternator upgrade. That was big
Life aboard Seaweed is good. I
having fun taking my boat for little jaunts though none are likely
until Tuesday. My boat registration expired on my birthday, not at
the end of the month like I thought. Oops! The new stickers are due
to arrive by Monday. If so I'll probably be going to Publix,
McDonald's and the American Legion on Tuesday.
See you there!
Have you ever been surprised by something floating in
your bilge water?
And, do you check your engine each day before getting underway?
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In the Bilges,
All's Well aboard Seaweed ~
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