Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Got Me Under Pressure
Our pump parts were delivered promptly on Wednesday afternoon, 12/22. Thursday morning was spent with my cousin Phil Ward and his family who were visiting from Costa Rica. Phil works with Intel and is down there for two years teaching the locals how to make microchips from banana leaves. OK, that's just a guess. Anyway, we had a real nice visit over breakfast at the Double T Diner in Annapolis. Sure was nice to see those guys. After we got back to the boat I grabbed my pump parts and got to work.
The upper plate on the case had cracked all the way across in front of the piston support. This created two problems. Underneath the plate is the diaphragm and uneven pressure from the crack was creating a water leak. The other problem was that the pump piston is mounted to this plate and it's motion was now way out of whack, wobbling all over the place and seriously reducing system pressure. The replacement parts gave me a new plate and piston assembly.
The pump on our boat is located on the starboard side underneath the settee. After removing pressure from the system I had to disconnect the two water lines from the pump. The one coming from the tank had a continuous slow flow so I jammed it in behind the water manifold to hold it upright above tank level and stop the flow. The other hose only drained out a small amount of water and wasn't a problem. With the breaker turned off I removed the power connection for the motor. Four screws hold down the pump and with those out I could work on it at the table in the Main Salon.
Disassembly was pretty straightforward, removing the belt and motor and then removing four screws holding down the plate. When I pulled up the plate I discovered the real cause of the problem. The diaphragm is sandwiched between the broken plate on top and a valve plate underneath. The valve plate has two screws holding all this together and one of the screws had snapped off. These screws are the self tapping type and the replacement top plate comes with un-threaded holes. I would bet a hundred dollars that the screw was broken when it was installed and whoever put it in just closed it up and hoped for the best. The reason I say this is because after I got it all back together Cheri took a shower and mentioned that the water pressure was better than it had ever been. That pump hasn't put out good pressure since it was last assembled. I hate Mickey Mouse repair jobs. "Hey Pluto, that should be good enough to hold it for a while". Grrrr.
I don't know if you can tell from the previous blog entries but life here on La Vida Dulce has been pretty hectic lately. I'm not kidding! It seems like every spare moment of our lives has been spent installing stuff or repairing something or doing this and that to make room for living aboard. Enough! Once we got the heater going and the power restored and the water pressure back we decided to take it easy for a while. We spent our first Christmas aboard with just the two of us. And Bella. We sat around and watched movies, drank Bloody Mary's and downed some pretty good vino too. We took Bella out for a really nice walk around the marina and just kinda hung out for a coupla days. Man that felt good. Now we're rejuvenated and ready to take on the next disaster.
Why do I keep saying these things?. It's now 12/29, one week later. I got home from work last night and Cheri was saying something about a wet spot on the carpet. Bella, you bad dog! When I took a closer look it wasn't Bella's fault after all. Water had dripped out of the speaker that's built into the side of the starboard side settee. Hmm, that seems odd. That's the same place our newly repaired water pump is located but the speaker is like 2' above the pump. I'm feeling a bit trepidatious at this point. My logical conscious mind tells me that the pump is probably shooting water onto the back of the speaker. My horror movie based, illogical subconscious mind pictures a two hundred gallon aquarium beneath that cushion. As Cheri pulls up the cushion I'm tempted to grab her out of the way in case some shark comes leaping outa there. When I look in the compartment I see some water here and there but nothing terrible. No sharks either. The obvious cause of the problem here is that the small plate on top of the diaphragm is broken in two and water squirts out around the shaft of the piston each time it moves. OK. No big deal. It's not the same part (#6 in the exploded view) that I just replaced. That would be just humiliating. This is the small disk (part # 8), one of two, that sandwiches the diaphragm, probably to give it better shape when pumping. My question is, how did this happen? Probably was damaged when the upper plate broke and I just didn't notice it. Or maybe I screwed up on the reassembly. As I take the pump apart for the second time I look everything over carefully. No other apparent damage. The matching plate underneath the diaphragm is in good condition. I rotate the pump through a full cycle to see if anything might come in contact with it but there's plenty of room. I don't get it.
I also don't get to complete this repair right away. The part I need is the only part that's not included in the kit I just bought. That figures. I go on-line and order a replacement (and a spare). Delivery will be 01/03/2011. Here we go again. Cheri and I discuss our options and decide to call West Marine in the morning and get a replacement pump. We'll still repair this one but keep it as a back-up for the next time this thing quits. Having water on-board is a high priority. With a back-up pump we can swap the bad one out in a few minutes and make the repair at our leisure. OK, there, I've convinced myself. That's what we're gonna do.