Salty 33


Salty, a 1989 Contessa 26' Sloop (JJ Taylor)


Project Complete:  293.75 total hours

Scope of Project:  Repower; electrical and systems replacement and upgrades; windvane installation; miscellaneous upgrades and improvements

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April 5, 2016

Salty 33

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The owner requested an electronics mounting base near the companionway, similar (or identical) to an installation I completed on a sistership, and in order to support the base I needed to prepare a wooden mounting base to glue to the bulkhead, since there was no other way to secure the mount without bolting through the cockpit wall.  Using the aluminum base as a guide, I built a simple teak block, and installed flush screws from the back side to create mounting studs for the electronics base.

I planned to epoxy the block–and the studs–to the bulkhead, but since clamping it in place would impede access through the companionway, I set it aside, planning to install it at the end of the day, but as it happened I didn’t get back to it this day.

In the engine room, I installed a plywood panel to close off the bilge access forward of the engine, and hopefully to support the starting battery later.  I’d cut this and painted it earlier.


I mounted the fuel filter on the starboard side of the engine room, as far forward and as low as possible to leave room for access.


On the opposite side, I installed the brackets for the raw water strainer, though I didn’t permanently install the filter at this time to leave more room for engine installation access (since the filter was simple to install once the brackets were in place).

I had to leave the shop for an appointment, but after returning I worked on the engine itself to prepare a few things before installation.  The engine raw water impeller’s cover place came equipped with six small screws to secure it, but I liked to replace these screws with knurled fasteners to make access for inspection and maintenance easier going forward.

The clamps required to support the gear and throttle control cables were fussy enough by design, with two separate pieces and small fasteners, but the slim slotted screws that came with the engine made these just that much more challenging to work with in tight, dark engine rooms, so I replaced these fasteners with socket cap screws to allow a positive engagement with the installation tool.

Knowing full well how difficult access into this engine room  would be once the engine was in place, I pre-installed two lengths of battery cable to the stater solenoid and engine ground bolt.  I cut these generously to length up in the boat first, to determine how long they should be, then made up one end with the required lugs before installing them and tucking the cable length into the engine to keep it out of the way for now.    This would streamline the final connection chores later.

I hoped to make the installation easier by pre-installing the four flex mounts to the engine beds, since access to these bolts was always tough once the engine was in place.  So with the newly-arrived bolts now on hand, I secured the mounts in place in the pre-drilled holes I made earlier.  Then, I rechecked the positioning and alignment with my template and shaft string once more.

By now it was mid-afternoon, but I thought that with a little luck I had time to actually get the engine in the boat, so I went ahead and hooked up the crane and raised the engine into the boat.  Before doing so, I removed the two forward mounting flanges, which I knew would be too wide on their own to fit through the tight engine room opening.  These were secured to the engine block with two bolts each.

In an ideal world, it should have been no problem to lift and place the engine in the engine room in the hour and a half or so remaining in the day, but in my gut I knew it’d not be that easy, and of course it wasn’t.  Despite already widening the engine room opening, it was simply too tight to get the engine in for all practical purposes.  There’s always a fair bit of jockeying for position when inserting an engine into the typically small sailboat engine room, but here, even with that sort of game playing, there really wasn’t enough width as it stood.  I got the engine partway into the opening, and even reinstalled (from inside the cabin) the forward mounting flanges in preparation for dropping onto the mounts, but it soon became clear that I needed to widen the opening further.  It was also clear, from the way the engine fit into the space and what I’d have to do to actually get it onto the foundations, that having the flex mounts pre-installed wasn’t going to work, so I’d have to install them on the flanges first, then bolt them to the engine beds afterwards.  I had to remove a coolant hose from the port side during this initial trial, and even though the coolant reservoir was dry, there was a surprising amount of coolant somewhere in the engine passages that spilled out and required cleanup.

So reluctantly, I lifted the engine back out and rested it (well-padded) in the cockpit for now while I got better prepared for final installation.  I removed the mounts from the engine room, and also removed the fuel filter, not because it was in the way of the engine, but because I’d determined it made access around the side of the engine to the mounts difficult or impossible.  I marked the engine room flange where I’d need to cut it wider(by now it was late, and I didn’t want to do the cut now), and then, finally, I removed a clamp that had held the engine wiring harness plug annoyingly in the way during my test fit, and wasn’t directing the plug the right direction for this installation anyway, so it would have forced a sharp bend in the wires that wouldn’t have done them any good over time.  With the clamp–bolted and well-painted into place–removed, the harness had some freedom of movement, and would be out of the way next time I lowered the engine into place.

Total time billed on this job today:  5.5 hours

0600 Weather Observation:
12°, clear.  Forecast for the day:  Sunny, high 32°