Friday, January 30, 2009

Maintenance, The Never Ending Quest For Perfection

As Tammy mentioned in a recent post, we were sitting at the Royal River Boatyard preparing to get the bottom painted. During this stay in the Royal River, I planned to get a lot of maintenance done to Gypsies. With the help of a fabulous computer software program by SeaKits called the Marine Maintenance System (MMS), I have been putting together an exhaustive maintenance schedule for Gypsies. This schedule has about 75 or 80 maintenance items across all the ships systems. I have done about half of them but still have a long list of ones that exceed my current technical competence. Alan Dugas, who owns and runs the Royal River Boatyard, agreed to let me have one of his top mechanics, Ryan, to help with the maintenance.

My plan was to do basically every piece of maintenance needed on the boat before we leave. This does two things; one, it gets Gypsies ready for the trip and two, makes sure that I can do all of the maintenance in the future. This has been, and continues to be, a mammoth undertaking but one that has been a lot of fun. This boat that we have is an incredible piece of machinery that was well cared for by its former owner but was not used much in the last year that they owned it or the first six months that we owned it. The maintenance has been a great way to be sure that all of the systems are operational. We have had to replace a few things but not much.

So, beginning on Wednesday, August 6, Ryan and I began the maintenance process. Ryan's mission was to teach me how to do the rest of the maintenance items (he drew the short straw!). We spent 7 working days on this process, working on the John Deere engines, the Westerbeke generator, the Wesmar bow thruster, the Maxwell windlass, the Naiad stabilizers, the ZF transmissions, the Hynautic engine controls, the Capilano steering and even the shafts. We removed and cleaned heat exchangers, flushed the fresh water cooling systems, replaced raw water impellers, removed rocker arm covers to test valve clearances, and more on the engines and the genset. We replaced all the underwater zincs and even replaced the seals in the bow thruster and the shaft seals on the main shafts. We drained and replaced the gear oil in the windlass and bow thruster. In short, we did just about everything that could ever need to be done to the major ships systems.

Working with Ryan was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I learned a lot and found out that I really enjoy doing this kind of work. Ryan was fantastic! He is not only incredibly knowledgeable but is great at explaining things so that an amateur like me can understand. Ryan is an engineering officer in the Merchant Marine on a break between postings so is very well qualified to do way more than I asked of him. His pleasant disposition and eagerness to help me made the task all the more fun.

Gypsies in the Palace is now ready for her journey. Now that she knows that she is loved and well cared for, she will do us right!

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