There’s been a fair bit of work done on Beetle over the last couple of weeks while side-tied in the marina of Ala Wai Harbor.
I was polishing out the on-deck stainless steel using an old sock and the Brasso compound when I noticed a crack in the starboard lifeline gate at the forward stanchion brace. That’s not so good. OK, who around here welds stainless? The brace has holes thru the bottom that bolt into the deck, if the brace breaks away from the stanchion then welding the curved brace back onto the vertical stanchion becomes more difficult as the hole alignment comes into play – the first time this happened (to port brace on the aft gate) Mario had to bring his welding equipment to the boat to repair the weld while maintaining alignment. I wanted to get the cracked fitting to a welder before it came apart entirely.
While looking for a welder I was simultaneously in search of replacement filters for the Spectra watermaker. I telephoned Spectra in Sausalito and found a fellow in Oahu that is the local representative, only he didn’t have the filters in stock – the watermaker runs the incoming seawater through a 20 micron filter followed up by a 5 micron filter, you want to replace both filters at the same time. He thought he might have them in a week. While on the phone I asked if he had any recommendations for a local welder, and he said absolutely, you want Josh over at Keehi Marine and gave Josh’s phone number to me.
While this was going on I also wanted to get someone to work on the no. 2 genoa with the small tear in the foot. A long time ago Hood Sails had a loft over here somewhere, but a web search did not turn up the Hood loft. Perhaps they were no longer here? I telephoned Robin at the Hood loft in Sausalito – Robin has designed and built the sails on Tiger Beetle and if there was a loft out this way he’d know about it; failing that, he might have a recommendation for a repair loft around Honolulu. Turns out the old loft was no more, and Robin told me to call Fuzz and Munch at the North Sails loft up the road, they’d do a fine job on the jib. That’s an interesting assortment of names, called them, met a third fellow named Jim on the phone – and they’d be happy to work on the sail. Trick was to get them to come down and look at the jib on the furler so I could demonstrate the problem and they could come up with a good fix.
And then it was Friday, and Ronnie mentioned that if I wanted to get out on the Hawaii Yacht Club beer can race I should go visit the TP52 Loco Motion – they usually have tons of room to take folks out. I’m not accustomed to walking up to a boat and asking for a ride, but there were lots of people beavering away on the big red machine, taking covers off the pedestal grinders, removing boat covers, laying out the sails, organizing halyards, jib sheets, all the things one does to get a large boat ready to race. The folks on board said absolutely, come on board! – I hopped back to Beetle to fetch my hat and change shoes, and wandered down below on Loco to say hello to the owner – he was busy at the nav desk squished in behind the companionway steps, working with a laptop computer to recalibrate some of the instruments.
Turns out John had just purchased Loco Motion, and he and his crew were learning the boat and figuring out what it would do. It’s darn interesting to see a boat that was state-of-the-art a decade ago, still competitive today, it’s a carbon fiber racing machine with nothing on it that does not make it go faster. A lot of equipment I’ve read about or seen pictures of was suddenly there on display right in front of me – masthead halyard locks with little trip lines coming out at the base of the mast, the mainsail halyard actually exits inside the boat and to raise the main you lead the halyard out through the companionway to one of the on-deck three speed winches cross-linked to the pedestal grinders, floating ring jib sheet system (an athwartship track above which floats a low-friction metal ring through which the jib sheet runs), hydraulic ram at the mast base to jack up the mast and tension the rigging prior to leaving the dock, another ram at the base of the headstay for tensioning the headstay (and a read-out on the B&G instruments in the cockpit so you could see how many tons were on the headstay), lots of control lines that disappeared into the deck, the mast, or the cockpit floor and then would re-appeared somewhere else so they could be tugged on and locked off.
Hawaii YC starts their races in reverse PHRF order, slowest boats out first through the narrow channel and out into the semi-protected waters off Ala Wai. The course is to the red buoy off Diamond Head, and when we get going it’s getting dark, the breeze is up and we’re jib reaching at 14 knots into the 5 foot swell wrapping around the from the inter-island channel. At least it’s warm as we charge through the fleet, round the mark and zoom back while peering forward into the dark to spot slower boats that we’re moving through as we look for the buoys and unlit day marks identifying the entrance through the reef and back into Ala Wai. We almost run over a Soling that had no running lights, they light up their mainsail with a big flashlight as we go by – that was nice as otherwise they were invisible on the water. I think we finished third, maybe, and only broke the boom vang block system that parted with a rifle-shot sound as we impacted one of the bigger waves on the way out to Diamond Head.
One handy feature of sailing on Loco Motion is I met Arlen, the bowman on the boat – and turns out he and his brother have a machine shop at their place out near Kaneohoe on the other side of the island. I was looking for a shop with an arbor press for purposes of replacing the AirX wind generator bearings, and Arlen said he’d be happy to help with that. And a couple of days later he was in Honolulu for a meeting and afterwards stopped by Beetle and off we went to his shop. Neat place, set on a couple of acres of property with lots of green trees, banana trees, various food plants, and the shop.
We used his 20 ton hydraulic press to nudge the shaft bearings out of the face plate, and the new bearings dropped in with just some careful finger pressure. We ran into trouble with replacing the yaw bearing. The instructions say to whack the protruding slip ring electrical contact stack with a rubber hammer to drop the yaw mechanism free from the bearing, then using a bearing puller to remove the bearing. That didn’t sound too good, particularly as we’re trying to hit something standing up inside the aluminum housing of the wind generator – so we can’t strike down axially, plus there’s a relatively delicate circuit board just aft of the stack. Even after removing the board and having at with various tools, we couldn’t get the yaw mechanism to budge.
Our workbench was simply the back of a truck, which turned out to be a good height to work from. Later I telephoned Primus Wind Power in Colorado (they purchased the AirX wind generator business from Southwest Windpower) to ask after how they remove the yaw structure from the wind generator body – after all, I was using their written instructions and we hadn’t made the thing move. Turns out that they have built a cantilever press jig that allows them to reach into the generator body and place a metal bar on top of the copper discs, then use the press to push down on the arm from outside of the body – this way the arm reaching in can press axially and drive the yaw out of the bearing. I may be able to do this with some C-clamps on Beetle’s workbench; failing that, I’ll be hoping to get back out to Arlen’s shop and do that with his press.
Meantime I’ve also been visiting the local laundromats to wash clothes, pillows, and bedding. There are two I’ve been to so far, one is small and clean and tidy and definitely where the hip crowd likes to go; the other is larger, darker, and more difficult to find – it’s also mostly empty. The more useful laundry is definitely the darker one, many more machines in different sizes, and no lines to use them. I figured out a way to lash pillows and larger bedding to the outside of my backpack and can ride my bike over to the laundromat – probably safer too if I fall off, as I’d land on a large stack of soft stuff.
The fellow with the Spectra watermaker filters never called me back, so I went and changed filters any way and pickled the watermaker with SC1 compound to protect the membrane. I will purchase the filters when I am in the SF Bay Area. It was a bit of a struggle to get the fellows from North Sails to come over and look at the sail on the boat, but Jim finally made some time, came up with some ideas, and I dropped and bagged the sail. Two days later Jim was back with the van and we ran the sail and my bicycle across to their shop and laid it out on the floor. Despite 14 years of use and abuse, the Hood spectra genoa has held up wonderfully – the only repair is to the small tear in the foot, and Jim is going to enlarge the tack patch to include the area out to and slightly beyond the tear.
In the meantime I’ve also changed out engine oil, discovered it’s not easy to find Chevron’s Havoline ATF Mercon V transmission fluid for the Hurth HBW-150V transmission, had a two hour education in all the varieties of transmission fluid, exchanged information with ZF Marine (they make the transmission), and finally telephoned the Chevron Oahu distributor – they will be bringing a case of ATF just for me! Turns out that transmissions with disc clutches, such as the Hurth I have, do not like slippery ATF – the much prefer a stickier fluid that will grab the adjacent disc rather than a slippery fluid that allows the discs to slip past each other. Apparently Mercon V formulation is such a sticky formula, and now I’ve found some.
All in all a busy time, lots got done, a couple of good evenings at the Hawaii Yacht Club with Ronnie and the beer can racers, and Beetle is looking good.