The Iron Genny

Yet another boat-yard colloquialism reminiscent of the interrogation techniques of the Spanish Inquisition. It is common knowledge that the inboard diesel engine’s primary function is to serve as a sink for time, energy, and money, and in return occasionally propels the boat. With that in mind we decided to rip ours out.

Allow me to explain.

After 1.5 months at the machinist, the rudder post has apparently been rendered un-weldable by 40 years of submersion in salt water. I have been rendered angrier and poorer, thus the earlier angsty-myspace post. So in the process of planning out a new approach to building the rudder, I realized that it made sense to handle the worn cutlass bearing before re-attaching a hypothetical new rudder. With me?

The cutlass bearing is the metal bit which the prop shaft is encircled by where it exits the hull. I think.

That greenish bit there is the cutlass bearing. (If you look closely you can see the prop shaft flange freed from the drive shaft of the engine. I apologize for the poor picture quality, these were taken upside-down.) In the process of rooting around in the bilge I got a good close look at the engine and I began to get nervous. I believe the engine was installed in 1983, and by all appearances has been largely ignored since then. It did fire up (with a little coaxing) when we first purchased the boat, but this past week I  came to the decision to rip out the old diesel engine. The reasons are legion:

1. The Ariel was designed to have an outboard engine in a well- essentially there’s a square hole in a locker at the stern of the boat where an outboard engine sticks out. This is what we’re going to end up going with.

2. The Ariel was not designed to have an inboard-engine. The diesel was added 20 years after the boat was built, and it was really shoe-horned in there. In order to access the engine to work on it you have to either shimmy through the cockpit lockers and squeeze under the cockpit-sole, which leaves only enough room to use your left hand, or rip out the sink.

This boat used to have a sink

3. Performance- I’ve read that the drag on a fixed prop and prop-shaft is equal to the drag of the rest of the hull combined. By removing the prop we stand to gain boatspeed. We’re also removing the dead-weight of the engine (~150 lbs) as well as the compensating ballast that was put up forward when the engine was installed. (?lbs)

4.  Storage- the engine with it’s associated cables, tubes, tanks, bells, and whistles takes up the entire aft section of the hull- we can store sails or any number of things there which otherwise would be tossed up in the v-berth.

5. Simplicity- An outboard gasoline engine is smaller and simpler.

So today I cut the various supply lines and unbolted the engine from the bed- I was pleasantly surprised to find I can muscle it around a bit without too much trouble. Hopefully within the next week I’ll have a friend come by and help winch-lever-haul the iron genny out of the boat for good. Anyone interested in purchasing a used engine?

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