Posts Tagged ‘Electromagnetic Clutch’

One Hell of a Day!

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Saturday we were going to make  some water. The water here at the Ark Anchorage is beautiful and we are down to about 30% capacity. Started up the generator, started the water maker, set the time and sat back. About 10 minutes into the process I began to hear something a little different. A minute or so later I began to hear the engine lug and went to check. Knowing that the engine (generator) is on her last legs I figured it was working too hard and gave it more fuel. It came up a few rpms and then continued to lug down quite soon stalling out. I checked things out in the engine room. All looked good. Started up the generator, runs fine. Started the water maker (WM) and she runs for a few seconds then lugs down. Damn! Damn! DAMN!

We’d been enjoying Tonga. We spent one day at a Tongan feast with Haniteli at the Botanical Gardens. Liked him and the area so much we scheduled another day to visit the gardens and hear of the history of Tonga. Haniteli was the Minister of Agriculture and in that capacity had many dealings with the previous Kings. A 2 hour tour easily turned into three and then during lunch he kept up the story telling. Lucy (his wife) had made a coconut cake for desert and what can I say, it was good! We left there under the care of James our reserved Taxi driver who transported us both times (we had asked for him) to the Gardens and back.

Wednesday and Thursday we did some holiday shopping in town looking for unique gifts that were importable and securing some fresh stuff for our trip to the Ark.

The Ark anchorage is where the previous King of Tonga had often visited to swim. A pristine anchorage with golden hue water colored form the rising Sun, this small art gallery with a few moorings sits gently floating tied near to shore. We picked up a mooring and met Sherri and Larry, owners and now citizens of Tonga.

Saturday evening was a beach fire with food shared and there we met some of the temporary / permanent / seasonal residents of the Ark Anchorage. And there too I told them our tale of woa. But by this time I had diagnosed the issue as a short in the feed wire to the clutch and figured it would be a simple fix. I thought I saw that the wire had chafed on a pump bracket and all I needed to do was add some heat shrink and keep the wire from shorting out. Boy was I wrong.

Sunday; a day of rest, found me working in the engine room. Upon further investigating I saw that the wire to the clutch had a small rubber stopper that was to protect it from chafing and I couldn’t get that back in without removing the entire unit; WM pump and large alternator. To remove the clutch I need to remove the WM pump, disconnect the alternator, disconnect the water hoses to the pump, take the belt off the generator and then lift it out gingerly, hand the item to W/ ; which will max her out weight wise and then bring it to our dining table for continuing the disassembly repair.

With the removal completed my hands were black with belt dust and oil.  Changing the oil on the WM pump is not the most precise- easy job; a design failure of the Aquagen system IMHO, and so with the two mixed together; belt dust and oil everywhere everything we – mostly I, touched turned black. I must have washed my hands a dozen times and even with Orange GoJo they still remain the hands of a mechanic not of a sailor.

Dining Table Workbench

Dining Table Workbench

Getting the clutch off should not have required a gear puller but indeed I needed one. Fortunately Dirk and Silvie had brought one from the states when they had helped us through the canal so out it came and eventually off the outer clutch housing was removed. I could see that the clutch had moved in close enough to the magnet that it was rubbing on the housing, heating up and then acting as a brake slowing the engine down. Checking the system the day before I did notice that the clutch was HOT, too hot to keep my fingers on and that helped me diagnose a shorting restarting of the clutch as a problem. Now that I thought I knew the source of the problem I figured that I could clean it up, and set the clutch to the correct distance off the magnet and bingo; we’re back in business.

Once the pieces were reassembled I needed to figure out if I ought to put a new belt or leave the old one on. When the system is pulling a 100+ amps the belt screams so we decide to put the new belt on. However upon closer look I see the belt will drag on the alternator fan so I decide to keep the old belt. I was thinking I could put a washer under the pulley and then use the new belt. No way could I budge the nut on the alternator.  Ok, back to using the old belt.

The complete removal, cleaning resetting the clutch took almost 4 hours non stop. W/ my boss doesn’t follow US work rules so breaks were definitely at a minimum 🙂 . Lifting the two items  off the generator mount, bringing it out to the table to work on and reinstalling it was back breaking work. I was sitting on the main engine bent over, laterally moving about 30 lbs of mechanical gear and setting it, securing it on

Clean Hands (?)

Clean Hands (?)

the generator platform. Finally everything was back in place. We started up the generator; that ought to go well as I didn’t touch any of the wiring with the starting system, and the first thing we heard was a light screaming of something belt related. I looked, I searched I figured we can live with that. We started up the WM pump and that too was working fine but we still had the light screaming. Oops; the pump system shut down. I felt the clutch housing; it was hot. DAMN!  I look closer and see that the clutch has again slipped to where it is tight to the magnet rubbing. It’s getting late and we have a dinner reservation. Time to clean up and reset the thinking / planning process. As cruisers often say; our future is written in sand at low tide.  Our generator is the heart of our cruising life. It provides us ample energy, cold drinks, extending the life of food stored in the freezer, and of course water. What will we do now?

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long