Summer 2015 Projects

Engine Replacement, Diesel Heater, Windlass Replacement, Veranda Locker Ventilation, Fore Deck Step Replacement, Kayak Storage

When we returned from last year’s cruise our engine had 1491 hours on it, which is quite young by diesel standards.  As it turns out the Westerbeke 108-C6 (a marinized Kia bus engine) does not have a stellar reputation.  Ours has leaked oil from the front and rear seals the entire time we have had the boat.  That wasn’t a big deal as we just kept oil absorbent pads under the engine and changed them out occasionally.  What was starting to concerning us was the amount of oil going out the exhaust.  Towards the end we needed to add one quart of oil every ten engine hours.  We suspected glazed cylinder walls and the only real fix would be to pull the engine, do a complete tear down and rebuild, then re-install it.  When you are done, what you have is an engine that has a lot of 10 year old parts hanging on it (oil and water coolers, starter, raw and fresh water pumps, injection pump etc.) after spending a lot of money in the process.

Boaters that we have known that have gone the re-build route generally end up with a new engine a few years later as all the older parts start to fail.  We plan on putting some serious hours on our engine for at least the next few years so why spend money on a re-build, and have to “worry” about what is going to fail next?  The last thing we want to do is break down when we are someplace south and then be at the mercy of whatever repair facility is closest.  Most places won’t let you do your own work and that isn’t our style.  Even if we managed to limp through all of our long distance cruising with the engine, it would most likely be totally worn out, requiring replacement to sell the boat.  So….. let’s go the new engine route, that way we can be the beneficiary of having a new engine, and not the next owner.  Besides, the peace of mind that goes with a totally reliable piece of equipment is priceless.

Let the “fun” begin.

Step one was deciding on what engine we should have, not a decision to take lightly.

We know our fuel burn is less than two gallons/hour, which translates to roughly 40 hp.  Our preference is for a naturally aspirated engine (non turbocharged), and a Kubota based block.  It also needed to fit between the support stringers in the bilge and clear the “drip pan” that is fabricated into the bottom of later model Pilgrims and not run into the underside of the cabin sole.  One of the governing factors in positioning the engine is the location of the propeller shaft.  All dimensions must be taken relative to the shaft which is further complicated by the transmission chosen and its output from the engine.   Space-wise it is a 3-D puzzle.  Engine cost was also a concern, but was really secondary.


In the end we decided on a 75 hp Beta Marine engine, which met all of our requirements.  The engine has four cylinders rather than the six cylinders of the Westerbeke; it ends up being significantly shorter in length which is a good thing as you have room in front of the engine.  The weight of the engines was essentially the same, both being just shy of 1000 lbs.  We were able to order the engine with a 175 amp alternator, driven by a six groove serpentine belt.  The sea water pump is gear driven, so we do not have multiple belts like the Westerbeke.   

Having made our decision, we ordered one from our local Beta Marine dealer.  We have dealt with them in the past when we re-engined our previous trawler so they know what to expect from us.  We will take care of the entire installation ourselves, they just need to “bless” it and be present when we fire it up the first time.

We knew that delivery would be four to six weeks from the time we ordered it, and since we knew that nothing ever goes like it is planned we got right on in as we leave the dock to head south in mid-September and it was already early June.  The plan was to use the boat until the new engine arrive, then pull the boat out of the water for new bottom paint and clean up the topsides while we replaced the engine.

Bad news.  Beta Marine wouldn’t put our order in the queue to be built until we killed off our current engine.  While lots of the smaller Beta Marine engines are sold in the US, almost all of them going into sailboats, few of the 75 hp models are sold here.  The engine meets Tier 4 requirements in Europe, but it costs $20k to have a particular model engine certified in the US.  Long story short, you can replace an old engine with the 75 hp model but it can’t be put in a new build.  They wanted documentation that we destroyed the old engine by drilling a hole through the cylinder wall.  I suppose you could weld the block and re-sleeve the cylinder but why bother.  So, we pulled the head and drilled our hole.  The boat isn’t going anywhere under its own power for a while.


Since we are immobile, we pulled out the support structure that holds our AquaDrive.  There was a pile of “dust” under the thrust bearing that a magnet would pick up.  This isn’t a good sign, so we removed it, and sent it to Mack Boring to get their reaction.  As expected, it needed re-built to the tune of $1000. 

We also took the weldment out to clean it up and make some modifications.  Note the rectangular mounting holes for the AquaDrive.

We were pleasantly surprised when we received our unit back from Mack Boring, you can’t distinguish it from one that is new.

Since the boat couldn’t go anyplace, we might as well get rid of the old engine so we can start preparing the bilge.  We used our dinghy to drag Liberty over to our haul out well where we could get our clubs fork lift close enough to the edge of the boat.  A chain fall was used to pull the engine through the skylight.

Into the scap metal dumpster it went.  We had removed any parts of any value prior to pulling the engine.

The Velvet Drive transmission weighs in at 137 lbs.

Having sold it on e-Bay for $500 (only one bidder, imagine that), we needed to box it for shipment.  Since UPS has a 150 lb maximum limit, our box couldn’t weigh more than 13 lbs.  It took most of a day to fabricate one that was sturdy, yet didn’t weigh anything.  When we were done the box weighed 12 lbs, and the transmission survived shipment.

With the engine out, we could start cleaning things up.  The steel engine beds were disposed of as they didn’t fit the new mounting engine mount locations and would have required cutting and re-welding.

While the engine project was going on we removed the steps that go to the foredeck on later build Pilgrims as trying to keep varnish on something that gets walked on every day is a losing battle.

The replacement is made from Starboard with some non-skid strips.  The next owner will thank me.

Another project that kept us busy was sorting out the mounting of the AquaDrive on the steel support structure.  All the forward thrust from the propeller is transferred to this structure rather than to the engine.  This allows one to use softer engine mounts resulting in less vibration and noise being transmitted into the hull from the engine.  We didn’t like how it was mounted as the shaft could move from side to side as well as up or down.  We wanted the mounting location to be exact, with no play possible.  As it was, we weren’t sure the prop shaft was centered in the stern tube.

After determining exactly where the AquaDrive mounts should be (simply two bolts), we fabricated a piece of steel that had holes drilled at the exact center to center distances for the unit, carefully positioned it relative to the framing structure and tack welded it place.

We then sawed out the center part (there is very little clearance between the U shaped region and the bearing).  Now when the AquaDrive is removed, it can only go back in place in one location.  I don’t know if it makes a lot of difference but it makes us happier.

The most time consuming part of the project was locating the new engine beds.  We used 5 x 5 x ½” 6061 Aluminum angle.  A fixture was made that locates the engine mount centers as well as the transmission flange.  A small piece of plywood simulates the CV portion of the AquaDrive.  Our shaft angle is 6 degrees, the engine is at 2 degrees, leaving us a 4 degree difference between the Aquadrive and the engine.  That angle needs to be split so that you have 2 degrees each side, important for proper lubrication of the shaft.  One of the issues with the previous installation was that the engine was directly in line with the prop shaft so the jack shaft on the Aquadrive had no “wobble”, and wasn’t properly lubricated.  We didn’t want to attach the beds to the stringers until the engine was delivered so we could double check clearances.

Another thing bugging us was the teak trim around the vents on the pilot house.  Teak doesn’t like varnish.  Rather than continually taking the frames down to bare wood every few years we said to heck with it and painted them after grinding the old varnish off. 

We eventually got smart and moved the Pilgrim around using our dinghy tied tight to the hip of the boat.  Our electric Torqueedo motor provides ample power assuming almost calm conditions.

The original equipment Muir windlass had been giving us grief, the issue being the now rusted mess of the electric motor that powers it.  It turns out you can get a replacement motor, to the tune of $1000.  Let’s see, put serious money into a 25 year old piece of equipment, or pay double that for a new windlass?  Our engine replacement rational won out and we ordered a new one.

We had been looking for an opportunity to remove the anchor pulpit to either clean it up or replace it depending on its condition.


Cleaning it up and doing a little work in filling in some of the slots that gave spiders a place to live won out.

The completed project.  We chose a Lofrans 1500 watt windlass (the Muir was 1000 watts), changed the wiring from pulling power from our house banks through undersized wires to a dedicated 12v battery mounted in the forepeak with a new breaker and appropriate size wire.

While out of the water we decided to attack a few of the issues along the rub rail.  Whoever was laying up the mat against the gelcoat while the making the deck must have been having a bad day as there are air pockets between the two.  After 25 years these are becoming more noticeable so we carved a few out, filled the area with epoxy paste to re-fair the surface.


It turns out that Rustoleum makes a spray paint that pretty much matches our gel coat color.  We will see how these areas fair over the next year as we expect to do the entire rub rail next summer.

If you are interested in what the stern tube looks like on a Pilgrim, this is it.  We pulled off the rubber hose that holds the packing gland so that we could shorten it a bit.  This allows the packing gland to bear on a different location on the shaft.  When replacing the hose we used “real” hose clamps, the ones with bolts.

Topsides compounded (again), coated in Rejex, bottom painted and pretty much ready to launch.  We did live aboard for the two weeks we were out of the water.  It is not fun climbing up and down the ladder every time you want to get on or off the boat.  We also were unable to use our AC system, for obvious reasons.  Fortunately only a few nights were really hot and muggy.

We put our mast up or down on occasion and needed to dig our four foot step ladder out of the veranda locker every time.  Adding folding mast steps to the spar got rid of that exercise.

Another project was ventilating our veranda locker.  There is no ventilation as designed making this a smelly place for mold or mildew to grow.  We solved this by adding an active ventilation system that runs all the time.  We drilled a large hole in the cockpit sole under the seats, epoxied in a piece of PVC tube and added a computer fan to exhaust the air.  The other side of the boat got the same treatment without the fan as the air goes in the starboard side, under the back deck and out the port side.  We added six passive vents in the seats to aid in the ventilation.

After some delays, the engine arrives.  It took longer than they said as we changed the transmission option, going with a heavy duty TwinDisc which needed to be shipped in from Italy.

Once we had the engine in hand we could test fit the mounts to the engine support brackets (no problems there) although we did find we needed to trim the width of the beds down to accommodate the amount of angle on the engine brackets.  The aluminum beds are epoxied in place as well as bolted, the epoxy acting like a shim on the not-too-fair stringers.

With the boat back in the water, we could drop the engine down the skylight and tow the boat back to the slip to do the final hookups.

All we need now is power, water, exhaust and gauge hookups.  How long could that possibly take?

Something we saw early on when the engine was delivered was that the cable bundles for the gauges were the wrong length.  We assumed that the fly bridge gauges would daisy chain off the pilot house ones.  On this engine, each station needed to be connected at the engine.  They had delivered a 3 meter cable and a 8 meter cable.  In the end, we determined that what should have been delivered was two 14 meter cables, requiring us to re-order, then wait for the U.K. to make them up before shipping them to us.  They were loath to have me splice wires into the ones that were originally sent and said if we did that they wouldn’t be responsible for any electrical issues that we might run into.  Total price just for the cables was $500.  While we have run the cables up to the fly bridge we haven’t mounted the fly bridge gauges as of yet as we need to make an enclosure.  Since we have only piloted the boat from the fly bridge once in five years, it isn’t a major issue.

We finally have the exhaust hose connected as well as the vented loop, on the opposite side of the engine as the Westerbeke of course.  The raw water pump was in a convenient location relative to the sea cock and strainer so that was easy.  The power cables to the engine, while seemingly straight forward ended up causing us a lot of grief due to our battery bank configurations.  The engine comes with a manual oil pump for oil changes which we plumbed to the transmission and we plumbed our electric oil change pump to the engine sump.  We also installed an EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) gauge which required having a stainless fitting welded onto the exhaust elbow for the thermocouple.  The EGT is to keep us from overloading the engine.

We had installed a propane heater a few years ago but found that we needed heat more often than we thought would.  Since the heater used quite a bit of propane, and propane isn’t that easy to find at times that maybe we should replace it with a diesel heater.

A friend had purchased the Chinese version of the Wasbesto diesel heater from the Chinese e-Bay site, Alibaba.  We did the same, for about 1/3 the price of the name brand version.  They function and look the same (imagine that).

Being a bit paranoid about fuel issues, we installed a six gallon diesel tank expressly for the heater.  It will run continually using about ½ gallon of diesel in 24 hours.  If necessary, we can feed the main engine from this tank but obviously not for very long.  The small tank is re-filled via our electric fuel pump from our other two diesel tanks.  The tiny tank and hoses and adaptor fittings for the heat ducts ended up costing almost as much as the heater itself.

The short version of the saga of our wind indicator is this:  We tried to get our unit to linearize, required for producing accurate wind information but never could.  After borrowing an anemometer from our friend and getting that to work we concluded that our anemometer was bad.  We were loath to remove it to send back for repair (still under warranty) as it was epoxied into a tube that gets mounted on the fly bridge.  I had to build a box to send the darn thing back.

Eventually I get a call from Raymarine stating that they couldn’t find a problem with it.  In the letter I sent in with the unit describing how we have been fighting this thing for almost a year I lamented that I didn’t buy the higher quality (priced) sailboat version that uses a vane for direction rather than the cups trying to determine speed as a function of differential rotation.  They nicely offered to credit me the full price that I paid for the one that was giving me grief towards the more expensive one.  Since I never wanted to see that old one again I took them up on the offer.

We made a mount for the top of our mast, ran the cable down the mast and into the pilot house to feed the display.

We have a very nice, easy to read display in the pilot house that will give us true wind speed and direction, that information also appearing on the large multifunction display.  The VMG and Tack buttons don’t apply to power boats but having accurate wind information is really nice for us “old” sailors.


As far as the performance of the new engine goes, the following graph tells the story.  Our target cruising speed was 7 knots at 80% of the maximum engine RPM’s; that is what we achieve at a reasonable EGT (about 675 degrees).  When we left the dock for the start of this year’s cruise, we had only five hours on the engine, with not even an overnight shake down.  It wasn’t a position we wanted to be in, but one thing leads to another and the delays start to pile up.


There were some teething pains.  We had to make shims for the throttle and gear shift cable mounts as these didn’t line up without kinking the cables.  They shipped a radiator cap with no gasket, only an issue if the overflow tank is above the top of the heat exchanger (which ours rightfully is).  There was minimal sealant under a bracket that had an opening into the lube oil region of the injector pump (our engine doesn’t use a fitting that went into this location) resulting in an oil drip.  Removing the fitting and creating an RTV gasket solved that.  Our very long cable run for the gauges caused the stop solenoid on the engine to destroy itself due to the large voltage drop.  The factory shipped a new solenoid and added a harness that incorporated a relay to solve that problem (pictured below).  For a month we were using a string tied to the throttle linkage that we pulled after pulling up the carpet and opening a hatch to stop the engine.


One of the long standing issues we had with the electrical system was the incorporation of the smart external voltage regulator we had for the alternator.  We wanted to use the one off the old engine which required a different brush box on the alternator (shown below).  The one on the right has the regulator built in, the one on the left simply has two wires, a field and ground that are controlled by the regulator.

After wiring in the regulator, it drove our battery bank voltage to 18 volts, a good way to cook things.  After taking with the engine people and then the makers of the voltage regulator, we decided the issue must be the regulator itself so we purchased a new one (about $400).  We had the same problem.  Giving up, we replaced the brush box with the original and decided to tackle the issue at a later date.  Since then we did some re-wiring of the alternator output to a different bank.  After once more wiring the external regulator in we find we have no issues.  We are not sure if originally it was grounding problem or not, but at the time we were juggling so many jobs that we can’t be sure what we really had done.  There are more than a few wires that get connected to this thing (below).

One of the “last minute” items we worked on was the storage of our three part kayak.  We found the center part of the kayak would fit in our boat deck dock box along with our new folding bikes.  The bow and stern parts of the kayaks could get mounted inboard of the rails.  We fabricated some brackets to hold the boat ends and made us some zippered acrylic covers to protect them from fading in the sun as well as camouflage them.  Just before we left we realized that we should have made up a weather cloth (in green) to span the area between which would have hidden the white box from view.  As we didn’t have quite enough cloth on hand to make one up, and not enough time to have some shipped in, this detail will have to wait for next summer.  There is always something that needs done/added/fixed or replaced.


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