“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


Custom Exhaust Riser/Mixing Elbow

Since acquiring Smitty one system that has constantly given me a hassle has been the wet exhaust.  In 2011, our first year together, the stock exhaust split while powering out of the river right as we were getting ready to set the sails.  That spewed how sea water and soot all over engine.  We powered back in and I assessed the problem.  I found the crack, actually that was easy because the exhaust riser had split into two pieces.  Later this lead to an engine stall because the soot had clogged my factory air filter.  This probably contributed to rust on the engine and it was difficult to clean all the residual soot off the entire engine.

In researching a replacement I found out that Catalina made these custom for each boat model and in order to get a replacement, I would have to send the old one to California, it would take 4 weeks and cost like $300.  Another options would be to have one made locally.  My cousin has a machine shop and I took it to him.  It would cost about $200 at most machine shops to fabricate.  He doesn’t have a pipe bender so he could not do it.  But he did weld the broken one back together.  A third option that I got from reading at Sail Boat Owners was to make my own pipe from the home store.

For the remainder of 2011, I built my own exhaust riser out of black steel.  It was quick fix and relatively easy.  But it didn’t fit well and made the area along the bulk head cramped.

Factory Exhaust

Factory Exhaust Riser

My cousin welded my original exhaust riser back together and I put that back on for the 2012 season.  But at the end of the season, I removed the riser as part of repainting the engine and found that it was starting to leak again at the weld.

This lead to me making a custom exhaust riser that would be a permanent fix.  I wanted it to be made of commonly available pieces so that I could replace it easy in the future.  Also, since I had moved out the bulkhead by about 3 inches, I wanted to take advantage of that space and have an unwrapped riser for easy inspection.

For materials I chose to go with black steel instead of galvanized steel pipe.  There is some concern with galvanized steel when heated causing health problems.  However, the heat needed is much higher than produced by a small diesel like mine, but I decided to avoid this concern altogether and go with black steel.  I also went with brass for the real tufwater portion of the mixing elbow.  This was mainly due to availability.  I would have stayed with black steel but they don’t carry the parts needed at the local home store.  For a thread sealant I used Hercules Real-Tuff based on a previous recommendation from MaineSail.  It has a good temperature range and doesn’t contain zinc or other metals that could lead to corrosion problems.

When I first had to make my temporary exhaust riser the hardest part of the project was separating the riser from a 90 degree elbow with a flange.  That piece couldn’t be reproduced easily and took two large pipe wrenches (3 footers I had for work) and a 5 foot extension bar we used to put extra torque on the wrenches.  But eventually we (my buddy Tim and I) got it separated.  Since then I have used the Real-Tuff every time I have put it together and you don’t have to torque the pieces together to get tight treads.  As a result, you can separate it easier if you need to make changes or clean parts.

The factory exhaust riser was 1 1/4 inch schedule 80 stainless steel pipe.  The inner diameter is  1.28 inches.  The only reason I can think that they used the schedule 80 IMG_0939was they were bending it fairly sharply and then welding to it.  From a strength perspective, there is no reason schedule 40 wouldn’t work in this application.  The inner diameter for schedule 40 pipe is 1.38 inches.  That’s about a 15% increase in size.  I had thought about going bigger but it didn’t seem necessary.  My temporary exhaust riser from 2011 was 1 1/2 inch schedule 40 black iron and that was really too large to fit the area.  The 90 with the flange coming off the exhaust is 1 1/2 inches and the factory riser immediately reduced to the 1 1/4 inches.  So I mimicked this set up with a 1 1/2 by 1 1/4 inch reducing coupling.

Next I threaded a 4 inch piece of pipe into the coupling followed by a street 90 and then a t-fitting.  On the bottom of the tee fitting I placed another 4 inch piece of pipe as a point to connect the exhaust hosing leading to the muffler.  On the factory riser, it was just smooth pipe that fit into the hose and then was held with two hose clamps.  So I am doing the same and the threads on the pipe should affect the connection because there is enough flat section above the threads to get the first hose clamp on.

For the water injection portion, I used brass.  A combination of 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch.  I IMG_0941used a 3/4 by 1/2 reducing coupling.  Some of these couplings have the 1/2 inch threads all the way through the fitting.  If you don’t have threads all the way through the interior, you could complete the threading with a tap.  This allows a 1/2 inch pipe (3 inches long) to be threaded into the interior side of the reducing coupling.  A hose barb can be threaded into the top of the reducing coupling.  For this one I had to use an additional coupling in the middle due to a lack of pieces at the home store I went to.  Also, this is a potential site for galvanic corrosion.  So I will likely to some research with some suppliers I use at work and remake this portion with black iron to remove the problem.

IMG_0946The whole apparatus I made above was than threaded into the top of the t-fitting via a 1 1/2 by 3/4 inch reducing coupling.  So the water is injected in the middle of the 1 1/2 inch inner diameter of the pipe while allowing exhaust to flow around it before mixing.

The pipe that was threaded into the inside of theIMG_0945 3/4 by 1/2 inch reducing coupling brings the injection point for the water down to the lower portion of the opening.  This was done to prevent water from back flowing into the exhaust and hydro-locking the engine.

The rest of the pieces were assembled to complete the mockup.  I then dry fit the piece and made a couple of adjustments to the angles where several parts met.  IMG_0948

I painted the completed piece with Rustoleum high heat paint and installed it on the engine.


I ran the engine this weekend.  I let it get up to temperature and ran it with a load at about 1,500 RPM in gear, tied up to the dock.  I let the engine run for about an hour and took some readings with my IR thermometer.

Temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit

Temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit

I also checked the temperatures on the new bulkhead and those all stayed around 70 degrees.  I will keep monitoring temperatures and update if I make any changes. Now, no more planned projects for this year.  Bend on the sails and get out there.  Can’t wait to sail Maine later this year.


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First Weekend of 2013 Boating Season

After the craziness around here for the last week, it was nice to relax on the boat for the first weekend of the 2013 boating season.  We grilled out on the boat last night at sunset and slept on the boat all weekend.  It was a little cold at night and we had to use a small electric heater.

Any of our readers who would like to contribute to the victims of the bombing at the Boston Marathon can do so at One Fund Boston.

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Two Comfort/Entertainment Upgrades

We completed two quick upgrades this weekend.

First, was putting on the Lewmar folding steering wheel we got at the Defender annual sale.  They are normally about $750 but we got it for $450 on a closeout sale.


This is a great comfort upgrade and makes the cockpit feel even bigger.  I still have to re-install the autopilot. The OEM wheel had 12mm spokes and the new wheel has 16mm spokes.  So I have to order new clamps for the autopilot ($20 from Defender) and possibly drill and tap the drive wheel.

The other upgrade was we added a new stereo.  I had been pining over our friend Stu’s new stereo last year because he had wired remotes at the helm and in the cockpit (he has a power boat with a raised helm deck).  Our stereo had a remote, but it was infra-red and you had to be within sight of the stereo for it to work.

I was looking at the Fusion with the iPod/iPhone dock.  But that’s a $500 unit plus about a $100 for the remote.  Not exactly a budget friendly item.  I was looking at this unit during the boat show and a salesman from West Marine told me I should check out their new radio.  It comes with two remotes; one is infra-red but the other is radio frequency.  That means it doesn’t need line of sight and it was supposed to have a 30 foot range.  I watched West Marine for it to go on sale and picked up the radio for $169.

Here are the installed pictures.



RF module.


Wiring bus for speakers and power.

The first unit had a broken LCD screen.  The cell in the middle of the screen didn’t display correctly.  So I brought just the face plate back to West Marine and we tried it on their display unit. Same thing.  So they swapped out the face plate and when I put that on it worked perfect.

It is iPhone/iPod compatible.  Using the USB cord you can charge and control your iPhone.  You can even play Pandora and podcasts over the system from your iPhone.  The RF remote only does source, fast forward, rewind, volume and mute.  The IR remote can actually search your iPhone and display on the LCD screen.  So your playlists are fully playable, as is selecting by artist, genera, album, etc.

The RF remote is great.  It easily worked at the helm and even worked about 10-15 feet up the dock.  It’s water proof and based on the range, I could be swimming or hanging on a float behind the boat and be able to work the remote.

The installation is a little over kill as far as the bus bar.  I suppose I could have just used butt connectors like the PO did, but after all of the electrical system work it just didn’t feel right.  So that was about another $20 on the installation.

Last night we did have a little problem.  While watching TV every now and then there is a cross over in signals.  The radio would turn on while trying to change the TV channel.  I will have to do some more reasearch on this.


Asbestos in Boats

This topic came up at Sailboat Owners Forum.  So I thought I would make a post out of my response incase others have questions on the subject.

Below are my thoughts on this subject. Just to give some background for my opinions below, I have worked in the environmental consulting industry since I graduated from college in 1998 with degrees in geology and chemistry. Most of my work has been related to the redevelopment of older buildings including schools, mills, factories, etc. and the cleanup after a couple of major oil companies. I have been licensed in all disciplines of asbestos consulting (inspection, project monitoring, management planning, project designing) in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. I have also been certified in Massachusetts to train others relative to asbestos consulting and health effects of exposure. Whoever said that the asbestos industry is a “cash cow” has outdated information, perhaps in the 1980’s-early 1990’s. Now it is mainly a side note for most construction and environmental projects.


Asbestos was considered the wonder mineral because of the physical properties of the mineral. It is strong, highly resistant to heat, chemicals (mainly acids), abrasion and it is stable over the long term. Because of this, it was put into a large variety of products. I have seen asbestos in just about anything you can imagine: kids pajamas; cigarette filters; wall paper; drinking water filters; Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters; etc. To be honest, in many applications you can’t get a better or even similar performing material as you get from one that is asbestos-containing. Here is a partial list of where asbestos can be found and here is a list that claims to be complete. Shipyards are specifically mentioned in the US EPA regulations on asbestos but that is more intended to address thermal system insulation that was used in large naval and cargo ships rather than fiberglass boats.

Chrysotile Fibers

Chrysotile Fibers

Asbestos is still available commercially today. You can find products on the shelves of local home stores that will list asbestos on the labels. A trick often used is to list the mineral name (chrysotile and amosite are often listed) or a trade name (Rockbestos is a popular one). Asbestos is still mined in Canada and shipped to the US in large quantities. Chances are that you come in contact with asbestos-containing materials every day.

From an exposure/health aspect, the largest danger is being exposed to loose, airborne fibers. Significant exposure (long durations to high concentrations of airborne fibers) can cause asbestosis, a debilitating lung disease. Short term exposures can cause mesothelioma however there is some evidence that there may be a genetic component to this disease as well. The most significant risk from exposure it to smokers. Asbestos and smoking has a synergistic relationship and you are 50-90 percent more likely to develop lung cancer if you smoke and are exposed to asbestos. With all asbestos-related health effects the biggest problem is that there is a latency period of 5-30 years from exposure until the health effects are manifested. This typically makes determining the source of exposure difficult.

Most exposures are occupational related.  If the asbestos-containing material is in good condition, there is no exposure to the asbestos.  It doesn’t leach out or off-gas from the material.  Generally, exposure only occurs when the material is damaged or disturbed intentionally.  You should not be afraid to be in a boat or a building that has asbestos-containing materials.

As a boater who does his own maintenance, you should be aware of where you may encounter asbestos in your boat.  Common items that could contain asbestos include caulking, sealant, bedding compound, adhesives, exhaust riser insulation, electrical wire insulation (cloth style, not plastic), and gaskets.  We have also seen anecdotal information that asbestos was used as a thickening agent for resins.  If you’re lucky enough to find copies of the original design plans you might be able to find out exactly where asbestos was used on your boat.  But most aren’t that lucky.  Also, you will likely never know what previous owners or workers used during repairs or maintenance.

Vermiculite has been mention as being used in some boats.  Vermiculite itself is not asbestos, however it is often contaminated with asbestos during natural mineral formation.  It may also be called Zonolite, the trade name used by W.R. Grace.  It would be prudent to treat all vermiculite as asbestos since the fast majority of vermiculite came from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana that is contaminated with asbestos.

So does this mean you should not work on your own boat unless you are dressed in an outbreak-suite?

Not in my opinion.  But everyone is responsible for assessing their own tolerance for risk.*

Here is what I would do.*

Fiberglass, silica and even wood dust have been found to have similar effects as asbestos.  And really dust is the issue.  So control the dust and protect yourself from exposure while generating dust.

  • Wet down the area of cutting or grinding.  I typically use a spray bottle with water.  You can add some dish soap but that foams and can be difficult.  Another good option is windshield washing fluid.  But just water and work great.  I use a cheap $1 spray bottle for small jobs and a garden sprayer for larger jobs.
  • Use HEPA filters in your shop vacuum.  HEPA stands for high-efficiency  particulate air.  At Home Depot, a true HEPA filter will cost you $130, a “HEPA-rated material” filter will cost you $30 and a standard filter will cost you $17.  It’s up to you which one to choose, but I don’t use anything less than the $30 filter myself.  I have the shop vacuum on with the nozzle by the cut area while working.  A large portion of the dust and debris will be sucked up right away.  When you go to empty the vacuum or wash the filter, keep it wet and wear your respirator (see below).

HEPA-related material filter from Home Depot

HEPA filter from Home Depot
  •  Buy a good respirator, the appropriate filters and use it.  The brand I prefer is MSA and a half-face respirator from Home Depot is $50.  The filter cartridges you want Adv200LSfor most applications will be the P100, but I would go with the multi-purpose filter so it would cover you for most of what you would come in come across working on your boat.  Two things related to respirators, if you are going to wear one make sure you are OK’d by your doctor (when worn for a job you must have a pulmonary function test) and learn how to wear it and care for it properly.

If you are ever truly concerned if asbestos in present, you can collect a sample of the material and submit it to a local laboratory for asbestos testing.  It shouldn’t cost any more than $25 per sample and take about two weeks for the results.  But keep in mind that if you confirm that asbestos is present you might be obligated to follow regulations and laws regarding the disposal of the waste and work practices.

I would dispose of small amounts of waste with my household trash.  Place it in one garbage bag with water than seal the bag with duct tape.  Then place that bag in a second bag and seal that one with duct tape as well.

*Disclaimer.  This is just my thoughts and likely do not comply with recommendations you would get from your doctor or regulatory authorities.  Follow at your own risk.