“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

Boat Projects, Winterization and Purging the House


Been to quiet on here.  I haven’t posted anything for over two months!  Woke up this morning to almost a foot of snow.  It’s turned over to rain and starting to turn into a slushy mess.  I am really starting to hate winter!

Smitty came out of the water on November 25th.  The weekend before was spent winterizing the boat and taking stuff home to store for the last winter she will be on the hard.  I always hate this time of year and I get a little depressed to think that it will be almost five months before I feel Smitty gently rocking under my feet.

The day after Thanksgiving I began my big winter project.  I had a friend who is a first rate diesel mechanic take a look at the boat this year.  Based on this inspection, my suspicion that the dampener plate needed to be replaced was confirmed.  To do this I had to disconnect the transmission coupling and remove the bell housing to access the flywheel where the dampener plate is attached.

We also discovered my motor mounts were worn and needed to be replaced.  This could be done by lifting each corner of the engine with a car jack allowing me to remove the old mount and install the new one.

In addition, the stuffing box house is original and the my cutlass bearing needs to be replaced.  This means separating my bronze shaft from the transmission coupling, taking the prop off of the shaft and sliding the shaft out past the rudder.  The problems with this plan is that the shaft and the coupling have never been separated and there is some scoring on the shaft.


So I went a little more aggressive with this project.  First I separate the transmission and the coupling.  Then I undid my existing motor mounts to separate them from the engine.  Using a 4X4 and a come-a-long I lifted the engine and moved it forward into the salon.  Finally, I cut my existing shaft with an angel grinder allowing me to remove the shaft in two pieces without having to separate the coupling or the prop from the shaft.


Once this was done, I was set to start the repairs and upgrades.

I brought the two parts of the shaft to Rose’s Machine Shop in Gloucester.  They used the old shaft to make a new, stainless steel shaft and a split coupling.  The shaft was fit and faced to the coupling and lap fitted to the prop.  They also set my line cutter up to attached to the new shaft.

My cousin’s machine shop made me two 1/2 inch stainless steel spacers to go under the front motor mounts.  The front mounts were adjusted almost as high as possible.  This isn’t the most stable position.  So the spacers will allow the motor mounts to be adjusted to a lower height and be more stable.  After some research I went with the OEM motor mounts.

IMG_0902Once I removed the bell housing I saw how bad my dampener plate really was and we were lucky that we didn’t breakdown and have to be towed back in this season.  The first sign was pieces of dampener plate in the bottom of the bell housing.  The dampener plate used by Catalina had a plastic ribbon that set the tension on the plate.  That ribbon sat in pieces at the bottom of the bell housing.

IMG_0906When I looked at the plate itself, the spline in the middle was almost round.  In addition, the four posts that hold the two main pieces together were all split in two.  Again, we were very lucky this didn’t cause us to have no engine use at some point this season.

I replaced the dampener plate and started putting the transmission back on.  I did paint the bottom of the bell housing and transmission first.  It had some rust so I degreased the area and painted it with three coats of the engine paint.  At bit analretentive I know but I just want to make sure the engine out lives me.


Bottom of the transmission and bell housing prior to painting

Bottom of the transmission and bell housing prior to painting

Following this great “how to” article from Compass Marine (thanks again to my guru Maine Sail), I removed the old cutlass bearing.  I then pressed in the new one with about $20 of hardware from Lowes.


Instead of putting the stuffing box back, I upgraded to a PSS drip-less adapter.  We really want to have a dry bilge to the largest extent possible.  So getting rid of the dripping stuffing box and going with a drip-less will help us get closer to the dry bilge.  I had researched several other drip-less stuffing boxes/adapters and believe that the additional money for some of the other  styles wouldn’t change the biggest draw back to the PSS.  You have to change the hose or the bellows every 8-10 years no matter which one you go with.

I am also replacing all of the hoses for the engine.  I have already replaced the short ones that go between various pumps and the heat exchanger, etc. on the engine.  So this mainly means the longer runs that go from the trough-hull to the strainer then to the raw water pump and the two runs that go from the engine to the water heater for heating water from the engine.  I also took my Perko strainer off the boat to clean and rebuild it.  That’s sitting in the garage with a few other parts that need some TLC.

After the holidays I will finish putting everything back together.  But for now, Smitty sits in the cold, all alone waiting for the end of the winter and for splash day: April 15, 2014.  Only 4 months until she is relaunched.  

IMG_0915See, she is first in line at the travel lift. 

3 thoughts on “Boat Projects, Winterization and Purging the House

  1. “little more aggressive” is a bit of an understatement. Looks like you opened a can of whoopass on her… angle grinder to the shaft and all. Wonderful renovations though. Your gong to love the dripless stuffing box and I’m sure your ride will be smooth as silk. I salute your courage!
    It is depressing being on the hard. Cold and short winter days have knocked out all my motivation. Thanks for the wakeup call.

  2. I hear you on the motivation brother! We both need to find away to get out of the cold climates during the winter.

    Stay focused so I can get some more great stories from Zoots in 2014!

  3. Pingback: Winter Boat Projects Update | s/v Smitty

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