Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rebuilding an old Forespar E-Z Furl system.

We love our main furling.  No, we don't have battens or any roach on the main because of it but it is worth it in our situation as live aboard cruisers for the ease of reefing/furling .  That said, as with any other system on a sailboat, it can break and does require some maintenance.

The upper swivel that failed is above the worm drive.  All of the lower parts must be removed in order to get the upper swivel removed from the roller extrusion.

Recently, just as we got the main completely furled out, the sound of torlon bearings bouncing off of our solar panels rang out in our ears and we realized that the top swivel on our main furler had come apart.  The top swivel is comprised of two basic units, an inner and outer that are held together with an overlapping, spiral retaining ring.  The ring had failed and the two pieces came apart spilling the 52 torlon bearings that should reside in the swivel on the upper and lower internal, overlapping surfaces.  The outer unit is connected to the halyard and the inner unit is connected the the head of the sail.  When they fail the main falls down the rolling extrustion and soon you have a main sail covering your deck.

 This is the top swivel with the inner piece separated from the outer.

 A view of the inner piece of the swivel.

In order to remove the top swivel from the rolling extrusion you must remove the boom, the lower swivel, worm drive and a variety of other parts in order to slide the upper swivel off of the bottom of the unit in order to work on it.  After a couple of hours that was finished and I had the upper swivel, both pieces, in my hand. After inspection I realized that they two parts are held together by a spiral retaining clip that was totally worn out and had failed.  What to do?  We were near Manzanillo Mexico and I knew that there was no chance to get the torlon bearings and that specialized ring anywhere here in Mexico.  After some research I found that the ring is made by Smalley somewhere in the midwest.

 Boom removed and tools strewn across the deck.

 The culprit!

 Both pieces of the upper swivel on the left and the lower swivel to the right.

 Notice the gap on the split ring...totally shot!

 Both pieces together but no new parts yet.

A view of the retainer ring NOT holding the two parts together.

New parts in hand and starting the rebuilding process.

Two things came together to get us the parts we needed...AMAZING customer service by Forespar and fellow cruisers that were going to the USA to renew their visas and would be returning in just a few days.  I wound up getting a hold of one of the original designers of the E-Z Furl system and he emailed me all the technical drawings of  the unit.  By the way, that unit has not been in production for over 15 years!  Not only did he have the rings and bearings in stock he sent them Priorty Mail to an address where my cruiser buddies were going to be, shipped them out that very same day.  When I offered my credit card to pay for the parts and shipping, he refused, saying he just wanted to get us up and running.  In the package he sent me the clip I needed, plus a spare, as well as two clips for the lower unit in case I had to rebuild that sometime in the future, AND all of the torlon ball bearings.

The package arrived at our friend's home in 2 days and a day later they flew into Manzanillo Mexico and I had the parts in my hand in Barra de Navidad.  About 4 days total...delivered to Mexico at zero cost!  What?!!!  I can't say enough about the customer service from Forespar and also huge praise to our family of cruisers here in Mexico that pitch in!  As payback Marne is bringing down an oil pump for another cruiser that is leaving soon for the South Pacific and couldn't leave with out it.  They ordered it next day air to Oregon and the part will be in their hands tomorrow afternoon when Marne returns to the boat.  We call it cruiser mail and it usually turns out to be the best package delivery system on the planet!

 The unit reinstalled on the mast.

 A clean and tightly furled main sail.

After reassembly of the upper swivel and a couple hours to put everything all back together, our main rolled in like a new unit!  If, by chance, you have a similar unit and want to service or rebuild it you should contact me for some helpful hints that might save you several hours of blundering.  I am happy to share my experience with the unit to save you the blunders I had to endure.  As for now we are happily sailing the warm waters of Mexico with a smooth furling main system.

Until next time,

Bret and Marne
SV Liahona

Monday, March 27, 2017

Crappy job!

Normal, salt water flush marine toilets require maintenance.  Maintenance that nobody looks forward to.  It is a dirty, stinky job...but someone has to do it!  The problem arises when waste matter along with salt water is constantly being flushed through the system.  After a while a crust or calcifaction builds up in the pipes and fittings.  At some point the buildup is so great that it renders the system useless as nothing is able to pass through other than pure liquid.

It is a wonder that anything went through this "T" fitting.  This is after only 2 years.

One remedy is to remove the hoses and beat them on the dock or something hard which will break up the calcification and allow it to fall out of the hoses.  However, this requires complete disassembly.  The other problem is the valves, usually made out of plastic marlon or similar material and those can not be beaten into submission.  When I cleaned this system 2 years ago it took me about 3 hours to chisel out the buildup in 2 "Y" valves and one 90 degree elbow.  Not fun.

 Limited space on a boat always makes projects difficult.

 Under the sink.  Left through hull is the exit for the head.  Right through hull is the sink drain.

This is the best place I could think of for the old stinky parts.

Some say that a regular treatment of vinegar through the system will break down the calcification or at least greatly prolong it.  For the 4 years I have had the boat, I have been very diligent about treating the heads with vinegar about once a month and have found that it barely makes a nominal difference.  Certainly not worth the time and effort.  As you can see by the pics, that is 2 years worth of buildup after regular vinegar treatments.  It doesn't seem that effective, does it?

This round I chose to replace the hose from the head to the through hull with new sanitation hose.  I did have to scrape valves but it was not nearly as bad as last time.  Also part of the service was to rebuild the Jabsco toilet flushing system with all new seals and valves.  This part of the project only requires about an hour or less of your time and besides the nasty water it really is pretty easy.

The new sanitation hose.

Another time consuming part of the job was to remove the door to the head as well as the cabinet door behind which the hoses go to the hull.  Having useable space in which to work saves a lot of headache in the long run.  It does however require some time to remove and then later replace after the job is finished.

 Hose and head rebuuild complete.

 New exit hose in.

Almost done.  Still needs the flooring and doors reinstalled.

After about 5 hours sitting on the floor of the head, some 5 or 6 pairs of rubber gloves and a few scraped knuckes the job is done complete with new head parts, brand new sanitation hose and some white touch up paint around the comode.  All looks tidy!

Another project done.  What's next?  Bring it!

Bret and Marne
SV Liahona