Archive For The “Technical” Category

Dual Shorepower System

Dual Shorepower System

One of the things we really like about our more flexible power system is it allows us to run on shore power connections that deliver less than our peak power requirements. The shore power charges the house bank and 6 kW, 240V 60 Hz inverter supplies the peak capacity needed to run larger appliances such as the…

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Gear We Like: Non-Contact Voltage Detector

Gear We Like: Non-Contact Voltage Detector

This installment of the “Gear We Like” series features the Klien NCVT-2 non-contact voltage detector. This inexpensive tool makes it super-easy to ensure that power actually is available at the shore power pedestal before plugging in. There are many ways to check for power at a pedestal, but none faster than using a non-contact sensor….

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Gear We Like: Wireless Keyboard with Trackball

Gear We Like: Wireless Keyboard with Trackball

In the past twenty years, we’ve run a combined 16,400 engine hours and traveled over 120,000 miles on the two boats we’ve owned. On our first boat we spent a decade extensively exploring the Pacific Northwest and researching the material for our guide, Cruising the Secret Coast: Anchorages on British Columbia’s Inside Passage. In our…

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HVAC Replacement

HVAC Replacement

Last summer, our pilot house and master stateroom HVAC units stopped working. Since we’d just got out of the yard in Stornoway Scotland, it was just about 100% certain that the two failures were correlated, and caused by air in the system. We bled the pump and there was air. But when we tested the…

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Watermaker Remanufacture

Watermaker Remanufacture

We have a Village Marine STW-600 watermaker that nominally produces 25 gallons per hour. We use it heavily and, over the last 11 years, we have wound up just over 2,000 hours on it. Since the watermaker is such a mission critical component for us, we wanted to have lots of spares on board so…

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The Case of the Missing Oil Leak

The Case of the Missing Oil Leak

An engine seldom “just gets better”—close to never—but our generator was leaking vast amounts of oil from the rear main oil seal prior to the cylinder head replacement. If the generator sound attenuation shield front cover was removed during operation, it would spray the engine room floor and the neighboring wing engine, creating a real…

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Ship’s Log

Ship’s Log

We keep a detailed ship’s log that records where we have been, what we have done, system state, and things we fix. Unlike commercial ship’s logs, that normally are hand-maintained and can’t be modified, ours is a bit primitive in that it’s just a Word document. We focus on it being easy to maintain rather…

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Part III: Replacing 12kW GenSet Cylinder Head

Part III: Replacing 12kW GenSet Cylinder Head

  This installment of our maintenance series picks up from our previous video, where we replaced the defective cylinder head in our Northern Lights 12kW generator with a brand new one just shipped in from the US. In this video, we complete the job by adjusting the valves, replacing the coolant and bleeding the fuel…

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Stornoway Haulout

Stornoway Haulout

The Stornoway slipway is a big commercial railway that can lift boats up to 50m long and weighing up to 850 tons. The railway cradle uses three pairs of hydraulic support arms to hold boats in place, making for an efficient lift process. Once the vessel is in the correct position, the arms are simply…

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Part II: Replacing 12kW GenSet Cylinder Head

Part II: Replacing 12kW GenSet Cylinder Head

  This installment of our maintenance series picks up from our previous video, where we removed the defective cylinder head from our Northern Lights 12kW generator and ended with the engine in pieces on the floor. In this third part of the set covering the low power output issue with our generator, we install the…

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Lead-Acid Battery Lifetime

Lead-Acid Battery Lifetime

Batteries are complex electro-chemical devices and sensitive to operator mistakes and charging system configuration errors. Just a couple of deep discharge cycles can lead to early failure. Long periods without fully charging can reduce the capacity of a battery bank. Equalization (extended charge periods at controlled high-voltage charging) can partially reverse some of these effects,…

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Replacing GenSet Cylinder Head Part I

Replacing GenSet Cylinder Head Part I

  In the previous installment of our maintenance series, we diagnosed lack of power output on a Northern Lights M843NW3.3 12KW generator with 6,700 hours of use over 10 years. We concluded the #3 cylinder exhaust valve seat had failed. In this second part of the series covering the low power output issue with our…

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Valve Seat Recession

Valve Seat Recession

About four weeks ago, our generator suddenly went from normal output to having far less power. Instead of the 10+ kW it normally produced, it could only generate 7 kW. We worked through the Northern Lights diagnostic procedure and concluded we had a valve or valve seat problem on #3 cylinder exhaust. The steps we…

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Diagnosing GenSet Low Power Output

Diagnosing GenSet Low Power Output

  In this installment of our maintenance series, we diagnose low engine power output on a Northern Lights 12kW generator. This engine is unable to produce more than 7kw of power, but can reliably deliver that, and otherwise is running fairly well. We walk through the diagnostic procedure checking for intake blockage, fuel system problems,…

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Replacing Generator Overhead Light

Replacing Generator Overhead Light

The overhead space between our generator and the ceiling is rather limited, and the fluorescent light mounted directly above it consumed a large chunk of that. So much so that James recently broke a bulb when jammed over top working to free the exhaust elbow from the exhaust hose. So we decided to remove the…

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Changing Starter in 12kW Northern Lights

Changing Starter in 12kW Northern Lights

  Our Northern Lights 12kW generator is just a slight bit slower to start. In this video, we check the likely possibilities for slow to start, including air filters, fuel filters, voltage at battery, and voltage at starter during cranking and determine that the starter is at fault. We then show the process of changing…

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Gen Rear Main Oil Seal

Gen Rear Main Oil Seal

Our generator showed a light misting of oil around the generator cooling fan a month back. At just under 7,000 hours, it’s a bit early to be leaking, but it’s not a huge issue since rear main oil seals don’t fail catastrophically nor even quickly. It just means that in the next year or so,…

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Maintaining at Gigha

Maintaining at Gigha

While our cruising lifestyle may be on pause during the Scottish lockdown, our maintenance log isn’t. Several scheduled service items came due in mid-May, including annual testing, lubricating and changing the oil and filter in our gasoline engines, changing the hydraulic zincs, and charging our backup batteries. We also completed some unscheduled maintenance work, such…

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