Monday, 2 July 2012

In which Mark, John and James discover The Missing Link

And no, it isn't me, despite what many have thought in the past.

(I never wear flip flops or sandals, even in 40 Degrees C.......

Hairy toes.....)

No folks, this is the missing link

This is the bit of the new engine for our friend's boat that we thought had not been supplied, lost, stolen or thrown away.

Without it, the only way forward was to spend an awful lot of money on a system like Aquadrive, which, while the best going, was stretching our chums purse to the absolute max.

Now this mechanical Sasquatch has shambled aboard and taken up residence on the gearbox output shaft, we will, with careful alignment and judicious application of shims, be able to get away with a Centaflex or R & D coupling at about half the price, and that's including new engine mountings!


But I'm getting ahead of myself again, aren't I?

Saturday was down as BMC 1.5 installation day. As previously blogged, Mark met me early aboard Pippin to tune-up a couple of egg and bacon banjos before we loaded the Suzuki Vitara 4x4 workshop/shed and headed off.

(Actually, a friend was given a lift in it to a car spares place a while back, and, on getting into it, said 'this is a hairdressers car, isn't it?' I responded to their candour by turning the Johnny Mathis CD up really loud....)

We arrived to find our friend had helpfully chopped up the large baulks of timber which had been an integral part of The Heath Robinson School of Engineering's Mk1 Improvised Engine Hoist.

(He must have been cold. It is midsummer after all......)

Nothing daunted, we poked around in the long grass and found two very heavy compressed rubber blocks that form the bases for Harris fencing. We then built this:

We then decided to have a go at lining up the engine as best we could with what we had.

At this point, the missing link hadn't materialised, so all thoughts were still with Aquadrive. Fitting one was going to mean cutting away a crossmember on the engine room floor that would otherwise foul the sump. We also needed nuts and washers for the old engine mounts as the nylocs fitted were (technical term) shagged.

We nipped up to Mackay's in Cambridge and purchased all we needed in one go, including some engineer's blue and a proper angle grinder tightening tool to replace the weedy and rubbish one that I, er, couldn't find......

When we got back, James from Lucky Duck rocked up, and we soon all set to with a will.

I'll let the pictures tell the next bit of the story.

The engine was raised, the old mounts fitted, and nipped up tight. The engine was lowered again, gently, and the bearers to which the mounts were now attached were then thugged into place using the Coarse Adjuster.

It's worth reminding you that the banderlog who ripped the old engine out did so by grinding the bearers off the beams to which they were welded. There was no need for this, as the new engine would have fitted on to the mounts in their original location.

However, it proved a blessing in disguise, as the new engine sat so high that there was no way the gearbox output was going to line up with the propshaft, not by a Dutch mile.....

Mark and James then did some careful measuring, some tricky sums amd came up with the required amount we had to cut from the bearers to get the vertical alignment right. We celebrated by having a mug of tea, then afterwards realised no-one could remember what that figure was...... so we did it again, and this time I made them write it down......

I then popped back to Pippin to pick up a long list of kit essential for the next stage. (This included, among other things, a Honda generator, a bucket, sponges, bilge pump, and a very large crowbar.......)

On my return, there was an atmosphere of much jollification and general high spirits.

It turned out that while I had been away, the boat's owner had popped his head through the hatch and said he'd just found a bit that came with the engine, didn't know if it was important, but thought we might need it anyway......

It was The Missing Link!

I knew they weren't just pleased to see me.....

This completely changed the whole operation. Remember, this job is being done on a very tight budget, so not having to shell out on an Aquadrive was a massive bonus. It also meant that a trip to Jones's Boatyard in St. Ives might yield a lot of the stuff we needed to get the engine up and running.

Mark and I hot-footed it over there straight away, leaving James behind to guard the gear and clean the old engine up for an ebay photoshoot. (Yes, I know he always gets the shitty jobs, but he's the smallest and the youngest.... In fact, he's jolly lucky we didn't make him paint the bilge while he was at it.....)

Jones's were their usual incredibly helpful selves, even lending us a vernier caliper (I'd left mine bankside) to size the cooling hoses for the raw water system and also size a step-down piece for the outlet on the Bowman heat-exchanger to the wet exhaust hose. They also supplied us with catalogues and numbers of firms who might do suitable flexible couplings.

This is what I call Proper-Job Chandlery!

We were so pleased with our purchases we turned the hairdresser's car back toward Cambridge with Johnny Mathis playing at close to the level of pain.

There was one more job to do before we packed up for the day, and that was to reduce the height of the engine bearers.

Mark gets tooled up for grinding the butchered welds on the engine bed smooth.

It was then decided we should really pump out the bilge before getting too electrical in it. James was sent down to do the ankle-deep bit, Mark pumped, and I offered encouragement. Oh, and the big sponges to soak up the last of it.....
You can only just see bilge monkey James in this one: he is deep in the engine room, making sure the hose is at the right angle for maximum suction.... Good lad.

The snotty remains of old weld were then ground off the engine bed leaving a nice, clean, smooth surface to which to attach the bearers by welding.

Now it was the turn of the bearers themselves, as we had to adjust their height by removing a strip of metal before getting the two bits welded back together.

But first I built a Heath Robinson Engineering Ltd 'Field Workbench Mk1' to mount the vice I had been restoring for Emmaus and had borrowed for the day:

The bearers were then cleaned, marked up with engineers blue, scribed and cut, using 1mm cutting discs for accuracy and to minimise loss along the cut-line.

Mark then set to work. James and I stood well back. (The camera has a zoom!)

Let no-one be in any doubt: Mark is good! The two pieces of each bearer which will be butt-welded back together fitted flush as a flush thing! All four bearers will also be reinforced with a fish-plate welded on the side.

With that, we packed our bongos and drifted back to Pippin.

I went to Tesco for food and most importantly, beer, returning to find that Mark had been dragged off by the hair by his wife, Sheena.

OOPS! Sorry for keeping him from hearth and home for so long, Sheena! Please let him out to play with us again next Saturday! :-)

Jackie was in London doing the flat, so I was in the clear......


Amy Duck joined me and James and our neighbour Rhoda for a scrumptious pasta supper which Amy and Rhoda cooked while James and I got all manly and talked drive couplings......


I did do all the washing up though!

In short, a splendid day spent with great chums to good effect.



  1. What a pretty coloured engine.

  2. MUCH MUCH prettier than the one it replaced.


  3. Please don't let the H&S executive see this...

    1. Don't worry Mark, it will all be my fault.....