Monday, May 30, 2011

Declaration: The Job is Done!

I'm ready to declare them done!

All the wires are dressed up, the hydraulic lines are sheathed where they contact another surface, and the bonding wires are all installed.

Today we went out for a few hours and had a better chance to see how they work across a variety of seas. It wasn't particularly rough, but we had several opportunities to get into some swells from a variety of different angles. At one point I turned them off to see the difference. The boat got rolling pretty good as we plugged along at 5 kts or so, then I turned them back on. The boat flattened right out and stayed that way. I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

Comments and discussion on this post:

DeepFrz: Congratulations on a job very well done and thanks for posting this wonderful thread. Happy cruising.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Bottom Line

And now, for the bottom line.

I'm sure a number of people are curious how the costs shaped up for this project. I haven't kept an exact accounting, but I think I can nail it within a $1000.

First, Here's the breakdown for out of pocket costs, i.e. everything except my labor:

  • Hull modifications and reinforcement $8,500
  • ZF transmission PTO kit $600
  • Glendinning relay interlock kit $300
  • Hydraulic hoses & misc $1,200
  • Misc supplies, awlgrip, interprotect, epoxy $1,000
  • Equipment from ABT $30,000
Total $41,600

The biggest cost was the equipment itself at about $30k. Collectively, the installation cost $11,600. The biggest installation cost was the hull work. If we had not needed to relocate a stringer section, I expect this cost would have been 1/2 to 1/3, but to avoid this you would either have to get really lucky, or have a much bigger boat with larger spaces available. The hydraulic hoses were a bit less than I had estimated, coming in at about $70 each where I had expected $100. The Awlgrip and Interprotect are very expensive, especially after you get all the extra potions to thin, activate, clean, etc., accounting for about half of the $1000 of misc supplies.

My labor is harder to value, both because I didn't keep track of it, but also because I was doing everything for the first time and hence taking a lot more time than I'd expect someone who's done this before. Regardless, here's what I think is a reasonable estimate.

The project took 6 weeks of elapsed time. Some of those weeks I only worked a day or two, and others I worked 7 days. I'd say on average I worked 4 days a week. Some days I worked 8 hrs, but others I got in no more than 3-4 hrs of productive time. On average I think it's fair to say I worked 6 hrs per day. Running the math on that I put in 144 hrs.

If it took me 144 hrs bumbling along with a lot of head scratching, I'd expect an experienced installer to do the job in 80-120 hrs. A couple of installers told me 1 week for two guys which supports the 80 hr number. At $100/hr, that's $8,000 to $12,000 in labor. Let's pick $10,000 as the mid point.

If an installer had offered to do the installation job for $21,600 (my out of pocket installation costs plus $10,000 in labor), I probably would have hired them. But the best proposal I got was $25k, and I still needed to do the hull work, so the total would have been $33,500.

Looking at it another way, buy doing the job myself rather than paying $25k to someone else, I got paid $152/hr for my 144 hrs of time. That's not a bad rate for bumbling around, getting to know my boat inside and out, and gaining the satisfaction of a job that I know is well done. I'm glad the project is done, and I have no regrets doing it myself.

So there you have it. Yesterday I finished securing all the hydraulic lines and the couple of dangling cables. All that's left are the bonding wires and today I picked up the wire ends that I needed to finish that last piece off.

Now it's time for some cruising!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Finishing the Odds and Ends

As is typical at the end of a project (at least for me), there is always one more thing to do. So I don't get discouraged, I'll just talk about the one LESS thing I have to do as I pick off the final details.

The commissioning is complete and the few issues sorted out. The replacement part arrived at 8:00am today and was installed in short order. That fixed one issue, but surfaced another which after some troubleshooting turned out to be a bad plug end on one of the cables. After swapping the plug, everything worked fine.

After the ABT guy left, I finished up the mounting plate for the cooler. My local shop cut the plate, but I had to drill it and file all the edges smooth. The cooler is now all secured.

Wiring, Wiring, Wiring

The last two days I've finished up the wiring, installed and aligned the fin position sensors, installed and aligned the prop shaft speed sensors, installed the reverse interlock relays, and dressed up the rats nest of cables. At this point, everything is done except the oil cooler, filter, and associated hoses. These are held up waiting for a pipe fitting for my raw water system.

The first pictures are before and after of the wiring. Split loom is great stuff.

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The next two show the prop shaft speed sensor. There are two reflectors that get tie-wrapped to the shaft along with a neoprene sheet to block reflection in betweeen. The little yellow thing is the sensor. It shoots a beam at the reflector and looks for the light to shine back, allowing it to count shaft revolutions. This part of the system, as my kids would say, is pretty bootleg. Getting the reflectors, backing sheets, and tie wraps on, aligned, and tight is very awkward. The sensors are exposed too, even though I've got them tucked away as best I can. It would be so much simpler to have a NMEA input (preferably N2K) where the controller could pickup the SOG from the GPS. Oh well, the good news is that I could have much bigger things to complain about, but I don't.
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The next picture shows the reverse sensor relay box (to the right of the copper colored power converter). This wires into the Glendinning shift controller via break-out cables and can be wired to detect forward or reverse on either engine and close a relay. The relay closure tells the stabilizers if the boat is in reverse so it can center and lock the fins.
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Last shows the port side with cables dressed, and you can see the aluminum cap over the center of the actuator covering the fin position sensor.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

We Have Stabilizers!

They work! The ABT service tech arrived at 8:00 sharp and first did a visual inspection. I have to brag a little - he commented to my wife that most professional installations don't look as good - so we passed inspection. The only thing he adjusted was to reposition one hydraulic hose a little bit to provide more certain clearance as the cylinder moves through its full swing.

Working through and testing everything, he found a low fluid alarm that was stuck on. It's a float mechanism, and sometimes it gets stuck during shipping. A little shaking freed it up.

He also found a pressure sensor that wasn't reading properly, but was able to bypass it for the sea trial.

Then we were off to test things out. It was pretty foggy, and I was having trouble configuring my radar (it's a new system and I haven't figured out how it works yet), but we had 1-2 miles visibility so we continued on. The harbor was empty except for two coast guard patrol boats doing exercises. There is a station right here, so they are out all the time.

We did a couple of runs up and down the outer harbor at different speeds so he could calibrate everything, then we headed outside to try things out. All in all it was a pretty calm day, but we were able to pick up some 2-3 ft side swells and the system certainly works. It hold the boat nice an flat, and you can clearly tell the different between when they are on and off.

Once back at dock, the tech dug into the pressure sensor problem and concluded that a replacement part was needed. It's being overnighted to us and he'll install it tomorrow and finish up. This is great customer service. He's leaving no stone unturned, and staying as long as it takes to get everything working properly.

From here, there are just a few odds and ends to finish up. I had a stainless plate cut to properly mount the oil cooler and that needs to be drilled and installed. I also have a couple of hoses and cable bundles that need to be secured in a few places, but I think that's it. Oh yes, one other thing - I need to add ground bonding wires to the actuators. Can't forget that.

Comments and discussion on this post:

Woodsy: Wow! Don't doubt that there are a lot of us following this install.
Oh, and very nice work!

dacust: Awesome!

There is nothing like getting a compliment from a pro!

Don't forget to keep posting the follow ups. I am bookmarking this thread for the future.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

FInal Hookup

The finish line is in sight.

Scattered over the past few days I hooked the cooler up to the raw water system and made up the final hydraulic hoses for the return lines. I also relocated the oil filter to improve access to the starboard side equipment, which is still tight but serviceable.

The pictures show the new filter location. It's mounted to the bracket that holds the engine coolant expansion tank using a small stainless plate made up by my local marine shop.

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Next shows the oil cooler all hooked up.

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And the really cool news - the boat's in the water as of this afternoon. No leaks - either water or hydraulic oil - so everything looks good so far. Tomorrow the factory service tech is here for the commissioning. Stay tuned for the sea trial report...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hydraulic Cooling

A bunch of time today was spent on other projects, but I did get two things done on the stabilizers. The first was to reinstall the battery charger. I had to cut off the wire lugs to remove it so new ones needed to be crimped on with shrink-wrap sleeves. The first picture shows it all back together.

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The next was starting to install the oil cooler which requires some re-plumbing of the raw water intake for the starboard engine. I've been waiting for a 2-1/2" x 5" pipe nipple that I ordered and it finally came in today, so I started putting it together. But first, one of the old fittings had to be removed from the strainer, and my 14" pipe wrenches couldn't budge it. A quick trip to the local plumbing supply shop armed me with two 24" wrenches, and that did the trick.

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The last two pictures show the cooler in position straddling the front of the engine. Water comes out of the strainer, through the cooler, then down under the engine where it loops around to the pump. The new hose run will be a few inches shorter than before, but of course the length of the cooler is being added. This cooler body is a good bit larger that what's required to cool the hydraulics, but provides less intake restriction on the engine.

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Tomorrow AM I plan to cut and hook up the water hoses, then mount the oil filter and sort out the return hydraulic hoses. After that, I think I'm done.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hydrauic Hoses

Yesterday I started making up hydraulic hoses. I wasn't certain about exact lengths, straight versus angled ends, etc. Also, hydraulic hose bends but doesn't twist, so if you have two right-angle ends, their rotational orientation needs to exact or the fittings won't go on the devices. To deal with this, I decided to take a two-step approach.

Starting on the starboard side, I made a first cut at each hose's length and fitting styles, rounding hose lengths up to the next foot. Hose sells by the foot, so I was paying for it anyway. Then I went to the hose shop and had them cut the hose, but only crimp one of the two ends on the hose, and give me the other end loose. By the way, we have an awesome marine supply shop here in town that can do all this.

I hauled all the partially assembled hoses back to the boat and test fit each one, marking them for cutting as needed. It turned out I only had one hose with right-angles on both ends, so I only had one alignment challenge to deal with. I also miss-calculated one of the hose lengths so I had to eat one partially made hose.

Then, with all the sample hoses in hand, I test fit them to the port side to figure out how those were going to work. After all that, it was back to the shop to get the ends crimped on, and give them the list of port side hose to make up. In the process, I cleaned them out of #6 JIC fittings. Once back at the boat, everything fit perfectly.

In tightening up all the fittings, I concluded that I need to relocate the oil filter. It's not too hard to do, and frees up some access space on the starboard side which is otherwise very tight. I still have the return hoses to the oil cooler and filter to make, but I'll wait until I have the cooler installed and have sorted out the new oil filter location.

With as many hoses in place as possible, I switched to the wiring harnesses and started getting them hooked up. Tomorrow I hope to finish the cabling.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Installing Control Components

More progress today. The first pictures show the port mechanism going together. The first is without the top plate installed and shows the hydraulic cylinder that controls the shaft rotation. You can also see the plunger cylinder below. It extends into the notch and locks the fins in their centered position. When active, the pin retracts and frees the fins to rotate.

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Next I installed the starboard control valve and the hydraulic tank and filter. The tank has an assortment of ports that either have to be plugged or have valves and accessories installed. The next picture shows the tanks on my make-shift work bench with the valves and fittings lying around, then installed.
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The next two are the pressure regulator installed centrally between the two actuators. This maintains a constant operating pressure independent of engine/pump speed.

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One thing that became evident after installing the tank is how tight things are on the starboard side. It's tighter than I'd like, but I can get at everything so I think it will be OK. I figure it's no worse than working on most cars. Worst case, I'll remove the tank if major work is needed.

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The next picture shows the oil cooler and in it's tentative location, then a wider shot of the bulkhead including the 12V to 24V power converter (the copper colored box up high). I still need to finalize the cooler location, figure out how to mount it, and re-plumb the raw water intake for the starboard engine.

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And last but not least, the pump with suction hose installed. That's the first of 16 hydraulic hoses that need to be made up. 15 left to go.
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Fin Installation

We have fins!

They arrived this past week, but I had to be away for a few days on business so I wasn't able to get started until yesterday. The first step after un-crating everything was to paint the top of the fins with anti fouling paint since it won't be accessible after installation. The first picture shows the fins with the tops painted. You can see the notched profile on the top to clear the hull chine.

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Now that the fiber glass work is done and Glass Guy has moved on the other projects, I have my friend Fin-man helping out. In the next picture he's proudly posing next to the first fin that we installed. At first we had some trouble getting it on until we discovered that there was a layer of epoxy that had flowed down into the shaft socket on the fin and was causing it to bind up on the shaft. Once we figured out what was going on it was a simple thing to scrap it off, then everything went together as expected.
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The next photos show the fins installed with the bottom winglet in place.
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From there we moved inside and put together the inside mechanism. The last picture show one side assembled, and you can see how close the fit is against the bulkhead panel, but everything appears to clear OK.

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I must say, I breathed a big sigh of relief today.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bulkheads and Control Equipment

Today I started putting the bulkhead back together. On the starboard side I added some extra backing support to hold the oil tank which is pretty heavy. To mount it, as well as the hydraulic control valves, I'm using captive nuts on the back side of the panels so I can thru-bolt the equipment to the panel. The captive nuts are the kind with prongs that dig into the back side of the panel. I figured I'd use the mounting bolts to pull the nut prongs into the wood, but in doing so I experienced the wonders of seizing stainless steel. Boy that stuff is a pain in the rear some times. Now I have a nut and bolt fused together, and of course I brought my sawsall home just yesterday figuring I was done with it. It never fails. Tomorrow I'll haul the saw back to the boat and cut off the bolt. Having learned my lesson the hard way, I hammered the rest of the nuts into place and bedded them with some 4200.

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The first picture is hard to see (I think my hat blocked the flash), but it shows the back side of the starboard panel with the extra supports and nuts on place.

With the starboard side on hold, I moved over to the port side. That panel needed to be trimmed and have the backing nuts added, and I had to re-mount the water lines which live behind the panel and had been moved to make room for the glass work. With the panels back in on the port side, I mounted the control valve, and re-attached the bilge pump line. The pictures show the finished port side. The wires hanging out are for the battery charger which I won't remount until later so it doesn't block access.
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