Mailport March 1, 1999 Issue

Mailport 03/99

Monel Keel Bolts
On the Rhodes Reliant, designed by Philip Rhodes and built by Cheoy Lee between 1964-68, the external lead keel is secured by bronze studs. The top nuts are in the bottom of the bilge; the bottom nuts are countersunk into the bottom of the lead. Bronze seems far more stable than stainless steel, which is susceptible to crevice corrosion. Among the owners of 24 sisterships with whom I am in communication, this has not been an area of serious problems.

One owner tried to tighten up his keel bolt nuts and a bolt broke. He was able to drive the stud down and out with a sledge hammer and pin. Making a new bronze stud, threaded on both ends, is not a big problem for any decent machine shop.

As far as I know, no Rhodes Reliant owner has tried to dismount the hull from the ballast. I am told it was sealed with red lead, not something like 5200, so I presume that if and when this is needed, if the nuts are removed, the hull will lift off quite easily.

The biggest problem is accessing the nuts in the bilge. This requires removing water tanks and quite a bit of the interior joinerwork will have to be disassembled to do this.

If and when it seems necessary to service this area, it might be worthwhile having keel bolts made of Monel. These would be a bit stronger and apparently a bit more noble than lead (while bronze is a bit less noble). The bronze studs last at least 30 years; who knows how long Monel will last. B&G Manufacturing Corp., 3067 Unionville Pike, Hatfield, PA 19440; 800/366-3067) specializes in specialty fastenings for the nuclear power industry, aerospace and other industries that need extreme corrosion resistance, strength, etc. Last year, they made a set of Monel studs for me to attach chainplates, and I guess they can make Monel keel bolts, too.

While this does not sound like a fun project, it is certainly less frightening than the scenario you discussed of having a new keel cast.

Ben Stavis
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

CO Detectors
After installing a Nighthawk Digital Detector in my home last fall I encountered increasing numbers and thought my furnace was faulty. I had a heating and air conditioning company check it out. The service man showed me a crack in the heat exchanger of my 30-year-old furnace, so I had a new furnace installed.

The unusual numbers persisted. Several service calls resulted in adjustments to the vent and the chimney height above the roof, with only slight effect on the detector.

But then I started sailing my Windrose 18. After about a month of sailing, the boat battery went dead, so I brought the battery home to recharge. Within a day or so the numbers on the CO detector started to climb. This correlation led me to move the boat battery and charger to the bedroom where the detector is located and in about two hours the detector alarm went off. I called the service number for Nighthawk to check this out. They said, yes, battery charging will trip their detectors. They also mention in the instructions that some household chemicals might affect indications.

William J. Schueler
Wichita, Kansas

Shurflo Pump
Re: Patrick Maslen's letter in the December 1998 issue: Whew! is right!

Before everyone goes ripping out all their plumbing because of this letter I'd like to set a few things straight. I build greenhouse watering systems for a living and I have extensive experience with almost every type of pump you can think of. Briefly, Shurflo pumps are positive displacement diaphragm type pumps with an intake check valve and a discharge check valve for each pump chamber. They can in fact pump air, which is why they are rated to lift water 8'. That limit is usually due to the diaphragm collapsing under greater vacuum than that. These pumps fail to prime for two major reasons—a bad diaphragm or leaking valves, with valve leakage being the most likely culprit. Friction losses in the pump intake are NOT a factor in a pump's ability to pick up prime. Friction loss is a factor in low flow rate and can cause cavitation on high flow pumps; these are not high-flow pumps. If adding a check valve to the pump circuit solves your problem, then it is almost certain that the pump valves are leaking back. The pump check valves are made of rubber flappers and are very susceptible to dirt holding them open. Take the pump apart and clean the valves, put a filter in line between the pump and the tank. If you still have a problem, add a check valve after the pump.

Gary H. Lucas
via e-mail

In your review of electrical wire crimpers (June 1, 1998) you failed to review crimpers made by Snap-On Tools. (I assume they are still available) With the "cutter" and "crimper" placed at the end of the pliers it's much easier to work with in cramped places. They cost more than the AMP model you recommended, but I have used mine for more than 15 years and have yet to see crimpers designed as well.

A.C. Whitlow, Jr.
Richmond, Virginia

Bilge Pump Cycling
I had a similar problem as Mr. Michaelsen (February 15, 1998) with the bilge pump cycling. I solved this and at the same time increased the life of the switch(es) by using two switches, one at the bottom of the bilge and the other mounted about 4" or 5" higher.

These were wired in series to pick up a relay (an inexpensive automobile horn relay works well). The relay is in parallel with the bilge pump and, once energized, remains active through the lower bilge pump switch. Thus, the bilge pump is not activated until both switches are closed and remains activated until the lower switch opens after the bilge is pumped.

There are several advantages to this arrangement. The cycling of the pump is reduced, increasing the life of the pump. The bouncing of the switches is greatly reduced, greatly extending the life of the switches since the lower switch will bounce until the bilge is full enough to keep the switch fully closed and the upper switch will only bounce once, which will activate the pump and immediately lower the water level.

We have had this circuit on our Alberg 35 for six years now and it has so far worked reliably.

Paul Collins
via e-mail

In the article "Keeping Water Clean," (November 1, 1998), I noted the statement "In the rest of the world, Americans are known by the not-very-flattering nickname, 'septics,' due to our preoccupation with germs."

This isn't the real reason behind this common nickname. It originates from Cockney rhyming slang which worked its way into the dialects of much of the British-settled, English-speaking world, particularly Australia and New Zealand. Under Cockney rhyming slang, words are substituted with their rhymes or with phrases containing a rhyming word. This is usually done in a, quick, witty exchange. For example, your "eyes" are referred to as your "pies." One's "head" is referred to as one's "loaf of bread" (which in turn, is sometimes shortened to just "loaf," hence the expression: "using your loaf."). "Septics" is short for "septic tanks" which is a rhyme for "Yanks." Just as in the loaf of bread example, "septic tanks" has been shortened, and Yanks are just called "septics". While, it looks sort of silly written out, this is the true origin of the nickname "septics."

Matthew Jenkins
Bowie, Maryland

Hellamarine on Its Fans
There has been some negative press regarding our Hella Turbo fans in some of the recent Practical Sailor issues. We are somewhat concerned about this and would like an opportunity to explain some of the recent warranty issues to your readers.

Hella has been manufacturing the Turbo fan for nearly 20 years. Over this time period, we have made very few modifications. It still remains one of the quietest and lowest power-consuming fans on the market. However, just over two years ago, our motor supplier in Germany discontinued production of our motor. Hella sells tens of thousands of these fans yearly through their global network and was not willing to discontinue the Turbo fan. We found a new supplier that met our requirements and introduced the "2000 Power Long Life" fan. We, at Hella, Inc. in the US, realized that 2000-hour service life is insufficient to meet the needs of our customers who in warmer climates use the fan 24 hours a day. Hella Germany continued their search for a new motor and as of January 1998, we introduced the 5000-hour fan. This new motor should eliminate all future claims of premature fan failure. We stand behind our products 100%. Readers who are having less than satisfactory performance of our fans or any Hellamarine product should call our customer service department at 800/247-5924 or write us.

We are most concerned with the claims that our fans have caught fire or began to smoke. We received one such claim from a sailboat owner several years ago. However, this was an isolated incident and we were able to pinpoint the problem, which was in the installation of the fan. Since then we have not received any other claims. If this is an ongoing problem we believe our customers would inform us. Hella is a 99-year-old company with a history of high quality, technology-driven products and the strongest commitment to customer service.

Back in January 1990, Practical Sailor rated our fans as the quietest and most efficient on the market. We want to reassure all our valued customers that Hella is and always will be committed to providing the highest quality products available. All Hella products are tested to meet, or in most cases exceed, industry standards. As of this writing, Hella is currently in the process of developing a completely new series of cabin fans to include an oscillating fan and a redesign of the Turbo fan. Rest assured that these new fans will maintain the quiet operation and low power consumption that our customers have grown to appreciate over the years.

Reese Bischoff, Sales Manager
Peachtree City, Georgia

I have been reading your excellent magazine for years now and have found it a valuable source of information and ideas. However, in the September 1998 issue you have missed a trick when describing how to read an aneroid barometer such as the Weems & Plath Atlantis.

The trend of the barometric pressure is more significant than the actual pressure reading. The correct method of ascertaining this depends on the hysteresis in the barometer mechanism and works as follows:

Set the adjustable needle to coincide with the current reading, and then tap the adjustment knob sharply. The indicating needle will move slightly, either up or down, indicating the trend as well as a more accurate reading of the pressure. The movement of the indicating needle is usually too slight to notice unless the adjustable needle has been set first.

With this method you get the reading and the trend right away without waiting around an hour or so.

Edmond Carley
Copiague, New York

The report on barometers had a serious omission—the most basic of all barometers, a tube of mercury. For many years I had one which I had built from a kit on my Essex 26, screwed to the mast support, where it was readily visible and well protected. No offense to Weems & Plath, but for nautical tradition this had the barograph beat all to hell.

After poor health grounded me, I removed it to my beach home, where it faithfully performed its function until a renter, despite its protected location, managed to break it. I have never seen another such kit. If any of your readers can clue me in, I'd be most gratified.

Jack Childers
Baltimore, Maryland

I think you may do a possible disservice to your readers by dismissing the use of barographs at sea. Providing that it is properly mounted, it can provide valuable graphic information at an informed glance. At least that has been my experience. Wind it up once a week, change the graph paper and that's it.

Allan Dannhauer, MD
Seattle, Washington

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