Preparing the motor compartment from the bottom up

So we have a clean and painted bilge below where the electric motor, batteries, motor controller, inverter, battery balancers etc are all going.

Our “only” problem, before fitting everything, is that the bilge is gradually filling with water. There are currently quite a few sources of this, none of them surprising.

First, we have disconnected the hoses from the two cockpit drains. So any water getting onto the cockpit floor drips straight in. The reason for disconnecting the hoses was that they have to be replaced (and the cockpit drains at the top plus the seacocks at the bottom). The hoses were very brittle and splitting where they were connected at the ends.

Second, the cockpit floor is not bolted down at the moment. We had to remove it to take it out to get the engine out, we haven’t permanently refitted it as a) it needs a new rubber seal b) it needs the last of the old sound insulation removing and then it can be painted (much easier when not in position). So water can get in around this and through the bolt holes.

Third, we have removed lots of bits from the sides of the cockpit (engine controls, autopilot control, pump etc) so there are quite a few holes (and they are not small).

However, none of these would matter if no water got into the cockpit in the first place. With the hardtop wheelhouse, which gets closed off at the back by the cover, when we are not there, in theory no water should be getting in. But for a long time since taking the engine out we have had a temporary bit of old ply covering the wheelhouse skylight (needed so you can see the mainsail when sailing). However, we fixed that other Friday and our new wheelhouse skylight doesn’t leak and you can see through it.

When we are on the boat we almost always have the cover off (at least partially) for easy access (it isn’t designed to be closed/opened from inside) so when we are onboard water goes get into the cockpit.

Now that all the old seacocks are filled, we can start the work to prepare for the motor, bit for access reasons it is important to start from the bottom. We are starting with the new seacocks, then the pumps. We want to do these now because they will gradually become less accessible as the propeller shaft, then motor frame and batteries go on top.

As soon as we have the new seacocks we can fit the new cockpit drains which are going to be a major upgrade. The old ones were connected with 1.25 inch hose to blakes seacocks and I think the inside of those was only about 1″. Our new TruDesign seacocks have a 2″ internal diameter. That means potentially 5.7 times more flow.

Also we are changing the drains within the cockpit. At the forward end of the cockpit we are fitting new 32mm drains. But we are adding to the aft end two 2″ drains. The design for fitting these has changed a few times. Now we plan to shorten the removable cockpit floor and add a new slightly lower floor at the aft end that the drains will be in with almost a straight run down to the seacock. We are also going to add a step going across the back of the cockpit, just above this new bit of floor, as we find the step down into the cockpit a bit too big to be comfortable.

The forward drains will come aft just gently sloping downwards and be connected to T’s on the main 2″ hoses. I still need to find a way to connect the 32mm hose to the 50mm T fitting.

We have also upgraded the hoses from the rather feeble PVC hoses that had lost all their flexibility to much heavier duty hoses that are fire resistant. We have all the jubilee clips to connect everything (2 clips at each connection as recommended).

The other task is the bilge pumps (one automatic electric one and one manual) we need to get the pipes in at least (because they go to the bilge under the motor). We hope to be able to reuse the old manual bilge pump (we think it just needs a new seal to waterproof it to the deck and new plastic ring that holds the seal in place). What we are not yet sure about is where we are going to have the pump hoses exit the boat. The old position was so inaccessible that the valve had never been closed. But wherever they exit is going to be higher than the motor and batteries so we can sort it later.

We want to get all this work done before fitting the motor stuff both to make sure we are not getting any water near the motor but also because it is going to be a lot easier access without the motor.

Oh and by the way, we have another cunning plan for our new fast draining cockpit. When we fit a watermaker we will not need to fit an extra seacock. Instead the raw water intake pipe will be able to drop right through one cockpit drain into the sea. The brine discharge will be able to drop into the other cockpit drain. Yes, it means we can’t have a fully automatic watermaker (although nothing stopping an automatic flush cycle as that doesn’t need a raw salt water input and can drain into the cockpit).

2 thoughts on “Preparing the motor compartment from the bottom up

  1. jokay1947 August 22, 2020 / 8:49 am

    I love the way you segue from imperial to metric and back again, rather like I do. All sounds wonderful. Jo


    • dave42w August 22, 2020 / 10:39 am

      I know, it irritates me because I find imperial so confusing but so much of the boat equipment and fittings are imperial.
      For example we need to work with a 1-1/4 diameter propeller shaft because some refer to it as 31.75mm and some as 32mm


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