Sunday, August 8, 2021

Much More Difficult Than Expected

 As I wrote in my last entry, the process of installing a new engine in our boat has begun. On July 27th we moved the boat about 40 miles to Gautier, Mississippi. We were hoping to be in the yard about a week, boy were we wrong.

The following day, a mechanic named Michael came to begin unhooking our current Yanmar engine. In 3 hours he had the mechanical part done, but he does not do electronics. The company that we are using is very busy and they were not sure when someone would be available to do the electronics. That is when I offered to do that part, which they accepted. I spent Thursday and Friday pulling out the wiring harness and disconnecting the control panel. On Friday afternoon, the lead mechanic, Adam stopped by on his way home to check on the project. That was the first time he had seen the boat. 

We ordered the crane for Monday morning. The crane operator wanted to do it early because we have been under a heat advisory. We planned for him to arrive at 6AM. 

Michael arrived at 6 AM and the crane not much later. In less than an hour we had the motor removed and on a trailer that was brought over by the guy that was buying the engine. That part went very well. 

The crane just got done putting the old Yanmar on the trailer that the buyer brought to transport it to his shop.

Kim looking on as we say good bye to the Yanmar. That motor always concerned me, but never let me down.

About 7:30, Adam arrived with the new engine in an enclosed trailer. We quickly unpacked it and were ready to lift it into the boat. The crane charges $250/hour, so time was of the essence. The motor went high up in the air and then swung over the boat. All went well until we tried to move it into the motor compartment. We had measured the motor compartment and based on the dimensions on the Beta web site it should fit. Guess what, it didn't fit! The exhaust was hitting the back wall. We had to just set it down partially in the compartment and get it disconnected, so that we could send the crane on his way. We ended up only using him for 2 hours, so that was what we expected. 

There is the new engine getting dropped right in the middle of our living room.

Here is a shot of the empty motor compartment. We needed to take a minute and change the shaft coupling before we could set it in place. 

There is the new motor and transmission. The Beta 38, pretty, but the add-on exhaust manifold was much longer than the stock one.

Do I look concerned? Believe me, I was!

This is a shot of the very special Balmar Alternator that was on my old engine. I wanted to move it to the new Beta. This is a high output unit that is used to charge my very large battery bank, while we are running the engine. 

Now that the crane was gone, we left Michael and Adam to go to work. We came back at one o'clock and they were gone. The next day we found out that after removing the exhaust and cutting 5 inches off of the propeller shaft, they were able to make the motor fit. We also found out the next morning that Michael's wife had test positive for the COVID Delta Variant. He was now in quarantine for 14 days. Adam worked hard much of the day Tuesday, but was unable to get the engine and shaft aligned. By the end of the day he also had a very sore neck. He called on Wednesday morning to let me know that he was also unable to work. To say I was now concerned, would be a huge understatement. 

To Adams credit, he came to work on Thursday and worked as hard as he was able with my help to finally get the motor aligned and the motor mounts installed. I went to work installing the alternator and whatever else I could do. It was hard work, but thankfully we brought our window unit air conditioner from Missouri and were able to cool down the boat as we worked. 

I worked well into the evening on Thursday and then again on Friday to finally feel like we were getting close.  We even bumped the engine with the started to verify that all was hooked up correctly. The only problem was the propeller was spinning backwards! Adam did some research and determined that actually all was fine, we were just going to have to get used to an opposite lever direction for the transmission shifter at the helm. The two transmission linkages are set up backwards from each other.

Here is a shot of the motor almost finished. Check out the polished Stainless steel mounting bracket on the alternator. I bought one and had to modify it to make it work. 

I called Beta-USA to find out what we could do about the exhaust. They suggested we cut the exhaust and have it rewelded. I found out a guy that works in the yard was a welder. He could do it for me after work on Friday. I gave him the parts and on Saturday morning we had a perfectly welded exhaust. I installed it and it fit perfectly. 

As of Sunday, we have a few things left to do, but we are close to going back in the water and starting the engine. We are hoping to be ready on Tuesday. The problem with that is that we then need to sea trial and do final adjustments. That means that we will stay another week in the "roach motel". It seems that 3 weeks is what it takes every time we go to the yard. It has been tough, but the good news is that I know exactly how it was installed which will allow me to address problems down the road. 

In my next entry, I will hopefully document the final stages of this project. We can't wait to get back in our floating home and on the move. For now, the tropics are quiet, it doesn't look like that will last much longer. 


  1. Intense, stressful, frustrating, excited...are just a few adjectives that I am sure you went through over the past week. Sounds like you are getting their slowly but surely. I bet you cannot wait to hear that baby purr!

    1. You got that right. Every emotion under the sun. The good news is we finally started the motor today and it sounded awesome!

  2. Good news you’ve been able to overcome the obstacles! Hope you’re back in the water soon.

    1. We went back in the water this morning. The project had to through us one big curveball, but we overcame it, and started the engine. We are close.

  3. Been keeping our fingers crossed for you. Guess we should have crossed our toes too. Good thing you and Kim are so tough. You are in our thoughts and we say a little prayer for you. I know someday in the years to come you will look back and say it was tough but well worth it for the memories you made with the new motor.
    Dick & Cathy

    1. Thanks, we need all the divine intervention we can get. Tough or just bull headed, not sure which.

  4. Nearly done is awesome! You do look concerned in the photo. We have all been there brother. I built a house for my sister, at the point the foundation guy showed up he said close the hole, he would not put a foundation on that spot. Well, that was not going to work and at least me and the very experienced guy running the backhoe had figured how to get it done despite the foundation guy panicking.

    Looking forward to the next post. Wish we were there to help you celebrate the event.

  5. It as been tough, but today we splashed the boat, then after another issue, we started the motor. Yeah!

  6. Adapt and overcome. Good job. Well done.