Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ruined photos

This is not a typical post. Please don't judge the entire blog by this one. I have been doing short, thoughtless posts about matters of no consequence whatsoevers lately, and this is another one. Actually, I have been doing that since the first, come to think of it. Anyhow, on that cautionary note:

Last night we got talked into staying over on Pine Cay for another day. It seems that our teenaged guests are enjoying this little island immensely. We enjoy it, too, so it was not a very hard sell. Being able to get away from construction issues for a few days has been something that we were sorely missing for the past six months.

Since we were going to be here loafing around the island anyway I decided to scrub the bottom of the boat. We leave it in the water year round, and marine growth builds up on the bottom. Slows the boat down, uses more fuel, and, well, it looks ugly.

This is a photo I took of one of our trim tabs. I took it over a week ago when we were out snorkelling.

Seeing this from under the boat was what prompted me to jump in the water today with a scrub brush for three hours. I cleaned all this up. I need to haul the boat and refresh the bottom paint (which is toxic and keeps this stuff from growing for about a year) but until I do, I will be scrubbing it every month or so. This growth happened in about six weeks since the last time I scrubbed it.

So, today I took my backup underwater camera with me. This is one of the SeaLife brand "Land and Sea" cameras. Basically a no-name digital in an underwater housing. I had taken the above photo with it, but then noticed water inside the housing and I quit using it until I could check it out. This week I cleaned the o-rings and grooves, etc. Re-greased them. Couldn't find any obvious housing damage. It should have been waterproof. It wasn't.

I had it in the water for only ten minutes when I saw the inside of the lens glass fogged up. Whoops. I snapped a few photos anyhow, and when I looked at them tonight I thought they were just strange enough to be kind of interesting. In their own way. It's all due to the distortions caused by the fogged lens and the fact that in underwater mode this camera goes macro. But it seems to focus to there were some bizarre results when I shot photos in air with it.

I had reset the anchor and intended this just to be a photo of where I parked the boat to clean the hull. It was going to be a 'poor me, having to slave away in 85 degree water under these horrible conditions' photo:

That was before the lens fogged up. So you can see the camera is a bit off already, as the water here is actually very blue. This el-cheapo camera seems to make blue things turn green.

LaGringa swam out to check on Dooley the Distressed Dog, because he was whining about some piddly little approaching squall line. I think it was the distant thunder that got to him. She was trying to entice him to jump into the water and swim ashore. He was already panting and in panic mode.

He wouldn't do it. He insisted that one of us lift him out of the boat and into the water. This is a dog that has bailed out of this same boat two miles offshore in 3-5 foot seas. Without a second thought. Or even a first thought. Just in pursuit of a barracuda we threw back. We have had to haul him back on board at least a dozen times. But throw thunder into the equation and he's suddenly spineless. Pitiful. A waste of carbon. If we just whisper "thunder" on a perfectly sunny day....his heart rate races and he goes all shifty eyed with his ears laid back. Pavlov got salivating dogs. We get that too, but on top of full blown anxiety attacks..

So we tried swimming away from the boat, toward the shore. We were thinking that him seeing the both of us headed to the beach would push him over the edge, so to speak.
But nope. He just went in some manic dysfunctional mode. Running around the boat looking for the exit.

This is a distorted image of an animal deeply in the throes of some serious decision making processes while under extreme duress:

He's begun to realize at this point that he is a lot higher off the water at the bow than he would have been back at the stern. But that is no longer an option in his mind. I believe that for just a second there, his hairy little brain might have even considered leaping onto me as a smart move. It would not have been.
You can get an idea of the squall that was coming behind us. Maybe not so piddly after all, when you see it up close. Of course all Dooley has to hear is thunder. He loses all of whatever passes for canine logic at that very instant.

So here's the normally decisive dog as the humans head for the beach without him.. and the thunder closes in from the rear:

( "jump or stay? jump or stay? jump or stay??? SOMEbody help me!!!")

LaGringa headed on to the beach while I circled back to the boat to keep scrubbing...

His eyes never left LaGringa, as she headed for safety leaving him stranded and helpless..

And of course about five minutes after I gave up and threw the fogged up camera back on the boat and got back to scrubbing moss...there was a flash of lightning a couple miles away. Before the thunder even got there, Dooley the Desperate made his decision. He launched himself off the boat, sailed completely over my head and hit on the other side of me with a splash. He went a couple feet underwater and surfaced in full-time four-wheel drive. All four of those stubby little legs were kicking up rooster tails. It looked like he was sculling with his tail as well. If he could have used his ears for propulsion he would have done so. This dog went from indecisive to totally committed in only about a thousand heartbeats. Which all took place in the half second after that lightning flash.

I think he was doing about six knots when he hit the beach. The marines would have been proud of that dog.

If there had been another lightning bolt right when his rear feet hit the sand, he might have overshot the island entirely.

Strange photos, aren't they? But it looks like we are running out of waterproof camera options at the moment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


After all the hassles last week with fixing vehicles etc. we decided to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a couple days. Our guests are now into their second week of vacation here, too. So we loaded up the kids and dog and a boatload of groceries and went to Pine Cay for a few days.

I fixed the corroded window crank right off the bat. Got the initial DIY thing done already. Then we decided to relax.

Yesterday we went for the much-anticipated conch diving trip. We took Ben and Wil out to one of our favorite spots near the reef. We like the conch we get there better than the conch on the Banks side. They are cleaner, and we can tell the difference in the taste as well. The conch from here are 'sweeter' tasting. Maybe that's because you have to be able to dive down 12-15 feet to get them. Conch on the other side are only about five or six feet deep.

Anyhow, in less than an hour we had 30 of them on board.

And two happy new conch divers:

So we headed into the dock, and with all their newfound knowledge of how quickly someone can clean a conch, we left the two Colorado boys with hammer and knife. Should take about "an hour" they figured. Okaaaay....we'll be back in a while to check on you.

I came back to check on them two hours later...and they were well into it.

They had about three quarters of the conch out of the shells in those two hours. That's not bad, actually. For two inexperienced people with doing it for the first time. After only watching a guy at the Conch Shack for a few minutes.

I guess we missed some of the excitement. I suppose I had forgotten to tell them to be sure that the conch they picked up were LIVE conch...not just dead, discarded shells. Things live in the dead shells. So...from what I hear, they started whacking away at what they thought was a conch, when this angry critter started out of it waving claws and obviously NOT a conch.. From what I could tell it was the Big Kahuna of hermit crabs;

I guess they managed to beat it into submission using an empty shell....and they kept it to show it to us. That had to be somewhat of a surprise...expecting a nice docile conch and getting a feisty crab armed with a couple of claws.

Even though they had been at it for several hours at this point their enthusiasm was still running pretty high;
Wil wants to take a couple 'fresh' shells home with him. I am trying to gently explain some of the things he might want to think, organic material still in the shell after three or four days in a warm climate.

I waited for them to finish up the last few shells, then I looked at the conch they had cleaned....and it got a little more complicated. They had not realized that getting them out of the shells was the easy part. They still had to trim off a lot of undesirable viscera. And skin them. Nothing like putting in several hours and thinking you are almost done, only to be told you just finished the "easy" part. But that's totally true. Getting the skin off is definitely the hardest part of the whole procedure.

To shorten this around 8:00 last night they had the last of those 30 conch cleaned properly and ready to cook. Seven and a half hours for 30 conch, not counting the diving part. Or the cooking part. Or even the tenderizing part ( you have to bash them with something to tenderize them) So, while they watched the pro at the Conch Shack clean conch after conch in something less than a minute per took the two of them together an average of fifteen minutes per conch.

I think they have a new respect for the guys who make it look so easy.

That's been it for the past couple days. We are on Pine Cay until tomorrow. It's raining off and on, so we have not been on the boat today. I do plan to scrub the marine growth off the hull at some point before we go back.

Oh, I have decided to give up on the windward garage door. It's obviously not the right choice for these conditions. I have been on the internet trying to explore options, which include the old style swinging, hinged doors or possibly a sliding door on an overhead rail. I need something that doesn't corrode, that is simple and rugged enough to last awhile, and that is tough enough for serious wind. Something rain won't blow through at 40 mph.

One of the problems I have come up with so far is that the opening is ten feet wide. This limits my options, but somewhere out there is a solution.

Anyone got any ideas on what to replace this door with?

I would be surprised if this one lasted a year.

This was short post, I realize. But since the last one was a bit dry I thought I could try making up for quality by posting more often for a few days.

Besides, Wil tells me his mom reads the blog and I thought she would appreciate seeing her baby boy having fun on his vacation in the tropics. It's a long way from the Rocky Mountains. That is for sure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Busy week

I don't have any spectacular scenery images this week because, well, I have been totally tied up in repairs. Our good old DIY lifestyle kicked in on me big time. And we haven't done much that was interesting enough to photograph. The good news is that we are going to be doing some boating over the next couple days and I should have some good ocean-related stuff to post. So the photos in this post are going to be obsolete shortly. We should have some sunsets, even.

Last Sunday was a mess, with both of our vehicles breaking down on the same day. Ouch. Sure glad that doesn't happen often. More about that later, but it took up a lot of my time this week.

We also still have three teenagers staying with us. We have found that if they get bored enough (no vehicles, remember) they will sometimes work for pizza and beer. Eventually. You do have to withold the pizza and beer....and yeah sure they will whine and plead for a couple days but eventually they seem to get with the program.

Wil and Ben got into doing some landscaping for us. Moving rocks from point A to point B. And we got LOTS of rocks:

(there.....that ought to keep them busy for a while...)

Other than the admittedly limited interest of the DIY stuff, the week was a bore. As an example, early one morning we heard what sounded like Rommel's Afrika Korps blasting up the road alongside the patio. It was one of those overhead cement pumping trucks and three big dump trucks full of mix for him. We watched these four huge trucks chugging up the road. We asked ourselves..."where the heck are they going?" There's nothing like construction going on down that road. In fact it's a dead end. 

I have to make a three point turn just to get the Land Rover turned around up we knew these guys were going to be real disappointed when this line of vehicles came to a halt at the top. got interesting. These guys had to back those monsters all the way back down this road, until they could turn around again at the bottom.

And then we got to hear them shouting recriminations at each other, over who was supposed to know where they were going, who was following who. Who doesn't know how to drive. That kind of thing. Cost them the better part of an hour I figure. But they seem to have a lot of each other's lineage now worked out. 
Who would have thought that four random truck drivers all apparently dated each other's mothers at some point, if we could believe what we were hearing.  Amazing.

See, I told you it was a boring week.

Ben and Wil are embracing the tropical lifestyle and eating up those tropical experiences as they can. They insisted on picking up a bunch of coconuts and borrowing a machete.

Coconuts seem pretty common to us, of course. You might say they grow on trees. Old-hat to us. But I guess they don't get to climb too many coconut trees in the Rocky Mountains. They were surprised that fresh coconuts are not those dried out little hairy looking things they had seen in grocery stores all their lives.
Now they know.

They have also been showing a lot of interest in conch. Plan is for us to go get a couple dozen and the Colorado boys are going to clean them. (heh heh heh, I am thinking.) So, rather than trying to explain it all to them in the abstract with no conch to demonstrate things on, we took them to Da Conch Shack for lunch. They got to watch a professional at work:

Of course the guys cleaning the conch always pull out what they call the 'pistil' and offer it to the tourists to eat. Usually the visitor will balk, and the conch guy will eat it for the shock value. Always good for an "ewwww!!!"

Not with this crowd. Wil grabbed it and scarfed it right down:

Don't you just HATE those people who do stuff like that right off the bat without properly thinking it through? Because that, of course, means now YOU have to eat one...

Puts hair on your chest. Or, well, something to that effect. Or so we hear.

I told them to pay attention to the man's every move, because this was their training for conch cleaning. They watched. They now assure me they are both experts. In fact, they have ideas on how it could be done even better.

Ah yes. I remember being nineteen with an idea how it all could be done better.

Well, we shall see, won't we. Film at eleven.

As though I didn't have enough stuff to fix around here, we found out that people staying in an unfamiliar house will walk right into closed screen doors in the dark. Even when they are covered with dust and located in a completely predictable location. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning...

and find I have the "Shroud of Turin" on my new screen. Grrrr...

I won't mention any names as to which one of the boys did the face plant...
But I think it's as plain as the nose on your face...

As for me..well this week was (Surprise!) heavily DIY again. We managed to get the Land Rover into the garage. First official auto DIY project inside the new garage. Oh boy. Well, that was a big part of the justification for building it. So that I could do whatever maintenance that I could handle.

I used to read these adventure stories when I was a kid. I remember admiring those guys in Africa or South America who were always fixing their Land Rovers with baling wire or scavenged tractor parts. (who am I kidding.....I STILL read those kinds of books).

Well, halfway down Leeward Highway isn't the Sahara, but it was still a pretty inconvenient place to have a clutch go belly up. So now I can say I once repaired a Land Rover on a tropical island. Nice place to work on it, too.    I "once" repaired a Land Rover??  ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa.   and boo hoo hoo hoo hoooo.

This is what the engine compartment of a Land Rover looks like after a guy with no idea what he is doing has removed the entire 'clutch box"

You can see the six holes there where the clutch box was mounted.   Well, okay okay, you can actually see three of them.  But you can imagine three more, I bet.   Just look for the clean parts. Getting this thing out involved removing the air cleaner and a few other things, but these vehicles are built like erector sets. Everything is accessible and in removable assemblies. It really lends itself to the 'shade-tree mechanic' approach.  I read someplace that these are the only vehicles around still built by hand.  Which means everything is bolted together, and can be unbolted and replaced, and all that. What a rebolting situation.

It was pretty easy to pinpoint the problem. The clutch pedal went to the floor and hydraulic fluid squirted out all over the floor mat. So, I had to get this thing out of there. It got a lot more complicated than I had anticipated. However I now know a fair bit more about hydraulic clutches and Land Rovers than I knew a week ago. I also learned that what we call Vise Grips in the USA are called Mole Grips in England. What we call wrenches are 'spanners'. And this whole clutch box operation is described as being a 'bit fiddly'. yeah, I can go with that.

Oh, getting the part. I gotta tell you about this. As soon as I figured out I needed a new master cylinder, I called the local dealer where we bought the Land Rover. I got the news that the part was going to be $ 284. and it could be shipped over from England in a "week or two". It would be $ 110 to tow the Land Rover to the dealership. And we were renting a car for $ 100 per day until this thing got fixed. Being optimistic about the part actually showing up in two weeks I figure by the time the labor charges kicked in we would be looking at about $ 2,000. all up before we could drive this vehicle again. Sometimes in August. Maybe.

Not good enough. So I got on the internet, and after sending off emails to about four different places a Land Rover specialist in New Hampshire answered that they had a master cylinder in stock for $ 65. Because of the accumulating car rental charges, we had it shipped Fed Ex to the TCI. That's the fastest way.

Two days later I had it in hand for a grand total of $165, including import duties.

I got the entire clutch box thing back together the next day:

That clutch pedal just looks so out of place on a bench doesn't it?

And does it work, you might ask? Well heck yeah.

There goes La Gringa up the driveway on a test drive.

Total cost doing it this way; $ 665 including car rental. And we had it done in four days. So doing it myself saved us $ 1,400. easy. Probably more. These things always cost more in the shop, I have noticed. Well, that makes it worth getting greasy. At least I think so. It took a big chunk out of a couple days to do it this first time but if it ever happens again I think I could get that down to a couple of hours. You see, I am an experienced Land Rover clutch fixer, now.

After getting the Land Rover clutch issues sorted out I started on the Suzuki. That turned out to be pretty simple. Just a stuck carb float. Quick and simple...I rapped on the side of the float chamber with a wrench and suddenly I had fuel in the carb again. Whew. After the washdown pump and the clutch I really felt like I had enough DIY for one week.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Yep, the boys managed to get most of the slope covered with nice flat rocks.

So that's pretty much how our week went. Now we plan to take our guests out and let them try their hand at cleaning conch. This should be good. I'll get pictures.

Monday, July 14, 2008

this and that...

Summer weather seems to be here at last. Of course by many standards it's pretty much always summer here, but we have been waiting for some long periods of calmer winds and seas. Up until last week we were getting accustomed to seeing lumpy ocean day after day:

Lumpy ocean is better than no ocean, of course, and we are not complaining. Still, a few calm days in a row are nice. The ocean gets smooth and glassy.

The sunsets have been generally pretty tame lately, as tropical sunsets go, but some of the dawns are nice. Like this one with the sun rising behind the house we tried very hard to buy a few months before we moved down to the islands:

We got outbid on that house, and driving around in frustration during one of our visits La Gringa spotted a new "For Sale" sign on the lot we purchased and now live upon.

We built a home we feel is better suited and better located than the one we tried to buy, but sometimes I wonder if the stress and aggravation over the past year and a half was better than just buying an existing house and moving in. It's been a long journey to end up on this little hill.

The frustration of constantly living on a construction site seems to finally be drawing to an end. There are only a few things left on the list to be followed up. We are really, really looking forward to getting back to what passes for more of a normal life for us. We have not been fishing seriously in months. We plan to start rectifying that whole part of our lives as things get back on track.

One thing that got us fired up about fishing again was when our friend Captain John Mallette made up some custom fishing lures for us. John is the fishing manager for the Sporting Club on Ambergris Cay. About a week ago he called and told La Gringa and I to head to the airport and meet the Ambergris airplane, and that the pilot was bringing a package over for us. We boogied on down to the private section of the airport and sure enough, their plane landed and we walked out onto the tarmac apron and the pilot handed us a baggie with these inside:

Pretty cool, eh? These lures are so pretty I almost hate to throw them in the ocean. Almost...I said..

I just have to rig them up with hooks and leaders and take them out to the deep blue. That is definitely on the agenda. Somewhere out there are some Yellowfin Tuna and Wahoo just itching to bite into one of these babies.

This weekend we had three teenaged boys descend upon us for a two week vacation. Their vacation, of course. Not necessarily ours. So, what do you do with three teenaged boys? Well, one of the first things La Gringa did was to outfit them all with snorkelling gear and point them toward the local ocean.

They climbed down the rocks and spent the next two hours exploring up and down the shoreline here. The shore is undercut with submerged caves and it traps things that float to the island.

When they finally made their way back to the house, they brought their new-found treasures with them.

Those three sure look like there's some pirate or treasure hunting blood somewhere in the mix. Just need an eye patch and a parrot.

From left to right we have La Gringa's middle son with a nice shell, her youngest with a full bottle of rum (!) and middle son's friend Wil from Colorado who just climbed out of the water after snorkelling for the first time in his life. I think he liked it. Of all the places in the world I can think of to start diving this has got to be one of the top three or four on the list. Other places are going to seem drab after diving here. It's not all like the TCI.

And the full bottle of Barbancourt Haitian rum that youngest kid found on the bottom still has an unbroken seal.

This is the 'three star', 8 year old Barbancourt, which some people prefer to the 'five star' 15 year old. Now that's my idea of treasure...and of course the "local authorities" (that would be us) confiscated it almost immediately...

It's presently in our evidence locker just in case any Haitian sloops wander by asking if anyone found a bottle they lost overboard......yeah...right..

Hey, for all we know it came off of this newly wrecked sloop we saw yesterday sitting high on the beach just a couple miles up the shore from us:

This one looks to be in pretty good shape, for a disposable boat.

We took our own boat out yesterday to let the boys do some diving out on the reef since they enjoyed the local water so much. Youngest son stayed home with his brand new sunburn while La Gringa, Dooley the Delirious, our two Colorado guests and I went out to check out a late 1600's wreck site. We wanted to show them the ballast stones and see if we could find any more bottle fragments.

We were a little disappointed because the water was murky compared to what it usually is. We only had maybe forty or fifty feet of visibility. We usually have twice that. While I have no doubt that the ongoing dredging is affecting the reef here, I don't think the murkiness yesterday was due to dredging. I dove down about ten or twelve feet to pick up a couple of conch, and was surprised to find the water right next to the seafloor felt like it was five degrees warmer than the surface water. And the surface water is around 84 degrees. Some kind of an inverted thermocline, which I think might be solar heating of the bottom. We only spent a few hours on the reef, because we are having a lot of vehicle problems lately and needed to get back to Provo to see about sorting them out. More on that later, I am sure.

While out on the reef I tried a few underwater photos with an older camera I dug out of mothballs since the Olympus is no longer waterproof. It's not as good as my other camera, but it still works.

This particular coral seems to be doing all right. I have photographed it several times over the past three years and it still looks to be healthy. I should have gotten someone else in the photo for scale, as this thing is about seven or eight feet tall. But when I took this photo the rest of the mob was off exploring other parts of the reef. Sadly, we did not find any more bottles yesterday. Not full or otherwise.

Another photo, and this is of Fire Coral.  It's called that because it will burn the everloving stuff out of you if you touch it with bare skin.  I mean it.  Listen to me.  This is the voice of sad experience talking to you.  Do NOT let this touch your belly or anything else important to you. Even the little bitty rice grain sized pieces of it that might fly off a conch shell when you hit it will burn for hours if they contact your skin.  Well, the coral doesn't burn, of course.  It's quite comfy.   It's wherever it touches you that burns.  I sure hope I've made my point here. 
Learn to recognize this stuff.   It really hurts.

That one is only about two feet tall, so you can see that without something for scale in the photos they are misleading. I'll do better next time.

While we were all in the water, we could hear the mournful cries of Dooley the Disgruntled, who was ordered to remain aboard while the rest of us went swimming.

You can just make him out sitting on the boat trying to keep an eye on four snorkellers at once. And he whined and grumbled and moaned about it the entire time. Poor little dog...

He gets really peeved when we order him to stay on the boat. He loves to swim and in most places near the beach we let him. In fact it's hard to stop him. But we have seen a lot of sharks out near this area and a little morsel like him dogpaddling around on the surface.....well it just doesn't seem like a good idea.

We don't want him to literally turn into dog meat.

Just so you don't get the impression it's all fun and games down here, this has been an extremely DIY-intensive week for me. And it's not over yet. Come to think of it, the DIY lifestyle is pretty much continuous. Stuff breaks in the tropics. Stuff breaks in the ocean. And we have both in great abundance.

(The rest of this post is all DIY, if you don't care about the nuts and bolts aspect of it all, this is a good place to stop reading. I'll just leave you with the tropical underwater images. Although there are some wooden box photos near the end.)

The first thing to fail since the last post was the washdown pump on our boat. We discovered it was broken, unfortunately, right immediately after I made that huge mess cleaning conch on the boat. I only cleaned them on the boat because I thought I had a functional washdown pump to clean the boat up. I was wrong. After putting a voltmeter on it to be sure it was getting power (it was) I removed the whole contraption from the boat and found out that the electric motor was covered in rust on the bottom, which had gotten inside the housing and the pump was frozen solid. "Oh, Drat.." says I. Well, that's not exactly what I said but you probably get the picture.

Of course I don't have a service manual for the pump. And in my experience electric motors that get anything like seawater inside them are pretty much toast. But since I had it out of the boat I decided to take it apart and see if there was any hope for fixing it. Without spares, without a manual. I figured maybe at least there might be some parts in there I could use someday.

So, I got the whole contraption apart on the bench. Reduced to it's major sub-assemblies it looked just like this:

It actually did not look like this when I took it apart, to be accurate. By the time I took that photo I had spent several hours working on it. I had already cleaned up the rust and corrosion when La Gringa said "hey, you ought to be taking photos of that..." Dang it, I forgot. So I grabbed the camera and started, but unfortunately I don't have any images of the mess I found inside that motor.

What I DO have is a photo of the rags I used while cleaning it up:

Those three rags were white when this started. So was I, come to think of it. All that gunk and rust came from inside the electric motor. The outside of the pump, of course, was pristine except for the rust on the bottom.

I got online and found a website for the manufacturer. I could not read the model number of the pump from the label (it all washed off sometimes during the past year).

Pretty useless label, I think. I mean, if you are going to make a pump for use inside a boat....shouldn't you at least use waterproof ink on the dang thing?

I could read the manufacturer's name, at least, and found their web site. But they make a whole lot of different sizes and styles of pumps as well as other products. Finally I found a drawing of something that looked pretty close to what I have. For those mechanically minded folks, this is how this thing goes together:

Of course, this was useful for putting it back together, but not very much help for what was going on inside Item 7, the motor itself. No details on that, but dc motors are all pretty similar. I noticed the bearings they use are the exact same ones I used to install on inline skates, by the way. Good. At least something was familiar. Unfortunately the problem was not with the familiar part. These motors have four very strong, permanent C-shaped magnets glued inside the housing. The seawater had caused the surface of the steel housing to rust under the glue for the magnets, and one had come completely loose. Of course it jammed the motor solid. My first inclination when I saw this was to just throw the thing away and order another pump.. Then I looked online and found out these things are about $ 250 on the internet, which means that by the time I got one flown down and cleared through Customs....I was looking at somewhere between $ 400-$500. Ouch. I decided it was worth a try to see if I could fix it. I didn't think there was much of a chance, but hey, you never know unless you try.

I cleaned out the rust, scraped the old glue off, mixed up a batch of super epoxy, and after smearing only around fifty gallons of the stuff on my clothes, feet, hands, and workbench I managed to glue and clamp the loose magnet back into place:

It took me several minutes and two clamps to hold that evil little sucker of a magnet. In the presence of three other equally powerful magnets it did NOT want to remain in position. It was a struggle to get it right. At this point I gave the whole motor repair idea about a 25% chance of being successful.

While the expoxy was setting, I cleaned up the rest of the motor parts, which were mostly rusted from the seawater. There were also several serious dings on the iron whirley-around thing. I smoothed them out with a file. Then I sprayed the whole kit and kaboodle down with some electrical lubricant stuff.

Looked pretty good cleaned up. I had it together here without the housing because I was trying to figure out just how in the heck I was going to get these spring loaded carbon brushes to open up enough to fit around the round slotted whatchamacallit thing they have to contact to make the motor work.

I am actually not sure if whatchamacallit is the correct technical term. It could be a thingamabob. I am kinda rusty on my electrical troublshooting nomenclature. I do seem to recall that connecting up a number of doo-dads in series makes a subassembly called a hootis...or is it a thingum....and it's not until you get them all together correctly that it turns into a pump. And this one sure does have a lot of little parts. But it's fun figuring out what they do. Cheap entertainment.

I figured out, for example, that the little rectangular thing there on the top left is a thermally operated microswitch. Ah, so THAT'S how motors know to turn themselves off when they overheat. I didn't know that, not having a manual for it. But it's a good thing to know. Now if the pump shuts off I know that it might just be overheating. Otherwise I would curse it and threaten to throw it overboard. That and a MasterCard usually fixes these things eventually. With 'eventually' being the operative word. I don't usually give up easily though, if I think there is a chance I can fix it on my own.

So, anyhow, the brushes have to fit around this thing:

I finally figured out that I could move the springs to take the tension off and would be able to just reach into the housing once it was all back together and move them back into place. I used a small nail after I modified the end of it with a hammer. I had to flatten it so it would fit between the housing and the end cap, with maybe a sixteenth of an inch to reach through. It worked.

The magnet glued back inside the motor housing:

I wasn't sure the evil little SOB would hold, but it seemed solid.

And surprisingly the round spinny thing with all the wires fit back in there too..

Recognize the RollerBlade bearing? Those must be some kind of world standard.

After finally getting everything back together into something resembling that drawing, I realized that I was one motor mount short. One of them had gotten ripped when I removed the pump from the boat, and since I figured I would never be able to repair this thing I threw it over the side in a small fit of pique. so NOW I had to come up with a motor mount to replace the missing one. The shock mounts for the motor look like this:

But notice the one that should be on the left is gone. I knew I didn't have a chance of finding something like this locally, so I started looking around to see if I could come up with an alternative. And once again, I noticed the straps on my new Crocs....

Hmm....cushy, tough, elastic....must be a way... I mean, a Croc is nothing more than a big shock absorber anyhow. Lord knows nobody wears them for the way they look.

I started out tracing the shock mount and tried cutting it out with a chisel..

But that made for a pretty ugly shock mount. So I looked around the garage and found a piece I had hacksawed off a towell rod I installed in the batchroom...and as luck would have it, it was the right size. So I chucked up a little grinding wheel to the drill press and put a sharp edge on it..

And by using it as a cookie cutter, I managed to punch out some better looking pieces of Croc strap than I was getting with the chisel.

I stacked up three of those. Its a lot thicker than the original shock mount, but this stuff is also a lot squishier and should compress down to the right size.

Voila, a home-made shock mount:

We took the pump down to the boat and got it re-installed in the bilge:

Complete with a new Croc-shock on the top right...

Other than the never-ending series of repairs that seem to go along with life in the tropics, I also have a few little side projects going on. I know a few posts back I mentioned that I was playing around with one of the local woods, from the Casurinas or Australian Pine (which is not a pine). I took a limb from one of these locally abundant trees and cut it into small planks, just to experiment with. I really didn't have a project in mind for it yet. I just wanted to see how stable it was. Whether it would warp, split, shrink, etc. after it was cut. I don't know why, exactly, but I took a few of these and cut box or finger joints into the ends of them, and then put them together into a little box. Which looks like this:


I let that sit around the workbench for a few weeks, and it doesn't seem to be shrinking. At least the joints were still tight. So I edge-glued some more pieces and made a bottom for it, and used small dowells to pin that in. After a couple more weeks it still seemed stable, so lately I have been messing around with a top for it. A few people picked it up off the workbench and said 'What's this?'. So, I figured I would clarify that, with my usual lack of imagination.

The wood has a nice look to it, with these 'rays'. I am hoping some fine sanding will bring those out.

Well, that's how life was chugging along until yesterday. First, I hooked up the hopefully-repaired pump to the battery in my little Suzuki to test it out. The battery went dead. Oh well, not a big deal. It was due for a battery anyhow. At least the pump worked.

Then we took the Land Rover down to the marina for our boat trip to the reef, and well, we didn't make it to the marina. About halfway there the clutch went to the floor and hydraulic fluid dribbled out all over La Gringa's feet. We coasted to a stop and left it, intending to come back later with the Suzuki and maybe tow it home.

We went out to the reef, and when we got back I dropped La Gringa and two of the boys off in front of the house.

Not exactly the picture one has in mind when they say "just drop us off at home"...

They swam and waded ashore while Dooley the Demonic Dog and I ran the boat back to Leeward Marina. She was to drive the Suzuki down to pick us up and deal with the clutchless Land Rover. She didn't make it. I am waiting at the boat when our friend Preacher shows up and said he got a call from La Gringa and he was there to take me home. She couldn't get the Suzuki started. When I got home, an hour or so messing around with the little Samurai leads me to believe it's either got a fuel pump or carb float problem. It's got spark, but no evidence of fuel in the carb. Sigh. way to get the Land Rover....except for our friend Malcolm.

This morning he drove me down to the marina, and the lonely Land Rover was still sitting there on the side of the road. We towed it home with one of those nylon tow straps. I noticed a lot of people looking at us, and then realized that while people towing cars around here with straps is pretty common it's not that often you see two white guys with a tow strap and a Land Rover on each end. In any case, we made it and it's now sitting in the driveway with no clutch. Not far from the Suzuki with fuel problems. We just rented a car a few minutes ago.....and as soon as I post's gonna be back to my DIY life. Maybe I will remember to take photos this time. was your weekend? Probably something pretty similar I bet.