Blanca Speaks! – Blanca, 19Nov2012

My apologies for the long interval since my last entry, but I haven’t really had any *visible* progress until this week.

I’ve been working on the port engine (“Patty”– the starboard one is “Selma”) since March.  This included removing all the engine components including the cylinder head.  I was prepared to do a complete overhaul, including pistons, sleeves, rings, etc. but I discovered that would require pulling the engine, which I hadn’t planned to do. In any case, once removing the head, the pistons and sleeves looked clean enough not to need that attention.


The rest of the summer and fall were consumed with cleaning or replacing parts and reassembling everything:

  • Completely new exhaust components with a custom exhaust injection elbow.

  • New starter and alternator with new belt.

  • Rebuilt coolant heat exchanger.

  • New raw-water plumbing.  The original strainer worked fine once I hand-made new cork gaskets for it. The new system required a vented loop with an overboard vent.

  • New sensors (oil pressure, water temperature, etc.) throughout.

  • Reconditioned shift and throttle cables.

  • Cleaned and lubricated control levers at the main helm and on the flybridge.

  • New wiring harness, including battery cables.

  • Start and stop secondary solenoids.

  • New primary stop solenoid.

  • Rebuilt injectors.

  • All new hoses.  Every last bit of old rubber was replaced.

  • New filters (one oil and three fuel).

  • New engine control panel.


 After chasing leaks and a mis-adjusted starter solenoid, I was finally able to crank reliably last week.  Then, performing the entire fuel bleed procedure approximately 5 times, she started to cough and blow smoke, but didn’t start before the battery ran down.  I put the battery on the charger and went home for the week with cautious optimism.

Saturday, I did the fuel bleed procedure again and was able to get more spluttering, and finally she revved!  It was then I discovered I’d hooked up the throttle and shifter exactly backwards.  I gave her full throttle and she cranked into life!  I have never felt so validated– I’d been working “in the dark” since March, hoping I wasn’t doing things wrong to the point of calling in an expert.

Watch the engine start on YouTube.

I tried the shifter and the shaft turned, only in reverse from what I’d hoped since the shift cable was reversed at the shift lever.  But I was rewarded with a gentle nudge against the lines, in both reverse and forward gears.  The shaft-log started leaking as expected, and was quickly fixed with a couple turns of a wrench on the packing gland.

She stopped after a few minutes and wouldn’t start again, but I knew what was going on.  Another pass through the fuel bleed procedure (seeing bubbles in the right places, indicating there was indeed more air in the system), and she started right up.  In fact, once a little warm, I could set the throttle at idle and a quick press on the start button and she’d be idling almost instantly.

A little fiddling with the alternator wiring and tachometer calibration, and it’s done!  One engine functional!  Then I cleaned up the house and moved stuff around in preparation for opening up the starboard engine.  That starts next week!

Finally, I want to publicly thank Phil at Polaris Panels ( for the excellent work he did on my custom engine panel, and his spot-on electrical advice.  He already did a fine job on my AC panel and has earned my business for the DC panel when I get to that point.

Also, Marcus at Transatlantic Diesels ( has been an invaluable resource both for parts and advice.  TAD are the experts on Perkins engines, and they know what they’re doing.  Thanks Marcus!

Now I’m ready to tear into “Selma”.  This should go faster, now that I “know what I’m doing.”  I know, I know… famous last words!