Saturday, 3 March 2012

What is service?

I woke Wednesday morning to find the icebox defrosting without me initiating it. The power was on but nothing was happening. I switched it off and on again and noticed arcing sound followed by an electrical burning smell. After accessing the power supply (under the drawer in the dinette seat) I saw nothing untoward but on smelling the case it was clear something was not right inside.

As it was still under warranty I called Freezetec (where I bought the system) and explained what had happened. No problems, we have one in stock and will replace it immediately. 'Would you like me to bring in proof of purchase for the warranty?'  No - we have your details on record and have already verified that the power supply is still under warranty.  Three hours later the icebox was up and running.

True service is not what a company does in the good times but what they do when things go wrong

Thanks guys, I appreciate what you have done. If your in South East Queensland and need refrigeration service or a new system give Freezetec a call - see links on home page

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Electrical system overhaul - Pt 1 Battery charger

Being an American built boat Crosswind has both a 110VAC and 12VDC electrical system. In Australia we use 240V as the AC power source. Since I moved aboard in December 2011 charging the batteries has been a pain.  The solar panels don't quite keep up with my power usage and running the engine to charge the batteries is a pain. I decided to bite the bullet and buy a 240V battery charger. 

On the reccommendation of other liveaboards and after talking with their service department I purchased a 25 amp Durst SMARTcharger which is both a battery charger and 12V power supply (while berthed). Durst battery chargers are micro processor controlled to vary the charge rate in three stages from what is known as the Bulk Rate (about 60 – 70% charged) down to the Absorption Rate (almost fully charged) then finally the Float Mode (minimal charge rate) that will maintain the battery in a full state of charge and maximise battery life. Should the level of charge decrease, the charge rate automatically increase to compensate thereby maintaining full battery charge. Set and forget - works for me.

Charger installed
:) fully charged batteries

Before I start any further work on the electrical system I need to know how much power I need and what 12V storage I need to meet those needs. In Part 2 I'll post my initial analysis.

Anyone want to buy a 110V charger?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Head update - Exemplary service

Received the following email from 'A Better Way to Go'

Hi Jeff,

We have just read your blog! Looks good.
After looking at your photos, would you like a right angle vent cowling instead of the straight through one you have used?
See photos attached.
It will allow the hose to run off in the correct angle for your installation.


It was just what was needed.  I wrote back to ask how much - no cost, we will send it to you. Just send back the straight one when you have the right angle one installed. Three days later I had the new vent installed.

Thanks guys - a testament to your customer service principals - not expected but very much appreciated

For a full view of the head refit see the photos page

Right angle

Monday, 30 January 2012

Air Head install

When I purchased my Air Head I also had to decide how it should be vented. I had read where some installations had vented through the hull using a loop to prevent water ingestion when the rail was buried. The advantages were that it uses an existing hole in the hull and most of the vent hose is hidden within cabinets. The disadvantages are that it requires installation of a continuous extraction fan which although efficient draws power from the battery and requires extra wiring. The alternative is a day/night solar vent in the cabin ceiling. This requires a hole in the cabin top and an exposed vent hose in the head compartment. On the bright side, no extra wiring (inbuilt battery that charges during the day and runs the fan all night) and unlikely it will be immersed. I chose the solar vent and after measuring its position three times (and getting a fellow liveaboard to check it twice) cut the hole in the deck. I would like to say it fitted perfectly the first time but I cut it a little under size and had to enlarge the hole - easier to take extra out than to put it back.  Note the thickness on the deck core.

Base preparation
Base installed
The layout of my head compartment was always going to present a challenge to fitting an Air Head. The existing platform was wide enough for the solids tank but did not provide any support for the liquids tank. Adrian from 'A Better Way to Go' said that the tank needed at least 90mm (3 1/2") of support under the back edge so I cut out a base from 12mm marine ply to fit under the solids tank and 90mm to support the liquids tank and screwed it in place.

A quick check for fitment confirmed what the initial measurements hinted - the head with the standard handle was too wide. I had purchased the ratchet attachment for this purpose but for now I have trimmed 12mm (1/2") from the standard handle and I'll see how that works.

A special thanks to Adrian and Carol from A Better Way to Go for their support and patience in answering all my questions both before and after buying the Air Head.

Vent installed

Friday, 23 December 2011

Head refit

The head, a must have on all cruising boats but for boats built before the requirement of a holding tank it can be a challenge. Crosswind has a manual head (no macerator) and a small holding tank - 380mm X 300mm X 450mm (15" X 12" X18'') and if used daily would require pumping out at least once a week, which is a 30 minute trip each way down the river.  At heart I am a closet environmentalist and will not pollute our waterways, marine parks or oceans. So what are the options?
  • Keep what I have, make best use of the amenities block and when I go cruising hope that each leg is short so I can use a pump out station before the tank is full.
  • Fit a bigger holding tank. the only space suitable (above the waterline and size) is under the forward bunk but this takes away valuable storage space and would necessitate relocation the water maker. or
  • Think outside the box and install a composting head. Turns waste into compost, is self contained and environmentally friendly - what more could I want.
There are two well known brands on the market which are suitable for yachts, Airhead and Nature's Head. Both are similar but in my case the choice was easy, Airhead is available and supported in Australia, Nature's Head is not. I ordered the head from 'A Better Way To Go' in Melbourne and two days later it arrived. The staff went out of their way to answer my questions and even measure the base to check if it would fit on the existing shelf in the head. Thanks guys!

The first step was to remove the head - easy as it had not been connected for over 12 months. The next was to remove the holding tank and associated plumbing - not too hard but time consuming removing the plumbing. For now I have left the waste spigot in the deck and will decide what to do when its time to re-caulk the deck. Looking at the head I decided it could do with a freshen up similar to the forward cabin repaint. Looks like the head won't be in before Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Icebox upgrade

Original plate
The more I read the purchase survey, the more troubled I become. In it the surveyor states "Refrigeration is 12 volt sealed unit built in under the Dinette seat Frd of the galley and is in G/C".  In fact the compressor and control unit were sitting in the locker (not screwed down or secured), disconnected (no caps on the refrigerant lines) and no power connected. On removing the unit I found it had corrosion on the compressor and no oil in the unit - not a good sign. It means the oil had absorbed moisture and the interior of the unit was also likely to have corrosion. Not what I would call good condition!

Where to from here? I could have re-oiled, refitted and re-gassed the old unit and hoped it would work which was unlikely and would cost around $500 or I could take this opportunity to reconfigure the icebox and buy a new unit. I chose the latter. The icebox was a single unit of about 5 cubic feet (140 litres) which could either be used as a fridge or freezer. As I wanted both I decided to:
  • install a divider to form both fridge and freezer compartments
  • install a freezer unit in the outboard compartment, and
  • install a small thermatically controlled fan in the divider to draw air from the freezer to cool the refrigeration compartment. 
The thing to note when modifying a boat (and not just a Westsail) - nothing is quite square and if there is a taper it won't be even on both sides. As the divider was going inside the icebox it did not need to have thick insulation so I bought a 2" (50mm) core with alloy on both sides from a refrigerated van repair shop ($10 from their scrap bin) and shaped it to fit. If your going to replicate this on your Westsail note that:
  • the icebox tapers from top (325mm) to bottom (260mm)
  • you will need a drain hole from the freezer into the fridge
  • leave a gap at the top (1/4" max) to allow for a cap over the foam insulation and a seal between the two compartments
  • A hole at the top to fit the fan between the two compartments. I used a small 12V computer fan inside a 2" plastic pipe joiner
I purchased a Weaco ColdMachine comprising a CU-94 cooling unit (Danfoss BD50F) and a VD-16 circulating air evaporator. Brendan from FreezeTec was a great help, describing all the different systems and options and taking the time to explain the effect each system would have on the electrical system. I chose the circulating air evaporator because it cools quickly and although it draws more power when operating does so for a far shorter time. In addition I added a switching power supply so that it will run off shore power when connected and automatically revert to batteries when disconnected. I used the existing thermostat to control the fan in the divider. The unit came pre-gassed and was relatively easy to install as I used the holes from the previous installation.



Total cost was about $1,500.