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Most interesting breakdowns

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Bilge Rat
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Most interesting breakdowns

Post by Bilge Rat » Wed Sep 05, 2018 9:58 am

Couldn't find this subject already discussed in past posts, but it is a topic most of us have been through at one time or another. Do you have an interesting experience you'd care to share? I'll go first:

About 5 years ago after a day on Lake Ontario near Rochester, my future wife and I are coming back to the Port of Rochester at the end of the day. Doing about 2800 RPM in the Lyman when the engine quits cold, no stumbling, no sputtering and won't restart. Up till then it was running great. We're about 1/4 mile from the concrete/stone jetty and in about 40 feet of water. Contemplated dropping the anchor, but every weekend bonehead boater is roaring out of the channel so this didn't seem like the right option. Figured they wouldn't see an anchored boat where no one should be anchoring. I could have called the Coast Guard or a tow. Posted the future wife as a look out for the jetty and wild boaters (she is a great First Mate) and proceeded to look into what went wrong. Quickly determine no spark, figuring a bad coil I proceeded to temporarily wire in a spare coil. Still no spark. Pulled the distributor cap, have her crank the engine and low and behold, the points are not opening up, they are staying completely closed even though the shaft is turning. (I saw a friend's Saab with a similar problem years ago but that was because the distributor drive gear got chewed up and the shaft was no longer turning).

This is a fully rebuilt Graymarine 327 V8 with vacuum advance distributor, so the contact plate pivots somewhat based on the vacuum unit responding for advance. The plate pivots on a hinge pin/rivet (I assume its a hardened pin) and the pin broke. We're now about 1/8 of a mile from the jetty-no pressure.

I manage to jamb a tie wrap tail between the plate and body to hold the points open when they should be. I eyeballed the gap as there's no time to measure or use a dwell meter (yes I had a dwell meter on board!). She starts and we idle into the channel and back to the launch ramp. Impressed the future wife with my Macgyver skill set. Ordered a replacement plate from Lakeland Auto & Marine later that week.

I carry spares for what would be "common" breakdowns; points, condenser, cap, rotor, 2 coils, plugs, wires and fuel related items plus a tool set but who woulda thunk the distributor plate would fail???
Last edited by Bilge Rat on Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
1966 Lyman Cruisette 25 foot "Serenity Now!"
1953 Chris Craft Sportsman 22 foot "Summerwind"

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robertpaul
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Re: Most interesting breakdowns

Post by robertpaul » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:07 am

BR... which is why I have twins on completely independent systems! However, about 25 years ago we were heading to our slip on the stbd side between two finger docks full of smaller boats. Ours is a 35' as you know, with twins. The spacing between the docks/boats was about 45'. Normally lots of room. My usual technique there, was to come in dead slow on the port engine, idling stbd at about 900rpm, get to the right spot and reverse stbd and turn in while going neutral on port. The boat would just about stop, start to pivot, then a few shots on port and drop the revs on stbd and walk it on in. It is really quite easy once you've done it a few times. AS is the nature of these things, our slip was about the third in from the wall to which the finger docks were attached, with a small fishing boat tied up that day for just for laughs. Happily acknowledging some people who stopped to watch me dock our big Chris in a small space, I blissfully went neutral on port. Nothing! Still in gear and the transmission lever completely loose. If I killed port, on stbd only I was in trouble with the boats in the adjoining slips. I goosed stbd still in reverse to stop hard and start a 180degree pivot and kept on it as we spun around. I could not see under the bow to check my clearance but stern was within 3' so I figured I was good. Once the turn was completed I dropped the revs on stbd and threw it into forward and left the area like that was what I had intended all along. The observers seemed impressed. When I got to a clear face dock, I checked below and found that the key had worked loose from the linkage shaft at the transmission. I found it lying underneath, put it back in and later that day put a keeper clamp on it and the other one. The clamps are still there 25 years later and checking them became routine until the restoration.
1937 35' Double Stateroom Enclosed Cruiser

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Bilge Rat
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Re: Most interesting breakdowns

Post by Bilge Rat » Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:52 am

That's an interesting and scary one. All the more so with an audience watching. Reminds me of the Benjamin Franklin quote:

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”
1966 Lyman Cruisette 25 foot "Serenity Now!"
1953 Chris Craft Sportsman 22 foot "Summerwind"

jfrprops
Posts: 2056
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: Powhatan Courthouse Virginia

Re: Most interesting breakdowns

Post by jfrprops » Wed Sep 05, 2018 5:45 pm

this one was more of a nervous breakdown...almost. So I moved my 33 foot seastrake with twins into a tight spot next to a floating work platform I intended to use to do some paint touch up on the hull. I had a flat blue polyprop line and while getting settled I just tied it to a stern cleat and one on the pier and stepped off on the float.....left her out of gear but running....so there was some prop creep....the poly line starts to slip off the cleat on the boat and away she goes....slow but sure...right down a line of boats docked at 90 degrees to her and close...about half a dozen boat between me and disaster....and in front of a yacht club deck full of diners ...watching....I proceed along the dock with the boat moving along with me and the other vessels in between...cool....not running....she gets to the last boat...sailboat with a foremast....I casually walk out on that boat...out along the spar...step aboard like it was planned and shit my pants while driving away.

John in Va
1980 Fairchild Scout 30
19?? custom Argentine Runabout 16'
1954 Whirlwind deluxe dual ckpt 16'
1921 Old Town Charles River 17' (founding Captain, James River Batteau Festival)

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tkhersom
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Location: Edgecomb, Maine

Re: Most interesting breakdowns

Post by tkhersom » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:05 pm

I REFUSE to use polyprop line! Can't stand the stuff.

The first year that we launched American Beauty we were going to have her pulled on the Tuesday after Columbus Day in Damariscotta, Maine. If you know anything about Columbus Day in Damariscotta there is a HUGE event that weekend called "Pumpkin Fest". Thousands of people attend the weekend events with Monday being the finally.
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Sandi and I have made reservations on the main dock for Monday night and are coming into the harbor about mid afternoon. The other thing you need to know about Damariscotta Harbor is that the main dock it just down river from a set of reversing falls. In front of those reversing falls is a Rt. 1 bypass bridge that is quite low. AB would not make it under that bridge. We happen to be coming into the harbor on a strong incoming tide. Ya, if anything goes wrong we are getting swept into a low bridge. We gently pass our dock space to get a run against the tide and dock in front of a rather large audience. I shift the starboard engine into reverse to make the swing against the current while looking at the fore mentioned low bridge that the northern Atlantic current is trying to crash us up against. Just about as Beauty makes her full swing the starboard engine dies cold dead. Now I am on one engine against the current trying to land port side. To make matters even a little more interesting there is a row boat between me and the dock with a young lad getting rowing lessons. Being that AB is a port helm I was able to explain to the row boaters that even though I was aware that they had the right of way that I had just lost my starboard engine and would appreciate it if they would drift out of the way and allow me to dock without incident (I hoped). This announcement of course grabbed the attention of most of the people on the dock making us the focus of attention. Fortunately the row boat drifted back, the port engine kept running, and we were able to land without incident. Even the SeaTow captain came over and congratulated me on making such a graceful landing under such pressure.
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Troy in ANE - Former President CCABC

1957 CC 21' Continental "Yorktown" (Mom's boat)
https://www.chris-craft.org/boats/22625/
1958 CC 38' Connie "American Beauty"
https://www.chris-craft.org/boats/22607/
1985 Formula 242LS "Gottago"
1991 Formula 36PC "Band Aids"

Life Is Too Short To Own An Ugly Boat

jfrprops
Posts: 2056
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 10:41 pm
Location: Powhatan Courthouse Virginia

Re: Most interesting breakdowns

Post by jfrprops » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:37 am

a true clean your pants out moment ole buddy...but nicely done! and you are right polyprop has no place on the water...

Been boating at Reedville show...poor weather....great friends!!

John in Va
1980 Fairchild Scout 30
19?? custom Argentine Runabout 16'
1954 Whirlwind deluxe dual ckpt 16'
1921 Old Town Charles River 17' (founding Captain, James River Batteau Festival)

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Bilge Rat
Posts: 295
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:02 pm

Re: Most interesting breakdowns

Post by Bilge Rat » Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:28 am

Having twins made it possible to pull that off with grace. A single engine boat would have been a different story. The threat of crashing into the bridge heightens the need for emergency measures even if all you had was tossing out the anchor hopefully in time.

Nicely done emergency measures you performed!
1966 Lyman Cruisette 25 foot "Serenity Now!"
1953 Chris Craft Sportsman 22 foot "Summerwind"

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