Thursday, April 7, 2011

Engine Removal

Regardless of which approach I was going to take (electric, diesel, outboard), I know we had to get the old engine out of the boat. This was also necessary to help rule out some engines due to size--the engine compartment, accessible as it may be being located under hatch in the cockpit, was still awkward and difficult to measure with the engine in there. This boat was built to last... and not to be maintained. Most aspects are overbuilt, which is a good thing unless you need to take something apart.

Removal of the saildrive in April 2011 revealed an almost circular mounting ring, which actually includes the flange/protrusion seen from beneath. One problem I encountered in spec'ing an engine was the length of the outdrive. It needed to be short enough so that the prop didn't fall beneath the keel line but long enough to keep the prop clear of the hull and protrusion, hence avoiding cavitation issues.

After the engine was removed,  the compartment was scrubbed and degreased, and the no longer needed exhaust system was removed. I may opt to repaint after the new engine has been installed--since there will be glasswork involved, an unpainted surface will be necessary.

Removal of engine with lift

 Engine compartment prior to removal


Compartment with engine removed

Compartment degreased and cleaned

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I've just started the process of repowering Coincidence, our 1982 Victoria 26
(Victoria Yachts, DeBary FL). Actually the process started over a year ago, when the existing auxiliary power source finally failed. It was an OMC Zephyr saildrive. 15hp of gassy, smoky hassles.

My family is fortunate to have this boat. There were less than 10 made and there are less than 5 in operating condition (to my knowledge).  I inherited it from my father who passed away two years ago. He had just one season with the boat, after searching for one for many years. I've yet to write the story of how Coincidence came to be. Another blog some day soon.

I had planned on replacing the engine with a diesel saildrive, however after research and conversations with boatbuilders, it was realized most of the diesels simply would not fit in the engine compartment without extensive modification.

After ruling out diesels I found a gas saildrive/engine system that would fit in the engine compartment, but soon realized the outdrive component would hang too low, putting the prop below the keel line. Another option ruled out. In summary, the saildrive configuration is very limiting. There simply aren't many repower options available. Converting the boat to a shaft was impossible to cost-justify given the boat's age. Another option ruled out was an outboard. Given the traditional sloped transom, a bracket mount device would've had to been made custom. Aside from non-standard mounting issues, the aesthetics of hanging an outboard off the back were hard to swallow. Shortcomings such as the possibility of having the prop come out of the water in heavy weather, and resulting steerage issues from having the prop located behind the rudder as opposed to in front, both helped me rule out this option.

I had considered the electric option when I had first started researching engines (in 2009, before the OMC had even began to show signs of trouble), but ruled it out due to the unknowns: battery life, feasibility, knowledgeable local installers, etc. After having conversations with owners of boats with electric systems I became more comfortable with the idea, and along with the lack of internal combustion engine options that would work, I found electric to be the way to go. I discovered a company I had talked to a few years back, Electric Yacht (Golden Valley, MN), was now selling a UK manufactured outdrive (Sillette) which I had considered last Fall but had ruled out due to their lack of an overall package--one that included a motor, controller, etc. Electric Yacht had before just offered solutions for shaft drive configurations.

Given the displacement and LWL of Coincidence. and considering my expectations and sailing habits, Scott at Electric Yacht recommended their 100ibl system along with a battery bank of four 100Ah AGM batteries. The system is based on a Mars 5kW brushless motor and a Sevcon controller.

While I was hoping to have a boatbuilder do the repower, I've found it necessary to be more involved with the project. There are plenty of boatyards that are knowledgeable with the install of electric systems, one in Chicago was the closest but they had only done one or two. Honestly, I found it quite difficult to get anyone interested in taking on this project. I opted to contract Mendota Boat Works (Madison, WI) to do the glasswork involved with mounting the saildrive, and I plan to handle the mechanicals (battery bank, mounting controller/throttle, wiring, etc.), under the guidance of Electric Yacht, of course.