Engine Battle, Round One, Fight!

As I’ve mentioned here recently, my engine (“Maude”) is not currently starting. This is actually a bit of a hassle, as it means I’m pretty much stuck here in the middle of False Creek until I get her working again – not that I actually had anywhere I wanted to go, mind you.  Still, the knowledge that you can’t go anywhere is like a pizza-cheese burn on the roof of your mouth; not really painful per se, but irritating and impossible to completely forget about.

Fortunately, this is also the week that I began my ‘Marine Diesel Engine Maintenance’ class with Cooper Boating over on Granville Island.  I’ve been to one class so far, and I can already tell that the $399 spent on the class was a very, very good idea!  Three more three-hour classroom sessions and one Saturday-afternoon shop session to go – but even after a single class I’ve gained more understanding of my engine than an entire summer of being around it, blindly trusting it to work when needed.

One interesting part of the class – and in the sailing ‘scene’ in general around Vancouver – is the age group.  At thirty-three years old, I am no spring chicken – but I am the youngest person in the class by at least twenty years.  I’ve also noticed this at anchorages and marinas; I have to admit it puzzles me a bit as so many people that I talk with express a longtime interest in sailing and the liveaboard lifestyle.  Is it really the kind of dream that people put off until retirement, at which point you don’t have the energy or resilience to take long voyages?  That makes no sense to me, but would explain why so many sailboats sit in the marina and never go anywhere.

Regardless, I cannot take any voyages while Maude is still not starting.  At first I thought it was water in the fuel lines – that still may be the case, but now that I’ve drained the water from the fuel/water separator and opened the air-bleed bolts, I still am unable to feed diesel through the fuel lines using the fuel lift pump.  I am beginning to think that perhaps the problem is actually in the fuel lift pump itself; these apparently have a diaphragm that wears out eventually, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if mine has worn out.

This weeks’ class was mostly about the importance of the lubrication system (ie, engine oil) and the workings of the cooling system (ie raw/fresh water or antifreeze), both of which will require my attention in short order – however, neither of those systems can be maintained without first repairing whatever is going on with my fuel delivery system.  Fortunately next week’s class is about exactly that – so if I cannot figure out this problem on my own this week, I have a targeted class next Monday to help me.

Maude is the last major ‘mystery’ system on Tie Fighter, and I will be her master – or at least her capable attendant.