It’s Thursday, and I’ve got three major, looming deadlines staring me in the face. I think I’ve got a handle on all of them, but it’s definitely not a relaxing time in my life right now.
On the work front, I’ve migrated two very large web properties into the Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud over the past eight months or so. I’ve been learning the ins and outs of the new technology as I go, and the playing field really has changed. There have been a tonne of little headaches and bugs and glitches, and I’ve been pulled out of bed at 5am more often than I care to admit. And now – just when we’re finally stable – a directive has come down from the Evil Masters to port both sites to a common backend using the latest new Drupal code. On one hand this will open a lot of doors for us, allowing us to scale a lot quicker and use some of the more modern tools, like storing all images on a Content Data Network (CDN) instead of on our current frontend webservers. Still, the deadline for launch is February 12th and that’s coming up faaaaaaaaast. I’ve barely got the preliminary test servers in place!
On the boat front the engine work continues, though the work seems to multiply every time I put time into it. I’m finding a great deal of satisfaction in it, actually – I mentioned to a friend yesterday that it is very much like ‘The Legend of Zelda’, in that the puzzles are difficult, but once solved there is immediate positive feedback (ie the engine works better) and you can move on to the next puzzle, often using knowledge or tools you gained from the previous level.
Yesterday’s miniboss was changing the zincs in the engine. Sacrificial zincs are bits of… well, zinc. The theory is that if you bind several types of metals together in a marine environment, the weakest metal will corrode. Because of some kind of galvanic voodoo, the other metals will not corrode until the weaker metal is completely corroded away. Zinc is a very weak metal, easy to work with and cheap, and so quite a few different parts of the boat have sacrificial lumps of zinc attached to prevent the more important bits from corroding.
The zincs in the engine should be replaced about once a year, more or less depending on use. My engine has three zincs – at $7.00 per zinc, it’s a $21.00 job to replace them all, but compared with approximately $10,000 for a new engine, the price is negligible. The zincs are attached to the end of thick bolts and screwed deep into the heart of the engine.
One of the three zincs is located right on the front of the engine, easily accessed. The other two zincs are located far down the right side, between the engine block and the wall. Once I stepped back and surveyed the engine, I found that I could just barely get a socket wrench in a gap, which allowed me to remove zinc #2 with little difficulty – but zinc #3 was a real hassle. To get at the third zinc I had to remove the fuel lift pump (skills and items gained from previous level!) and the exhaust manifold – and even then the bolt holding the zinc into the engine was seized pretty solidly. I ended up having to extend the socket handle and actually step on it to get the bolt free; never send a hand to do a boot’s job. I swear I heard victory music when that bolt finally gave way.
So far in the past month I have rerouted the fuel lines, replaced the fuel filter, installed and plumbed a second fuel filter, replaced the damaged exhaust water trap ($300, ouch), replaced the impeller in the raw water pump, and replaced the zincs. Remaining, I have to have the alternator tested and serviced, pick up new oil, drain and change the current oil, drain and change the transmission oil, take the heat exchangers to the radiator shop to have them boiled out, pick up antifreeze, install the secondary cooling pump, drain the engine cooling system and replace with antifreeze, reroute the raw water intake through the heat exchangers, rewire the instrument panel, and then get the fuel tank polished. Whew! Someday soon, I will have an engine that runs reliably; ideally one that I do not have to climb into the engine compartment with a screwdriver to start. There’s almost no chance I’ll have all this done by Monday, so I really have to pick and choose what tasks are actually important.
…and then I get to start on the electrical system! For some reason, since returning from Vegas the house batteries aren’t holding a charge anymore. I have no idea why; I need to replace the batteries and purchase and install a modern charge manager. I don’t expect to get that one sorted out for under $1000.
Lastly, I have Sequential Circus coming up on Saturday. This is a huge show, with six live-pa acts performing 45-minute sets at a local show venue slash warehouse space. Everything is coming together smoothly, mostly because it’s our sixth time running this show and we’re all getting really good at it. It’s really starting to look like we’re going to have a solid crowd too, which takes a lot of the financial stress off of my back – if everything works out well, I might just come out of it a hundred bucks richer!
I still haven’t figured out where to go on Monday, and the False Creek / Olympic Village security lockdown continues… more on that soon.