Sunshine On Home Free

May 14, 2022

As I sit on Home Free waiting for the next adventure to begin, I have sun warming the boat and many projects to keep me company. There isn’t much in here about boating because the boat hasn’t moved, but I have completed a number of important (to me) projects and I utilize this space as much for a log as to inform you, my readers, with details about the journey.

I arrived on the boat on May 8th. Jinhee was travelling to South America again and I wanted to attack a few projects while I was tied to a dock, close to boating amenities, so I came down earlier than planned for the trip North into the Chesapeake Bay.

Currently the supply chain constraints around the world make it hard to get a wide variety of items, and air conditioning units for boats are on the list of things hard to get. I tracked two down with Beard Marine in West Palm Beach and made that my primary project. As well, the difficulties with my davit have been documented in prior posts and I finally broke down and ordered a wireless davit controller from KarTech in the hopes that I will have something dependable for the foreseeable future. Another project has been to replace the flourescent ballast lights in the engine room with LED lighting which will dramatically reduce the energy consumption (not to mention weight) and hopefully increase the brightness in the engine room.

I did end up replacing the AC unit in the port side of the salon as well as the forward cabin with new units. The port side salon was woefully undersized to cool off the salon in any meaningful way, and so I replaced a 12k BTU unit with a 16k BTU unit. The effect was noticeable within a minute. Not to go into too much detail here, but . . . here is some detail.

First off the units that came out (salon and forward cabin) have a slightly different layout. I replaced the Dometic VCD12KZ50/1-417A  with a Dometic DTG16-2371-410A 7MR. In the old version there are three plumbing lines, a cold air vent and three wires.

  • 1 – Water line in
  • 2 – Water line out
  • 3 – condensation drain
  • 4 – 6″ cold air vent
  • 5 – Wires are 220-240V electricity, including Line 1, Line 2 and neutral

The second unit was a Dometic VCD10KZ50/2 – 417A which was replaced with a DTG10-2371-410A 6MR. Similar to the above, but only 10k BTU and a 6″ cold air vent

In the old units, the line in/out are at 90 degree angles to the unit itself, but in the new version, they angle just slightly toward the side of the unit. This means that the unit must be installed at a different angle unless the plumbing is to be redone. That is no easy task on a boat. Complicating matters, the vent comes out at the ‘opposite end’ relative to the old units. In the new units, the vent can be rotated about 160 degrees so you can almost, get it to the ‘correct’ side, but it doesn’t quite go. The wiring isn’t that hard and the control box is much larger, is a separate piece that can be mounted externally and is easy to manage.

In the end the difficulties related to

(1) understanding that the temperature sensor shipped with the control box should be removed and the sensor in the Passport I/O control would do the work of shutting the unit on and off.

(2) the output vent is now 7″ (not 6″ like the old one) so a reducer was required to push the air into the vent. I was warned that doing this could cause the unit to freeze (from not moving enough air). I may put a ‘T’ on the system to dump some air at the floor level and prevent a freeze.

(3) Securing the unit to the floor with the clamps was not hard but not easy. The shape has changed and securing clamps needed to be in hard to reach places. They are well secured though.

I now have both units installed and a lot more cold air in the boat which should make this summer more comfortable if it gets hot.

I don’t have any good shots of the new install of the remote for the davit, but it was interesting because I made some mistakes. First off, I had to figure out how to use deutsch wiring harnesses. They are truly easy, but buying parts and tools also took some time. All in I probably saved $2,000 over having someone else do this install which is more a comment about the highway robbery underway by the manufacturer, than it is about my great skills. The device itself, a wireless remote control is sold by KarTech, who manufactures and sells the component for $710 (tax in) while Steelhead Marine who does nothing to the device wanted $2,000USD. As someone said to me once, highway robbery still exists in various forms.

In essence, I took out the old connector (a Deutsch 12 pin) and installed a deutsch connector on the wireless radio supplied by Kar-Tech and then plugged it in where the old wired remote was plugged in. It didn’t work at first because I missed a small bit on the wiring diagram (double up the wires for up/extend and down/retract), but once I got that sorted out, it all worked marvelously. Hopefully that will be the end of our davit troubles for a while.

One other assault on my wallet was attempted when Steelhead tried to sell me a ‘bump out cover’ for $272. This seemed an un-necessary item, and I easily installed my wireless radio inside the boom, but it wasn’t as free as I thought. I did have to run to the hardware store and buy $2.73 worth of screws and washers to secure it well. Sarcasm is included for free.

[Note that I did experience a small glitch after this was installed, the same as before, failure to boom down. The only option left is a bad wire on the boom down function. I jiggled some wires and it started working. Be ready to change out those wires completely in future!!]

Finally, I installed the first of four new lights in the engine room. Another owner commented recently about their expensive, but well worth it, upgrade to LED lights in the engine room. I am not sure that my solution will work, because I didn’t spend very much. My lights were acquired for $32 each, and installing the first one took less than 2 hours, most of which was spent trying to figure out how to get the old fixture off. To be fair, I spent hours thinking through the plan, but I suspect the next three lights will go in in less than an hour each.

If they hold up to the heat and being tossed around while at sea, I will consider this a win. For now, I don’t foresee any problems, but despite my reputation, I am an optimist sometimes. Here is a photo of the first one installed and shining a LOT more light on the engine room. The brightness is astounding and my power consumption should drop by 90%. Yay!

The ballast to the left is the ‘old’ fixture. On the right is a new, smaller, brighter and less intrusive LED.

The picture above looks a little messy but you can also see the new fan to vent heat out the stack, the new exhaust blanket and the light (right hand ceiling) vs. the old (left hand ceiling).

I am also enjoying cycling in the warmth on flat roads. It’s kind of nice for a change.

Next up, I will meet Jinhee in Miami for a conference. Unfortunately she won’t make it to the boat, but I will return to the boat and be joined by a couple of friends from my days as a student at Mount Allison University. We will run the boat north into the Chesapeake while catching up on 35 years of missed conversations. More updates to come.

P.S. I did forget to mention one of my projects BEFORE I came to the boat. I have been constantly annoyed by the cover over the loud hailer at the pilothouse, and so made a new cover. I think it looks pretty good. it is easy to take on and off using loxx pull it up fasteners.

Loud Hailer cover – fits perfectly (top centre of image)

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