Monday, December 17, 2012

UPDATE: Round Peg – Square Hole –Cost ? Slightly Under $500

This episode is for the Guys who keep their vessels running by sacrificing the skin off their knuckles, their backs, their heads, the aches and pains associated with contorting their old bodies into shapes not designed for old bodies and all those bad words that have to be said to get the job done. In other words Ginny says this is Boring.

Ok, I’m pissed, Ginny’s pissed and we both have good reason. Mind you we are not pissed at each other, we are pissed at two different circulator pump suppliers who told us on the phone their pumps were manufactured as replacements for the pump that just failed on our Ford Lehman Diesel engine (after 29 years of great service).

Old Pump
The pump failed in a mild, non catastrophic way as the mechanical engineer designed it many years ago.  The pump in question circulates the antifreeze/coolant through the engine block in order to keep the operating temperature within the range designed for the engine. This pump is rotated by two belts that also operate the engine alternator as the shaft rotates. The common cause of failure is bearing and seal failure around the pump shaft which starts as minor leaking of antifreeze through the weep hole in the pump.  As the seal wears, more and more coolant leaks through the weep hole. Usually it’s a slow process that gives the observant owner or captain a warning prior to an event that compromises the engine.
Old Pump - Round Hole

Such was our case on November 7th during our pre-departure check list. Prior to getting underway we check all engine fluid levels and seek reasons for any apparent leaks. During our check, I found coolant in the bilge and after further investigation it was apparent the culprit was the circulator pump. Without being able to determine whether it was the gasket between the engine or the shaft seal, I removed the pump for closer inspection. The evidence seemed to point to the gasket between the engine and the pump so I cleaned the pump and engine surfaces, cut a new gasket and remounted the pump. After adding new coolant it was evident the culprit was the shaft seal as there was a small drip leak from the pump weep hole.

Decision time. Replace the pump or press in a new shaft seal and bearing. After investigating our options in Brunswick, GA. the best option appeared to be ordering a new pump. So be it and so it was. On Friday Nov 9th we ordered a new pump from a Georgia based company who specializes in rebuilding Lehman Diesels. During the ordering process they were very helpful and we were told they had replacement pumps in stock. Due to UPS Delivery we were told it would be Monday before the pump would be shipped with a delivery date to us on Tuesday, Nov 13th before 10:30 am. We agreed to the extra overnight shipping fees ($68) so we could make the repair and get underway. We also ordered with the pump a “cap” to cover the lower port on the pump. For those who don’t know, the pump was designed with two possible hose connection ports. In the case with our engine the lower port is not used and has to be capped.  Tuesday morning UPS delivered the package and I was stoked until I opened the package only to discover the pump only and no cap. After the realization that the order was incomplete and we were screwed for a next day departure I contemplated our options. 

New Pump - Not So Round Hole
Ok, I will pull the freeze plug from the old pump and use it on the new pump. No problem. Wrong! After inspection of the new pump I discovered the manufacturer apparently decided to cut cost and not ream the ports so the freeze plug from the old pump would not work. Round Peg, Square hole! Mind you this pump cost under $200 back in 2003 when the ports were round and now has increased to almost $500 with irregular unreemed ports.

We took the pump to a local machine shop to determine the cost of reaming or weld the port. The estimate was $75 to $100. I decided make my own cap by purchasing some hose , hose clamps and a freeze plug. No problem, I will skin this cat myself. Well there was a problem, the pump would not fit on the engine with my newly engineered port cap. Mind you this process not only cost time, effort and money to try to fix the  problem created by shitty manufacturing and incompetence in filling a simple order, it cost me lots of skin off my hands and arms, head and lots of aches and pains.  So the decision was made to return the pump to the 1st supplier and order another pump from a different supplier who told us the ports were reamed.

Fast forward two days later when we receive the pump from the second supplier along with a freeze plug. One problem though. The round freeze plug will not fit into the unreamed (square hole). Same problem, different FN day. Now I’m really pissed. I call the second supplier to discuss how they will rectify the problem since they told me the ports were reamed. Their solution, send the pump back to them. Great ! Now we have lost 5 freak’n days because people don’t give a crap about customer service or making sure they actually help their customers get the right parts to fix their problem. No wonder our country is going down the proverbial tubes.

Ok, I have a new pump that needs a round port and the port needs to be capped. I’m not paying another $100 to ream or weld the port closed so give me Mr. Drimel, some JB Weld, a smaller freeze plug, a rubber boot and one hose clamp please. I will fix the FN pump myself.  Minus the details, fast forward one day and the pump has been capped and installed. In goes new coolant and no leaks. Fantastic! Run the engine and bring it up to temperature and crap another leak. A crack in a U-shaped hose. Drain the coolant, replace the hose and add more coolant. Bring the engine up to temperature and crap, another leak. This time it’s the main expansion tank lip where the pressure cap is mounted. It has a small hairline crack. Bring out the JB Weld. Fast forward one day and the engine is very happy. No leaks.

Lessons learned.

      Always anticipate not receiving what you order.
      New parts may not fit old engines or if they do, something else may have to be modified.
      Some people and some businesses don’t give a crap about customer satisfaction so make sure you have good sources for your parts.
      Keep a good supply of JB Weld on your boat.
      Never tell anyone the date you are shoving off to go Cruising. 

      Underway on November 21st.


1 comment:

  1. Hey there Jesse and Ginny.

    Judi and Alain on Ramha, travelling by car down to sunshine.

    We are4 heading for Fort Pierce today, just left S. Augustine and wondered whereabouts you two are?

    We are heading to Sarasota and will rent something for a few weeks and return to Canada by car late February. Let us know where you are so that if we are close we can meet up and have a good gossip.

    Haqd to leave the boat in Canada due to the Hurricane Sandy as they closed the locks on us.




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