Friday, April 16, 2010

Report from the Chief Engineer April 2010

There has not been much happening with the Chief lately. The main reason is that Amel builds these yachts so good that there is not more than routine maintenance, the changing of light bulbs, and cleaning and waxing.

Recently friends on two separate yachts had refrigerator problems. This can be a huge problem for the Chief because the Admiral will continue to make all sorts of observations until the refrigerator is repaired. Well, one friend had to cut a hole in a steel bulkhead to gain access to his fridge to be able to change a thermostat. In doing so, he nicked a refrigerant line and had to get a professional to solder the line and recharge it with Freon. He could have gained access to it by removing most of the Kitchen…seems as though his boat builder builds the yacht around the fridge. The other friend had to remove his fridge and completely replace it. He found that the fridge was welded in place and after removing most of the galley cabinets, he had to get someone onboard with a cutting torch.

Our Amel has 3 separate refrigeration units. All 3 can run as refrigerators with a small internal freezer, and 2 of them are chest type which can be switched to be complete freezers with temperatures cold enough for very hard ice cream, or switched to be normal refrigerators . The remaining one is an upright with a front door opening. It is made completely of stainless steel with a finished mahogany door.

We recently had the mechanical thermostat begin to act up on the upright fridge. The fridge was cooling properly but it was turning back on after it cycled off...then off again. I figured that the contacts in the mechanical thermostat were worn out. Before I started several people urged me to change the Amel specified mechanical thermostat to an electronic thermostat. However, an electronic thermostat is finicky to the changes in voltage we get on a boat and when they quit, they quit…no acting up. I ordered a replacement mechanical thermostat for less than $50. With some help from the Admiral, I completely removed the refrigerator by unscrewing 2 wood screws and 2 thumb screws, whew. We placed an old table cloth on the galley dining room table, placed the fridge on top of it, turned down the A/C, and replaced the thermostat. While we were at it, we cleaned and vacuumed the coils. In less than 90 minutes it was re-installed and cooling properly. I documented the process in these two on them to enlarge.

The other BIG thing is cleaning and polishing. Well, in this part of the world you can hire folks who do a wonderful job at cleaning and polishing boats. The only challenge is that no one has really trained them properly. If any other yachtie runs into local cleaning and polishing people who arrive at the boat with a toothbrush, they have been most certainly trained by the Chief. The toothbrush is used to get to all the nooks and crannies so that the stainless and fiberglass shines perfectly...hell when you pay someone $15 to $30 per day, you don't necessarily need speed...hire them for a week and get everything perfect. I even had a young fellow in Indonesia go up both masts and polish the masts and stainless rigging to the masts. BTW, he is now in the yacht cleaning business in Bali.

It is a tough job being the Chief, but someone has to do it.

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