Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Expanding Stuffing Box Project!

About two weeks ago, Ken removed the packing from the stuffing box.  It was no surprise when replacing the packing in Nirvana's stuffing box turned out to be another big project ... that's a boat for ya, right?!  Since we'd never replaced the packing on our boat, we figured it was in bad shape and should be replaced while on the hard.  The first challenge of the project is getting to the stuffing box ... who decided to place it directly under the galley cabinet?!  This would have been a lot easier if placed a little further up or down.

After a few cuts & scrapes on Ken's hands, he was able to separate the stuffing box with some PB Blaster and two wrenches ... each turning in the opposite direction.  Ken was then able to pick away the old packing with a tiny tool that reminded me of the dentist.  The packing came apart in pieces (first pic above) ... it was definitely overdue for a replacement.  

We were hoping that we'd find a smooth shaft after removing the packing, as we'd like to use the GFO dripless packing.  While we half-expected the brass shaft to have grooves, we didn't expect to see what can only be described as some sort of delamination?  I didn't wanna risk my life by asking Ken to move over so I could take a picture, but I was able to take a quick pic ...

We quickly decided that the shaft needed to be removed, so Ken tried to separate the shaft from the transmission coupling ... not so easy.  PB Blaster and some tools weren't gonna do it.  After doing some research, Ken went back to the boatyard the next day with some bolts to try and pry the shaft free ... nope, that didn't work either.  After more research, Ken ordered a coupler puller from Catalina Direct.  Between moving out of our condo and stressing about the paint job on Nirvana's deck, we were really hoping that the $50 tool would do the trick.  About a week later, we had the tool and Ken was back at the boatyard ... still no luck!  Would you believe that the part sold by Catalina Direct for the Catalina 30's didn't fit?!  

Luckily, all hope had not been lost.  We still had one option that we probably should have done from the beginning ... cut that thing off!  We'd already decided that we were going to bring the shaft to a local machinist to have a new one made, and a new coupling isn't as expensive as we had feared (less than $100) .. so why waste any more time trying to fight this old shaft and coupling?

After spending Halloween weekend getting settled in our new place, Ken went back to the boatyard last week .. with a grinder.  In no time he had the shaft cut and removed .. Hallelujah!  Ken was able to speak with a local machinist, who came highly recommended and sounded like he knew exactly what we needed.  Unfortunately, he was out of town for the week but at least we have a plan ... and plenty of things to keep us busy in the meantime.  We needed to catch up on our jobs, and we ordered some more Interlux paint.  The paint just arrived, so hopefully we can meet with the machinist this week and do some touch-ups on Nirvana's deck soon.

Looking at the coupling and shaft confirmed that we made the right choice in deciding to cut the shaft and replace them both.  The shaft is bent and pretty beat up.

Ken was able to remove the propeller with a prop puller pretty easily, and the stuffing box can be cleaned instead of buying a new one ... about $100 saved.

Look at the shaft in the coupling ... nothing was gonna get that out!  It looks like it's molded in there.

Things like shafts and stuffing boxes aren't where you wanna take a shortcut.  After all, if it's gonna happen ... it's gonna happen out there!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Living Small - A Peek Inside!

Our new front porch, and entrance on the left ...

Ken and I are finally settled in our new, tiny condo! The last week of October was consumed with work, more trips to my Dad's & Goodwill, more trips back and forth between our "old" condo & "new" condo, and a day and a half of cleaning the "old" condo. Nirvana was temporarily on hold until we got our lives back in order. We turned over the keys to our "old" landlords on Halloween afternoon and were comfortably numb on our rented furniture that night.  A Halloween celebration would have been welcome, as we were glad to have yet another project behind us ... but Mother Nature wasn't cooperating.  It rained all day & night on Halloween, and all day the next day too.  The rain wasn't all bad ... we got some much needed rest on Halloween night and on Sunday we organized our new pad while watching the Saints defeat the Giants ...Who Dat!

 While getting rid of so much stuff took some time, it wasn't near as difficult as moving from our house to our first condo last year. However, we're glad that we downsized in stages instead of going straight to this tiny condo or straight to the boat from a house ... that would have been tough!  Our "old" condo was 2 bedrooms & around 1200 sq ft, and our "new" condo is one bedroom and less than 670 sq ft but we really don't need anything bigger, and we're loving it!  When we were raising our daughter, we loved owning a house with a yard and all the "stuff" that came with it.  We enjoyed having a place for parties & barbecues with friends, and space for our daughter to have her own friends over for a visit.  However, life changes and now that our daughter has her own home we just don't need it all. We're feeling lighter, and it feels good!

Our tiny condo has a cute front porch ...

and a garage in the back, which makes Ken's life a lot easier until he's "retired".

So how does living small look to us right now? We don't have anything valuable .. heck, we don't have much of anything left, so come inside!

A roomy living area with an open floor plan ... plenty of space. The condo came furnished but with nothing else, except for the big clock , television & the wall sconces. Notice the sailboat picture ... I've loved that picture for years, way before I thought we'd ever buy a sailboat. Our pictures on the wall, lamps, candles, Buddha & sentimental items make this our home .. even though we're not fans of black vinyl.  We're gonna throw some blankets over the sofa & chair so it feels better and will be protected from any damage. Notice LSU (our daughter's a proud graduate) on the tv?  I swear I couldn't have planned that ... geaux Tigers!

We could have done without the table, since (gasp) we've eaten on the sofa in front of the tv for years.  Since the table isn't ours, it's kinda pushed into the corner so we could add our desk.  We brought our small end table & placed it in the corner for our wireless printer .. fits perfectly.  We also purchased a black, plastic shelving unit for our spices, canned goods, etc.  See it in the hallway? Just past that is the door to the garage, and just forward of it is the bathroom.  The door behind the recliner ... our bedroom.  The tiny laundry room is next to the microwave.  That's it .. not cramped at all.

View from the kitchen ... and yes, I'm afraid of the dentist!  I brought our porthole mirror ... bought that many years ago too.  I guess we were meant to buy a sailboat.  Can you tell that shades of orange are my favorite colors?

One small bathroom has forced me to get rid of all sorts of bath stuff that I never used.

Our bedroom is just off the den and his a large window overlooking the porch.  We brought the chair and the shelves in front of the window.  Oh, and also our flat screen tv that's on the dresser across from the bed .. why not?!  The shelves provide extra storage space for sweaters, books and sentimental things.  We also brought the large basket in the corner, which is perfect for storing our papers.

A few keepsakes ... the painting that our daughter made us, Kokopelli (from Grand Canyon) and check out the books ... The Boat Galley, Cost Conscious Cruiser, and Live on the Margin are among them.

We have one closet that Ken & I share with boat stuff. I got rid of a ton of clothes to make this happen. There's just enough room for a few pair of shoes ... all our summer shoes are under the bed.

We even have access to a pool and a gym.  I can't wait to use the elliptical machine!
There's also a barbecue area on the bayou, but watch out for gators!

Downsizing to our 30 foot sailboat will mean eliminating even more stuff, but most of what will be eliminated seems to be related to work ... the clothes, the paperwork, the tools.  Once we're ready to move aboard, we won't need all that work stuff.  The sentimental items that can't go on the boat will go to my Dad's for storage.  While we know downsizing yet again will be a challenge, we know we can do it.  I think the main challenge of storage on the boat will be for the boat spares & tools.  A wardrobe of mainly sandals & bathing suits won't take up much space, so that should be pretty easy to deal with.  I do get a little anxious about storage of our canned goods, pots & pans ... where will we keep it all?!  While I hate to cook and don't need a lot of kitchen stuff, just the thought of nesting pots, a few plates & bowls, utensils, coffee cups & wine glasses makes my head spin.  Remember, it's a Catalina 30 ... not a ton of storage.  We do plan on turning our aft cabin into our "garage", with plastic bins for the boat spares/tools and other random things.  This should be a huge help ... if I can only get Ken in the habit of putting things where & how he found them.

You know, things often work out as they should.  If our previous landlords hadn't decided to jack up the rent $200 bucks a month when we couldn't commit to another year, we'd still be living in the "big" condo.  Instead, we've got another round of downsizing behind us, we're digging the new place, we're much closer to the marina & living back on the side of town we prefer,  and we're saving $350 a month ... $550 if you include the increase in rent the old landlord wanted.  Yep, I'm glad our old landlords wanted more money.

Now that this is behind us, hopefully we can finally focus on Nirvana when not working.  The past three years have been consumed with selling our house, giving our daughter her dream barn wedding, building our daughter & son-in-law's house (no, we didn't pay for it), restoring a flooded rental (twice), renovating another rental due to deadbeat tenants, and moving twice ... while working.  Whew, sure hope we have no more floods or evictions.

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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