Cooling problems

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Wed 26 Feb 2014 01:23
Our air conditioning has failed last summer.  OK, only wusses use aircon.  We don’t use it much, but there are still some windless days in the tropics when the boat heats up so much during the day that it is difficult to get to sleep in the evening with just a fan for cooling.  The aircon failed last summer and getting it fixed has been on my “to do” list ever since. 
The engineer showed up yesterday and his diagnosis was that the expansion valve has failed.  Unfortunately the expansion valve is welded into the coolant circuit, so fixing it would require taking the unit away for repairs.  His estimate was a couple of thousand dollars and was it really worth doing the repair on a 12 year old unit?  Which makes sense, but the quote for a new unit was $8,000, with four weeks to wait for it to be imported from Holland.
I phoned around and found a local manufacturer who can supply an equivalent unit for $4,400, available by the middle of next week.  Now all I have to to is work out how to interface our existing Webasto controls to the new unit.  Should be fun.
Our other cooling problem is that we like to sleep with our hatch open, but any rain (or even heavy dew) ends up dripping into the bedroom.  You can get special hatch hoods, but none for 48 inch hatches.  I emailed the company that makes the smaller covers, but they would not consider making me some larger covers as a custom order.  So I am making them myself.  How hard can it be?
The first step was to make a prototype out of aluminium sheet.  We checked that it did the trick, deflecting first a bucket of water and then the overnight dewfall.
Now we just have to use the prototype as a template for heat-forming a piece of acrylic sheet.  Only problem is that we don’t have a 48 inch oven.  I tried slumping a test piece over the template using a heat gun, but I had to heat the acrylic too much before it would slump under gravity, and the plastic started to bubble in places.  Tomorrow Andrea and I will try hand forming over the template, wearing heatproof gloves.
The prototype hatch hood
Round 1 of the heat-forming left something to be desired
Anastasia’s newly covered steps (and flag)