Getting Intimate with an Injection Pump

Alongside Ushuaia
Weather: Sunny, windy, cool

This morning Roxanna, the local interpreter and yachtie general problem solver, and I went to visit Mr Jorge with the injection pump to see if we could get it sorted out. It took a little while for me to get Jorge to understand what I thought was wrong and I think he was very reluctant to accept that he had assembled the pump incorrectly but he agreed to look at it. After some initial dismantling, inspection and reassembling Jorge decided it was best for us to leave the pump and the workshop manual with him and to come back later in the day. But as we were waiting for a taxi to arrive Jorge called us back in and said he had fixed it. I was quite happy with this and very keen to get back to the boat, fit the pump and see what happened. Back at the boat, pump fitted, I tried to start the engine. It made some hopeful sounds but again would not start. I thought this very strange as I had the engine running yesterday and once again went into trouble shooting mode to try and work out what was wrong. I opened up inspection plates in the side of the engine and fiddled with the governor and fuel rack. Cracking fuel lines and turning the engine over with the throttle set at different positions I came to the conclusion that one cylinder was pumping correctly but two were still back to front. I tried starting the engine with the throttle set to minimum and sure enough the engine roared into life and once again the only way I could shut the engine down was by disconnecting the fuel lines to the injectors. “Well stuff this,” I thought, “I will fix the damned thing myself.” I had watch Jorge while he had adjusted the plungers and reckon I knew what to do. The only real problem was that working on an injection pump requires very clean conditions, a bit like an operating theatre but instead of everything being sterilized with antiseptic it is sterilized with diesel fuel oil. I made a clean area in the club’s workshop and proceeded to dismantle the pump. Inspecting the workshop manual closely I soon worked out which way the plungers were supposed to go in and checked them all. It was fiddly work, trying to make sure everything was lined up correctly and that it all remained clean. I made a fuel oil bath in a small container and washed everything in it as I reassembled the pump. About an hour or so later I had the pump back together and was satisfied that it was correct. Now it was only a matter of reinstalling the injection pump, bleeding all the fuel lines and then … to try and start the engine.

Suspense, drama, drum roll …. The climactic moment came about another hour later. I turned the engine over, initially with the decompression levers up so as to get a bit of fuel into the cylinders to help with the compression. I released the levers and cough, splutter, bang, splutter, bang, bang, … and it roared into life, and the throttle worked like it was supposed to. I rushed out into the cockpit to turn the throttle down, I did a little dance, punched the air and yelled, “You bloody bewdy”. A lady on another boat gave me a quizzical look and scurried down below.

Six long weeks!

I am so relieved that the engine is running again, and certainly better then when I arrived. Unfortunately not all is well with it, it has excessive crankcase pressure which means that either the head gasket is leaking or some rings are in bad shape. I suspect the latter and specifically that the problem lies in number three cylinder which had the burnt out inlet valve. I think it allowed water into the cylinder and this in turn has damaged the piston liner. But for now it will have to do. To change the cylinder liner the engine would have to be removed from the boat and given a complete overhaul, which would probably cost more then the engine is worth and certainly more than I have right now.

My fellow Australian here, Roger, and his partner, Connie, have been very supportive over the last several weeks and have listened sympathetically to my dramas and been a great source of encouragement when I have been ready to throw the whole lot over the side. This evening I have installed an extra breather tube in the rocker cover leading into the air intake (Roger‘s suggestion). This seems to have relieved the worst of the crankcase pressure for the moment. It is far from an ideal solution but at least it should stop the engine from discharging all its oil out of the dipstick hole and into the bilge, which I have had happen to once before many years ago, back in Mauritius - another story.

Tomorrow morning I will try starting the engine again from cold and see how it behaves. Then it will be time to clean the bilges.

The mainsail still has not arrived.  Manana.
It's been a long day and I have burnt the curry leftovers.   Still, nothing a couple of glasses on Argentinean vino roho won't wash dowm.

All is well.

Bob Cat:
The skipper sure seems in a good mood this evening. I presume it is because the beast beneath the floor has returned from the dead. After all the attention the skipper has given it, it actually seemed to be purring, very loudly but I detected a certain contented rhythm, we cats are sensitive to such things. Well good luck to it. BUT I STILL DIDN’T GET MY TUNA! What do I have to do? Things might flow downhill but it seems happiness isn’t one of them on board this here hell ship. Meeowwaarghh! Nought to do for now but …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.