Sunday, July 1, 2007

Albin engine, Part 3

When my Ericson 30 was built in 1968, I'm guessing that its Albin O-21 engine was bolted into place in the hull cavity before the deck and cockpit molding was lowered onto the hull.

Now, it rested in a cave beneath the cockpit sole. Like a sleeping bear, the trick was going to be to coax the injured engine out of the cave, and up and off the boat without dropping it or getting hurt. Then we'd have to get it into John Dickerson's truck for the journey to his well-equipped auto restoration shop.

Weighing about 350 pounds, it was not going to be easy. But there were some advantages. Access to the engine from the side through the starboard cockpit locker was good. The cabin sole was a simple painted surface, not highly varnished teak and holly. A little dirt and even a few scratches weren't going to matter much. The opening aft to the engine from the cabin was large and unobstructed. And a lifting eye was bolted to the cylinder head at approximately the center of fore and aft mass.

The plan was to rig a 1-inch iron pipe through the aft portion of the cabin extending into the engine compartment, through the lifting eye. With everything unbolted, we would then lift the pipe about four inches so the flywheel could clear the lower lip of the engine room bulkhead. Next we would slide the engine forward on the pipe until it could be lifted vertically through the companionway.

With the help of a cable hoist lashed to the boom, the strength of my two companions, John Dickerson and Dick Barnes, and lubricant on the pipe, it worked. Not quickly, not neatly, not quietly. But it worked.

There were the moments when I realized that the engine was hanging about four feet above the cabin sole and I wondered what would happen if it fell. I put the cabin cushions below it.

Swinging the engine over the side of the boat so that it could be lowered into a dock cart on the dock finger was piquant, too.

I was beginning to understand why the quotes for a new diesel engine were approximately double the cost of the engine itself. I would gain more appreciation of that cost ratio as the project progressed.