Zen and the Art of Gypsy Maintenance

I’m framing myself.  Tomorrow I try to service the engine on the Gypsy.

Now this might seem like a trivial thing to most people but for me it’s a major departure. I’m pretty handy with keyboards, guitar strings and phones I can use to call practical people but when it comes to dealing with oily mechanical issues I’m the least qualified person imaginable.  I have the hands of a class traitor. Too white, too soft. (Another bleedin’ intellectual, guv.) Come the revolution I’d be first up against the wall. Nevertheless  I persuaded myself at the outset I was going to have to take responsibility for the engine rather than simply hand it over to someone else to deal with. This is the point where theory becomes practise.

I’ve done my preparation. I have tools. I have spare parts. And of course I’ve read the books. Some of the books are very clear (thank you RYA Diesel Handbook), some are bafflingly technical (thank you Yanmar).  The RYA make it look very straightforward. They have nice clean diagrams. In practical terms I can see exactly how an RYA Diesel engine works. I could do wonderful things to an RYA Diesel engine involving jets and secondary cooling systems. The main difficulty I have at the moment is relating the mucky lump of metal visible through the hatch in the Gypsy with any of the things I’ve read about. The labels are missing for a start.

I’m pretty confident about the oil change. If, that is, I can get the filter off and a new one back on. Changing the fuel filter will be more of a challenge. Particularly as I have no idea what the outside of a fuel filter looks like – the bit I have to take apart to put the new pink filter inside. I’m assuming it will become obvious when I start tracing the pipes from the fuel tank. Except there may or may not be two of them.  Filters, that is. The primary and the secondary.

Then there’s the problem of the cooling water. It seems we don’t have a radiator. Just a direct path from outside the boat, across the engine and out of the exhaust at the back. (I may not have this entirely right.) In which case, adding antifreeze isn’t going to be a possibility. Still, on the plus side there’s a filter and I do know what this one looks like and where it is. This one only needs cleaning out and refitting.

According to the book the other thing that might need cleaning is the fuel. I have to look for a drain plug to see if it’s possible to drain off the water and sludge that is collecting at the bottom of the fuel tank.

I’m not expecting to deal with all of this tomorrow. From my modest starting position I will probably go out and celebrate if I can manage to change the oil. Anything after that is a bonus.

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