Friday, May 16, 2014

Installing a Groco Hydromatic Self-cleaning Strainer

Being away from our boat for 3 months was tough; leaving Tami behind was even tougher.  I felt bad for her, but we really need to get things done in Florida, so she gave her blessing and away we went.  As she continues to grow skin at the LTAC, Brandon and I left for a vacation full of work.  And as things usually go, its not all been smooth sailing since our arrival....

Things got off to a great start though, and it seems that not one thing had been disturbed during our absence.  To the contrary, we actually had "new" stuff in places.  New canvas on the windows, new barrier paint on the hulls, and new rope on the traveler and mast. Everything was dry and in its place; all the bilge areas were dry and it looks as though all are old hatches are keeping the water out. That was until we opened the bow port locker - seems to be a little wet in there.  Looks like we might have to reseal that hatch before its all done.  All things considered, I'd say that's pretty good.   

After retrieving the shore-power cords from the locker, we soon had power running to the boat - but setting up the inverter had us doing some head-scratching.  You see, Justin is in Texas right now during this hiatus, and was unavailable during our initial power-up, so Brandon and I found ourselves digging through the manual to figure out where we were going wrong.  We had power to everything it seems, but our batteries weren't charging very fast.  The 12 volt panel had power, water was running, fans were coming on, we even had the clock digits on the microwave lit up, hmmmm.......  Flashback: prior to our departure, I turned everything off (and I mean, everything) - battery isolators, every switch on the 12 volt panel, and every breaker on the 110 volt panel.   But the good part was that either by accident or on purpose the one thing I left on was the solar panel breaker and wa-do-ya-know? My batteries were perfectly topped off. 

But the inverter was a different story and after running out of things that could be wrong, Brandon kept suggesting that the "Shore 1 & 2" breaker might need to be in the "on" position in the 110 volt panel.  And that was the trick - full charging power and all was right with the world.  So our next task at hand was to install our beautifully overhauled Groco Hydromatic Strainer - we need some tools. what did I do with those keys?  We were able to find a jigsaw that we used to cut off the first of two locks in hopes that our 4" grinder was inside our trailer so that cutting the second lock would be much easier. Problem solved (I just need two more locks now.)

Maybe Tami won't notice it's on the table like that

Installing the fittings and using previous pics as a guide
(FYI, the GoPro isn't "fish-eyeing", its actually the shape of our hard top)

Just a minor setback, now on to bigger and better things - the Strainer.  For $170, you just can't beat the way this thing looks - its like brand new.  I know I've said this a couple of times, but to this day, West Marine still sells this unit for $2389.99.  I mean, who in their right mind spends $2400 on a strainer?  I posted a question about it on one of the sailing forums awhile back, and it seems that a lot of people don't even know these units exist and others had never even seen one.  There is also a brand new control panel board still in the wrapper that I need to install (right now its just on a toggle switch) - the guys at Groco told me that it was a $400 control board.  So maybe I should be thankful that the previous owner didn't like to keep things simple.  But in addition to the strainer,  Groco sent back all the parts that they removed during overhaul - most of the fittings looked to be in very good shape except for two bad ones, so we cleaned up the good ones and re-installed them.  We made a quick trip to the Ace Hardware store for the two replacement fittings and were set for install. 

Two days later, we have a wonderfully installed strainer. 

Yes it took two days.  I had actually told my wife prior to our arrival that the Groco would take two to three days - for some reason, I knew it was gonna be a bitch. The first problem that we encountered was that we could not get the strainer to seat inside its bracket, and we tried everything.  That problem, in and of itself, doesn't sound that bad, but this thing is situated right under the hot water heater in the back slot under the starboard aft mattress - it is not easy to get to.  Our initial solution was to relocate it forward into the same area as the watermaker which would only require extending one hose - all the rest of the hoses and wires would actually have to be shortened.   But after taking everything apart, we're thinking that Justin must have turned the bracket around in an attempt to make installation easier.  That way, the mounting bolts would go in from the other direction.  But he didn't realize that the strainer only fits into the bracket one way - at least that's what we're thinking anyway.  Removing everything though, actually gave us an opportunity to move the bracket over about 1" so that the lines coming up would clear the water heater.  Once we discovered this, it really didn't take that long to get it all back together again and we were pretty excited when we flipped the switch and heard the motor quietly spinning.

Next up:  Yanmar shut-off cable, blue stripe removal, stepping the mast, and automatic bilge pump install.  

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