E-Pod 3000+ Electric Drive Conversion Log
I sat down and documented to the best of my recollection the events to convert the boat. Although you must keep in mind that there were two of us working all the time and we jumped from one thing to another based on what was ready to be done (ie: we had the parts to do it.) My explanation of the work will be much more organized and orderly than what actually happened:
Here is the overall summary with estimates of time involved assuming two people working full time:
Friday morning we met in front of KKMI boatyard leaving one car for the trip back. We then proceeded to the boat and motored over to the boatyard arriving around 8am. We had to wait for a couple of boats going into the water before our lift out. We discussed with the manager that we would be removing the engine so they selected the middle of the yard for us to sit; one of the few places that they could access the boat’s rear. Unfortunately the mast for an America’s cup boat was being loaded on a truck in that very location, which took several hours. We gave up on getting anything done as the hours slipped past and set our sites on an early start on Sunday since I had family commitments on Saturday.
The first thing to come off was the drive leg. This was pretty simply:
Monday July 14th – Engine Removal (cont)
Using a long steel box beam extension over the forklift forks as a lifting point we gradually took the engine up off her resting place using a chain come-along. We quickly discovered that the engine would not fit out the opening without removing the engine mounts brackets on the front. This only delayed us about 10 minutes and with a little help shifting the engine this way and that with my foot we got her clear of the engine compartment without damaging anything or hurting ourselves (boy is it heavy). Our trusty forklift driver then carefully backed out and lifted as needed to get her off the boat without any excitement. By 9am the engine was placed on a pallet to make lifting it into Tim’s truck easy later. We worked most of the rest of the day on removing all the other associated engine controls and cables running messenger lines for each one we pulled out. Then we put a piece of starboard on the stern to cover the holes and then mounted the new engine bracket. I worked late cleaning up the engine compartment and water tank areas as best I could with what energy I had.
While we were focusing on the engine the boat yard staff sanded and painted the bottom and had her bottom looking good by noon.
Tuesday July 15th – Installation of e-pod 3000 system begins
We focused on installing the e-pods motors in the hull. First we measured where the bulkhead was for the aft buoyancy tank and then eyeballed and snapped a couple chalk lines on the bottom that looked pretty much for and aft. Using a template I made from starboard we drilled some holes finding the bottom to be about ˝ inch thick. Not bad, but not quiet up to handling the worst case situation that we could imagine; running aground or snagging a chain on the mothball fleet stopping the 10,000 pound boat instantly and ripping out the motor out. So we consulted the boat yard specialist, Bob our project manager from KKMI suggest some G10 fiberboard to reinforce the area. We all agreed and the fiberglass master went to work and had two squares of G10 which was epoxyed to the bottom by the end of the day. In order to do this the plywood around the inspection port was removed (which we later replaced with starboard and installed a much bigger 10 inch inspection port to make working on the engines easier in the future.)
While this fiberglass work was going on I focused on the electrical installation and worked in the opposite hull as the grinding was going on. While installing the battery charger on the inner side of the liner, I found that I needed to remove the plywood that was around the water tank in order to install the lower mounting screws. However, the panel were put in so that the bottom was last and some of the screws holding the side panel could not be removed without removing the bottom piece of plywood first. Considering the tanks had been out of the boat a couple days I was wondering why the plywood was still fully saturated of water; upon removing the plywood I found out why. An area that is about 3 inches deep in the deepest forward part under the plywood was full of water that stank like only bilge water does after it has been sitting for years. I was extremely happy to discover and eliminate this water as I am sure it was why the boat always seemed to have that musty smell no matter what I did. At that point I decided that I would never allow the area under the bulks to be used for wet storage like water tanks again. (Such a waste to use the prime dry storage area in the boat for water tanks of all things when the aft lockers which area always wet and so deep to make most of the storage in the bottom useless; guess where my new smaller 20 gallon tanks went….)
Wednesday July 16th – e-pod installation (cont)
This day again was focused on installing the e-pods:
Thursday July 17th – e-pod wiring and testing
The boatyard painted the e-pods since the 4200 now had enough time to dry. They applied same stuff as they would on aluminum outdrives avoiding adding any copper to make the corrosion situation any worse for the steel and aluminum e-pods.
I focused on completing the port installation and successfully tested the port engine by lunch time.
Now I focused on anchoring the batteries and wiring so nothing moves. I had already blocked the batteries in place; one block on the side and one on top. Now I added standard tie down straps (each one rated at 300 pounds) to each of the 89 pound batteries to act as a backup to the blocks holding them down. I am confident that they would stay in place even if the boat were to capsize.
I ran the wiring for the GFI AC outlets that I placed near the battery chargers which had a really short cord (2 feet). One outlet was running off the old water heater circuit. The second one I wired as an extension from the refrigerator outlet next to the door.
Friday July 18th – Much needed rest day.
Saturday July 19th - Honda 15D installed
Picked up Honda outboard from dealer, took to the boat and with my son, Marks help installed on the bracket. Boy is the engine heavy!!! I then spent the rest of the day working on getting the wiring in place for the outboard engine running the wire through a watertight gland on the stern. My son spent the day cleaning and waxing the bottom of the boat.
Sunday July 20th
Installed the starboard with the 10 inch inspection port in the top of the buoyancy tanks closing them up. Installed the props, Shaftsharks as well as the prop shaft zinc collars. Worked on clean up and all the little details while my son continued cleaning and waxing the bottom. The clean up seemed like it took forever with something to do everywhere I looked; we had taken just about everything apart you can imagine in the process and used every tool on board. There appeared to be no end to this....and I am really tired at this point.
Monday July 21st
Relocated the autopilot compass away from the batteries moving it into up high in the starboard hanging locker. Rigged block and tackle to assist lifting the engine. Since I would be going back to the marina single handed I wanted to be relatively sure the autopilot would work. Raised the dingy back into position on the davits and secured for travel. Continued cleanup and removing all unneeded tools and left over parts, getting bunks back into position while my son finished the waxing of the bottom. Checking everything making sure she is ready for the short trip back to the marina....
Tuesday July 22 - Maiden voyage back to marina
Made final preparation for travel, putting fuel tank aboard and connecting it to the engine and waited for lift in. By 10am we had the boat back in the water. My first trip under e-pods power was from the lift dock to the dock next to it. One of the workers assisting with the lift in went with me for the 3 minute journey and was visibly surprised that we moved with almost no sound or vibration from one dock to the other. I spent another 30 minutes checking over things, running the outboard for the first time and trying the e-pods forward and aft while still safely attached to the dock to get use to the controls.
At 11am I set off under e-pod power alone. It was a nice day with little wind and the sun was shinning brightly; you could not have ordered a nicer day for my first trip. I was making 3.7 knots with each e-pod motor at 10 amps dragging the outboard which was down in the ready position in case it was needed. I was not relaxed at all at this point as any journey with new engines is a bit scary. After about 5 minutes, I fired up the outboard and slowly brought it to half throttle giving the new engine its first test. Since I did not have the remote kit installed yet (as I had hoped due to unavailability of the parts) this involved leaning out under the hammock and pushing the electric start button, then engaging the forward gear by pulling a handle forward and turning the throttle to add power. Although this operation took less than a minute in total, it seemed like forever when you are single handed and away from the helm. The boat speed jumped up to 5.7 knots and I played with the e-pods power dropping them down to zero amps and watching the effect on the speed. As advertised the motors drag slowed the boat about half a knot down to 5.2 knots; I added a little power so they were not completely dragging and settled at a comfortable 5.5 knots with the e-pods pulling about 2 or 3 amps each. The trip back was uneventful and I came safely to the dock under e-pod power alone having shutdown the outboard as soon as I entered the marina. I called the boatyard; they came and picked me up to take me back to my car.
I returned to the boat and finished tying her up; putting all covers in place, adding spring lines and connecting shore power. Completely exhausted from the endless work, I knew I would not be back for a few days and closed up everything with that in mind.
Back in the marina and not worried about the yard fees adding up I took my time to complete many of the endless details that were left in the initial install which are too numerous to mention.
Some of the major outstanding items were the water system: tanks, water heater and pressure pump which were removed to make room for the batteries. I returned on Saturday to tackle this and got most of it done and cold water running. I also removed the diesel tanks, filter and all the old hoses. I found the fuel filter badly corroded on the back side where it mounts and thus did not hesitate to donate it to the landfill along with all the stinky hoses and valves connected between it and the tanks. Also removed the 6 year old house bank consisting of 4 AGM - 6 volt batteries and replaced it with a single Odyssey 2250 saving considerable weight.
My first major problem; I could not get the Excell instant on water heater to work and after spending another half day on it working even with Tim’s help. Finally we disassembled it and found multiple issues with wires disconnected and screws missing. My conclusion after seeing the inside of it was that I did not want it aboard; it was that poorly constructed; definitely not marine quality in any respect and would be a rusty mess of metal in no time. Not something I would trust to burn propane in a small locker like the engine compartment.
The final steps finishing up the work were foaming the tanks into place in the aft lockers and adding plywood covers for the tanks to allow heavy items to be stored above them. In putting these 20 gallon tanks in the bottom of these large aft lockers which they fit perfectly, I feel I lost little. It was an really easy installation with the overflow hose lead into the rudder area I did not even have to drill any holes. The locker has always been wet and far too deep to use effectively. I only filled one tank; starboard and left the port empty; day sailing does not require more than 20 gallons or even half that normally. Now I have little concern if water gets in the locker as the tank does not mind one bit about being wet inside or out. The area above the tank will be safely dry no matter how much water enters the area. I had already installed dry deck which I left below the tank to allow water to run to the lower center section where it could be sponged out with the tank in place. I can not express how pleased I am with this arrangement for the water tanks; they always were a source of concern under the bunks leaking from the inspection port and hoses from time to time. Also my getting the pressure pump out from under the bunk where it was prone to wake up anyone sleeping in the port bunk was another nice improvement.
Now my attention turned to cleaning up everything from all the work which took another two full days....the boat was ready for guests finally.
Boat Left on the Hard for the Winter to Complete Outstanding Installation
Given the leaking port e-pod mount and the outstanding work on the remote controls for the outboard it seemed the best option to leave the boat on the hard in a yard where the work could be done. The remote installation for the outboard was completed by Eagle Marine in Martinez who sold me the motor. Also the carburetor on the Honda BF15 was subject to a recall and was replaced as well. The motor can now be tilted down and started without leaving the helm; a dream to manage. The motor bracket is the perfect height left fully down and does not need to be adjusted.
They also constructed mounting blocks per my design using 10 layers of 1/2 inch G10 fiberboard epoxyed together. The space around the mounting pipe was filled with foam to prevent water intrusion in the space which would be a tendency as the motor heats and cools and to further insulate the motor from the sea water. The motors were then mounted using 4200 adhesive sealant forming a bullet-proof connection to the hull; the bottom of the boat will pull out before the e-pods would come off or even move in relation to the hull. I have no doubt that the entire boat could be lifted by either motor.
This site was last updated 04/02/08