Saturday, August 28, 2010

Batteries installed

Dad has done a beautiful job of painting the engine mount and engine room to get rid of the old gasoline and oil smells and grime. It smells like a new home with a fresh coat of paint. Now we are ready to start mounting the batteries and electric motor.  It might not look like it in this picture but relatively speaking we've gained a fair bit of space with the removal of the old Atomic 4 gasoline engine and the fuel tank. Removal of both of these takes out about five hundred pounds. The batteries and new electric motor combined get us back to about the same weight. If we could afford Lithium batteries we'd be much lighter than the gasoline engine/fuel tank combo. In future no doubt Lithium batteries will be more affordable as the electric cars start deploying them around the world and large scale distribution and R&D kick in to develop this technology even further. For now we'll stick with the old lead acid AGM batteries.

The week before last Lorne and I spent the afternoon wedging the new Odyssey lead acid AGM deep cycle batteries into place on a custom platform Lorne has designed. Lorne has built and secured a base with edges to hold the batteries in approximately the same location as the old fuel tank. This will ensure that batteries are equally distributed in the centre of the boat and near where that same weight was for the old gas tank/Atomic four engine. The Odyssey PC1800-FT are a beautiful industrial, sealed battery system, designed to be rack mounted if need be. The positive and negative leads are on the front face of the batteries for easy connection in series (see earlier blog entry with diagrams of configuration) to get to 48 volts.

Although one person can lift and move these batteries, they are 130 pounds each, it is much easier and more reasonable with two people. So, Lorne and I got it down to quite a system of sliding the batteries through the side panels, lifting them in place from the top, and then inching them over the rails in the box designed to keep each battery in place. Each one fit like a glove. These batteries are sealed and are very sturdy. They can be placed in any orientation. In our case they sit as though ready for a rack. Once all the wiring is place Lorne will put a cap of plywood, like the base, on the top and secure with steel rods.

Next week, we do the electric motor installation and we should be ready to rock and roll with our electric motor system. It'll be interesting to see how far we can go on a full charge and at varying rates of speed. Next spring we'll switch the propellor to fixed blades (our current prop has retractable blades, good for racing, but not so useful for recharging our batteries). Things are looking good.

One other thing we did was to remove the red propellor shaft coupling device that was used for the Atomic 4. The red circular plate has been on the shaft for 40 year and so did not want to leave. Lorne said we needed a prop remover. So, off I went to the QCYC shed where Andy said we might find one. Sure enough, there it was in the back, behind some stuff. Incredibly the old fused connector finally gave way as Lorne and I used an extender and a bit of elbow grease to get the old thing moving. For the new connector we've found that the prop shaft is a slight bit smaller than the connector so we'll need a rubber filler band to fill the gap to make it secure. We are ready for the electric motor!

Stay tuned.

Port Credit Boat Show, Learning from Others

Quick update on the electric motor conversion...we have the electric wiring and new panels in place. We are getting close now. We plan to finish up the electric motor installation this week so we can enjoy sailing this coming long weekend. Lorned has done a beautiful job here. The AC and DC systems are now easy to manage and meters show what is going on. On the right side is a Xantrex charge control monitor system for the two house batteries. Looking gooood!

Now on to the Port Credit Boat Show we attended earlier today. We've been talking a planning quite a bit lately and we've got a few things that are coming together as we plan our circumnavigation on the future catamaran.

We've all agreed now that we will sell the house next spring. This will provide the base financing we need to get our Sun Challenge solar sailing expedition off to a start as well as provide some funding for the kids next phase in life in post secondary education and adventure. So, we've started attending boat shows to learn as much as we can to plan our own voyage.

First up was a tour of a new 2010 Lagoon 38 catamaran. It was beautiful. The deck had a wonderful seating area under a canopy when you get on the stern. Inside the cabin is a spacious dining table and kitchen. The starboard hull had the owners quarters with a large double bed in the stern and spacious bathroom with full standup shower. The port side hull had two wonderful spacious berths. Walking around the deck was easy and safe. This is the type of sailboat for me.

After looking at some monohulls we listened in on a families experience building a 65 foot power catamaran that they lived on and voyaged across the Atlantic, through the Med and finally down through he Suez canal.

What did we learn...

- need a team for fundraising with the right people, sponsor special things.
- $300 for 12 months of sailing in US. Don't forget check in with homeland security at each port or you could get a $5,000 fine.
- When planning stays in port stay for a month for lower rate and then anchor for the next month to cut costs in half. Cost is about $10 per foot per month in the US.
- Have lots of backup systems, two or three GPS systems...etc
- Build up experience by increasing challenges and implementing changes to improve.
- By being patient and waiting for good weather you can avoid bad storms.
- Ditch kit is mounted on deck. Satellite phone, medical kit, several communication systems.
- Virgin has a $40 per month 3G wireless Internet option for communicating, using Skype, Facebook and email.
- It took eight months to outfit the boat from bare hull full time.
- Free charts are available from OAA. Can use your computer and printer with these.
- 1% of hull cost for insurance including hurricane.

That's about all we can remember for now. Time to working the plans for making this happen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pieces of the electric motor puzzle

We've now received all the parts we need to assemble the electric motor system. Electric Yachts sent us the 10kW electric motor and controller system. Lorne from Genco has obtained the deep cycle batteries from Odyssey. The charge controller has been semi-custom made for us by Analytic a supplier of heavy duty and advanced charge control systems. Lorne has also supplied all of the heavy duty wiring for the 48 Volt battery system.

Our plans from this point are as follows:

Remaining internal wiring work - Lorne:
1. 2 x GFI for AC, wiring done, just need to put in to GFI outlets
2. DC panel installation, fixture for galley, electrical to fridge (test if it works)
3. House batteries - we've agreed to buy one additional Deep Cycle Lead Acid battery approx. $130.
4. Battery boxes installed, existing house battery location. - we've agreed to buy 2 battery boxes for approx. $30 each for house batteries (use one of the existing Nautilus plus new Deep Cycle)
5. Bonding / Grounding - complete a few more connections to metal through hull connections
6. (NEW) Automatic bilge pump reconnection and switch to exit through exhaust system through hull.

Electric Motor Install:
1. Paint motor compartment with bilge paint (prepare by sandpapering area) - Ian Wilson
2. Transfer batteries and motor kit to boat by Monday evening, August 16, 4pm. - Ian/Ianito/Claire/John
3. Electric motor battery box assembly and battery box custom made. Receive charge controller for motor batteries. Design and schematics. Current hours documented. Remaining hours and completion dates. Monday August 16. - Lorne
4. Battery box materials. Plywood - 3/4 inch (marine grade mahogany), bolts, washers, hinges, threaded rods, primer waterproofing paint, etc. from Home Depot. Wed. Aug. 17- Lorne
5. Build battery box at Port Credit site. Wed. Aug. 18 - Lorne
6. Install electric motor. Battery box where fuel tank was. 4 Odyssey batteries in series connection for 48 volt system. Electric motor on electric motor mount. Aug 19/20. - Lorne
7. Figure out shifter/binnacle removal and replacement with electric motor throttle system. - Lorne


Once we pull the boat out for this season.

1. Review motor mount leakage issue. Is it resolved once the electric motor is installed? Reinforce area that is of concern.
2. Review exterior hull scuffs and issues. Determine what repairs/painting/cleaning is required.
3. Prepare batteries for storage with full charge. Consider a solar panel to keep charged.

Before launch for next season:

1. Lighting and radio cable for mast.
2. Switch to a fixed propeller optimized for charging boat batteries when sailing.
3. Rolling furler.
4. Depth, windspeed/direction, GPS installations.
5. Radio for nav station/desk.
6. Review fridge requirements.
7. Determine solar panel (4 x 40 watt) setup and installation, Bimini design.

1. Both charge controllers will be installed in the storage closet near motor. House battery system charge control system is already installed there on the left side. Analytic charge controller for electric motor batteries will be installed on the right side of the storage compartment. All done to minimize chances of these ever getting wet.
2. Keep an eye on the leak near motor mount.