Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everybody Does It . . .

One thing I like about Meridian is that there's alot of space in the engine room. Now, mind you, it's not exactly spacious down there, with headroom of about three feet or so. You have to move around by doing something of a duck walk - or, alternatively, by scooting around on your read end. And in order to reach into distant corners or around equipment you have to perform what I like to refer to as "boat yoga".

But changing the engine oil is pretty easy. Access to the filter is wide open, with no stretching or abnormal bending of body parts and limbs. And it's always gone relatively smoothly for me. After all, what's really involved? Pump out the old oil with an "Oil Boy", pull the old filter, being careful to place a ZipLoc Bag around it prior to loosening (I double up on the bag), install the new filter (after rubbing oil on the gasket) then add new oil. Finally, run the engine for a minute or two to circulate oil throughout and into the new filter, then check the oil level and fill up as necessary.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, I've always wondered how long you need to run the engine in order to circulate the oil.

This past summer, I found out.

I had changed the oil in the starboard engine, then went up to the helm and cranked it. After a minute or two, I shut down the engine and headed back down into the engine room.


I hadn't paid close enough attention and left the old gasket on the oil filter. With two gaskets, it didn't seal properly. Those two minutes of running the engine sent over half the oil (about three quarts) all over the place.

After a lot of unpleasant words, and the entire afternoon, I had the mess cleaned up. Not the way we wanted to spend the afternoon in Grand Haven. And a bit embarrassing to talk about.

But here's the thing. Everyone I eventually told this about responded "Hey, that happened to me once!" In fact, it started that same day with the boat right beside us in the slip at Grand Haven. Yes, they had done it before. Even when talking with professional mechanics - "Yea, we run into that all the time".

Guess I'm not entirely alone with my ineptness! Somehow, that feels good :-)