21 July. Last stop on Bulgarian Danube

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 21st, 2011

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But first of all I am calling again on all you talented Sailing Diesel engine experts. I am starting to suspect that the overheating of the stuffing box has nothing to do with the packing or shaft but with the engine it self. Yesterday I ran the engine at about 1500 RPM and the temperature gauge was just a little over 80 ( I assume that is Centigrade) it goes up to 120. The stuffing box was hot again but I noticed that the transmission and the flex coupling were extremely hot and also the engine appears to be much hotter than I ever remember the previous Renault engine to be.  I added coolant/anti-freeze before I left. The exhaust spurts out a good amount of water. The transmission oil and engine oil had been checked. An hour after I had stopped the engine the stuffing box and drive shaft had cooled off but the transmission, flex coupling stayed hot for hours.

Today I decided to run the engine at about 1100 rpm, I had a reasonable breeze push the boat anyway (yesterday it was on the nose). The stuffing box and shaft never got hot, like the previous two days, but the flex coupling and the transmission still felt very hot.  What do you guys think?

The engine is a brand new Sole-Mitsubishi Mini 17. The coupling is an M127 Centaflex. It is attached to the shaft by fastening 5 nuts with a Torque wrench, in a sequence similar to a cylinder head cover. Ever run into this?

I managed to clear the Friendship Bridge, just down stream from Ruse, with plenty room to spare. The remaining, three or so, bridges are taller. Getting out of the slip, with the falling river level, took some doing and muscles from Boiko. He was a great help in all that he assisted me with in Ruse. Nice stop.

I filled my water tank on the river at the customs pontoon # 1. I had hoped to sail under the bridge but the wind was right on the nose, fairly strong. I anchored near Tutrakan. But it was not quite what I had hoped for, the nice peaceful evening on anchor. Strong williwaws were coming down the hills, from the opposite direction of the current. So it was a cat and mouse game with the wind and current. Jerking me around. Till the predicted thunder storm came up. At first the wind turned the same direction as the current. Great. But once the storm hit it changed directions. But these storms do not last long and at last peace came and I had a decent night sleep. Today I put the sails on deck and lay ed out the sheets but the wind was either right behind me or the navigation on the river just did not allow me to sail. Some parts are dicey and shallow. I have to continuously search for the channel markers. They pop up in the least expected places.

Yesterday the thermometer hit 40 degrees Celcius (over 100 Fahrenheit). Today was cooler and a nice breeze. Even with the motor running at a put-put rpm I was doing 7 knots, with the current and the following wind. The Bulgarian shore is hilly and covered with hardwood forests the Romanian side is flat and lined with  Cottonwood plantations. I saw one white Pelican. But it does not have the nice red beak and feet like the American White Pelicans I saw in Florida. I should get some pictures in the Delta. I arrived just after 2 p.m. in Silistra. This is the last Bulgarian city on the Danube and the place to check out. The handbook told me that I could moor at the border police pontoon, but shallow and no room, so, I had no other option than the one private dock/pontoon at the Hotel Dragstar. Twenty Five Euroes per day ( $40 ) Oh, well I see that, when I drew cash out of the ATM,  today has to be the third Wednesday in the month already and Social Security made me feel wealthy once again.

Silistra is another very worthwhile stop on the Bulgarian side. From the below pictures you will get an idea of the history going back to pre Roman times. Tomorrow I have a long drag through the side arm of the Danube, which is a meter deeper than the main river. But narrower and fewer places to stop. So, I will most likely be away from internet for a few days.





3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Matthias Klemm says:

    Far from a diesel engine expert but here are my 2 cents anyway.
    The temperature of a little bit over 80C sounds perfect for a diesel engine. Transmissions do get hot but shouldn’t get burning hot. And a new transmission I would expect to get somewhat hotter until it is run in properly. I’d run it at lower revs for a while and keep a close eye on it. Also I would adjust the stuffing box to let as much water through as you are comfortable with. It really helps with the cooling and lubrication of the cutlass bearing and propeller shaft. The best thing would be though if you could get hold of a point and shoot thermometer to get an exact number and contact the transmission manufacturer. If you can give me the data I’d be happy to research that for you.

    By the way I love all those photos you’re posting. Can’t wait to follow in your footsteps or wake in that matter.

  2. Roger Simard says:

    Hi Jack,
    J’ai demandé aux gens de la communauté de voile du Québec et j’attend leur réponse. For Mathias, here is the link to the specs for Jack’s engine:

  3. Seth says:

    Hey Dad,

    I agree with Matthias’s comments about the engine needing time to break-in. One spec I noticed in the Mini17 specifications was the maximum angle it should be installed at. They list 20 degrees for continuous operation. This I would assume is to ensure proper oil lubrication. Something to consider / check.

    Your flex joint sounds pretty fancy and is designed to handle poor alignment and a lot more torque than your little 17 could put out. Unless it’s fitting is slipping on the prop shaft creating friction and thus heat the only thing that would make it generate heat is the flexing of the rubber. Since this is also new it too is probably just breaking in.

    Hopefully you haven’t wrapped anything around your prop that’s causing your drive train to strain.


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