Posted by: livingaboardspellbound | January 6, 2013

Electrolysis… What a pain!

On the last day of our sailing class we noticed that we did not have much thrust when we were motoring in to the marina and even less when we were in reverse. Just a few days after that our bottom cleaners came and said our prop was shredded and we needed new zincs. Now I was upset, my thought was “haven’t they been checking our prop and zincs each month”?  after some discussion with our neighboring boaters and the owner of the bottom cleaning company we came to the conclusion that electrolysis was the culprit. Now, finding out where it was coming from was going to be challenging. We thought maybe it was coming from the shore power at our slip. We just happened to be moving to a different slip so we thought maybe we would be ok. We had the old prop removed but weren’t sure what size to put back on our Oday. We consulted the forums on the Internet and our trusted local boat salvage guru Ken at Don’s Marine Salvage and it was decided that we needed a 16/10 prop. That purchase was made and we had the bottom cleaner guy put it on for us( since he has a thick wet suit and was already there cleaning). About 4-5 days later we decided to take the boat out because it was a beautiful day, but didn’t get very far. The engine would not reach the appropriate RPMs and decided to overheat so we limped back to the marina. Does the old adage ” if it ain’t one thing it’s twenty” come to mind?  After another session on the Internet and a few more phone calls to the guru it was decided that the prop was too big for our boat. With all of this talk going on hubby remembered that the previous owner told him there was the original two blade prop somewhere on the boat, treasure treasure hunt he went and amazingly he found it and it was a 13/7 so that mystery was solved! Bottom cleaner guy came back out and took the too big prop off and put that prop on for us not long after that. the prop that was too big had only been on for 8 days and already had a good amount of corrosion on it. So back to the electrolysis we go since at that point we had not found the source. To prevent the 2 blade prop from damage we would unhook from shore power when we were at work and at night when we slept, and let me tell you it got cold a few of those nights! In our marina we have a wealth of very intelligent people, so we asked our friend Tony (who is an electrical engineer) to help us try to find the source of the problem. He and my hubby spent the day creating testers out of copper pipe, copper wire, and multimeter and they set out to “test the waters”. After all was said and done the conclusion it was our boat causing the problem, not the dock. It was the battery charger my husband had installed right after we moved on the boat, a diode had gone bad and was sending AC power to ground and out in to the water. We have changed out the battery charger and bought new batteries and are hoping for the best. So word to the wise, keep an eye (and multimeter ) out for that prop killing electrolysis!!

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