By Tom Neale, 10/10/2012
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Every so often I tell you about new neat stuff with which Ive had personal experience. I write about things that I have in my hands rather than from press releases. There are two new neat products out there that you may want to know about.
The Sea Flush allows you to winterize your engine, generator and air conditioner, as well as do other jobs, without pulling off a hose and then (assuming you didn't destroy it getting it off) trying to get that hose back on the barb.
The idea behind the Sea Flush www.seaflush.com is one of those ideas that make me want to stand there and smack myself on the head and say, Why didn't I think of that, even though I know I don't have enough sense. The concept sounds simple, but the execution of the concept is really impressive and it makes easy what has always been a real pain in the --- job. This product helps with winterizing but it can also be used to flush fresh water through the salt water cooling side of engines, to blow out salt water lines and to de-scale interior surfaces of heat exchangers and air conditioning and refrigeration units.
One of the worst parts of this sort of job has been to remove hoses from some part of the engines plumbing, get them or an extension into a reservoir of anti-freeze and get the engine to pump it through. The Sea Flush system uses a special funnel type device designed and constructed to fit into most sea water strainers. You close the through hull, remove the strainer top and the basket, and push the device in. You can then fill the device container with anti-freeze and turn on the motor to suck it through. Keep pouring it in so that the container wont run dry and ruin the impellor. Or, if you don't want to do this, the Sea Flush includes a hose and an adapter that you can screw into the funnel and, with the hose, suck anti-freeze (or fresh water) from a bucket. Or, you can attach that hose to the output of a small shop-vac and blow air through the system to purge the line down to the through hull. (You cant blow air or liquid past the impellor in the engine.)
|Eel Clamp closed.|
You may be amazed at what a few minutes of de-scaling with a manufacturer approved product may do to the heat exchanger in any cooling device. Be sure to use an approved product however, because of the risk of damage if you use something too strong. Also, if you're dealing with a typical magnetically coupled pump, remember that these don't suck well and need to have the water level above the pump. You can do this, according to the company, with the Sea Flush if the strainer is above the pump, or by extending the hose, say up to the deck or flying bridge, to create a high water column above the pump.
As with any product and procedure on a boat, there are safety precautions that you must follow and these are important. The instructions that come with the product are helpful; read them carefully. Also, you may have to improvise a bit to deal with the particular characteristics of your boat or needs. This is so with any job on a boat and any equipment. But this product, in my view, makes some very important jobs much easier with much better results. Ive usually actually used a product before I tell you about it. I haven't used this one yet, because I winterize my boat by taking it south. But I do have one and when I get the time I'm looking forward to trying it out. I'm sure my air conditioning could use some de-scaling. I'm telling you about this now because winter is coming on. Check it out.
|Eel Clamp open, note light on the side.|
Marinco has come up with a new shore power cable they call the EEL. http://www.eelshorepower.com/index.php?utm_source=Marinco&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=homepage The connector at the end of the cable that connects to the boat is a particularly good feature, in my view. This connection is very important. The mating of the shore power cable to the boat receptacle is an area where fires and/or arcing often occur. Ive always thought that the twist lock concept and ring securing the boot was a good method to secure the connection, except that, in trying conditions such as darkness, cold and rain its often easy to get the threads crossed when screwing on the ring and to inadvertently not get the cable prongs twisted in properly to make them lock in the correct position. It can also sometimes be difficult snugging down the threaded ring while, at the same time, keeping the prongs locked in exactly the correct position. As simple as plugging in sounds, it requires some care as it should. The twist lock concept is great, but its important to do it right. But I never dreamed anyone would really improve this.
In my opinion, Marinco has. There are still the twist lock prongs, and I like this. But there's no more threading and screwing a ring with this product. You hold open the spring loaded clamps, plug in and twist, and then release the clamps. They grab the threads in the boats receptacle and you're done. The manufacturer notes that the weight of the hanging cable is secured by the hard clamps, not by a ring on a flexible boot or by the locked prongs. Also, this plug housing has contours that help you to hold and twist it to more easily lock the prongs. Time will tell as to how well this mechanism deals with ultraviolet light and a salty environment. But the old ring fittings had problems here too. For example, the rubber boot holding the ring would eventually fail. I still think the old system is great and I am by no means implying otherwise (and I have one), but I love this new system and Im glad I have it.
Tom’s Tips About Plugging In
1. No matter what system you use, its a very good idea to secure the shore power cable, where it comes aboard, by an appropriate method. This could be a line around a stanchion and the cable or some other method to prevent it from moving on the boat and stressing the connection on the boat as the boat moves around in the slip. The cable should have enough play between the shore power pedestal and the boat to accommodate boat movement without pulling at the plug at either end. The cable should also be secured at the pedestal end so that if someone, for example trips over it, the cable wont be jiggled in the pedestal receptacle.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! I spoke of finding and aligning the prongs in the dark. With the EEL, if you've plugged the shore power into the pedestal and turned the pedestal circuit breaker on, a light shines out the boat end of the cable connector to illuminate your job. Because of my traveling Ive had to plug in when its dark far more times than I like. In the past I often found it rather difficult to hold a flashlight with one hand while trying to plug the cable in and twist it and screw on the ring. There's also another blue light at the side of the plug housing to let you know you have power in the cable. This helps with troubleshooting and also provides warning that the cable is hot. This warning can be very helpful if, for example, the cable has been carelessly left lying on the dock while plugged into the shore power pedestal with its circuit breaker on. Ive seen this happen in marinas far too often.
Many experts say, with very good reason, that you should not plug the shore power cable into the shore current until after you've successfully made the connection at the boat. This is because of the dangers of getting shocked if something goes wrong and of arcing at the boat which can cause problems ranging from carbon coating on the connector prongs, to damage to sensitive electronics on the boat, to fire. There is far less risk for any of this if you turn off the shore power on the boat (and the boat is wired properly so that its really completely off), and this should always be done when plugging in. Obviously, to get the little guiding light on the end of the Marinco EEL you must be plugged into the docks shore power receptacle and it must be hot. If you want to have that light when you are plugging in you have to weigh the risks and make your own decision as to whether you want to assume the risk and plug into the pedestal and flip on the breaker first. If you do it this way, its even more imperative that you have the shore power switch on the boat turned OFF until all is secured with the cable (this is imperative regardless). It also means that you must be very careful, but you should anyway. You may feel that the light may diminish risk to a sufficient extent in some circumstances such as darkness. At night, all things considering, some might feel that the risk of plugging into the boat with a hot cable (and the boat switch off) is acceptable for the benefits achieved from the light. With the EEL, you have the option to use that end light if appropriate.
Boating and water sports involve risk. Any comments herein should be followed at your own risk. You assume all responsibility for risk or injury to yourself or others. Any person or entity that uses this information in any way, as a condition of that use, agrees to waive and does waive and also hold authors harmless from any and all claims which may arise from or be related to that use.