Thursday I had special liberty and didn’t need to go to work so I could work with Dave the mechanic from Simmons’ Marine. Dave keeps his sailboat at Pier 32 Marina in National City and was an Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AS) when he was in the Navy. He came a few slips down the dock to help me figure out the problem with the engine on Astraea. It would run well for a few minutes, then die at odd times. The oil pressure low alarm was going off in the cockpit and I thought it was because of a loose wire from putting things in the cockpit locker where the wires connect to the control panel. I disconnected the alarm because the oil pressure sender was showing oil pressure at 45-50 psi and thought I can fix that problem when I get to it.
Dave said it seemed like a fuel problem, there wasn’t enough fuel getting to the engine to keep it running. Chuck, from down the dock on WindWatcher, came over too to see what was going on. To make a long story short, Dave swapped out the fuel pump to see if that was the problem, then I fessed up about disconnecting the oil pressure switch alarm. He started looking down on the engine at the switch and found a loose wire. After he reconnected the wiring the engine ran perfect for over 15 minutes without a hiccup. Chuck found in the schematics that the oil pressure switch is wired to a timer circuit in the fuel pump solenoid. When the engine is started the timer is bypassed so the fuel pump always works, but after a certain amount of time, about 3 minutes, it dies without a good input signal from the oil pressure switch.
I thanked Chuck and Dave for their hard work helping with the engine and paid Dave for his time. So the moral of my story is to never overlook an alarm, especially if the engine starts dying! Natalie told me that the alarm had something to do with the engine problem so now she’s the lead mechanic aboard Astraea. I can’t wait to get her in coveralls to change the oil!
If you area looking for help with your boat in San Diego I highly recommend Dave Simmons.