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Rebuilding Saves Money

Last cruising season while enjoying the warm tantalizing waters of Fiji, you may recall we had some electrical difficulties with our windlass motor and engine starter.  

I had saved the defective windlass motor with thoughts of possibly rebuilding it.  A few weeks ago Jilly alerted me to a cruiser advertisement of a used Lighthouse windlass motor and parts for sale in the Opua area which is about an hour north of Whangerie.  We made contact with Gary Slidell and eventually made a day trip up to Opua to have a closer look at the used motor.  

We met with Gary and I examined the motor which had been taken apart.  The magnets were still attached and in place inside the cylindrical motor housing.  The end caps and the brush assembly although covered in carbon dust all appeared to be in serviceable condition.  The armature, windings and commutator appeared to be in good condition as well.  Gary only wanted $89 USD for the unassembled, used motor.  He, in fact, sweetened the deal by offering a chain gypsy and a guarantee that if the motor didn’t work once I got it back together, he would provide a full refund.  I figured I had nothing to lose except my time.  

A few days later back in Whangarei, I decided to begin tackling the motor restoration.  One of the long skinny bolts that holds the case together had broken off in one of the end caps.  The first order of business was to get some new bearings, an end cap seal and a new long, skinny case bolt.  Here in Whangarei is a business called Donovans, a place where you can get or order just about anything needed to rebuild electric motors.  This is where I obtained the bearings, seals and some treaded stock and nuts that matched the tread pattern of the damaged end cap.  Next I took the end cap and treaded stock to a local machine shop to have them extract the end bearing, broken machine screw, cut the treaded stock and weld the nuts onto the rods to make new long, skinny case bolts. 

Back at Dazzler I cleaned up the brush assembly, case and other end caps.  Everything was starting to look like a clean motor that might return to life.  The armature and commutator were inspected and found to be in good order.  I did take it to the machine shop to have it turned on a lathe to clean up the surface of the commutator.

Once everything was back from the machine shop it was time to start to get it back together.  First I wanted to give it some fresh paint.  The exterior surfaces were all prepared, primed and finished with a top coat. 

The next day after letting the paint dry, I installed the new bearings and seal and began the reassembly process.  Both end cap joints were slathered with silicone sealant to help keep out water.  Everything looked proper and I didn’t have any parts left over which is always a bonus. The Kevlar coating was then replaced with the aid of a good contact cement.  Now it was time to apply a 12 volt power source and see what happens.  Jilly provided the drum roll and Bam!  It worked both forward and reverse.  Dazzler once again has a replacement windlass motor.  

There are those that might say why not just buy a new motor?  The company address for Lighthouse Manufacturing is in Riverside, California.  The cost of a new replacement motor is approximately $1,200 USD and then there is the shipping of a very heavy electric motor to New Zealand.  I hate to think what that may cost.  Obviously, if we had no other options we would have ordered a new motor. 

All in the cost of rebuilding this used motor in US dollars.

As you can see a working motor at a fraction of the cost of a new motor and it leaves money left over for the next project.  Sometimes rebuilding something can be worthwhile.  This was the first time I have ever rebuilt an electric motor.  Thank goodness for the internet and the plethora of “how to” videos and other valuable information at your finger tips.  As I have said before, “If it’s already broken or not working, You can’t hurt it any more.”  Besides I had a return refund waiting for me if it didn’t work.  LOL  Trying to fix something not working is something I believe in and have employed many times in fixing other issues on Dazzler.  The worst case scenario would be buying and shipping a new motor from the States.  The best case scenario is we saved some money and I learned a new skill of rebuilding an electric motor.  The satisfaction of a “can do” attitude….Priceless!

By the way, the old motor that had stopped working in Fiji would have required a $650 USD rewind on top of new bearings and new brushes.  This motor is identical to the replacement motor currently on the windlass.  I decided to cannibalize some of the parts and save them for a rainy day down the road.  You never know what can happen in Water World and what is useful until you need it and seashells and coconut husks won’t work.  LOL

Until the next time this old man writes another article, stay healthy my friends with fair winds, following seas. 


Captain Dan

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A Sunday Drive Through The Countryside

Well, we woke up and did our usual coffee and internet routine and then Dan said, “Let’s go for a drive in the country.” Well, that sounded like a brilliant idea for a beautiful Sunday so of course I was all in. We got dressed and headed out toward the north. Just about an hour’s drive north of Whangarei is Opua and the Bay of Islands. Lots of cruisers make this their first stop when coming into New Zealand. We originally planned to stop there but then our friends talked us into coming to Whangarei so we were excited to see what all the hubbub was about in this northern port.

The drive through the countryside was amazing! New Zealand is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s rolling hills and beautiful forests just beckon to be explored. Along the way we saw a sign beside the road that read “Kawiti Glowworm Caves”. Well, we were on an adventure so we turned and headed to see what it was all about. Just as we turned onto this road we saw this sign…

You have to love the Kiwis….they just say it how it is! Of course we adhered to the instructions on the sign and made our way cautiously to the entrance of the caves. There was a small park area with some picnic tables and a building made from an old shipping container. That’s the office. Of course there’s a fee to see these caves. We’re quickly learning that everything in New Zealand has a price attached to it. We spoke to the Māori gentleman at the counter who informed us the tours go every half hour and they cost $30 NZD per person. We weren’t really all that excited about spending $60 NZD for a half hour tour of the cave so we thanked him and got back on the road.

It wasn’t too long before we had made it to Opua. WOW! The sites of the bay and the islands from the main road were pretty spectacular. I can see why the cruisers like this place. It’s quaint and beautiful. That said, other than a handful of restaurants and marine related businesses there’s really nothing else here. We both quickly agreed that we made the correct choice to make Whangarei our home while in New Zealand. There we have many options for restaurants, stores and places to get parts etc… whereas Opua is pretty limited with just a couple restaurants and marine stores. There’s no doubt we want to stop here on our way out of the country but for our purposes Whangarei is definitely the right choice.

We did stop in at the Marina Cafe and have a bite of lunch. The food was really tasty. I had my first “pie”. No, not a sweet pie. Here in New Zealand they sell savory pies everywhere. The look like Chicken Pot Pies. This one was chicken and leek and boy was it good. I think I’ll be having more of these tasty treats during our stay in this fabulous country. And, the view was pretty nice looking over the marina and all the boats. It was a great stop. Of course we also had to check out the two marine stores. You never know what you’ll find that you didn’t think you needed until you saw it.

After a couple of hours in Opua we headed back south. It was still pretty early so we took the turn out to the Tutukaka Coast. Our fiends had told us what a beautiful place this is so we decided we should take a little side trip. It was definitely worth it. There were magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean with rocky cliffs and beige sand beaches.

When we arrived back in Whangarei we decided it was too late to worry about making dinner so we stopped at the one our favorite little pubs, McMorrissey’s Irish Pub, for a bite to eat before heading back to Dazzler. They have the most amazing Guiness Stew that they serve in a sourdough bread bowl. YUMMY! It was the perfect way to end another wonderful day here in the land of the Kiwis!

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan