I began the new year by reassembling the fuel injectors and valves for the Catalyst. The Catalyst is a 1932 research vessel built for the University of Washington–the first purpose-built oceanographic vessel built in the region. It still uses its original 1932 Washington-Estep diesel engine, manufactured just before engineer Adrian Estep’s ten-year contract at Washington Iron works expired.
The Catalyst‘s 2007-2008 yearly winter maintenance activities include servicing the fuel injectors and valves. I first disassembled the six main injectors and two spares and cleaned all the component parts. Here’s a picture of seven injectors disassembled, cleaned, and laid out on my workbench:
After cleaning them, I checked all the parts for fit and interchangeability, meaning that the injector parts from cylinder number six can work just as well in any other injector. This is not crucial, but I do this often to make the work easier next time. The process includes fitting every part to every other mating part, which can be time-consuming. If a part is close but not quite right, I use lapping compound to work the parts in, like threaded parts or packing nuts.
This is also a way to learn a lot about the parts, since they have to be carefully inspected. Some parts of the injectors did not fit well into other parts and needed some work. I found that two packing nuts are much shorter than the others, necessitating that each one get one more packing ring. I also found one injector has a different upper body style. I do not know the reason for this; it may be a spare part ordered at a later time, but that’s only a guess. This inspection also revealed some parts that were most likely made recently.
I should note the Catalyst‘s injectors have all been modified to use injector tips and stems of the Atlas-Imperial style–very different than the original Washington Iron Works tips and stems. The original stems fit very tightly into the tip, using grooves and threaded ridges to deliver the fuel. The tight fit added more lateral guiding and the ridges provided a final level of fuel filtration. Atlas-Imperial injectors follow a much simpler design, using just a hardened rod with a 30 degree bevel that seats in the tip with a loose fit for fuel to go between. This change was made last year, as eliminating the hours of precision machining make fabricating the Atlas-Imperial style much cheaper than the Washington style.
After testing all the parts for fit, I cleaned all the parts for one injector at a time and lapped the stem to the tip using the original WIW tip-lapping guide–just briefly, since all the injectors sealed well. This was just to show the pattern and polish a little. I then assembled the injectors and set them following the original procedures described in the Washington Iron Works manual. Then I set each spring about a quarter turn more and used the Grimy Stein torque method to set each injector to exactly 32 foot pounds using a bolt in place of the rocker pin and fuel at 4,000 pounds per square inch.
While I was setting the injectors, Dan Grinstead was grinding valves. I cleaned all the valves and cages previously, before working on the injectors. Dan ground the valves on his specialized valve-grinding machine pictured below, then placed each cage in the cage-squishing tool built for 8 inch-bore Washington cages (incidentally, the cage squisher tool for the 8 inch-bore Washington cages was modified to the 10 1/4 inch cages last year, so Bob Keeny made an adapter so the tool can be used for both). Then Dan installed a tapered mandril in each valve guide and used three different stones to get the seat he is trying for.
Once satisfied with the seat, Dan called me in to lap the valve to the cage and inspect the pattern. We know the Catalyst‘s parts very well. Dan has serviced them regularly for 30 years, and several years ago he replaced all the seats in the cages (we refer to the seat part of the cage as the “nose”). Two years ago we replaced the guides (after someone accidently replaced the cast iron guides with brass) and the valves (with the original look of two-piece valves even though they are one-piece valves).
By Friday night, I had eight injectors and twelve valves reassembled packed them into my just in time to catch the last ferry to Friday Harbor.
Once on the Catalyst, I cleaned all the valve cage holes and performed the “kerplunk” test:
I tested each cage in both the intake and exhaust bores on each cylinder head. Some are much tighter than others–usually just because I missed some carbon or rust on the cage, so I continued cleaning and testing until they all fit. I then installed all the valves and injectors, then timed them all and ran the engine for a while. I stopped it a few times to tighten the valve nuts, since it is sometimes hard to get them tight enough.
I left the Catalyst Monday night, but number three cylinder head is leaking and the propeller is still overpowered, so I’ll be visiting Friday Harbor again soon.
In other news:
* OTM Inc finished a draft of the Preliminary Engineering Assessment for the Lighship No. 83 rehabilitation project for Northwest Seaport. We met with the Vice President of Northwest Seaport for lunch to deliver the report and discuss our recommendations
* Parts of the OTM Inc website were updated and rebuilt, especially the Washington Iron Works section
* Irv from the Velero IV came by with his son Mike to oil wrap and take the spare valve cages and valves for its 600 hp 6 cyl Atlas imperial