From time to time, I have written about the pitfalls of being a boat owner experiencing situations I don’t know how to fix. Usually, I’m lucky. I have a friend nearby who can help out, or the problem occurs where I can call someone I know who can come and fix it. This time was a bit different.
The day was cool with a bit of a breeze as the marine fog slowly burned off. We decided to fuel up Key of Sea for the season while taking advantage of the Harbor Marine fuel dock’s discount for Bellingham Sail & Power Squadron/16 members.
After a great departure, all was well on our way to the fuel dock. We nosed up to the dock, tied up and shut down the engines. First the port engine, no problem. Then starboard, no prob—oops. We have a problem. The starboard engine wouldn’t shut down. That was a first. OK, now what do we do?
I called Tri-County Diesel Marine. The sympathetic techs advised me to find the “stop solenoid.” The what?
“Uhhh, where is it?” They said they’d send someone over to help.
By now, I had crawled down into the offending engine bay and started looking around for, I don’t know, maybe some part that had a neon sign saying, “STOP SOLENOID HERE!” No such luck. I asked Leslie to try to stop the engine with the helm kill switch again. This time when she did, I spotted the solenoid with its clicking noise. Looking closer, I noticed a linkage hanging loose just ahead of the solenoid.
After I reached back and tugged on that linkage, the engine immediately died. Eureka! I called off Tri-County with a big thank-you. It took a bit of doing, but I finally reconnected the solenoid and the linkage. Several starts and stops proved I had solved our problem.
We tanked up and returned to our slip as I basked in the afterglow of saving us from sure disaster.
When I pulled into my slip a few days later, the solenoid acted up again. Same thing: The linkage had come undone. I asked around for advice and was told to try Permatex Threadlocker Blue, which is similar to Loctite. I was advised to clean the threads with acetone, let them dry and then apply the Permatex. We opted for the medium-strength Permatex, figuring we could always get the stronger version if this didn’t work out.
The verdict? The parts have been connected for almost two months and are holding fine. It may be a temporary fix, but for now I’ve saved myself a chunk of change. That little tube of Permatex has a permanent home aboard our boat right next to the duct tape and the super glue!
This article originally appeared in the Bellingham Sail & Power Squadron/16 newsletter, Bell Signals.