Volvo exhaust blues on 5th year anniversary

by Glen

Wed 2 Jun, HHN day 50: Volvo exhaust elbow cleanup reveals pin-hole corrosion. And gas locker beautification, in celebration of our five year anniversary of ownership.

Late up this morning after the rather arduous previous day’s activities. And that set the theme of the day, slow and easy.
But today is also a special day, as Oana reminded me this afternoon. It is five years ago that we had departed our working lives in Dubai and arrived to our new boat, Cloudy Bay, in Gibraltar, ready to start our next adventure. Despite a major sell-off in Dubai, we still managed to come with 25 large packing boxes.

It was quite a steep learning curve all round. Oana’s first time to sleep on a boat, my first boat over 35ft, and the first time we had to stow our worldly belongings into an apparently small space. And the first few times out produced some of our most memorable dramas. Firstly, we struggled to get the mainsail out. Then got a halyard twist on the genoa and broke the Furlex (that was expensive!). Then we got in trouble with the police for trying to anchor at night in Gibraltar waters.
Next time out we polished (=scrapped!) the harbour wall with the side of Cloudy Bay (thank god for rubbing strip). And the following time out we managed to suck the mud line into the bow thruster, cut it, and sail off with 50m of it dragging behind us. And that was all before we even departed Gibraltar!
We’ve come a looooong way since then. 24,000 nm to be precise. And Oana still loves me! Granted, she’s wanted to kill me and Cloudy Bay a few times, but we know love overrides such trivialities 😊

Back to the present. I decide to leave the hot water tank sitting on the Volvo for a few more days of solitary confinement. Maybe it will realise the distress it has caused the Captain. Or rather may be best to let that Loctite275 go rock solid before I put it back on the wall.
I’m not so pleased to be without running water again, but then I realise I need to seal-off just one pipe, the cold water feed to the tank, and I can turn the cold water back on. And that works! Why didn’t I think of that last time, for goodness sake? Maybe if I had previously given it a few more days drying time, I would not have had a leak. Numpty!

Next, I decide it is best to get a good look at the Volvo exhaust elbow, just in case I have to get a new one. I clean out the carbon with wire brush on my drill and quickly discover that, yet again, we have pin-hole corrosion in the stainless steel insert sleeve.
This sleeve diverts the injected raw water down into the exhaust hose rather than spraying it back into the turbo. With the pin-holes it does seem like it has started doing just that. I found the same 4 years ago, and tried to buy just the stainless sleeve. But Volvo of course have other ideas, they only sell the elbow complete… and at a huge cost.
As newbies to this cruising lark, we had no choice but to cough up and buy one. They got us by the short’n’curlies that time, but this time I am determined not to play their game. So I start to break the tack-welds to extract the sleeve. Maybe I can get a new one copied and made in Bucharest. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with the cast iron elbow itself, the problem is only the sleeve.

I also post the Volvo exhaust elbow situation onto the Hallberg-Rassy technical chat group. And very quickly get 2 replies leading me to a company in USA who make fully stainless steel exhaust elbows as an alternative to the Volvo part (thanks Bassam and Denis).
But it must be expensive, right? Cast stainless vs the Volvo’s cast iron. Well, what do you know?! $450 vs Volvos $1,500. 70% cheaper! I rest my case… Volvo spares are a rip off.
I admit: I do love our Volvo, but not the bad taste Volvo leaves me with, as I do maintenance. All citizens of Sweden reading this: please rise up and do something! Or your precious Volvo will become another Saab cars… dead and gone, leaving Abba as your only national pride. Oh… and Hallberg-Rassy of course… and blonde babes. Ikea too? Are you kidding?

Inside the engine room I need to clean up the other side of this mess, where the exhaust comes out from the turbo into the elbow. Clearly there has been some moisture in here, as evidence by the resultant active rust. Also a lot of carbon build up in there too.
But it all cleans up and the turbo fan seems to spin very smoothly. One thing I really want to avoid is having to buy a new turbo. Probably cheaper to buy a new engine! Cleaning the corrosion was a bit of a challenge, because the dust and bits are flying everywhere in my newly beautified engine room. Can’t have it dirtied before the next due inspection by the Commodore, in October!

Talking of beautification, I submit to my whim and buy white paint to paint-beautify inside the gas locker. One of those easy relaxing jobs. But turns out not to be.
Getting arms and head inside the gas locker, along with paint, roller, brush and torch was all too much. I came out with white arms, more white hair and a whitish torch… but not a spot of paint on my rubber gloves. Go figure!
Though the resultant locker now glows out of the deck… like that scene from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. And from now on, I’ll be needing my Raybans to change the gas bottles… Unless we change to electric oven. But that’s another discussion. Right now, I need sleep.

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