Our Travel

Update 4 January 2016.  We continue to learn.  Everything below still holds true; however, we have learned that even straight, protected copper tubing can fatigue and crack with age.  On a recent night passage with 20 knot winds, reefed main and reefed genoa, the hard working autopilot was just too much for the 20 year old copper tubing in our steering system.  A crack developed in a straight passage of tubing that was protected within a conduit.   We  resorted to the emergency tiller again.  The fourth time.  As you can read below, we replaced segments in Darwin.  Now we are in Phuket and YSE/The Parker Store folks have just replaced all the pressurized lines with 5000 psi rated Parker hydraulic hose and fittings.  The main issue was the routing.  Most of the run of the old copper was in a very tight conduit which is simply too small for the hydraulic hose, we had to find other passages.  That is done and all seems good now.

Villa G's hydraulic steering lines developed a leak and left us without steering while underway in the Java Sea.  There was nothing to do but get out the emergency tiller and hand steer for two days till Kumai where I soldered the leak.  After enjoying Puting National Park and it's primates we headed on toward Bali.  Then again another leak developed, so more hand steering until we anchored in Bali.

While in Bali we got new copper tubing, fittings and tools to replace a long segment of old tubing.

I think the problem is that a) copper hardens with age, b) the original installation had some bends that virtually crimped the tubing and c) before we left Phuket we moved a lot of things into and out of the space around the pipes bending them more so in the process. 

We shall now see how this works out.

Well at least it has been good to learn how to make flanges etc on pipe. 

UPDATE January 2014:  The copper tubing used in the repair sprung another leak as we were sailing toward Kupang Timor.  We had already decided that the steering was not to be trusted and were on our way toward Darwin Australia.  We ducked into the SE harbour for Ende on Flores Island.  It was not the best anchorage, but we rested and then focused on yet another repair.  I removed all the replaced copper tubing and change it with a new copper from Bali which I very carefully handled and made sure to not bend in any way.  This repair held up to Kupang and the four nights across to Darwin.  

In Darwin we hired hose doctors from Enzed an Australia company that is totally focused on hydraulics to come to Villa G and replace the copper that I had installed.  They used new tech polymeric high pressure hose and fittings.  As the hydraulic ram was of unknow age, I got West Marine to ship over a new one and had the old one rebuilt by Enzed.  While doing that job we also changed the Octopus hydralaulic steering pump and with new hoses for it too.  See the last photo where the new hydraulic cylinder and the hoses are shown in situ.

New hydraulic steering hoses for Villa G