Taking your engine out

Craig Briggs

---In amelyachtowners@..., <colin.d.streeter@...> wrote :

Hi Craig/ Kent

With all that experience and such swift engine removal I was just wondering for future reference, ahead of cruising off myself finally and in case I ever need to do it, how do you lift your engine out?

Do you use the boom and which halyard and winch? Is it strong enough? Any tips for the group?

Thanks for sharing this Craig and Kent.

Colin Streeter, Island Pearl II
Amel 53 #332, Brisbane 

Hi Colin, 

My Amel is a Santorin, and your 53 may be a bit different, but, yes, I do use the halyards plus sheet tail ends or any similarly sized lines to lift the engine.

    My engine with transmission weighs 465 pounds. My mizzen staysail – foc d’artimon - halyard (the smallest of the lines I use) is 10mm which has a 4800 pounds tensile strength. ABYC recommends not to exceed 1/5 tensile strength for determining the SWL (Safe Working Load) or, say, about 1000 pounds in my case. Other, more conservative sources, suggest using 1/10 TS for SWL, to account for age and deterioration, which puts me right at the limit. Consider your halyard blocks, too.

    Whatever the case, you are dealing with serious weight and have to be really careful not to put yourself in any position where a miscue by a helper on a winch or a line or block failing will take a lot of the fun out of this project.

    So, now that nobody can sue me, let me start by saying there are lots of ways to skin a cat and I probably don’t do it exactly the same way each time, but here are the basics.  After removing the engine room hatch cover so the engine will clear and disconnecting/unbolting everything – do put plastic caps on the fuel lines - I then put shackles on the engine lifting rings and tie a short sturdy line between the shackles.

Then I take the main sheet out of its block on the tang on the mizzen and run a lifting line from one main winch, through the jib sheet turning block and up through the main sheet block on the tang on the mizzen and then down to the engine, tying a bowline around the line between the shackles. (You could use any spare line, of course, but I use the bitter end of the genoa sheet that had been on the winch.) When you tie the lifting line on you can guess the fore/aft balance point pretty easily and/or adjust the position as you first start to lift the engine.

    Make sure the lifting sheet has a clear lead from its turning block up to the tang – mine has to go aft of the mizzen cap stay. Put the lifting line on the winch, ready to hoist, but before you tension it put a snatch block on it and run a line from the snatch block forward to a mast winch. The tail end of the main sheet works well for this. Do put a second snatch block on this line and suspend that block with a fixed length line down from the boom so this “fore guy” doesn’t press down on the bimini. This “fore guy” is going to give you fore and aft adjustment as you lift.

    Next I put a third line on, tied to the lifting point and going over to the opposite genoa winch – this will allow swinging the engine over to a side cockpit seat after lifting, plus giving lateral adjustment as you lift. Alternatively, you can lift the engine straight up and slide the hatch cover back in place – I find the extra height of the seat means less stooping.

    Finally, and perhaps most important, rig the mizzen staysail halyard to act as a secondary lifting halyard. This does two things: it acts as a safety line (kind of like using a second halyard when you hoist your wife up the mast) and, second, when the angle of the primary lifting line (going to the main sheet tang on the mizzen) gets too tight, you can continue lifting with the second halyard to get enough height to clear the seat.

     At this point you can either lower the engine and go to work on it in your cockpit or swing it over the side to lower onto the dock, or lower it to the bottom as a mooring. Put the main boom to work for going over the side and use a line to the dock, but don’t trust the boom topping lift to hold all the weight – keep the mizzen halyard attached.

I use cardboard boxes under and around to protect from scratching anything.

Cheers from DIY heaven,

Craig Briggs, SN#68, Sangaris – Vero Beach, FL USA

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