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Bottom painted, blocked up in a corner of the boat yard; work was well underway on the various issues related to the cooling and leaks.  We also closed the book on a potential item.  During the survey the team from ABT came in to take a look at the complete hydraulics package and the stabilizers.   Their records led us to suspect that the seals in the stabilizers had not been replaced and were way over due for service.  They also identified a problem with the control panel in the pilot house, it was so dim as to be almost unreadable.  Further research provided documentation that the seals had in fact been replaced and ABT offered a goodwill price on the replacement panel that came with new software for the system.   A very nice deal indeed and the first of several really positive experiences we would have with the professional staff at ABT in our first 3 months of ownership.

The survey had identified significant rust and pitting on the main shaft near the packing gland; turns out that even the best stainless steel will rust if not given regular exposure to oxygen.  Sitting in a pool of non-moving salt water for months at a time, as the shaft in N5516 had done for much of the last two years was not healthy; we needed to find out just how bad things were. The boat yard pulled the propeller and shaft, and sent the shaft out for inspection to a local machine shop.

While we waited for the report on the shaft the boat yard replaced the cutlass bearing, cleaned up the line cutter and ordered a replacement piece.  Also lubed and exercised the folding prop on the wing engine and replaced the various sacrificial zincs scattered around the bottom of the boat.

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After waiting for a number of days, the report comes back, and it’s not good news.  The shaft, after cleaning shows significant pitting, is bent (?) and shows signs of previous repair.   We immediately plowed through the incredibly detailed service records that came with the boat, no recorded evidence of any past problems and neither of the previous owners reported ever having had the shaft pulled.  The shop also reports that the coupling between the shaft and the transmission was significantly machined to fit and was dangerously undersized.  The quote to replace and machine the shaft and coupling was almost twice our original estimate.   Something was clearly not right.  Andy (our sales guy) connected us immediately with the N55 project manager who confirmed our fears, either we were dealing with incompetence or someone was trying to take advantage of us (or both).  We tried talking to the machine shop, who sends us to the boat yard manager who tells us the machine shop is the best in town, everybody uses them and that he has no reason to doubt either their report or their quote.  (We later discover that the boat yard added 20% to the machine shop quote as their fee for managing the relationship with the machine shop.)

Andy and the team stepped right up.   The leveraged their relationship with a top notch machine shop in Michigan who quoted a price withing spitting distance of the estimate we received during the survey, including shipping to the yard in San Diego.  While saving us a bunch of money and easing our fears about the quality of work it did present two new problems.  It would take almost 3 weeks to get the shaft machined and delivered to San Diego and  now our boat was tied up in a boat yard whose judgement was suspect and who had just lost a hefty fee on the replacement shaft.  We were at their mercy.

Next up – The Davit problems, will they ever end?