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Bow thruster leaking


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A huge bill, Vetus spares are wildly expensive. If you can find out who makes the unit, Vetus manufacture little of there own gear, you may be able to source seals much cheaper.

 

It depends why it is leaking. A duff seal is obvious but it could be because there is a heavily worn bearing or shaft. Hard to tell until it is all apart.

 

You need to ask yourself " Do I really need a bow thruster?"

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39 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

A huge bill, Vetus spares are wildly expensive. If you can find out who makes the unit, Vetus manufacture little of there own gear, you may be able to source seals much cheaper.

 

It depends why it is leaking. A duff seal is obvious but it could be because there is a heavily worn bearing or shaft. Hard to tell until it is all apart.

 

You need to ask yourself " Do I really need a bow thruster?"

I think you are right that the OP needs to be prepared for expense but unfortunately unless an owner is a self sufficient, well equipped boat mechanic with appropriate spares to hand, that is a foregone conclusion and one that can't be avoided.

 

I have to say, however, that I don't think your final advice is particularly helpful.  You might just as well say "Do I really need a narrow boat? For that matter does anyone actually need to own a boat. He has a boat with a BT and it needs fixing, not unhelpful comments. 

 

Howard

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1 minute ago, howardang said:

I think you are right that the OP needs to be prepared for expense but unfortunately unless an owner is a self sufficient, well equipped boat mechanic with appropriate spares to hand, that is a foregone conclusion and one that can't be avoided.

 

I have to say, however, that I don't think your final advice is particularly helpful.  You might just as well say "Do I really need a narrow boat? For that matter does anyone actually need to own a boat. He has a boat with a BT and it needs fixing, not unhelpful comments. 

 

Howard

 

I don't think that comment was unhelpful and I do think yours is a bit OOT.

 

Bow thrusters are a comparative recent fitment to leisure boats, especially inland boats and narrowboats in particular. Bow thrusters are far from vital equipment so when one is faced with a large bill its logical the consider if the faulty equipment is really needed. I would suggest Tracy's comment was spot on advice that the OP is free to accept or reject. By your logic if a light fitment fails one should replace it  whatever the costs rather than do without it. If a fridge fails one should replace it even though its October so it won't be needed for months and even then it's not absolutely vital, its only convenient so a bit like a bow thruster.

 

One thing is for sure, its only leaking oil out, not water into the boat so the next time its out for blacking welding over the tube would almost certainly cost less than the repair or replacement.

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12 minutes ago, howardang said:

 

I have to say, however, that I don't think your final advice is particularly helpful.  You might just as well say "Do I really need a narrow boat? For that matter does anyone actually need to own a boat. He has a boat with a BT and it needs fixing, not unhelpful comments. 

 

Howard

 

Well said. 

 

Is the BT a hydraulic unit then, or is the oil reservoir something that some electric BTs have that I'm not aware of?

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9 hours ago, cutandpolished61 said:

Hi All, checked the oil level on my vetus bow thruster and the reservoir was empty. Topped up and half an hour later I noticed an oil film on the water. The reservoir was completely empty again. What is the problem I'm facing?

You are facing a failed bearing seal which is a complex repair but not out of the ability of anyone with  reasonable mechanical knowledge.

To do the seal the thruster unit will need to be lifted out and for this the boat or at least the bow needs to be out of the water to prevent risk of flooding.

I have seen one being done at the canal side, but the guy had run the boat up one of the 'farm type' little slipways you often find in the middle of nowhere.

Empty water tank, wife and dog on the stern with him, gave enough trim to safely run it up the beach.

 

Looking at the Vetus Parts catalogue I cannot see a seperate seal, it is likely they want to sell the entire unit.

 

https://www.vetus.com/en/spare-parts.html

 

However, with the unit removed and dismantled the defective seal may well be a standard type available elsewhere.

Avoid going to Vetus for anything unless you like throwing money away.

 

2 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

Well said. 

 

Is the BT a hydraulic unit then, or is the oil reservoir something that some electric BTs have that I'm not aware of?

Vetus Electric Bowthrusters have a small oil reservoir, actually an old style car brake fluid pot.

This gravity feeds gear oil down to the lower bearing via a small pipe.

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7 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

I don't think that comment was unhelpful and I do think yours is a bit OOT.

 

Bow thrusters are a comparative recent fitment to leisure boats, especially inland boats and narrowboats in particular. Bow thrusters are far from vital equipment so when one is faced with a large bill its logical the consider if the faulty equipment is really needed. I would suggest Tracy's comment was spot on advice that the OP is free to accept or reject. By your logic if a light fitment fails one should replace it  whatever the costs rather than do without it. If a fridge fails one should replace it even though its October so it won't be needed for months and even then it's not absolutely vital, its only convenient so a bit like a bow thruster.

 

One thing is for sure, its only leaking oil out, not water into the boat so the next time its out for blacking welding over the tube would almost certainly cost less than the repair or replacement.

 

I don't think Howard's comment was OTT at all. There are lots of bits of equipment on a boat that could be considered as non-vital. Do you really need an inverter for example which are also relatively recent introductions to leisure boats? For some reason whenever people have genuine BT related mechanical or electrical questions some people feel the need to start a debate about whether they need a BT. It's been done a thousand times already on this forum and I agree with Howard that it is unhelpful.

 

4 minutes ago, MarkH2159 said:

 

Vetus Electric Bowthrusters have a small oil reservoir, actually an old style car brake fluid pot.

This gravity feeds gear oil down to the lower bearing via a small pipe.

 

Mine doesn't.

Edited by blackrose
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3 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

I don't think Howard's comment was OTT at all. There are lots of bits of equipment on a boat that could be considered as non-vital. Do you really need an inverter for example? For some reason whenever people have genuine BT related mechanical or electrical questions some people feel the need to start a debate about whether they need a BT. It's been done a thousand times already on this forum and I agree with Howard that it is unhelpful.

 

However.

 

If faced with a big bill it's reasonable to suggest it's worth taking the chance to take stock as to whether you wish to take a cheaper option. 

 

Tracy's point and Tony"s support of it is perfectly valid.within a 'discussion' forum.

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11 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

 

However.

 

If faced with a big bill it's reasonable to suggest it's worth taking the chance to take stock as to whether you wish to take a cheaper option. 

 

Tracy's point and Tony"s support of it is perfectly valid.within a 'discussion' forum.

 

Yes it's certainly an option. However I'm not sure if paying for a dry dock and then getting a welder to blank off the BT tunnel will be cheaper than fixing the BT? Not in the short term anyway, but perhaps over the life of the boat.

 

But using the same rationale we should all get rid of our inverters because some day they'll go wrong and in the long run it's cheaper not to have one. Or as Howard implied, just get rid of the boat because that will definitely be cheaper.

Edited by blackrose
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19 minutes ago, MarkH2159 said:

 

Vetus Electric Bowthrusters have a small oil reservoir, actually an old style car brake fluid pot.

This gravity feeds gear oil down to the lower bearing via a small pipe.

 

My electric Vetus bowthruster doesnt have an oil reservoir.

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Bow thrusters are not needed.

If you can properly helm you do not need one.

If you have one it can make life easier if you are not a confident helm.

 

My boat doesn't have one, it wasn't fitted with one, I don't regret not havig one.

 

We hired a 'le-boat' (44' x 14') and it had a BT, great fun to play with (just as a novelty) didn't miss it when got back to our boat.

 

Everyone has a choice to BT, or not to BT, there is no correct answer.

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2 minutes ago, cuthound said:

 

My electric Vetus bowthruster doesnt have an oil reservoir.

Well mine and several others I have seen do have them, the OP has one.

My bowthruster is 22 years old so maybe the newer units do not have them?

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Just now, MarkH2159 said:

Well mine and several others I have seen do have them, the OP has one.

My bowthruster is 22 years old so maybe the newer units do not have them?

 

I dont know. Mine will be 14 years old in November.

 

I think @blackrose's bowthruster is a similar age to mine.

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8 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Bow thrusters are not needed.

If you have one it can make life easier if you are not a confident helm.   and even if you are confident it can be useful in some circumstances. 

 

 

Everyone has a choice to BT, or not to BT, there is no correct answer.

Quite right, and indeed in the final analysis everyone has the choice of whether to have a boat or not - a point I was making earlier! I have taken the liberty of amending  some of your comments.?

 

Howard

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21 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

Yes it's certainly an option. However I'm not sure if paying for a dry dock and then getting a welder to blank off the BT tunnel will be cheaper than fixing the BT? Not in the short term anyway, but perhaps over the life of the boat.

 

But using the same rationale we should all get rid of our inverters because some day they'll go wrong and in the long run it's cheaper not to have one. Or as Howard implied, just get rid of the boat because that will definitely be cheaper.

 

You would wait untill the boat was out anyway surely?

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The OP is faced with getting the boat out of the water before the cause of the problem can even be investigated. The boat then has to stay out of the water for as long as it takes to determine the problem, obtain the necessary parts and then fit them. That is all potentially costly. So almost certainly worth waiting until the boat is out of the water for other reasons.

Which means the OP will have to manage without the bowthruster for a while anyway.

He may (or may not) then come to the conclusion that it is something he doesn't really need.

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42 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Bow thrusters are not needed.

If you can properly helm you do not need one.

If you have one it can make life easier if you are not a confident helm.

 

 

And can also make life easier even if you are confident at the helm.

38 minutes ago, cuthound said:

 

I dont know. Mine will be 14 years old in November.

 

I think @blackrose's bowthruster is a similar age to mine.

 

Yes, mine is coming up for 16 years

22 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

 

You would wait untill the boat was out anyway surely?

 

Yes, but you've still got the welding costs. It might not be much cheaper than fixing the oil leak.

9 minutes ago, David Mack said:

The OP is faced with getting the boat out of the water before the cause of the problem can even be investigated.

 

 

Really? Just to fix an oil leak at the motor bearing? I'm not sure if it has to come out of the water for that? I'm pretty sure I can take the motor off mine without taking the boat out of the water.

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59 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

And can also make life easier even if you are confident at the helm.

 

Yes, mine is coming up for 16 years

 

Yes, but you've still got the welding costs. It might not be much cheaper than fixing the oil leak.

 

Really? Just to fix an oil leak at the motor bearing? I'm not sure if it has to come out of the water for that? I'm pretty sure I can take the motor off mine without taking the boat out of the water.

 

Depends though does it not? It's just an option worth considering.

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1 hour ago, howardang said:

Quite right, and indeed in the final analysis everyone has the choice of whether to have a boat or not - a point I was making earlier! I have taken the liberty of amending  some of your comments.?

 

Howard

 

Indeed. I had been boating for 41 years before I bought a boat that just happened to have a bow thruster fitted.

 

Long reverses in particular are less of a problem when using the bow thruster.

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It might be possible, I don't know, but it you can remove the tube from the reservoir, heat up in a pot grease until it's runny like oil, pour it into the bearing where once cool will gel again and remain there, like car wheel bearing grease does. We used to do this with certain enclosed bearings that had run dry of grease, Old type Ford clutch release bearings for example, heat up a pot grease, pop the bearing into it where the heated grease will seep into it good and proper and remain when cool.

 Edited to add.   Don't do this with continuousely running bearings they will overheat. Only to bearings that run for short few second periods like a bow thruster bearing or car clutch release bearings.   And if you steer your boat with the B/T and never bother with the tiller like a bloke around here does, don't do either.

Edited by bizzard
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1 hour ago, blackrose said:

 

And can also make life easier even if you are confident at the helm.

 

Yes, mine is coming up for 16 years

 

Yes, but you've still got the welding costs. It might not be much cheaper than fixing the oil leak.

 

Really? Just to fix an oil leak at the motor bearing? I'm not sure if it has to come out of the water for that? I'm pretty sure I can take the motor off mine without taking the boat out of the water.

 

I used my boat whilst the motor was out and being refurbished at Cox Auto Electrics, so removing the motor definately doesn't require the boat to be out of the water. However if the gearbox requires removal then docking will be necessary.

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2 hours ago, blackrose said:

 

Yes it's certainly an option. However I'm not sure if paying for a dry dock and then getting a welder to blank off the BT tunnel will be cheaper than fixing the BT? Not in the short term anyway, but perhaps over the life of the boat.

 

But using the same rationale we should all get rid of our inverters because some day they'll go wrong and in the long run it's cheaper not to have one. Or as Howard implied, just get rid of the boat because that will definitely be cheaper.

 

Once again, not comprehending what was written: "One thing is for sure, its only leaking oil out, not water into the boat so the next time its out for blacking welding over the tube would almost certainly cost less than the repair or replacement. "

 

Where did that suggest dry docking just for welding up the tube?

 

 

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56 minutes ago, bizzard said:

Don't do this with continuousely running bearings they will overheat. Only to bearings that run for short few second periods like a bow thruster bearing or car clutch release bearings. 

 

 

It seems that most BT users use them for steering until the battery is flat - they sound like a swarm of bees coming down the cut.

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1 hour ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

Once again, not comprehending what was written: "One thing is for sure, its only leaking oil out, not water into the boat so the next time its out for blacking welding over the tube would almost certainly cost less than the repair or replacement. "

 

Where did that suggest dry docking just for welding up the tube?

 

 

 

I think I comprehended what you'd written just fine Tony. Perhaps once again you didn't comprehend what I'd written? I didn't attribute to you my suggestion that the boat needed dry docking just for welding up the tube. That came from me and as I've already said that may not be correct. I notice you've avoided my other point that if we follow your rationale it would be cheaper to get rid of all other unnecessary equipment.

 

20 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

 

It seems that most BT users use them for steering until the battery is flat - they sound like a swarm of bees coming down the cut.

 

Or could it be that it's just the BT users you notice are the ones who are over-using them?

Edited by blackrose
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7 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

I think I comprehended what you'd written just fine Tony. Perhaps once again you didn't comprehend what I'd written? I didn't attribute to you my suggestion that the boat needed dry docking just for welding up the tube. That came from me and as I've already said that may not be correct. I notice you've avoided my other point that if we follow your rationale it would be cheaper to get rid of all other unnecessary equipment.

 

Once again!!!

 

Nowhere did either Tracy or myself suggest he get rid of his bow thruster. Tracy suggested doing that was an option to be looked at and then Howardarg said Tracy's advice was unhelpful.  I disagree, Tracy's was a perfectly valid comment, especially as he put no value on either keeping it or dong away with it, he just said think about of its really needed.

 

I did not say it would be cheaper to get rid of all other unnecessary equipment, that is your interpretation. I pointed out to Howardarg that his suggestion had flaws and tried to explain those with examples.

 

The fact remains that a bow thruster, inverter, central heating and much other stuff is not vital for boating and  when faced with expense it is valid to question it that piece of broken equipment is really needed. Its your interpretation of what i said that is at fault because nowhere did I suggest what you claim, I only suggested these things need considering.

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