08 April 2015


It's that time of year to start getting your boat ready for the season. If you haven't replaced your water pump in three years, now's the time to do it. I wrote this for my Ask Capt. Gary column in Long Island Boating World last year. 

I decided it was time to replace the water pump in my 2003 Yamaha 150 this season. No problems with water flow or overheating, but it seemed like a good idea. For those of you with other brands of engines, the mechanics of this are similar, if not the same, in most cases. Essentially, you remove the lower unit — the part that has the gear casing/prop — and the water pump is right there, sitting at the base of the shaft that transmits power from your engine.

If you’re new to this but good with tools, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you’re not confident of your skills, let someone else do it.

Here goes.

Parts, Tools and Stuff
A water pump rebuild kit designed for your make and model engine. You can buy just the impeller, but as long as you’ve got the lower end off, you may as well replace the entire unit. The kit should have a new housing, inner housing, impeller, bolts, gaskets, set pins, and probably more.

Box and ratchet wrenches/sockets. My Yamaha needed a long 1/2-inch socket to access the bolt that holds the small stabilizing fin (just above the prop; right). It has to be removed to access a hidden lower end bolt. Once the fin is removed, there’s the “final bolt” holding the lower end to the motor, under where the fin was.
The six bolts holding the lower end (below) used a 5/8-inch socket and a 5/8-inch box wrench (there are space issues that make using both — or just the box wrench — necessary). They should come out easily.
The bolts holding the water pump housing to the lower unit, require a 12mm (a wee bit smaller than a 1/2 inch) for a strip-proof removal. Your kit should have new bolts with it, so you just don’t want to strip them coming out; they’ll probably be a tad tight with corrosion, etc.

Other stuff. Adjustable pipe pliers; Vise Grips (you may or may not need these. If you use them, do so judiciously); Loctite (always good on screws that need to stay tight); some high-quality (or manufacturer-specific) lube grease meant for marine applications (I’m real fond of Mil-Comm products); a small, thin-but-wide pry bar (flathead screwdrivers will work, but I wanted something with a little more width. A finishing prybar did the trick). A rubber mallet to unseat the lower end from the engine and, if there are washers holding the impeller on, you’ll need a pipe that is just a hair bigger than the shaft. You’ll slide this over the shaft to seat the washers with a few mallet taps. I also use the usual amount of rags and wipes and a couple-or-three cotton ear swabs. Oh. And a digital camera, so you can take pics along the way in case you need to refer back to the original configuration.

Lastly: I have an old — as in circa-1979 — Craftsman clamping work table. They make a vise table somewhat similar today. My puppy has done more for me than half the tools I own … and I own a lot of tools. It’s beat to death, looks like hell, wobbles and shakes, and I keep jury-rigging it to keep it alive, but it keeps doing what it was meant to do. I can’t vouch for today’s models, but …
The motor’s lower end, when my vise table is opened almost full wide, allows the prop/gear case to slip through and the flanges of the rest of the lower end to sit perfectly on the split table.
Regardless you’ll need “something” stable to hold the lower end in order to work on the water pump. If you don’t have a table like this, you may want to put some forethought or construction ingenuity into making one before removing the lower end. It’ll make doing the pump every third year or so, a hell of lot easier!

 Doing It
The lower end isn’t as heavy as an outdrive, but it’s not light, either. Plus the drive shaft is close to three-foot long and this has to all be slid carefully out of the motor. Tilt your engine up, before unloosening the bolts. This will make removing the lower end easier and safer.

If your motor has a bolt concealed by the stabilizer fin, remove the fin first, and then crack the bolt that you’ll find. I loosened everything before completely removing them. My lower unit stayed attached after the bolts were removed but a few raps with the (rubber!) mallet loosened the seal easily. It slides out of the motor easily, as well.
The plastic piece with four bolts is the cover to the impeller. Unbolt them and remove. The piece should slide up the shaft and off. There is a separate metal cover that may — or may not come off with the plastic cover (right. Mine had sand on it and between it and the plastic housing, a sure sign it was time for an impeller change. There’s a gasket around the plastic housing and a round one in a slot that the metal cover goes into.

You’ll also notice a sort of flattened section on metal cover. Not the way it goes into the housing (there should be square locating pieces in the top of the metal housing that will set the metal housing correctly into the plastic one. Note the position anyway).
The impeller is the black rubber thingee that looks like a ’roided starfish. Grab the shaft, and rotate it slightly. It should turn clockwise, but note the angle of rotation (look at the upper left of the pic to the left; you’ll see an arrow Magic Markered on the table under the ViseGrip… I did that to remember the rotation direction).
On my motor there was a metal cap, over a split plastic cap, over three thin washers holding the impeller to the shaft. Your motor may or may not have something like this or similar. They have to be removed up the shaft.
Next was the impeller itself (below). Removing it may require a little jimmying. I used the finishing prybar rather than screwdrivers. Once you get it moving it should be able to slide up by hand power without too much effort.

Note the bend in the arms of the impeller. My impeller can only go on one way due to a slot on the base of the shaft that fits into the impeller. Note how your impeller is mounted and make sure you mount the new one the proper way (the impeller arms won’t have the curve in them at this point. Here’s what you’ve taken out to start the rebuild (below).

My rebuild kit came with a fiber gasket and a metal one, so I removed both old ones (below right). There are two locating studs on either side of the shaft that mark where the both gaskets go. They can only be mounted one way if all the screw holes, etc., are to match up. My kit came with replacement studs. The studs are about a half-inch long, and mine were corroded in place. I put a few dabs of oil on them and let it sit for a bit. The, using the Vise Grips, gently wiggled the piece and they came out pretty easily. I cleaned the holes with the ear swabs and replaced the locator pins with the new ones, then mounted the gasket and plate.
Put a light coat of grease on the bottom of the impeller (and I mean light. Just get it shiny. No great gobs of stuff!). If the impeller is held on by collars, slide them back into position as well.

Take the o-ring gasket, put a little dab of grease on it to hold it in place, and place it inside the plastic housing. Then insert the metal cover into the plastic cover. Little bit of grease, insert the larger o-ring into the weird shape of the plastic housing. Make sure everything stays together (that inner o-ring may want to come out and that would be bad!), and slide it down the shaft.
When you arrive at the impeller, start turning the shaft in the proper direction while pushing the housing gently-but-firmly over the impeller. As you turn the shaft, the impeller will conform to the housing (and thus the curve to the original impeller arms).

Once you have it firmly seated, insert the bolts in the four corners and tighten them down (these aren’t lug nuts. Tighten them firmly, but not like they’re holding a Goodyear to a stock car at Daytona). I use an x pattern when tightening.
There was a black thingee in the original pump (look at the pic fourth up from here. It's the black thing on the light colored housing), and my kit didn’t come with it, so I removed it from the old housing checked it for wear, cleaned it and reinserted it into the new housing. I put a light coat — practically a film — of grease over the derive shaft and spindles and … done.

There was one little surprise left. When I took the housing back to the motor, I noticed there was a rubber tube (below, right ... the little curvy thing just visible) that fit to a nipple on the front, and a male gear stem that slid into a female receptor in the motor. These don’t want to automatically mate. Another set of hands comes in handy here to guide things back together. Or you can curse a lot, as I did, and do it yourself, while holding the lower end with your knee and one arm. Opt for the extra set of hands if possible.

As always, consult your individual manufacturer’s manual for any quirks or differences with your motor. 

On the LIBW DIY 1 to 5 Scale — premiering here for the first time — I give this a 2.5 in difficulty.

See ya on the water.

10 February 2015


It's 1996 and I'm working the phones like my life depends on it to get a chance at being a "real" war correspondent. The only thing going on at the time is the Bosnian/Serbian war, so that'll have to do.

I get Soldier of Fortune Magazine to give me an assignment, work through multiple layers of US Army PIO, and it's getting close to the day I'm supposed to go over. 

I get a call. 

Apparently, accredited journalists have to take a three-day mine/booby trap-recognition course before going into IFOR (Implementation Force) territory. What the fuck?

Back on the phones. I get to command level in Germany, and tell them my background. Finally get a three-star (who I assume was Ranger qualified and knew what a LRRP was) to sign off on me coming over, sans the class. Thank you whomever you were (if I could find my notes, which are in my attic, I could tell you). 

Lot's of really cool shit involved from that point, but I'm outside the wire at Tusla and I catch a cab to Lodgement Area Demi. "Lodgement Area?" Really?

Oh. I forgot... Hillary. 

So before I catch the cab, I'm at Ramstein where — ostensibly — Mrs. Clinton mis-remembers getting sniped at in Tusla.

I talk to a bunch of grunts at the NCO club. (Being an ex-E-5, I talked my way in) 

Let me tell you something. If you want military people to open up to you as a journalist with no holding back, prove you've an assignment from Soldier of Fortune Magazine. You're gold from there on.

"Shit, we were all confined to barracks when she came," said one guy. "There wasn't nothing but old lifers and O4s-and-above out at the plane," said another. "Snipers, shit. If they'd have let us out there, maybe there would have been snipers, but..." etc., etc., ad nauseam.

And that's the REAL story about Hillary getting sniped at. Not at Tusla (it never happened there either), nor at Ramstein (where it could have happened if they hadn't locked the base down).

What I do remember about Tusla was seeing one of those huge Russian transports disgorging an incredible amount of shit, and the surprisingly helpful guys in PIO (who probably got in the shit when I disappeared for 10 days. "Where the fuck have you been for two weeks? You were supposed to have an escort," said a captain when I was trying to get back out. Well, I was kinda escorted by an Armored Cav unit most of the time. When I wasn't in the taxi, anyway.)

And then there was that fucking taxi ride. And the Burger King. And the Domino's. And the beer. And the amazing fact that I couldn't speak Yugo, but never had any trouble communicating. Except with that one warlord who — I'll bet — is STILL wanted for atrocities, and who we almost re-started the war with ... but those are stories for another time.

Oh. And there was no war (I went to cover their election, figuring somebody would kill somebody. They'd been doing it for long enough, God knows), so there was no story. 

Unlike the mass media, Soldier of Fortune doesn't make shit up.

08 February 2015


For those of you who are unaware ...the story thus far ...Well here's the video if you don't want to read ...

Capt. Ed and I have been scalloping — along with a few of our buds popping in off and on — for 14 years. The last half dozen years-or-so we actually got it figured out and started making money — more or less — off scalloping.

The season in New York is the first Monday of November to March 31. We're out whenever we can get our boat out; i.e., ice-up thick enough for us not to break keeps us in port.

Anyway ... during one of our down days, Capt. Ed. brought up something we'd played with ruminated on while we were building Old School and re-decking Outlaw, our scallop/clam/party/work boats.

"We should build a sail scalloper like the old timers."

Never were 10 words uttered so off hand that would have such major repercussions.

So: the object is to build a fully-found, non-power-aboard, sail scalloper and dredge scallops the way they did before the invention of the outboard.

Journey forward to 2014, and Ed gets us a 27-foot sailboat. It was an American 27, circa late 60s early 70s. The hull was gorgeous for our intended purpose, it had a shallow draft keel — perfect for Peconic Bay — and ...

So, we gutted her to the hull and moved her to Capt. Ed's parents place, where the long-suffering Mr. and Mrs. D. have allowed us to use their garage/workshop to do both Old School and Outlaw, and started working on she-of-no-name yet.

HERE'S a video of where we are to date (February 7, 2015).

For those of you interested in the finer points of what we've done and what has worked (and what hasn't), you'll have to wait as we figure it out and I write it here or in my "Ask Capt. Gary" column in Long Island Boating World.

01 February 2015


Today, February 1, 2015, is the 46th anniversary of the reactivation of what would eventually become today’s 75th Ranger Regiment. 

I wrote this a while back ...but figured it bears repeating.
The first provisional long-range patrol (LRP) units were formed in 1965 and 1966 at the divisional level, but it was in 1967 that the LRRP organizations flourished and became formally established. The acronyms LRP (long range patrol) and LRRP (long-range reconnaissance patrols) soon were interchangeable, though most orders of battle refer to the units as LRPs. Every integral Army group in-country, whether brigade or division level, had its own LRRP unit.

On January 1, 1969, General Westmoreland brought the 13 different LRRP units under the umbrella of the 75th Infantry Rangers (Airborne), linking them to the 75th Infantry of 1954 and the 475th Infantry of 1944 and that unit’s 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) – Merrill’s Marauders — whose regimental patch the Rangers would wear. The LRP/LRRP companies would be designated from then on as companies C through I and K through P, 75th Infantry Rangers. The reactivation became official on February 1, 1969.

The units operated in a silent netherworld of dark green shadows where error could mean death and where the extraordinary was commonplace. Traveling in small groups — some companies used three or four man, some eight and more — far from friendly forces, we strove to look, smell, move and act as much as possible like the enemy we sought in the depths of the jungle. We were hunters and trackers, and our elusive prey was the NVA and VC. 

We were adept at the art of ambush, the quiet kill, unseen movement and survival, wafting through the jungle like a solitary breeze, briefly felt, quickly gone. We were the eyes and ears of our parent units. 

We were a small, unheralded, elite force of specialists in guerrilla warfare, an all-volunteer group of soldiers with a minimum of formal training in the skills of covert counterinsurgency operations. Nevertheless, we had an effect on the overall military operations in Vietnam that was completely out of proportion to our number. 

Major General William R. Peers, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, noted in 1967: “Every major battle the 4th Infantry Division got itself into was initiated by the action of a Long Range Patrol; every single one of them. That included the Battle of Dak To, for the Long Range Patrols completely uncovered the enemy movement. We knew exactly where he was coming from through our Long Range Patrol action.” 

Lieutenant General John H. Hays, Jr., who commanded the 1st Infantry Division from February 1967 to March 1968 and went on to become the deputy commanding general of II Field Force, serving until August 1968, said that the LRRPs were “generally considered to have the most uncomfortable and dangerous job in Vietnam,” but also noted that “the way in which the long range patrols were used was one of the most significant innovations of the war.” 

I remain proud to have been a member of E Company, 58th Infantry LRRP and Company K, 75th Infantry Rangers (Airborne) in Viet Nam (attached to the 4th Infantry Division). 

So here’s to all the LRPs, LRRPs and Rangers out there from yesterday, today and tomorrow.

27 December 2014


If you renewed your permits for 2015, you noticed an additional sheet (full permit and Addendum at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/bmrdiggerres.pdf).

For scallopers, there's a logbook requirement in 2015 as well as all the usual.

If you need some waterproof notebooks, here’s a place to get them. And their delivery is super fast (I ordered mine on December 22 and had them by December 24).

WaterproofPaper.com. Phone is 724-438-3940. I ordered the 4x5-1/2 inch notebooks; $4.95 a piece. I also ordered one of the vaunted “Waterproof Space Pens,” to write with (and a refill  $8.95+$4.45).

For those of you non-Seinfeld viewers …watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODO0zQBPI2k. It's the Space Pen routine.

See ya’ on the water.

12 December 2014


 I have this stuff and swear by all of it.

I’m gonna’ start off with the most expensive thing on the list at $299 (cheaper on Amazon by a bit). It’s called the RoboReel. Now if you have a DIYer on your list who has all the gadgets and gizmos, I guarantee he doesn’t have this, and I also guarantee he’ll (sorry if you’re a lady and live in your garage, as I do) come up to you and make you come in the garage and see how it works. It’s an overhead 50-foot extension cord reel (12 gauge), but it’s a tad more sophisticated than that. First off it’s portable, so you can take it to a job site. It retracts automatically (duh) but the retract button is on the head of the cord; via a microprocessor that learns how far and fast you want it to retract. There’re also three sockets on the head and lights that tell you when power is coming down the line. Cut the line and it automatically kills the power, shuts down automatically in an overheat situation, it won’t retract when feeding a tool, and it’s the end of tangled cords and having to hand gather them. Video is here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wICglE7kkkU; www.roboreel.com is their Website. This gets four-out-of-four stars for utility, three for price and four for adaptability (it can be mounted literally anywhere).

Stronghold Haywire Klamper
The Stronghold Haywire Klamper is a simple little tool designed to, well, join anything that needs to be joined that requires a clamp-like fixture to do so. Got a hose that let go? It’ll fix it. Shaft split on a wood maul? Ditto. Need to make a spear a la Rambo when he jumps on the boar? Ditto. It’s utility is only limited by your imagination. Made in Libby, Montana, this is a must-buy for any outdoorsman, boater, camper, hunter, fisherman, etc. The starter kit costs $24.95 and it comes with the heavy-duty but smack-in-the-head-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that tool, wire and instructions. All you need is a wire cutter. After you buy one, you’re going to want to buy a few more. Clever as hell and it works badass. Web is www.haywireklamper.com; go there and check out what you can do with it. Phone is 406-291-1453; e-mail: wes@haywireklamper.com. Four-stars for utility.

I raved about these back in July when I bought my first set from these folks, and I’ve ordered another set since. I’ve yet to find any bed linen to beat their custom sheets — and certainly not at their price or quality. And they’re American made. My original write-up was here lrrpsworld.blogspot.com/2014/07/out-of-my-comfort-zone-adventures-in.html. From Cozytown Linens, www.cozytownlinens.com, of Pelzer, South Carolina. Toll-free number is 864-236-4968. Prices for a custom queen-size set and four pillowcases run around $180. Four stars for comfort and price, all the way.

Snap Stick
I swear by this stuff … and it’s the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who uses anything that has metal or plastic zippers or snaps. Works like Chapstick. I use it for my foul weather gear snaps, wet and drysuit zips, boat canvas snaps and zips, etc. If it has to snap on and off or close smoothly, and it can get rusty or sun-dried, this is what you put on it. MSRP is $6.48 a tube, which is the size of a kid’s glue stick. AT marine and camping stores or from Shurhold, www.shurhold.com.

29 October 2014


I have owned a Mac since 1987. I have three in my house in 2014 and — unfortunately — upgraded a MacBook Pro-Retina 13 and a 27-inch desktop (go see how much all THAT cost) to Yosemite 10.10.

What a fucking disaster.

DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR FUCKING MAC TO YOSEMITE .... unless you like spending endless hours trying to fix stupid shit little bugs that Mac left in when they rushed this OS out.

I thought I hated DOS 8  ... (still do...the most ridiculous "upgrade" ever conceived).

But when you've been a "Mac guy" for as long as I have you expect Mac-smooth transitions.

If you have Maverick ...keep it, because you ain;t getting anything "smooth" out of Yosemite.


Now, I gotta spend hours trying to backgrade to Maverick ... and I'm going to attempt to have the Mac Help people walk me through it. (yeah, lot's a luck!)

I am soo beyond pissed.

How fucking un-Mac-very-DOS can an "upgrade" be? Try Yosemite and find out. Something incredibly simple will be soon fucked up, you won't believe it. And I did this on two units that are two-months new.

I knew I shoulda' stayed with Mavericks.