Tapping with the hammer made the exhaust elbow almost completely disintegrate in my hands. Clearly it was time to replace the exhaust elbows. So, in a state of near-panic I sent an email to figure out what it would cost to get replacements shipped from the states, and how long it would take. Of course, being a Volvo Penta part – it was priced as if it was cast from gold. And it would cost almost as much to ship it down here if I wanted it within three weeks. Totally bummed.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that I know a couple people who know a couple people. After a quick chat with Alex, I had a chat with a local fabricator. He told me he could make the parts out of stainless (better than cast-iron). Now the rush was to get the other elbow off – better to replace them both, while I’m at it.
Taking the other elbow off was even tougher. Another full day blown fighting corroded nuts. On this one I actually had to take out the Dremel and cut the nuts off the bolts. This wasn’t easy. To further complicate things, I needed to be sure to not damage the threads on the bolts – as I had no idea how to replace these very specific (very rare) bolts. And without those bolts, I couldn’t reconnect the exhaust elbows, which means I couldn’t run my engines. The joys of boat maintenance/repair.
Here I made a pretty dumb mistake. I was in a hurry to get the remaining exhaust elbow off, so I could head to Panama City and drop them with the fabricator (Eric Bauhaus’ father) and couldn’t find my safety glasses. It was getting dark, so sunglasses weren’t an option. So I just positioned myself where the Dremel wouldn’t throw metal towards me, and I began cutting the corroded nuts from the corroded bolts on the exhaust elbow.
Good news: I managed to get the nuts off the bolts without completely screwing up the threads on the bolts. Bad news: during said Dremel-surgery I managed to get some rusty pieces of metal in my eye. Not cool. Totally preventable. Dumb.
That night was pretty painful, but we were headed to Panama City the following day where I could get it checked out by a hospital if need-be.
Naturally, my car wouldn’t start. Dead battery. So we brought one from the boat and got it cranked up. After a warm-up I felt alright about the prospects of getting to Panama City in the pile of rusted metal I call a car.
We made it to the city in the early afternoon, headed to the mall for a Carl’s Jr burger – and then dropped off the exhaust elbows to what would appear to be a Grateful Dead fan (in front of Hooters). It’s crazy how one can move from third-world to first-world in a couple of hours in Panama. Eric’s Dad (the fabricator who looked like a Grateful Dead fan) is as interesting of a guy as Eric is, and it was a pleasure meeting him. I was even more stoked about his price and turn-around time on the exhaust elbows.
After dropping those off I found out that the friend I was planning on staying with in Panama City had company – meaning that Luke couldn’t stay, even if I could. Which meant we needed a hotel/hostel. I did some more boat-shopping while Luke tried to find a hostel. We ended up staying at a surf-hostel – with cold $1 beer and a swimming pool. Could be worse.
At this point I was having a ton of trouble with my eye and decided to visit the hospital the following day. The eye was getting worse, and neither I nor anybody else could locate whatever was in it. I pinged a couple of friends, did some research online, and struck out for a private hospital, looking for a reputable eye-doctor. I found the right place after a bit, but the doctor wasn’t in until 4:30PM that afternoon. So there were a few more hours of pain involved.
Eventually I made it back to the doctor, who eventually pulled three pieces of metal out of my eye, cleaned it, and scribbled a prescription on a notepad for a couple of types of eye-drops. He then put some kind of ointment on my eye and put a ridiculous bandage over it, telling me to leave it on until I went to sleep.
There was no chance of me leaving that on all night. I removed it on the ride home.
When I got back to the hostel Luke was bored, but I was in pain and sleepy. Eventually I caved and decided to go eat out with Luke. Luke wanted steak, we went to a steakhouse. I told him it would be pricey – we found out it was pricier than I expected. So we left the steakhouse.
I wanted Lebanese or Chinese or Indian. Anything that I can’t get “out there.” Luke seems to think more along the lines of pizza, hamburgers, or steak. At this point, I figured “to hell with it” – let’s make a night out of it. So we took a taxi to the Old City in Panama City. Where one beer turned into three or four…