So...I realize the photo above does not quite qualify as a beauty shot, unless, of course, you're a guy like me who's just a tad tetched about the subject of boats and everything related to them. But then again, to be painfully and truthfully honest about the whole deal, even a guy like me can't quite see a discombobulated 2000-watt Freedom 20 inverter running neck-and-neck with the Mona Lisa in terms of artsy pulchritude. Mona's prettier, by a long shot. She'd be prettier, in fact, even if she was hung on the forward firewall of an engine room.
Well, about two weeks ago, as the moon beamed down upon the docks of my lovely little yacht club, not long after I'd finished washing down Betty Jane's exterior, I retired to her jack-o-lantern-lit saloon to take a well-earned breather. But no sooner had I stretched out on the portside settee to continue reading Hemingway's Boat (a new book by Paul Hendrickson I've yet to decide whether I like or not...see a photo of the $30 hardcover version below and check out my review in an upcoming issue of' PMY), than a decidedly sickly sort of whirring sound began emanating from the ol' Freedom 20 down in the engine room.
Whirrrr, it went. Then WHURRRRR. Then BROARRRRRRRRRR. The sound was so frightening, so freaking terrifying, it reminded me that Halloween was just weeks away.
A worst-case scenario came to mind immediately, of course. Defunct inverter!!!!! Have to buy a new one!!!!!!!!!!!!! Couple of thousand bucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How am I gonna get yet another big-time expense past the finance department back at the ranchero, particularly since it comes hot on the heels of a recent wax job/haulout extravaganza that cost a small, if elegant, fortune!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Trick or treat?
Once I'd calmed down I called my brother, the electrician/psychiatrist. "Sounds like a fan problem to me," he said soothingly. "Take the inverter apart and look inside. Shut the power down first. Remove the battery connections, too. Don't electrocute yourself. I'll call in an hour or so to make sure you're still alive."
This last bit was familiar to me--I've heard it just about every time I've called with a problem of an electrical nature. And I've followed the ol' bro's advice, pretty much, although while enduring the long, sweaty malaise that the removal of the inverter from the engine room turned into, I did experience a tingle or two while disconnecting the big 4D battery bank. Oddly enough, the tingle came just as the Weems & Plath clock in the saloon chimed midnight.
"Yeah," my brother told me when he called, "you gotta be careful."
Which reminds me. I should hit you with a bit of a caveat right here. Just a little one.
Friends...boats are wonderful. Everything to do with boats is wonderful. No doubt about it.
But then there's reality and sometimes I wonder. I mean, I gotta wonder. Really! Does Betty get peeved at me when my worklife presses and I don't visit her on a sufficiently frequent basis? Does she decide to punish me for my lack of attention? Does she then derive some form of twisted pleasure from my laying on my side atop a couple of battery boxes at one in the morning, with sweat dropping off the end of my nose, a sea-strainer jabbing me in the back, my feet tangled in an air-conditioning pump, nuts and bolts dropping into the bilge like rain, and a nifty fifty-pound inverter balanced precariously in my outstretched hands?
I got the inverter off the forward firewall and out of the engine room without losing too much blood--check out the photo below showing the gizmo before I accomplished the extraction. Then I tore it apart and yuperooneeeee--my brother was mighty righty. The cheesy little plastic fan at the bottom of the unit was broken. Cracked in half.
Now here's the payoff for reading this tragic but fairly uninteresting (and far from beautifully illustrated) tale. By hook or crook, during just this past week, I was able to track down an outfit called Digi-Key (www.digikey.com or 800-344-4539) and they have parts up the ying-yang, not only for fairly old inverters but just about everything else as well. I dialed 'em up and bought a new fan for my Freedom 20, complete with housing (it's the black plastic component at the very bottom of the inverter in the admittedly gloomy photo above), for about $15. Expedited shipping added a bit more to the purchase for a total of $38.40.
And the happy ending? I popped in the new fan/housing, wired 'er up, reinstalled the inverter on the bulkhead with brand-new, stainless-steel fasteners (drew just a little more blood while doing so), hooked everything back up (nary a tingle this time) just a couple of hours ago, and guess what? The ol' Freedom 20 is back in the saddle.
Which is way better than having to purchase a whole new inverter. Happy Halloweeeeeeeeennnnn!