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Mike and Sue Watson's (new) 47 Commander !!

April 29 2017 at 11:10 AM
Paul  (no login)

Long-term Forum Members and Readers know Mike Watson is one of the premier owner/restorers of the Commander Super Sport. His work was published in my “Restoration” book, which I do plan to reprint this year. In addition, Mike drove his 35 Commander across Lake Michigan to attend an event at Bay Harbor that I helped coordinate. A personable and quiet guy, who is a great captain and someone who sure helps give the classic boating community a good name.

Mike eventually repowered his 35 from small blocks to some take-out 454s, but when his family (including grandchildren) were all aboard it was evident that the boat size and particular layout was just a bit small for their needs. The Watson’s found a 47 in Florida, and to make a long story short, have already upgraded some of the interior issues and have motored back toward Lake Michigan as far as Green Turtle Bay, Kentucky, at the Land Between The Lakes (the point at which the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers come together and meet the Ohio.

Janet and I drove up to see Mike and Sue last weekend at Green Turtle Bay, and the boat looks great. It is huge. I think the grandchildren are going to think it is as long as a city block. The boat is Cummins powered, runs like a top. We fired up the engines and were going to run it across the impoundment to a new dock space; a car-load of marina workers headed out to meet us on the other end to help get the big boat into the slip, but by the time they got there Mike had already done a nice pivot turn and backed it into the slip. Even though there was a brisk wind, this operation was done, well, like he’s done it before, lol.
Here are some photos from the trip. We look forward to seeing more fun aboard this fine yacht, built the last year of production, and wish the Watson family all the best.

Here is Green Turtle Bay. We moved the boat from the main docks to that satellite covered dock in the upper right. While it was a short run by boat, it was several miles by car, and by the time the marina workers arrived to help Mike get the boat in the slip, we were already tied up snuggly.

[linked image]

And we’re off !!
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And we are going to take that slip right next to the black and white boat (wind blowing briskly).
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No problem, this guy must have run a boat sometime in his past, either that or it was some sort of divine intervention !!
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A good time was had by all. Well our yacht-dog German Shepherd didn’t necessarily like to see us walk away from the car, but she was happy when we got back to the car and she was able to run around a bit, and was a perfect passenger up and back during the road trip. Getting her aboard a 47 would have been a task !!
Mike is already under way with upgrades during the trip northward, finding minor rainwater leaks, replacing pieces and parts here and there, and by the time this boat gets to Lake Michigan, it won’t be the same boat that left Florida.
Thanks Mike and Sue, for having us aboard, it was a fun encounter, the boat looks GREAT and we’re sure you guys will have a blast with it.

Regards,
Paul & Janet

 
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AuthorReply

Craig L
(Login clindberg)

Re: Mike and Sue Watson's (new) 47 Commander !!

May 1 2017, 11:49 AM 

Wow! Just wow! That's a fine vessel with clearly a highly competent captain at the helm. Wishing them the best of luck on their journey and to seeing more of Timeless as she continues under the caring hands of the new owners.

Thanks Paul.

Craig L

 
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Paul
(no login)

The plan; make a run for Lake Michigan

May 1 2017, 6:11 PM 

The Watsons are contemplating giving the Mississippi River three weeks to settle down, and then make a run for it.
I'll keep everyone posted on this epic springtime 47 Commander voyage.

Regards,
Paul

 
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Lou
(no login)

Re: The plan; make a run for Lake Michigan

June 11 2017, 9:46 PM 


 
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Lou
(no login)

My run in your wake

June 11 2017, 9:54 PM 

I just bought my life long dream boat 74 47 Commander---almost a twin to yours. Not experienced in the Mississippi, I have hired a Commander Experienced Captain from Louisville. The trip began Friday June 9th....today 50 miles up the Mississippi. Unfortunately, this boat has been sitting in the water for about 3 years...fuel fresh, oil changed, belts and hoses checked. But this Captain is having a heck of a time, I suspect he dosent know the systems as well as he thought. So far, generator won't start after changing oil filer, batteries are dead every morning,(newer), now Glendenning synch won't operate, power steering is now out. I am desparately trying to find someone who can help diagnose what is the growing multiple problems. I am in Port Austin and heading down, but need to find some assistance or it will be the blind leading the blind. HELP! Heading to Mack City.

 
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Ron Zick
(Login rzick)

Your wake

June 12 2017, 12:26 AM 

I will try to answer some of this by systems.

Let's start with the steering.
I'm going to assume that you have a hydraulic helm. They started using these sometime after 1972.
There is an oil reservoir that supplies oil to the helm pump. This is a silver tank that will hold about a pint mounted to a bulkhead or support post in the engine room about midway up from the floor. The reservoir has a sight gauge on it for displaying oil level. There is also an air pressure gauge that indicates system air pressure. The air pressure must be bled off before removing the cap to add oil to the reservoir (Dexron ATF). The air pressure should be maintained at around 30psi. The purpose of the air pressure is to prevent air from being sucked into the system at te helm pump. The introduction of air can cause the helm to be totally unresponsive. If the system gets low on oil, it will also cause loss of helm. Since the boat has sat for a while, the steering cylinder seal is probably leaking. Could also have a rusted hydraulic line or a bad hose. The reservoir being low and or low air pressure are the main culprits. The reservoir has the standard tire valve stem to recharge the air pressure.

The Generator
So the generator ran before you serviced it. I'm going to assume that you have the Onan diesel generator. When you say it won't start, that means several things. There is not start like just turns over without any sign of firing. This would indicate a lack of fuel.

There is the turns over, smoke comes out the exhaust, the engine acts like it wants to start. This is often the glow plug not working. Can be burned out or just a wiring-controller issue.

There is the starts but quits shortly after initial start. This is often lack of oil pressure. The engine has a built in timer so that oil pressure must be present within 30sec. of start.

There is the engine does not turn over type of not start. This usually a wiring issue or generator controller problem.

I suspect that when the generator was serviced that the generator fuel filters were also changed with the oil filter. If the air was not properly bled from the fuel system, the injection pump will become air locked. If this has happened, the fuel system will need to be bleed including the injection pump and injector lines.

The Electrical System.
When you say the batteries are dead, do you mean all of the batteries or just the house batteries? There are actually two separate electrical systems. There is the house system which supplies all of the DC power to the boat except for the engines. There is the engine electrical system which should have a battery or possibly batteries for each engine. The alternator on each engine maintains the each engines battery bank. There is a battery paralleling solenoid switch that can be operated from the helm with a momentary push button when needed. The engine batteries supply power for the helm power, that's gauges, engine shutdown solenoid, wipers, etc. This is the stuff that we need for boat operation and control.

There is an onboard battery charger that runs off 120VAC. This charger should have separate charging circuits for each engine battery bank plus the house battery bank. There is a power selector switch which selects the generator and two choices on the 120VAC from the dock. You must switch from generator to get the 120VAC system to work from dock power. The generator will also not work if the switch is left in dock power positions. There are SquareD circuit breakers that protect all of the house systems and Buss AGC fuses for the 12VDC systems.

It sounds like your captain is seriously in over his head on this in that these are all common larger Commander issues and conditions. Everything 38ft and above used these same basic systems. The steering reservoir is unique to hydraulic steered helms.

I would not be concerned with the Geldenning synchroniser at this point. The captain has two throttles and adjusting the throttles to sync the engines should not be a problem. Most boats don't have a synchronizer.

If you have more questions or different equipment just ask some more questions.

 
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Mike W
(no login)

Agree

June 12 2017, 1:09 AM 

I can't add much more than what R Zick said. You can try cycling the wheel many times. Mine is leaking and needs attention and it was a worry. I haven't been watching the flows or lock repairs but you won't be able to control the boat just by throttle. We had high water and lots of debris. Not sure wher they started but if it is 50 mikes up it sounds like Cape Girardeau. If so the next stop is Hoppies at 158. You'll have to get there for any chance of service. You need a mechanic not a captain. I'll help as much as I can from here.
Mike W

 
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Mike W
(no login)

More thoughts

June 12 2017, 5:32 PM 

I thought I sent this earlier today but for some reason did not go through. My guess is that you bought the 47 "Somewhere in Time" that has been for sale for a number of years in Louisville. Great name if its going to Macinaw. Looked nice but I also heard it had soft decks. Back to your issues. Mine was in good shape but I also spent a lot of money on the engines. All seawater and circ pumps rebuilt. Expansion tanks cleaned and the list goes on. I will just tell you that parts for the 8VT370's are tough to find and expensive. Careful with Cummins as they will rip you off if they have anything for them. Finding a service tech for them is not easy. While they are "just" a diesel they have their quirks and few know about the engines due to their age and limited production. Same said for Chris Craft Total Command System.

Because of the above and many other things you find in an older boat that has not been kept up it's hard to point the finger at the captain. That said, he should have run it more and asked more questions. We had our share of surprises but nothing that stopped us. You'll need to get to Hoppies for any service work and would guess they would have to bring someone down from STL.

I know the rivers are down from when we went but they still will be a challenge. Steering by throttle will not be an option. Best of luck and if you need more let us know.

Mike

 
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LOU SCHILLINGER
(no login)

IN YOUR WAKE

June 12 2017, 10:28 PM 

Many thanks to Mike and Rick---excellent advice and information for both Captain and I. He made it to Hoppies about 30 min ago--no more mechanical issues today, but have instructed him to stay put until the Diesel mechanic arrives. Previous owner is enroute to assist--I'm heading down later as well. This is Survivor--and going "home". The soft foredeck has been reviewed and repairs manageable without damaging deck texture. I did have Cummins Tech from Louisville who was excellent and knows these engines did all the major service and pronounced them "ready". Some things after sitting unfortunately can surprise--lost oil from Gen with broken oil line--Cap repaired well, but I agree that the injector system does need bleeding and service....turns over well, but no combustion--so likely no fuel. Easy repair. Hydraulic steering info from Rick was exactly the issue--neither he nor I knew where the oil reservoir was or how to check or refill. That too was the solution. The electrical systems we will tackle at the marina--think he mismanaged the battery switch's and battery charger. 'course with no dock power or gen--charging made it difficult. Stbd alternator may not be charging. Captain is good gas mech, and a 42 Commander owner--aS WAS I (two of them 71 AND 72 over 10 years) but you're right this was more unique a group of systems, and I only had a day instruction from seller. Wanted to get it to the Illinois--I can then with other help move it through the Illinois and sanitary canal in into Lake Michigan on its way north. Not leaving St Louis until all systems back on line, however. YOu guys both a life and Commander saver! Refreshments on ME!

 
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Mike W
(no login)

Good to hear

June 12 2017, 10:54 PM 

Great news. Stop in Grand Haven. Would love to meet you. From Hoppies your next stops could be Grafton. All depend on river flow. We could barely make 5-6 knots on the MS. The IL was better but still tough. Locks in Joliet really hurt us. Green Turtle to Grand Haven took 7.5 days. Haven't run the boat sense arrival Memorial Day. If you need to know some stops let me know.

 
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Lou
(no login)

in your wake

June 13 2017, 9:57 PM 

Mike, I most certainly will make Grand Haven my first stop in Lske Michigan---I, too would like to meet you and exchange "views" of our twin 47's! Will keep you informed of progress. Expect to be there mid week next at the latest.

 
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Ron Zick
(Login rzick)

In Your Wake

June 12 2017, 11:01 PM 

Happy that you and the Cap got things turned around. A lot of this information is secret handshake stuff and once you get pointed in the right direction it all makes sense.

Unless you have had to sort through it or have someone else to give you some tips, it can be intimidating. Things will probably go much smoother from here on.

Best wishes in the adventure.

 
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Mike W
(no login)

Lock Info

June 13 2017, 7:05 AM 

When we came up it was not a good time to be on the rivers but thought we had to at the time because of potential lock closures on the MS. Plus I set a Memorial Day goal. With the high water these were either canceled or delayed. This publication still shows two of them as potential issues in the IL. I don't think it will be going on but you never know and may be worth a call.

http://cm3.missiondata.com/uploads/69/File/2017/01-Jan/American%20Currents%206.12.17.pdf

 
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Mike W
(no login)

IL Wicket Dams

June 15 2017, 6:41 AM 

Looks like the Peoria and LaGrange wicket dams are up or coming up this week which is certain to slow things down. Just how much is the question. It's all luck, bad luck when it comes to getting through in a reasonable time.

http://cm3.missiondata.com/uploads/69/File/2017/01-Jan/American%20Currents%206.13.17.pdf

 
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Mike W
(no login)

LaGrange Lock

June 16 2017, 7:52 AM 

Haven't heard anything lately from you so I hope that means all is well. I also hope you are North of the LaGrange Lock at 80.2. Just saw that USACE made a sudden decision to close the lock Monday-Sat 0:600-17:00 so you should reach out well ahead. It could be a significant wait. Or maybe the CCC gods will be on your side. Best of luck!

 
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Troy in ANE
(Login tkhersom)

Nice!

May 3 2017, 7:26 AM 

Great boat! Fun People!
Looks like the trip is going well.
Sue: Where are the Mojitos?
I still think Mike could play the lead roll in "The Scott Hamilton Story". Hollywood is calling.
Safe travels!

Troy

 
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Paul
(no login)

UPDATE !!

May 19 2017, 1:29 PM 

Mike is at the boat again today, rivers are still up and running but he is departing tomorrow or Sunday. The trip is north to the Ohio River, downstream (West) to the Mississippi, upstream to the Illinois, and continuing upstream eventually to the sanitary canal and onward to Chicago/Lake Michigan. Prayers and good wishes are requested! There are a couple of "on call" fuel stops along the way (by truck rendezvous.

Regards,
Paul

 
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Paul
(no login)

Route map

May 19 2017, 3:19 PM 

[linked image]

The 47 Commander is presently docked West of Nashville where the Cumberland meets the Tennessee, at Green Turtle Bay.

Mike will be heading North to the Ohio and then West to the Mississippi.

Regards,
Paul

 
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Mike W
(no login)

First

May 21 2017, 10:05 PM 

Waited for the first lock for 2.5 hours. Really put us behind but made up time on the Ohio going downhill and over the wicket damns because of high water. MS running fast and averaging 6-7 knots. Tough go. Now anchored for the night in a slough. Gen running so all the comforts of home.

 
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Eric Jensen
(no login)

Inquiring minds want to know

May 26 2017, 10:38 PM 

Can you give us an update Mike? How goes the battle against gravity?

ej

 
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