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Old 27-07-2013, 20:45   #136
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Boatpoker's attachment shows the value of having knowledgeable folks on the CF Forum like him who are willing to share their knowledge. Reading his attachment I learned a lot about oil analysis I didn't know and I've been working around boats for 60 odd years! A qualified diesel mechanic would know this stuff I'm sure but I've always asked that the oil analysis be done by the engine manufacturer who have been only too happy to provide the service for a price. Understanding the various metalurgy involved is important for the do it yourselfer but I've always preferred to rely on experts rather than myself even though it cost me a couple of $ more. Your call... at least you can now make an informed decision. Phil
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Old 27-07-2013, 21:16   #137
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
Boatpoker's attachment shows the value of having knowledgeable folks on the CF Forum like him who are willing to share their knowledge. Reading his attachment I learned a lot about oil analysis I didn't know and I've been working around boats for 60 odd years! A qualified diesel mechanic would know this stuff I'm sure but I've always asked that the oil analysis be done by the engine manufacturer who have been only too happy to provide the service for a price. Understanding the various metalurgy involved is important for the do it yourselfer but I've always preferred to rely on experts rather than myself even though it cost me a couple of $ more. Your call... at least you can now make an informed decision. Phil
Seems to me that the posted article that you refer to would indicate pretty clearly that unless the prospective boat buyer knew the hours since last oil change and the type of oil used this analysis would be useless and maybe even misleading. The present owner could easily say that the engine had 100 hours since last oil change when it was only 10, etc.

Oil analysis obviously is a good maintenance tool which can provide useful information over a period of maintenance cycles. Maybe a good way to prevent some catastrophic failures from occurring when you need the ponies the most. Warranties on larger engines may sometimes be invalidated by not performing these tests as per manufacturers instructions. You have to send them samples or they void the warranty. This because manufacturers believe that they can predict failures and perform repairs before the catastrophic failure occurs which would result in far higher costs.

I personally do not think that any useful information is to be gained from procuring this service that a good sea trial that puts the engine through its paces will not already tell you.

Good to be able to make an informed decision though.
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Old 27-07-2013, 21:36   #138
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Good point, Undercutter... the last two boats we purchased, the mechanic captured an oil sample after running both the main engines and gen sets under load for over 2 hours during the sea trial at our request.
To your second point, working commercially, we used oil analysis as part of our regular maintenance once a year. The engines were CATS, Grey Marines, Easthopes and Detroits. i don't recall if this was part of the warranty requirements or not but it makes sense because we sent the samples to the engine manufacturers with the exception of Easthopes which went out of business about 100 years ago! Nevertheless, we sent the Easthope oil to a lab in Seattle as I recall.
You may be correct that the info might not be useful but it provided me with peace of mind that I had performed my due diligence prior to purchase which was the basis of my recommendation.
You make good points, however... Phil
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Old 28-07-2013, 06:43   #139
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Oh, and just to make clear that with all this advice (including my own!) that there is no single correct way to proceed (all depends on those involved and the circumstances) - the goal for self is simply to get self in a position to feel comfortable doing the deal, and that level of comfort needed will be different for each.
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Old 28-07-2013, 12:57   #140
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

I've heard it said many surveyors will require that the oil in the engine not be newly changed. Unless the owner runs the engine enough to allow the mechanic or surveyor to conclude the oil isn't fresh...but I wouldn't know how long that would be. So could anyone one really could know that?

I suppose anyone performing a spectrographic oil analysis would know how many hours an engine has to run in order to obtain any useful information from the test. They should therefore require the engine run at least that long before drawing a sample. Unless, of course, the engine has to run for a long time.
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Old 28-07-2013, 14:41   #141
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

One thing to be aware of is that if an engine is equipped with luberfiner oil filters which is an after market attachment to the oil filtering system, you will find your time between oil changes on diesels is vastly extended. Not only that, after running 2 CAT D330's for 500 hours, the oil was so clean on the dipstick, you couldn't read it!
There are many issues that will impact on your oil analysis which is why I suggest that you have a qualified mechanic do the capture and send the sample to the engine manufacturer. Check with the engine builder to find out what their recommendation on length of run before capture is done. If you approach the whole survey with the diligence you appear to be approaching the mechanical end, you should reduce your chances of buying a problem immensely. Phil
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Old 28-07-2013, 16:53   #142
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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I guess with all you prospective boat buyers out there having the oil analyzed when inspecting my boat I better change the oil every time I take her off the dock!! That way everyone will know my engine is in perfect condition and I can get top dollar.
I am not a motor expert. I have been told by various mechanics 10-15 hours.


I assume how hard it is run would also have an effect on the results. Your mechanic should have an opinion.


If you decide to pull the samples yourself it is very important how you do it. It is very easy to "contaminate" the oil.


I was on a motor yacht survey once where the mechanic was short one kit so reused a tube and put the oil into an empty soft drink bottle. Guess which motor “flunked”?!
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Old 29-07-2013, 12:17   #143
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Well, now that we own the boat, we have to figure out how to even CHANGE the oil!
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Old 29-07-2013, 18:24   #144
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

+1, zboss! Cheers, Phil
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Old 30-07-2013, 18:10   #145
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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I've heard it said many surveyors will require that the oil in the engine not be newly changed. Unless the owner runs the engine enough to allow the mechanic or surveyor to conclude the oil isn't fresh...but I wouldn't know how long that would be. So could anyone one really could know that?

I suppose anyone performing a spectrographic oil analysis would know how many hours an engine has to run in order to obtain any useful information from the test. They should therefore require the engine run at least that long before drawing a sample. Unless, of course, the engine has to run for a long time.
When we bought our boat we had the oil analyses done and it came back fairly contaminated with iron. Our mechanical surveyor suggested if we were still interested in the boat we should have the oil changed then run at the dock for 10 hours under load(in gear) at 1500 rpm and then have the new oil analysed again. The broker went a little more by changing the oil, and running for a full 15 hours under load. The iron content had dropped to acceptable levels and we decided to go ahead with the purchase. It turns out the po had not changed the oil in some time. The wind abandoned us on the way home from Olympia and the engine ran flawlessly for the 45 hour trip. I have put 300 hours on the engine since and change the oil religiously every 100 hours with no problems. I am amazed at how tough these little yanmars are. It doesn't smoke, use oil excessively, and always starts.
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Old 30-07-2013, 19:57   #146
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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When we bought our boat we had the oil analyses done and it came back fairly contaminated with iron. Our mechanical surveyor suggested if we were still interested in the boat we should have the oil changed then run at the dock for 10 hours under load(in gear) at 1500 rpm and then have the new oil analysed again. The broker went a little more by changing the oil, and running for a full 15 hours under load. The iron content had dropped to acceptable levels and we decided to go ahead with the purchase. It turns out the po had not changed the oil in some time. The wind abandoned us on the way home from Olympia and the engine ran flawlessly for the 45 hour trip. I have put 300 hours on the engine since and change the oil religiously every 100 hours with no problems. I am amazed at how tough these little yanmars are. It doesn't smoke, use oil excessively, and always starts.
Sounds like you had a pretty good broker !
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Old 30-07-2013, 20:02   #147
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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This thread has compelled me to look a lot more into the whole survey/surveyor thing. We'll be headed to the mid to north east coast early August and have a number of boats lined up to see.

From all we've learned thus far, here's how our game plan is forming:
  1. When we get to the boat we'll do a quick inspection. Then we'll "try it on for size" to see how we feel about the boat. If things feel good, we'll move to step 2.
  2. Do our own thorough inspection. I took Don Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and made an accompanying list with page references to the book. So we can go item-by-item and refer to the book for how to do the inspection and take notes along the way. I'm a retired electrician so I have a lot of electrical tools and they are going into our "survey bag." I also ordered about $500 in inspection and testing tools that we'll put to use during the inspection process. Cheap compared to the potential cost of missing something.
  3. If our personal inspection reveals nothing we can't live with and we have the warm fuzzies toward the boat, we'll move to the offer stage.
  4. If we agree on a price we'll hire a surveyor and give him or her the results of our own inspection. We'll also pin the surveyor down on what his or her fee covers before hiring.
I really don't know what else we could do to protect ourselves. I love the idea of getting riggers, sailmakers, diesel mechanics, etc to do the inspections, but would they really be interested if we're moving the boat 1000 miles away after we buy it?

I am telling you from hard personal experience -- get an engine survey! Why should the diesel mechanic care where the boat is going afterwards? He's getting paid for his time and expertise.

Do it. You won't regret it.
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Old 30-07-2013, 20:05   #148
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Sounds like you had a pretty good broker !
I agree, we liked dealing with them especially as we were a fair distance away. The mechanic was very good also. Stayed on top of things for us.
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Old 01-08-2013, 15:17   #149
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

I would like to amend a statement I made a few months ago. It was something along the lines of "I'm happy with the survey and surveyor I had, and I'm glad I spent the money."

In the last 2 months I've discovered several things that the guy missed, most of which were pretty obvious. He failed to mention that the water heater is clearly not connected to anything, and that 2/3 of the freshwater lines throughout the boat were hopelessly jammed up with vile smelling crud.

He also failed to mention that the PO had drilled a hole in the cockpit deck to run some speaker wire. The resulting leak clearly and obviously caused water damage to my aft cabin. The cushion was badly rotted, and needed to be reupholstered. He didn't even look.

Niether of the stereos work, and 45 minutes away from the dock, on my way back home, the starboard engine overheated and shut itself down. I took the boat back to the marina for several weeks and hundreds of dollars in repairs by their crack team of clown mechanics.

I really hope I get to actually enjoy this thing at some point.
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Old 01-08-2013, 15:27   #150
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Maybe I'm shooting for the stars but what if every buyer insisted on a clause that said something to the effect that anything found by the surveyor that the average boat owner should have known would require the owner to pay for the survey and other related inspection costs?

You know, something to compel the seller to disclose what he or she knows about the condition of their boat before the buyer forks out survey costs.

I will now duck for cover...
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