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Old 24-01-2009, 11:10   #1
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Advice needed on repairing or replacing our engine

We are relative newbies to sailing and have been told that our Yanmar 2 GM 15HP diesel engine only has a few hours of use left (for our Bayfield 29). Does anyone have advice on whether we should repair or replace the engine? And how we should go about doing that?
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Old 24-01-2009, 11:37   #2
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Aloha Jibs,
If your diesel of any vintage or make starts and runs then keep it where it is and don't mess with it. Change the oil after each 50-100 hours of use, clean the fuel filters, clean your fuel tanks and then check for the color of smoke that it puts out after warm up at steady throttle during each use. Check the cooling system to make certain it is not overheating and that cooling water is coming out with the exhaust.
Let us know what symptoms it has and we can help you with some solutions.
Kind regards,
JohnL
P. S. My view on diesels is that if you do the proper maintenance and have clean oil and clean fuel and a good cooling system they will last a long, long time after you no longer own the boat.
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Old 24-01-2009, 11:40   #3
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SkiprJohn gives some good advice but it would help us answer your question if we knew the reason why you were given that advice. What part of your engine is due to fail in a few hours and who gave you that advice?
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Old 24-01-2009, 11:40   #4
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Originally Posted by jibs up View Post
We are relative newbies to sailing and have been told that our Yanmar 2 GM 15HP diesel engine only has a few hours of use left (for our Bayfield 29). Does anyone have advice on whether we should repair or replace the engine? And how we should go about doing that?
It really depends on what's wrong with it.
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Old 24-01-2009, 12:01   #5
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Engines don't come with anything that is attached to it so a major change in engines adds a lot of extras. Pumps and transmission plus a wire harness just starts the list.

For someone to say there is only a few hours left they need to have a reason. If you knew what was really the problem you might be able to do something less and yet have a great engine when done. Knowing what is the real problem is always the first step.
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Old 24-01-2009, 13:29   #6
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A retired auto mechanic who specializes in diesel engines has been servicing our engine for two years. I think he said the compression in one of the cylinders is marginal. He definitely predicts it will fail after about 20 more hours of use and he describes it as a catastrophic event. We get a fair bit of black smoke although it is usually reduced after he services it. He advises minimal use of the engine and not to put much of a load on it. He says our choices are to find someone to rebuild the current engine or to purchase a re-built engine. In both cases, I understood that the current engine would have to be pulled out of the boat. There are no shops in the area (Ithaca, NY) that do marine diesel engine work. I have not heard him say anything negative about the engine except for the one cylinder. The engine is original to the boat, a 1981 Bayfield that had a full and active life on Lake Ontario before we bought it. The former owner serviced the engine himself. We do not have such skills. A second opinion would be welcome! Thanks.
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Old 24-01-2009, 13:35   #7
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Engines don't come with anything that is attached to it so a major change in engines adds a lot of extras. Pumps and transmission plus a wire harness just starts the list.

For someone to say there is only a few hours left they need to have a reason. If you knew what was really the problem you might be able to do something less and yet have a great engine when done. Knowing what is the real problem is always the first step.
The only thing I would add to this is, remember when you have someone check out an engine for you that they are also in the business of making a living, in other words they are there to try and sell you something(Though I have often found some are better at judging how much they can get out of me than others.)

I was extremely busy with another project so i took another motor into the shop I was told that my little boat engine was on its last leg, they said it would never run right again. I was very specific when asking them to fix certain things and guess what it now runs like a top, cost me about $500 as opposed to $5000 to replace it as they were suggesting. Granted this as an outboard but the point is, they are in the business as salemen first then a repair shop second.
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Old 24-01-2009, 13:46   #8
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Originally Posted by jibs up View Post
A retired auto mechanic who specializes in diesel engines has been servicing our engine for two years. I think he said the compression in one of the cylinders is marginal. He definitely predicts it will fail after about 20 more hours of use and he describes it as a catastrophic event. We get a fair bit of black smoke although it is usually reduced after he services it. He advises minimal use of the engine and not to put much of a load on it. He says our choices are to find someone to rebuild the current engine or to purchase a re-built engine. In both cases, I understood that the current engine would have to be pulled out of the boat. There are no shops in the area (Ithaca, NY) that do marine diesel engine work. I have not heard him say anything negative about the engine except for the one cylinder. The engine is original to the boat, a 1981 Bayfield that had a full and active life on Lake Ontario before we bought it. The former owner serviced the engine himself. We do not have such skills. A second opinion would be welcome! Thanks.
First of all there is no way to predict the amount of time before something will fail, it is impossible, red flag number 1. Secondly all diesels emit black smoke, some more than others, red flag number 2. it is a catastrophic event as in it will probably no longer run(not sure if a diesel will run down a cylinder or not, anyone?) but not catastrophic as in its going to blow up, destroy the block etc. red flag 2.5. and finally red flag number three, if he used the actual term marginal when referring to the compression level does he know exactly what marginal for that motor actually is(you would be surprised as to the number of mechanics that don't).

Read up on your exact engine find out what the specs are and then go back to him and get actual numbers. From there you are better able to make a sound decision.
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Old 24-01-2009, 13:58   #9
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Compression problems in a diesel can be valve, piston rings, leaky injector or a leaky glow plug. (Does it have a compression release lever?) Any others I didn't mention? If it isn't burning oil (blue smoke) or using quite a bit between each 50 hour oil change I wouldn't mess with it and really learn how to do your own maintenance. Do you have to add oil between maintenance at each 50 hours or more?
Good luck
Kind regards,
JohnL
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Old 24-01-2009, 14:05   #10
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A retired auto mechanic who specializes in diesel engines has been servicing our engine for two years. .
Ho Ho Ho! Its Christmas time!

As we are this year heading up through Asia I thought it would be a good idea to have a chappie of knowledge assess our donk. By PHONE one told me that we should have the rings and bearings done and this would cost me $13,000 but he could get me a new one for $15,000.

Last week I have the Yanmar dealer service guy on board and he, in ONE HOUR ($98) hugged my engine, corrected the valve clearances and showed me and did for me the impeller (which is a bit tricky on this model and setup) and gave the whole engine a clean bill of 'elf!

All I can now say is get the Yanmar guy from the Yanmar dealership with the Yanmar book and the Yanmar uniform and the Yanmar underpants to look at your engine.

If then its as dead as a door-knob you can make a decision

By the way, with the 20 hours motoring I would get to where the Yanmar service guy is cheapest Ours was only $15 per hour more than a non-yanmar guy, thats fine

How far is St Martin from you?

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Old 24-01-2009, 17:48   #11
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Jibs, as everyone says, you really need to know WHAT is wrong with the boat. If my dog is sick, I don't pay the vet to say "Yes, your dog is sick". I expect something more specific so it can be resolved.

While you may not have marine diesel shops in Ithaca, you also don't NEED a marine diesel shop. By and large a diesel is a diesel, any competent diesel shop should be able to deal with a boat engine. I've been in and around Ithaca--I know there are diesel trucks and there MUST be engine shops to work on them. Worst case, you'd have to pull and install the engine yourself, and rent a pickup truck for the day to move it.
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Old 24-01-2009, 18:06   #12
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I have to agree with Markj...

...that you don't need a new engine half as desperately as you need a new mechanic.
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Old 24-01-2009, 21:26   #13
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I think he said the compression in one of the cylinders is marginal. He definitely predicts it will fail after about 20 more hours of use and he describes it as a catastrophic event.
Low compression will make for gradual loss of power and make it progressively harder to start. How hard is it to start? If it still starts with no more than, say, 20 seconds of cranking, there is no reason to panic--nothing truly catastrophic will happen. If it takes longer, you just need to learn a few tricks for dealing with a cantankerous diesel engine.

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Compression problems in a diesel can be valve, piston rings, leaky injector or a leaky glow plug. (Does it have a compression release lever?) Any others I didn't mention? If it isn't burning oil (blue smoke) or using quite a bit between each 50 hour oil change I wouldn't mess with it and really learn how to do your own maintenance. Do you have to add oil between maintenance at each 50 hours or more?
You can determine if the problem is worn piston rings or cylinder linesr by performing a relatively simple test. Get yourself an old fashioned oiler can from your friendly neighborhood hardware store and squirt some motor oil into the suspect cylinder, and then try to start the engine. If it is easier to start with the oil, the problem is likely to be worn rings or cylinder liners. Fixing it would take a major overhaul, and probably not worth it given the age of the engine (my personal opinion). But keep in mind, that a new engine installed will probably cost you upwards of $12k, unless labor rates are a lot lower in Ithaca than in New England.
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Old 25-01-2009, 05:47   #14
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I'll be happy to come pull that marginal engine for you and then your mech can repower your boat. If your in Florida I will not even charge you.
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Old 26-01-2009, 20:22   #15
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Not an attempt to hijack this thread.
I have repaired many diesel engines but have never serviced a marine diesel engine. I do not own a yacht (yet!). Question for anyone out there who has worked on these smaller marine diesels. Are these typically sleeved engines? Perhaps if one cylinder really was bad, a cradle could be jury-rigged on the back of the boat to remove the engine enough and use a sleeve kit on the cylinder that was failing. Of course I fully diagnose the problem before taking that route.
This could just be showing my ignorance in boats, but in trucks and other big diesel equipment, almost all work is done "frame in".
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