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Old 05-04-2010, 10:44   #1
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Advice Regarding Engine Hours - Can You Help ?


We are in the UK and looking for a boat in europe, we have seen 2 that are ex-charter yachts. They are reasonably priced but we feel that there must be a downside because of their history of being very 'used'.
One of the boats a 2002 Dufour Gib Sea had 3,000 engine hours on the engine, we were wondering if this is alot, i have read that a marine diesel engine has a lifespan of about 5,000 hours.
So can anyone give us advice on what the bad points of buying an ex-charter boat and if these hours are excessive?

Sal +Al
Nottingham UK

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Old 05-04-2010, 12:03   #2
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An engine does not generally have a finite lifespan that can be determined by a number of hours. Generally, engines wear out because the tolerances for the combustion chamber get loose and compression starts to fail but sometimes there are events which do lead to catastrophic failure. The goal of looking at the engine should be to determine how good the compression is and how good everything else is as well.

There is no perfect way to tell how good the different parts related to the combustion chamber have faired. A very good place is to do a cold start (sitting for >12 hours in cold weather) of the engine and see how quickly it fires and the color of the exhaust. Since diesel engines are compression ignited, the better the compression, the faster it will start. I am not sure exactly what engine is in the vessel that you are looking at which would be useful since some engines inherently start more quickly than others. If you see blue smoke in the exhaust, that is cause for concern as well since it means that you are burning oil. The best option is to do a compression test but for most people, this means hiring a mechanic.

There are also other things on the engine to look at. As a good start, look at the last time the filters were changed since this will give you an idea of what type of maintenance the engine has had. Look for oil leaks, aftermarket parts, or anything else that jumps out at you as a possible fix. In the sea trial, make sure that you can reach hull speed of the vessel and that you can reach the governed rpm as well. If you really are concerned about the condition of the engine, take an oil sample and send it out to a lab. In the US, Blackstone labs is a good place to send samples, I don't know where you would send them in the UK but I suspect you could figure it out quickly by searching the internet.

To your original question, 3000 hours is not a ton of hours but it is definitely noteworthy. 5000 hours is used by many as a rough guideline but it depends on the engine. Charter engines tend to be badly abused since they are either run under no load (battery charging) or run wide open. The number of hours is a data point to consider but things like how the engine sounds, exhaust color, cold start, oil analysis, etc will tell you more.

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Old 05-04-2010, 12:56   #3
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Thank you for your reply that is so helpful. Cheers.
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Old 05-04-2010, 13:40   #4
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we had a guy here recently who had to replace his engine at 4000 hours. a lot of those hours were spent charging the batteries and you might expect this as well on a charter boat.
sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
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