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Old 15-02-2017, 20:25   #1
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Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

I will be inspecting and may be making an offer on a nice 27' used sailboat this weekend with an inboard diesel. The boat is up on a cradle at a marina. I've owned smaller boats and crewed larger ones before and feel comfortable checking the hull and running gear.

But what's the best way to check the state of the engine? It's winter here.

#1 Is it appropriate to have them simply turn it over? Start it? Hook up a water hose to run it for a few minutes? Then, does any water used need to flushed out with antifreeze or will it simply drain out of the engine naturally? It will be 60 degrees this weekend, but it could freeze again before April. How far should this marina go to sell this boat?

#2 What's the best way to check the electrical system?

#3 I've looked at two boats in the last week. Both had several inches of ice in the bilge. Is this a deal-breaker? Do I have to worry about the integrity of the hull. If you think this may happen and can't pump it out before it freezes, is it appropriate to simply pour a few gallons of RV anti-freeze into the bilge?

The boat is listed for less than $6000. Is it worth paying for a professional survey?

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 16-02-2017, 07:40   #2
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Many owners will not want to go through the hassle of starting an engine, especially if its been winterized, unless they think that the prospective purchaser is more than a 'tire kicker'. If you like the boat, you can make an offer subject to a satisfactory sea trial (if you are going to launch it) or subject to seeing the engine running in situ. If it's the yard selling it, you can make an offer subject to you doing what is necessary to get it running. They will probably be happy to let you do the work. You'll need to put a battery to it and this should allow you to see the electrics running too. Personally, I wouldn't pay for a survey for a $6k boat but then I kinda' know what I'm doing around boats and would recognize any potential problems.
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Old 16-02-2017, 07:49   #3
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Are you in a big hurry?

Has the boat been for sale for a while?

You may just want to make this your first inspection. Check the things you can and then think about it

Come back in a week or two and do some more checks until you feel comfortable

You can make the engine inspection one of your last after it warms up a bit

You will continually think of other things you need to verify during this process......so it's good not to rush if you don't have to

Plus this is the fun/exciting part!
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Old 16-02-2017, 14:37   #4
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Unfortunately, the boat is 3.5 hours away. Not convenient to drop in a couple of times. I plan on spending a few hours "kicking the tires". But, the price is such that I'm not too concerned getting a lemon anywhere except the engine. That could cost more than the boat to replace.

The photos show a pristine engine. It's so clean, I'm almost concerned that they were just cropped out of the sales catalog. As I've said, I looked at a few boats in this price and size range and know I'm going to be doing some work. But through my research this is a brand and a model that is not for sale long. Ericsson's, Catalina's, Hunters, O'Days are a dime a dozen on most lists. But every time I see on of these boats listed, they are sold quickly.

I could probably buy it and even turn it around for a profit by waiting for Spring or Summer. But not if the engine is a klinker.

Are contingency offers common for boats less than $10,000?
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Old 16-02-2017, 14:47   #5
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim View Post
Unfortunately, the boat is 3.5 hours away. Not convenient to drop in a couple of times. I plan on spending a few hours "kicking the tires". But, the price is such that I'm not too concerned getting a lemon anywhere except the engine. That could cost more than the boat to replace.

The photos show a pristine engine. It's so clean, I'm almost concerned that they were just cropped out of the sales catalog. As I've said, I looked at a few boats in this price and size range and know I'm going to be doing some work. But through my research this is a brand and a model that is not for sale long. Ericsson's, Catalina's, Hunters, O'Days are a dime a dozen on most lists. But every time I see on of these boats listed, they are sold quickly.

I could probably buy it and even turn it around for a profit by waiting for Spring or Summer. But not if the engine is a klinker.

Are contingency offers common for boats less than $10,000?
Anyway of finding out the age of the engine, sometimes on the model / serial plate? Also how many hours?

It might have been replaced recently (say 8 years) or it might have a fastidious owner (engine wise). My experience suggests not many people clean up a crappy engine to pristine just for a sale!

If the engine is old, have a good look at the hoses (fuel and water), if they are in good condition and you can eat your dinner off the engine, then you have a fastidious owner...
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Old 16-02-2017, 14:59   #6
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

An owner wouldn't want to run a winterized engine in February in a region that gets hard freezes. It will cost money and labor to re-winterize the engine. I wouldn't trust you to winterize my engine either.

About the only way I'd let you start the engine this time of year is if you also agreed to pay a marine mechanic to re-winterize the engine when you were done. And he would need to be onsite before the engine got started (not "He'll be here today, turns into tomorrow, turns into next week).
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Old 16-02-2017, 15:14   #7
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Whether it is fresh water cooled, and raw water cooled, the engine has to be pickled again after you start it for inspection ! As you stated it will still get cold between, now and launch time. Running for a few minutes won't tell you anything other than it starts and runs like that. It needs to be put under load in the water, to see if there are issues with it or not .
Ice in the bilge can mean there was water in the bilge before/during lay up ! it depends on if the ice did any damage down there.
The electrical system can be checked with just the battery installed . All lights should glow equally bright when on ! Check the fuse panel wiring ! Is it neat, or are wires just in there hanging around ? Check connections, terminal ends for corrosion etc. This will tell of general up keep . A little discoloration where water can get at connections is understandable, but a lot suggests neglect ! Just do a general check of the condition of the whole boat, not just a outward appearance! It can tell you a whole lot ! Been there done that with our boat.
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Old 16-02-2017, 20:11   #8
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Lot's of great tips. Thanks for the help. All my other boats had outboards. So, this will be the first inboard, and first diesel. I've always worked on my car and boats myself. My desire for a diesel over a gas engine is my experience with gas engines and everything that can go wrong, especially with the ignition system. Luckily, I've never had to be towed home and don't want to start now. (Isn't that why we sail in the first place?)
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Old 17-02-2017, 09:29   #9
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Make sure the engine didn't just have a "spray can overhaul." If there is overspray on the hoses and belts, be very suspicious.
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Old 17-02-2017, 09:43   #10
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

I would if I liked the boat make a contingency offer in writing. Not sure how you would escrow the money though, but it amounts to show them the cash and splash the boat, if its in the shape they say it is, then they walk away with the money of course.
I wouldn't pay for a survey, but I'd be sure, real sure I did the best I could myself. I worry less about engines than wet decks / blisters myself.

But make sure whatever engine it is, that parts can still be bought. It's not green is it?
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Old 17-02-2017, 09:46   #11
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Are you in a big hurry?

Has the boat been for sale for a while?

You may just want to make this your first inspection. Check the things you can and then think about it

Come back in a week or two and do some more checks until you feel comfortable

You can make the engine inspection one of your last after it warms up a bit

You will continually think of other things you need to verify during this process......so it's good not to rush if you don't have to

Plus this is the fun/exciting part!
Make the sale conditional on a sea trial in the spring. Make your offer conditional (and fully explained as such) on the readiness to do a sea trial. Otherwise it's a project boat with 400 pounds of unknown issues aboard.
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Old 17-02-2017, 10:15   #12
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim View Post
I will be inspecting and may be making an offer on a nice 27' used sailboat this weekend with an inboard diesel. The boat is up on a cradle at a marina. I've owned smaller boats and crewed larger ones before and feel comfortable checking the hull and running gear.

But what's the best way to check the state of the engine? It's winter here.

#1 Is it appropriate to have them simply turn it over? Start it? Hook up a water hose to run it for a few minutes? Then, does any water used need to flushed out with antifreeze or will it simply drain out of the engine naturally? It will be 60 degrees this weekend, but it could freeze again before April. How far should this marina go to sell this boat?

#2 What's the best way to check the electrical system?

#3 I've looked at two boats in the last week. Both had several inches of ice in the bilge. Is this a deal-breaker? Do I have to worry about the integrity of the hull. If you think this may happen and can't pump it out before it freezes, is it appropriate to simply pour a few gallons of RV anti-freeze into the bilge?

The boat is listed for less than $6000. Is it worth paying for a professional survey?

Thanks for any advice.
You or they have provided so little info.. Wait till spring. She is unlikely to go anywhere.
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Old 17-02-2017, 10:29   #13
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

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Originally Posted by rhubstuff View Post
Make sure the engine didn't just have a "spray can overhaul." If there is overspray on the hoses and belts, be very suspicious.
Good point. I'll keep an eye out for that.
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Old 17-02-2017, 11:36   #14
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

I am not an engineer, but I have had lots of ‘fun’ with my 18hp inboard (age unknown) over the last 10 years. What I would do is:

1. Find out what make of engine it is and ensure that parts are easily and cheaply available

2. Find out whether it has been owner serviced ort professionally serviced and at what intervals

3. Find out whether it has been properly winterised

4. Find out what its usage pattern has been. Diesels like to be used. An
engine with low usage can be as problematic s one with high usage

5. Check all the control systems are working (eg the throttle linkeages) – you can see those.

6. Find out whether and when the fuel tank has been cleaned and what the tank access is like. Gunge can accumulate and cause flow problems. If it has to be cleaned, easy tank access will reduce the price.

7. Find out whether any major engine parts have been replaced. I have had to replace the Starter Motor, the Alternator and have had the injector jets changed on my Volvo Penta 2002. These are the items that can fail over time. What will they cost to replace?

8. Find out what a major service on that make of engine would cost

9. Reduce the price of your offer by at least the cost of the major service (unless one has been recently done)

10. Add a contingency budget based on parts and maybe make an offer that reflects that too.

Good luck!
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Old 17-02-2017, 12:05   #15
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Re: Inspecting a used boat with inboard engine

Get an oil sample, preferably off the bottom of the pan, maybe by taking a bit from a drain plug that has been loosened or by a siphon. Be sure not to get any dirt in the sample by wiping the area around the drain plug with solvent and then a dry cloth before loosening the plug. Send the oil in for analysis. You will learn an awful lot more than just listening to the engine with an analysis. You could also do a leak down compression test and while you have the injectors out for that, have a look at the spray pattern or even have the injectors checked by a shop that refurbishes injectors. You could even do a pressure test of the cooling system for engine leaks, but probably not recommended as an oil analysis would show coolant if there was a crack in the engine head or block. However, this will not tell you anything about the transmission. Check the transmission oil for a burned smell. I suppose an oil analysis could also be done on a transmission. What make of transmission and model? Someone here might know something about what to check for, weak points.
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