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Old 05-10-2014, 12:07   #1
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When is an engine too bad? Boat shopping.

Appreciated the previous advice on mold/mildew & bilge water. Am looking at boats again and have an engine question.

Like to see a more clean then dirty engine with accessible filters and a more clean than dirty, but not oily engine compartment.

Wondering if the following are warning signs of overheating or serious repair or engine replacement needed:

Engines that look like they've been recently spray-painted either green or chrome. The hoses or wiring on these engines have a touch or green or chrome as well, so it looks like overspray from recent painting.

Really dirty/oily engine and compartment, tho no spray stream of oil in the engine compartment no oil in bilge water. Looks like lack of maintenance and probably oil & filter changes. Sometimes the rest of the boat looks clean, sometimes looks like it's been put away wet.

Boat owner tells me he had a survey done for insurance purposes a couple years ago and hull & rigging were checked, but not engine. I can see the leak line from a stauntion down the inner hull into the quarterberth. Owner tells me engine runs good and if he were to repower, he'd put in electric.

When I express surprise at the state of an engine, the broker tells me to get a mechanic to check the engine before paying for a haul out & general survey on the boat.

Thoughts appreciated. Inboard more complicated than outboard.

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Old 05-10-2014, 18:33   #2
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Re: When is an engine too bad? Boat shopping.

Yes, a grotty engine box is a turnoff. When you look at the engine, look for "tracks", where coolant or fuel or oil have run.

Put your hand on it. If it's warm, it has been run recently, usually to make sure it will start easily the second time. So, how come it doesn't ALWAYS start easily? Ask owner and evaluate statement. Be sure to throw in a question or two you know the answer to already, as an honesty check. If you own a compression tester, you might want to take it with you to use. Or, if you're naive about engines, hire a friendly mechanic. Engine oil analysis can tell you quite a lot, too.

The broker might have been looking after you, or trying to manipulate you [the apparent willingness to have a mechanic look at it could be to protect you, or to discourage you from hiring the mechanic by making you think he thinks it's okay, you choose to save the money....the scenario works either way.]

Rust stain on hull from leaking stanchion base, definitely something neglected. First you get water, then crystal tracks, a one time occurrence will not leave a rust stain.

Different colors of paint, definitely suggestive when it appears not all to have been done at the same time. Plus, if owner did the work, probably would not add the painting step, or if s/he did it, would have sprayed the whole thing.

Those are my thoughts, someone else here may have more for you.....


Ann & Jim, U.S. s/v Insatiable II, SE Qld, for a while
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Old 06-10-2014, 14:01   #3
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Re: When is an engine too bad? Boat shopping.

It depends on the engine, the Perkins 4-108 in my boat is a notorious oil leaker but run forever, or so I'm told, I have no reason to doubt it since this one runs fine. There are fixes but they require removing the engine. BUT, and it's a big but, that all depends on the engine model in question, if it were a Yanmar and had oil everywhere I'd run like hell.
Previous advice on compression testing is really good.

Paint is hard to tell, in my boats I always have a can of matching paint and every season I inspect the engine or any peeling/chipped paint and clean it up and repaint the exposed area to keep it from getting rusty. Even new engines come with the hoses painted over, well the hoses mounted to the engine, not the hoses connected to the boat.

The engine should be able to start from cold, relatively easily, if theres a puff on start up that clears out quickly your usually OK, if it continues for some time before clearing out you at least need new injectors or the current ones cleaned and serviced.

Test the oil.
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Old 06-10-2014, 14:29   #4
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Re: When is an engine too bad? Boat shopping.

How old is the boat?
Notes on a Circumnavigation.

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Old 07-10-2014, 18:59   #5
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Re: When is an engine too bad? Boat shopping.

When an engine is old and has no availability of spare parts.

A large percent of old engines leak oil. Mine does but I am fixing that only because I am tired of cleaning the oil up. However, its just as effective and a lot cheaper to just let the engine leak oil. The engine starts and runs like a top otherwise.

So, oil in the bilge is not necessarily a turn off BUT (as I am learning) could cost several thousand dollars to fix properly.

Also, recent painting isn't a bad thing either. It may have been an attempt to get the engine looking nice and the oil leaks could have come later. I was planning on painting our engine but decided against the cost.
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