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Old 06-09-2016, 19:53   #1
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checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

I'm considering purchasing a boat that's been on the hard for 2 yrs. I have no experience with a diesel engine. What are some things I should be checking to determine the basic condition of the motor, If all things check out can the motor be run with the boat still up on stands.
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Old 06-09-2016, 20:21   #2
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

What needs to be done is different depending on what engine it is. I purchased a sailboat once that had sat at the dock for 19 years without use. I made the mistake of thinking I could start the engine and wound up bending a pushrod. It was an old md2b volvo 2 banger. What kind of engine is this one? If its one of the older ones you could slowly attempt to hand crank it first before trying to start it, this would also help to pump some oil up into the head(s) prior to starting it.

Is it fresh water cooled? or raw water? In either case you need a way to attach a water hose (could be a hose coming from a 5 gallon bucket) to the water inlet pipe for the engine ( this is the line coming to the engine from the seacock). Even if it is fresh water cooled there is a rubber impeller in the raw water pump that will self destruct immediately without water running through it, and the manifold, water muffler and exhaust pipe will get super hot causing damage if water is not supplied.

I would also change the oil in it before running it if possible, condensation may of formed in the engine.

One final note is to be careful with putting the transmission into gear while running and on the hard. The cutlass bearing is made to be wet when the prop shaft is turning ( i am assuming this boat has a prop shaft?), you can put it in gear for a quick moment, but I wouldn't do it for more than that.
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Old 06-09-2016, 20:55   #3
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

Make sure to have an emergency shut down method prepared in case the normal method of stopping the engine doesn't work.
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Old 06-09-2016, 21:09   #4
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

The impeller won't self-destruct from running without water. The impeller often has no water until it primes itself soon after starting. Impellers should be replaced every year, so this one is due anyway.

You can run the engine with the boat on the hard. With no cooling, it will overheat in a matter of minutes, though you could start it just to see if it runs. Turning the engine over by hand first to lubricate is a good idea. If you want to run the engine longer you need to supply cooling water. DO NOT connect a hose directly to the engine - you need to let the engine pump water itself. Depending on the boat, you may be able to run a hose into the strainer and let the boat pump out of that. Since you are not familiar with diesels, it's probably best if you hire a mechanic to look over the engine. Unless it froze or was otherwise not properly maintained, it's probably fine.
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:48   #5
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

I don't like to admit it but mine sat at least 10 years on the hard. It started without much trouble after bleeding and fresh fuel. I started her this weekend after de-winterizing her and it didn't crank a full revolution and was running! Perkins 4-108. Diesels are tough.

After such a long period of inactivity, all your hoses, clamps, etc should be changed. Oil changed and flushed. I would disconnect the shaft. Run her to temperature, Change the oil and run her again.
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Old 07-09-2016, 05:54   #6
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

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Originally Posted by finefurn View Post
I'm considering purchasing a boat that's been on the hard for 2 yrs. I have no experience with a diesel engine. What are some things I should be checking to determine the basic condition of the motor, If all things check out can the motor be run with the boat still up on stands.

The easiest solution is to write a check to a reputable mechanical surveyor who specializes in that brand of diesel. A full mechanical survey would include compression tests, valve checks, etc. and oil samples which may tell something but also establishes a baseline for info from subsequent oil samples.

Ours was $825 in later 2005, for two big-ish diesels, done by the local distributor for our brand of engines. Some of that was parts (banjo seals, etc.) and for the oil sample kit. Most was labor. Figure presumably half that for a single engine, slightly less maybe for a smaller format engine.

Ours was in the water, so cooling wasn't an issue... but there's probably a way to cobble something together to run that engine while the boat is on blocks.

Sometimes you can get a competent genset inspection at the same time...

-Chris
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:35   #7
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

AS others have said, you can start an engine and run for a few minutes without water, btdt. Best to turn engine over by hand before you do that to be sure engine is not siezed. Same goes for transmission and running gear. For longer engine runs, stuff a hose up the engine water intake. Probably wouldn't put the transmission in gear other to be sure that it shifts as it will be very difficult to get water into the shaft bearing. An engine oil analysis from a thoroughly warmed up engine will tell you if the engine has some major impending internal problem issue. Best to check if a long period of disuse effects oil analysis, however.

If you have a diesel compression tester, you could do a compression test That is a rather large undertaking on a diesel requiring removing the injectors. If you want to go that far might be time to call in a Diesel mechanic to do a complete engine check but that will cost you a bit of money as the billable hours add up.
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:53   #8
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

[QUOTE ... For longer engine runs, stuff a hose up the engine water intake. [/QUOTE]

NO! NO! NO!
This is how you hydrolock an engine. The water pressure of hose+pump is greater than the engine is designed for, and more water enters exhaust than can be pushed out by the exhaust gas. Water builds up in the exhaust system, then enters the cylinders and hydrolocks the engine. If it's your lucky day the engine shuts down without damage and once you get the water out you're ready to go and a little wiser. If it's not your lucky day you also get to be a lot poorer.

There are plenty of threads on this.
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Old 07-09-2016, 16:17   #9
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

All good advice. My Isuzu C240 sat for ten years. When I asked the local dealer mechanic what I should do prior to starting he said: disconnect the fuel solenoid (so no fuel gets in) and crank it with the starting motor. If it cranks, no problem: start it. I got new fuel, changed all the belts and filters, and a couple of hoses and got the injectors overhauled just for luck. As I have keel coolers and a dry exhaust (the only way to go!) I don't have to worry about salt water pumps, heat exchangers, etc.

It cranked just fine with no fuel so I reconnected the solenoid and she started right up! No problem!

One of the nice thing about diesel (as opposed to gas) is the fuel is a lubricant and keeps everything in great shape almost indefinitely. Here on the BC coast diesels used for logging, etc. routinely sit for years then start right up when needed.
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Old 07-09-2016, 18:27   #10
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

Lots of good advice.
IMHO, do what's been stated above. Even if you don't have a formal engine survey. Find and pay a diesel mechanic to come and:
* lubricate,
* perform a compression
test. (very important )
* start and run engine.
*
Also, bring a gallon of Fresh Diesel to use for the powered up test. DO NOT USE diesel from your potentially filthy tank.

If the engine need work, you should lower your purchase offer to "cost of a decent hull* Engine rebuilds 20hsp to 50hsp, can cost around $5Grand depending on quality and location. New engines can cost double that.
Again for not commit to any purchase price until after you've tested engine and drive train.


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Old 08-09-2016, 01:45   #11
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

Hello everybody
Lots of good advices, but I have some doubts on fuel aging.
In a long stay in the hard, is it better to empty the tanks, or keep them topped?
When is it the case to consider the fuel old enough to be discarded?
Thanks for your help
Marco
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Old 08-09-2016, 08:24   #12
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

Change all fluids and filters.
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Old 08-09-2016, 14:44   #13
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Re: checking the condition of a diesel in a boat thts been on the hard 2 yrsm

Quote:
Originally Posted by ventomacio View Post
Hello everybody
Lots of good advices, but I have some doubts on fuel aging.
In a long stay in the hard, is it better to empty the tanks, or keep them topped?
When is it the case to consider the fuel old enough to be discarded?
Thanks for your help
Marco
Good maintenance practice when putting the boat away is to add a fuel stabilizer, run the engine long enough to get the stabilized fuel into all the lines, and top up the tank. If that was done, the fuel should be fine, even sitting far longer than 2 years.

If those procedures weren't followed, you may have water sitting in the bottom of the tank. Not the end of the world - for limited amounts a water separator (ie Racor) will remove the water and filter any gunk.

Regarding other fluids, check the oil. If it's milky or black, change it. If the oil was changed before the boat was put away, it's probably fine too. Make sure there is coolant, but you don't really need to change it right now. Since you are in NH and the coolant is at least 2 years old, you will need to change it before the coming winter. As many have said, 2 years is not an excessive period for a diesel to sit. Once you own the boat you can proceed with changing all the fluids and filters.
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