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Old 18-10-2012, 18:42   #1
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Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

Hi all,

We have a Volvo 2003 engine in Alchemy, our second Volvo engine of this series - Jubilee had a 2002. We are well versed in the pros and cons of this engine. In my opinion, the core engine is fine, but the external, fresh water cooling system is less then optimal. When it works, it works well, but it is prone to leaks every time you service the engine. To this end, we keep a supply of the flat o-rings onboard.

We know two boats personally with raw water 2003 installations. One, a monohull that the owner installed when new, and cruised it extensively. The other, the catamaran, has of course two engines. Both have had no real issues related to the fact that they are raw water cooled and have enjoyed less issues with their cooling system.

I have also spoken with a major engine importer in a social setting, who knew the Volvo series well, and suggested converting to raw water cooling.

The cost to convert is about $400. We would reduce the number of potential leak points by 6+, and also allow a second drive belt for the alternator (120a).

So, what say ye? Good idea?

Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 19:02   #2
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
Hi all,

We have a Volvo 2003 engine in Alchemy, our second Volvo engine of this series - Jubilee had a 2002. We are well versed in the pros and cons of this engine. In my opinion, the core engine is fine, but the external, fresh water cooling system is less then optimal. When it works, it works well, but it is prone to leaks every time you service the engine. To this end, we keep a supply of the flat o-rings onboard.

We know two boats personally with raw water 2003 installations. One, a monohull that the owner installed when new, and cruised it extensively. The other, the catamaran, has of course two engines. Both have had no real issues related to the fact that they are raw water cooled and have enjoyed less issues with their cooling system.

I have also spoken with a major engine importer in a social setting, who knew the Volvo series well, and suggested converting to raw water cooling.

The cost to convert is about $400. We would reduce the number of potential leak points by 6+, and also allow a second drive belt for the alternator (120a).

So, what say ye? Good idea?

Chris
Which engine do you have?

Many Volvo Diesel engines (some of which Volvo took over from Perkins, such as the Prima series) have undersized heat exchangers, which are the reason the engines run too hot and the cooling system leaks due to inordinate expansion and contraction of the seals.

I would be very hesitant to convert to an open (raw water) cooling system -- as the disadvantages outweigh the advantages by a long shot. The solution is to install a heat exchanger properly rated for the engine. You can purchase a brand new properly rated heat exchanger for under $500 and have a permanent solution to your engine cooling woes.
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Old 18-10-2012, 19:10   #3
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

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Which engine do you have?

Many Volvo Diesel engines (some of which Volvo took over from Perkins, such as the Prima series) have undersized heat exchangers, which are the reason the engines run too hot and the cooling system leaks due to inordinate expansion and contraction of the seals.

I would be very hesitant to convert to an open (raw water) cooling system -- as the disadvantages outweigh the advantages by a long shot. The solution is to install a heat exchanger properly rated for the engine. You can purchase a brand new properly rated heat exchanger for under $500 and have a permanent solution to your engine cooling woes.
Agree big time! I have a Westerbeke 115 HP 6 cylinder from 1983. Presently we are on Lake Michigan and imported the vessel from Florida. The heat exchanger was full of clams and other sea life. I can't imagine what to do if the growth was in the engine itself. (not to mention corrosion issues) We carry a spare exchanger and it takes about an hour to switch. Easy clean-out once its in hand.
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Old 18-10-2012, 19:51   #4
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

The engine is a Volvo 2003. That is the model #, not the year. It has the factory heat exchanger. Are you suggesting that it is undersized? We do not have a problem with the heat exchanger, per se. Rather, with the overall connections used in the cooling system.



Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 20:02   #5
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

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Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
The engine is a Volvo 2003. That is the model #, not the year. It has the factory heat exchanger. Are you suggesting that it is undersized? We do not have a problem with the heat exchanger, per se. Rather, with the overall connections used in the cooling system.



Chris
I just referenced your engine. It is 3 cylinder and 27 horsepower. Your engine will require a much smaller heat exchanger than I originally conceived of. You should be able to find one for under $400.

An undersized heat exchanger can contribute to the compromising of seals, thus compromising the integrity of connections. Depending on the material/grade of the o-rings, the are likely to underperform if subjected to temperatures above your engine's operating range. You are also likely to see this with other parts sensitive to temperature. The heat caused expansion and contraction will definitely play a role in the failure of connections.

Tackle the problem by addressing its source and check the connections as well. A set of leaky cooling connections should not be a reason to abandon the closed cooling system.
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Old 18-10-2012, 20:28   #6
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

Folks, the heat exchanger is fine. Those that are intimately familiar with this engine know what the issue is - the design of the hard pipes sealed only with flat o-rings, and pressure between items in the system - no positive clamping at all. I did not say that I had overheating issues at all. While I know all the supposed draw backs of a raw water cooled engine, I also know people that have them without issue. So I guess I am looking for further confirmation of this fact. If you have a raw water cooled engine, please tell me how things have gone with it over the years.

Chris
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Old 18-10-2012, 21:29   #7
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

G'Day Chris


Are you really sure that you don't have a heat exchanger problem???? (just kidding, mate).

On Insatiable I we had a BMW D35 that was raw water cooled. The only problems we ever had with the engine in 6000+ hours and 17 years were due to salt buildups in the cooling passages which kept happening despite our efforts. I really wished it was the later model with a heat exchanger...so there is one anecdotal criticism of your plan. Obviously they are different engines and may well have different issues.

I'm in complete sympathy with your desire to get rid of the lousy design of the Volvo cooling system. I've helped a few folks with your exact problem, except that we were out in the woop-woop somewhere and they didn't have the spares that you carry. Not a pretty sight...

I'll be curious to find out what you decide to do, and then how it works out.

Good luck

Jim
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Old 19-10-2012, 00:03   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall
Folks, the heat exchanger is fine. Those that are intimately familiar with this engine know what the issue is - the design of the hard pipes sealed only with flat o-rings, and pressure between items in the system - no positive clamping at all. I did not say that I had overheating issues at all. While I know all the supposed draw backs of a raw water cooled engine, I also know people that have them without issue. So I guess I am looking for further confirmation of this fact. If you have a raw water cooled engine, please tell me how things have gone with it over the years.

Chris
We have 1978 Yanmar 2QM15 that is raw water cooled. Other than a cracked exhaust elbow which led required a new (used) exhaust manifold. We have had no issues. Last season I did a half-hearted attempt at descaling the block. I wasn't having any issues, just figured that after 34 years the old girl deserved a bit of a wash. It did release a substantial amount of sludge and the volume of water through the system increased.

I plan on doing it again this year with a more powerful descaler.

If you convert, you MUST also change to a lower temperature thermostat to prevent the scale build up that occurs when saltwater is heated above about 160 degrees. Our thermostat is fully open at 125 degrees.
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Old 19-10-2012, 03:59   #9
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

crazy - your word, not mine BUT - if the engine was designed to run fresh water you cant just switch to running salt water and expect it to run better - my 2qm20 runs raw water cooling and i watch the temp gauge all the time - if you get above 6oc you'll start clogging up with salt, if your engine doesnt have internal anodes you'll probably corrode through the waterways and cause who knows what ghastly internal bleeding, theres probably other things unexpected - looks to me like a world of pain. I thought about doing the opposite a while ago - raw to fresh - its too difficult and the engine runs fine as is, just get used to dealing with the maintenance issues
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Old 19-10-2012, 04:10   #10
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

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We have 1978 Yanmar 2QM15 that is raw water cooled. Other than a cracked exhaust elbow which led required a new (used) exhaust manifold. We have had no issues. Last season I did a half-hearted attempt at descaling the block. I wasn't having any issues, just figured that after 34 years the old girl deserved a bit of a wash. It did release a substantial amount of sludge and the volume of water through the system increased.

I plan on doing it again this year with a more powerful descaler.

If you convert, you MUST also change to a lower temperature thermostat to prevent the scale build up that occurs when saltwater is heated above about 160 degrees. Our thermostat is fully open at 125 degrees.
An old yanmar hand (now retired ) told me to run a 10% hydrochloric acid solution through the engine every couple of years to keep the waterways clean, buy some acid from the pool shop, fill a bucket 9/10 full with water and pour in about 1/10 acid (DONT pour water into acid it will explode and injure you) disconnect the raw water input hose and put it in the bucket,, fire up the engine and run it through. takes a minute, switch off, reconnect raw water then give the engine a reasonable run to flush it out. I definitely dont recommend trying this at home children. Im just telling ya what he told me.
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Old 19-10-2012, 09:01   #11
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

Charlie - the local Beta rep told me that the 2000 series from Volvo was originally designed as a raw water cooled engine. The kludge they call a freshwater cooling system was bolted on after the fact. Changing over is simple - I need to remove all of the fresh waster stuff - water pump, pipes and heat exchanger. Change out the thermostat. Replace the pipes from the thermostat and manafold with a single part to connect the two through my hot water heater. Then one or two plug on the engine.
We would also need to change the belt, as it drives the fresh water pump, and would no longer, so it would need to be shorter.

Jim,
We currently have about 2900 hours on the engine. If I could get another 3000, or even 1500 that would be fine. How often did you have salt water plugging problems? I surely don't want to exchange one headache for another.

Chris
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Old 19-10-2012, 15:26   #12
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

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Jim,
We currently have about 2900 hours on the engine. If I could get another 3000, or even 1500 that would be fine. How often did you have salt water plugging problems? I surely don't want to exchange one headache for another.

Chris
Chris, I don't really remember very exactly -- sold that boat nearly ten years ago and don't have the maintenance logs any more. As best as I can recall, we had one major issue when one corner of the head's cooling passage clogged, that area overheated and the head gasket failed. Did as much manual chipping of scale as we were able to access, then used HCl to dissolve that which we couldn't see. Had a few (maybe three) other times when it seemed like the coolant flow was reduced and we did an acid wash in situ. Hints: be sure to remove the zincs prior to the acid bath, and have the engine fairly warm when you introduce the acid. Let it stay in until the bubbling (easily audible) dies out. Then renew the acid to see if it starts up again. If not, you're done... rinse and reassemble.

Sorry that I can't be more specific!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 19-10-2012, 16:01   #13
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

Don't forget to make sure the freeze plugs are brass as most FW cooled engines use steel which do not last long as RW cooled.
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Old 19-10-2012, 16:37   #14
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

In this instance I would rip the freshwater kit off that engine and simplify the whole thing. Then tidy the extras up and flog them on e bay in the Spring, someone will want them.

Our Volvo 2003 is now 24 years old and raw water cooled. Other than a head job for an oil leak a couple of years ago it runs fine, well bit tricky to start in very cold weather but then fine.

If your going to be doing that much work, I would also replace the fuel lift pump and keep the original as a spare. Also have a look inside the exhaust elbow because that's another weak area once they get to a couple of decades old. Finally have the gearbox to flywheel splines been checked recently?

We have 2000 hours in 24 years and I hope to get at least another 5 years out of it. It was the last of the volvo engines to be designed as a marine unit, not a marinised utility engine.

Be aware we can't get hot water from the calorifier if the engine is just run on tickover, it's not hot enough. However, motor for 30-40 minutes at a good lick then there is oodles of hot water on board.

Engine anode lasts 2 seasons, don't know if they fitted one to a FWC engine but the RWC engines have them on the starboard side under the alternator.

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Old 19-10-2012, 16:59   #15
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Re: Crazy? Converting Fresh to Raw water cooled

Not sure what tthe problem areas are, but if it's the sealing design on the heat exchanger or something like that... just redesign it! You could even buy a good aftermarket heat exchanger with a proper sealing system and throw away the volvo unit. Heat excahangers are simple devices. My old Yanmar had it mounted to the wall in the engine compartment completely separate from the engine...
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