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Old 06-06-2010, 13:14   #1
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Diesel Engine Hasn't Run In Two Years

Been lurking here awhile and have leaned much - GREAT FORUM! Now I have an issue to ask about.

Looking at a 1972 41' sailboat, with a Westerbeke 4-107 diesel, to buy as a restoration project and eventual live-aboard, coastal and island cruiser. Its currently on stands in a yard, 130 miles as the boat sails from my home marina. It's a 4.5 hour drive to work on it and I want to do the minimum of long-distance working to bring it up to a condition so I can safely deliver it home.

Its been two years since the engine was run, and I donít want to buy the boat (for full price, at least) if the engine isnít in good running condition. The (out-of-town) seller/owner has agreed to let me go make the necessary preparation to get it running, then he will come to check the work and witness the actual starting procedure.

As to my experience, I have plenty of general mechanical experience and have worked on gas engines of many types. Have done engine rebuilds and plenty of carb jobs. Not so much with diesels, but do have a copy of Nigel Caulder's _Marine Diesel Engines_.

Two years ago, the two 50-gallon diesel tanks were topped off and Biobore added to fuel, although the owner may have said he didnít then run the engine to bring the treated fuel forward through the system. I'm wondering if the fuel system may be contaminated with fungus, what some call algae, and to what extent. I have heard it only grows at a fuel/water interface - no water, no fungus... In any case, it doesnít seem prudent to just hook up the cooling water and fresh batteries and try to crank it.

There seem to be maybe two considerations here. First, initial test starting and running, where it is, on the stands, without risking clogging injector pump, injectors and so on. Second, take some precaution that after the boat is launched and sailing toward my neck of the woods the 'new' agitation of being under way again doesnít disturb and/or break loose any crud in tanks or recent growth and clog filter and kill engine at an inopportune time ('never' is preferable on this count). I did study up on this and plan to install an onboard fuel polishing system with parallel filter paths and vacuum gauges, but that's later.

I've heard of a "day tank" set up to avoid using a gunked-up fuel system.

Here's a check list I've started:

1) Install new water pump impeller and gasket.
2) Install adequate batteries and have my charger w/ 55 amp booster ready to use.
3) Plumb day tank into the system (if this is needed).
4) Replace filter elements(?).
5) Bleed fresh fuel through the system to the injectors.
6) Crank engine. Run at 30% to 50% max RPM until warm to avoid glazing cylinder walls.

- What is the best overall approach and what is missing from my list?
- What are the chances of fungus growth that could overwhelm the filters?
- Does the fungus generally grow downstream of the tanks, say, in the lines between the tank, filters, lift pump, injector pump and injectors?
- How can fungus best be detected in the process of what I'm trying to do?

Concerning a day-tank:
- How is it determined if this is needed?
- Can it be, say, an outboard engine type 11 gallon plastic tank with a barb fitting installed to accept the diesel fuel return tube?
- Where should it be plumbed in? Just before the 'lift pump' of the engine to bypass as much of the old system as possible, or just downstream of the existing tanks?
- The previous raises the question of it having its own filter?

Any suggestions, observations, advice or smart remarks will be appreciated.
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Old 06-06-2010, 13:37   #2
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The filters are there to take out the gunk from the amoebas or whatever they are. It wouldn't hurt to change out the filters and bleed the fuel system all the way the the injectors. If Biobor was used the fuel in the tanks should still be okay though maybe not as good as fresh fuel. Nice thing about diesel is it doesn't degrade like gasoline in long term storage.

If there has been a bacterial invasion of the fuel system, the filters will gunk up fairly quickly, You will still have to run the engine(s) for more than a couple of hours and then check the filters to be sure that the fuel is still okay. If it's got Racor Filter you might buy a vacuum gauge like this. RACOR T-HANDLE VACUUM GAUGE: eBay Motors (item 180515463147 end time Jun-06-10 20:00:00 PDT)
The gauge will tell you quickly if the filters are clogging with whatever well before you'd have any other indication. It would be a real PITA to have to pump out a 100 gallons of diesel if the fuel is contaminated.
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Old 06-06-2010, 13:38   #3
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Your checklist seems sensible. I might also change the lube oil and filter, or at least check the level. Also, try to turn the engine a few times by hand with compression off to get the oil pump going.

The bugs generally live in the fuel tank, in the fuel/water interface. Biobor should have kept them in check, but it would not have cleaned up any pre-existing colonies. But I think the worse that could happen is the primary filter will get plugged up and the engine will stop. If that happens, you'll need to get the fuel polished and change the filters but there should be no lasting damage.
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Old 06-06-2010, 13:42   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whimsy View Post
seller/owner has agreed to let me go make the necessary preparation to get it running, then he will come to check the work and witness the actual starting procedure.


.
So you are going to do all that work and that expense to get his motor started? He doesn't seem too interested in selling it.

Why don't you just say: "Have the engine running and I'll see if I have time to come and write you a deposit check"..?



Thats just my thoughts reading the situation.
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Old 06-06-2010, 13:53   #5
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And if you do a good job on the engine I hope the price doesnt go up.
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Old 06-06-2010, 14:04   #6
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I think that anything that the seller can't demonstrate to be working isn't working and needs replacement. Of course there could be circumstances here that we are not aware of.
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Old 06-06-2010, 14:15   #7
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Hey I've got a couple engines around here Id like to get running you can tinker with for free and get running for me as well....WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?????

Now having said that..I will leave you to your own reasons as Its none of my business...

But FWIW...This might answere a few of your questions and settel some worries.


Diesel School 101- Episode 1
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Old 06-06-2010, 14:26   #8
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So you are going to do all that work and that expense to get his motor started? Why don't you just say: "Have the engine running and I'll see if I have time to come and write you a deposit check"..?
Yeah, I hear you loud and clear, and thanks much for your concern. Really. I could be a sucker, have been before...

After an hour on the phone, several detailed emails and several hours of him showing me the boat systems and features (and our wives chatting in the cockpit under the shade), its a chance I'm willing to take to get the boat at the price. It is, no doubt, a buyer's market, but I think this is priced to move and I was on it first.

Its not like there are a line 41' boats at this price just lined up for me to choose from. If it takes one day more to go make it happen myself, vs having some other guy go screw it up, or just have seller say, "Well, too bad, another guy just wrote me a check.", that's a speculative investment I'm willing to make.
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Old 06-06-2010, 15:47   #9
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Dont sweat it too much, new filters (oil and Fuel) change the oil, crank it over with engine stop engaged so it wont fire to bring up oil pressure and then let her go, the first thing I do when I buy a boat is to do a complete engine service so if you are sure you want to buy boat doing now wont hurt
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Old 06-06-2010, 15:49   #10
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Its been two years since the engine was run, and I don’t want to buy the boat (for full price, at least) if the engine isn’t in good running condition. The (out-of-town) seller/owner has agreed to let me go make the necessary preparation to get it running, then he will come to check the work and witness the actual starting procedure.

Hoo-wee!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't be surprised if the seller tries to screw you on this.....It is just like the cheapskates that ask for estimates....when they have no intention of having the work done.....just want to pick your brain......be careful....I would hate to see you disappointed.
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Old 06-06-2010, 16:04   #11
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Small Check?

I trust any check you'll be writing is small!

Is it possible to load the boat on a low loader and bring it home that way? Even if the engine is fine there's probably lots of work to do that's best done out of the water.
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Old 06-06-2010, 18:34   #12
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I think the question you are asking is what do i have to do to get this engine going to evaluate prior to purchase all other i would likes can come latter,below is a list of some suggestions to carry out in no particuliar order for a vessel on the hard.
1. check all fluid motor &tranny 2. rotate prop shaft 3.check engine mounts. 4. remove valve cover lubricate all with 70% eng oil 30%diesel leave cover off untill after engine has been rotated.5.check cw pump impeller lubricate within pump.6.supply battery power visual inspection of all wiring, belts & pipe work.6 bar engine over a least 720%. check fw pump bearings for movement.7 prior to starting hold stop on granking untill good oil pressure appears. Given the treatment of the fuel on hand it should be ok to use,if running the engine on the hard lubricate the shaft bearings with water ang arrange a supply to the seacock.If hard to start due to low compression you may have to put oil in each cylinder there are 2 ways to do this 1 remove injectors or use a length of 1/4''clear hose;draw a 1/4 t spoon oil up hose [ea cyl] push hose down inlet manifold to selected cylinder with open valve and blow or dump oil at valve seat granking will do the rest, the problem with increasing compression this way with a boat on the hard is loading the engine enough to burn the oil off to gauge oil useage.
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Old 06-06-2010, 19:54   #13
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diesel engine

Two year old fuel with biocide or not is suspect.f you have access to the tanks siphon off some fuel from the tank bottoms into a clear container to check for nasty s. I wish my brother had done that when he brought our boat home. He ran out of filters clogged by gunk from old fuel. It cost him a tow home.
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Old 06-06-2010, 19:54   #14
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In addtion to your list I would -

- Remove fuel supply at filter from the tank and drain about 4 liters or so. You wanna know what comes through from the bottom of the tank before putting nice new filters in.
- Remove the injectors and rotate the engine by hand. Try to get a look at the piston tops nd cylinder walls. You may find gunk and rust. remember depending on when engine stopped intake and exhaust valves are open and bad stuff can get in.
- Change the oil & filter. And after 5 hours change the oil and filter

- After 2 years IMO the big scary things will be front and back oil seals. If they got hard and dry and cracked you a looking at a bottom end overhaul.

Regarding your "deal" with the owner. I am of similar opinion as others. Two thoughts

- Get a purchase agreement in place. Define who pays for the materials to get the engine running. Define what that means to the purchase price. Define what happens if the engine won't run, runs badly or needs an overhaul.

- Limit your liability. Let's say you do all the above with the best intentions. You make a mistake, the exhaust mixer is plugged and you fill the back cylinder with water. You hit the start button, hydraulic lock the engine and break or bend a connecting rod. What happens then?
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Old 07-06-2010, 14:05   #15
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Hire an Engine surveyor?
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