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Old 05-12-2011, 16:57   #16
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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My engine is currently out of commission due no compression. If true that it was overhauled 7 years ago the mechanic did way worse than the factory on the rebuild. As I sit here feeling sorry for myself and the 3-4000 estimate to get the overhaul I remind myself that spending for the parts is expensive, putting the parts together in a craftsman like manner usually makes the difference in 7 years and 20. I hope to spend 4 grand, go slower and supervise the overhaul closely and amortize over 20 years than slap 3 grand of parts together and amortize over 7.

So do diesels get a bad rap because of our lack of "proper" zero timing?
I think the problem with diesels in sailboats is that they are really "auxilary" propulsion on sailboats. Getting in an out of harbors, an occassional motor sail, charging batteries etc... That's not how diesels like to operate. They can also rust out before they wear out too. My 1986 Westerbeke died in 2006 with 1900 hours on it. But, looking back it was never really trouble free even though I did all the routine maintenance (changed oil, filters, zincs) on it every 50 hours or at the end of the season whichever came first. Everything from clogged intakes, holed exhaust elbow, leaked anti freeze, clogged filters has stopped, delayed or curtailed cruises for me at some point over the years. So by the time it suddenly had a major failure (blown head gasket & cracked piston) I just about had it trying to squeeze my 6' 2" frame down below to work on it. That's when I converted to electric propusion and have been much happier ever since. May not be for everyone but, I spend more time sailing and a whole lot less time on maintenance down below. Diesel engines do work in sailboats. It's just there are a hell of a lot of ways they can fail too. As many of the posts here show. IMO engines and heads are where most of the problems happen on board. Neither one is fun to work on especially at sea.
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Old 05-12-2011, 16:57   #17
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

Dan, a diesel can run forever if not abused. OTOH if the cooling passages have rotted out from salt water cooling, the block is shot and there's nothing to do. If someone gets water in the cylinders, doesn't keep up the oil, runs dirty fuel, runs without load and carbons it up...there are many ways to abuse any engine, diesels included.

I know someone who sometimes gets too thrifty and when he needed a rebuild he negotiated bottom price with the shop, down to exactly what would be re-used versus replaced. Well, he wanted them to reuse the perfectly good nuts that held the pistons around their bearings, which the factory says "use once and replace". He probably saved $20 that way, and a year later guess what came apart and cost him a second rebuild?

Diesels just aren't tolerant of abuse. Tiny air leak, tiny fuel leak, seeds of crud in the tank...I would say if you ar rebuilding, there IS A BOOK and if you rebuild it "by the book" skipping nothing and assuming nothing is unimportant, your result will be an engine that is good for another 5-10,000 hours of solid use. As long as it isn't abused.

Wear is not just measured by hours, but also by startups and shutdowns. Every time you start up, there is metal-on-metal wear on the bearings, etc. That's why seaplanes used electric pre-start oilers and why so many commercial rigs are simply not shut down when they stop, they leave the engine running so it stays lubed and happy. And there are no spikes or surges from alternators or starters, etc.

On workmanship, alignments, cylinder honing and reboring, head decking...Sure, craftsmanship counts! A clean shop, a neat shop, one where no one is yelling and they've been in the same location for 20+ years...these are all good signs, if you can still find such a thing.
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Old 05-12-2011, 17:21   #18
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I think the problem with diesels in sailboats is that they are really "auxilary" propulsion on sailboats. Getting in an out of harbors, an occassional motor sail, charging batteries etc... That's not how diesels like to operate. They can also rust out before they wear out too. My 1986 Westerbeke died in 2006 with 1900 hours on it. But, looking back it was never really trouble free even though I did all the routine maintenance (changed oil, filters, zincs) on it every 50 hours or at the end of the season whichever came first. Everything from clogged intakes, holed exhaust elbow, leaked anti freeze, clogged filters has stopped, delayed or curtailed cruises for me at some point over the years. So by the time it suddenly had a major failure (blown head gasket & cracked piston) I just about had it trying to squeeze my 6' 2" frame down below to work on it. That's when I converted to electric propusion and have been much happier ever since. May not be for everyone but, I spend more time sailing and a whole lot less time on maintenance down below. Diesel engines do work in sailboats. It's just there are a hell of a lot of ways they can fail too. As many of the posts here show. IMO engines and heads are where most of the problems happen on board. Neither one is fun to work on especially at sea.
One of the advantages of electric propulsion is that by definition, everything you've put in there is new. I have no issue with the electric folks, i am not there yet. The only issue for me is that carbon fuel is still the most compact fuel source for the power output generated.

HS - I am licensed aircraft mechanic and actually worked at it in my younger days. I've overhauled auto and aircraft engines and understand the level of detail required to do it right.

The reason I raised the subject is that there are lots of threads about "my unreliable, unknown history diesel engine" leading to the diesel engines are crap comments. I think they are still the best bang for the buck. If I properly overhaul it and it lasts 20 years it should amortize out to $16 per month for reliable engine power.

The idea of getting it up to speed and temp is a key one. Many examples of continuous duty diesels here. Cycling is clearly tougher on the engine. Everyone I know also runs the diesels at very low RPM. The most common explanations are noise level and fuel consumption. I think a lot of these engines could do with better insulation in the engine bay and a "smaller" prop. 80% of WOT is the sweet minimum IMHO.

If one buys a 20-30 y/o boat and cannot get documented evidence of a "real" overhaul, one should plan an overhaul before a world cruise is undertaken.
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Old 05-12-2011, 17:40   #19
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

Don Lucas you have hit the nail ...."Overhauled" and "Rebuilt" are way over used, Unless one uses T-1 's check list it is likely just a ring and bearing job or some injector work. Big difference.

My W27 was retired with nearly 9000 hrs. With some maintence of course. I could have put a set of bearings and pistons in for about 2k in parts but would have a 20 somthing year old motor which would add no value to my boat.

I chose a new Beta 38which cost more bt added value to the whole package.

I think Diesels have a deservedly good rep. The owners are often suspect at best....
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Old 05-12-2011, 17:50   #20
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

The bottom line problem with diesels on yachts is they typically rust out before they wear out, they are not used often enough, not run hard enough and are mostly (not everyone) operated by amateurs who don't know how to operate or maintain them.
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Old 05-12-2011, 18:07   #21
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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The bottom line problem with diesels on yachts is they typically rust out before they wear out, they are not used often enough, not run hard enough and are mostly (not everyone) operated by amateurs who don't know how to operate or maintain them.
You mean "sailboats" not yachts...some "yachts" use their motors regularly and keep them from "rusting out" or dying of old age because they are the lifeblood of the yacht.

My sailor friends have to be kicked in the butt to run their engines and generators on a regular basis...of course that is unless they are trying to put miles on a cruise where they run their engines as much as they use their sails...yep..the powerboater making fun of the powerboating sailors...
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Old 05-12-2011, 18:10   #22
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The bottom line problem with diesels on yachts is they typically rust out before they wear out, they are not used often enough, not run hard enough and are mostly (not everyone) operated by amateurs who don't know how to operate or maintain them.
Preventative maintenenace is another item. The raw water impeller fails on my engine about every 18 months, the alternator belt about every 24. rubber hoses have a very reliable life of 5-7 years - after that may be borrowed time. Of course I wait until it fails, underway, to fix it. What about proactively replacing these relatively low cost items on ascheduled basis and never having to worry about them again?

I hate car analogies but here goes. Who is going to seriously drive around in a 30 year old car that requires a "clutch" start, has a leaky radiator, bald tires, smokes like the dickens and the headlights don't work. OK some will, but in reality most of these cars are restored and being auctioned for thousands and thousands as classics or they've been crushed.

I guess I am posting all this to be ablee to read and take my own advice and get on the stick with some long needed restoration on my poor boat - sort of a catharsis...
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Old 05-12-2011, 18:11   #23
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

To me, yachts are boats used for pleasure, which includes sailboats. I also was not blanket labeling sailors. This is why I said "mostly" and not "all".

How many yachts at marinas do you see that never seem to get underway or only get out once or twice a year? Probably well over half of them. Their poor engines sit there waiting to get seized up or other things happen from lack of use.
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Old 05-12-2011, 18:20   #24
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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Preventative maintenenace is another item. The raw water impeller fails on my engine about every 18 months, the alternator belt about every 24. rubber hoses have a very reliable life of 5-7 years - after that may be borrowed time. Of course I wait until it fails, underway, to fix it. What about proactively replacing these relatively low cost items on ascheduled basis and never having to worry about them again?

I hate car analogies but here goes. Who is going to seriously drive around in a 30 year old car that requires a "clutch" start, has a leaky radiator, bald tires, smokes like the dickens and the headlights don't work. OK some will, but in reality most of these cars are restored and being auctioned for thousands and thousands as classics or they've been crushed.

I guess I am posting all this to be ablee to read and take my own advice and get on the stick with some long needed restoration on my poor boat - sort of a catharsis...
You need to rethink your maintenance if you are only getting those timelines out of a diesel.
I've owned/operated diesels for a great many years and unless you are a commercial application...impellers and belts should last moire than a couple years and hoses are fine for well over a decade on most diesels. My trucks have been the same.

As to low cost...depends on your threshhold of replacing things that are only half way through their expected life.
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Old 05-12-2011, 18:36   #25
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You need to rethink your maintenance if you are only getting those timelines out of a diesel.
I've owned/operated diesels for a great many years and unless you are a commercial application...impellers and belts should last moire than a couple years and hoses are fine for well over a decade on most diesels. My trucks have been the same.

As to low cost...depends on your threshhold of replacing things that are only half way through their expected life.
Maybe you miss the point. I am talking about increasing the probability of no failure underway. Most skippers I know punch the happy button, contemplate anti fouling annually but never give the preventative maintenance of their engine a thought until it starts smoking or won't start. Even something as simple as "change your oil every 6 months" will spark a heated debate about whether it is needed or not or whether that is the right interval based on using it 4 weekends a year.

You cant hurt an engine by changing its oil. Unless you forget to put it back in or leave the plug out - LOL

Adjust your times to fit your operation but as we say in aviation, fly to failure is not an option.

In a truck you pull over, in a boat you sail if you can and anchor. In an airplane you land really soon in a place you may not want to land.

BTW - although largely ignored aviation hoses in general aviation are time stamped and recommended for replacement at 10 years.

Here is another thing I have wondered. Raw water interchange adds many bad things to the equation in terms of cooling a diesel. Why wouldn't I eliminate the raw water circuit, use a "normal" appropriately sized and vented radiator with an electric fan and eliminate all the salty stuff.

The only reason I can think of is dumping the raw water in the mixer for cooling and sound dampening.
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Old 05-12-2011, 18:59   #26
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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Here is another thing I have wondered. Raw water interchange adds many bad things to the equation in terms of cooling a diesel. Why wouldn't I eliminate the raw water circuit, use a "normal" appropriately sized and vented radiator with an electric fan and eliminate all the salty stuff.
just go with a keel cooler. the engine coolant is circulated thru tubing under the boat in the water. No heatexchanger inside the boat, no raw water except for the water cooled exhaust unless you go with a dry stack and muffler well insulated.
etc...
http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...9-Keel-cooling
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Old 05-12-2011, 20:04   #27
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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Maybe you miss the point. I am talking about increasing the probability of no failure underway. Most skippers I know punch the happy button, contemplate anti fouling annually but never give the preventative maintenance of their engine a thought until it starts smoking or won't start. Even something as simple as "change your oil every 6 months" will spark a heated debate about whether it is needed or not or whether that is the right interval based on using it 4 weekends a year.

You cant hurt an engine by changing its oil. Unless you forget to put it back in or leave the plug out - LOL

Adjust your times to fit your operation but as we say in aviation, fly to failure is not an option.

In a truck you pull over, in a boat you sail if you can and anchor. In an airplane you land really soon in a place you may not want to land.

BTW - although largely ignored aviation hoses in general aviation are time stamped and recommended for replacement at 10 years.

Here is another thing I have wondered. Raw water interchange adds many bad things to the equation in terms of cooling a diesel. Why wouldn't I eliminate the raw water circuit, use a "normal" appropriately sized and vented radiator with an electric fan and eliminate all the salty stuff.

The only reason I can think of is dumping the raw water in the mixer for cooling and sound dampening.
Funny...in Coast Guard Aviation we looked ahead using different forms of analysis like vibration, etc to determine failure versus the archaic TBO or age. The same is true...maybe even truer with diesels that are MADE to last significantly longer than any other engine I know....including belts, impellers, hoses, etc...and even those are relatively easy fixes on the run if you have the parts and knowledge to deal with them.
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Old 05-12-2011, 20:19   #28
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

No idea how many hours on our 28 year old vintage Nanni Kubota diesel.

Wanted to repower a couple different times and diesel mechanics talked us out of it -- said our old heavy duty diesel would outlast a modern diesel. We have no idea.

We've replaced the marinized parts and random things over the years -- last spring was the throttle linkeage - that was a pain, but we managed to jerry-rig it with the help of a great guy in Marathon. Seems more robust than the actual part we finally found.

These days, we know this diesel and while it's old and we have no idea how many hours or if it's ever been rebuilt ... we trust it based on all the compression tests and other diesel surveys by random diesel mechanics over the years. Hopefully it just keeps purring along -- of course, 30 hp for a big heavy boat is putt-putt, but that has nothing to do with how the diesel performs.

So for now, we'll stick with what we have....
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Old 05-12-2011, 21:54   #29
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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No idea how many hours on our 28 year old vintage Nanni Kubota diesel.

Wanted to repower a couple different times and diesel mechanics talked us out of it -- said our old heavy duty diesel would outlast a modern diesel. We have no idea.

<snip>

So for now, we'll stick with what we have....
Repowering (changing the originally installed type) is no exercise for the faint hearted in most cases. It can be simple to very difficult.

The only real case I can get on board with if is the parts become unsourcable for an overhaul or they are so rare that they become too expensive and impossible to find around the world where you may need them.

Sticking with what you have is no bad idea at all. However the "accrual" method says drop $15 a month into an account for engine reserve becuase eventually you will need to spend $4,000 for an overhaul.

When I had a partner we were pretty good about this. We both dropped $300 a month in our joint boat account. When we needed a new genny, the money was there, when we needed a new forestay the money was there, new groovy Harken traveller etc.

When the partner left I stopped accruing and am crying in my milk about $4,000 that I am almost positive is a good thing to spend money on.

I am honestly divided on keeping my new outboard, installing more solar for power and doing the "local" conversion to no inboard. Might even make a few bucks selling the engine core and SD20 saildrive. the "purist" in me hates the idea but the weight savings might even improve the sailing as an added bonus.
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Old 06-12-2011, 11:08   #30
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Re: Diesels Getting a Bad Rap ?

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Repowering (changing the originally installed type) is no exercise for the faint hearted in most cases. It can be simple to very difficult.

The only real case I can get on board with if is the parts become unsourcable for an overhaul or they are so rare that they become too expensive and impossible to find around the world where you may need them.

Sticking with what you have is no bad idea at all. However the "accrual" method says drop $15 a month into an account for engine reserve becuase eventually you will need to spend $4,000 for an overhaul.

When I had a partner we were pretty good about this. We both dropped $300 a month in our joint boat account. When we needed a new genny, the money was there, when we needed a new forestay the money was there, new groovy Harken traveller etc.

When the partner left I stopped accruing and am crying in my milk about $4,000 that I am almost positive is a good thing to spend money on.

I am honestly divided on keeping my new outboard, installing more solar for power and doing the "local" conversion to no inboard. Might even make a few bucks selling the engine core and SD20 saildrive. the "purist" in me hates the idea but the weight savings might even improve the sailing as an added bonus.
Gee you sound like where I was just before I decided to repower with electric propulsion. There was no direct replacement for the Westerbeke 27 so I was looking at a Beta 30. Another owner went that route and had some problems $$ routing the new exhaust. I say if you can get by with the outboard for your sailing needs indeed why not sell the diesel rather than rebuild. If it does not work out then start fresh with a new diesel or an EP system.
The further I get away from my in board diesel the better I enjoy my time on board. Yes, my electric propulsion system is only four years old but, has required 0 time and 0 dollars for maintenance. IMO not because it's new. It's because it's a simpler system compared to marine diesel it replaced. The parts list would I suspect barely fill one page. That's not the case with the old Westerbeke diesel. What has required some maintenance is the Honda 2000 generator I use for charging at anchor and extended motoring. So far that has only been for oil changes. That routine maintenace will not stop of course. But, at least at 47 lbs I have choices on how and where I want to repair it. I can put it on a table and work on it in a comfortable position or just take it to a shop if a repair is beyond my capacity. Or just lay out $900 bucks and buy a new one. Less if I want to buy a noisier knock off. Doing that with an in board diesel is going to cost close to that in yard bills alone just to take out and reinstall the diesel. If you can get by with an outboard your maintenance iwould be a lot easier to do. Even if you do a rebuild the chances of problems happening while cruising are still there because of the complexity of diesel engines. Beyond all the moving mechanical parts & bushings there are the gaskets, seals (engine & transmission), hoses, leaked fluids etc.. Any of which can fail while underway and will require you to carry at least some spare parts and fluids for those maintenace needs.
We recently did a Cat charter in the Maldives on a boat that just recently had both it's engines replaced after six years. Now granted a charter boat gets used a lot harder than most cruisers use their boats. But, the owner did not want to take any chances with just doing rebuilds Probably a wise choice IMO.
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