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Old 17-04-2016, 13:42   #16
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Spoke to a transmission shop and in the course of the discussion the owner cautioned me to replace the transmission cooler if it was more than a few years old.
I know that when I was considering the Pearson 422/424 that I came across lots of comments about the transmission oil cooler and that many people had just removed theirs with no problems at all. You should check on the Pearson Owner sites for an answer based on experience for your boat.
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Old 17-04-2016, 14:35   #17
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

I had a transmission oil cooler leak on a four year old Yanmar 4JH4 and put sea water in the transmission (a cup or two). I agree it makes no sense since the oil is under pressure.

I contacted Yanmar and they said it can happen but the guy on the phone was not able to describe why.
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Old 17-04-2016, 15:27   #18
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

[QUOTE=jimbunyard;2099022
Also, the transmission oil cooler is often on the suction side of the raw water circuit and the oil pressure is generally higher than the water pressure anyway, so the tendency is for the oil to get into the raw water, not the other way around.[/QUOTE]

I second the motion here that the oil pressure is higher than the pressure in the cooler and the best thing that will happen is that the oil level will drop and the transmission will disengage or slip and will be instantly noticeable. This happened to us on a tow job. There was a fluid leak. Nothing to do with a cooler. Is this right or am I wrong here?
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Old 17-04-2016, 15:33   #19
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

I wish someone would have given me this advice in 2008!

As nobody did, I found myself with seawater mixed with the transmission-fluid coming out of the breather of my velvet-gearbox accumulating in the engine-room bilge. I never close my seacocks for the engine when I'm in port (I live on board). So, fortunately, I found out before casting the lines and heading off. And I was lucky to have checked the engine-room only a short while after it had started.

I flushed out several times with warm fresh-water, and did 6 oilchanges, one after the other with manually turning the velvet-gearbox several times in between, hoping I got all the salt-crystals out and didn't damage any bearings. 4.000 Miles and 2 more oilchanges later she's still working fine. Hope I was lucky.

Cheers & fair winds
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Old 17-04-2016, 15:45   #20
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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............... I contacted Yanmar and they said it can happen but the guy on the phone was not able to describe why.
I'll take a crack at it. When the boat is running the oil is hot and under pressure, When you stop the boat, the oil cools down, contracts and makes a vacuum. This vacuum will draw seawater through a defect in the oil cooler.

Sound reasonable?
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Old 17-04-2016, 15:49   #21
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

PS: circuit of my raw water: from the intake through the seawater-filter, the pump, the heat-exchanger of the engine. Here it splits. One part goes via a hose with breather on the highest part to the transmission-oilcooler and via another adjustable seacock to the exhaust to cool down the exhaust-gases. The other part of the water-circuit is used to lubricate the propshaft.

I guess the maximum amount of water that could leak through the oilcooler into the gearbox was what was standing in the hose up to the breather. But still, I could have done without!

Cheers & fair winds
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Old 17-04-2016, 15:51   #22
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

I can only pass on my recent and rather expensive experience of a lube oil cooler failure. I had the jacket fluid heat exchanger, lube oil cooler and tx oil cooler all removed for cleaning from my 20y.o. Yanmar 6HAE. This was in preparation for a trans oceanic sea passage during which we knew we would be highly reliant on the engine. Upon removal and cleaning the mechanics (Yanmar specialists familiar with the engine as they had done the original install) recommended replacing the Tx oil cooler due to dezincification of the cooler core. I took their advice on not replacing the lube oil cooler core as it was considered to be OK.
To cut a long story short, we got to the only stopover port in the crossing and discovered that we were losing L.O. overboard through the cooling water. Confirmed this by dipping the engine sump to find it was at the low end of the dipstick.
We were 400 miles into a 1100 mile crossing and at an isolated island. We had plenty of lube oil on board and considered soldiering on and topping up regularly but without knowing the leak rate this would have been an uncomfortable decision....
We eventually decided to bite the bullet and order a new lube oil cooler in its entirety to be airfreighted halfway around the world (thankfully the mechanics absorbed the freight cost on this!). Thankfully, being a Yanmar, it was in stock in their centralised depot and made it to us in less than 4 days - despite the remoteness of our location
The obvious learnings from this were:
1) if you think it might need replacing and you heading out to sea then replace it
2) check your oil levels regularly - costs nothing. If you can, stop engine on passage every 24 or 48 hours to do so. Similarly, if you can, monitor the exhaust cooing water for oily sheen on the water.
3) carry enough spare lube oil and tx oil to get you home in the event of a pinhole leak developing. I would consider it unlikely that a cooler would fail 'catastrophically'.
4) as someone else has already suggested, a simple bubble test in a water bath is easy to rig up with a decent sized plastic bin, some compressed air and some blanks fitted.
5) periodically checked anodes in all SW systems, the exquisite blend of dissimilar metals and salt water make these systems are perfect environment for galvanic activity
Hope all this helps.
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Old 17-04-2016, 15:51   #23
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I know that when I was considering the Pearson 422/424 that I came across lots of comments about the transmission oil cooler and that many people had just removed theirs with no problems at all. You should check on the Pearson Owner sites for an answer based on experience for your boat.
The manufacturer put it there for a reason. Just because a few people thought it wasn't needed is not a good reason to remove it. How do they know they have had no problems? What if the cooler is to prevent long term wear?
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Old 17-04-2016, 17:28   #24
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

My oil cooler that is built into my heat ex changer got a leak only when the engine got up to 180 degrees so i disconnected the oil cooler lines and bought a MOTA external transmission cooler and hooked the oil lines to it.Now i have no oil leaks and my oil is cool.I plan on getting 2 more of these oil coolers to put on my trannys soon.I bought both on ebay for $50 each from Mack Boring and parts company.
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Old 17-04-2016, 17:32   #25
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
The manufacturer put it there for a reason. Just because a few people thought it wasn't needed is not a good reason to remove it. How do they know they have had no problems? What if the cooler is to prevent long term wear?
Many yacht engine/trans systems are run at small fractions of their maximum ratings. In such cases, the cooler may well be unneeded. In any event, simply monitoring the transmission temperature, either with an oil temp gauge or an IR external thermometer and with the water flow shut off temporarily will show if the cooler is needed.

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Old 17-04-2016, 17:38   #26
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

I see you've got plenty of advice on this already. Yes, they do need replacement after a while but, as has been pointed out, the oil pressure exceeds the water pressure so, what I would do is install a small pressure gauge in the oil line side, that way you can periodically look in there and just see if it's still holding it's liquor!
If you have fresh water engine cooling, a pressure gauge there is also a good idea as any leak will show up on the gauge long before it becomes a catastrophic failure. Industrial engines often use such a set up.
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Old 17-04-2016, 17:38   #27
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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How do they know they have had no problems? What if the cooler is to prevent long term wear?
We're talking about boats that are 30 years old. Not exactly a 6 month trail.
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Old 17-04-2016, 17:43   #28
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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So is this nonsense, urban legend, scare stories or should I start thinking about replacing my 30 year old coolers?
Sometimes when I'm bored and anxiety free I sit around on the boat and think about all the things that might go bad, might need to be checked, could cause problems etc... Then the anxiety returns and I'm no longer bored.

Let's see, this month I've thought I might clean the heat exchanger, remove the water pump, replace the brushes or rebuild the alternator, clean the fuel system, remove the chainplates. The oil cooler is way down the list.
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Old 17-04-2016, 19:03   #29
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

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This, basically. If you are motoring in salt water and it's the salt water cooling circuit flowing past the dissimilar metals of either the heat exchanger or the oil cooler/transmission cooler, the potential for wear and catastrophic failure exists.

It's why we are leaving with spares sufficient to patch us over such failures, like a spare water pump, alternator and starter. We might have to rethink the cooling aspects as well. It's expensive and annoying, yes, but it's part of the game of proper boat management to cover off all reasonable bases. You wouldn't leave with one anchor. Well, I hope you wouldn't!

"Reasonable" in this context would mean carrying a spare head gasket, an injector or two and a full gasket kit, anode replacements and perhaps a few studs. It would not include carrying a spare head, or spare drivetrain pieces. What is reasonable to you, I would suggest, depends on how far you'll sail from easy access to parts and/or repair people.
Of course you don't cruise without spares, tools fittings, electrical, plugs, marine tex. hoses, impellers and such.. But good luck with carrying everything onboard you are going to need..
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Old 17-04-2016, 20:32   #30
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Re: Do transmission or oil coolers "wear out"?

To test a oil cooler, do 1 side at a time. Use air at low pressure with a gauge and a hand pump. Pressurize it to 5-10 psi, mark the gauge, and let it sit for a few hours. Since air leaks much easier than liquid you find leaks long before a problem. Put coolers loosing air pressure in a bucket to find the leaks. Most radiator shops can fix them. If you need fittings for your test, save them for next time.
When you flush you system, don't use strong cleaners that take off metal. You don't need bright metal, just no marine growth. I use Rydlymer (pronounced Rid Lime). It's biodegradable and in most places, legal to dump over the side. It's available on Amazon, Ebay and better marine stores. Info here: RYDLYME Marine: The Ultimate Biodegradable Marine Descaler! | RydLyme Marine
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