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Old 15-12-2013, 05:53   #1
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Low Oil Question / Opinions

Looking at a boat that has 42hp westerbeke, engine runs out ok but at idle sounds like crap, bump up the idle a touch and it smooths right out. Cannot tell what rpm its running at as tach is incorrect.
Upon checking it the oil level was 3-3.2 Qts low, (holds 4.5). Not going to elaborate on the response from the broker but either the owner changed oil and forgot to properly fill it or another possibility that its consuming oil. no smoke in exhaust, no visible leaks. oil level was right where we put it once topped off, after 2 hours of running it.
How much damage do you think would be done if run 3 qts low? I am sure it was still getting lubrication, but had I would have to think the oil would be incredibly overheated at that point even running for 30 minutes low like that.
Any opinions or advice appreciated
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Old 15-12-2013, 05:59   #2
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pirate Re: Low oil question / opinions

Should be fine.. just bump up that tick over to smooth..
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Old 15-12-2013, 06:38   #3
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Re: Low oil question / opinions

Tach that doesn't work, plus very rough idle, plus very low oil level, tells me that this engine may have been abused. Be very cautious here. As part of your pre purchase survey, hire a good diesel mechanic to do a thorough examination. It should include a compression test, and you should send an oil sample to a lab. Or, price the boat on the assumption that the engine needs to be rebuilt.
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Old 15-12-2013, 06:42   #4
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Re: Low oil question / opinions

I would try to find out when (engine hours) the oil was last changed.
Determine how many hours has it run with low level. If it was only recently changed, perhaps it has not been run since then. No problem!! Otherwise, I would insist on running the engine under load for at least several hours before taking an oil sample for analysis. An owner who lets this happen is either absent or stupid. Either way, there may be other issues.
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Old 15-12-2013, 07:13   #5
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Owner definitely not bright about maintenance. Oil sample was pulled on survey a month ago showed ok, Prior purchaser didntncome to an agreement with seller. but who knows may have been changed prior to that survey. Boat was mved 10 hours for survey so either it lost oil on its way to survey or someone changed it again right after survey either way its fishy and concerning. We have asked for a 10k reduction in price or we walk. Im guessing 10k would cover an engine replacement.
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Old 15-12-2013, 08:47   #6
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10K isn't going to finance a replacement. That would buy an engine, but the installation will cost nearly that much in addition to get it installed. I would rely on a current engine oil analysis. Are you sure it was that low??? I have seen folks overfill Westerbekes when they are on an angle by filling to the mark on the dipstick for a level engine. Also, sometimes the dipstick channel has air in it and needs to have multiple dips to get actual level. Sure you read it right?? A lot of diesels make ungodly noise when idling slow. Too many variables here. You might try sucking all the oil out of it, changing the filter, and seeing how much you have in it now. Sounds to me like there is something that does not add up here in the information.
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Old 15-12-2013, 08:57   #7
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Re: Low oil question / opinions

My guess is that 10G's is way too low when you include labor. But to be sure, contact a local Westerbeke dealer. I see that there are two in Bradenton.

You are right to be concerned, since the previous prospect walked. Don't rely on the survey from a month ago. Hire your own surveyor, someone who is looking out for your best interests, has no connection with the Broker, and has not previously seen the boat. That is the only way that you will have an objective opinion. Once you have your surveyors report, you can negotiate the price down to adjust for the cost of repairs.
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Old 15-12-2013, 09:30   #8
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Re: Low oil question / opinions

To the OP:

If the boat blew out 3 qts. on the run to the marina, that's a lot of oil to come past the rings, or leak into the bilge. There is likely to be a lot of soot in the exhaust pipe. Make a giant swab on a stick, and check to see if there is a lot of unburned diesel in the exhaust pipe, more than just soot, oily. Also, look very carefully around where it exits the boat, and see if there are soot residue signs. With an older boat with porous fiberglass, you may be able to see the evidence, a smudge on the hull. I'm just wondering where all the oil could have got to. If it's the rings, the exhaust should have been smoky when you ran the engine, and also, diesel droplets in the water.

If the oil sump was under-filled, then you have good reason to question everything insensitive to the needs of mechanical things that the PO may have ignored. It could add up to quite a lot of money.
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Old 15-12-2013, 13:34   #9
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Engine has 1700? Hours. It took 2.5 qts read on the dipstick I gave it lots of time and another .5 qts to get to just below the full mark. Interestingly after 2 hours of running the oil still looked clear, not the typical black Im used to on diesels. With the oil being new Im not real sure wjat show on an oil analysis even after 10-20 hours. And not sure the seller would allow it or negotiate. We love the boat but dont want to repower or rebuild. Tough decision. The other motor seems to be a bit less problematic we think.
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Old 15-12-2013, 15:01   #10
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Re: Low oil question / opinions

If I were the seller and someone told me what you are telling me about the engine I'd certainly check it out. I wouldn't give a $10K discount just because you thought there might be a problem with the engine. If it starts, runs, doesn't smoke, had a good engine analysis I'd look for a leak or find who did the oil change.
I bought a new Datsun 510 in '69. Took it to a dealer for it's first service while on the road from Florida to San Diego. Dealer didn't put oil back in the engine. The next AM luckily I checked the dipstick at the motel we stopped at the afternoon after the oil change (about 10 miles down the road), filled it up and it ran just fine for the rest of the time I had it.
I drove a 51 Buick 20 miles without oil once and it didn't hurt it. My dad was mad though and I never did that again.
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Old 15-12-2013, 16:29   #11
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Re: Low oil question / opinions

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Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
not the typical black Im used to on diesels. With the oil being new Im not real sure wjat show on an oil analysis even after 10-20 hours. And not sure the seller would allow it or negotiate. We love the boat but dont want to repower or rebuild. Tough decision. The other motor seems to be a bit less problematic we think.
The black color is just soot, and of little importance. If the owner will not let you do a thorough engine check, run, don't walk away from the deal because the owner is hiding something.
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Old 15-12-2013, 17:16   #12
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I understand the blackness isnt important but its pretty common that enough dirty oil stays inside an diesel when you chsnge it that it co mingles with the new oil making it dark pretty quickly if not immediately after start up. The point that its so clean makes me wonder if the engine was flushed recently. Especially on a engine with a fair amount of hours. Owner has no issues with engine survey but oil analysis already done, thermal imaging temp gun checking of cooling systems done. Only thing not done was comp test. No soot around or in exh thru hull. No smoking on start up.
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Old 15-12-2013, 17:34   #13
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Soot in the oil comes from blow-by, not having it means the rings have a very good seal, but as I'm sure you know it's the bottom end of an engine that may be hurt from running low on oil, not the top end. If there is bottom end wear you usually can hear it when the engine is hot, rods will make a knock sound and crank bearings will usually make a hollow knock sound, but only when the engine is hot. Bottom end damage almost always shows up as low oil pressure, especially at idle when hot. If it has good oil pressure at idle when hot, I bet it's not been hurt
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Old 15-12-2013, 18:09   #14
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Re: Low Oil Question / Opinions

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Originally Posted by Pete the Cat View Post
Are you sure it was that low??? I have seen folks overfill Westerbekes when they are on an angle by filling to the mark on the dipstick for a level engine. Also, sometimes the dipstick channel has air in it and needs to have multiple dips to get actual level. Sure you read it right?? ....Sounds to me like there is something that does not add up here in the information.

Ray is right. Many Westerbekes and Universals have SEALED dipsticks. One must take it out, let it sit for a while and return it in, to check the oil level. It is COMPLETELY UNLIKE A CAR oil level check.

You might want to try that before you go any further.
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Old 15-12-2013, 18:21   #15
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Ive had many westerbekes. I understand about having the dipstick out allowing oil to settle than checking it multiple times. To be sure. Did you read The part that wouldnt make sense that is it took 2.5 quarts just to get on the dipstick it was low. Another half qrt to get into the good range. Or are you guys saying because of the angle in a sailboat (not to severe in this case) the dipstick is wrong and oil level might be fine even if it is not registering on the dipstick? That would be scary. Pretty sure the oil was low amd now its full. Pretty sure it was run a minimum of a few hours to 10 hours with only a quart or so in it. I agree the noise might just be an extremely low idle. But still.concerned, I have found a couple reman 44's for under 5k w a warr. So worst case....
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