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Old 06-01-2016, 08:28   #16
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Absolutely, have an oil analysis done on each engine, generator and transmission. Make certain the engines are run a minimum of ten hours prior to pulling samples, otherwise it is not a good sample. These samples will provide you with one set of data points.

In an ideal world there would be a history of data points to show trends. In the event the initial samples return less than ideal readings, it is not unreasonable to request funds to be set aside in escrow until a second set of samples can be pulled possible after 100 hours placed on the engines and generator after taking ownership.

Escrow funds can either be used to make unforeseen repairs or paid out to the seller if no issues persist.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:38   #17
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

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Originally Posted by Dulcesuenos View Post
I understand oil analysis isnt very useful if the oil is relatively new.

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Problem is that different engines of the exact same type will run different baseline averages of different metals, high iron for one engine may well be withing normal limits of the other one, it is for this reason that a one time sample is pretty much useless.
It's a sudden change or spike in baseline that you look for, but even then, do you pull an engine from service based on an oil analysis? I have never seen that done.
Oil analysis is good for determining an oil change interval if you want to extend intervals. Army uses it for just that in the ground fleet and reportedly way more than pays for the labs in oil saved, to say nothing of environmental savings. It's not at all uncommon for oil to sit in a truck that is seldom used for years before the analysis says change it. Soot, water content and TBN I believe is what they look for to determine when an oil needs changing.
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Old 06-01-2016, 08:47   #18
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Oil analysis - at least at the level of water detection - is essential on the sail drives. The hubs are known to leak after a year or so in the water - and if not serviced on a regular basis, the leak matures into bearing problems. Yanmar SD-20 are especially bad in this area, but all have this problem.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:19   #19
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Yes, the oil will give a good indication of the engines condition, but as in above post wait till fter the sea trial to take the sample.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:26   #20
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Not only do after the sea trial. But try to determine how many hours since last oil change.

This will help determine how bad things are --- or aren't.

If there are no maintenance logs, or if no one knows how long the oil has been in use--- that is a big red flag!


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Old 06-01-2016, 09:28   #21
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

I have used Polaris Labs in Tennessee for my engines--main and genset. Turn around time is 3-4 days and you get a pretty detailed analysis via e-mail. Like others have noted, I think oil analysis is at its best over time--when it has a lot of data points and can reveal a trend. Consequently, you might not get that much helpful analysis out of your first sample, but if you do it annually, you will. And you have to start sometime.


I take my samples at the end of the season when I put the boat to bed for the winter. I change the oil then, and take a sample from the old oil. I usually put on about 125 hours per year but have gone a few more on occasion. I have a Yanmar main engine, and the interval for change is 200 hours or so. I think the genset is more, around 250, but I change both annually, thinking it a bad idea to leave oil full of acids and soot in the engine all winter.

The lab wants to know hours run since the last sample and the type of oil used--by weight and brand. I've been using a single weight, e.g., SAE 40W, but this year I waited until the last moment and could find none so I put in a multi-grade, SAE 10W-40. That is actually what Yanmar recommends, but I like a single weight. I use a tiny amount of oil if running a multi-grade; none if a single grade. I'll watch it this summer, and if I use any oil, I'll switch it out for a single grade.

Polaris has been reasonable in price and fast, but they have changed their model in what is clearly favoring fleets of vehicles. Used to be one could order single test kits (which included the cost of the analysis) but now they want consumers to buy no less than ten kits/analyses per order. OK for a fleet of vehicles or aircraft, but not me. The unit cost is the same, but I don't feel like laying out that amount that far in advance. If I can't get them to reason, I may look at Blackstone.
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:30   #22
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

For all you who are saying 'definitely do it' . . . . I am curious if you have specific personal experience where you learned something important from a single oil analysis? Or are you just saying it because you think it 'might be' useful? I am honestly curious to learn from your personal specific experiences.

I have only very limited experience with oil analysis (3 times) when buying and selling, and it did not produce useful results in any of them. I change my oil always every winter and whenever I leave on a passage. So, when I sold both boats, the oil analysis guys apparently (according to the buyers) said that was too fresh to tell them anything. When I bought my first boat, the engine only had about 100 hours on it and only about 25 hours on the oil, and again, the oil analysis said it was too fresh to mean anything in only one sample.

It may be good practice to do it regularly and make sense to start now, but I would have thought only if you really know (and trust the owner to tell you correctly) specifically how many hours are on this oil change?
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:32   #23
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Blackstone is $28 I think, kit is free, you pay when you get the analysis.
Myself I don't like the pay first model.
Blackstone Labs

Oh, and just like a urine sample, there is a protocol for oil analysis, you want the oil fully warmed and take the sample right after shutdown, sampling equipment must be very clean, it is very easy to contaminate a sample with the equipment.
For an engine that you can drain the oil from, you want to take the sample mid drain, course that doesn't work for boat motors
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Old 06-01-2016, 09:42   #24
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

I don't think a one time analysis will tell you much, but if an engine is "making" metal, you'll find it in the oil filter, I have a special oil filter cutter tool, but you can use a big pipe cutter or even die grinder, the video is long, but does show you how to inspect an oil filter.
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Old 06-01-2016, 10:39   #25
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

To estarzinger - Yes, I've had two situations (two different boats) where after taking oil samples the reports came back with a "yellow" rating, indicating there may or may not be issues. Obviously inconclusive, but enough and timely information to request escrow funds to be set aside.

In talking to surveyors and oil analyis lab management, I received a consensus opinion that one test is inadequate for conclusive decisions. However, this does not invalidate having tests conducted as pointed out above.

This initial set of tests also establishes a valuable baseline, which everyone agrees is necessary going forward if a purchase is consummated.

Cost to test engine, genset and transmission from my experience is roughly $100. Money well spent considering the size of the investment being considered.
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:51   #26
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Craig:
In buying my current boat, 1978 bristol 35.5 (15000 lbs), with original westerbeke 4-cyl diesel (30 hp) (1200 hrs on meter - rebuilt once sometime mid-1990's - no receipts available) i had both a compression check and oil analysis done. Oil survey done by Milton/CAT - SOS services lab out of Milford, MA (boat was in Marblehead, MA). Results turned around in 2 work days. Their report summary stated, "viscosity appears to be relatively normal/unchanged. infrared measurements of soot, sulfation & oxidation levels appear to be acceptable." A list of wear metals (ppm) was provided, listing 18 metals (eg Cu, Fe, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, P, etc) and oil condition/particle count (ct/ml) for 10 elements (eg soot, sulfation, oxidation, nitration, etc) to substantiate their evaluation. Oil was sampled after sea trial, PO stated oil last changed approximately 10 months earlier with engine run a handful of hours since. All-in-all, compression check came back excellent, engine ran strong (pushed her along at 5-6 knots @ 2000 RPM), no smoke and 1 year later the same can be said. I had a broker and seller had one. Mine was invaluable as deal came down to last wk or 2 of our season here in new england...and my broker kept the pressure up and the price down using the end of season as leverage. Good luck in your hunt. Dave
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:02   #27
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

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Originally Posted by AZ_Zoner View Post
I am new to buying a boat. Iím new to sailing. Iím from Arizona! I donít have a lot of exposer to the marine/boat environment. But it is something that my wife and I are doing. I am asking many questions of many people. The CF is one source that has given a lot of great info. I ask this question because when reviewing what the survey would entail I saw that the engine oil analysis as an option. Maybe I didnít word my original post correctly. But we were going to have the analysis performed on all three engines during the survey. And someone mentioned that 300.00 is a small amount to pay based on the overall cost of buying the boat. I agree!


But with that said. If an engine was well maintained and run properly would this engine with 920 hours of run time show much detail on the condition. Or is it more a catastrophic type test where it shows something is seriously wrong? What kind of details can you tell from the oil analysis that you could possible make corrections to the engine?

Thanks again for your input and suggestions.

Craig
Craig:

Once upon a time having been very much involved with machine condition monitoring via oil sampling, vibration analysis etc. etc. and trend analysis from same, I would like to add a couple cents here:

Oil sampling can reveal a lot!

To get the most out of this I would suggest getting a couple samples for better representation. First sample before sea trial but warm the engines up first. Second sample after running the engines during the sea trial. This will give a better representation of what's going on. Note the time of last oil change, should be in the log when the change was done and how many hrs. run since. Note how many hrs. run since first sample so a trending is possible though won't be as accurate as longer term run and more than two samples, it can still reveal a lot.

What the analysis will show is how many types of metal particulates in the oil and how much, Carbon and fuel from blow-by (ring sealing), valve guides worn, water, acid and such. The comparison of the two samples will show if there's any significant increase in any particular metal or carbon which can accurately point to a problem area. Valve guide wear, bearing wear, ring wear, cams etc.

There's always a certain amount of contamination in the oil from an engine. the quantity and type over time is what's revealing. The oil is or should be tested at molecular level done with spectral analysis.

Good luck
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:17   #28
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Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Evan

In pre-retirement I was superintendent with (amongst other) responsibility O&M of sewer pumping stations. I first learned about oil analysis there and have carried it over to off work and now into retirement.

While oil analysis is not an all seeing test it is a good yardstick. For example when I purchased my boat the transmission fluid tested high in metals- same one used in the internal plates. Visually one could see the oil was ancient so the presence of those metals did not bother me too much. If there was steel- indicating gear wear, that would have been a concern. I have been told that engine oil testing will also show small amounts of water or diesel. The issues may might not be visible if an oil change was done before the sea trial.

IMHO, for the price of a boat it is a cheap safety check.


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Old 06-01-2016, 12:19   #29
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

Craig-
Oil analysis from Blackstone should coxt you about $25 per engine, not $300/3. And I believe they will sell you a 10-pack slightly cheaper, as the major oil companies do for their fleet dealers. Shell & Quaker used to charge $20/10 samples to their fleet customers, but individual consumers paid a lot more.
Oil analysis on a newly changed oil will tell you nothing--unless there's something grossly wrong. Typically you'd put "a season" or a good number of hours on an engine, and then take the first sample to use as a baseline for future reference.


How hard is it to get a sample? They sell you a mailing box with a 2? oz bottle in it. You drain or suck those two ounces out during an oil change (or test interval) using a CLEAN suction hose if need be. Mail 'em off, get an email back a week later. Slightly harder than getting a cup of coffee for breakfast.(G)


Folks who have never done this say "Yeha, but foir $22 I can change my own oil, why should I waste that on..." and the folks who have tried it, all of a sudden find out they are getting fuel contamination, or coolant, or silicon, or their engine oil viscosity was already out of range, or not infrequently they get the message "this oil would still be good for another 3000 miles" so you can wind up SAVING a lot of money just by getting the change intervals right. Or save money by finding out about contamination (which sometimes just means you need to run the engine longer & let it heat up when you do use it) and breakdowns to come (high amounts of bearing metals).


Very much worth doing, but as mentioned, a number of clever owners and brokers change the oil as soon as the boat goes up for sale, so any oil test will show perfectly good new oil. Of course, if it shows OLD oil that has problems...that's worth finding out too.
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:22   #30
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Re: Oil Analysis Testing During Survey

No I wouldn't. I have done it a couple times. I'm told it's most useful when done regularly with a baseline established. Besides, your engines are low hours and you are not going to get the results in time anyway.
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