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Old 11-07-2011, 11:46   #1
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Oil Leak

I just bought my Niagara 35 in September. It has a Westerbeke W27 which is the original from 30 years ago, but only 2600 hours on it.

Before I bought the boat, there had been an oil leak in the gear cover. The gear cover was replaced at the PO's expense, but there was still a lot of oil everywhere. A few days ago, I decided to clean the oil out from under the engine so I'd be able to see a new leak. Sure enough, the engine is leaking. I lost about a third of a quart in 12 hours of run time.

It seems to be coming from the joint between the oil pan and the block. This area is quite corroded, probably due to a leak in the hose connection to the raw water injection at the exhaust elbow.

This is my first diesel and I guess I'm asking for advice on what to look for and think about when I talk to my mechanic about this. At what point should I be thinking about a repower? What is the cost of doing this for a 30 hp engine? Should I go with a rebuilt one? Should I be freaking out?

Thanks for any advice.

Chris
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:57   #2
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Re: Oil Leak

Sounds like gaskets are worn. Really have to clean not only the bilge but the engine itself to pinpoint exactly where the leak is. Gaskets are not big problems as opposed to a rear main seal. Still no reason to panic just get a qualified estimate befor making any decisions about re-powering because that can be another ball game entirely.
all the best,
Clif
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Old 11-07-2011, 14:42   #3
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Re: Oil Leak

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Originally Posted by clifford sloan View Post
Sounds like gaskets are worn. Really have to clean not only the bilge but the engine itself to pinpoint exactly where the leak is. Gaskets are not big problems as opposed to a rear main seal. Still no reason to panic just get a qualified estimate befor making any decisions about re-powering because that can be another ball game entirely.
all the best,
Clif
Thanks, Clif. Gasket certainly sounds like the best case scenario. Engine would need to be pulled. How hard is that to do? Is this a $1000 type problem that I should pretend doesn't exist for a while? Or much more? A new prop shaft just cost me $3500 including fixing a couple other problems that cropped up once we started pulling things apart. I guess I'm gun shy. It's emotionally easier to post random questions than go talk to a mechanic, I guess.
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Old 11-07-2011, 15:23   #4
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Re: Oil Leak

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Should I be freaking out?
only if you dont fix the leak.
The CG if they see oil in the bilge can fine you because they claim bilge water is pumped from the bilge and the oil will pump out. Even if you are not discharging anything. That is what I heard.
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Old 11-07-2011, 18:48   #5
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Re: Oil Leak

1/3 of a quart in 12 hrs. run time is not a huge amount. You can get those oil absorbent pads to put under the engine until you get it fixed. Have never heard of the CG fining someone because they had an oily bilge. The regs talk about discharge. Anyway, clean up the engine, see if you can snug up the bolts on the oil pan and see what happens.
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Old 11-07-2011, 18:56   #6
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Re: Oil Leak

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Anyway, clean up the engine, see if you can snug up the bolts on the oil pan and see what happens.
Good advice. Leaks at the oil pan gasket are pretty common. one thing to try is to really clean the area thoroughly and then get a bright light down there, if possible, while the engine is running and try to observe where the oil is actually coming from. I have a dental mirror on a long stalk that helps me to see around corners and below things like this. There is no immediate danger to the engine as long as you are not running it under load with a very low oil level. Cleaning under the engine, then putting down some clean, white oil absorbent pads can help pinpoint the location of any drips.
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Old 11-07-2011, 22:15   #7
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Re: Oil Leak

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Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Good advice. Leaks at the oil pan gasket are pretty common. one thing to try is to really clean the area thoroughly and then get a bright light down there, if possible, while the engine is running and try to observe where the oil is actually coming from. I have a dental mirror on a long stalk that helps me to see around corners and below things like this. There is no immediate danger to the engine as long as you are not running it under load with a very low oil level. Cleaning under the engine, then putting down some clean, white oil absorbent pads can help pinpoint the location of any drips.
Thank you Deepfrz and Kettlewell! This is just the sort of advice I was hoping for. I will stop panicking and see if I can pinpoint the area and snug bolts before bringing in an expensive mechanic. No oil has ended up in the bilge as I was able to make an effective dam with those white absorbent rags.

Chris
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Old 05-02-2012, 14:27   #8
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Re: Oil Leak

Well, I have some updates and a new question.

I contacted the mechanic who did the gear cover replacement for the previous owner. It was done in situ, and that is very difficult as there is a v-drive, so he was working on the back side of the engine. When he got the cover off, he found that the block itself was corroded and the sealing face was affected.

He built up the block with Benzola epoxy, put it all together, tested for leaks and found none. About 50 hours of run-time later I was seeing leaks.

I've gotten my head back there while running, and I can see oil dripping down along the edge of this joint (can't see into small dark area where it's coming from). I can also see small amounts of oil weeping from cracks in the epoxy.

I don't have a lot of cash right now, and won't until the fall. I was thinking about pulling the engine in the fall to sort the issue. I just finished a great diesel course with the bluewater cruiser's association where we tore down the top end and accessories of a engine and put them all back together. Loved it. I'm actually eager to do the same with mine now.

So here's the question... If I plan to pull the engine in the fall, what are chances at that point that I can rescue the block using a reputable welder and machine shop to build it back up and machine the face smooth? Can you even weld a cast steel block? What would that cost?

The advantages of doing the repair are that I get to rebuild it and really get to know it while it's out, I don't have to worry about footprint adaptation, and I should save some money.

If it's a slam dunk that I can do it, then I may put some other money into it right now while it's in place (like rebuilding the water pump">raw water pump that's spraying salt water onto the engine and causing the corrosion). If it's unlikely to work, I'll just leave it be and not put any money into it over the summer.

Thanks for your help.

Chris
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Old 05-02-2012, 14:37   #9
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Re: Oil Leak

depending on what this surface is, it can be repaired several ways.
Welding a cast iron block usually with nickel type rods.

But this is likely better.
77 and 72 Cast Iron Electrodes
Muggy Weld says they have a superior method
Cast Iron Engine Block Welding

I since I have a torch would likely use silver brazing rods
Cast Iron Welding | Cast Iron Repair | Cast Iron Welding Videos
Quote:
In the past, cast iron was always difficult to repair: heat the part slowly in an oven, make the weld with a nickel rod, slowly cool the part in an oven--and hope the cast iron would not recrack (it frequently did). Most welders wouldnt even attempt to weld cast iron due to the temperamental nature of such repairs. Fortunately, times have changed. Muggy Weld offers two solutions for cast iron repair: arc electrodes and gas torch rods.

How are our electrodes different? First, the elongation is up to 300% higher than nickel-type electrodes for cast iron--which allows the weld to stretch and absorb weld contraction (and prevents cracking for the base metal AND the weld). Second, the metallurgic makeup of our rods are softer than nickel rod. Ni rod cools and forms a hard spot in the cast iron, which is a magnet for cracks--(envision a glass window with a rock cooled into the center). Third, our rods are highly machinable, which is atypical of most cast iron electrodes.

The combination of crack resistance and machineability make Muggy Weld electrodes the rods of choice for cast iron welding.

For torch welders, we offer our 56% silver solder for cast iron repair. While we prefer our arc electrodes, this high strength alloy is suitable for thin castings, exhaust manifolds, and small cast iron cracks.
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Old 05-02-2012, 20:47   #10
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Re: Oil Leak

Thank you, sdowney. The quote seems to be talking about repairing a crack, which would be the more common issue. Do you think that it would be equally possible to build up a corroded area?
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Old 05-02-2012, 21:23   #11
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Re: Oil Leak

Hi Chris

First off I have an Ed Monk 35 footer set up with a Westerbeke and a V-drive like yours. I feel your pain. Deepfrz is exactly right. 1/3 of a quart in 12 hours is not a lot of oil. I was a diesel mechanic in a previous life. As you describe the problem, I don't see it as ever getting properly fixed in the hull. The engine needs to come out.

So if you are short on cash, figure out how to put a drain pan under the leak. Pack the drain pan full of diapers and use the boat this season.

In the long run you need to figure out how you can easily service the engine. For me this will entail putting a hatch in the cockpit floor. One that is big enough so I can remove it and then service what I need to service.

If it is as tough to remove the engine as I think it will be, I would be hesitant to put an engine with a jury rigged repair back in.

Just my .02 your mileage may vary

Brad
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Old 05-02-2012, 22:14   #12
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Re: Oil Leak

Thanks, Brad. I agree that it has to come out to fix, and I don't want to do that too often, so a jury rig is not a good idea (current jurry rig in place by a mechanic lasted a matter of months). I wouldn't think that building up the corroded area with weldment and machining flat would be a jury rig, though? I was expecting that to be a guaranteed and permanent fix as long as it is possible at all on a cast block.
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Old 04-04-2012, 16:11   #13
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Re: Oil Leak

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Originally Posted by cwyckham View Post
Thank you, sdowney. The quote seems to be talking about repairing a crack, which would be the more common issue. Do you think that it would be equally possible to build up a corroded area?
yes, it can be built up.
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