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Old 29-09-2016, 18:01   #1
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Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

I'm considering the purchase of a 1989 sailboat. If I pursue this boat, I'd be doing a pretty major refit of key systems (standing rigging, electronics, sanitation, sails, sail handling, etc.). I've not started the purchase process and no survey has been performed yet.

The powerplant is a Yanmar 3GM (27hp). The current owner has had her for the last 10 years and indicates that he's had the engine professionally maintained and winterized during that time. There's no reason to doubt this, given the boat's good condition and the owner's reputation. When I inquired into engine hours, I was told that it is unknown as there is no hour meter. The current owner knows nothing about the engine's care/history before he owned it. (Note: I'm not sure if this means that there is physically no meter or that the meter does not work.)

Help me think through this issue. Should the surveyor report no noticeable engine issues, I'm still dealing with an engine that is 27 years old. This is a Great Lakes boat that has probably been used for weekend sailing and vacationing, but who knows? If the survey reveals suspected engine issues, I'd either not buy the boat or just budget for overhaul or replacement.

But, what if it runs/sounds fine? Since I'm already planning on quite a bit of boat work, should I just go ahead and pay to have the engine/tranny pulled and inspected/overhauled? Or, should I use the engine for a season and wait (and worry) for symptoms before I spent bucks here? Or, is there an intermediate engine service that is somewhere between waiting/hoping and an engine pull? If I go ahead with this deal, what would be the prudent thing to do? I certainly wouldn't want to pay for unneeded repairs on a healthy engine, but budgeting for a preventive overhaul is doable if advisable.

I've never owned a diesel-powered boat and I'm on the learning curve here. Thoughts?
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Old 29-09-2016, 18:34   #2
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

If it appears healthy, runs well, no unusual smoking, no overheating.

I'd add an hourmeter, then run through the manual and perform every bit of preventive maintenance that is called for by the manual. Things like retorqye the head bolts, check valve clearance, change fluids including coolant, change hoses, check alignment.

If it survives all that you have nothing to worry about.


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Old 29-09-2016, 18:57   #3
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

If it starts easy, it's probably fine. The Yanmar 3gm's are fairly well built engines and will last a long time with proper care. Odd's are it has somewhere around 2500 hours, give or take 2000 hours. They should easily do 8-10K hours, if properly cared for.

Things I would check and or do..
1. External oil line in front of starter, behind alternator. They are prone to rust out infront of the starter, a known issue. If it looks at all rusty replace it. Yanmar has a copper replacement for $60 ish. Get extra crush washers as it can be tricky to replace without donating a crush washer or three to the bilge.

2. Change raw water impeller and check clean discharge elbow of carbon and mineral buildup. Most boats for sale, sit a long time and the raw water impeller tends to break in the first 10 hours of ownership.

3. Change belts, hoses and fluids. New hose clamps too


Easy check, with the engine idling, one at a time, pull each cylinders decompresson lever for a second or two and listen to the noise it makes, then close it. If the noise is equal across all cylinders then odds are the engine is working well with no head of valve issues. If the noise does not change as much, that cylinder may have an issue.

If the engine starts easy, compression is good. BTW a 3gm in cool climates can be hard to start. Need to set the throttle 1/3-1/2 open to start when cold and then set it back to idle once it's running. The 3GM's are straight compression engines without glowplugs.
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Old 29-09-2016, 19:01   #4
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

I'd go along with Sailmonkey's list, but do that after a compression test and oil analysis.
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Old 29-09-2016, 20:07   #5
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

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I'd go along with Sailmonkey's list, but do that after a compression test and oil analysis.
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Old 29-09-2016, 20:25   #6
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Why buy a 1989 boat if all you would be keeping is the quite inexpensive shell?


As for the engine question, i mean, really, ummm, its a most bizarre question: should i waste money overhauling an engine that doesnt need it.
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Old 30-09-2016, 08:23   #7
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

get the service record invoices and taker an oil sample from the gear box and the engine
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Old 30-09-2016, 08:51   #8
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

-A survey wont really assess engine condition. Get a mechanic to do an engine survey.
-The 3GM are very common, occasionally have issues but are good engines. It may be better if you do decide to rebuild to just replace it with a Beta at the cost of Yanmar parts.
-If it seems good and you buy the boat, use it for a while and see if you have confidence n it.
-If you could find a mechanic with the right fittings you could have the engine compression tested.
-Look closely under the valve cover, is there sludge buildup? Black gooey stuff? Recreational engines sometimes just get used to get out of the marina and never get fully warmed up.


You don't mention what type of boat, but be sure to assess the condition of Fuel and Water tanks. Sometimes these are buried and any under the floor boards are suspect.
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Old 30-09-2016, 09:10   #9
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

27 years isn't that old... it all depends on how the boat was used. My 40 year old only has 1,345 hours and runs fine.

Gotta agree with MarkJ... I'd live with the boat a while and determine what really needs replacement or repair.
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Old 30-09-2016, 09:41   #10
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
If it appears healthy, runs well, no unusual smoking, no overheating.

I'd add an hourmeter, then run through the manual and perform every bit of preventive maintenance that is called for by the manual. Things like retorqye the head bolts, check valve clearance, change fluids including coolant, change hoses, check alignment. If it survives all that you have nothing to worry about.
I would do regular maintenance. I would not touch valve adjustment or head bolts. Run it, check it at the end of 50 hours and then evaluate the operation. You will find out that you will run it for a long time before doing an engine overhaul. These engines will probably outrun your lifetime... run it!
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Old 30-09-2016, 09:50   #11
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Just asking.

Should it be obvious that this is a freshwater cooled engine ?

Thanks
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Old 30-09-2016, 09:50   #12
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tetra View Post
I'm considering the purchase of a 1989 sailboat. If I pursue this boat, I'd be doing a pretty major refit of key systems
(standing rigging,
electronics,
sanitation,
sails,
sail handling,
etc.).
?
Given whatís already being planning for replacement, why even buy this boat. Sounds like a dog. Presume it is a giveaway? Itís certainly not worth anything. The post didnít include boat size but a 3GM suggests 30 + footer. I have a 26 footer and Iíve had some of the stuff you suggest done or at least quoted (over the 15 years Iíve had her) so I know a few numbers:
Standing rigging upgrade no change out of 10K (stays and mast check). Two mast boat even worse of course?
Electronics (thereís no limit) I noticed someone say put an engine meter on the motor. There wonít be much change out of $500 just for that.
Sanitation, letís assume a new loo, with new holding tank, fittings and thru hulls. No change out of 5K
Sails, hmm brand new or second hand. Letís budget on about $1,500 each new, main obviously some more.
Sail handling, not sure what is meant by this but Iím thinking replace all the running rigging, sail cover etc. Very trendy at the moment to replace with spectra like fibre, and as well as being expensive, the reduced diameter sometimes means changing blocks and sheaves etc. Just like for like though $1,500. And main sail cover another $700.
And worst case rebuilding that motor thereíll no change out of 15K. It has to be at a shop and that means getting it out and getting it back in. Whilst motors out take replace the exhaust, new morse controls, new water intake system. Letís say $2K.
Oh and given this boat obviously rubbish Iíd expect to be replacing the batteries. Even if theyíre decent now, by the time all the above work is done theyíll certainly need replacing.

And when all that money has been spent, along with hours of frustration and worry and complaints and hassles, whatís the boat going to be worth?

The poster said he/she didnít know about diesel engines. Well hereís my experience. Small diesels are horrifyingly expensive to maintain if they do need work. Parts are very expensive, skilled labour reflects the specialist nature of the work. Thatís perhaps justified by the harsh environment the motors are placed in. Also unlike a car, the garage has to come to the motor, and that means skilled engineers carrying stuff back (tools, parts, etc) and forth to the boat. Just that walking around soaking up time dollars at some horrific hourly rate.

So why buy this boat? Sadly, if it needs all of this stuff done and money spent, itís ready for the chop. Itís obviously a give away for a reason, so Iíd suggest, retrieve all the salvageable bits that might be useful or sellable. Probably pig iron but it might be a lead keel and thatís worth a few bucks. Youíll get at least $1,000 for the motor too. So anything you can get from the scrap goes towards a decent boat.
And letís face it. Needing all that work done and money spent; it will be years before that boat is out sailing. There are project boats all over, and few ever get back on the water. Some do, for sure, but why restore when you can sail a decent boat? They live at some boat yard or in a backyard and for 2-3 years the owner is busy enthusiastically throwing money and time at it. But usually the interest wanes, other things happen or become important in their life and before you know it, sheís just another derelict boat with weeds growing up and a for sale sign and the owner is hoping to find another mug (sorry I meant dreamer).

But the good news is that there are so many good mono hull sail boats out there and they are all so cheap compared to even 5 years age. I donít think itís ever been a better time to buy a decent boat.
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Old 30-09-2016, 10:23   #13
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Having personally rebuilt my 3gm30F three years ago, parts where not that bad, cost wise. About $700 for rings, bearings, major gaskets, and one piston. I though the parts were fairly reasonable. Well the engine mounts were $150, which was spendy. But most parts are not too bad. Yes a Coolant pump or starter can be big bucks if new, but much less so having it rebuilt in a shop.

Now what is a pain, at least in California, is you must buy the parts from the local yanmar dealer, which may be a several hour drive away. Then they have to order the parts from the Georgia warehouse which is shipped to the distributor in Socal and then to the local guys. So I ended paying two shipping bills which is a pain (Come on Yanmar, its 2016, not 1950).

Of course if you have a marine engine guy rebuild an engine, it would be way too much. Matter of fact, one of the local yanmar shops said they had never removed a crankshaft (needs a special tool) which means most just repower for $10k ish.

I did the rebuild for $1200 including $300 for the machine shop and $80 for the special tool to be fabricated. This in 2013. I have a simple set of tools, used a oil filter wrench for a ring compressor, type of set.

A simple engine to work on, even if your blonde. Though I should clarify that I am an engineer and have a knack fix'n things
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Old 30-09-2016, 10:26   #14
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
If it appears healthy, runs well, no unusual smoking, no overheating.

I'd add an hourmeter, then run through the manual and perform every bit of preventive maintenance that is called for by the manual. Things like retorqye the head bolts, check valve clearance, change fluids including coolant, change hoses, check alignment.

If it survives all that you have nothing to worry about.


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Oil pressure and an oil analysis would probably help tell the story.
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Old 30-09-2016, 10:31   #15
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Re: Overhaul engine now or wait for symptoms?

Great advice here. Thanks everyone.
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