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Old 20-08-2017, 09:48   #1
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Steam from Exhaust

In the last two days sailing I have had white steam coming from my exhaust upon my return to the marina. The temp gauge reads fine and the engine seem to be running fine. It is not atmospheric because humidity is not that high here. When i start up and motor out it doesn't seem to happen. It seem like it happens after restarting for the trip in. I checked oil and it looks good. (no brown stuff) The one thing I did notice was that I seemed to still have pressure in the cooling system after the boat sat for four days.

New heat exchanger was 2 years ago and an exhaust elbow last year.

Spitting out plenty of water and impeller was replaced about two months ago.

Westerbeke 42 B engine

Please, Any ideas?

Thanks
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Old 20-08-2017, 11:17   #2
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

1. Check radiator cap, replace if necessary.

2. Check thermostat, replace if necessary.

3. Run engine to operating temperature with radiator cap off, look for bubbles in the coolant indicating head gasket leak.
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Old 20-08-2017, 16:18   #3
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Update:

I am loosing coolant. Not sure if this is the steam or not. Only out the exhaust. Nothing below the engine in pan.

There are bubbles in the coolant but I am wondering if this could be air in the cooling system.

When I try to bleed the cooling system I get mostly air from the bleed valve above T stat like the T stat might be stuck closed and I get pressure in the tank almost immediately. I have filled it as far as possible with coolant. It seems as if the coolant is not circulating. The fresh water pump is not leaking though.
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Old 20-08-2017, 16:56   #4
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

That was key info. You need to do a leaky head gasket test. Auto parts stores have the kits. It will detect combustion gas in the coolant.
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Old 20-08-2017, 17:08   #5
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Bubbles in the coolant indicate a head gasket leak. This explains the persistent high pressure in the fresh water cooling circuit. A head gasket leak will also result in coolant loss. The lost coolant is showing up as exhaust vapor.
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Old 20-08-2017, 21:27   #6
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkishel View Post
Bubbles in the coolant indicate a head gasket leak. This explains the persistent high pressure in the fresh water cooling circuit. A head gasket leak will also result in coolant loss. The lost coolant is showing up as exhaust vapor.

If the head gasket was blown wouldn't the steam in the exhaust start right away? I do fear your right it just happened suddenly and the temp was showing normal.
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Old 21-08-2017, 02:55   #7
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Perhaps not- only starts leaking under the greater pressure as the water gets hot and expands
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Old 21-08-2017, 02:59   #8
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

What ever you find is the cause replace the thermostat as primary thing to do-they do have limited lives,and it may have been the cause of your issues you seem to have chasing with all the repairs listed

Cheers Steve
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Old 21-08-2017, 07:19   #9
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

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Originally Posted by Captsteve53 View Post
What ever you find is the cause replace the thermostat as primary thing to do-they do have limited lives,and it may have been the cause of your issues you seem to have chasing with all the repairs listed

Cheers Steve

Thanks Steve,
T Stat was replaced about 18 months ago when I did heat exchanger. I'm wondering now if it could possibly be a cracked exhaust manifold inside the coolant tank? Any thoughts? Not cheap for the Westerbeke part I'm sure but still better than a head gasket replacement.
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Old 21-08-2017, 07:52   #10
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Cant remember is that aluminium or cast iron?

Thats a possibility if you have had a previous over heat? more likely if cast iron and less likely if Aluminium. I have seen other engines with Aluminium manifolds suffer from corrosion leading to small pin hole sized holes, mainly caused by old coolant never being changed then turning acidic (especially if engine has been sitting for any periods).

Removing the manifold and running a pressure test will quickly show if this is an issue, and if not your on the way to removing the head? (after checking with radiator tester as above post )

Cheers Steve
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Old 21-08-2017, 07:55   #11
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Put a magnet on it to determine if it is steel or aluminum.
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:18   #12
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captsteve53 View Post
Cant remember is that aluminium or cast iron?

Thats a possibility if you have had a previous over heat? more likely if cast iron and less likely if Aluminium. I have seen other engines with Aluminium manifolds suffer from corrosion leading to small pin hole sized holes, mainly caused by old coolant never being changed then turning acidic (especially if engine has been sitting for any periods).

Removing the manifold and running a pressure test will quickly show if this is an issue, and if not your on the way to removing the head? (after checking with radiator tester as above post )

Cheers Steve
I believe the tank is a alloy but I would have to think the exhaust tubes are iron
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Old 21-08-2017, 09:39   #13
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

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Originally Posted by Valmika View Post
Thanks Steve,
T Stat was replaced about 18 months ago when I did heat exchanger. I'm wondering now if it could possibly be a cracked exhaust manifold inside the coolant tank? Any thoughts? Not cheap for the Westerbeke part I'm sure but still better than a head gasket replacement.
Cracked exhaust manifold/tank seems unlikely as the system wouldn't hold pressure when cold. With the engine off, the exhaust manifold is at atmospheric pressure. Use a chemical test to verify that the bubbles in the coolant are combustion gas. If positive, and cold system holds pressure, head gasket is compromised.
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Old 21-08-2017, 10:03   #14
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

If the tank is Aluminium then the whole manifold will be Aluminium,

Just to note on my last delivery we had a catastrophic failure with an aluminium
fresh water cooled manifold that was fine a the dock side but eventually failed 22 hrs into the trip, here's the picture(as it came off the engine) and think it speaks volumes for what happens when you dont change your coolant regularly,

Now on the outside it looked brand new(who would have thought!!) so never say never again was my lesson, as we broke down in a pirate infested area where three previous yachties had been kidnapped the week prior (ultimately loosing their lives a few months later) No wind for 48 hours and a four knot adverse current!!
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Old 21-08-2017, 19:37   #15
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Re: Steam from Exhaust

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valmika View Post
Update:

I am loosing coolant. Not sure if this is the steam or not. Only out the exhaust. Nothing below the engine in pan.

There are bubbles in the coolant but I am wondering if this could be air in the cooling system.

When I try to bleed the cooling system I get mostly air from the bleed valve above T stat like the T stat might be stuck closed and I get pressure in the tank almost immediately. I have filled it as far as possible with coolant. It seems as if the coolant is not circulating. The fresh water pump is not leaking though.
Bleed and bleed and bleed without cap on if it continues to bubble and loose coolant, sorry to say more than likely a head gasket.
This can be tested for in the exhaust gas.
PS: if thermostat is stuck closed you would over heat im assuming this is not the case
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