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Old 06-03-2015, 13:45   #1
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Tips for a noob

Hi!
I'm very mechanically inclined, excellent at researching, and not afraid to get dirty. With that being said, the only experience I have with a diesel is the brief overview that was given during the ASA classes. I've taken apart gas engines, and have done a bunch of research on diesels but here is the gist of it:

I want to learn how to do preventative maintenance on my boats diesel engine. This is a 1981 boat which is brand new to me.
I have no manual. I don't know the engines age, or hours. I only know its a ~65hp perkins diesel. I don't know when the oil was last changed, or the impeller, or engine zinc, or heat exchanger (supposedly its new), or fuel filters. I also don't know how much diesel is in the fuel tanks, or the age of the diesel.

I need to use my boat on Sunday, it will be light wind, so I expect to be motoring all day. I'd like to at least change the oil, oil filter, impeller on Saturday. Is it reasonable to expect I can figure out the right type of oil, do a change (I have the little hand pump thing), check the sea strainer on the water intake, and change/locate a replacement impeller in 1 day?

I plan to change the engine zinc, engine thermostat, and fuel filters the following Saturday. (Is that ~ a days work?)

Anything I start, must be completed by the following morning. Im worried that I may not be able to locate an impeller locally (are they common? is the oil filters common?)

I suspect the engine is a 34 year old perkins that is original to the boat. It starts right up, and has never died on me yet.

I need to motor 40 miles on Sunday, so I'm looking for advice before I start ripping things apart.
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Old 06-03-2015, 14:07   #2
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Re: Tips for a noob

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Originally Posted by gathem View Post
Hi!
I'm very mechanically inclined, excellent at researching, and not afraid to get dirty. With that being said, the only experience I have with a diesel is the brief overview that was given during the ASA classes. I've taken apart gas engines, and have done a bunch of research on diesels but here is the gist of it:

I want to learn how to do preventative maintenance on my boats diesel engine. This is a 1981 boat which is brand new to me.
I have no manual. I don't know the engines age, or hours. I only know its a ~65hp perkins diesel. I don't know when the oil was last changed, or the impeller, or engine zinc, or heat exchanger (supposedly its new), or fuel filters. I also don't know how much diesel is in the fuel tanks, or the age of the diesel.

I need to use my boat on Sunday, it will be light wind, so I expect to be motoring all day. I'd like to at least change the oil, oil filter, impeller on Saturday. Is it reasonable to expect I can figure out the right type of oil, do a change (I have the little hand pump thing), check the sea strainer on the water intake, and change/locate a replacement impeller in 1 day?

I plan to change the engine zinc, engine thermostat, and fuel filters the following Saturday. (Is that ~ a days work?)

Anything I start, must be completed by the following morning. Im worried that I may not be able to locate an impeller locally (are they common? is the oil filters common?)

I suspect the engine is a 34 year old perkins that is original to the boat. It starts right up, and has never died on me yet.

I need to motor 40 miles on Sunday, so I'm looking for advice before I start ripping things apart.
It's a little much to expect to learn diesel maintenance in less than a day. If you really want all this work done before Saturday (it's Friday afternoon where I am), your only chance is to find a pro who will do this for you on short notice.

Two other options are to use the boat as is and hope all goes well (as I'm assuming it did at the survey) or postpone your voyage and get to work on your engine.

There are some books that can help you learn and you can probably find out more about your engine with the serial number and a few minutes on the Internet.
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Old 06-03-2015, 14:21   #3
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Re: Tips for a noob

That's why I have broken it down into multiple weekends.

Tomorrow my goal is to change the oil/oil filter/impeller.

I'm not to worried about the oil change. I have done this on cars, and have the tools + have watched a bunch of youtube videos on the process.

My concern with the impeller is I will take it apart, damage the impeller in the process, go down to the chandlery, and they will tell me they have to order it.

My other concern: Are oil filters pretty standard? Is it likely I will take it down to the chandlery and be told they don't have my oil filter? The same question about impellers? Are there 10 impellers which will cover 99% of diesel engines and I can find them at any decent chandlery or are there 10,000 different impellers and I have a 30% chance that a chandlery will have what I need in stock?
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Old 06-03-2015, 14:29   #4
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Re: Tips for a noob

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Originally Posted by gathem View Post
That's why I have broken it down into multiple weekends.

Tomorrow my goal is to change the oil/oil filter/impeller.

I'm not to worried about the oil change. I have done this on cars, and have the tools + have watched a bunch of youtube videos on the process.

My concern with the impeller is I will take it apart, damage the impeller in the process, go down to the chandlery, and they will tell me they have to order it.

My other concern: Are oil filters pretty standard? Is it likely I will take it down to the chandlery and be told they don't have my oil filter? The same question about impellers? Are there 10 impellers which will cover 99% of diesel engines and I can find them at any decent chandlery or are there 10,000 different impellers and I have a 30% chance that a chandlery will have what I need in stock?
Oil filters are not pretty standard. Just like on a car, the oil filter will have a number on it and you need a filter with the same number or an equivalent by another manufacturer. On an engine this old and not knowing the maintenance history, you would be better off finding out what filter is supposed to be on that engine and then getting that or an equivalent.

For the impeller, you really should know the engine's make, model and year. That's unless somebody replaced the pump with something different in which case you need to know the make and model of the pump.

Can you just take the filter and the impeller to the parts counter and ask for replacements without numbers? It's possible but I wouldn't count on it, especially the impeller.
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Old 06-03-2015, 14:40   #5
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Re: Tips for a noob

Thanks. That's what I wanted to know. I grew up in a bearing shop, and was identifying belts/seals/mangled chunks of steel from a very early age, so my first inclination is to grab some calipers and hit the books.

I will make my first goal identifying the model/age of the engine, and see if I can call in the parts.

We did 15 miles on engine last weekend just fine. I'm reasonable confident it's up for the trip in it's current state.

Any general tips on maintenance for future weekends?
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Old 06-03-2015, 14:45   #6
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Watch, take notes and learn..
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Old 06-03-2015, 15:28   #7
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Re: Tips for a noob

By the HP you indicated on an old Perkins, You might have a 4-154. Unless it has been refitted with a spin on filter kit, the originals used a paper element inside a steel cartridge holder. This is a link to get a service manual free.http://www.kp44.org/ftp/Perkins_4-154_Shop_Manual.pdf. Hope this helps.
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Old 06-03-2015, 15:34   #8
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Re: Tips for a noob

Thanks!
I had actually just came to the conclusion about 2 minutes ago that it is possibly a Perkins 4-154 based on what I have found installed on other Lafitte 44's of the same age.

Thanks for the link to the manual
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Old 06-03-2015, 15:44   #9
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Re: Tips for a noob

Two things that will shut down a diesel faster than anything else are a bad impeller and bad fuel filters ... do these first.

Looking at an impeller does not guarantee it's life expectancy and when they fail it's often within a minute or two of start-up. Impeller failure can cost you an engine.

Fuel filters - You have no idea of the condition of these things and they are cheap .... replace them now !

The first thing I tell all clients new to diesels is ..... Do not take this boat out of the harbour until you know how to bleed the engine. This needs to be done after a fuel filter change and if there is crap in the tanks you must have spares onboard for emergency filter changes. With experience (and reasonable access) this (filter & bleed) can be done in minutes.
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Old 06-03-2015, 15:55   #10
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Re: Tips for a noob

Once you identify the proper oil filters, fuel filters and impellers buy at least 3 of each. You want extras on board.
The biggest challenge of changing the oil is getting the old oil out. It helps if the engine is warm.
If there's not enough room underneath the engine to collect the oil via an oil pan, use a vacuum (hand-pump) oil extractor. I got one from West Marine - and the thing works like a charm. I think any mechanically-inclined noob ought to be able to figure this out and take care of it (in twice the time you think it ought to take).

You likely have a primary and secondary fuel filter. You'll need to bleed the air out of the fuel line. Not too tricky- if you understand the process.

Find both the repair and operator's manual for your engine- most of these can be found on-line.

FWIW I keep PDFs of all of my mechanical/electrical equipment, replacement parts, etc. in my Dropbox/Box cloud storage account- so they're on my iPhone, iPad, computer, etc. It's nice to be able to pull up this info at the marina, on your boat and at your computer.

Good luck
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Old 06-03-2015, 19:35   #11
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Re: Tips for a noob

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Once you identify the proper oil filters, fuel filters and impellers buy at least 3 of each. You want extras on board.
Filters, yes, impellers, one spare will be better than three, for the rubber ages even in storage, and they typically last a long time. By the time you use that third spare it is likely to be brittle and next to useless.

As to the oil change: you should be able to judge the need for immediate changing by inspecting the oil on the dipstick. If you are pressed for time, I'd emphasize the fuel filters and learning how to bleed the air out of the fuel system. The oil isn't likely to damage your engine in ~eight hours running, nor is the impeller likely to fail completely.

Oh... do determine the amount of fuel on board!!! If you estimate two gallons per hour for your run you will be quite conservative... but a little extra in a jerry jug ain't a bad idea!

Good luck with your short passage.

Jim
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:50   #12
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Re: Tips for a noob

One of the best things I ever did was put an electric fuel pump with a switch before my Racor fuel filters. Makes priming easy & will run your boat if your mechanical pump fails. I also recommend changing the impeller. If the boat runs ok then the fuel filters are ok but having spares is a must. If you get in some rough water it could stir up crap in your tank & plug your filter. Having an electric pump installed will make changing the filter a breeze.
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:51   #13
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Re: Tips for a noob

For oil I'd recommend Shell Rotella.
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Old 07-03-2015, 09:58   #14
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Re: Tips for a noob

I think if I HAD to use the engine so soon I would check all the fluids, condition of the belts, run the engine for 10 minutes in the slip checking for leaks and overheating, then leave the preventive maintenance until later.

You really need to figure out your exact model of engine. Then I'd order at least 3 of each filter, oil and fuel. Wix is my preferred brand. Also impellers, zinc in the heat exchanger, belts, oil and spare oil (Shell Rotella T). If you are re-setting the maintenance to a known point and you don't know what's been done and when, I would change the coolant in the fresh water circuit, and the fluid in the transmission.

One little gotcha : my raw water impeller is held on with a very easily lost circlip.

Is the model of your boat a secret? Have you tried the forums for that boat? Often owners are able to produce a complete list of service spares. I can for my Universal 5424.
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Old 07-03-2015, 10:33   #15
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Re: Tips for a noob

Take/borrow a RIB with at least a 9.9hp engine.
Tow it behind, in case of diesel death, raft it tightly alongside, fore and aft.
Start RIB engine and it will get you home.
Make sure lots of gas.
Bill
who, over the years, has done at least 1000 miles like this.
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