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Old 21-03-2014, 04:43   #1
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Yanmar Problems

I have by now put almost 800 hours on my Yanmar 4JH3HTE, for a total of 1600.

When I bought the boat, the engine had 830 hours and it smoked like hell. I almost refused to close the deal, and the seller spent tons of money trying to rectify it, overhauling the injection pump and turbo and paying for tons of mechanics' time trying to figure it out. No one ever did. Finally my really tough surveyor who is a specialist in diesel engines said "well, it's just a smoky Yanmar; I wouldn't worry about it." And so I gave up and closed the deal. That was 5 years ago.

The smoke is gray-bluish, and comes out in billows on startup. The smoke just about disappears at normal operating temperature and speed. Since the engine doesn't consume any oil (maybe half a liter between 100 hour changes), I presume that this is not oil smoke, but fuel.

But I had the injection pump out two years ago, and had it on a test stand with the full battery of tests, and it checks out perfectly. I have replaced all the injectors with new. Nothing makes any difference.

The other problem I have had intermittently is that the engine will not develop full revs. Sometimes just under load; sometimes even in neutral. It will cut out and sometimes behaves like a gasoline (petrol) engine which has a miss. Usually this happens at 3200 to 3500 RPM, so I don't really care, as I don't normally operate the engine at that speed. But once two years ago it happened even at 2500 and below, which was really alarming. I had the engine checked in Jersey by a really good mechanic. He washed the turbo with the special Yanmar expensive turbo wash, and checked everything he could, and couldn't find any problem. It was after that that I had the injection pump off and put on the test stand, and nothing wrong was found with it. Interestingly, after I put the pump back on, the problem disappeared for a while.

I have checked and rechecked everything I can think of. The fuel system seems fine; I have the tank cleaned out regularly and have never found a speck of crud or drop of water in it (we get really good fuel over here). I have dual Racors but the filter elements never get dirty, even when I use the two micron ones. I change them regularly nevertheless.

The fuel lift pump is a roller cell job which is integral with the injection pump and has checked out on the test bench.

The exhaust elbow is clean with no carbon build up, indicating, I think, good combustion. I check it regularly but have never needed to even clean it.

The engine starts extremely well (which I take to be a sign that compression is good), so well that I have never used the air preheater even in sub-freezing weather. The engine has always run smoothly and well at normal operating speeds. Oil pressure and coolant temp always normal.

The Yanmar dealer who worked on the engine on behalf of the seller 5 years ago confessed that they had concluded that the bores were polished (nice of no one to tell me). But that can't be -- with neither any oil burning nor any starting problems.

I might suspect boocon or governor -- but these were checked out on the bench as part of the injection pump. It seems like overfueling at startup/idle, and perhaps underfueling at high RPM, but no one has been able to determine any concrete problem.

I've lived with these problems for 800 hours and I guess I could live with them for another 800, but it bugs me that such a simple, non-electronic engine could have such an elusive problem.

I've asked all these questions on here before, but in the mean time we have a lot of new people and even the old timers may have accumulated new experience, so I'm asking it again. Anyone have a clue?
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Old 21-03-2014, 05:33   #2
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Have the same problem with our 3GM30 Yanmar. Gray maybe a little bluest smoke has been coming out of this engine for the seven years we owned the boat. Never lost oil and has always run strong. Elbow clean, fuel clean and air filter clean. Before we pulled engine for a major refit last fall we had a compression check done and to are surprise compression was in spec. We were going to replace engine but mechanic convinced us this was a good engine with many more hours left in it.

One thing we are trying is a slightly less pitch on prop. We will not know the outcome until we launch hopefully this fall.
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Old 21-03-2014, 05:45   #3
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Re: Yanmar Problems

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Originally Posted by Noreastern View Post
Have the same problem with our 3GM30 Yanmar. Gray maybe a little bluest smoke has been coming out of this engine for the seven years we owned the boat. Never lost oil and has always run strong. Elbow clean, fuel clean and air filter clean. Before we pulled engine for a major refit last fall we had a compression check done and to are surprise compression was in spec. We were going to replace engine but mechanic convinced us this was a good engine with many more hours left in it.

One thing we are trying is a slightly less pitch on prop. We will not know the outcome until we launch hopefully this fall.
How many hours on your Yanmar?
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Old 21-03-2014, 05:50   #4
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Never had a hour meter on engine. It is a 1998 model built in Europe. We have owed it for seven years and probably put a hundred hours a year on it. Great motor in my opinion just a little smoky.
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Old 21-03-2014, 05:56   #5
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Re: Yanmar Problems

My Yanmar 4JH3E has about 900 hours on it and it has always had smoke at start-up, but has always run well well and never used oil or water. I've decided not to do anything about it other than add fuel treatment once in a while.

Have you looked into a prop issue? I kind of think you are getting too focused on what probably isn't a problem and making yourself crazy.
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Old 21-03-2014, 05:59   #6
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Re: Yanmar Problems

How far does the lift pump lift?
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Old 21-03-2014, 06:01   #7
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Dockhead, your problem may be as simple as a faulty thermostat. If this engine takes too long to reach operating temperature, it can smoke a bit much like the older Perkins engines. Some smoke at start up from your description indicates that the valve stem seals may be passing some oil down the valve stems while the engine is at rest but your oil consumption is not enough to warrant doing anything about it.

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Old 21-03-2014, 06:31   #8
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Dockhead,

We also have a Yanmar 4JH3-HTE and it also smokes. It runs perfectly well otherwise and we have not had any cutting out like you mentioned even at max revs. The engine has about 2,500 hours on it and is a 2001 model on a 2002 boat. We put about 548 hours on the engine last summer alone (!) on a trip up to Alaska and the smoking problem became worse. Tired of a black transom I decided to do some investigating when we returned. Here is what I found.

The first photo, taken on the dock, immediately shows the problem: a partially clogged air cooler. Actually, it was 50% clogged as the other clean square section is the air exhaust. There is a hose running from the top of the engine to the turbo which carries oil-impregnated air and helps lube the turbo. The turbo blows this oily air, as I understand it, (and I am no expert so correct me if I get this wrong) over the raw water cooler which sits inside the unit behind the two squares. There was a pinhole in one of the copper tubes in the cooler that was seeping a tiny amount of coolant into the system of blowing hot and oily air. This created the sludge that was slowly choking my engine. Left alone the smoke would have continued to get blacker and blacker as the engine ever more starved of oxygen burned fuel less and less efficiently until finally she would just quit and wheeze her last.

We took the raw water cooler out, had it serviced at a radiator shop and cleaned the charged air cooler itself. Now there seems to be much less smoke than before and I prevented a bad problem from getting worse. "All Yanmars smoke," is what my Yanmar man said. "Yours is much better now." This does seem to be the case but only more time will tell.

While $1,000 poorer, the relationship with my engine has improved and we continue to live happily together. It is relatively simple to pull the charged air cooler and take a look.

Cheers.

Dhillen
S/V Asmara Sky
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Old 21-03-2014, 06:43   #9
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Re: Yanmar Problems

I was just at a Mack Boring diesel class last weekend, and the instructor, at several different points in the class, over 2 days, made everyone repeat after him: Never use anything smaller than a 30 micron fuel filter in your Yanmar…ANY sailboat Yanmar (GM, YM, or JH). Their fuel pump can't pull enough through the smaller filters. In this case, smaller is not better. Tends to cause problems nobody can figure out.
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Old 21-03-2014, 06:50   #10
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Re: Yanmar Problems

DH,

Blue smoke is oil....

NCboatRX nailed it... Valve stem seal leakage... VERY VERY common in older cars... Not a deal breaker or fix in my opinion if you can deal with the smoke... Valve guides could be worn too, but replacing the seals will get you an extended smoke free lease on life... ALSO a pretty easy in situ albeit time consuming fix if you want to do it...

Take the rocker shafts off... One at a time... pressurize cyl with compression tester adapter and air source... Take the spring keepers, springs off... replace seal... put back together... Move to next cyl...

Could also be turbo seals leaking the slightest amount, and operating better after expansion warmup, but doubtful...
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Old 21-03-2014, 06:55   #11
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
How far does the lift pump lift?
Less than a meter. Actually, the injection pump is probably below the level of the top of the tank.
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Old 21-03-2014, 06:57   #12
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
How far does the lift pump lift?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Less than a meter. Actually, the injection pump is probably below the level of the top of the tank.
Or about the same as an average woodchuck could...
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Old 21-03-2014, 07:00   #13
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhillen View Post
Dockhead,

We also have a Yanmar 4JH3-HTE and it also smokes. It runs perfectly well otherwise and we have not had any cutting out like you mentioned even at max revs. The engine has about 2,500 hours on it and is a 2001 model on a 2002 boat. We put about 548 hours on the engine last summer alone (!) on a trip up to Alaska and the smoking problem became worse. Tired of a black transom I decided to do some investigating when we returned. Here is what I found.

The first photo, taken on the dock, immediately shows the problem: a partially clogged air cooler. Actually, it was 50% clogged as the other clean square section is the air exhaust. There is a hose running from the top of the engine to the turbo which carries oil-impregnated air and helps lube the turbo. The turbo blows this oily air, as I understand it, (and I am no expert so correct me if I get this wrong) over the raw water cooler which sits inside the unit behind the two squares. There was a pinhole in one of the copper tubes in the cooler that was seeping a tiny amount of coolant into the system of blowing hot and oily air. This created the sludge that was slowly choking my engine. Left alone the smoke would have continued to get blacker and blacker as the engine ever more starved of oxygen burned fuel less and less efficiently until finally she would just quit and wheeze her last.

We took the raw water cooler out, had it serviced at a radiator shop and cleaned the charged air cooler itself. Now there seems to be much less smoke than before and I prevented a bad problem from getting worse. "All Yanmars smoke," is what my Yanmar man said. "Yours is much better now." This does seem to be the case but only more time will tell.

While $1,000 poorer, the relationship with my engine has improved and we continue to live happily together. It is relatively simple to pull the charged air cooler and take a look.

Cheers.

Dhillen
S/V Asmara Sky
That's really interesting! I don't lose any coolant at all, and my smoke is not black (rather slightly bluish-tinged gray), but I think it might really be a good thing to pull this out and check it, and pull out and clean the heat exchanger while I'm at it.

Did you do the work yourself? Was it a PITA? If you didn't do the work yourself, how many hours of engineer's time did you pay for?
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Old 21-03-2014, 07:02   #14
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by bethflkys View Post
I was just at a Mack Boring diesel class last weekend, and the instructor, at several different points in the class, over 2 days, made everyone repeat after him: Never use anything smaller than a 30 micron fuel filter in your Yanmar…ANY sailboat Yanmar (GM, YM, or JH). Their fuel pump can't pull enough through the smaller filters. In this case, smaller is not better. Tends to cause problems nobody can figure out.
I'm using a 30 micron filter now, but had no problems with the 2 micron filter, either.
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Old 21-03-2014, 07:05   #15
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Re: Yanmar Problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
DH,

Blue smoke is oil....

NCboatRX nailed it... Valve stem seal leakage... VERY VERY common in older cars... Not a deal breaker or fix in my opinion if you can deal with the smoke... Valve guides could be worn too, but replacing the seals will get you an extended smoke free lease on life... ALSO a pretty easy in situ albeit time consuming fix if you want to do it...

Take the rocker shafts off... One at a time... pressurize cyl with compression tester adapter and air source... Take the spring keepers, springs off... replace seal... put back together... Move to next cyl...

Could also be turbo seals leaking the slightest amount, and operating better after expansion warmup, but doubtful...
I am not consuming any significant amount of oil, so I'm not going to bother with doing anything to reduce oil consumption. Too many other things on the list. I don't think oil is a big part of the smoke I'm getting, which is billows on startup. I think it's fuel, with a bit of oil giving the bluish tinge.
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