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Old 07-09-2008, 20:58   #1
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Yanmar Water Warning Light / Buzzer

I sailed my boat most of the way from Redwood City to Capitola yesterday but at about 11PM a little north of Half Moon we were becalmed. It was like the wind had punched its clock and went home. I decided to go ahead and motor until I had wind again but a half hour later the water light/buzzer went off.

Honestly, I am not sure what this warning means and somehow I couldn't locate my Marine Diesel Motors book. I had one small piece of experience dealing with water and the diesel and I had heard one story about an experience somebody else had. At first I didn't remember the story...

Without anything better to try I decided to do an exercise I went through when trying to get my motor started after running it out of diesel. I closed off the intake valve, started the motor, then flipped the valve back open. The alarm was on as the motor started and then turned off.

VICTORY!

Now while I had a problem, did something, and the problem went away I wasn't convinced they were related. I also breathed heavily, opened the engine compartment, and dropped the F-bomb. I didn't think those solved the problem either.

30 minutes later it happened again. Same process, same solution. I start to feel like I have it figured out.

30 minutes later it happened again (again). Same process but this time the alarm is still going. I turn the motor off again. This is when I remembered the story.

I was talking to a guy on my dock who now has a very impressive and new 42 footer. It looks like it is from a rap video. Anyway, he was telling me about how he sailed a 30 foot Islander all over CA. He said that the exhaust was really low to the water line and that he could, "only run the motor for about 30 minutes before it would start to back siphon water into the blah blah blah" (I was barely listening but the 30 minute interval triggered the memory.)

I decided that maybe having burned some fuel from the fuel tank more forward that the relative weight in the stern and angle of the waves could be causing this problem. I added as much fuel as would fit into the tank (4 or 5 gallons) and moved another full can forward and tied it to a stanchion. I also did the trick with the valve. Motor started, no alarm. We ran for several hours without incident.

In the morning the wind came back, we killed the motor and sailed. As we closed on the mooring field in Capitola we turned on the motor, and dropped the jib. The wind was awkward and light and we had been on the water for 30 hours and wanted some lunch. After a while the water alarm went off again. We tried several times to get it restarted without the alarm but it did not cooperate. We sailed into the field and only used the motor for the absolute last minute. I figured even with the alarm we could make sure we didn't... you know... crash. The motor started without the alarm.

Okay, that is all the data I have (and probably more than you need). I am looking for ideas and maybe some reassurance/perspective. I was supposed to head right back to Redwood City but decided to leave the boat over night so I could post and get some help to make sure I don't do any damage.

Thanks,
Jack

Note: I'll share all about the sailing stuff when I get the boat home.
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Old 08-09-2008, 03:48   #2
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I would suggest that you look for the simplest solution first before chasing down the exotics. Are you sure the sender unit that is generating the alarm is indeed working correctly? Do you have proper water flow through the engine? Is the water temp of the exhaust correct? It shouldn't be blistering hot. You might want to consider installing a gauge for water temperature (I'm assuming that the alarm is indicating over-heating). Idiot lights and alarms are only to get your attention so that you'll at least take a look at the gauge. They don't replace the gauge itself. Of course having said that, most of the modern cars nowadays have nothing but idiot lights and alarms on them. Must have been engineered by idiots! Ha.

Good luck with the solution to your problem. This is how we all learn about the workings of our respective engines and boats.

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Old 08-09-2008, 05:15   #3
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The big mistake is assuming that because you made the alarm stop sounding things are ok.

By your post you are describing the high temperature alarm. It is a pretty simple system not prone to failure.

I assume you have a raw water/fresh water intercooler.

If the fresh water is full and there is plenty of raw water coming out the exhaust you could have a simple thermostat problem.

The raw water coming out the exhaust should be warm/hot as it takes heat out of the fresh water system. If the raw water is cool/cold it would suggest the fresh water is not circulating through the heat exchanger - thermostat problem.

If there is low flow out the exhaust the heat exchanger could be fouled - needs a chemical boil. The other reason for low flow is failed impeller.

So -

Thermostat
Impeller
Heat Exchanger
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Old 08-09-2008, 05:48   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Thermostat
Impeller
Heat Exchanger
Let me add 1 more
clogged raw water intake
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:25   #5
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Rick - Good call - Always go after the obvious...

Hard
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:44   #6
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I'm confused. Which alarm went off? High temp or water sensor. My Yanmar has an alarm that goes off if water is sensed in the primary fuel filter - is taht the alarm you had? If so - drain the casing be opening the bottom drain and cracking the outflow fitting. You may need to reprime the engine fuel lines after this . Change the primary filter as soon as you can.
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:44   #7
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Did the amounf of water flow exiting the engine change? How about the belt adjustment? I recently had the same problem. Once I pulled the pump. I found the problem. I was passing barnacles through the pump. This caused it to heat, and then run fine, and then heat again. The only problem I have ever experienced was with the raw water pump.

30 hours to Capitola?.....LOLOLOLOLOL.....the slowest, and most expensive way to see the world......SAILING.....yet I refuse to give it up
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Old 08-09-2008, 08:46   #8
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Besides all of the great advice on what to check for, I ask how the engine has worked in the past several years? Just wondered if this has happened before!

I have a continuing "issue" where I need to close the raw water seacock, while sailing, or else I get some type of "airlock" that seems to happen when water rushed by the open throughhull, and perhaps creates a vacuum of sorts, that causes problems with the raw water pump. My engine is raw water cooled, so the raw water goes through the block, etc.
If forget to close the seacock while sailing, the engine temp alarm will go off, about 5 minutes after starting the engine. I do have a temp gauge, that starts rising slowly (temp only 130 for raw water engine), and I then have to disconnect the raw water hose at the elbow for a few second - or, AS YOU DID, CLOSE THE SEACOCK FOR A FEW SECONDS, while the engine was running, and then upon reopening the seacock, the water flow must return well, as the temp guage starts falling, and the alarm goes off.

It is possible that a brand new, 100% efficient water pump could overcome this vacuum / airlock trouble, but mine is 25 years old, and needs to be pampered bit!

Where yours starts to overheat after 30 minutes, it may not be related, but there are similarities!
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Old 08-09-2008, 10:46   #9
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I am going to try to hit as many of the suggestions as possible in the hopes that I can get another round of responses before I go back to the boat. No internet there and its about an hour drive from here.

I do not know what the sensor that triggers the alarm is sensing. All I know is the label on the alarm. I agree a gauge would be better- I haven't really addressed motor issues yet as it appears to run well and I've had plenty other stuff to do. What I really need now is to make sure the motor will get me home and that I won't hurt it so I can do the next round of repairs/upgrades based on this experience.

I did not feel the water coming through the exhaust nor could I tell what the flow was since it is underwater-ish. I guess I could get back there and time the swell to get access. I should have done that.

Oh! One thing I did not list in my original post was there was a good amount of seawater on the floor under the engine. There is a little one inch deep by 10 wide and maybe 18 long tray sort of thing that was full. there was a small hose with no end dangling over it- I figured this was some sort of drain... ?

I can access the lever that turns off the fresh water intake. How can I verify if there is cloggage though? It looks like a sealed system from the inside?

It could well be a temperature issue but the motor did not "seem hot" (although, like I said I did not feel the exhaust). It ran fine, sounded fine, always started back up, did not emit any weird smells. (unlike my first mate- ha!) Also, if it was high temp, my fixes were probably just silly excercises, and with only turning the motor off for a few minutes each time the 2 hour run, 30 minute run, 30 minute run, 30 minute run, 5 hour run or whatever that we had seems odd. You know? I would think that given a set of conditions it would take the motor X time to overheat and that would remain fairly steady- or even decrease as the ambient tempurate from multiple runs began to add up...

I know that addressing the symptom (idiot light) is not the goal. But at sea and without more specific knowledge that was the only feedback I had from the system. It was an abstraction of my problem. I didn't do anything dumb like "I pulled out the lightbulb and the alarm went off so I kept sailing"

But seriously, in light of the engine seeming fine and no other data I did what seemed best. I never ran the motor for more than a few seconds with the alarm on. It came on and the motor got killed, I did whatever experimenting I did, started the motor, and if the alarm was still on I shut the motor down.

I am skeptical that my "fixes" were correct but, given the circumstances I am not sure what else I could do to zero in on the problem. Any suggestions? To be clear- I mean "am not sure what I could have done with my knowledge at the time" as there are already some good ideas here.

The 30 hours isn't as bad as it sounds given our approach. We wanted to sail the whole time without the motor- even in light winds- and the goal wasn't so much Monterey as an overnight offshore trip. We had no wind in the morning in the Bay, wind on our nose out of the bay (and we tacked our way through it- even had to drop sails when it got aggressive, and then wind on our nose until about Pacifica. It was close to evening before we could hold a course that was even remotely toward our destination for more than 30 minutes or so. I was expecting light winds- but I thought "light" would be about double what we had.

Anyway, thank you for the input so far- would love more. Especially given the goal of "get boat and self home safely so I can address larger issues".
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:19   #10
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I was joking about the 30 hours as compared to getting in the car, and getting there. Drop by the Big Kahuna, and get a shirt. I use to love the Mexican restaraunt on the creek....................
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:24   #11
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Jack, Please don't take this the wrong way but if you are out sailing and alarms go off on your boat and you don't know what the alarms mean, why they might have gone off and what to do about it, you may need to spend a bit more time learning about your boat, its various systems, what to do, or take someone much more experienced with you, before you leave the dock.
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Old 08-09-2008, 11:28   #12
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The best thing I did was install a cheap temp gauge - very easy to do. If you don't want to spend alot, get a cheap auto one, apprx $30. Depending on your engine, you will likely just need to remove your current temp sensor, probably male ended, insert a tee, with 2 female ends, put your old sensor back in one of them, and the new temp gauge sensor in the other. The current alarm just says that your cooling wate, and therefore engine block/head is "overheating". It doesn't say by how much. A gauge will show yoiu if it is a few degrees hotter, but stable ( not a trip altering issue) or it is increasing in temp, to the point of reuining the engine, possibly in a matter of minutes. It will also show any degrease in temp that happens if you temporairily "fix / relieve" the problem, by closing / reopening the seacock, etc. You would not even have to cut a hole and install it in the cokpit for now - just tape the sensor wire and gaude up, out of the way, in the cockpit, or dodger area, so you can watch it if necessary. Do a permanant install later!!
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Old 08-09-2008, 13:49   #13
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Imagine- I am struggling with accepting that the "5knot average" people talk about for passage planning may be ambitious and I wanted to clarify so I could get additional feedback. I wasn't butthurt or anything.

Chuck- I don't take that wrong. I would love it if I had an Obi Wan outside of the list. I don't so I make the best due that I can. I knew that alarm was either related to ability to move water- which would inform temp- or temp and if it is temp it could still be the result of inability to move water. The only thing knowing it was temp would have done is added a "lets just let it sit a while" to the list of field fixes. I've got a lot more to learn and I am packing in the lessons as fast as I can. Maybe this one is a beginner class issue- but I suspect the number of guys out there who know what every issue traces back to and how to handle it is pretty small. It might not be as bad as this but it reminds me of a joke about mustaches:
There are two kinds of people who look good with mustaches and if your name isn't Tom Selleck or Burt Reynolds you aren't one of them.
Northeaster- great idea. The fitting type will match what I can get at an auto parts place? If I can avoid needing to run back to shore for more stuff my life will be much improved.

As for the water input here is what I would try to do without additional advice: Close the valve (is the valve also called a seacock? I thought "seacock" referred to a plug you would have on hand to jam into the thruhull if the valve failed?) and remove the hose from the engine side. Then I would check the length from the valve to the motor. Then I would open the valve to ensure water flowed into my boat (yikes!!???). Then reassemble. Am I missing anything?

I don't know who makes my pump or the size of my exhaust but I am prone to think that in both cases I've probably got the smallest standard. West Marine is good on returns anyway so I will pick-up an exhaust flapper and a water pump service kit (probably the littlest Johnson one on the shelf). Do thermostats work the same on diesels but maybe for letting the water into the motor for cooling? I guess I could grab one of those too.

This will allow me to address a clogged intake (unless my propossed process is flawed- don't hesitate to let me know!). Any potential back siphon issues. It will give me a real tempurature. And, if needed, the tools to rebuild the pump. It doesn't address any heat exchanger issue (don't know what this even means).

I will be online another hour- maybe a bit longer. Advice always helps if even just to get my brain turning.

Thanks,
J
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Old 08-09-2008, 15:29   #14
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My 30ft. Columbia, and your boat are almost twins. From S.F to Puerta Vallarta, and back. I averaged 4 knots over the whole trip. One day I managed 143 miles noon to noon. I motored, I sailed, I motor sailed, and that was my average, 4 knots.

As slow as it is, as uncomfortable it can get, as expensive as it is. I would rather sail anytime to get to my destination. Are you continuing south now? No matter which direction you choose........BEST WISHES in getting there safely!!!!!!!!!!!!! i2f
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Old 08-09-2008, 16:05   #15
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I don't head south until Oct. sometime. This was my first "out of The Gate" sea trial.

Once in full-on cruise mode I have no problem with four knots averages- or three- or two for that matter. I am a little concerned with keeping up on the Ha-ha but really my concern is getting to San Diego in time to start. My first mate REALLY wants to make the whole trip from SF down with me but is trying to minimize his vacation time. Figuring 5 knots we planned for a 5 day trip down. I started pushing for 7 even before this weekend- now I wonder if it will take 10.

Anyway, as per the plan I posted earlier I am going to log off soon make rounds through some stores and then head back to the boat. Wish me luck!
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