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Old 01-01-2011, 20:35   #1
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Your Worst Story About a Diesel Mechanic ?

What is it about diesel mechanics ? Are they a curse on boaters because we enjoy life too much ?

It seems like everywhere we go we run into stories about "recovering diesel mechanic customers".

- Left all the portholes open to air out the diesel fumes as a California downpour was predicted, resulting in a soaked interior.

- Had the oil evacuation pump disconnect to pump the old oil into the bilge instead of the oil recovery pail.

- Loosened sink drain hose so it was free to rub against alternator belt and almost sink boat.

- Loosened other pipes so they rubbed against the prop shaft brake almost severing the emergency bilge pump hose.

- Inexplicably loosened and lost an air intake cover plate so no air was filtered and the plate is presumably in the bilge somewhere.

etc. ...

Those were just our horror stories.

Others include "He's the sweetest old guy but I swear he did more damage than he fixed" ... and from another "I still haven't recovered from the damage the diesel mechanic did".

A skilled diesel mechanic is a gift from the gods because it takes real training and skill to master the precision machinery that makes up a good diesel, but why do so many of us seem cursed by actually destructive diesel mechanics ?

And, what's your best story ?



-Sven
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Old 01-01-2011, 20:43   #2
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when he told me my engine was toast and it was 7k$ to rebuild. damaged my cruising budget
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Old 01-01-2011, 21:31   #3
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Originally Posted by SvenG View Post
What is it about diesel mechanics ? Are they a curse on boaters because we enjoy life too much ?

It seems like everywhere we go we run into stories about "recovering diesel mechanic customers".

- Left all the portholes open to air out the diesel fumes as a California downpour was predicted, resulting in a soaked interior.

- Had the oil evacuation pump disconnect to pump the old oil into the bilge instead of the oil recovery pail.

- Loosened sink drain hose so it was free to rub against alternator belt and almost sink boat.

- Loosened other pipes so they rubbed against the prop shaft brake almost severing the emergency bilge pump hose.

- Inexplicably loosened and lost an air intake cover plate so no air was filtered and the plate is presumably in the bilge somewhere.

etc. ...

Those were just our horror stories.

Others include "He's the sweetest old guy but I swear he did more damage than he fixed" ... and from another "I still haven't recovered from the damage the diesel mechanic did".

A skilled diesel mechanic is a gift from the gods because it takes real training and skill to master the precision machinery that makes up a good diesel, but why do so many of us seem cursed by actually destructive diesel mechanics ?

And, what's your best story ?



-Sven
Sounds like you picked the wrong guy.
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Old 01-01-2011, 21:53   #4
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If one reads the forums dealing with diesel engines - it soon becomes apparent that a good percentage of 'diesel mechanics/technicians' lack basic diagnostic knowledge and skills. They may not bring appropriate tools to the problem. When it comes to probably the most common fault with diesels eg .. a Fuel fault. This fault is the one that is almost guaranteed to cost the most in labour charges (while the mechanic just stands there scratching his head !)
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Old 01-01-2011, 22:11   #5
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mine was a real clown, first he installed a new transmission at 2.5 k installed the fuel lines incorrectly and cut my fuel line in the process and got salt water into the system,,, killing my diesel while I was 2500 miles from home, if I ever see him again I know which end of the wrench he will see,,, In the marine industry there needs to be a code of conduct, standards, u cant get a power point installed in a home without, a licence but with a yacht we let fools with no credentials crawl over our dream, leaving us will the mess and no accountability,,, in my books I treat them all with doubt
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:06   #6
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Mine was a jewel of a guy. His only problem was that he was too busy. He told me he couldn't find any young apprentices that he'd trust to be on someone's boat, so he worked by himself.
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Old 02-01-2011, 02:14   #7
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Originally Posted by zip tie-duck tape View Post
mine was a real clown, first he installed a new transmission at 2.5 k installed the fuel lines incorrectly and cut my fuel line in the process and got salt water into the system,,, killing my diesel while I was 2500 miles from home, if I ever see him again I know which end of the wrench he will see,,, In the marine industry there needs to be a code of conduct, standards, u cant get a power point installed in a home without, a licence but with a yacht we let fools with no credentials crawl over our dream, leaving us will the mess and no accountability,,, in my books I treat them all with doubt
Maybe in a lot of cases the mechanic is chosen by his cheap rate rather than his credentials. When you seek a Doctor do you go to the cheapest or are you more interested in his ability.
The other side is my professional experience which is that not all stories are told from a neutral point of view or there is two sides to every story.
Case in point - car is serviced and thermostat replaced with correct unit as the old one was jammed open and engine was running cold. One week later customer rings up very irritated as the engine is loosing water, head gasket is blown and its all my fault for replacing the thermostat. Real story I found out later from neighbor of owner was that the head gasket had started leaking eighteen months earlier. The owner had added Barr's leak to cooling water. Barr's leak is a cooling system additive to stop leaks temporarily not permanently but this was never revealed at the time. Which story do you think owner conveyed to all that would listen. Head gasket finally failed or stupid mechanic stuffed my engine
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:35   #8
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Would you consider it fair if we, the mechanics. Started a thread called "Mechanics, what's your worst boat owner story."

bashing does no one good
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:57   #9
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I had trouble finding a mechanic and I also wanted to learn my system. I took diesel classes at the Annapolis sailing school and a week long class at The Wooden Boat school I learned alot and recommend them both. I have also heard great things about the Mack Boring school. You wont learn to rebuild a high pressure timing pump but you will learn how to take care of it and trouble shoot problems. Most problems are maintenance problems or lack of. Most of my problems never happened at my home port anyway, and after my classes I have not had any problems I could not handle.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:01   #10
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Being broke most of the time I have no 'Bad Mechanic' stories... got a coupla 'Bad Phil' stories though...
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:02   #11
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NeverMonday, I would enjoy that thread too. Somehow I didn't see this as bashing. I saw it more like the accident reports in every flying magazine--learn from the mistakes of others (lest we learn the hard way!)

But you do make a good point, we should be respectful. And on the internet it is even more important to watch what we write because it is so easy to read the wrong tone into things.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:25   #12
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Would you consider it fair if we, the mechanics. Started a thread called "Mechanics, what's your worst boat owner story."

bashing does no one good
I bet there are plenty of "customers from hell", including ones who might bash a mechanic's reputation unjustly. Be careful here folks, especially if you chose to name names.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:34   #13
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NeverMonday, I would enjoy that thread too. Somehow I didn't see this as bashing. I saw it more like the accident reports in every flying magazine--learn from the mistakes of others (lest we learn the hard way!)
I find no comparison. I see this thread perpetuating what the owner believes is ancillary "damage". Not a fact finding statement on why my engine was bad, and what caused it.

Ancillary damage due to negligence, incompetence or otherwise is to difficult to predict or mitigate. If the owner is concerned to the level the OP presents. The owner should be present to examine the repair. Then approve or establish a punch list of items they are concerned about.

With the nature of boats and the way machinery is packed into forgotten spaces to provide a larger living area. More often than not, things must be moved around to access / repair parts as needed. Yes it is the responsibility of the mechanic to return the boat to a repaired but as found condition. I as well as others I know do our best to accomplish this.
Now, there are owners who will knowingly state that we are to blame for preexisting ancillary damage, that we never created or could be created by the repair.

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Old 02-01-2011, 07:34   #14
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Badsanta makes a good point. Learn as much as you can and do your own maintenance.

Also, when you have a mechanic work on your engine be there to help and work with him/her.

Many boats have an engine jammed into a small space that is almost impossible to work in with poorly laid out systems. It must be pretty frustrating for the mechanic as well.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:47   #15
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I earn my living as a tradesman. The first thing out of my truck is to cover the floor and the last thing put away is the vacuum cleaner. I'm not the cheapest or the most expensive but even in these times I manage to stay busy. All my work comes from references of past customers, you have to shop around to avoid the boneheads and if you want a tradesman to treat your precious possesions with the respect they deserve you have to pay the guy a wage that allows him to live a fulfilling life. I also know to avoid potental customers that cannot be satisfied. I wonder how many mechanics look at a job or engine room and say "I don't want any part of this mess."
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