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Old 16-07-2012, 11:33   #1
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Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

I am curious as to how many people worry about an engine survey on the boat they are about to purchase. I have the boat survey and rigging survey lined up already but am waffling on the engine survey.
I am curious what a mechanic would be able to see from the outside without taking the engine apart. I inspected the engine from the outside and found nothing untoward. The engine has about 600 hrs (diesel engine) on it. About the only thing that I can see that could be done is to do a compression check and send the oil out for analysis assuming it hasn't been changed recently. Is there more that could be done ?
I would like to minimize surprises but there has got to be a reasonable expectation that the survey would catch things.
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Old 16-07-2012, 11:56   #2
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

I think you've got it right. Compression check, engine and transmission oil analysis. Unfortunately, not all mechanics have the adaptors needed to do the compression check. it might be cheaper to have a mechanic do the compression check and not call it an "engine survey"! What year is the engine? If a recent engine with 600 hours and runs good, I might not bother. If it's an old engine with only 600 hours... sometimes that can be worse than one with more hours.....
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Old 16-07-2012, 12:01   #3
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

There are a number of things a good mechanic should be checking : hoses and hose clamps, belts, alternator output and charging system cables, starter amp draw ( high draw means the unit is near its service life), cooling system, exhaust system just to name a few. Also need to answer a few questions like: Does the engine start easily? Does it idle and accelerate smoothly?, Does the transmission shift into gear smoothly?

I would expect an experienced mechanic to go thru all of these in about 1 - 1 1/2 hrs and I would want to be with them during the inspection. Bye the way, you choose the mechanic!!!
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Old 16-07-2012, 12:02   #4
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

We got tons of advice before we bought our boat. Everyone said to get the engine survey done. In retrospect, I'd never pay for one again unless I personally knew of the mechanic and his abilities with the engine in question.

Take the oil samples yourself and send them off for analysis. Run the motor at the sea trials and check the oil/coolant levels before and after running the motor for an hour. Run a mirror up under the motor and look for oil leaks. Check the shaft alignment with a feeler gauge. Check the motor mounts. Etc. Common sense stuff that any cruiser should learn how to do anyway. If you don't know how to do this sort of thing I'd hire a mechanic to show me how to do it instead of calling it an engine survey.

Compression check is nice but if the engine fires from cold right away it probably has good compression. If you have to use the glow plugs and turn it over a bunch it may warrant a compression check. If she spits bluish smoke she is probably having blow by, but at 600 hours I doubt it.
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Old 16-07-2012, 12:10   #5
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

Yeah, if you are mechanically inclined, you can check the visuals and how well it runs etc. Compression check could tell alot though. I've had 4 cyl diesel that I didnt even know one cylinder wasnt firing... until the crankcase filled up with raw fuel. started fine and ran smooth. Do mechanics even do a comp test when doing an engine survey? or just the easy stuff? Oil analysis takes a while unfortunately
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Old 16-07-2012, 12:18   #6
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
What year is the engine? If a recent engine with 600 hours and runs good, I might not bother.
2004 or 2005 in a 2005 Catalina 36
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Old 16-07-2012, 12:23   #7
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

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Originally Posted by martinjrichter View Post
I would expect an experienced mechanic to go thru all of these in about 1 - 1 1/2 hrs and I would want to be with them during the inspection. Bye the way, you choose the mechanic!!!
.... and here is the problem .... I have yet to meet a mechanic that is more than a wrench monkey (although I am talking automotive here)

Anybody know a good mechanic in Victoria BC or Sidney BC ? Someone that actually knows his/her stuff ?
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Old 16-07-2012, 16:56   #8
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

Our boat was 20 y.o. and I had nil engine understanding. We did not survey. The engine is still here.

I would take a surveyor if the engine is so big that replacing it would call my project quits. Otherwise go for a test sail and if the engine starts, works and looks fine, it may actually be fine.

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Old 16-07-2012, 17:08   #9
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

I wouldn't be too worried about an engine with only 600 hours on it, providing that the engine isn't rusting and shows now signs of leakage. A well-cared for engine should look like a well-cared for engine.

Insist that the engine is cold when you show up for the sea trial, and then pay close attention to how it starts up. If it coughs, sputters or growns, then insist on an engine survey.
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Old 16-07-2012, 20:11   #10
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

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I wouldn't be too worried about an engine with only 600 hours on it, providing that the engine isn't rusting and shows now signs of leakage. A well-cared for engine should look like a well-cared for engine.

Insist that the engine is cold when you show up for the sea trial, and then pay close attention to how it starts up. If it coughs, sputters or growns, then insist on an engine survey.
The engine and surroundings look very clean with only a bit of paint peeling on the exhaust header which isn't an issue. I have already instructed the broker not to warm up the engine in the morning before the survey and that will be the first thing I will check.
The regular surveyor will check over the outside of the engine anyway together with hoses, belts, wires etc.
I think I will see what the surveyor says re the engine and go from there. It really does look pristine .....

Thanks for all the comments guys !
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Old 16-07-2012, 20:28   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jd1

The engine and surroundings look very clean with only a bit of paint peeling on the exhaust header which isn't an issue. I have already instructed the broker not to warm up the engine in the morning before the survey and that will be the first thing I will check.
The regular surveyor will check over the outside of the engine anyway together with hoses, belts, wires etc.
I think I will see what the surveyor says re the engine and go from there. It really does look pristine .....

Thanks for all the comments guys !
Is it a Yanmar? My 3YM30 has 525 hours and the oil still stays clear 50-75 hours into the oil change, and it is a 2007 engine. I can't imagine you'd have to worry with your prospective engine unless it was severely mistreated....

If it was a 30 year old westerbeke or the like, different story altogether....
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Old 16-07-2012, 22:24   #12
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

Jd1 I would do exactly what you were planning and have a good boat mechanic operate and listen to it. often times a knowledgeable mechanic can tell something is off just by the sound.
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Old 17-07-2012, 01:57   #13
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

In retrospect I wish I'd reduced my final offer by 2.5% of a repower for each year since the engine was new and by 1% for every 100 hours the engine had run.

In this case I'd look at 2.5 * 7 + 1 * 6 = 23.5% of (say) $20,000 = $4,700.

In my case it would have told me that the engine had no value.

That is, if the boat with a new engine is worth $60k to you then the offer should be $53,300.

The above assumes that the engine presents as having 75% of it's life left.

If you do buy the boat I'd suggest changing the oil in the engine and transmission.
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Old 17-07-2012, 07:19   #14
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

You are about to around $125k on a boat and are worried about spending a couple hundred dollars on an engine survey?

A Boat Surveyor, may or may not know about deisel engines and certaily not to the extent of a factory certified mechanic. They will not normally run the engine under load, check compression, alternator output, starter housing/wires, proper torque, valve alignment, cooling system ( Beyond the temp guage) or proper shaft allignemnt. These simply are not in the realm of a Hull Survey.

A good marine engine surveyor will also walk you through the engine and explain the paticular in's and out's of your new engine.

I would strongly recommend you get a Engine Survey, by a marine mechanic who specialies in Marine Surveys and who is recommended by fellow sailors or a trusted Yacht Broker.
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Old 17-07-2012, 09:09   #15
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Re: Engine Survey - how important when buying a boat

Compression test AND a leakdown test, which can be done "fast" with compressed air. If the engine really looks clean and sounds happy, you might just skip the mechanic and make a provision for escrow against any engine problems in the first 30 days. If you really don't know engines, bringing in a pro may still be the best way to go but trying to find a good honest engine mechanic could take a couple of years.
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