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Old 23-06-2011, 05:18   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Boat: Ericson 29
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Boat Buying Blues

We are looking at a 1981 O'day 34. It is in reasonably good condition as far as we can tell, with out a survey, and is well equipped. It has original sails and rigging in fair shape but probably in need of replacement. It has the Universal 5424 diesel engine that has been yard maintained. It has no hour meter. My question and concern is how reliable are these engines of this era. I've read that the heat exchanger is to small, is this true and, if so, what would be the costs of a larger exchanger? What fuel usage should I expect as an average at cruising speed. With no hour meter I would estimate anywhere from 1500 to 3000 hours, where would be a general rebuild point, is this near the end of its life span?. And any general opinions and or knowledge of these boat would be appreciated.

Boat shopping in new England
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Old 23-06-2011, 05:44   #2
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Re: Boat buying blues

This engine is probably fine but corrosion and lack of (or poor) maintenance will be its downfall. These engines should be good for 10,000 hours but items like the water pump">raw water pump and transmission and damper plate and flexible mounts are not good for that amount of hours. I suggest that you get an engine survey from a marine mechanic.
Good luck, Stanley
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Old 23-06-2011, 06:00   #3
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Location: Clear Lake Marine Services - Seabrook, Texas
Boat: Gulfstar, Mark II Ketch, 43'
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Re: Boat buying blues

Welcome Aboard Cruisers Forum,

As above, also the older engines were mostly small heavy duty engines. My Perkins 4-108 is a 1976 model and still runs great. Like most boats built in rge 70's -80's and so on, the heat exchangers were almost always too small if you are doing long term motoring.

Trying to bypass the BP oil spill last year, we came across the GIWW motoring about 14 hrs. a day. My engine would start running warm after about 11 - 12 hours running, so I would drop rpm's a little. Got to Seabrook and got me a salvaged heat exchanger off the next biggest Perlind, no problem.
Formerly Santana
The winds blow true,The skies stay blue,
Everyday is a good day for SAILING!!!!
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Old 23-06-2011, 06:01   #4
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Location: North Carolina, USA
Boat: Big brick box and a '62 Airstream Ambassador. Formerly Pacific Seacraft
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Re: Boat buying blues

Funsail, I just bought a boat with 4500 engine hours, so like Stanley said, if they are kept up with they run for many hours. Things like mounts, exhaust, water supply, etc. Sorry I don't know anything about that particular engine but if water flow is good, then it should be good. At survey make sure you run it hard and for a while, and the surveyor will check temps at different spots. If it is yard maintained, I'd be curious to look at records so you know whats been done for sure. I don't like the idea of no hour meter, but if owners did maintenance seasonally, then its probably better than some owners who have an hour meter.

Good luck and hope you find a boat to sail soon-

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Old 23-06-2011, 09:17   #5
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Location: Fernandina Beach, FL
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Re: Boat buying blues

I second the advice on the engine survey. I've owned two O'days of that vintage (a 35 and 37). Both great boats. Well-built production vessels that sail well.
- Dennis Jay
Annapolis, MD • USA
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:08   #6
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Boat: Former owner of a 2001 34' Gemini 105MC Catamaran
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Re: Boat buying blues

I thrid the motion on getting the engine survey done. As a marine surveyor, I have taken oil samples of marine engines that have sat for long periods of time. Most of the time I get sample results back that include typically high levels of dirt and iron in those samples. As NCboarx has stated, the biggest enemy is corrosion on these engines. Sometimes advanced corrosion is found inside the block itself even though the engine may appear to look and run normally at start up. Well maintained Universal engines run great with very little maintenance. I have seen them in Endeavors and Islanders from the 60's and 70's still running strong. A good engine surveyor should be able to make a good assesment. I recommned that he be an accredited engine surveyor. It is worth the money rather than spending five times more money replacing the engine altogether.
Capt. John Banister, AMS®
SAMS® Accredited Marine Surveyor
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
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