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Old 02-08-2020, 13:17   #1
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Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Hi guys as a future cruiser I want to get more hands on with Diesel engines. I donít have the finances for a boat just yet, but I typically learn best by doing vs technical manuals. Any suggestions on how to gain hands on experience here in south Florida? I donít need to become a certified mechanic, but I would like to be confident in the routine maintenance aspect.
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Old 02-08-2020, 13:25   #2
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Your local Tech school may have a class. A recip engine is a recip engine, a lawnmower engine shows the basics, except for the fuel injection.
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Old 02-08-2020, 13:43   #3
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Highly recommended..

http://mackboring.com/training/
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Old 02-08-2020, 14:05   #4
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Actually as a new home owner I still have to buy more stuff for the house is the lawnmower probably going to be the best bet even though it is gas vs diesel marine?
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Old 02-08-2020, 14:23   #5
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Most learn by doing, acquire a junk lawnmower and take it apart and put it back together.
Manuals are available on line for free.
I think a Votec school is still a good answer, don’t know what they cost but go to night school for Diesel repair.
Normal maintenance is simple for those with any mechanical experience, but it seems many grow up now days never having held a tool, and I think a Votec school will teach you how to read a micrometer, how to use a torque wrench etc.
But really most just need to know how to adjust valves, R&R a cyl head, remove injectors and injection pump, water pumps etc.
For marine add heat exchanger and exhaust elbow, those are simple mechanical things with no adjustments and precise shimming etc.

The Mack Boring classes etc would I assume involve travel and staying in a Motel etc. But I’ve not attended one so that’s just a guess.

On edit, read some book’s on the operating principles of engines. Gas vs Diesel differs in ignition and fuel delivery, but you still get to touch and feel valves and understand how they work, importance of timing cam shafts etc. and use of simple hand tools.
But you have a lot of ancillary learning to do, like how to read the vernier scale on a micrometer or just read a mic etc. and that’s where I would expect a Votec school to be worthwhile, plus can be done at night, likely close by and I hope inexpensive, but more work than most are willing to put into it.
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Old 02-08-2020, 14:24   #6
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

We were able to sign up for a diesel course at our local sailing club. They teach using yanmars and we have a volvos but they are pretty much the same with respect to what they teach / you learn.
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Old 02-08-2020, 14:42   #7
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

If you're in Florida, consider tralwerfest diesel workshop. Last year was Nigel Calder teaching. No idea how this is going with COVID and all. Up in Stuart.

https://www.passagemaker.com/event-n...awlerfest-2020
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:46   #8
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Above are all good suggestions.


When you get your boat, pay a mechanic to take you through all the main service points for general maintenance. Asking around in your area at the time for a recommended mechanic is a good idea anyway. Some may not want to spend the time teaching away future income, but good ones will recognize that the good will developed through this process will likely pay off in the long term as they will be on the top of your list to do the work when you don't have time, or to tackle the bigger issues.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:47   #9
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

I recommended you get a operational diesel completely dressed out as a boat motor. A Perkins 4.108 is about perfect to learn from and is inexpensive and very common in boating, for a training aid. Very important that it start out operational, because it is difficult to learn how something works from a non-working example. Mount it on a stand and you have a superb training set . The manuals for the 4.108 are FREE all over the internet and any diesel shop worth talking to should have an old timer who knows about Perkins because they once ruled the small engine world. You could use a lawn mower engine as a training device BUT you will not gain much confidence applying air cooled single cylinder technology to a multi cylinder heat-exchanger cooled boat power plant.

You will still need to get some basic engine training complete with how and why information. AND at the end of your training you could have a main engine for your boat.
Good luck with your project!
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:56   #10
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Read and understand Nigel Caldor's thin book on diesel engines. Once you understand the basic principles you can apply them to any diesel. When you do buy a boat with a diesel engine. Get the service manuals and learn about your specific engine.

I once did attend a Mack Boring training class. I still remember being told that engine mounts on the Yanmar used in the training should have engine mounts changed annually. Thought I did not understand, so asked for clarification. Yes annually the trainer said. So either it was a poor trainer or a way to generate business for their parts and service department.

If you take a course, try a local college who have educators teaching.
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Old 03-08-2020, 18:25   #11
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

There are a couple of levels of training. And it depends on your aptitude.

First leve and most important for.. cruiser self sufficiency is basic engine service.

Raw water system : Clean/check sea strainer. Change raw water impellor. Change zinc in heat exchanger. Check heat exchanger for clogged passages and clean (barnacle buster for example).

Fresh water system (coolant). Check for leaks and check for contamination in the coolant. Know how to replace thermostat (rare, but a good thing to know as you'll need the gasket in your soares).

Engine oil. Know how to change oil. Swap old filter. This is pretty simple but can be messy. Helpful to have someone assist.

Fuel system. Change primary filters (often Racors mounted external from engine). Know how to swap tanks of you have more than one. Bleed air from fuel system (might be the #1 skill you need to know to keep from being stranded due to mechanical issue). Bleeding involves knowing how to operate your lift pump (usually a small thumb-actuated lever on side of engine). Knowing what nut on your injection pump or injectors to Crack to let the air out

Adjust stuffing box. .

After that, extra credit for aligning engine, adjusting valves. Use of a multi-meter for circuits.

Im sure I missed a few things, but if you get the above down, you'll be in pretty good shape for basic knowledge to learn more stuff such as tearing into your engine, which you probably won't have to do if you learn /practice the above.

I've never met a decent mechanic who wasn't happy to teach the above. They stay pretty busy and would rather do work that is higher value so totally okay not doing basic service stuff.

I promise, learn the above service items. You'll be fine and will be comfortable with your engine for cruising. Not saying nothing will ever happy, but you will have good foundational experience. Community college course is probably good, but won't have any of the marinization items

Good luck

Peter
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Old 03-08-2020, 18:33   #12
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Re: Diesel engines...how to get hands on experience

Another vote for Mack Boring's classes. They asked me what engine my boat had and then wheeled out a copy of it so I could work on my very own engine. Only time I ever got a good view of the back of it was in that course.
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