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Old 13-05-2020, 08:52   #1
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The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

I don't know what I possibly could have done to deserve what this engine has put me through In the 6 years I have owned it, EVERY single season it puts me in knots.

Year 1-Overheating due to previous owner running with impeller blades stuck in pump elbow. Also HX salting up restricting flow. Heat exchanger had 2 pin holes and I brazed them closed.
Year 2-Filter clogged from ingesting engine room insulation and broke. The wire mesh got stuck in cylinder 3 exhaust valve and ruined it. Had valve seats recut and injectors cleaned.
Year 3-Exhaust elbow broke, machined a new flange and TIG welded it back on.
Year 4-Developed severe overheating and all coolant was being pumped out of exhaust manifold to overflow tank. Turns out head was warped from year 1 and bleeding to coolant jacket between cyls 2-3. Had head shaved and magnafluxed, new head gasket. Lots of fun diagnosis in bad areas with rocks with no engine
Also Year 4, lost the starter the day before the Figawi race and went through massive heroics to swap it out on a mooring at midnight blowing 30 with a headlamp and minimal tools
Year 5-Leaking water pump almost sank me on long motor to Maine. Fortunately I caught it and repaired.


Year 6 (now)-Engine started and ran fine. Owning a Westerbeke has taught me to always question anything and I noticed that the coolant overflow had dropped a bit. I pressure tested the cooling system with my Stant tool and sure enough it was leaking down over time. Not quickly but 2-3 psi over 5 min.

I isolated the HX and pressure tested just that component and sure enough I could hear it leaking. Removed and disassembled it on the bench. When I removed 2 day old zinc I had just installed, it came out broken. Thought that was odd. When I took off end caps, it became clear. Found 3 more broken zincs laying in there. What I surmise is that they were binding up and breaking immediately upon installation and I had no anode protection at all.

Anyways, thanks for listening to me vent I called up Lenco in NY and they are making me a new HX today. About the nicest people to deal with and they were very helpful. He suggested I stick with copper (which was stock) instead of cupro nickel and we went back and forth. The difference in price was $40 and I decided I'd rather overdo it but he said cupro nickel is oversold my the internet retailers.

To test the HX I machined up some brass plugs and hose clamped off the raw water side. Used 1/4" NPT fittings with gauge and valve to put 15 psi into HX.
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Old 13-05-2020, 09:31   #2
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Wow. I hear you. I can only imagine the head ache and frustration after all this trouble. I had some problems with our Westerbeke a few months ago and I though I had a blown head gasket. Just thinking about it it gave me shivers. I had to replace my heat exchanger and exhaust manifold and that was the end of it (for now) but reading in your post how I could have ended up is frightening.

Quick question, how difficult was to remove the head with the engine in place? What model Westerbeke do you have? Ours is a 63 B Four.


Good luck!

Ivan
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Old 13-05-2020, 09:53   #3
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Hi Ivan,

Yeah it's been frustrating. What's even more so is that I am a very doting owner. I continually go over the engine all the time making sure everything is ok, no leaks. I paint it. I wash it. I replace anything that looks suspect proactively. I'm always in the engine compartment making sure it's running well. And then I see people with rusty engines going for 5k hours and no issues

I have a Westerbeke 44B which is a marinized Mitsubishi S4L2 block. Removing the head is not difficult, just following the instructions. Cleaning the block deck can be interesting to ensure you get no gasket scraps down in the oil galley or coolant passages. You basically need to remove all the injector lines, rocker arms, pushrods etc. The lesson I learned is that any time you take the head off, it's worth it to have the head checked for flatness by a machine shop.

I removed all the valves with a valve spring compressor and basically brought the head to the machine shop all disassembled but they could do this for you if you don't have the tools/skills. Reassembly is straightforward with a factory service manual. I found the Mitsubishi version online and it was excellent quality. You'd need a torque wrench among other tools.
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Old 13-05-2020, 10:44   #4
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Sailah, I feel your pain and it must be maddening dealing with that engine, particularly being meticulous as you mentioned.

However, please don't blame it on the make. Years 1 and 2 for that machine was terrible and it may not have recovered yet...

I have had 2 Westerbekes and not 1 single issue. The first was mine since new, my current one I got it with 900 hours and did a thorough inspection including an oil analysis as a baseline. Super reliable and have never let me down, knock on wood.

Good luck and I hope you get over these problems.
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Old 13-05-2020, 12:20   #5
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

I second the Lenco shout-out. They were great to work with when I gave up my (Volvo) heat exchanger and oil cooler.
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Old 13-05-2020, 12:47   #6
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

WOW. If you didn't have bad luck you wouldn't have any luck at all. It should be getting close to like new all you've done to it. At least it looks new.
Maybe some alternator and water pump">raw water pump problems next year for good measure?
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Old 13-05-2020, 12:57   #7
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

my westerbeke W21 is so wedged into the stern i can hardly reach the dipstick. i imagine if something bad happens to it .. I will be looking at a new engine. but it does need some touch up paint. have you found a substitute for westerbeke red?
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Old 13-05-2020, 13:04   #8
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonesail View Post
have you found a substitute for westerbeke red?
I used this one from amazon for a fraction of the Westerbeke price. I couldn't tell the difference.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 13-05-2020, 13:50   #9
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonesail View Post
my westerbeke W21 is so wedged into the stern i can hardly reach the dipstick. i imagine if something bad happens to it .. I will be looking at a new engine. but it does need some touch up paint. have you found a substitute for westerbeke red?
Ford red that you can get from any auto parts store for a third of the Westerbeke price is pretty damn close.
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Old 13-05-2020, 14:00   #10
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

I'm painting my old westerbeke Kubota blue. Boycotting westerbeke because of their parts pricing, not that I buy any of them.
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Old 13-05-2020, 14:09   #11
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVTatia View Post
Sailah, I feel your pain and it must be maddening dealing with that engine, particularly being meticulous as you mentioned.

However, please don't blame it on the make. Years 1 and 2 for that machine was terrible and it may not have recovered yet...

I have had 2 Westerbekes and not 1 single issue. The first was mine since new, my current one I got it with 900 hours and did a thorough inspection including an oil analysis as a baseline. Super reliable and have never let me down, knock on wood.

Good luck and I hope you get over these problems.
Thanks. I guess it's just complete frustration after having serious issues EVERY year with about 125 hours annually. I've worked on lots of diesels and engines, this one just seems cursed. It won't beat me though, I'm too stubborn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamhass View Post
I second the Lenco shout-out. They were great to work with when I gave up my (Volvo) heat exchanger and oil cooler.
Yeah I spoke to them a few times today. Really helpful and super nice. Just got the shipping notice a few hours ago so that's some quick turnaround.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
WOW. If you didn't have bad luck you wouldn't have any luck at all. It should be getting close to like new all you've done to it. At least it looks new.
Maybe some alternator and raw water pump problems next year for good measure?
Ha, my alternator is a Balmar and runs 100%. Replaced raw water pump last year after the seals let go on 125 mile motor back from Maine last summer. Bit sketchy taking on water with no wind. I think the exhaust manifold is the only component left on the engine that is a Westerbeke part and hasn't failed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonesail View Post
my westerbeke W21 is so wedged into the stern i can hardly reach the dipstick. i imagine if something bad happens to it .. I will be looking at a new engine. but it does need some touch up paint. have you found a substitute for westerbeke red?
I just shot the entire engine with Rustoleum red. A pain to mask it all off too. Will def need some touchups after all this work the last 2 years.
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Old 13-05-2020, 14:17   #12
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

So I had an interesting day testing this.

When I tested on the engine with 15 psi, I could hear the bubbling inside. I put my ultrasonic probe on the HX and could clearly hear it. The second clue was the water that drained from raw water side had green coolant in it. While under pressure it was forcing the coolant up and out of rad cap. Clear HX failure right?

So then I remove it and test in cockpit again using air. I could clearly hear a leak.

Then I called Lenco and ordered the new one. After I did this I decided to make a video since I already had it out. I put it back together with gaskets and end caps.

I again pressurized the HX to 15 PSI and was going to put in bucket. But it was holding steady. Weird I thought. I sat there and watched it for 10 minutes and the needle didn't budge. I went inside for some coffee and came back an hour later. Still at 15 PSI. Now I'm just going mental. I swear this engine hates me.

So I release the pressure, it was def not a fluke. I fill it back up and submerge in a bucket. Nothing, no bubbles, pressure steady. WTF. I bumped the valve and accidentally shot a lot of pressure into it while in the bucket and blew off the caps I had made and exploded 5 gals of water in my face. I could only laugh.

After I tapped it on the ground it started leaking again. Must have had something lodged in there.

Anyways I made a video about the process in case anyone is interested.

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Old 13-05-2020, 14:46   #13
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Pressurize the coolant side, not the raw water side.
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Old 13-05-2020, 15:00   #14
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Did the zink hit the tube stack and break it?
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Old 13-05-2020, 15:37   #15
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Re: The Westerbeke saga continues...(failed heat exchanger)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
Pressurize the coolant side, not the raw water side.
Not sure why that would matter? If the hole is there, it should go either way?

Also the zinc provides a convenient spot for my test apparatus to thread into. Sealing off those larger 1 3/8" pipes is trickier as I didn't have any hose or pipe plugs on hand to use them.

I can't tell why the zincs were breaking off, I'll check tomorrow with the caps off and the new HX comes in. I suspect they were too long and hitting the end cap frame some how. Once I determine the max length, I'll machine up all my zinc pencils on the lathe to the correct length minus some clearance.

I never really determined the exact leak spot but the sound was more noticeable on the raw water end of the HX vs the zinc end so I don't think the zinc actually touched the tube stack and broke it that way. My theory is that the zincs were breaking by hitting the cap frame, which left no anode protection at all and the HX failed by corrosion as if I never even bothered to use zincs. At least that's what makes the most sense to me at this point.
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