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  #1  
Old 04-08-2011
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Diesel Engine Survey?

OK, I'm going out on a limb and investing a bit more than I should on the boat of my dreams.

My ceiling is 40K and I'm looking at a couple of C&C 30MKII's

My question is; Should I invest a bit more and, in addition to the primary survey, hire an expert to give the engine a complete inspection?

I had my first boat surveyed and they really didn't spend much time on the engine aside from warming it up, running it under a load for a short time and giving it a good look over.

If I buy the boat and the engine needs major work in the first year or two in will put a strain on my finances.

Thanks...
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Old 04-08-2011
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While the engine survey/inspection would be money well spent, esp in the event of a serious problem (or potential for one), I think you can tell a lot by some other indicators and if you're at all mechanically inclined you can make some reasonable judgements.

Knowing the hours on the engine helps, but it's an iffy stat... on an older boat you really have no idea if the meter was always working, if the engine's been changed there may be no accurate indication of the new engine's hours (though a second engine is good news - means someone else has bucked up for it!)

I look for the cleanliness and apparent care in the engine compartment. Even if the boat looks pristine, the engine may show signs of lesser care. Oil leaks, dirty/oily bilges, rusty parts, corrosion (usually an indication of coolant leaks let go too long), and a general 'forgotten about' look there will usually mean the engine has not been truly looked after and an inspection may be indicated more strongly.

OTOH an engine you could 'eat off of' often means it's been cared for, regularly maintained and could well be good for years of use.... but at the same time a clean exterior is not a guarantee of internal condition.....

It's still a judgement call, but generally diesels are pretty hard to kill....
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Last edited by Faster; 04-08-2011 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 04-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
While the engine survey/inspection would be money well spent, esp in the event of a serious problem (or potential for one), I think you can tell a lot by some other indicators and if you're at all mechanically inclined you can make some reasonable judgements.

Knowing the hours on the engine helps, but it's an iffy stat... on an older boat you really have no idea if the meter was always working, if the engine's been changed there may be no accurate indication of the new engine's hours (though a second engine is good news - means someone else has bucked up for it!)

I look for the cleanliness and apparent care in the engine compartment. Even if the boat looks pristine, the engine may show signs of lesser care. Oil leaks, dirty/oily bilges, rusty parts, corrosion (usually an indication of coolant leaks let go too long), and a general 'forgotten about' look there will usually mean the engine has not been truly looked after and an inspection may be indicated more strongly.

OTOH an engine you could 'eat off of' often means it's been cared for, regularly maintained and could well be good for years of use.... but at the same time a clean exterior is not a guarantee of internal condition.....

It's still a judgement call, but generally diesels are pretty hard to kill....
Thanks for the words Faster. I have owned a '72 30 MKI with an A4 for 10 years and do all my own work (except rigging).

Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about diesels. They all seem like loud, stinky, vibrating, mysteries to me

I plan on taking a class, but that's down the road a bit.
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Old 04-08-2011
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I go along with Faster, how an diesel looks, starts from cold and performs under load is a good indicator of problems.
Your money might be better spent taking that basic diesel engine course.
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Last edited by centaursailor; 04-08-2011 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 04-10-2011
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Absolutely have mechanic do a through engine survey, especailly include a compression test. There are a varirty of engine weaknesses that may not be apparent to a tet run, but in particular low compression. Low compression is most apparent with hard starting (or no starting) when cold. If the seller warms the engine up before your visit, it'll seem fine. Rebuilding a diesel on a boat like this will run you $10000, the mecanic only $250, the best money you will spend next to the survey.

Budding engine problems frequently leads someone to put the boat on the market...
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Old 04-10-2011
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Check that it will start easily from cold. Insist that you have a dead cold engine for this.

Run it under load full or near full throttle under way for at least 15 minutes and watch for overheating or loss of oil pressure.

Some smoke is OK on start up but very little after that is acceptable.

Take a sample of the engine oil and get it tested for metal debris or oil dilution. [ Not expensive ]


If it starts runs ok runs without losing oil pressure overheating or smoking and the oil analysis guys pass it, well it should be good to go.
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Old 04-11-2011
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Quote:
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Check that it will start easily from cold. Insist that you have a dead cold engine for this.
....
The problem here is you need a cold engine, and a cold day. A diesel with low compression may start OK on a seventy degree day, if a bit slowly...(who will notice)...Then on a 45 degree day, it wont start at all...

Nothing will tell the buyer what a compression test tells, other than a compression test.
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Presumably your purchase is subject to a test sail?

I'd suggest doing the following on the test sail, then deciding whether you want an engine survey :

Check the state of the oil on the dipstick. Not too dark is good. Rub a bit of the oil between your fingers. Does it leave them sooty black? No is good. Yes means the oil is old and the surfactants are saturated.

Take the cap off the heat exchanger, dip your finger in and have a look at the coolant. Should be a nice blue or green and not rusty.

Start the engine from cold (check it's not been warmed up.) Should start with very little cranking after 30s warming of the glow plugs. The smaller the whiff of blue smoke from the exhaust on initial start, the better.

Is is now running smoothly and responsively?

Try to do at least a 10 min drive on the engine, enough to get the coolant and oil up to temp. Then check for blue or black smoke at full throttle.
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Old 04-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
Presumably your purchase is subject to a test sail?

I'd suggest doing the following on the test sail, then deciding whether you want an engine survey :

Check the state of the oil on the dipstick. Not too dark is good. Rub a bit of the oil between your fingers. Does it leave them sooty black? No is good. Yes means the oil is old and the surfactants are saturated.

Take the cap off the heat exchanger, dip your finger in and have a look at the coolant. Should be a nice blue or green and not rusty.

Start the engine from cold (check it's not been warmed up.) Should start with very little cranking after 30s warming of the glow plugs. The smaller the whiff of blue smoke from the exhaust on initial start, the better.

Is is now running smoothly and responsively?

Try to do at least a 10 min drive on the engine, enough to get the coolant and oil up to temp. Then check for blue or black smoke at full throttle.
So I gotta ask..which of theses tests have something to do identifying low compression on a not cold day? While your advice is fine as far as it goes, where it goes is deciding whether to walk away on your first visit, not for making a purchase decision. I offer this advice because I know from personal experience that the only way to eliminate the risk of low compression is a compression test...otherwise you may as well use a dousing rod...why in fact, it was a $12,000 lesson learned.
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Last edited by sailingfool; 04-12-2011 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 04-12-2011
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Thanks so much for all the replies. I think I will go with an engine survey by a qualified diesel mechanic after the boat passes all the other tests.

How long do the engine oil test results generally take to get back?
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