C400 Westerbeke 42B compression failures - SailNet Community

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Old 08-11-2009
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C400 Westerbeke 42B compression failures

I am the original ownerof a C400, hull #87. My Westerbeke 42B diesel just failed last weekend while I was on vacation. Compression check showed poor compression in all cyl. (130, 100, 205, & 180). If you have had or are aware of this problem, what did Catalina or Westerbeke do about it. I know that the problem existed with 42B's in hull#'s 1 through 99. I have received quotes of $10,000 - 12,000 to replace the 42B with a Westerbeke 44. Any information on previous repairs and the Westerbeke/Catalina response is appreciated.

Thanks, Everett Rezendes
"Phoenix III"
Hull#87
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Old 08-11-2009
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Originally Posted by phoenix3 View Post
I am the original ownerof a C400, hull #87. My Westerbeke 42B diesel just failed last weekend while I was on vacation. Compression check showed poor compression in all cyl. (130, 100, 205, & 180). If you have had or are aware of this problem, what did Catalina or Westerbeke do about it. I know that the problem existed with 42B's in hull#'s 1 through 99. I have received quotes of $10,000 - 12,000 to replace the 42B with a Westerbeke 44. Any information on previous repairs and the Westerbeke/Catalina response is appreciated.

Thanks, Everett Rezendes
"Phoenix III"
Hull#87
What is the exhaust size coming off the diesel? It should be 3" as I recall. I understand that there was a back pressure issue with too small of exhaust causing a BP in excess of 10psi. It should be about 2 or so at WOT.
If you have a smnall diameter hose, better look into that first. Won't save your engine, but might save the next. All of this info happened before I was tech editor so I am giving you second hand knowledge from the previous tech editor.

Also, what about repowering with a Yanmar? The new ones (including mine) are all 54 hp. It is more than you need most of the time, but maybe not when in a strong current or blow. I would not trade it down to a Westerbeke of lower HP.

My opinions.

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Old 08-11-2009
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Thanks for the reply. I have made all of the changes recommended by Westerbeke. These include; the entire exhaust system, air box, thermostat and re-routing water hoses for better circulation. This was all done within the first year after after my boat was delivered. I expect that is why my engine has lasted as long as it has, but apparently these modifications were not enough to prevent engine failure. The failure mode was still the same.

You mensioned that you have a Yanmar 54, was this the replacement for the 42B or original equipment? Have you heard that Westerbeke replaced/rebuilt the 42B's at their expense or the owners?

Thanks
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That is before my time. Mine is a Mark II, yours probably a MkI. I suspect that it would fit without a problem.

if you did everything thta they suggested, including the exhaust (3"), then the damage was either done before hand or it is what Catalina always said: a defective engine. I might suspect the latter - but again, I am commenting on things I know very little about except second hand.

I will get the appropriate person on here to help you. Hang tight.

Brian
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Old 08-11-2009
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Don't know if this will help but a cruiser I met had three Westerbekes in his 400. He said Catalina picked up the tab for both new engines. He sold the boat last year and lives ashore in Vero now. I've only got an old Pocketmail (remember that?) address for him but could probably get a new email address if you want it. I could pm it to you.
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Old 08-12-2009
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Westerbeke failures

A number of Westerbeke engines failed because of the very high exhaust backpressure, diversion of coolant from cylinders 3 and 4 for the water heater, high thermostat, etc. I measured my backpressure at a ridiculous 10 to 12 psi at 2,000 rpm, and the head was running about 100 degrees hotter at cylinder 4 than cylinder 1. After the mods the backpressure was down to around 4 psi. Still a little high but liveable. There's not a diesel engine in the world which would last that long at 12 psi, so don't blame Westerbeke for the engine problems.

The data was never released, but I think Westerbeke replaced something like 75 motors, with as many as 5 on one boat, until they figured our what the problem was. I don't think they they will let any boat manufacturer install these things again without checking what they intend to do with them.

As I told Everett privately - the normal failure was in cylinders 3 and 4, with compression down to 100 psi or so in them, while cylinders 1 and 2 were still up in the 500+ psi range. The inability to scavange the exhaust from the cylinders closest to the exhaust manifiold coupled with the hotter temperatures in them caused carbon fouling on the rings and walls, eventually damaging the rings which in turn scored the cylinder walls. This normally started to happen at around 300 hours, maybe less if you spent hours motoring. Someone who uses the motor for 5 minutes to get out of his dock would never see a problem - the engine does not get hot enough to start the damage. The boat which got 5 engines lost every one during 3 round trips down and up the ICW. They motored maybe 8 hours a day for weeks at a time. Only made it thru once and even then the engine had to be replaced in the Bahamas. Another boat lost 3 or 4 engines in the ICW.

The C400 Association did a number of things to get the owners to test for these problems. We did several newsletters that we mailed to them. We bought compression and backpressure gauges that we loaned out. I'd guess that maybe half of the owners did not check for any potential damage, and perhaps 2/3 or those who did wound up with a new engine. They had absoutely no idea what was in store for them in the future. The only way to find out was to do a compression test. The damage occurred so slowly that it was almost impossible to notice the power loss, until the engine eventually becomes unmanageable.

Ron Marcuse C400 #74 'Good Vibrations" - gone but not forgotten
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Old 12-28-2011
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WB engine. Hull #3

just joined here and see this is an old thread. However, reading this, I have a sinking feeling. I bought my 400 a year ago and have had two engine failures sailing in the past two weeks. Gradual reduction in revs around 2000rpm, then once down to ~1800 it slowed and stopped within 20 seconds. Thought it was a corroded ground connection, and assumed it was an electric primary fuel pump not receiving full power. How can I check if my engine ever had the modifications you mention? Many thanks. Ian
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Old 12-28-2011
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As I've said many, many times - the absolute first thing to do is to get the compression checked. The 42B problem can be measured as a loss in compression, with the worst damage in the higher number cylinders, and getting somewhat better as you counted down. I think there is much better description and recommendations further down in this thread.

Ron Marcuse
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thanks Ron. Will check this week. Ian
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