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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Diesel
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Old 01-05-2014
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engine hours

In my search for my next boat, I've come across a couple of boats that I really like but they had a lot of hours on the engine, from 4 to 6 thousand.

Both about 40 ft, early 90s sloops, one yanmar and one westerbeke.

Would an engine survey from a marine diesel mechanic tell you if the engine is in relatively good shape or is 5k hours just too many?

This is probably a hard question to answer but all imput will be appreciated.

Thanks, Jim.

Last edited by jraymer; 01-05-2014 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 01-05-2014
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Re: engine hours

Will be hours not miles.

5,000 hours on a small diesel engine that is maintained correctly is not a lot. If it was 10,000 then I would be concerned. Some Perkins 4.108s have run to 50,000hrs on fridge units.

But it all does depend on maintenance and abuse.
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Re: engine hours

TQA. So I wonder how much info a mechanic could give on the condition of the engine.
Thanks for the edit.

Jim.
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Old 01-05-2014
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Re: engine hours

Quote:
Originally Posted by jraymer View Post
TQA. So I wonder how much info a mechanic could give on the condition of the engine.
Thanks for the edit.

Jim.
10K hrs. is the typical limit on these smaller marine diesels. Such an engine with 5K hours is only in 'mid life', IF the engine had good maintenance.

For a complete evaluation, I would suggest compression and 'pressure leak down testing'. Leak testing is by applying compressed air into the injector ports and evaluating exactly where the leaks are emanating from. Worn or defective Valves will leak either back through to the air intake or into the exhaust system, worn/defective piston rings will allow air passage into the crankcase, air being noted in the cooling system denotes head gasket leaks or cracks in the engine block - although 'black light' testing of the cooling water with a fluorescing dye is much better to determine head gasket leaks between the cooling circuits and the combustion chambers.

All that stated, be aware that the very 'older' models will probably not be any longer supported and their available replacement parts may become very hard to find. Example: 3QM, etc. Yanmar series.
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Old 01-05-2014
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Re: engine hours

Yes, parts availability becomes an issue as they get older. It's becoming a real issue for my Universal - despite the fact it's going strong at 5k miles, in terms of wear.
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Old 01-05-2014
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Re: engine hours

Yanmar mechanics have told me 20,000 hours, if 'you keep the oil up to them'.


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Old 01-06-2014
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Re: engine hours

I think it also depends on what you are doing and where you are going with your boat. If you are daysailing/weekending from your own marina and not heavily dependent on the engine, and have access to parts and mechanics, then I'd feel okay with 5k hours.

If you are buying the boat to circumnavigate or to voyage to remote locations, then I'd probably want a newer engine.
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Re: engine hours

Good advice all around. One thing in your favor, is it sounds like the engines have not sat idle. 5000 hours/ 24 years above 200 hrs/year average. One of the worst thing for piston engines is sitting idle IMHO.
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Old 01-06-2014
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Re: engine hours

Hey,

If the engine starts OK (especially when cold) and runs well (no excessive smoke, oil consumption low, no leaks of coolant or oil) then it's probably fine.

More important to me is how the engine physically looks. Is it clean and the block painted and dry? It is a dirty, grease and grime filled lump? Is the oil pan sitting in water? Is the case corroded and leaking? Can you tell by looking if accessories like the water water pump, fresh water pump, injectors, etc. have ever been replaced?

Personally, I would prefer clean 4000 hour engine that runs well and comes with maintenance records over a 1000 hour engine that is dirty and has no maintenance records. IMHO corrosion and lack of maintenance kills more engines than operating time.

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Re: engine hours

Thanks everybody for the input.
I asked the question because the majority of the boats I look at have under 1k hours. I'll be a little more comfortable with higher hours engines.
People don't seem to talk about it much, but a marine diesel mechanic going over the engine for you should be part of a survey.
Thanks again .

Jim.
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