Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Home in Canada, boat in the Caribbeans at the moment.
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Re: Perkins 4.108M DIY Rebuild -- A Narrative
I don't agree with a "one answer fits all" on this topic.
There are a lot of factors that plays into the equation.
The first one is that there might be a lot of other things that need replacing or fixing on your boat. How old is your standing rigging ? More than 15 years it is prone to fatigue failure, even more so if you sail on a lake than on long crossing as you change direction all the time.
How old are you thruhulls ? Your running rigging ?
These need preventive replacement, the engine needs maintenance.
Some engines, like the Perkins, are often better left alone as long as they run fine if they have been maintained properly. They won't suddenly die on you, unless something goes wrong which would kill a new or rebuilt engine anyway (no water, crappy fuel, burst coolant pipe ...). Other "lighter duty" or "high RPM" engines may need rebuilding on a regular basis because their bearings wear out quickly.
If you are moored or anchored most of the time just learn how to sail in and out, and the engine becomes not so crucial. To me, the engine is not the "emergency" means of moving the boat, the sails are. The engine is just a luxury that makes it a tad easier to get there and may prove to be a requirement in most marina. The only time I go into a marina, it's to get fuel or water. Mostly water as fuel lasts me 2-3 years.
If you are sailing long distance (I said sailing, not motoring) then just bring a spare kit of the required parts to rebuilt in the event you need to. Mechanics are available all around the world for most engines, it is the parts that are a little harder to get.
If you get this done by a professional, it will cost the same now that it would if you have to get it rebuild out there, in fact probably cheaper out there.
If you plan on doing it yourself, you have to be very good at this or else you may make it worse than it was, and then need a pro to save your a..
I see Porfin as a pro, he knows what he is doing, and will do a better job than most pros. Even then, it is now august and the boat is not in the water!
When this thread started I was all excited about getting mine rebuilt as a preventive measure, and I have a fair bit of experience with rebuilding cars and trucks engines. But after discussing this with some Perkins mechanics (some in North America, many in the Caribbeans), they all geared me towards ordering a kit to rebuild the beast whenever it needs it, which might not be before many years. For about 1K$ you get everything you need, but no dirty hands.
If it runs smooth, cool, has good power and does not smoke, there is no need to rebuild it. Even if it has some of these symptoms, it might not require a rebuilt but some other maintenance. Make sure all hoses are up to the task, that the cooler is clear, and that the oil is changed regularly, and it may pretty well go for 10K hours+. Mine is 24 years old but has 4700 hours on it, barely broken in ;-). A lady in Germany has just brought her VW golf TDI to the shop because the odometer stop functioning ... at 999,999 km. It was all original, still running fine. Diesels are good if the are treated properly.
So listen to SloopJohn.