Diesel acting up, ideas? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-13-2006 Thread Starter
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Diesel acting up, ideas?

First, I am taking the boat to the local yard I trust since I have not touced the diesel on my own yet (18-month owner). Second it's a bit long winded I wanted to get it all in.

Engine is Universal M12 with Hurst transmission. Boat is ina river off the Neuse river/Pamlico. I assume we have fresh to brakish water. A month ago I ran the engine for ~30 min to clean it out and charge the batteries, al in the slip. No problem.

Last weekend was clean-up day and I was spraying mildew killer everywhere. I took one of he side panels off the engine compartment and sprayed the fiberglass underneath. I did not spray the engine directly but I'm sure it got enough incidental. Did not start the engine that day.

Next day, we take the boat out (left engine cover off). Engine coughs a bit but starts and runs fine. On the way out the channel the buddy helping me out is steering and I am putting things away, etc. Notice HOT smell, stick my head down companionway, smoke everywhere. I look at the gauges, temp off the scale. I put the engine in neutral (can't remember if I throttled down) and engine dies. I am unhappy. Furtunately wind is blowing into marina, so we float back top the end of the dock and tie up.

I notice the engine control panel (which is on the sidewall of the cockpit footwell, over the engine) is all steamed up. No smell of burning rubber or oil and I can actually touch the oil filter. After 15-20 min we turn on the ignition and temp down to bottom on gauge. So now I am thinking the water from yesterday steamed (steam, not white smoke) and faked out the temp gauge. We start the engine, watching the temp gauge and looking for smoke. Nothing. I crawl into the q-berth and I see a few white wisps, but now I am thinging it's steam.

We go out the channel, all OK. finally throttle down to put up the sail, look down: Temp off the scale; look below, smoke everywhere and now it's burning my throat (still coudl not identify it as burning oil or rubber).

By now we are outside and sails are up. So we sail around a bit to calm down. On the way back I sailed almost to the slip (involves a u-turn and backing in) started the enging to push boat back and turned it off pretty quickly, so never got a chance to heat up.

any thoughts?
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-13-2006
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Basics

First thing that comes to mind (as always) is a faulty impeller or pump. It might work ok for a while, then stop. Also likely are a stuck thermostat or plugged intake. You don't mention seeing water coming out of the exhaust at any time, or the amount of it. That's what I always check for first when I run any engine. In colder weather, it can take a good bit of time for a diesel to work up to overheating, which could explain your second episode. Besides a stray piece of plastic clogging it, a lot of vegetation can grow in an intake gently caressed by nutrient-rich brackish water several times a day over a month's time.

Last edited by paulk; 03-13-2006 at 09:43 AM. Reason: typo
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-13-2006
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First thing that comes to mind is the impeller (Paul beat me to it). Check for healthy water discharge through the exhaust.
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post #4 of 13 Old 03-13-2006 Thread Starter
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I knew I'd forget stuff even being long-winded.

- Seacock was open and water was coming out of the exhaust back in the slip. Somewhere arond normal amount, did not notice it being low. There was water coming out wven when smoking.

- Oil was 3/4 from "low" to "high" and black (I did not see any foam or white) in between the two eposides.

I did look around wth a flashlight when the engine was running but not when it was "smoking". Kinda chickened out of sticking my head into a smoking engine.
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-13-2006
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Something to check. On older engines (happened to my Volvo at 13 years) the water injection port to the exhaust elbow carbons up and gets restricted. Ultimately this results in a burn through on the lower side of the elbow and it's not always visible.

Here's what happens. The engine starts fine and because the exhaust elbow is cool and the block is cool everything seems normal. As both heat up, you start to see steam (white wisps) and may smell a bit of exhaust. The restricted water flow is preventing a lot of splash and the engine isn't overheated so not much smoke.

As the engine overheats and combustion goes to heck, the smoke starts pouring from the hole in the elbow and the limited flow of water all flashes to steam so there is no evidence of a leak.

Grab an inspection mirror and a flash light and see if such a hole is there. It may not be very large. Don't hunt for it buy hand without looking. Mine had sharp enough edges to shred fingers.

You may notice a reduced water flow at the overboard discharge but it depends on the size of the hole and how badly restircted the flow is.

Last edited by DynaMeme; 03-13-2006 at 07:01 PM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-13-2006
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Good call, Chris (DynaMeme),

You've just described what happened to an older engine I had in VALHALLA. In my case, the carbon build up in the mixing elbow restricted the flow of water but not completely so I was fooled by the smaller amount coming out of the exhaust. This was cleaned out and the engine ran at normal temperature. But then the mixing elbow developed a hole in it, perhaps from a hot spot of carbon, and steam started pouring out. Replaced the mixing elbow and all was fine after that.

Terry

"Does the song of the sea end at the shore or in the hearts of those who listen to it?" Kahlil Gibran
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-14-2006 Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody. based what I observed, the last two posts make sense. Would the elbow issue cause overheating (or at least the temp gauge to go off scale)? I think the steam may have faked the sensor but don't know enough yet. Boat is 2.5 hrs away, but I will check before I take it in for oil change, etc.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-14-2006
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You also could have just blown an exhaust or intake manifold gasket somewhere.

Sincerely,
Russ Duff
Catalina 38, Hull #112
"AVANTURA"
Lake Erie
Grosse Ile, Michigan
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-15-2006
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Blown gasket is defintiely possible, but water leakage should be more evident in such case. And one would expect a lot more white "smoke" in the exhaust from unrestricted water flow into the hot gas stream. Still it's something to check after looking at the elbow.

On the elbow and over heating. The carbon restriction is what would cause the over heating because it blocks water flow. This can happen fairly suddenly as the carbon builds up in layers. Several of those layers can break partially free and clog things. When I replaced mine, I messed around with it to see what I was dealing with. It was so baked in it took a heavy wire "bottle" brush chucked in an electric drill to remove it.
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-15-2006
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Is it fresh water or raw water cooled (a closed or open system)?

Sincerely,
Russ Duff
Catalina 38, Hull #112
"AVANTURA"
Lake Erie
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