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  #1  
Old 05-23-2008
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noob boat owner broke down and need advice

so my first boat has broken down with less than 4 hours on it. I bought it with my brother who has owned a boat before and i have crewed with him and done the appropriate classes. its a 95 benneteau 281 with a diesel yanmar.

Was motoring to get the mast stepped for about 10 minutes @60-70% power. The engine sound started to change and i thought something might be up but only have 2 hours of time with the motor so wasn't sure. Well, 30-60 seconds later, the engine cut out and i noticed white smoke venting. Went below to establish i didn't have a fire and the engine compartment was completely full of smoke. vented the compartment and cabin, got a tow in and started to look around. Noticed a lot of green liquid under the engine and no obvious hose leaks.

After letting it cool for a couple of hours, i was able to restart the engine and confirm that water was getting spurted out exhaust. I am thinking its a leak in the closed cooling system, i lost coolant below engine and it shut down due to overheating. Any other ideas?

So in an effort to be prudent, i had yacht yard fully tune and check everything on engine including hose clamps and fluids prior to launch. I don't know when it was done last so do it all was my thought. I am thinking the work that they did failed to prevent this issue and i am wondering if it was done at all. THe oil is new.

I contacted the yacht yard yesterday but the mechanic had left for day. Is it reasonable to ask him to come to the boat to look at it? Its about a 10 minute drive from yard to emergency dockage.

sorry for long rambling post but i am kind of between a rock and a hard place on this and a bit stressed out because i am not sure what best thing to do is. I also wouldn't mind avoiding and expensive tow.

I have considered adding water to closed cooling and running for no more than 5 minutes at a time. Is that super stupid? I haven't figured out how to check that fluid level yet and think it might be a good idea to add just to see if i can find the leak
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Old 05-23-2008
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I don't think it's unreasonable to ask him to come down and look at it if he did the work before and obviously didn't do it right. At worst case, you could pick him up and drive him the 10 minutes if that's the issue. The difficulty is he may not be able to fix much off site.

Do you have an accurate temp gauge? If you don't have one it'll be difficult to tell if you're overheating or not. If you overheat, it could end up costing you a lot more than a tow would now so I'd be wary of just trying to keep it topped up. I would wait on the mechanic and decide how best to go from there.
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Old 05-23-2008
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Just curious, did you get the boat surveyed and sea trialed before buying it??

If not, that was probably a mistake. Most boats should be surveyed before you buy them... there are a very few rare exceptions...but in general, if it is worth buying, it is worth surveying.

Also, how did the engine sound change?? Where was the white smoke venting from?? Where was the coolant leaking from? Was it smoke or steam—there's a big difference between the two.
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Old 05-23-2008
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Okay, I am a rookie at this also, and....

others will chime in.

If the green fluid is indeed coolant, it could have come from a variety of places,
  1. Loose Reservior Cap
  2. Cracked Hose
  3. From a crack in the engine itself - That's bad
  4. Hose that came off from a nipple

All of the above are easy fixes EXCEPT the crack in the engine. Based on Accum's Razor Premise, the crack in the engine is the least likely.

Seeing that you have seawater flow out of the back is a very good sign as is the engine starting. As far as the correct amount of fluid, my Yanmar has is also FWC and has a polyethylene coolant reservoir that has a Low and Filled level marked on it. If you have one of these, make sure the level in the reservoir tank is between these two lines after the coolant has warmed up. I always tend to keep mine near full in case I get a small leak. I check my level ever time I go out. If it has changed drastically, something is amiss.

I think it is a good idea to call the yard and have someone come out and give the motor a good look over, even if it costs an hours worth of labor, but you should do yourself too before. Check all hoses for secureness and leaks. What I do is take a dry rag to each hose and thoroughly wipe it down, run the engine for a few minutes, then redo the rag test looking for "wetness". Make sure your fluids are topped off.

When the yard person gets there, explain the scenario that occurred BEFORE they look at the engine. I find that once someone is engrossed in a task, they often don't capture all of the details that I am telling them. I also find that saying stuff like "I heard/saw/smelled, etc. this, I thought it was this, I did this to it, and this result happened, is a very good diagnostic tool when searching for a cause/problem with others that weren't there when the event happened.

Good Luck.

DrB
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Old 05-23-2008
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I had a similar issue when I motored my Barberis from the sellers port to mine. In my event, Dave and I checked out the water strainer filter. Its ridiculously small, and had enough algae in it to clog the suction (water was still coming out the exhaust but in very small amounts). As a result of the smaller amount of water the engine over-heated. Cleaning the filter was all that was needed.

noob boat owner broke down and need advice-engine-008.jpg

Good luck!
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Old 05-23-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB View Post
others will chime in.

If the green fluid is indeed coolant, it could have come from a variety of places,
  1. Loose Reservior Cap
  2. Cracked Hose
  3. From a crack in the engine itself - That's bad
  4. Hose that came off from a nipple

All of the above are easy fixes EXCEPT the crack in the engine. Based on Accum's Razor Premise, the crack in the engine is the least likely.

Seeing that you have seawater flow out of the back is a very good sign as is the engine starting. As far as the correct amount of fluid, my Yanmar has is also FWC and has a polyethylene coolant reservoir that has a Low and Filled level marked on it. If you have one of these, make sure the level in the reservoir tank is between these two lines after the coolant has warmed up. I always tend to keep mine near full in case I get a small leak. I check my level ever time I go out. If it has changed drastically, something is amiss.

I think it is a good idea to call the yard and have someone come out and give the motor a good look over, even if it costs an hours worth of labor, but you should do yourself too before. Check all hoses for secureness and leaks. What I do is take a dry rag to each hose and thoroughly wipe it down, run the engine for a few minutes, then redo the rag test looking for "wetness". Make sure your fluids are topped off.

When the yard person gets there, explain the scenario that occurred BEFORE they look at the engine. I find that once someone is engrossed in a task, they often don't capture all of the details that I am telling them. I also find that saying stuff like "I heard/saw/smelled, etc. this, I thought it was this, I did this to it, and this result happened, is a very good diagnostic tool when searching for a cause/problem with others that weren't there when the event happened.

Good Luck.

DrB
I think that was good advice.

I am not aware of any liquid on the engine that would be green except coolant. When it gets hot/vaporized, it has a sweet smell to it.

Check the coolant level. Do you have coolant in the resevoir?

WITH THE ENGINE COOL (I emphasize cool/cold), pop off the radiator cap. How much fluid is in there? It should be full.

Pull the oil dip stick. The oil should be black. If it is milky, you probably cracked a head gasket.

Sounds to me, most likely, that you just got a coolant leak that got on a hot exhaust/block and smoked. The loss of coolant caused the engine to get hot and shut down. After it cooled down, you were able to start it again - but it will overheat again until you find why. It could be any number of things, but all are easy to fix, not expensive, and not difficult to do.

EDIT: Just another thought: If it took ten minutes for it to start, that could be how long it took for the engine to get hot and the thermostat open up. That pressurizes the system. That might be why it took a while to see the smoke. I am just hypothesizing here.

Let us know if you have coolant, how much, and the oil state and we should be able to direct you from there.

- CD

PS Yes, I would go to the mechanic that just did the work and tell him to come out too. Stay with him and watch what he does. These are not difficult tasks and ones you should be able to do yourself... AND DON'T GET DEPRESSED!!! This crap just happens. It is a boat.
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Old 05-23-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
Pull the oil dip stick. The oil should be black. If it is milky, you probably cracked a head gasket.
As a clarification to CD's intent, fresh engine oil is amber, not black. If black - then it's overdue for changing. If the color is milky, especially after an engine overheating event, I would supsect a likely cause is a blown head gasket, cracked head, or other breach in the wall between the cooling and oil chambers.
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Old 05-23-2008
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Used oil is brown...so amber through dark brown is good... black is bad, milky grey is really bad.
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Old 05-23-2008
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Was this a pre-existing condition?

Did you motor to the boat yard for the service and every thing was all right?
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Old 05-23-2008
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Not to frighten you or make your day worse, waynemk, but more by way of a caution: I'd leave it alone until a competent marine mechanic had a look. What you describe sounds exactly like what happened to a slip neighbour of ours at our sail club late last season. Your engine may or may not have suffered serious damage (his did, tho it was apparently repairable).

Jim
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