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  #11  
Old 05-13-2006
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Proof of liability

I have been working in yacht sercive for about twenty years and must relate to you a higher probability of the cause of your engines failure and how you must prove it.

If a vessel is lifted bow-down (many yards fear the slippery bow and possible drop of the vessel and begin the lift bow down) water from the muffler/waterlock sloshes forward and enters the engine through an open exhaust valve. The engine rusts solid during the layup.

When the mechanic tries to start the engine in the spring and discovers the problem, he tells the boss:

"Uh, dude? The motor is locked up. It don't turn over."
"Oh crap," says dude the boss, "listen, you tell them you started that motor and it ran and it has to be his fault for water in the tank (like as if a water seperator wouldn't prevent that) and that way we don't eat the engine."

A proper mechanic can pull the head and show several perfect cylinders and one or two rusted ones, proving the cause was NOT water in the fuel. At this time you do NOT opt for a rebuild: you get a brand spanky new engine on the yards insurance dime. And have the new mechanic do the install.

Just part of the business. Get a lawyer and feed the yard your old iron for breakfast. Just part of surviving the business.
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  #12  
Old 05-13-2006
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Thanks Hawkeye; this is the first that I have heard of this practice. The engine maker has a differnet theory I would like you to chime in on: Boat was in the water, raw water seacock open, the mechanic tries to turn the boat over and it doesnt start due to water in the fuel. He tries again and again and again. Water builds up in the system and back flows in the engine as (i guess) some valves always remain open. Back flow water rusts out the cylinders. Ive failed a insurance claim; the owner of the marina is a very volatile indiviidual, takes no responsbility for anything, and we have had several heated conversations with no progress. Hopefully my insurance comes thru and then they can go after his insurance company for reimbursement. We shall see what happens. OH, the marina claims that water in the diesel caused the rust in the cylinders... thoughts on that theory? Thanks for the help.
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  #13  
Old 05-15-2006
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Hamiam
The possibility of water entering during protracted attempts to start the engine is definitely a possibility, not that that will help you much now. We were always advised to keep the RWC valve shut if the engine doesn't start after a few attempts, or if you are doing work that calls for repeated turnovers without running. Without the exhaust pressure to blow the water out, it will backup into the exhaust manifold. This tidbit is in the Pathfinder manuals, which should also apply to our engines (the differences are minor)
For what its worth, we recently had a quote from Pathfinder offering to replace our engine, re-use the gear, clean and paint things up for around $9500 CDN. Though these engines are not strictly speaking Pathfinders, that may be worth a shot. It is a lot of money but may work out less than some other options. In the end we rebuilt ours ourselves, buying stock VW parts, with advise from a local VW mechanic, for around $1500 all told. So the outlay need not be horrific - and you'd get your boat back.
This doesn't address the problems you're having with the people at your marina.
Good Luck
Ron
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Old 05-15-2006
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Major Bummer!! Let Us Know What Happens,
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  #15  
Old 06-01-2006
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While the 'extended cranking' thing is possible, you have to remember that it exposes itself while it is happening. If you crank, then stop, and crank, then stop, and water does indeed build up in the exhaust (as it surely will, just as your engine manufacturer and 'Faster' say), when it back-flows into an open exhaust valve and fills a cylinder, the very next attempt to crank the engine results in a profound 'THUD' as the cylinder tries to compress the water. You realize that 'compression' requires both valves to close and the piston to continue upwards, but it will stop as though it hit a brick wall with water in the cylinder. An operator will know something very serious just happened, and will, or should, say as much to the boss. Once again, a single rusty cylinder will tell the truth.

Also, with a water-lock compression event, the starter motor sometimes causes the rod in that cylinder to take on an 'S' shaped bend, and that DEFINATELY tells the story. That only happens if the sequence of compression in the affected cylinder is as far from the starting rotation as possible, allowing the starter motor to get the heavy flywheel to top speed before the hydraulic lock occurs.

I wish you luck with this case, but I caution you to do a good job preparing and get several 'experts' who actually get to examine the engine to sign noterized statements prior to filing your suit. Armed with solid evidence and expert testimony, the yard will capitulate rather than pouring lawyer money down a losing well. Also, if we are all wrong, you will be assured of the truth and can get on with repairs feeling financially hurt but wiser in the ways of engines.

I will be watching. Don't waste your time or peace of mind barking face to face with that yard owner. He has spent a lifetime in that position and considers it a part of doing business. It's the marine version of the O.K. Corral and he's Wyatt Earp. He's got the badge on that turf.
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  #16  
Old 06-02-2006
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Aft-end cover

In recent years, I've taken to confirming conversations by letter. It might start with, " Hi Marina Mgr, Nice taking to you today. I would like to confirm the details of our conversation."

The next time I have a marina launch my boat, I might instruct them to test for water in the fuel (a lesson I have learned from this thread) among other instructions and confirm it with an e-mail.

I currently suspect that I have a cutlass bearing going out. A marina replaced it only 4 years ago. I have a letter that confirms a conversation I had with the marina owner regarding the length of time they stand behind their work. I might need to submit that letter to the State Atty General's Ofc to get the marina to help with the cost of repair.

Max
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Old 06-02-2006
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Here is some free legal advice:
1. Get the name of the mechanical service/marinas insurance carrier and make a claim for the damages.
You need to prove the following:
a. Control. Did the mechanical service/marina have exclusive control of the boat between when they topped off the tank and when the mechanic turned over the engine? (If the is Yes then you have a great case).
b. You should ask your current mechanic the following questions:
1. Should a reasonable marine mechanic check the fuel for water before he turns over the engine. (i.e., Did he know or should he have reasonably expected that it would contain water).
2. Should the marine mechanic have realized that there was water in teh fuel sooner then he di such that the extent of damage would have been minimized.
Assuming he says Yes then have him write you an Affidavit and submit it with your claim for damages.
Good luck and get that fuel/water separator!
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  #18  
Old 06-04-2006
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thanks for the free legal advice

Im actually taking a slightly different tack; Ive filed a claim with my insurance company and Ill see what happens. They have indicated to me that IF they accept the claim, they will pay me for the repairs and then go after the marina and/or the marina's insurance company for reimbursement. Now, if and when I get turned down by my insurance company, I will certainly take your advice. Much appreciated. The marina was in control of the boat the whole time. Ive been told by multiple sources that water in the fuel (oh, yes, i have a big racor filter) wud nor cause this situation. The marina has been, at best, nor forth coming and, at worst, is, in my opinion, defruading me. The owner of the marina is attempting to sell it; perhaps I can file a suit and slap a lien on the marina itself and enjoin him from doing so? The asking price is in the multiple 10's of millions....
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  #19  
Old 06-04-2006
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FASTER; please check your private messages.
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  #20  
Old 06-05-2006
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What Faster says about prolonged cranking flooding the engine & causing serious damage is gospel. Putting that together with your starter mysteriously burning out, and knowing that starters are meant for "intermittent duty" only and they will overheat and burn out typically if run for more than 30 seconds per ten or fifteen minutes...

It sounds more and more like your yard screwed up. And if they topped off the tank last season and there is no other sign of water ingress except for "maybe the cap was left off"...

Sounds worth pursuing. You may not be able to put a lien on them, but simply having a court case on file against them will make it harder for them to sell, and give them incentive to deal with it and get it cleared up. The next buyer may not care if he has to gamble on spending $10k-20k to deal with the matter, compared to a multimillion dollar sale. But, some buyers just want to buy clean title and no suits, no judgements.

A post-mortem by an authorized repair shop should be able to tell pretty quickly if the damage is from backflooding through the waterlift muffler, versus diesel in the fuel. Very different results.

If you sue, remember to sue for the damages cause by the loss of use of your boat, a pro-rata slice of the annual insurance, maintenance, yard costs, the whole thing.
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