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Old 03-11-2013
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Salt Water in the Cylinders

Twice now we have gone to start the Perkins 4.236 and it has had salt water (I tasted it) in the cylinders. The 1st time we took off the riser (exhaust elbow) and found no problems, so we just cleaned things up a bit and reassembled everything. Not finding a problem, we had not fixed anything, so we hoped it was a boat gremlin.
It started and ran fine for a few days then water again; no surprise.
This time we took off the exhaust manifold as well and pressure tested it to 30 pounds and it was fine. Because of its design, the riser could not be pressure tested so we took it to the local ship yard and they cut it open and again, found no problems at all.
Our overboard engine exhaust is well out of the water and we were actually only re-anchoring so we ran the engine just a few minutes the day before the second time. There is one of those black aqua-lift silencers in the exhaust line, near the transmission. The fresh water is fine, no leaks or water missing or bubbling in the header tank when running. No steam out the exhaust, nor smoke, white or black. There is no water in the oil nor in the transmission, so neither of those coolers could be at fault. Engine does not overheat, nor run particularly cold (about 170). Salt water goes through the sea strainer, then the pump, into the exhaust manifold, then into the heat exchanger and finally into the riser and into the exhaust. No where else does salt water get near the engine block or cylinders. This is not a new installation; it's been working fine for years.
Obviously, this is a really big deal as we will never know if the engine will start.
I am at a complete loss. I cannot think of anywhere else salt water could possibly enter the cylinders.

Last edited by capta; 03-11-2013 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 03-11-2013
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Re: Salt Water in the Cylinders

Check the exhaust manifold. It might be cracked.
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Old 03-11-2013
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Re: Salt Water in the Cylinders

When and how do you find the sea water in the cylinders? Before startup, after shut down and how do you get in there to know? I assume its just trace amounts, as a hydro lock would have blown your cylinder head off by now.

Is something causing backpressure in your exhaust that could be pushing sea water back from the mixing elbow through the manifold and past the valves?
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Old 03-11-2013
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Re: Salt Water in the Cylinders



There are various minimums and the anti siphon can be very important
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Old 03-11-2013
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Re: Salt Water in the Cylinders

A few years ago the "Siphon Break" vent to the outside in the above picture was clogged by a Mud Dauber Wasps nest. I only sail on weekends. The result was - Sometime during the week they made their nest. I went sailing the next weekend and everything worked fine, but when I shut the engine down I didn't realize that the hot engine Sucked exhaust cooling water as it cooled down into the cylinders. So..... the next weekend I tried to start but I was Hydrolocked, no turnover. A mechanic pulled the injectors, turned over the engine and sprayed out the water. The Oil Was Fine - No Water In It. Fired up the engine and all was well.
BUT...... if I didn't clean out the vent that was clogged the exact same thing would have happened again (I cleaned it out and installed a screen to keep them out).
So...... maybe you have a partial blockage in the vented siphon break ?
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Old 03-11-2013
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Re: Salt Water in the Cylinders

If the manifold is fine and the HX is fine then your most likely place is a blocked or clogged or not installed siphon break in the RW circuit.

Below is a picture of a Pearson 530 engine room showing the siphon break. This customer of mine is using one made by Scot Pump Co. and IMHO there is no better or more reliable siphon break made..

Makes sure your siphon break is installed high enough, is working and is close to the CL of the boat..

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Old 03-18-2013
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Re: Salt Water in the Cylinders

Sorry for the delay in updating, but internet has not been nice to us for a few weeks now.
It seems what was right in front of my face was indeed the problem; the siphon break. Usually it makes us aware that it is "ill" by leaking a bit salt down the unit, but this time it was completely frozen with no visual indication. These are Perko units and they use a smaller version of the valves that Par uses in their pumps. In theory a stainless steel and rubber piece that should last forever in a bronze housing? I guess the quality is declining? Replaced and functioning, I'm hoping this was the cause of the problem.
While reassembling the engine, strangely, the fresh water system magically "filled itself"! To the point that without the engine running, it would spurt a cup of water out of the radiator cap when opened. Definitely NOT salt water, this time. Thinking, thinking, thinking.....
Engine heating for the hot water heater was the culprit; there must be a very small hole in the water heater coil. Separated them and finally we may once again have a reliable, functioning engine.
Thanks all.
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