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bdkorth 06-05-2002 09:15 AM

Question about marine diesels
I am a landlocked beginner (In Idaho). My wife and I are trying to set ourselves up to be cruisers in a few years. In doing so, we are trying to learn essentials that will help us keep the cruising finances flowing after we cast off the bow lines. My question is regarding Marine Diesel engines. There aren''t any Marine Diesel places that I am aware of in Idaho, but lots of automotive diesels. Are the two types of diesels going to be similar enough for me to use the knowledge of automotive diesels successfully when trying to work on Marine Diesels? I would appreciate any input, as the resources in the capital of Potatoes are limited.

Thanks, Brad

elfexor 06-05-2002 03:50 PM

Question about marine diesels

there are some differences, but they are relatively minor in that you can get up to speed with them very quickly if you have mechanical knowlege (and a good book) - the diesel engine is the easiest of all to work on. Good luck in following your dream

Francis X

Don Foley 06-05-2002 07:39 PM

Question about marine diesels
First, let me say that I know VERY little of auto diesels, so what follows is based on my intimate knowledge of my Volvo 2002 (in my boat) and what little I know of my neighbor''s truck.
Compared to auto diesels, marine diesels are a walk in the park. All the systems used to run your auto (which blaze along at 80 mph and thus need some safety concerns, like brakes and power steering) don''t exist on the marine animal. Even systems like A/C are usually completely separate (unless you have a cold-plate fridge system driven by an engine mounted compressor).
So yes, I think if you learn all you need to learn to keep a truck diesel happy, you''ll be in good shape with a marine diesel. There are, of course, differences. But the new stuff will be mostly in cooling and exhaust.

The biggest focus in my life is...

keep your fuel clean, keep your injectors happy.

So, with putting clean fuel in, and keeping a clean tank, and changing fuel filters, then the injectors (the touchy part of an otherwise stalwart system) will be just fine.

Falling short of that, having to rip the thing apart to replace gaskets and valves should be the same (I would think) as a car/truck.

Things (as a cruiser) that I find good to know 1) know what spares you need on a long-distance cruise and 2) know how to install them. Belts and pumps will all break or wear down. Replace them before they break, save yourself some grief at the moment you REALLY need them. Keep two sets of impellers and belts around, one to replace something that needs to replaced, and the second so that after you replace it, Hey!, you''ve got a spare and can still enjoy the cruise without worrying about getting spares.


hamiam 06-06-2002 05:38 AM

Question about marine diesels
Funny you ask. I actually have a VW Diesel truck engine in my boat that has been motified for the marine environment. The main differences between a marine diesel and a automotive type diesel are the cooling system and the transmission. It would certainly be valuable to learn how to work on automotive diesels as this knowledge could easily be transfered to the marine environment. As mentioned previously, there are issues with things such as fuel quality, raw water cooling systems, and marine DC systems that you would need to learn at a later time. Of course, if you are willing to travel, several marine engine distributors like Mac Boring (not such of the spelling) offer courses. Good Luck.

bdkorth 06-06-2002 09:56 AM

Question about marine diesels
Well, thanks for the input. The responses have helped me to know that even landlocked I can be training myself towards the final destination of cruising. I appreciate the time taken to respond to my inquiry.
Thanks again, Brad

MaryBeth 06-10-2002 08:51 PM

Question about marine diesels

Don has such great advice - especially about keeping spares onboard. Impellors and, to a lesser extent, belts, can be a headache to find on short notice and the damage done can be nixed or at least greatly reduced by having spares onboard. Oh, do pay attention to the raw water intake system.

And, unfortunately, I''ve found that even old, mistreated diesels on their last leg, the Volvo diesels esp., can be coaxed into using that last leg to get you home. So have faith in them if you treat them right.

Best wishes,

bdkorth 06-12-2002 04:20 PM

Question about marine diesels
Thanks again for the responses. Someday the bowline will be cast off.....

jparker11 06-15-2002 11:49 PM

Question about marine diesels
I am just south (Utah)of you putting the finishing touches on rebuilding a Cal 2-27 with a little Farymann diesel. I also have three turbodiesel trucks in the company. The basic engines are the same. However, the things that generally fail in marine engines are very different than the failure modes of truck engines. The principal difference is the cooling system. I think books could be written on how to screw up a marine cooling system - strainer plugs, heat exchanger fouling, water backflow into the exhaust manifold....... And heat, or the excess thereof, is the bain of diesels of any type. The next big item is fuel quality and what sailors can do to destroy it. Because marine fuels stay resident in the vessel for much longer periods of time, more opportunity to contaminate.

You might think your cruising inclinations odd for Idaho. But I am working on the Cal in a hangar in small general aviation airport. With the door open, I have come across three other landlocked sailors prepping boats for coastal cruising. One just completed the Newport Ensenada race!!!

John Parker

bdkorth 06-18-2002 04:27 PM

Question about marine diesels

Thanks for the response, good to know that I am not alone in the inland dreams of heading offshore. Sounds like if I learn the basics on a regular diesel engine, and then do some reading, or find a marina that wouldn''t be upset having someone watch and learn more that way, I should be as set as I can be. Thanks again for the input. Good luck on the Cal.


joshuaheard 07-03-2002 11:52 AM

Question about marine diesels
My two cents:

Buy a book on Marine diesels.
Learn about the prop shaft and shaft seals.
Learn how to bleed the fuel lines if you run out of fuel underway.
Learn how to change oil (oil must be pumped out, can''t just drain it in most circumstances).
Learn about water removal from fuel line.

Other things already mentioned:
Seawater cooling system, fuel contamination.

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