SailNet Community - Reply to Topic
Thread: Diesel Engine Surveys Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

Click here to view the posting rules you are bound to when clicking the
'Submit Reply' button below

  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-06-2013 10:29 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

Saillife, thanks for the comment on the pricing. My only complaint with Haven Harbour was how long it took. Of course I'd have liked the repairs to have cost less, but that's outside of my control, and in the end I believe the marina charged me a fair price for the amount of work they did. Over all, except for how long it took, I was very pleased with them. They were nice people to deal with, too.
09-06-2013 10:19 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

That's not bad pricing. It pays to shop around for marinas....
09-06-2013 09:53 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

David, it's tough to give you an exact total, because we had other work done. I also don't have the bills in front of me, so I may be off a bit, but here's a rough breakdown as I remember it off the top of my head (I may be off by $100-200 on any of these):

New transmission: $1200
New heat exchanger: $800
New motor mounts: $400
New damping plate: $400
New inner seal and hoses: $400

Then there was the labor/marina time. They hauled, power washed, blocked, and launched the boat. They disassembled the engine and transmission, pulled it from the boat, broke it down, inspected everything, degreased it, painted it, reassembled it, installed and tested it, and took me out for a "shake-down" cruise, too. I believe that was about $3000.

The reason I'm a bit fuzzy on the details is that we had other work done too (the jib needed to be repaired, and they handled sending it out, they removed the old name for me, and a few other small things). So, I'm trying to keep that separate from the engine work. Plus, my repairs were full of stops-and-starts, mostly because the marina had other projects going on, too. So, the marina knocked off several hours worth of charges due to the inefficiency they created.

I should note too, since you asked about costs, that another marina quoted me close to $9,000 to do the same work, and that didn't include the heat exchanger or the rear seal. They were also going to charge me storage the entire time I was waiting for them to get around to fixing my boat. The marina I chose (Haven Harbour in Rock Hall, MD) didn't charge me for storage, and they let me "hang out" in the marina for a few weeks for free after the work was done so we could test things out.
09-06-2013 09:31 AM
Diesel Engine Surveys

Calder's Marine Diesel Engines book has a nice DIY engine survey process. Many good tips/tricks but I can't imagine a boat owner being willing to let anyone (engine surveyer included) disassemble anything, even exhaust hose connections. It's just too easy for something simple to become a larger problem especially on older engines. Even oil analysis requires multiple samples over time to be useful barring some super serious issue. I think it's reasonable to question the utility of an engine survey at all.

The sea trial is a great tool for checking the engine. Smoke color at cold start-up, rattle/vibrations through the RPM range, RPM under load, acceleration/de-acceleration, temperature, etc. Talking to the owner and getting a feel for their knowledge and maintenance habits also provides some indicators. It's also good to do thorough homework on the specific engine models as most issues are well known in older models and you can focus on those, ask the owner, or check for the necessary fixes.

As others have noted the OP's specific failure mode was probably undetectable unless the pending failure manifest itself in some observable/measurable way. I was unaware of the shaft rotation trick. Might be nice if someone would compile a list of non-destructive/disassembly approaches for identifying engine issues that would be doable during a boat viewing.

09-06-2013 09:29 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

Originally Posted by jimgo View Post

To those wishing us good luck, thank you, but that part of the boat's history is (hopefully) over. We hired a good marina to do the work for us. It took a lot longer than we expected, but we splashed about 2 months ago and made the trip "home" to NJ a few weeks ago. The engine survived over 200 miles of motor-sailing over 3 days (most days being 10+ hours a day) without any apparent issues.
That's great.
Just out of curiosity though do you mind sharing what it cost to get it repaired etc.
09-06-2013 09:13 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

Don, I never spoke to the mechanic. The marina was also the broker, and they were the ones who seized the boat. Their mechanic inspected the engine to ensure that it could make the 10-15 mile trip from where it was seized to the marina/brokerage. The marina's story was that the mechanic didn't see any obvious problems, and the engine ran great the whole way.

As Chuck alluded to in his comments, we hired a captain to move the boat for us (it was a 5-6 day trip away from "home" and the captain cut off 2 days and made logistics much easier). His take was that the engine ran great, and that the boat behaved well under the conditions (20-30 MPH headwinds most of the 3 days it took him to get to the slip Chuck kindly offered to let me use), right up until it failed.

To those wishing us good luck, thank you, but that part of the boat's history is (hopefully) over. We hired a good marina to do the work for us. It took a lot longer than we expected, but we splashed about 2 months ago and made the trip "home" to NJ a few weeks ago. The engine survived over 200 miles of motor-sailing over 3 days (most days being 10+ hours a day) without any apparent issues.
09-06-2013 08:53 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

Chuck, I agree with you. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any evidence to back up my belief.
09-06-2013 08:43 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
the marina said that they had a diesel mechanic look over the engine
Did you talk to the mechanic? Did he write up a report and did you read it?

"We had a mechanic look over the engine" can mean anything. Like, for instance, he looked it over and wouldn't give a plug nickel for it! He looked it over and thought it was piece of crap about to explode! He looked it over but didn't bother to actually check anything. Or, just possibly, he looked it over, inspected it thoroughly, and thought it appeared to be in very good shape. Without specifics, "he looked it over" really doesn't tell you anything at all.

Beyond that, you're right. Even a very thorough inspection probably would have missed this. The damping plate would not normally be inspected, and it is practically impossible to determine that a spring is going to fail (absent obvious damage).

But even beyond that, what is the marinas involvement here? Was the marina the seller that you bought from? Were they acting as broker? Or did the boat just happen to be there and someone offered an off-the-cuff remark about the engine? What you might get from the marina will vary, depending on the answer to these questions.

Regardless, it can't hurt to talk to the marina and see if they are willing to do anything about this. Are you keeping the boat at this marina? Perhaps you could ask for a discount on your fees. Or a free haul out when you get the engine repaired (that's something that doesn't really cost them anything out of pocket). You might not get as much as you would like, but if you don't ask you won't get anything.

Good luck.
09-06-2013 08:06 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

arvicola-amphibius has it right, that's the level of a survey in my experience. Mostly what a reasonably competent owner can so themselves, and even if they miss a glaring boo-boo unless you have a picture of them pointing at it (like actually have their hand in the spewing exhaust hose leak) they will deny it was there.

Unless they ran the engine under load and it was making noises/hard shifting ect.. (which they did not) then it's unreasonable that they would catch it.
I also however still doubt it was sudden failure of a spring causing that level of explosive failure, the hired skipper should have been paying more attention.
09-06-2013 05:58 AM
Re: Diesel Engine Surveys

About all you would expect a mechanic to report on an old engine is compression, cooling, oil, exhaust, hoses, belts, mounts, gearbox noise and ease of shifting, shaft alignment and anything visually obvious, plus ease of starting, vibration and whether or not it makes RPM.

Surveyors always have weasel words in their reports to cover their asses against missing hidden defects in areas they can't reasonably inspect.
This thread has more than 10 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome