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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So we're about to pull the trigger on an awesome 38' ketch with a freshly rebuilt (1.5hrs) Westerbeke 40 (really just a perkins 4-108), but there was a issue with engine that came up during the sea trial that's been nagging me. The day before the sea trial, the owner had come to the boat to show us some things, including starting the engine. It was about 45 degrees out, after being around freezing the previous night. The engine started immediately, with hardly any cranking, then ran perfectly, with no smoke. We ran it for about 20 mins, so it got up to temp. But the next day, we couldn't get it started for the sea trial (the owner wasn't there) after quite a bit of cranking. We called the owner, and he said to just give it a little spray of ether. I was pretty shocked at that, and so was the surveyor - seems to me a fresh rebuild shouldn't need ether. But we gave it a bit, and of course it started right up, and ran perfectly thru the sea trial, no smoke, no overheating.
The next day, it wasn't starting again, but I discovered the pre-heater (duh), and used it for about 30 secs, and was able to get it started after 10-15 secs of cranking. (also - and I don't know if it's related - that morning I fixed a small drip fuel leak at a fuel pressure sensor. ) I ran it for about 10 mins, then shut it down for about 2 hrs, and then tried it again, and it took some pre-heat and about 5 secs of cranking.
So my question, is this normal for a freshly rebuilt Perkins in cold weather? Should I be concerned enough to hold up the sale and get a compression test ? The boat isn't nearby, so I can't do any troubleshooting.
Thanks!
David
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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We had a brand new Volkswagon with a diesel in it in 1980. Even with a brand new motor, the motor wouldn't start unless you ran the glow plugs for the set time. So you can't necessarily determine that an engine is worn out because of slow cold starts, especially if you don't know how long to use the glow plugs and where to set the throttle.

If it were me, I would want to see the paperwork for the engine work to determine whether it was a spray paint rebuild or whether they actually replaced piston rings and bearings. You might even be able to call the mechanic who did the work for ask him some specific questions on what he found.

Also, you can have the compression check done as part of the survey after the initial offer and if it doesn't meet your expectations you can cancel the sale or renegotiate the price.
 

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Old soul
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Our Westerbeke 40/Perkin 4108 has ~1000 hrs since its last rebuild. It does not like cold starts. Sometimes it can take 10 to 15 seconds of cranking (on rare occasions two or three cranking attempts). This is especially true if it's been siting in cold water for a long time, or when first starting in the Spring, and especially if I've forgotten to use the pre-heater.

Otherwise our engine works perfectly well. Starts fine when used regularly, even when sitting in our cold Lake Superior water. I'm no where near a diesel expert. I would be cautious, and have the engine checked by a mechanic if you have any doubts. But in my experience, our engine struggles with cold starts. Always has started though, and ours performs flawlessly (so far).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks...funny you mention VW diesels, as it's with them that most of my diesel experience lies. And you're right - every 80's VW diesel I've had *required* the glow plugs when cold, even with new rings.
The rebuild was done by the owner, under the supervision of an aviation mechanic. It was a complete rebuild down to the bottom, and I have pretty good confidence in his ability.
David
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mike, thanks, that's encouraging. It occurs to me, though, that a spare starter would be a good thing to carry, esp. in colder climates. All that grinding away can't be good for it.
David
 

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Is it cranking slow? With a fresh rebuild and more compression could be a culprit. Check strter draw if its getting weak. Test the battery at a shop for avaible apms plus imepentcy (if thats right spelling) if battery is weak. Next id think if its a fuel issue causing a longer crank time. Seeping check valve in the fuel system or a small leak somewhere. With lack of smoke while running I would not suspect injectors as of yet. If issues on a warm block to I may lean more on the fuel system.

wondering around with no destionation
 

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Old soul
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Mike, thanks, that's encouraging. It occurs to me, though, that a spare starter would be a good thing to carry, esp. in colder climates. All that grinding away can't be good for it.
David
Probably a good idea to carry a spare in any case. Our engine is a replacement, and they squeezed the whole thing in such that I can't get to my starter with any ease. Leaves me worried. But so far our starter has withstood all the abuse we've thrown it at it (including getting stuck in the engaged mode for a few of minutes).

I wouldn't hesitate to have the engine surveyed by a diesel mechanic if you can. But my experience is that our engine doesn't like the cold. Otherwise has been fine (so far).
 

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Nigel Caulder recommends using Wd40 instead of Ether on diesel engines as a starting fluid. Much less likely to flustercluck.
I have herd the same and have done it myself. Almost forgot about WD-40 and no no on either. Either is violate and could harm internals as I recall. Let alone ignition from glow plugs or if marine diesels have a intake manifold heater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've always heard to *never* use starting fluid, except as a last resort. But reading around the Internet about 4-108s, it's use seems pretty common, esp. since there's no glow plug system on them. I have tried WD-40, but have found it doesn't work as well.
It could also have been cranking slow - the battery is a group 24 and a 4-5 years old - but I don't know how fast it should be cranking, having had little experience with these engines. Also the boat hasn't been used much in the past 3 years, so it certainly could have some fuel supply issues. The injectors were serviced, though, during the rebuild.
But all your answers have aleviated most of my concern, so thanks.
David
 

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Let me get this straight:

1. You are concerned about the starting issue;
2. Your surveyor is concerned about the starting issue;
3. You have little, if any, familiarity with this particular engine;
4. Something happened recently that caused the engine to be rebuilt;
5. Something happened recently, after spending all the money to rebuild the engine, to cause the owner to decide to sell the boat shortly thereafter;
6. The engine is one of the most expensive and important components in a used boat; and,
7. You are going to rely on several anonymous internet posters, who don't even agree with each other, to convince you to complete a purchase of an unnecessary item that is particularly susceptible to being an emotional purchase?
 

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Old soul
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I've always heard to *never* use starting fluid, except as a last resort. But reading around the Internet about 4-108s, it's use seems pretty common, esp. since there's no glow plug system on them. I have tried WD-40, but have found it doesn't work as well.
It could also have been cranking slow - the battery is a group 24 and a 4-5 years old - but I don't know how fast it should be cranking, having had little experience with these engines. Also the boat hasn't been used much in the past 3 years, so it certainly could have some fuel supply issues. The injectors were serviced, though, during the rebuild.
But all your answers have aleviated most of my concern, so thanks.
David
David, ours does not have glow plugs, but it does have a pre-heating chamber, or some such thing. I sometimes forget to use it, but it does make a big difference in our cold starts. I've never had to resort to injecting starting fluid of any sort ... not yet anyway.

If the boat has been idle for a while then fuel problems could certainly be a factor. I suspect you'd be able to tell if the cranking sounded slow and laboured, but those batteries might be a factor. You could test them.

If at all possible I would have a diesel mechanic look at the engine before you finalize the deal. It really doesn't sound too scary, but since you're spending a lot of money for this boat, it only makes sense to have it properly checked out if feasible.
 

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You are welcome. The rough hot starts make me think its fuel. Without hearing it crank up or knowing he true avaible amps to the battery and the motor having a fresh rebuild has me leaning that way from a fresh rebuild and more compression. In the end it would not make me walk away. Just extra greese to lower the price or to have owner fix.

Maybe you can manually prime up fuel first by pump if there is a hand pump to assist in eliminating or proving there is pressure loss when sitting in the fuel lines.

wondering around with no destionation
 

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7. You are going to rely on several anonymous internet posters, who don't even agree with each other, to convince you to complete a purchase of an unnecessary item that is particularly susceptible to being an emotional purchase?

Disagreement? : scraches head :

Lost me at the beginning.

wondering around with no destionation
 

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I can't imagine buying another boat without an engine survey. A general pre-purchase survey will not specifically address engine issues. If you buy this boat and the engine has serious problems too bad. You are prepared to spend many thousands on this boat. You obviously like it. Buy some peace of mind and get the survey. That way if there are problems down the road you may have a recourse against the surveyor. That's why they charge so much. Now is not the time to be cheap.
 

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I blew a head gasket on a diesel in college, after habitually starting with ether in the winter. Good life experience. I got to learn how to personally change a head gasket, if I wanted to drive between then and graduating. Also learned to follow directions a bit better, which clear stated never to use ether.

Have a mechanic check out the motor.
 

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I've always heard to *never* use starting fluid, except as a last resort. But reading around the Internet about 4-108s, it's use seems pretty common, esp. since there's no glow plug system on them. I have tried WD-40, but have found it doesn't work as well.
It could also have been cranking slow - the battery is a group 24 and a 4-5 years old - but I don't know how fast it should be cranking, having had little experience with these engines. Also the boat hasn't been used much in the past 3 years, so it certainly could have some fuel supply issues. The injectors were serviced, though, during the rebuild.
But all your answers have aleviated most of my concern, so thanks.
David
With WD-40 you really need to load up the intake. Its not a short blast like either it does not evaporate to quick. Try 5 to sedcond blasts between cranks or even if you have a remote start there in engine bay give guick turn right before you stop spraying. When trying to reprime one of our motors when they run it dry it sometimes takes a whle lot of cranking to fire back up without it.

Engine survays by far never bypass did not try to say dont go one this is it. Its nice to know a little or have some knowledge when going against anyone you pay to do a service for you especailly if you can take recourse against if they slacked or did wrong.

You can go after surveyors if they did not point out the obvious? Or not a thoro job?

wandering and wondering around with no destionation
 
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