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I would recommend "Marine Diesel Mechanics" by Nigel Calder as a first step. Nigel's book is the best single source of information I've seen so far on the basic operation and mechanics of diesel engines. Diesel engines are extremely durable but are very sensitive to proper operation, maintenance, diet (fuel), even istallation.
The book doesn't cover every model or installation but does seem to have a bias towards sailboat auxiliaries. I also noticed that most of his illustrations and figures are of Volvos. Hope this helps.
 

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Ah, the bliss of ignorance! Just kidding.

I'd highly recommend Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual here. (The book, not necessarily Amazon.) Very good reference, which will serve you well.

You might also want to check out Charlie Wing's How Boat Things Work and Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual.

With luck, you can find them at your local Borders/Barnes & Nobles/etc.

Fair winds,
Tom
 

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Learn a little at a time

OK, I'm no expert but I'm learning about diesels the same way I've learned about most things on the boat. I read and tinker and read some more.

Once I'd decided I was moving up to a bigger boat I pulled out the old sailing magazines I'd saved in the garage and started reading articles on diesel maintenance. I got a book on diesel repair (Marine Diesel Engines by Nigel Calder) and after I got the boat I sat down with the manuals. Luckily the parts and service manuals were on the boat. Last fall I took a seminar on diesel maintenance at the Annapolis Boat show.

In my limited experience it seems like the biggest issue is keeping your fuel free of debris and critters, keep your oil and fuel filters changed and make sure there's no air in the fuel lines. After that do regular maintenance changing belts,filters and zincs on the recommended schedules.

When I take things apart I take my time and make notes and drawings on a legal pad. My 25hp Universal-Westerbeke doesn't seem to need much more than basic maintenance to keep chugging along.

Jim McGee
 

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Thanks for the quick advice. I have read Calder's Cruising Guide and learned alot from it... I have am borrowing his Mechanical/Electrical manual from a friend.
Super. Don't be in a rush to return it to your friend (assuming he doesn't pester you to get it back.) There's a lot more good stuff in there besides diesel engines. I wouldn't be surprised if you elect to buy your own copy -- it's really that good.
 

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How much automotive theory do you have?
 

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Get the proper shop manual for your engine.
Order all the recommended spares.
When you get the spares go through everything in your kit and learn its purpose and how to install it.

In addition: Learn how to bleed your diesel engine. You will need to do this when you run out of fuel or perform some maintenance. Bleeding the air out of a diesel engine fuel system is not difficult, but you'll want to try it once or twice before you really have to do it.

You'll have fun. Maintaining your engine will give you a sense of satisfaction and - if you are typical - you will build upon your knowledge gradually rather than learn everything at a seminar.
 

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diesel knowledge

All of the aformentioned advice is very good .
, however the very first thing will be to purchase a Parts Manual and a Service manual . Study them well and then read everyones book. All of their vast knowledge will then become more clear .And having the Parts manual makes for a happier parts man when buying parts. And dont forget; it is not rocket science ,it is logical And keep your engine room clean and your engine wiped .Easier to find leaks should they occur.With regards to Exhaust systems :Google up Vetus. They have some great after Mrkt exhaust hardware . As for schooling give MACK Boring a shout in Union N.J. on old rt 22 .Great bunch of guys . They put on seminars periodicaly.good luck ewclucas
I have no experience whatsoever with diesels, exhaust systems, etc., but am dangerously close to buying a boat equipped with a Volvo 28... I have looked for cheap diesels to tear apart and see how they work, but to no avail. My question is, how did all of you learn about your systems; just enough tinkering to learn through osmosis? Are there any good web sites out there to outline the most basic concepts, at a level that even I may grasp?
I know that I will have the pleasure of being WELL acquainted with diesels-for better or worse- as I am around boats more and more, but I really want to have a solid grasp of systems and what I want before I have the opportunity to tinker with one of my own. I suppose I'm one to do alot of reading before jumping in. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on dealing with boat maintenance, but alot of it goes over my head... so suggestions?
I am looking into Power Squadron, there is a branch near me..
 

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As usual, this site is providing you with excellent advice. Sounds like you've already gotten the word on where to get some general diesel info.

I'm going to be starting my third season with a diesel, and I guess I had some of the same concerns. My first reaction to your posting was to not over-think it too much.

I got the shop manual for my Yanmar, reviewed it, and used it when my water pump failed. Used it again when I changed fuel filters and had to bleed the fuel system. Piece of cake. I'm due to do a valve adjustment. I've done them on cars and bikes, so I'm not too worried about doing one on the Yanmar.

My thought is that if your diesel is running now, and you gain some general knowledge right away, then the rest comes one project at a time. Once you've changed your oil and filter, changed fuel filters, and cleaned your engine compartment, you'll be getting comfortable with your diesel.

If there was one thing you ought to know right away, and perhaps you already do....clean fuel with nothing growing in it is essential.
 

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MOONIE, Just take it apart, piece by piece, being very careful. Then when you are done, stop. Now try putting it all back together, if you don't have anything left over, you're done! If you do, you are probably also finished. Poor you. Move all parts and pieces to kitchen table. Find another thing to take apart, look for something that you do not own the tools for. Without buying the proper tools, disassemble project 2. Do not be as careful as project 1. Place remnants on kitchen table. Stop for several weeks to help clear your mind. Now try assembling all the pieces into 1 sculpture. Throw away any leftover pieces. Congratulations you are now an ARTIST! Make some $ AND GO HIRE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING!
 
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