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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

Late autumn last year, I purchased a 28 feet, '76 sailboat, the winter was just around the corner, so at that point my priority was to prepare her for winter (diver cleaned her bottom, I removed her sails, I winterised her engine, the water tank,etc ). Now the spring is here and I am getting her ready for sailing.
The few times times that I took her out before was to test few things at her at leisure, one of them being the engine. She has the original engine on her, a 10 hp, it usually starts after the first few times. I am no pro on engines, in fact, don’t know anything about them, but even I can hear that the engine speed (whatever thats called in english) is too high, it also gets too hot after some motoring. But my problem is when we are in reverse getting in and out of the marina docking place, it just doesn’t responds well, meaning, it takes at least several additional yards for the boat to respond when I switch gears from going forward to reverse or viceversa, especially on reverse. I know physics enough to know about speed inertia, but it can’t be that, we are going too slow as it is, and I am talking about too many yards here, the propeller was freshly cleaned, so that didn’t seem to be a factor either. It wasn’t fun when I almost entered the nice all glass waterfront restaurant at the marina. The gear box certainly seem to have an issue to start with.

So, do I bother trying to get a mechanic to look at the 40 year old engine and try to fix it, are they even “fixable” or do I just go and invest in a new one?
Of course money are a factor, always nice not to have to spend them unnecessary, but if necessary, yes, I will invest in a new engine, not a problem.

I am not an experienced sailor be far, I have sailing courses. Thats the whole point of this boat, to learn all the aspect as a whole. But for that I need to be able to safely get in and out of the marina without everyone else around me to worry how strong their insurance is with me around.

I will be literally living and working from the boat the whole summer so thats not the casual sail every now and then, but taking her out almost daily if I can on whatever weather as practice. I got this boat purely as practice and experience and knowledge, experience in buying a boat, practice in sailing single handed, and learning/practice in using everything on her. Final boat will be a larger one as a live aboard long term, but thats later. Right now I have this one and she is my focus, and thats not to say I consider this one junk, on the contrary, I would smack anyone who would use that word for her.
She is a good boat, she might be old, but she has awesome reinforced rigging, and no other issues that would be a safety concern "from what I can tell", and just needs some basic cosmetics.

The engine is a problem though because its a safety issue for both me and others and I don’t know what to do with it.
Yes, I heard all about people sailing for centuries without engines, and people use anchors to nicely guide a boat at the docking place, although I think that only works on good weather, and also heard the “any idiot can sail a boat only a sailor can stop one”. I am still in idiot phase. I need to practice so I need a safe way to practice.

The old owner also had an outboard attached to the boat, still there actually, most probably because of the "laziness" of the inboard one.
Again, dont know if I could attempt to control this boat in bad weather with a smaller outboard engine and remove the inboard altogether.

I am hoping some experienced brains can help a little here with some ideas.
 

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Senior Member
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A 10 HP is pretty typical for that size/era of boat. Your problem most likely is a poorly performing folding prop, or a badly fouled one. It is not at all unusual for a folding prop to take some considerable time/distance to arrest forward motion, and even more to induce backing. To some extent it's a matter of practice and familiarity.. or a 'better' prop.
 
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Deep Blue Crush
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176 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
So in other words, might not be worthy/necessary to change the old engine, just have someone look at it and especially at the propeller?
I am getting the boat out now for a week for a bottom paint, thats why I asked, I want to see what I can organize now while the boat is out, if actually trying to figure out the engine issue is better done while the boat is out, dont really know that either.
 

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The issue of 'push' is likely prop related, IMO... However if the engine overheats at normal RPM then there's another symptom. At this age the most likely culprit is the mixing elbow (where the cooling water renters the exhaust system) plugging up. (However this usually also limits RPM).This can be removed and cleaned out, or replaced if corroding and becoming thin. Other overheating causes would be a damaged impeller on your water pump (assuming Raw (sea) water cooled?) Is plenty of water spitting out with your exhaust.

You say you can 'hear' the motor is running too fast - I suggest you get a second opinion on that.

Yet another possibility is that the gearbox is not engaging and slipping.. this would account for 'high revs', and lack of stopping/starting push that would not come back to the propellor, but it is a bit counter-intuitive regarding overheating - there would be little load.

In any event if the engine starts reliably and easily the compression is likely fine.. I expect your problems to lie outside the engine itself - ie.. prop, water pump, gearbox, exhaust system.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Quick, cheap and EASY suggestion; get a sailing instructor, or better a DOCKING instructor, to come aboard and provide you with a couple of hours of theory, and practice on your boat. Most would charge ~$50/hr. For a hundred or so bucks, you'll be able to dock better, and should get a preliminary diagnosis of the problem with your engine.
 

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Master Mariner
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I'm one for the older gear. My 30+ year old Onan has zero electronics on it. Instead of an $800.00 PC board I have half a dozen $15.00 relays, available at any auto parts store.
Same for my main engine. NO electronics at all, only a solenoid for shut down. And my engine develops it's operating horse power at 1800 to 2250 rpm, not the 3200 most more modern engines run at.
Over and over I've seen boat owners 'upgrade' to fancy new engines, only to be held hostage by a part only available from a dealer far away.
Never mind the six to ten grand you'll put out for one of these new motors.
Find yourself a good mechanic to go over your engine and bring it back to serviceable standards, understanding that you'll never recoup the expenditure of a new motor when you go to sell your boat.
Good luck.
 
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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you both!
This is really helpful. I was hoping for a solution that doesnt just involves throwing money in to fix something by just changing the whole engine. I might in fact learn more by just trying to get to understand whats the problem with the existing one. And Faster indicated several areas to look into.

eherlihy, thats indeed a very good idea. I know more or less in theory docking and all that, did it in courses, on larger boats, but really could use more of these lessons and also someone more experienced could get a feel of the engine, after all, what do I know really about engines.
 

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Having re-read your original post, despite what you say, it really sounds like you are not appreciating how long it should take a boat to stop in reverse. "several additional yards" after you put it in reverse is perfectly normal.

When I dock the boat, the whole thing is accomplished at idle engine speed. That is how fast you should be going in the marina anyway. It would be a good exercise for you to try docking without use of high RPM.

There is a question about whether your transmission is slipping. This can easily be confirmed in the dock, providing you have reasonably secure docking lines. Go from forward to reverse, and observe the prop shaft. Is it rotating at engine speed? Is it rotating at the same speed in reverse as in forward?

Have you checked the transmission fluid? The linkage adjustment?

The overheating problem is something else. Treat one problem at a time. Suggest the overheating first.

I am seriously concerned that you're a danger to yourself and to others. The one thing you really need when you're inexperienced is an engine you can rely on (well, a boat that doesn't sink is important too ;) ). Now is a good time to learn all about the engine, fix everything that's not spot on, so you can have faith in it.
 

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Quick, cheap and EASY suggestion; get a sailing instructor, or better a DOCKING instructor, to come aboard and provide you with a couple of hours of theory, and practice on your boat. Most would charge ~$50/hr. For a hundred or so bucks, you'll be able to dock better, and should get a preliminary diagnosis of the problem with your engine.
Great suggestion. When I transitioned to an inboard diesel, I did just this. Paid for a couple of hours tuition from an ASA instructor, practicing manoeuvres - quick stop, back and fill turns, docking, and so on. Best $100 I ever spent.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you MarkSF.
Yes I am aware that I am still unexperienced, although something I am trying to change.
I have docked boats, much larger boats than what I have now, in sailing courses, so just based on that little experience something didnt feel right with my engine. I could be wrong, of course, but I am trying to build on knowledge and experience as I go along the best I can.
I am pretty sure you are also correct when you say that I might not appreciate the boat motion, I think that takes a little time for any beginner, its not like driving a car at all so it does require a little remapping the brain.

I am now convinced I should not replace the engine because in fact its a perfect example of learning a lot from whatever seems to be an issue and I will certainly getting an instructor as well to get additional practice.
I am in fact doing even more sailing courses in few weeks. Dont be too concerned. :)
We all start somewhere.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #12
Its a Bukh 10 HP, currently 40 years old. Seems to be in good condition, starts fairly well, but I need to be sure I can depend on it more or less. So these discussions are very helpful for me as it guides me into what to look into that of course at this point I am overlooking and additional things to try and do.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #14
When you say raw water I presume you mean the engine is seawater cooled and not through a closed system?

Then yes, it is raw water cooled, when the engine is on I am constantly checking that the water is circulating and it does.
The overheating was not just my imagination because after like 30 min of motoring there is a red light coming up indicating that and a beeping sound too, like an alarm.
Once more, I am not a mechanic, so trying to figure it out and I could be wrong of course of a lot of things about it.
 

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Red light, beeping alarm, rpm to high.

Check the oil, and compression test the cylinders. Oil may be passing through defective rings and combusting producing higher rpm than would be produced at the throttle setting.
 
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A raw water system cools the engine directly with sea water.

A fresh water system still uses sea water, but there is a separate fresh water system circulating through the engine, and a heat exchanger between the two. The obvious advantage is that you are not circulating corrosive sea water through the engine block. If you've seen the inside of a 10-year-old heat exchanger, you'd see why that's not good for the engine internals.

A 40 year old fresh water engine has a chance of still having some life left, a raw water one is probably done due to extensive internal corrosion of the cooling passageways.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #17
Ok, I guess I should book a diesel engine course as well.

I didnt know you can have both cooling systems at the same time. I will check about the separate fresh water system too.
Thank you!
 

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InThe small RWC Buhks are tough little engines. Is the boat in salt water? Has it always been? If so it may well have corrosion issues relating to overheating but check the simple things like the impeller and exhaust elbow first.

A friend spent $3500 on a new head to replace a corroded one on the same engine years back. That's a good down payment on a new engine if that's where you end up.

That engine is a bit anemic and may partly explain your perceived difficulty stopping.
 

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Well, I sailed a Catalina 27 with 11hp engine, and I don't mind telling you, it didn't stop on a sixpense, and stopping took a lot of revving. Small engine, small prop equals high rpm.
 

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Deep Blue Crush
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Discussion Starter #20
@Faster
The boat was with the first owner in Holland for majority of its life on sea water, then the next owner, an Austrian got the boat to Austria on the Danube, then came down to the Black Sea along the Danube (sweet water), then the boat was on the marina right on the Black Sea, and me third owner, I moved it less than half a mile inland on a lake (sweet water) that overflows into the Black Sea.
There is a good point about the costs of possible repairs and new parts, if that costs even half of what a new engine would be, I might as well go for a new engine. Truth be told, this boat really deserves a new chance to some glory days, like reviving her in every way I can. Hull intact, no mold nor rust anywhere on her inside or outside, perfect rigging. And because the Austrian owner was planning a long Med sailing she is fully equipped with a lot of things for long time/distance cruising, and with spare parts of pretty much everything, so plenty of things for me to learn about and practice. She just needs a really good cleaning and refurbishing all her wood, and removing a heater thats linked directly to the diesel tank, that one for some reason freaks me out. And oh yes, the chain of her anchor sits on a box tied down to the bow, weird, I need to rethink that.

I am getting the boat ready now to move aboard for the summer, and for me that means sailing that boat a lot and not just for leisure (ie, only when the weather is good), which means often taking her in and out of her slip. So the engine worries me. But a good mechanic is coming soon and I will know more, you gave me a good overview on what to look for.
@Mark
Working with a lazy engine must be a learning curve in itself, that must have gotten you quite experienced to maneouvre your boat. :)
 
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