Saturday, February 25, 2017

Engines are a mixed blessing

I've always shied away from engines....other than a couple small engine and auto mechanic courses I took for fun. My feeling is that they are noisy, heavy, expensive, and prone to costly issues. I'd rather hike or bike than drive...although this DOES limit me in some ways: it sure is nice to be able to motor into certain odd windless bays in two minutes rather than trying to catch the errant wisps of wind for a half hour.

When I bought my boat, I was assured that the engine needed a bit of repair, but worked. What did I find? Well, first of all, it would hardly crank, due to corroded wiring and a broken wire... and the wiring in the control panel was all corroded... and the coolant tank was broken... and a damaged fuel line dripped diesel into the boat. And the front of the engine was laden with rust as though it had salt water on it.
So, I replaced things and fixed things: 20' of wiring and a few fittings and a couple days of work: total cost of materials perhaps $300. Now it would crank, but not start.

So I hired a local mechanic to come take a look. He found the fuel pump had no power, so I fixed that. The engine started!

Mistrusting it even though I could see water coming from the exhaust, I only ran it for a few minutes at a time. This turned out to be wise: when I reached the marina for a haulout (I planned on doing bottom paint and a cutless bearing) no water was coming out: my water pump had failed.

So, the hole I dig gets deeper.... time to dig faster!
The mechanic replaced the cutless bearing and said the shaft alignment issue
I had found was due to needing four new engine mounts.... and these cost $300 EACH! And he told me which bolts I needed to remove to check my water pump.

These bolts were COMPLETELY rusted: I simply cut off what was left of the heads so I could slide off the pump cover. Once exposed, the impeller turned freely instead of being locked to the engine as it should have been.
Now I had to remove the entire pump and see why..

This required removing two more bolts. The first came easily.... because the casting it screwed into had cracked away a bit.
The other would not move, but I finally freed the pump and looked behind it: the two little steel ears had broken off and no longer drove the pump....and the pump would hardly move by hand. Worse, the little ears were part of the camshaft and the entire shaft would need replacing!

So, we are now down about $500 total and the repairs to the engine will cost in the thousands. Might it be better to spend more and buy a rebuilt engine? Perhaps, but.... when all is said and done, I will probably be looking at $12k for that option. This is... painful.

Then again, having the boat powered and stable, having the bottom faired and painted so it rarely needs cleaning.... these will make the boat far nicer to live upon and sail. I've been trying to take shortcuts, to avoid these costs and issues. Perhaps, for peace of mind and sanity, it would be better to just do it.

Then again, I feel as though I am tempting fate, that now a hurricane will come along and ruin everything I've worked on....

Ah, well.. at least I don't have to deal with the issues my neighbor has. Apparently they struck a rock or reef with their big power boat... Probably ruined some internal parts, too...


  1. So at least your still floating in that beautiful warm place... far from Twimpville... and still hitting on most of your pistons. :) In the 30's here.

    1. Well, I wish I were floating. Instead I'm by a busy road, enjoying lots of traffic noise and mosquitoes, itching from fiberglass sanding dust. It will get better.

  2. Oh, my goodness! The problems you tackle! It's most interesting the way you approach and ruminate about complicated issues. I'm curious to find out what you'll do!

    1. Well, so far I've covered the hole in the engine with a plate and gasket and cross my fingers that will keep the engine oil where it belongs. I've installed a bait-well pump on the salt-water through-hull to pump water through the engine, taking the place of the failed pump. Crossing fingers!