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Engine Maintenance

Last time we checked on our hero, he was patiently waiting for engine parts, whiling away the days with varnishing projects.

Well, the parts finally arrived and I reassembled the engine and reinstalled it. Then (of course) corrected my errors in hooking up the various wires, cables, hoses – then it ran! After my first test run, the prop shaft began to back out of the coupling as I backed into the slip, and I nearly lost it again – but it hung up in the shaft log, and Ruth and I managed to fit it back into the coupling. Yes, the set screw was installed, but I’d done it incorrectly. Turns out, you have to “spot” the shaft. That is, drill an indentation in the shaft into which the set screw “sets.” I did that (easier to write than to do – involved long, sweaty minutes bent over the top of the engine with a drill, boring a divot into the shaft), then reinstalled the set screw with thread lock. It’s been fine since I did that.

Next thing, the engine ran away. You read that correctly. . . diesel engines can scavenge fuel from places other than the fuel injectors, and run without regard to the throttle position or stop lever. But why and where? Much reading ensued, afterwhich I concluded that my engine’s symptoms matched those which indicate that the fuel lift pump was leaking, thereby dumping fuel into the crank case, thinning the oil, which was then burnt in the cylinders. The run-away only lasted seconds before all the excess combustibles were gone, and so no damage occurred. I ordered another pump and installed it. Problem solved, but a scary experience.

Family commitments intervened as well, and then we got to go sailing for the first time this year. In July. We over-nighted late last week, crossing the bay, up Harris Creek ’til we got to “Drew’s Cove.” It was stunning, deserted, perfect. Here are a couple of photos to prove it (Ruth gets the photo credits this time).

 

My “new” engine has been installed for 12 years now. Doesn’t seem possible! I’ve accumulated about 1000 hours of run time, and it’s time to do some regular things to it. The urgency of this has conveniently been occasioned by a persistent oil leak. I just haven’t been able to find it. I cleaned the oil in the bilge from its leaking after haul out last fall. Thought I had found the leak to be a simple dip stick ajar in the hole. But a test run of the new propeller has proved that the leak is still there. After looking up and down, far and near, and all over the engine, I have come up with nothing. . . until today (I think).  Actually, I didn’t come up with it, my neighbor the professional boat service tech noticed it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. . .

Being unable to find the leak, I determined that it must be the rear main seal, and to service that, the engine had to come off the beds and on to the cabin sole. I disconnected the engine on Monday. Today I moved it on to the cabin sole, separated the engine and transmission, removed the clutch plate and flywheel – – and found no oil leak. There was a little oily (almost dry) dust from the clutch at the bottom of the bell housing. No oil. I found a little more oil around a couple of banjo fittings that attach an oil transport tube that runs port to starboard. Didn’t seem like enough oil, though. Finally, my neighbor Mike came home from work and came over to check my progress. He was looking around the engine, and pointed out (among other items of service that needed doing) that my oil breather line had come loose from the intake. That’s a line that vents positive crankcase pressure from the valve cover. Ah. . . I’m betting that’s the source. Those things can spew oil everywhere, and that would certainly account for the amount of oil (and the location) that I’ve found in the bilge. It hasn’t been lots of oil, but enough to leave me with a black, grimy bilge. I am so relieved!

So while the engine is on the sole, I’ll do a few more things that are harder to do with it installed: I’ll completely service the cooling system, and boil out the heat exchanger. I’ve got a new exhaust elbow to install – it’s time. These things have a limited life span, and it’s best to be ahead of a breakdown in this case. I’ll also adjust the valves and get a new seal for the valve cover (of course). And. . . I’m going to put a couple hose clamps on that breather line!

Sorry about lack of photos this time. I’ll catch up on images tomorrow.

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