26 July 2015 | Northwood
OK – first update in a while. Again.
I’m going to stop apologising for the irregularity of posts – life’s not been all that kind to us lately. You’ll have to take updates as they come.
If I recall correctly, at our last update I had left us on our mooring with a non-running engine, so let’s take it from there.
The following week-end Yanni and I set about changing all the fuel filters. Whilst the engine made several tentative attempts to turn over it never really ran. Some blue smoke from the exhaust, but that was about it. After a few tries, the engine just didn’t budge anymore.
I know my limits when it comes to messing with engine and I thought I’d call it a day before I did any (more) damage. Let a professional sort it.
Checked an internet forum for advice. Lots of horror scenarios: worst one seemed to be water in the injectors. Arranged with the marina to tow Guapa in so the engineers could have a look at the engine.
One day later:
Engineer worked through the system backwards.
Disconnected water hose that goes from engine to water lock. Full of water - all the way up to the mixing elbow.
Inside of the mixing elbow very humid and somewhat corroded.
Next step: check injectors: all were dry.
Manually cranked the engine. No water appearing anywhere.
Engine put back together again and started whit raw water seacock shut.
Started at second attempt. Running smoothly now.
In a nutshell: water working its way into the engine through the exhaust system. Inappropriate water lock - badly set up. Not only was the water lock put in backwards, it was also installed athwart ships instead of along the centre line.
When she was hard on her ear starboard side water flowed into the exhaust/water lock. When we tacked, water all the way up to/in the mixing elbow.
We're up and running for the moment. Shouldn't really sail her flat on her ear in the very near future.
And order for a replacement mixing elbow and a different model water lock were placed – to be fitted asap.
Bit of a bugger, but it could have been (a lot) worse.
I am somewhat insecure about my limited diesel engines skills, and therefore relieved that our predicament wasn't caused by anything I did wrong.
Talked the engineer through everything I had done prior to his arrival, and turns out I did the right thing at every step.
Diesel itself is still quite clear too. So, that's another immense relief.
Couple of weeks further down the line: replacement parts had arrived and Yanni and I brought Guapa into the marina (under her own steam this time) so we could have the exhaust elbow replaced and the new water lock installed. Seemed straightforward enough – a couple of hours and we’d be on our merry way. Of course, on a boat it’s never simple or straightforward. Fix one problem and uncover another. So it was this time.
Old exhaust elbow removed. The corrosion was not as bad as anticipated but is was apparent that salt water had made its way up there quite a few times over the years. It seems we have been extremely lucky for quite a long time. What was not anticipated was this: the exhaust elbow was ETREMELY sooty. And so was the engine turbo which is located right behind it. I lack the technical expertise to accurately describe the state of the turbo, but I’ll do my best to describe it in ‘numpty’ terms.
There’s a valve which regulates the air intake – due to the amount of soot in the turbo this valve has seize half open. So, at times there is either too much or not enough compression in the engine. In a nutshell: we lost some HP.
It was impossible to ‘unseize’ the reluctant valve – it would have to be sent to a specialist workshop. When we would get it back was anyone’s guess. Well, that was not going to happen. I do not like open-ended stories and certainly not when it comes to boating expenses. I do not write blank cheques. The seized valve was put back as it was. After all, till a few hours ago I was blissfully unaware that it had seized. It would have to do for now.
I was advised that to avoid the accumulation of soot in the engine, you have to run it a full throttle from time to time. I must admit that this is something we NEVER do. If memory serves, the maximum throttle is in the region of 3400rpm – we never run her at more than 2000rpm (2200rpm tops). The reason is that our prop is very close to the rudder and once over 2200rpm the prop wash over the rudder is so strong that the boat becomes hard steer. Must bear this in mind and remember to in future occasionally run the engine flat out – preferably when motoring in a straight line.
So this is how things stand at the moment. But at the moment we’re a sailing vessel first and foremost but with very much an auxiliary engine. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep going till winter when this problem will be revisited and hopefully be put to bed once and for all.