22 June 2005 | Whortonsville, NC
It has been said that the most valuable sail on board is the diesel engine. We rag-bagger types don't like to admit it, but it's true. We complain about the noise and expecially the smell, but with the narrow shallow channels of the Carolina coast, the iron genny is indispensable.
Ours is a Universal (brand) diesel engine which is a marine version of a Kubota tractor engine. The first time my son Jason heard our diesel engine fire up, he said "Dad that sounds just like Grandpa's tractor" to which I replied, "And there's a reason for that!" Since our boat had always been in fresh water the engine has had very little use and low operating hours.
On our trip to Bath, NC at the end of May (2005) we detected a tiny fuel leak. Such a tiny leak in fact, that I could not find it. The only thing I could find was a smudge of fuel aft the engine compartment. I narrowed the suspects to the fuel lines from the tank to the engine. The lines are 20 years old and probably needed to be replaced anyway. It is very unusual for me to call in an expert. I have done everything from painting the bottom to removing the fuel tank for cleaning but I know what a mess diesel fuel can make so, at this point I decided that I needed to call Roger, a local mechanic, to come take a look. We decided that he would change all the fuel lines to eliminate any leaks, replace both fuel filters and reroute some of the lines to correct a known design flaw in the fuel system. Roger called a few days later and informed me that the fuel pump had failed. This was bad news but it would have been worse had it failed in the middle of the Pamlico Sound. I asked Roger to correct a few other things that needed an experts attention. He installed new cables from the batteries to the starter and alternator. Production boats often have cabling that is barely adequate. This improvement will allow the battery to deliver more current to the starter to assist when cranking the engine when it is hot. It should also allow the batteries to charge better because of better current flow.
At this writing, I have not actually seen the work, but Roger has done work for us before and it was excellent. I expect no less this time. It will probably take a few days of running the fan to rid the cabin of what Judy calls, "The authentic diesel aroma" but when you have a diesel engine essentially in the living room, you've got to expect at least a little smell.