Carpe Diesel


On a boat something is broken; you just don't know it yet.

After years of being alone Second Star was beginning to feel a little neglected.  In fact if this boat were a person she would be downright pissed.  We knew that there would be issues when we returned.  Despite having come in and tried to do preventative maintenance three to four times a year, and replacing bilge pumps twice a year, there is just no keeping up with everything when the boat sits for months at a time.  Four weeks out of fifty two just doesn't cut it. 

So when it came time to fire up the GenSet did we expect it to work on the first try?  Yep. Did it? Nope. Go figure. It cranked over but wouldn't catch. OK, no problem, like with any other engine ether will do the trick and she'll fire right up.  Good thought, totally wrong.  Turns out you never, and I mean never, put ether in a diesel engine.  It causes engine lock.  We confer with a friend that's a former diesel mechanic and find out while not good; but it isn't the end of the world.

After several hours of waiting and trying she finally began to turn over again, but again wouldn't catch.  But the captain thought that it sounded like it wanted to. He bled the injectors, confirmed there was fuel and did a few other small things and tried cranking again. It was turning over but he now felt it was trying to hit, it would start any minute.  Unfortunately that "hitting" sound was in fact something hitting, after a while it stuck.  Now this baby is good and seized  

Since we are made of more time than money El Capitan decided that we would attempt to rebuild this beast ourselves.  Day one was spent cleaning out the cooling system.  Sometime over the course of the previous three years salt crystals, or something resembling them, began building up inside the exhaust manifold and all of the corresponding hoses and valves. Not pretty and not sure why it happened, but after three hours of cleaning and carefully flushing it into a container, it appears to be all out.  

On to day two, the disassembly.  We spent the better part of five hours carefully labeling wires, taking pictures and removing all of the generator parts from the engine block.  This included the generator itself, the starter, the alternator, heat exchanger and any other part that isn’t going to be part of the rebuild.  With all of the parts installed the GenSet weighs in at about 450 pounds, there is no easy way to get that out of the boat.  With the parts removed the engine alone is roughly 250 lbs.  Still not easy, but certainly more do-able. 

Engine block on the left, everything else on the right.


Now we wait.  With any luck we will have a few strapping lads, or at least some still pretty strong older gentlemen, around in the next day or so to help with the heavy lifting.  We need to get this puppy out of the engine room and into the cockpit for the big work.  I’m praying that it’s not something too major or costly.

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