Yanmar engine – why maintenance is so important

As part of the purchase of the Moody, we had commissioned a survey of the vessel which included a basic survey of the engine.  It would have been possible to 4jh2-utbe_referencehave a full engine survey, and with hindsight this would have been money well spent, on an engine with 3,000 hours on it.  Our surveyor did his initial review of the engine both out and in the water and didn’t report anything amiss.

We had been out in Mariadz a few times as we got used to her but had noticed that there was a little smoke and felt that we should get the engine looked at.  We decided to leave it until the back end of the season and started this work in October 2013.  We asked for Travis Westwood to look at the engine for us, he had previously done some work for us on the Dufour and we felt that this had always been reasonable.  engine corrosionWith apologies for the poor quality of the pictures, Travis reported a disaster on both the generator (another story) but also on the engine.  The picture shows an extensive amount of corrosion in the heat exchanger which means that the entire unit needed to be replaced and we were lucky not to have caused serious issues when using it.  At the same time it was clear that the “recent service” that had been done would have identified these issues and if detected early, the problem we now found could have been avoided.  I had the receipt for the most recent service which had been an oil and filter change.  I compared this with the Yanmar recommended checklist for a 3,000 hour service….clearly there had been some mistake.

I decided that in view of the state of the engine and the fact that it had been serviced a matter of months previously that I would speak to the engineer who had done the service.  This gentleman in the Solent area, who specialises in Yanmar, was happy to tell me that he was in fact the engineer that had originally fitted the engine into the Moody and he was happy to help.  He wasn’t quite so happy when I started to ask him about his more recent dealings with the engine. I asked him why he had not serviced the Yanmar engine in line with the manufacturers stipulations.  His first reaction was to say that the Yanmar instructions in the engine manual did not need to be followed! Frankly I found that attitude unbelievable. He then added that he had been specifically told by the owners not to service the engine correctly, and just to change the oil and filters.  This is exactly the same service he had performed on the engine three years previously when it had last been professionally serviced.  Having met the Sharpe’s who sold us the boat, and knowing that they are not marine engineers, I did not believe that they had specifically told the engineer not to service the engine in line with the manufacturers requirements.  I am sure they just wanted the engine serviced before selling.

So we had the engine serviced in line with the recommendations for a 3,000 hours service.  This included injectors being serviced amongst other things.  It also included a completely new heat exchanger at great expense – thousands of pounds.  this work was done by Travis who at the time was the marine engineer who did most of our mechanical work.

At the end of all of this work, the engine ran well although a little smoky from cold, which is apparently to be expected.  It also meant that we realised at some stage in the future and before we left on our trip we would need to have the engine thoroughly reviewed to make sure we don’t get a very expensive repair or even worse replacement as we go round the world.

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