Engine Overhaul


This is another project blog for work carried out before we left in May.

Yours, Captain Procrastinator

This project had been on my mind for several years now but I had left it to the bitter end, in terms of us leaving, as I really didn’t know how to tackle it.

Not long after getting the boat I noticed that the port side engine rail had some rust on it.  The engine is mounted on rubber isolation mounts which are in turn mounted to a piece of angle iron on either side.  This is through bolted to wooden stringers which are fiberglassed to the hull of the boat.  I was unsure of how bad the corrosion was as it was hard to access the area to get a good look.  Two years ago, Paul and Diane, a couple we are friends with, had a near disaster when one of their engine mounts collapsed due to rot, while underway.  They had a costly repair and this was what set my mind to ensuring that we did not have the same issue once we set off.

I enlisted the help of Larry, who has turned out to be a good friend and all around nice guy 🙂  He has beaucoup experience with diesels and offered to help once I had outlined my intentions.  He tried to dissuade me from removing the engine altogether, but instead hoist it far enough to access the mounts only.  I had wanted to take the opportunity to carry out some other work on the engine and engine room while it was out which would have been very tricky without removal, so I declined.

Once I had the whole plan in my head, I booked an engine lift with a local yard, South Texas Yacht Services (great guys), and a dock to dock tow with Sea Tow (waaay better than Tow Boat US).  This would allow me to fully disconnect the engine from the rest of the boat before being towed over, thus reducing the time at the yard.  I took over 150 pictures of the engine room from all possible angles to ensure that I wouldn’t have a “where does this go?” moment upon re-installation.  This included all electrical and pipe runs and connections among other things.  A selection of these pictures show the corrosion of the port side mount as well as the engine casings themselves.


Larry helped me with the disconnection process with insights that I would never have thought of and therefore, when the day came, we were only at the yard for 20 minutes before the engine was in the back of Larry’s truck and off to his storage unit.

With the engine removed the boat was towed back to the dock so we were able to get back on with the process of living aboard.  Now the fun really began.  The work that was carried out on the engine was as follows…

  1. removed the engine rails and inspect them.  After removal of all the rust it was obvious that the rails were still in good shape.  They were sent to a shop along with 2 of the mounts which attach the isolation mounts to the engine body.  The shop shot blasted the metal and then primed and powder coated them black.
  2. degreased and washed the surface of the engine, then painted all surfaces showing signs of corrosion with Gem (another brand similar to Ospho).  This is a solution that contains phosphoric acid which reacts with rust to form iron phosphate.  This is a hard layer that readily accepts paint and protects the metal from future corrosion.
  3. removed and replaced all hoses and pipe clamps from coolant lines to injector return lines
  4. replaced all 4 engine isolation mounts
  5. sent all injectors to a shop for rebuilding
  6. overhauled the heat exchanger vented loop (replaced the vented loop diaphragm and replaced the nylon elbow on top with a bronze one that actually had the threads wrapped with PTFE tape!!!!!!!)
  7. removed, wire brushed and repainted the oil cooler assembly and the coolant pipe below the fresh water pump.

    engine 030 (2)

    after wire brushing and before painting

  8. sanded the mating surfaces of the prop shaft and transmission and then filed off any burrs.  This would ensure that when it came time to use the feeler gauges to align the prop that there would be no misreadings due to uneven surfaces

Next on the list was the engine room itself.  The sound insulation had long ago ceased to offer any insulation.  It’s sole purpose now seemed to be to rain down insulation powder on any surface in the engine room.

engine 014 (2)

I removed all the batteries (house bank and starter) along with all equipment that was attached to the engine room walls.  This was a considerable amount of stuff to remove.  Once done, I scraped all the old insulation off and cleaned the surfaces.  I had decided to use Soundown for the new insulation as it could be glued in place.  Soundown is a heavy material which consists of a layer of sound deadening PVC sandwiched between 2 layers of foam and covered in a rip stop Mylar vapor barrier on one side.  It requires that spiked fasteners should be epoxied to the walls to give extra support for the panels where there are large sections installed.  The following pictures show the before, during and after pictures of some sections of the engine room.




With the walls done I then cleaned the rest of the engine room and repaired/repainted the house bank battery box which had some delamination of the plywood on one corner.

Everything was then replaced and reattached to the walls, and the engine rails and isolation mounts were reinstalled.  We were now ready for another dock to dock to drop the engine back in the boat.  30 minutes after arriving at the yard we were ready to be towed back to the dock.

Larry then took charge and I assisted in the alignment of the prop shaft which took about 3 hours to complete.  Once finished, I set about the task of reconnecting all wiring/piping.  I replaced the exhaust pipe tubing from the mixing elbow to the muffler box and replumbed the way some of the hoses ran around the engine to minimize chafing. I added tubing on the outside of hoses that had to run against vibrating surfaces.  I rewired the panel for the backup bilge pump as the existing wiring was a mess.

engine 012 (2)

3 days later, with an oil change and coolant flush, and I was ready to turn the key.  Larry helped me bleed the system from the Racor filter forwards and each injector at a time.  It turns out that the bleeding cannot be done correctly without the ignition being turned on.  I have to assume that this is because some component in the injector pump is energized by the ignition and this allows the diesel to flow through the pump.  Once we worked this out all went according to plan and the engine fired without issue… can you say HUGE RELIEF!?  We then ran the engine at the dock in forward and reverse to verify there was no excessive vibration from the prop shaft which there was not.

After much patting on each other’s backs the project was finished and checked off the list.



2 thoughts on “Engine Overhaul

  1. linda.johnson@akersolutions.com

    That just wore me out reading this. I bet you are glad it’s finally done !

    solpurpose posted: “Note: This is another project blog for work carried out before we left in May. Yours, Captain Procrastinator This project had been on mind mind for several years now but I had left it to the bitter end, in terms of us leaving, as I really didn’t know h”


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