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gonesailing13 06-26-2014 09:35 PM

engine hours
I know there's no set answer but here I go. Can anyone say what would be too many hours on a engine? I know there are a lot of variables that come into play but was wondering how many would you walk away from. We're still looking for "our" perfect boat but some of the high hours are scaring us. Any opinions would be appreciated.

djmarchand 06-26-2014 09:43 PM

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

What kind of engines are you looking at? How have they been operated? What kind of boat are they in?

No one can answer that question without just a little bit of information. Then, who knows?


Cathy and David 06-26-2014 09:43 PM

How many hours are scaring you? 3000?, 5000? 10,000? What do you consider high hours. This has been discussed many times here. It depends on the maintenance the engines have received. Also the HP to displacement ratio of the engines in question. I have 5000 on my Cummins 6BT 210 HP and feel they are just getting broke in. Too many variables to answer your question with a set number.

Bay Pelican 06-26-2014 09:52 PM

One Lehman went for decades 24/7 as a ferry, engine was worn out at the end. Likely you won't find that on a pleasure boat. As others have said depends on the maintenance. All of this assumes a diesel engine.

caltexflanc 06-26-2014 10:11 PM

There is no answer. Get a survey by someone very familiar with those engines. A quick red neck screening is to have them started up dead cold and see what kind of smoke they throw off, which is one of the first if not the first things an engine surveyor will do.

gonesailing13 06-26-2014 10:21 PM

Sorry I should have given a little more info . Ford Lehman 2715E
120 hp
6000 hrs
not sure about maintenance

Not sure how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Must be a trick question.

caltexflanc 06-26-2014 11:20 PM

Might be good, might be bad.

Nomad Willy 06-27-2014 12:03 AM

Don't use the hrs as a yardstick. Concentrate on the engine itself and what very experienced people can observe and test. Some people think engines can only make so many revolutions. The real world life expectancy of an engine is usually determined by how much has an engine can take in the form of abuse.

Check and test the engine in the known ways. The way some people treat engines 1000hrs would be too much. 5000hrs would be fine under ideal circumstances or common good maintenance. Compression tests, leakdown tests and oil analysis in addition to observations of a very experienced mechanic. Leaking oil or places that should be clean found found dirty ect. Of course you never know if an engine could have been run w no oil for a brief period of time. I've never seen on YW "forgot to put oil in it once but it's run fine since". Frequently what you need to know is missing information.

ghost 06-27-2014 12:12 AM

500 hours on a 30yo boat would be terrifying and almost certainly a bad idea. 5000 hours on an engine capable of 10,000 might not be a bad choice. I'd look strongly at maintenance records, especially the past 5 years. I want to see use. I don't mind a few things breaking, so long as it is not indicative of a trend or condition. Records without repairs equals deferred maintenance.

Hours are best used to schedule your next oil change. Not much use for gauging engine condition.

CPseudonym 06-27-2014 02:10 AM


Originally Posted by ghost (Post 245425)
Hours are best used to schedule your next oil change. Not much use for gauging engine condition.


We have an early 1960's vintage Ford tractor used by the grounds staff that shows 6,000+ hours on the meter. The record indicate the hour meter broke in the mid 1980's and the tractor at the time was considered to be in such poor shape as to not warrant the replacement of the hour meter. Here it is 2014 and though we've been threatening to replace it forever, it still chugs along daily.

Last year we completely replaced a diesel with fewer than 800 hours on it... Catastrophic failure. Was a bummer but hey, crap happens. :nonono:

How a diesel is maintained and used/abused is infinitely more important than an hour meter can indicate. Get a survey and use the perceived "high" hours as a negotiation chip in your favor.

High Wire 06-27-2014 08:09 AM

Is the engine well kept or look like its been laying behind a garage for years? Is the boat worth a repower? IMHO most engines die from neglect, mis-use and equipment failures of pumps and heat exchangers than from normal wear.

Jbear 06-27-2014 09:01 AM

Bob Smith said in his class that I took that the 120 Lehman starts really coming into its own around 5000 hours. As everyone says, maint., how used really determine the answer but I think the basic motor is solid and if taken care of can go a long way.

I have 5200 hours on mine and it runs great. If you do get the Lehman try and take Bobs class. It's worth it in my opinion.


Phil Fill 06-27-2014 10:46 AM

Spend the money and have the engine surveyed, couple hundred bucks. 6,000 I would be concern.

nemier 06-27-2014 01:23 PM

What type (make / model) of boat is the engine in? This would help us determine what load the engine has been subjected to, what life it's lead.

To get between 10,000 - 20,000 hours, you really need to see under 25 HP per liter, and under 2000 RPM. I think the engine you are looking at runs at 46.6 HP/L @ 2500 RPM. This is not bad though, compared to modern engines where they run over 75 HP/L. approaching 2800-3000 RPM. Many High Output engines are trashed below 5000 hours, some a lot less than that, and they tend to suffer a lot of abuse too.

A photo is worth a thousand words. If we could see that, we could advise further. If the boat is well kept / clean / maintenance logs kept up, etc, then no way is the previous owner going to ignore the engines. This is good!

As suggested, you need to get an independent Engine Survey, with compression & oil analysis, etc carried out. It's not rocket science, a professional will know what the score is, no issues.

Irish Rambler 06-27-2014 03:57 PM

If it were me I would have the oil sampled. Check by hand if the engine is cold, turn it over and see if it fires immediately and smoothly on all 6 cylinders, all those old Lehman's smoke when cold so take it for a run and get it up to 80/90 degs. Let someone else drive the boat while you check for smoke, and what colour ? then open the throttle wide, it will smoke for maybe 5 mins then start to clear after 10 minutes, now check for smoke, ignore it if it's a wisp of black.
Check engine temps,no more than 100/105 c, now back to cruising speed, lift the floor and check for leaks.
If all OK back to idle and check the engine for 'hunting', if so needs the oil in the injector pump rack changed.
After all that if the boats in great shape you can get overhaul kits cheap as they still make those engines in Turkey.
2 very important point to note on those engines, always keep coolant mixture anti freeze all year round as it keeps the liner seals supple and lubricates the water pump, after a hard run let the engine idle for 5 minutes to relieve the internal thermal stresses before closing down.
Finally there's a great guy in England whose forgotten more about those engines than we'll ever know, he used to race them, his name is Mike Bellamy and his company is , he can still rebuild, or supply new Ford engine and all the spares for them.

Jbear 06-28-2014 12:12 AM

I would seriously check everything very carefully before taking the boat up to WOT for 10 minutes. Most Lehman owners don't run their boats at 2500 RPMs too much of the time. If this boat has sat or if the coolers haven't been cleaned or replaced you run a real chance of overheating it and possibly hurting it. I can run mine up for a minute or two but I feel comfortable as I have shot baseline thermals on it, changed the coolers, changed the oil lines to 5/8" lines, checked/changed oils, etc. yes you should be able to hit WOT but if you really like the boat don't blow it up on your test run.


meridian 06-28-2014 10:50 AM

This is what multiple oil analysys reports can show, I'm a happy camper. I had gone 247 hrs over 4 months between changes as I was in the Bahamas. This is from Blackstone

TERRY: This is a perfect report for your 120 hp engine! Metals look fine for 247 hours of oil use, with wear
metals holding steady or decreasing compared to the 2/03/14 report. Less wear on a longer oil change
interval is an excellent indication that this engine is running well with no mechanical problems in the works.
No contaminants were found in this oil, and the air and oil filters did a fine job of keeping silicon and
insolubles under control. This engine's going strong at 6,650 total hours!

MYTraveler 06-28-2014 10:58 AM


Originally Posted by Phil Fill (Post 245472)
Spend the money and have the engine surveyed, couple hundred bucks. 6,000 I would be concern.

The hours wouldn't concern me nearly as much as the age, which is a measure of the risk that the engine was not properly used and maintained throughout that time. I am of the view that a naturally aspirated engine that is properly maintained and used frequently can easily last 20,000 to 30,000 hours. Some commercial applications are getting that out of QSM 11's (which are relatively high hp and turbo'd).

bayview 06-28-2014 11:09 AM

If the engine can not reach rated WOT Rpm during a brief test do not run it at Wot for any time especially Ten minutes.

bayview 06-28-2014 11:13 AM

A WOT test is intended to see if it is propped correctly, runs properly and doesn't overheat. If all is well only running long enough to see the temp stabilize is sufficient.

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