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Old 08-16-2018, 04:01 PM   #1
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2nd look -- could use advice

We are under contract on a boat with twin Cummins 250 HP 6BTA's. Despite being over 25 years old, the hours on the engines are low at around 1900 (not necessarily a good thing from what I understand). Over the last 7 years or so the boat has been used very little, and almost not at all for the past 3 years (again, not good).



Owner has since passed away so there will be no opportunity for owner information and familiarity with the boat to be passed on to me. This is quite a negative, but I know we can figure out the systems (with some help) if we move forward with the purchase. On a positive note, they did buy it new so there is some chance the family will be able to provide a fair amount of documentation since they are the original owners.



Of course there will be a (hull and mechanical) survey, a sea trial, and haul out, and I will certainly be present for all of this.



Help needed for now:
Prior to investing in the survey, etc. we are going back to have a closer look on our own where we can just poke around, look, get better acquainted with the boat, and make sure we cannot see anything that would make us eliminate this boat prior to investing in the survey. Given such light use, and almost no use over the past few years, does that change what you would be looking for even prior to the survey? During the survey?



I appreciate any suggestions. We have owned several boats over the years but this is our first boat over 30' and our first boat one might call a trawler.


It checks most of our boxes, but sitting in a covered (so protected from weather nicely) slip and not being used much at all makes me a little nervous about shaking out the cobwebs on our nickel post purchase.



Thanks for any help/suggestions.
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Old 08-16-2018, 04:26 PM   #2
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What is the Make and year of the boat?
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Old 08-16-2018, 04:27 PM   #3
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What kind of boat? Where was it operated and wintered? Got any pictures?
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Old 08-16-2018, 04:55 PM   #4
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How much knowledge do you have about boats in regards to the electrical and mechanical systems? I would first look at the interior woodwork for evidence of leaks, most older boats have had some at one time or another but are they currently leaking? I would take a small wooden hammer and tap out the decks looking for soft coring. Look at the electrical wiring and see if it is neat or is it a mess. Hopefully they will have a maintenance logbook. Is the canvas in decent shape? Those are some of the things I would look over before starting a survey. Good luck.
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:15 PM   #5
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Early 90's 43' Albin. Used almost (but not entirely) in fresh water in TN. It has been to Florida for 4-5 winters over the 25 years or so. Kept in a covered slip almost all its life.



For this thread I'm trying to stay focused on the mechanical side rather than the boat/hull because my concerns lie in the engines (6BTA's with just under 2,000 hours), gen (will check hours), and other mechanical systems due to lack of use.



I don't have photos yet, but I will. Thanks for any advice as I go for this 2nd visit, pre-survey.
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:16 PM   #6
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Check engine and transmission oil before doing anything. If color is OK, consider starting engines. It would be preferable to remove injectors and squirt some light oil or fuel into cylinders to lubricate rings before starting. Alternative would be to bar engine over a couple of times to lubricate main bearings. No point having a surveyor arrive to dead batteries or non-starting engines. I wouldn't worry at all about low hours. Use something (a plastic hammer) to tap-tap-tap the whole boat. On the deck a flat dull sound might indicate a wet core. On the hull it might indicate delamination.
Bring your bathing suit. Take a swim and inspect the zincs. (or use a long borescope) If missing expect some severe corrosion issues. While splashing around run your hand around the hull at the chine. Look for any bumps or blisters indicating osmosis issues.
Serious rust in ER and extensive corrosion around bronze fittings would be an indication of no maintenance.
Elderly owner probably was unable to do maintenance, and family probably didn't know how, so expect to find some issues. In my case PO didn't change heat exchanger zincs so the transmissions were full of sea water and rust.
Nothing was a deal breaker but the offering price was reduced accordingly. There's no point having a survey if you spot major issues and owner isn't willing to renegotiate.
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Old 08-16-2018, 07:21 PM   #7
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As posted above all you can do is to check the fluids, on the engines prior to survey. You might be able to start them, and I would d that. Hire a good engine surveyor, preferably the factory rep, which is not your hull surveyor.

Prior to survey turn on and try everything. Make a list, and there will probably be one. Run the generator, see if it puts out power, thast kind of thing.

Do as posted above and tap the decks. Wet core is a very expensive thing to repair, and a lot of older boats suffer from it.
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Old 08-16-2018, 07:22 PM   #8
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2nd look -- could use advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ2Loop View Post
We are under contract on a boat with twin Cummins 250 HP 6BTA's...It checks most of our boxes, but sitting in a covered (so protected from weather nicely) slip and not being used much at all makes me a little nervous about shaking out the cobwebs on our nickel

Your situation is familiar to mine...two years ago we purchase a one-owner trawler from a couple who had not used the boat for 3 years. The husband was ill and unavailable to us. Visual inspection was helpful but I relied entirely on feedback from our hull and mechanical surveyors. With good reports from both we went ahead with the purchase at a price below market.

With no maintenance records available, I decided establish my own maintenance base for the single Cummins 6BTA and Westerbeke generator: I replaced and serviced virtually everything from fluids to filters, sea water coolers, impellors, turbo aftercooler, all hoses and belts. I replaced and updated the house bank, thruster and start batteries with new AGMs, new cables and anything that looked “tired”. We also had the bottom sanded bare and a barrier coat applied with 2 coats of ablative paint. After our first season on the boat, I tackled a long list of upgrades, including new navigation system, Nema 2000 network, LED lighting, high-output alternator and replacement of the sea water heads with fresh water toilets and new waste lines. This may sound like a lot of work and expense but was made affordable in part by purchasing and doing much of the work ourselves. The bonus is that I now know all of her system and how to service and repair them. Invaluable when cruising to remote locations in the PNW. And best of all, I now have my own maintenance record going forward. Good luck with your purchase!
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:11 PM   #9
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I think you are getting some great advice.

As you have indicated, because of the light use there is probably myriad deferred maintenance. I have been through this on a couple of boats. You may want to make a detailed list of what will be involved to reset the systems to "zero", factoring in what it will cost in parts and someone's time. This will be valuable if there is to be negotiation.

For instance, when was the preventive maintenance done on the windlass? Are there spares aboard? Mine needs a resealing every 3 years, as well as more frequent disassembly/cleaning/greasing. It is a day of work and $44 for the gearbox kit, plus oil. A replacement motor is $551. Of course this is chump-change compared to some engine work, but there may be 20 systems on the boat that need love.

You could always run the engines and gen, then collect oil samples and send those out.

Energize and exercise every system on the boat, making your list as you go. Maybe take a savvy boating friend. Don't get attached. Look for water damage. Trust your intuition.

She may be a dry solid boat that fits your needs and price perfectly. There are many lousy boats out there that are run regularly and incompletely maintained. I would rather have one with good bones and some deferred maintenance (not abuse or neglect). If you are willing to do the maintenance, then go for it.

Have fun, enjoy the process. Best Wishes.
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:30 AM   #10
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A boat that was used and maintained should be no horror show.

Be sure the fuel is on and the seacocks open and start the engine, with permission..

No more oil will have drained from the lube passages in 2 years than drains overnight, but check the dipstick , and feel that the engine is cold..

To get an idea of engine condition YOU MUST GET UNDERWAY.. Get permission first.

Watch for white smoke after start , and observe the time and coolant temperature as the engine warms at a modest load , say 1200RPM underway .Sitting in the slip checks nothing.

If it only is a few min before the exhaust is clear , and the coolant is under 120F , you probably have good compression , a winner.

There should be little to no added vibration as the throttle is opened to cruise RPM.

A "full throttle" RPM test is pretty useless as you have no idea how the tranny and propellers were selected.

If you get full throttle with little vibration and no black smoke pouring out the exhaust
great you can pull water skiers at that speed.

The rest of the systems are usually simple to check , after you figure out valve and switch locations.

Condition is probably more important than many mechanical things , its far easier to swap out a bilge or FW pump than replace a bad deck or PH leaks..


Goof luck!
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:45 AM   #11
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Lots of good advice so far. I'm assume this sale is going through a broker. Before scheduling the hull and mechanical inspection, they need to have the engines, generator, all heads, freshwater system including water heater, and electronics up and running for the " Presurvey Inspection ". I would explain to the broker that survey and sea trial will happen on the same day, so you need to verify everything is working before scheduling your team.

The one area of concern I have is on the engines. I'm very familiar with the Cummins 6B series motors, specifically the 6BT 210 HP. The 250's are raw water cooled (after cooler) between the turbo and the cylinder intake. Without a maintenance log, I would want them serviced immediately. While you may not have that option before survey and sea trial, I wouldn't move the boat after purchase, without it being done. The parts are usually minimal in cost (unless a core needs to be replaced) and labor shouldn't be that much. The issue revolves around a leaking oring or core allowing raw water to go into the cylinders when the engine is running.

When I bought my boat (13 years old), the after cooler had never been serviced. The parts kit was under $50 and maybe 4 hours of my time. Kept my fingers crossed the whole time through the sea trial.

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Old 08-17-2018, 07:55 AM   #12
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First, do the engines start and run properly?

Are the engines neat and clean or a pile of rust?
Look under the engines. Any signs of leakage? Are there clean oil sorbant sheets underneath or a puddle of goo?

How long ago was the last oil change? Has it been sitting for years with new or old dirty oil in the engine? Does the oil on the dipstick look like melted asphalt?
Any logbooks to review?
Same with the generator.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:18 AM   #13
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With the engine off, reach a gloved finger down the oil filler and, sample the serviceable oil or sludge.

Coolant quick check is either pH test strip or voltmeter to ground.

Flip the oil filler upside-down to see it blows off from blow-by. It will vibrate off anyway.

Inspection mirror and superbright flashlight to look at headgasket and exhaust gaskets. Any gaskets really. Any leaks, hoses, clamps, etc.

Look at mounts and look for cracks radiating from mounts.

Wiggle shafts and pullies.

These are mostly feel-good things and not conclusive tests. If the boat doesn't make you feel good it's not a good fit.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:04 AM   #14
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A lot of good advice has already been shared. Looking for evidence of leaking (stains or streaking under windows is often an indicator) and checking every square inch of the hull for soft spots is important.

Since you specifically asked for advice on what engine and mechanical issues to check, here's my two cents (and worth what you're paying for it):

While a sea trial would be best, you can tell a lot just sitting at the dock and decide if you want to move forward with a survey and sea trial.
  • Sit in the engine room for a couple of minutes. Notice any smells that shouldn't be there?
  • Remove the cap on the coolant tank. Is it full? Coolant only or any unexpected liquids mixed in? Stick your finger in there. Is there rusty sludge at the bottom? If so, it probably needs a full cooling system flush.
  • Pull the oil dipstick. Does it look like normal oil or is it milky?
  • Pull the transmission dipstick and smell it. Does it smell like transmission fluid or does it have a rusty or burned smell to it?
  • Visually inspect and squeeze all of the hoses. Any look cracked or feel soft or bulging?
  • Bring a flashlight and inspect the glass bowl at the bottom of the diesel fuel filter housings. The bowl should have clear red diesel fuel in it. If it's no longer red, the fuel may be so old it has broken down. If it has large clumps of black, sludgy-looking stuff in it, the fuel is contaminated and will need to be cleaned or "polished" before running it. Otherwise, that stuff could be sucked into the hoses and could clog the lines and injectors.
  • Is the seacock open and the fuel turned on? If so, and the owner gives permission, start the engines and check the smoke from the exhaust. It's not uncommon for there to be some whiteish smoke at start up when that engine is cold but it should clear up in a minute or two. If not, note the color of the exhaust and try to hold your hand over one of the exhaust ports for a few seconds. Smell your hand. Does it smell like fuel (one issue) or coolant (different issue)?
  • After the engines reach operating temp, shut them off and take an oil sample to send off to a lab (inexpensive)... with the owner's permission, of course.
  • Repeat for the generator (other than the transmission check).

These are the things we do when we're taking a serious look at a boat. If it passes these simple inspection steps, it may be worth moving forward.

Best of luck. Keep us informed of what happens.

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Old 08-17-2018, 09:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Lots of good advice...When I bought my boat (13 years old), the after cooler had never been serviced. The parts kit was under $50 and maybe 4 hours of my time. Kept my fingers crossed the whole time through the sea trial.

Ted


Good advice, Ted. When we pulled the 13 year-old aftercooler for cleaning on the Cummins, the matting surface was pitted and had to be replaced at a cost of $2400. Maintenance, maintenance!
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:42 AM   #16
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Unless you're a diesel mechanic, you're going to be limited in what you can do with the mechanicals. However, there are so many other things that would cause a survey to fail. I would rather survey the boat first, then upon successful hull survey, have the engine(s) and generator surveyed second. I do this during the seatrial, but it can be done ahead of time.

Many things done in even a basic survey by myself would tell me whether I wanted to move forward with a professional survey. Findings in the professional survey may tell me that a mechanical survey isn't worth it.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:48 AM   #17
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250 6BTA might have freshwater aftercooler (tombstone style). Can also have CAV pump which is at its limits if engine is run hard. Original heads were the weak 9mm inj types, there is an upgrade for 7mm injector type head, which cools better. An upgrade also for coolant routing on cyl head and manifold which helps. Original out of the box, it was a bit of a tender engine if run hard. If run easy, the above is not much of a concern.

This is depending on which engine it is, to which I am guessing!!
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
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250 6BTA might have freshwater aftercooler (tombstone style). Can also have CAV pump which is at its limits if engine is run hard. Original heads were the weak 9mm inj types, there is an upgrade for 7mm injector type head, which cools better. An upgrade also for coolant routing on cyl head and manifold which helps. Original out of the box, it was a bit of a tender engine if run hard. If run easy, the above is not much of a concern.

This is depending on which engine it is, to which I am guessing!!
I have a 1990 6bta 250 and that's the one. Think they changed to the head with 7 mm injectors in 1991.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:50 PM   #19
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Thanks for such great responses and advice. Keep it coming.... We'll take our 2nd look this weekend and I will report back. I really appreciate the advice and ideas.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:04 PM   #20
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Take a look at MARINE SURVEY 101
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