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Old 07-10-2016, 10:44 AM   #1
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Maintenance on the Loop

I'm still years from my first Loop, but I'm trying to get a grip on the issues and reduce the chances of those that can be controlled. Thanks to budgetary constraints, I'm looking at a 1980s era sub-40 foot aft cabin trawler running a single Lehman diesel.

At this point, my strategy would be to replace parts as needed to make the drivetrain as reliable as possible. I realize that's pretty vague, but that's why I'm asking; to fill in the void with y'all's real experiences.

So how many Loops have been completed with no or minimal major maintenance issues? Is it possible to do without replacing major components? Seems like a diesel reported to run 100,000 hours should be able to run for a few thousand without breakdowns.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:29 AM   #2
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Seems like a diesel reported to run 100,000 hours should be able to run for a few thousand without breakdowns.
There is no marine diesel that can do even 1% of those hours without significant maintenance and sometimes component replacements. The marine environment is a tough one and stuff needs to be serviced and it sometimes breaks. It is almost always marinization stuff like the raw water pump, exchangers, exhaust mixer, etc that is subject to failure.

That isn't to say that you should carry those items with you on the loop. Maybe a spare raw water pump is all I would consider.

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Old 07-10-2016, 11:32 AM   #3
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I'm still years from my first Loop, but I'm trying to get a grip on the issues and reduce the chances of those that can be controlled. Thanks to budgetary constraints, I'm looking at a 1980s era sub-40 foot aft cabin trawler running a single Lehman diesel.

At this point, my strategy would be to replace parts as needed to make the drivetrain as reliable as possible. I realize that's pretty vague, but that's why I'm asking; to fill in the void with y'all's real experiences.

So how many Loops have been completed with no or minimal major maintenance issues? Is it possible to do without replacing major components? Seems like a diesel reported to run 100,000 hours should be able to run for a few thousand without breakdowns.
Yes it's very possible. Especially with a low HP, low RPM diesel like a Lehman.

As you noted, makes sure all the auxiliary bits and pieces are new or rebuilt, carry some reasonable spares with the knowledge of how you use them and you're off and running.

Im assuming the 100,000 hours number is a mistype.
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Old 07-10-2016, 11:41 AM   #4
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a 1980s era sub-40 foot aft cabin trawler running a single Lehman diesel.

Your question is very difficult to answer as there are just too many variables. How well maintained is the boat, what major repairs ave been made to it already. What is the condition of the fuel tanks, the exhaust system and the running gear? We have known dozens of people who have completed the loop and few have had any major breakdowns. None of them have done the loop in a boat as old as yours. But 5000 miles and 5000 engine hours is a long way to go "problem free." The incidents of breakdown increases as the boats age climbs. The engine is not the only piece of equipment that might need expensive repairs.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:31 PM   #5
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a 1980s era sub-40 foot aft cabin trawler running a single Lehman diesel.

Your question is very difficult to answer as there are just too many variables. How well maintained is the boat, what major repairs ave been made to it already. What is the condition of the fuel tanks, the exhaust system and the running gear? We have known dozens of people who have completed the loop and few have had any major breakdowns. None of them have done the loop in a boat as old as yours. But 5000 miles and 5000 engine hours is a long way to go "problem free." The incidents of breakdown increases as the boats age climbs. The engine is not the only piece of equipment that might need expensive repairs.
Just for grins, let's say you drive 20,000 miles in a year and average about 30mph. That's about 700 hours of driving. So 5,000 engine hours is equivalent to 7 years of driving and 140,000 miles. You might make that without any major repairs, but maybe not. And cars, which are built in great numbers, have better reliability than boats.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:34 PM   #6
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Just for grins, let's say you drive 20,000 miles in a year and average about 30mph. That's about 700 hours of driving. So 5,000 engine hours is equivalent to 7 years of driving and 140,000 miles. You might make that without any major repairs, but maybe not. And cars, which are built in great numbers, have better reliability than boats.
And when the boat breaks, it's expensive. Have some funds available so you're not stranded.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:39 PM   #7
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There is one other important consideration regarding the car analogy. Rolling along the road a car is only using about 20% of the available power. Most boats are using much more of the available power. the boat engine load is more like the load on a vehicle that is always climbing a hill. We change the oil as required by the engine MFR every 200 hours. 200 hours is about equivalent to 8-10,000 miles in a car, except this engine has been going "up hill" the entire way. boat engines are working harder than vehicle engines.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:44 PM   #8
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There is one other important consideration regarding the car analogy. Rolling along the road a car is only using about 20% of the available power. Most boats are using much more of the available power. the boat engine load is more like the load on a vehicle that is always climbing a hill. We change the oil as required by the engine MFR every 200 hours. 200 hours is about equivalent to 8-10,000 miles in a car, except this engine has been going "up hill" the entire way. boat engines are working harder than vehicle engines.
Good point.

Someone posted one time that they were in a beautiful anchorage, watching a perfect sunset, sipping an adult beverage, while somewhere on the boat, something was breaking. Funny, but distressingly true.
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Old 07-10-2016, 12:54 PM   #9
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They say that cruising is doing boat repairs in exotic locations. If you have not spent have a day clearing a head blockage while anchored in an idyllic cove, then you have not really started cruising!
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:12 PM   #10
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HeadedtoTexas, when we " looped " we traveled with two to five boats and met about fifty other boaters. Help or parts are readily available but if you have a major repair remember your not traveling in third world country's a fix can be done. Carry normal spare filters, impellers, tools, etc. Loopers are " all in the same boat " so to speak and help is available if needed.
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:34 PM   #11
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"So how many Loops have been completed with no or minimal major maintenance issues?"

I think he has a grip on the fact that the normal obvious maintence will have to be done over the time line of the trip.

His real question seems to be what are the chances of doing the loop with few if any "major maintenance issues ".

And while I guess it depends on what someone considers "major maintenance issue" (I for one don't consider cleaning strainers, changing pumps, impellers, an oil cooler, oil, filters, etc., etc. as major issues) I think that is quite doable with the proper prep.
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:48 PM   #12
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In 4 round trips to Florida after purchasing my 200 hr rebuilt Lehman...the following maintenance has been do e on the road or at summer port that lasts 6 months.

2 injector lines replaced (very uncommon, must have toasted with the wrong rum)
Starter rebuilt
Alternator rebuilt
normal oil and fuel pump oil changes.
one tranny oil change
annual fuel filter changes
one alternator belt replacement
2 valve adjustments

The alternator and starter weren't necessarily new with the rebuilt engine.
I had spare injector lines from the previous owner.

So in 10,000 miles I lost zero days travelling due to maintenance. All maintenance was done within the first couple hours after tying up for the night. The alternator and starter rebuilds were done in my homeport summer down time, both brought me home though.

Many places I have stopped for the night had a place to rebuild starters and alternators close to where docked...good news for the inevitable.
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Old 07-10-2016, 01:56 PM   #13
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You are much more likely to hit a submerged object and damage your prop(s) and shaft than need diesel engine repair. You are also likely to wrap lines, ropes or nets around your shaft or have your intake through hulls clogged by vegetation or sea life.

Be sure to clean your fuel tanks and polish your fuel before you go and don't be surprised if your 30-40 year old fuel tanks start leaking.
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Old 07-10-2016, 03:17 PM   #14
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Look to purchase a boat that has been cruising full time. In most cases the major issues have been resolved. One with low hours and/or little cruising will need a lot of work in most cases.


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Old 07-10-2016, 03:43 PM   #15
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The short answer is that it is very possible to run a Leman 1,000's of hours without major problems. The great thing about the Lehman is that American Diesel has every part you might need and will discuss what you need, ship you a part quickly, and will give good installation advice.
I would go to The Trawler Beach House blog (Chuck has several very good tutorials about maintaining a Lehman) and copy/download all of his pictures and how to's.

An older Lehman can serve you very well with a little TLC.

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Old 07-10-2016, 04:31 PM   #16
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Before we left to do the little loop, I asked one of the major marine engine suppliers what I should bring and he said his phone number. He said he could overnight anything I needed.

Near the end of the trip I broke an injector line so I rented a car and drove to his location and picked it up in person. He said he could have overnighted it for less money.

Worry about actually untying from the dock and leaving. It's a lot harder than it seems.
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:00 PM   #17
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In 4 round trips to Florida after purchasing my 200 hr rebuilt Lehman...

<snip>

So in 10,000 miles I lost zero days travelling due to maintenance.

How many hours are on the ole lump now?
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:14 PM   #18
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To keep the loop in perspective it is between approx 5000 and 6000 miles. So at 6 miles an hour that's only 1000 engine hours.
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:32 PM   #19
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Thank you for that perspective.
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:47 PM   #20
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Perkins HT354-6, 20,000hrs -
One heat exchanger replaced, one transmission rebuild, one raw water pump replaced, one lift pump replaced. Everything else .... just a good maintenance plan.
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