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Old 04-19-2016, 03:56 PM   #1
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pre-purchase engine survey

I am wondering about spending the money on a pre-purchase engine survey. I have been around diesels for 30 plus years and in all of our past purchases(always sailboats ) just started the engines cold and saw how they started and ran...now we are buying a trawler with twin 1986 perkins 135 n/a and am wondering about the cost to have them inspected. I was quoted $850. I will do an oil analyst on my own..so I wonder is it worth the money to hire a "professional" to check them out?
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Old 04-19-2016, 04:05 PM   #2
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That isn't a bad price for surveying two engines. Since the potential downside for big engine problems is 20 times that cost, I think I would do it. You will pay for a leaking manicooler/multicooler five times over.


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Old 04-19-2016, 04:40 PM   #3
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I would spend the money. A boat buck isn't chump change, but it could save you from a big problem in the long run. OTOH, even a good survey can miss important stuff. FWIW, I just spent the money on an engine survey on my purchase and felt it was money well spent. However, I know nothing about diesel engines....
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Old 04-19-2016, 05:02 PM   #4
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If a problem is found, who will the seller take more seriously, for renegotiation, you or a professional?
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Old 04-19-2016, 05:14 PM   #5
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Then why do an oil analysis?

If you know engines, I would do the oil analysis and you can figure it out from there.
There is no magic to engines and sometimes the person you are paying knows less than you do, which only tends to confuse the issue.
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Old 04-19-2016, 05:21 PM   #6
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What makes anyone think an engine surveyor is an better than most of the other boat surveyors? If you've been around diesels for 30 years you probably have more knowledge. They can't do much other than checking the exhaust at startup and monitoring temperatures at various parts of the engine and checking WOT.


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Old 04-19-2016, 05:41 PM   #7
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Gotta be more specific. I know people that have been around diesels for 30 years 'caus they rode the bus into work every day......

Have you changed oil, filters, adjusted valves, replaced injectors....... did you get to KNOW (yes, almost in the biblical sense) diesels? I did. (do mechanical work on diesels ;-) )

When I bought my Catalina 42 I looked at the 1200 hours on the meter and did just what you are planning. Fire it up, smell, listen and motor around for an hour. I knew it was a healthy engine.

My next purchase MAY just be an old Hattie with 2 DD's........ You bet yours sweet momma I'm gonna get an engine survey, oil AND coolant analysis AND a compression check......

You see, in the first case the damage would be, oh 5 grand for a short block, 2 if you yank it out yourself and take it to a shop....

In the latter case we're talking, oh, 25 large for an in situ rebuild....... not counting turbos, intercoolers and what have you.

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, do you feel lucky? Well, do you?
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Old 04-19-2016, 05:43 PM   #8
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Most surveyors I know recommend a good "certified" on type engine guy to do a separate engine survey.


Sure, any surveyor will probably look at temps and for leaks and other basics like WOT...much like I did 20 years ago when I had basic knowledge of diesels...


But now that I know so much more and if I had the right equipment to do more I sure would.....


A separate engine survey is worth it for big, expensive engines....10 year old, 4000 hour Lehmans...maybe not so much.
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawgwash View Post
If a problem is found, who will the seller take more seriously, for renegotiation, you or a professional?
Bingo. Ya feelin' lucky?
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:12 PM   #10
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I did the eng survey recently on this '78 TT I bought. My surveyor strongly recommended it as well. They did eng and trans oil analysis for me and he did all the things mentioned above, as well as a mechanical OP gauge check. I feel it was worth it as while I have owned and do own several diesels I am by means any more than a bare novice. At $850 for two engs, that sounds like a pretty good deal, as I paid over $600 for one. As a side note, I recently sold my little Whaleboat conversion with 25HP Westerbeke diesel of unknown hours. The buyers wanted me to run it at WOT for a half hour. Now that is 2400rpm. I usually cruise at 1800 and run at WOT for a couple minutes occasionally. I told them no on the half hours thing but would do a few minutes at WOT. When they asked why I said, well if something blows, you guys walk away and leave me with a busted boat. If you want to run WOT for half an hour you can do it when you own the boat. That ended that, but they still bought the boat.
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:15 PM   #11
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For me, it would depend on what the engine survey entails. I'm not sure how deep a survey is allowed to go? I'm more than confident that I could go thru any engine and get a good handle of it's health. But so far, no owner or broker has said yes

Then again, if I break something. . .I'm paying for it. If the mechanic breaks something, not my problem

Personally, find out what normally fails on a Perkins with those hours and years behind it. . .and see if the mechanics survey will investigate them. If it is aftercoolers and manicoolers getting internal pin holes, or cooling bundles corroding, or. . .can a surveyor check these items?

Just rambling/thinking out loud. . .
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:22 PM   #12
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Oh, and the most important part of an engine survey you can do yourself...... records. Maintenance records. No records, no maintenance.

I know some less than scrupulous sellers/brokers will erase the date written on an oil filter and put on a more recent one......
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:33 PM   #13
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It's official. I'm a trawler owner.

An engine survey should in no way be confused with a guarantee.
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:42 PM   #14
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It's official. I'm a trawler owner.

An engine survey should in no way be confused with a guarantee.
Tell me about it.

More importantly, I now know a mechanic that will properly do an engine survey. According to him an engine survey is not complete without a sea trial at WOT. The mechanic I use now now will take the prospective boat out with the owner and have the owner run the boat WOT (in gear). During this period is when he starts inspecting the engine both visually and with a temperature gun. I imagine many engine problems will show themselves at WOT.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:26 PM   #15
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There was an recent thread about the value for $ for this. OP was unconvinced initially but came around to doing it. Is there a genset to survey as well?
The mechanical surveyor for my current boat(twins & genset) was present when the boat was hauled, did a sea trial at WOT, and a thorough checkover. You should get one. Helped in post survey negotiations too.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:19 PM   #16
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On a 1-10 basis is this a promising deal or are you trying to make it one? If it looks good, maintenance has been good, it runs good and does not look like Earl Scheib did the cosmetics I would do oil analysis, wipe things down if there is anything to wipe down, run the crap out of it and if it is not a piece of junk if/when you get back to the dock I would climb in there and take another serious look. Does it sound and look the same? Decision time. Now, I am not talking mega boat with the banker having his own suite.
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:08 PM   #17
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See what it looks like on cold start. How long befor the smoke clears, what color smoke ? Oil sheen on the water ? for how long ? Oil pres. at start, oil pres. fully warm, how much difference at idle ? Blowby at idle, blowby at full load WOT ? Is blowby gaseous or water vapor? If possible shoot each exhaust port with a temp gun, at idle, at high idle and at partial and full load. Temps should be close on each, getting higher as you get closer to the collector. To much blowby and to big of a swing in oil pres. is a dead giveaway to a bad engine. Thats pretty much what your engine survey will cover.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:04 AM   #18
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I went for an engine survey on the main and both gensets. My mechanic in Ketchikan knew the JD 6068T like the back of his hand. The morning after the survey he was being flown out at 7am by helicopter to fix a 6068 being used as a generator at a logging camp. I also had him do a full service on the engine after I bought the boat and before I delivered it to SF Bay. I watched and asked questions/took notes the whole time. Money well spent in my opinion.

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Old 04-20-2016, 08:17 AM   #19
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Thanks for all of your input...My diesel experience has been on boat engines. I just replaced the high pressure pump on my Westerbeke 40 and will soon be replacing a leaky timing plate gasket...so I feel comfortable around diesels. I think I am going to have the oil analyzed and do a sea trial then decide if I want to have the engines surveyed. This sale is through a private party and there is time to work out the details.....
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:48 AM   #20
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I think I am going to have the oil analyzed and do a sea trial then decide if I want to have the engines surveyed. This sale is through a private party and there is time to work out the details.....
Attached may help for DIY Engine Survey Checklist
I used it to do my own sea trial & survey last time - relatively new boat w/ lo hrs.
Harbor Frt Infrared thermometer gun a worthwhile investment if you don't already have one.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Surveying a Diesel Engine.pdf (84.4 KB, 58 views)
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