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Old 03-06-2014, 07:25 AM   #1
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Separate Engine Survey?

We're preparing for a survey on a DF 44 next month. What's the consensus on the usefulness of a separate engine survey on Ford Lehman 135s? I have djmarchand's excellent summary of things to look at (Engine survey checklist).

Just wondering what a mechanic would be allowed to do that my experienced hull surveyor and I can't accomplish. The surveyor routinely pulls oil for analysis and we can perform most of the things on a checklist for these non-turbo engines. Is there significantly more peace of mind with a dedicated engine survey?

Thanks.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:15 AM   #2
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It really depends on how knowledgeable that surveyor is on those engines. Someone who specializes in working on and surveying that particular engine will be typically be more thorough and familiar with odd-ball low percentage issues that a generalist may not be aware of or know how to diagnose. Kind of like your GP being able to tell you a lot about your heart's health from a physical, but needing to defer to a cardiologist for the most accurate and complete evaluation.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:37 AM   #3
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IMHO, I'm not sure what a specific engine survey could do without really digging into the motor, and that would likely be a tough sell to a seller. There are some basic things that can be checked for as shown in your linked list, but you also need to be careful that engine surveyors (and even the regular ones) would be putting current standards on an old boat. Yes, the argument could be made that a seller that has nothing to hide would allow it (and I probably would), but a good oil analysis says a lot. In fact, sometimes TOO much.

Still, while I don't want to paint with too large of a brush, you can almost tell the condition of a motor by looking at two things: the condition of the rest of the boat and how clean the engine is. A well-maintained boat USUALLY means a well-maintained engine too. Not always though. Liveaborards that don't leave the dock very often will sometimes just ignore the engine space, but keep the living space nice. Moreover, a clean engine and engine room almost always indicates a well cared for motor. But look out for overly or freshly painted motors. Sellers with ugly motors sometimes try to polish a turd with a fresh and heavy coat of paint.

One thing is for sure, no matter how you slice it, the old Lehman and Perkins motors are tough old birds. Give them food, water and a little TLC once or twice a year and they will do their thing for a very long time. However, if it were ME, let the regular survey go through and see if ANY red flags are raised from their engine analysts. THEN decide if you need to dig deeper into an engine-specific survey. That's the best advice I can give you.
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:56 AM   #4
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I agree that if you are somewhat mechanically oriented you don't need a seperate enigne survey for those engines.
A MUST though, would be to make a call to Bob Smith at ADC (American Diesel Corp) and get a list of specifics to look at for that engine.
Take lots of pics.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:52 AM   #5
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Thanks, guys. I forgot to mentions few things in my rush to get out the door this morning.

Engines purportedly have 3250 hours on them, but the hour meters broke and I believe were replaced a long time ago. Maintenance on the rest of the boat appears exceptional.

A Westerbeke 12.5 KW generator would be part of the survey. Same late 80s vintage with about 2500 hours.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:06 AM   #6
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I don't think I would bother with a separate engine survey on lehmans. Like everyone said, you should be able to tell the general health of the engine by looking at a number of symptoms likely addressed in DJ's list.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:18 AM   #7
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I would have the mechanical survey. Between the engines and the generator, having a qualified mechanic could be money well spent. How much time will your other surveyor have to spend crawling around the generator and engines? During the sea trial is maybe a good time to have to mechanic in the engine room monitoring things. Considering the size of the purchase your about to make...
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:19 AM   #8
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Take a look at Marine Survey 101. Scroll way, way down to the section headed "Engine Compartment". You'll find a few tips about what to look for before making a decision on an full engine survey which could hit close to $1,000 including compression testing.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:25 AM   #9
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I had it done, if for no other reason - peace of mind. In the overall cost of boat ownership the fee for the inspection by a diesel mechanic is pretty much unnoticeable.

And, your survey goes much faster as you have 2 guys working simultaneously if you schedule properly.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:28 AM   #10
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Greetings,
Mr. T. I agree with your observations regarding ER conditions as being an indicator of overall vessel conditions. Although not in the market to buy at this particular time I do browse boat ads on and off this site. Usually the first photos I look at are ER's (IF POSTED AT ALL). No ER pic's, no further perusal of the ad. A "Hmmm...moment" for me is rattle can over-spray.
That being said, appearances alone should not determine the necessity of a good engine survey. As Mr. Lurker said. It might add to piece of mind.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:30 AM   #11
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When I bought my Willard 40 with single Lehman, I had oil samples taken and inspected the engine with my surveyor -- what we thought was a simple valve adjustment turned out to be a "piston slap" in the #6 cylinder (result of over heating). The hour meter read 3900 hours. Regrettably, I didn't learn this until a month after buying the boat. We ended up repowering with the American Diesel Corp N6-140 (Lehman). No regrets just wish I knew at time of purchase because I could have negotiated a lower purchase price. My recommendation -- spend the money and hire a professional mechanic who is familiar with the older Lehmans.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry M View Post
I would have the mechanical survey. Between the engines and the generator, having a qualified mechanic could be money well spent. How much time will your other surveyor have to spend crawling around the generator and engines? During the sea trial is maybe a good time to have to mechanic in the engine room monitoring things. Considering the size of the purchase your about to make...
Larry is absolutely correct. Just get the right engine guy. Me, I'd question a surveyor or internet friend who says a good mechanical guy isn't needed, unless of course you are that very smart mechanical guy.

Four other things:
  • A spot oil analysis is largely worthless unless you know for sure the age of the oil in terms of both time and hours. Some very smart diesel guys even question the wisdom of putting too much stock into spot oil analysis on a used vessel. If your surveyor says otherwise I'd not trust him.
  • Be sure to do an underway full RPM test. Hold it there for about 5 minutes to check things out, especially any signs of overheating and shaft wobble/vibrations.
  • Let the genset run for about 15 minutes at about 80% maximum amp draw to insure it doesn't overheat.
  • Insure every water, sewage, electric etc system on the boat works.
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:47 AM   #13
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  • A spot oil analysis is largely worthless unless you know for sure the age of the oil in terms of both time and hours. Some very smart diesel guys even question the wisdom of putting too much stock into spot oil analysis on a used vessel. If your surveyor says otherwise I'd not trust him.
[/QUOTE]

Agree completely, take a look at "Oil Analysis, worth the money ?"
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:48 AM   #14
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Re the OP an engine survey would be not seem very necessary. I thought that when I bought Willy but I had one come out and found out about wet liners and leaking O rings. That and our move to Alaska resulted in a repower. So you never know what you're going to find.

One yardstick to help decide is to find out roughly how many boats/engines like the one you're looking at have been repowered. And of course the reason for the repower would be very usable information. Also the guy you may be dealing w may seem like a great PO but the ove before him could have been a jerk and a mechanical "Careless Carl". Re the OP the well known Lehman may seem dependable and durable. But perhaps the PO overheated it numerous times and made no record of it. Also angus99 reading the discussions in the past about repowering options and cost may very well lead you straight to a good engine survey.
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:16 AM   #15
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The cost of the engine surveyor was easily worth the lower renegotiated price. He actually did all of the mechanical systems, made recommendations, and gave cost estimates for repair. The engine was a fairly oddball BMW. I ended up repowering shortly after purchase. But did it knowingly.
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:02 PM   #16
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Well I am the author of the referenced checklist. I am a decent shade tree mechanic and after owning marine diesels for 20 years and following boatdiesel religiously for half of that time I think I can do it myself.

But.... If I found anything suspicious that I didn't understand I would either walk away from the deal or hire a real engine surveyor to get to the bottom of it. But I would quiz him carefully about his approach and skills before doing so.

Whether you do it yourself or hire a mechanic largely depends on your level of understanding of the issues. If you understand the checklist and more importantly the rationale behind them, then you can probably do it yourself.

I am working with a guy right now that I met on boatdiesel. He recently did an engine survey on a boat with twin Yanmar 4LHs. He insisted on his surveyor removing the exhaust elbow to look inside the turbo. He found years of seawater intrusion and corrosion. That survey will save him thousands of $.

You will probably never get a seller to agree to such disassembly by yourself; only with a qualified engine mechanic.

Older Lehmans and Perkins can run almost forever but they do have their own problems like manicooler leaks.

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Old 03-06-2014, 12:07 PM   #17
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Well I am the author of the referenced checklist.

David
Checklist ? did I miss one ? I can't see it in this thread. Always looking for more info.
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:10 PM   #18
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Checklist ? did I miss one ? I can't see it in this thread. Always looking for more info.
It was in post #1, anyways here ya go- Engine survey checklist
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:36 PM   #19
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If you are unfamilier with the mechanical sytems

This your golden opportunity to learn from an expert. Ask the surveyor up front to explain the systems and what to watch for. It's your dime get the most from it. When I was looking for my current boat. I paid for a survey on a boat that I backed away from. It needed new heads on both engines. I didn't pick up on the miss. I wanted the boat bad enough that I paid him to
To trouble shoot the miss. We even set the rack on one of the engines. He let do the actual work while supervising me. With the owners permission. I ended backing away for the same boat in better condition. That time spent helped me understand my boat much faster. It also showed me what to look for when I bought my boat. One of my gennies is difficult to get parts for .that knowledge helped negotiate the final selling price.
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Old 03-07-2014, 05:54 AM   #20
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Look in the lockers and see if Diesel oil , and if needed, Diesel antifreez (with SCA) is onboard.


See if the operator had Da Book , for the engine and tranny , otherwise how does he know the maint requirements.

Ask for the engine maint log. Ask for the oil sample returns for the past decade.


Start it COLD and see what smoke comes out , and for how long.
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