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Old 02-13-2014, 06:22 PM   #1
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Diesel Engines at the Playschool Level

I'm looking at a 40' Eagle trawler with twin Yanmar diesel engines. I have no experience with diesel at all. This boat is a handyman special and the yard is willing to give the boat away for a song. I'd like to start the engines but at this point, I have no idea of their condition. The yard has no history on the boat at all. Before I hoop up some batteries, turn the key and cause a lot of damage, what steps should I take before I turn the key?
I know this is elementary to many of you but I'd really appreciate any advice you can give short of "run away" from that boat. Are there books out there that can walk a newbie through the process of assessing an unknown engine?

Thanks all,

Ben
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:27 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennett Schneider View Post
I'm looking at a 40' Eagle trawler with twin Yanmar diesel engines. I have no experience with diesel at all. This boat is a handyman special and the yard is willing to give the boat away for a song. I'd like to start the engines but at this point, I have no idea of their condition. The yard has no history on the boat at all. Before I hoop up some batteries, turn the key and cause a lot of damage, what steps should I take before I turn the key?
I know this is elementary to many of you but I'd really appreciate any advice you can give short of "run away" from that boat. Are there books out there that can walk a newbie through the process of assessing an unknown engine?

Thanks all,

Ben
If the vessel is in the water, have the yard start it up- if damage occurs, it's on them.

Before committing, I'd have the vessel surveyed- mechanical and hull. This may save you tens of thousands in the long run.....
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:56 PM   #3
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Did the boat sink in Sandy? If so, it is a bigger project than most want to take on.

First thing is go check oil level, coolant level, transmission gear oil- If any oil sumps overfull there may be water in sumps. Look for rust on valve gear through oil fill cap. Put a wrench on crankshaft bolts and try to rotate engines. A moderate push on a 32" breaker bar should rotate engines. Don't try to force if stuck, sometimes injection hdw stick and if forced, break. If stuck, that's bad.

If that checks out, try to find a local mechanic to do a quick look, and possible startup. This can be done on the hard if you have garden hose, or pull impellers. A few hours of mechanic time can find 80% of the issues.
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:58 PM   #4
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nothing really. Check the oil. make sure you have water supplied to the raw water pumps if it is in the water all the easier...just make sure the sea cocks are open.

If its on the hard then put the raw water intake hose into a bucket and keep the bucket filled while runnign.

Other than that maybe check the water/ sediment bowl on the fuel filters. crank her over and hope for the best.

Obviously, get permission from the yard/owner before doing anything of if they are willing get them to do it.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:25 PM   #5
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Yards don't normally give things away, unless they got it somewhat cheaper than they giving it away for. So how does a yard acquire a boat...

Unpaid repair bills, which for you, is a good thing and easy to check
Uneconomical to repair, where the owners bring it in for repair and find out the repair is more than the boat is worth and walk away.
Salvage. The insurance company has written it off.

I hope you have found a great deal but would try to find out some history before doing anything. Just my two cents.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:43 PM   #6
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The money you will likely spend on this one, and the time, why not buy one you can use now?

I can't think of an upside to this one, except the brand of boat is nice, except its Taiwanese, except it has two very expensive diesels, except it might have been sunk...

If the yard is "giving it away" it's not worth it to them to fix it and sell it for a profit.

Sorry, you should oh right, I'm not supposed to say that........
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:35 PM   #7
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Thanks for everyone's input. I know for a fact that the boat is not Sandy damaged. The boat was actually in a covered berth during Sandy and what damage she did sustain was topside when the tide lifted her up into the rafters. Mostly cosmetic. Keep the input coming. I'm taking notes and learning a lot from the folks on this site.

Thanks,

Ben
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:40 PM   #8
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MOST "free" boats are too expensive. And if a boatyard with crew available can't or won't fix for profit that should tell you more than enough. I'm sorry.

But I do wish you good luck.
For advice though: get a boat you can use TODAY. Handyman specials are dream killers in disguise. And because your question is so basic I'm thinking this is beyond your capabilities.

I wish I could be more positive. Bringing a boat back is far more complex than you can imagine. And define "complex" as EXPENSIVE.
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:47 PM   #9
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Thanks Janice. The boat isn't free. The problem is that the yard was just taken over by a person who has no idea how to go about selling boats. Normally I wouldn't even have walked into the place but I saw this boat and it caught my eye. There is work that will need to be done and I'm sure it will take many years but I am planning on doing the Loop when I retire and I've got some years until then. In the meantime, I'll work on this boat little by little. The boat is in the water now...looking a bit tired but she seemed to perk up when I walked past her on the dock. :-)
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:53 PM   #10
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Are you a diesel mechanic, are you a finish carpenter, are you an electrician. Are you close to being any of those things. If not, run, run, run, then run faster.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:01 PM   #11
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If it is floating at the dock, it is definitely worth a closer look. Could be a gem under a layer of grime, or could be a total POS. Check it out. Boats on the hard are often there to die. Boats in the water have a better chance of being functional before they were abandoned.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:05 PM   #12
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Seems she may have winked at you, so...

Get a friend who owns/knows boats to come have a good look at the boat with you. (if you have no friends you should look for a smaller boat lol), He/she should be able to determine if, for the price, the boat warrants a survey. Get both a mechanical and hull survey done if worth it. Proceed as you wish.

Good luck
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:07 PM   #13
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Don't run....don't panic...don't think that you won't wind up spending as much as you think you are saving.

I bought a boat at 1/2 the price that a "sail away" one cost. 3 years later I have spent 1/3 to 1/2 of the difference in cash and almost non-stop labor.

I knew what I was getting into and I do have average to above average boat repair skills from glass work to electronics to engines.

You don't have to be a skilled carpenter unless you want "yacht finish"..you don't have to be a mechanic if you do all the grunt work and pay for the tech stuff that matters...you can learn a lot of the electrical/plumbing stuff along the way from "good guys" that will guide and help along the way.

Not every boat has to be "high tech", "yacht finish", "world class", "blue water fit" etc...etc.... Mine will never be but after buying a POS..within the first thre years she has gone from Ft Lauderdaqle toi Jersey, Jersey to Brunswick, Ga and return...and now back to Florida and back home in a month. That's almost 6000 resonably trouble free miles with just plodding along and fixing what needs to be to move and the cosmetics are slowly coming along.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:10 PM   #14
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Greetings,
Mr. B. Well, if it's in the water now, get the yard to fire it up as Mr. PH suggested. Yup, you'll have to pay for the privilege but it's a start (If they do-pun intended).
Keep foremost in your mind that as mentioned a "free" or "give away price" vessel can suck your funds in the same fashion as a flock of mosquitoes can drain your blood. Slowly but surely.
If you don't mind, how much is a "song"?
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:21 PM   #15
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All of the above is true but remember that time spent messing about in boats is not deducted from your lifespan.
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Old 02-13-2014, 09:30 PM   #16
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My concern is that if you are asking questions like this, why are you even considering a handyman special.

Are you experienced in working on boats in some other way?

You sound like a nice sincere guy, but it sounds to me like you're setting yourself up for problems.
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Old 02-14-2014, 02:32 AM   #17
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Cleaner
Polisher
Mechanic
Problem solver
Plumber,
Corrosion specialist
Electrician
Painter
Varnisher
Scraper
Carpenter/cabinet maker
Not to mention
Navigator, boat handler
Knot tie'er
Splicer
Rigging specialist
Small engine (outboard) mechanic
Dinghy maintenance
Safety specialist
Cook
Provisioner
Fisherman
BBQ specialist
Drinker

And I forgot to mention, accountant and banker
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Old 02-14-2014, 06:19 AM   #18
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My concern is that if you are asking questions like this, why are you even considering a handyman special.

Are you experienced in working on boats in some other way?

You sound like a nice sincere guy, but it sounds to me like you're setting yourself up for problems.
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Old 02-14-2014, 01:25 PM   #19
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Sure why not have a good look and as previously suggested get the engines going before purchase. Please post some details as to engines. Also insure no salt water intrusion into ER, don't take anyone's word for it "only floated up."

BTW, seldom is a good boat is ever given away, especially by a half way good yard. Not knowing how to sell boats is a lot different than knowing the cost to get to cruising trim, the yard owner likely knows the score.
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Old 02-14-2014, 01:52 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennett Schneider View Post
Thanks Janice. The boat isn't free. The problem is that the yard was just taken over by a person who has no idea how to go about selling boats. Normally I wouldn't even have walked into the place but I saw this boat and it caught my eye. There is work that will need to be done and I'm sure it will take many years but I am planning on doing the Loop when I retire and I've got some years until then. In the meantime, I'll work on this boat little by little. The boat is in the water now...looking a bit tired but she seemed to perk up when I walked past her on the dock. :-)
Part II of my answer is thus:
You're planning on buying a boat NOW for use in "many years" and that's a recipe for financial disaster. Let's just say for example's sake that your dockage is $500 a month. That's $6000 per year until you leave. (you do the math there)

Next, nothing stops failing just because you're not using it.
My Bebi Owl (anchor light) quit this past week. I'm not sure why (connections appear stable/might be the switch) but without me touching it, it failed. Nothing on this potential boat of yours will stop deteriorating while you wait to cruise.

However if you told me you found a 25' weekender you can use/play with today (this afternoon!) I'd say go for it. The bigger gems will be there when you're ready to go on the Loop -- even this one.

I just wrote an article for my website that offers a bit of restraint in the face of your current decision making process. It might be helpful:
Janice142 article Dreamer to Boater: Books

Use caution. Too many boats at marinas started out as a good idea, or worse, a great price and sit unused and falling apart. That always makes me sad. But the little boats? Those are actually used, and often.

I've been in Carrabelle for about six months (engine breakdown, and now an engine swap) ... on the river I'm anchored in, south side, there is ONE (o-n-e) larger (40+ feet) boat that is used regularly. There are dozens (two?) of little boats that go in and out almost every weekend.

Yes, on the other side of the river are a couple of sailboats (30') that are used regularly, plus one or two sports fish boats, and that's it. The Loopers come and go, but the local boats simple sit. Which is exactly what I've done while the engine issues are resolved.

That's not to say I want you not to boat -- I just want you to actually BOAT before you dump your wealth into a dream killer.

In My Opinion, of course.
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