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Old 06-18-2015, 09:29 PM   #1
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Ford Lehman 120 Bad News/Good News

The Ongoing Quest for Honesty in Marine Land:

About a month ago I ended up paying out over $5200 for repairs to my Exhaust Manifold/Elbow. OUCH- Turns out that because they used refurbished parts, the REAL BILL should have been much less. Then this unscrupulous company tried to collect another $400 after I paid my bill, saying they forgot to bill me for a part. BUYER BEWARE

And now for the good news:
I have been losing coolant resulting in my engine alarm going off on several occasions with an engine temp over 200. Obviously both times this left me powerless for about 15 minutes on each occasion as I immediately shut down and added coolant. A few minutes later, all would go back to normal - or so I thought.

I was very worried that the loss of coolant was the result of another major engine problem which was going to cost me thousands. AT LAST, I found an honest, highly recommended local mechanic who diagnosed the problem in 2 minutes time - a faulty pressure cap on my radiator. That was it. Nothing more. WOW- how nice to have an honest guy not milk me and make the problem into something else entirely.

I'm trying my best to educate myself on basic engine and mechanical stuff. I'm a great salesman, but certainly no mechanic. Just glad there are still honest people in the world and learning each day how critical it is to get personal recommendations when it comes to finding vendors in the boating world..especially in Florida.

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Old 06-18-2015, 09:37 PM   #2
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You might want to post the name of the company that bilked you so others can avoid having the same experience....

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Old 06-18-2015, 09:39 PM   #3
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Was the cap leaking or was the spring so old and weak that not enough pressure was being maintained? Or what? Or did he consider it a mechanic's secret?

North Western Washington State USA
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Old 06-18-2015, 09:53 PM   #4
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Bad cap

The cap was faulty. He tested the pressure and told me to take the cap to an auto supply store and purchase a new one. Overall engine pressure was perfect. What a relief. For once I caught a break!
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Old 06-18-2015, 09:55 PM   #5
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I really want to warn others BUT Florida is a very litigious place and I would prefer to wimp out and keep my mouth shut and rack this up to learning the hard way. I just recommend all of us ALWAYS ask for referrals and get a firm price BEFORE agreeing to the work. That was the biggest red flag I let slide...
When I repeatedly ask for an estimate, he said he couldn't provide it. Shame on me.
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Old 06-18-2015, 10:06 PM   #6
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I bet there are many L120s out there with 30yo caps. Springs weaken, seals degrade, pressure drops, coolant escapes. They cost about the same as 2 coffees, it`s pure DIY, and you won`t be topping up or pouring the overflow back in from some improvised system. Auto shops or American Diesel. Be warned, they are low psi.
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Old 06-19-2015, 05:32 AM   #7
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You're right there Bruce. My engine (120hp Lehman also, for others who don't know), used to always lose a bit of coolant each run, and I'd just top it up. Then one day when I took the cap off to check it, there was a sort of sprang-clatter-clatter sound and the pressure plate and spring went in different directions. I decided right then to get the adaptor neck and cap that allows the siphon bottle conversion for these old motors, and got the order number and fax from Bob Smith at American Diesel, all set to order one. However, as an interim fix I got one of the correct pressure from the local Repco shop for about $6, and found that the loss of coolant stopped about an inch below the neck, and has never shifted…so I never quite got round to ordering that adaptor kit, which costs several hundred dollars Australian. I also remembered Marin actually did order that set-up for both his engines, and as far as I know has still not got round to fitting them. I suspect replacing the original cap at regular intervals is a much cheaper and effective solution to coolant loss.
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Old 06-19-2015, 09:02 AM   #8
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Just replaced both on our 225s. Starboard was still leaking around the cap even with the new cap. Ended up slightly bending the two ears on the cap for a more positive seal at the top. That fixed the leak and the overflow now goes into the catch tank.

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Old 06-19-2015, 09:23 AM   #9
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The expansion tank is called an expansion tank for a reason.

Most Lehmans like to run with the coolant level in the tank about an inch from the top cold. If you try to keep them topped off right to the top all the time they just keep pushing out the extra fluid as the fluid expands.

And don't forget to open the coolant petcock at the high end of the manifold when you check the coolant level to bleed out any air in the system.
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Old 06-20-2015, 08:43 AM   #10
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Island Gypsy: I suggest investing a few hundred dollars in a basic diesel mechanic class. That's what I did when I got my boat and this small investment paid off in multiple ways. FL120 are very simple machines and are relatively easy to fix when you know a bit about diesel engines in general. It will make you self-sufficient (a mechanic is not always around when you are on the water) and save you a lot of money. I don't pretend I can't fix every problem on my engine but at least I can understand a mechanic if comes a problem that is out of my scope. That too can save you money since they won't be inclined to rip you off if they see you know what they are talking about.
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Old 06-20-2015, 10:49 AM   #11
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My family and I plan to take our 44' Gulf Star from San Diego (home) down Mexico's west coast this winter. Having recently lost our long-time and trusted mechanic to retirement we asked around learned of a highly recommended replacement. We were told he had been with a local boatyard for 15 years and had recently set up his own shop. We met with him and told him we were primarily interested in being certain our aux. fuel tank was operational. We informed him at time of purchase of the boat we had been told it would hold 200 gals. but had never used it and really knew nothing about it, even its location. After about an hour's inspection of our boat he announced: the aux. tank was between the aft head bulkhead and the washer/dryer compartment. That it could hold only 80 gals. and could not be made operational, for safety he needed to tear out the bulkhead and remove the tank. He also said he could fabricate a new 200 gal. tank that would fit under the v-berth bed and that we should take a vacation as he would need to tear out a lot of cabinetry and "things would be a mess for a while." He added that he had also noticed that: our 20 gal. hot water heater was rusty and should be replaced, the exhaust on our 14kw gen. was broken and was dangerous. He said he could repair all and install new tank for "something in the $10,000 range." Well, there is no tank between the aft head and the washer/dryer, they are each on one side of the same bulkhead, our aux. tank is in the keel (the boat has a "wineglass hull) does hold approx. 200 gals. although it needs a good clean out and a new pump, the broken gen. was a hose someone had loosened the clamp on, and a thorough inspection reveals no rust on hot water heater. Is it possible "here is a landlubber sap" is somehow painted in code on the side of our slip? Thanks for the chance to vent.
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Old 06-20-2015, 12:06 PM   #12
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Unfortunately, a significant part of boating is keeping all the junk operating, floating and capable of moving all in the same direction at once. We buy hugely expensive pieces of constructed stuff and then submerge a lot of it in salt water full of creatures that wish to live on your boat with you. You spend lots and lots of time just making sure the stuff is seaworthy.

If you do not take the time and make the effort to learn how all your systems operate with at least a view to understanding how it all works and preferrably to learn to do a lot of the stuff yourself, you are not only putting yourself in financial risk but you are putting yourself and your passengers at risk, if not downright peril. That doesn't even include the time required to learn the regulations, how to maneuver and do all the boatyard stuff.

If you know what you are talking about, you can direct people you pay to do some of the work for you, but if you don't know, prepare to be robbed. It's the same as "woman at the car dealer" syndrome or "that financial advisor will make you rich."... It's entirely up to you to manage your boat.

"...Tongue tied and twisted, just an earthbound misfit..."
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