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Old 05-16-2019, 06:35 PM   #1
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Pre-purchase engine survey. What to expect

What do you expect from a pre-purchase engine survey? I don't mean results, I mean procedures during the survey. I'm asking in relation to older all mechanical engines. i.e. Ford Lehaman, Perkins.

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Old 05-16-2019, 06:44 PM   #2
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I had one done on an old Perkins T6354 by a certified Perkins mechanic.
He first did a visual, then started it up and let it warm up a bit.
Then a compression test.
Then we took it out ran it a little.
Then he did a high idle check (wot in neutral).
Then we ran it at wot and made sure it went to rated rpm.
All the time at every step he explained what and why he was doing.
At the end he gave me a laundry list of what he thought I should do once I owned it.
I didn't get a real formal report it was more his notes, results , temps he measured,etc

He did find a leaky turbo which was just rebuilt and the owner sent it back to the shop for them to get it right.

All in all it was worth the $

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Old 05-16-2019, 07:17 PM   #3
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PB, I met with the engine surveyor and hull surveyor the morning of the survey over breakfast to discuss the surveys with them, to get their expectations and to explain mine. I told them I was a newbie to diesels and to bigger boats (I was moving up from a 330 Sundancer) and I wanted their help to keep me out of trouble--to keep me from buying a boat with unknown problems.

It worked.. They did a great job, explained things as we went and gave me a very complete oral report before we left the boat, then followed that up with a very well written report.
Mike and Tina
Beachcomber 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:30 PM   #4
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PM sent. I heartily recommend MER Equipment in Seattle. Honest, fair, dependable.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:02 PM   #5
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I had Norm Dribble, Lehman Guru at Doc Freemans, perform my engine survey.
He insisted that the engine be absolutely cold when he arrived or he could not do a proper survey.
He did a visual check first, noting problems and pointing out service items.
He got his stethoscope ready and asked me to start the engine. He listened during cranking and immediately after startup. He listened to each cylinder/injector for proper operation. He let me listen through the stethoscope but I could'nt discern anything.
He listened at different places on the block and head.
He operated the engine at variousc rpm.
He looked at and smelled the fluids.
We took the boat out and he ran it at different rpm, WOT in and out of gear.

He found no major issues and gave me a list of minor things that needed attention.

An engine survey should be conducted by a mechanic that is throughly familiar with your specific engine. Very important with older British engines like Ford Lehman and Perkins.

A good engine surveyor will educate you by pointing out critical components, their maintenance/service requirements and provide an overall tour of your engine.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:01 AM   #6
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Thank you all for your responses. I had a conversation with the surveyor and I'm satisfied I got a good survey. His written report was more like a report for insurance. Hoses double clamped, approved fuel lines etc.

I'm buying this boat remotely and can't be there every step f the way. Sea trials, haul out and condition survey come next. I will be there for that work.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:22 AM   #7
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I'm surprised that no one listed amp draw during starting, to check the starter armature out...
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:06 AM   #8
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Some years ago I published here and on boatdiesel a set of inspections and procedures for an engine survey. It was geared to the Yanmar 6LY but would be appropriate for any diesel. It follows the suggestions made above. Look at the attachment.

You can review it with a potential engine surveyor. Most should be happy with it but some stubborn ones may push back. Caveat emptor!

Attached Files
File Type: txt Engine survey checklist.txt (2.1 KB, 29 views)
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:35 PM   #9
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Hi Portage Bay,

Well, it appears you've already had your mechanical survey, so input at this point is sorta moot. But, it's been my experience, having witnessed (and paid for!) mechanical surveys on multiple boats, that it's very difficult to issue a broad-brush opinion on "...what to expect with a pre-purchase engine survey." Even narrowing the field by including only older, mechanically-injected engines still leaves you with a giant list of "older" engines, each with a different set of procedures necessary to assess their health.

Unfortunately, it's on you to determine if your surveyor of choice has sufficient expertise to provide you with the information you require to determine the health of the mechanical items aboard a specific boat in question. But if your mechanical surveyor returned a survey "...more like a report for insurance." you may want to re-think what you really need to know from such a survey.

Typical engine surveys (and generators and transmissions, if applicable) generally contain much deeper levels of information than the number of hose clamps visible on a hose, and fuel hose markings. As applicable, oil sample interpretations, performance parameters during sea trial, crankcase pressure, compression test results, air box and ring inspections, vibration under load, etc.

I would heartily recommend that your engine surveyor be aboard for sea trial. Much of the vital survey information regarding engine health can only be obtained while underway. Lots of boats are purchased remotely, but the buyer must insist on competent survey personnel be present throughout the evaluation period. Otherwise, you're treading on thin ice, and can end up with a can of worms.

Hope this helps.


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