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Old 11-16-2018, 03:44 PM   #21
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We just repowered an Onan generator with something like 19,000 hours on it. It was still running like a top, but freeze plugs and other circulating water system problems were showing us a failure in the near future.
A well maintained and often used (absolutely the most important factor) diesel should easily last in excess of 12000 hours. Thing is, unlike road vehicle engines, marine diesels spend most of their time operating at a constant speed in pretty much the same conditions. No high mountains with steep grades or freezing temps, to desert heat in a day or two.
If you like the boat enough to spend some money finding out the engine's condition, find a very, very well recommended diesel mechanic and have him take a look. Let him take it out for a test run if he wishes and he will get an oil sample off to a lab!
Engines are really easy fixes compared to osmosis, soft deck coring, electrickery problems and other problems with an older boat.
Good luck.
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Old 11-16-2018, 04:02 PM   #22
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I was looking a perfectly fine older boat from a quality builder. When they redid the interior ($$$) they removed all hour meters (2 engines, 2 generators). None in the engine room either. How do these people perform maintenance? The answer is, they do not.

I'm fine with replaced hour meters that have been used to keep track of maintenance for several years. Ideally, the owner would keep the old defunct hour meters to provide some history.

Newer engines, of course, keep total fuel and run-time in the ECM.

From the comments it seems many people don't care. This might be ok for smaller boats but once you get to the 60' range with $200+k machinery it is a show stopper.
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Old 11-16-2018, 04:11 PM   #23
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I was looking a perfectly fine older boat from a quality builder. When they redid the interior ($$$) they removed all hour meters (2 engines, 2 generators). None in the engine room either. How do these people perform maintenance? The answer is, they do not.

I'm fine with replaced hour meters that have been used to keep track of maintenance for several years. Ideally, the owner would keep the old defunct hour meters to provide some history.

Newer engines, of course, keep total fuel and run-time in the ECM.

From the comments it seems many people don't care. This might be ok for smaller boats but once you get to the 60' range with $200+k machinery it is a show stopper.
It's that we don't care, it's that it is pretty easy to find out if an engine is in good condition. It may be costly, but you can remove a head, check a piston or shaft bearing in less than a day.
As for engine hour meters, we haven't had functioning ones for the genset or the ME since we bought the boat. How do we keep track of engine hours you ask? With an engine room log book. Pretty easy actually. And the servicing records of the engines is in there too!

Finally did get the Onan a new engine hour meter last month, but that was just because I ran into a good deal on it. The ME would require a new tach, which other than the engine hours, runs just fine.
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Old 11-17-2018, 08:18 AM   #24
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Like many others, I wouldn't be afraid of the engines because you don't know how many hours are on them. The best advice from what's already been posted, IMO, is:
- Research the type of engine - some have good reputations, some do not.
- Find a mechanic who knows that type of engine very well (ask some questions of the mechanic, don't just take them at face value), and have them onboard for the survey. Make SURE the engines are stone cold when you arrive for the survey, and have the mechanic watch and hear and smell everthing from start-up to full throttle.
- If you're still OK with things after the survey, get an oil analysis. Yes, they are far more meaningful if you have a history of them, but if there is 30 x the amount of copper in the sample that's supposed to be there, you don't need a history to tell you some bearings are on their way out.
- Can the engines be rebuilt "in frame" (I think that's the term). i.e., w/o being removed from the boat? If so, it'll be MUCH less expensive to rebuild one or both than if they have to be removed.

Our first big boat was a 40 year old Gulfstar with twin Perkins 6-354's with over 6,000 hours on them (if the meters were accurate). it's still going strong 4 years and several hundred hours later.
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:19 AM   #25
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Looking at a 30 year old trawler with original engines. Hour meters are non functional. I rally like the boat. Should I run?
ERTF
Three questions:
- Why aren't they working?
- What engines?
- Why do you like the boat?
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Old 11-17-2018, 11:16 AM   #26
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I agree with the above answer theme as well.

When I purchased my 1986 Tollycraft, the hour meters read around 300 hours. They obviously had more. The owners told me there had been several hour meters in the life of the boat and actually had recorded the hours the previous 2 times that the meters failed.
I settled down after hearing that these hour meters are not as bullet proof as the odometer of a car and fail frequently - makes since in the corrosive environment they live in.
In my case, I had a good survey and the boat was cared for on the same maintenance schedule as the Charleston Harbor Pilot boats.
Since purchasing the boat, one of the meters failed and I replaced both with Hobbs meters - which have a good reputation in the marine and aviation industry.

I also had a small engraved plastic plate made up that I posted over each hour meter reporting the known hours of each meter when it failed with the total at the bottom.

This plus my maintenance records should help when I sell the boat.

I agree with a previous poster that the main concern I'd have would be the maintenance habits of an owner that did not replace a failed meter.

When mine failed I couldn't stand it till I had it replaced...
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Old 11-17-2018, 12:29 PM   #27
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If your decision is already made then ignore this.
Hourmeters often fail. I'm on my third now although I did log the replacements and have kept the failed units. The worst are those built into some other device such as a tach or a panel. They are expensive to repair if at all possible .
I prefer the separate units.

My previous boat didn't have meters untill I installed them.

Have you asked to see the log? Maybe noted , just not done.

I have seen several people who finally had to give up on boating that failed to deal with stuff like that even though the boats major stuff was actually maintained well. They lived with the expense of oil changes and repairs done by hire but balked at the expense of relatively minor things as the running time can be kept with a proper log and a watch/clock. In fact that is how we figured out the two meter failures, from the logging and then realizing the meter had goofed up.

A good surveryor, both for the hull and especially in your case, the engine can tell a lot by appearances and testing.

Just be sure about how much you like the boat.
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Old 11-17-2018, 12:36 PM   #28
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When mine failed I couldn't stand it till I had it replaced...
I know that feeling. When the LED meter in my Tach became Extremely hard to read, I purchased an external Hobbs meter. Hooked it up to a 12v battery and ran it up 1600 hours until everything matched. No secrets.

On another note, my '88 boat was sold in '99 with 120 hours on it. Sat on a lift in Florida and obviously was used very little. That '99 purchaser was putting in a new engine in 2002. I can't help but believe that light use over many years contributed to the failure and eventual re-power..
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Old 11-18-2018, 07:12 AM   #29
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"I can't help but believe that light use over many years contributed to the failure and eventual re-power.."


More likely that never putting the engine into storage mode, preserving , pickeling , not doing what the engine mfg sez to do when out of service is cause for early death.
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