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Old 11-02-2020, 03:42 AM   #1
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Perkins 6-354 Range 4 Question

Hi all, put an initial offer in on a boat with an '83 Perkins 63544 Range 4 120bhp engine. It's naturally aspirated but has the same manicooler as the turbo range 4's. Would appreciate any feedback on the following observations made during seatrial.

Boat is claimed to have ~500 hours (1983 model) and mostly kept in fresh water (Seattle area). Boat currently has been sitting in salt water with the new buyer who bought the boat only a few months ago and decided to go back to a faster boat. Boat does seem used very lightly at least cosmetically.

For the seatrial, at start, the engine blew excessive amount of smoke with a clear hint of blue, outside temperature 56 degrees on a sunny day in the pacific northwest. Warmed the engine for about 3-4 minutes while checking around the engine, then went under way warming engine up at outside the no-wake zone, then gradually to 1600 rpm and 175 degrees. As the boat came to operating temperature, the smoke blew less, but still quite visible to the naked eye. Checked temperature with an infrared gun at every 200rpm:

-1600 @175 degrees
-1800 @179
-2000 @184
-2200 @187
-2500 @190-191

WOT in neutral went to 3100rpm, but in gear went max 2550rpm, and didn't stay WOT more than about 90 seconds to 2 mins as temperature started going past 190. Once back down to cruising rpm, temperature normalized back to around 175. The amount of smoke blowing out of exhaust was about the same, still quite visible, at higher rpm and temperature. If the engine had wear, I would have thought the oil would burn more and blow more blue smoke as I went to WOT, but it was pretty steady, much less than at cold start but still visible. I didn't have any pictures but I would say comparable to the amount coming out in this youtube video by another TF member:



Is it possible that the engine has sat for too long without use, even if it was in fresh water, and is causing these effects? I appreciate any feedback. Thank you.
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blue smoke start up1.jpg   blue smoke start up2.jpg   blue smoke start up3.jpg  
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Old 11-02-2020, 11:46 AM   #2
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13 hours a year isn't likely. If the engines leave an oil sheen, that a problem. If the engines have been sitting for a long time, it's possible that a long run could improve the ring seating, but not likely.
But the engines as they are will probably run for a long time.
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Old 11-02-2020, 12:27 PM   #3
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Mine start similar, but clear up entirely reaching operating temp of 190. 1984 models with 2,600 hrs.
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Old 11-02-2020, 02:12 PM   #4
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I've had Perkins on several boats. Had the naturals and the 6.3544. Your operating temps are perfect. The heavy smoke at startup could have been lack of use. Perkins seem to enjoy leaving an oil sheen on startup that disappears when operating. One question might be the water temperature at time of testing. Some of what you saw with diminished "smoke" while running might actually be steam. Might need to have the exhaust elbows themselves pulled for investigation. Have you gone back for another cold start look to see if the heavy smoke reoccurs?
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Old 11-02-2020, 03:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
13 hours a year isn't likely. If the engines leave an oil sheen, that a problem. If the engines have been sitting for a long time, it's possible that a long run could improve the ring seating, but not likely.
But the engines as they are will probably run for a long time.
May be a bit of oil sheen at start. Pictures show the smoke at start with some brownish material around; not sure if that's material from inside the engine/exhaust or junk near the aft of boat.

Pictures are about 20-30 seconds in between.
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Old 11-02-2020, 03:32 PM   #6
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I've had Perkins on several boats. Had the naturals and the 6.3544. Your operating temps are perfect. The heavy smoke at startup could have been lack of use. Perkins seem to enjoy leaving an oil sheen on startup that disappears when operating. One question might be the water temperature at time of testing. Some of what you saw with diminished "smoke" while running might actually be steam. Might need to have the exhaust elbows themselves pulled for investigation. Have you gone back for another cold start look to see if the heavy smoke reoccurs?
Water temp in the puget sound waters would have been around 51 to 53 degrees, and yesterday was my second sea trial. Same smoke effects for the most part both cold starts and sea trials. I didn't get to really pay attention to smoke the first time while under way at operating temperature, but it seems about the same. Didn't quite realize the blue smoke much the first time with gloomy weather but yesterday weather was clear and blue at start. While under way, couldn't really tell the exact color of smoke, or possibly steam.

One of the reasons why I didn't test WOT too long was the temps starting to go above 190, and I understand 200 is a bad temp to reach on these. I was under the impression that the max rpm in gear WOT was low at 2500-2550 out of 2800, but not sure if that is pretty common on these.
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Old 11-02-2020, 03:49 PM   #7
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What is pretty common is the dash tachometer being somewhat off because it’s pulses come from the alternator. Was the rpm read from a photo tach or the dash tach? Photo tach +/- 1 rpm. Dash tach +/- several hundred!
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Old 11-03-2020, 12:08 AM   #8
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What is pretty common is the dash tachometer being somewhat off because it’s pulses come from the alternator. Was the rpm read from a photo tach or the dash tach? Photo tach +/- 1 rpm. Dash tach +/- several hundred!
The photo tach was within 0-10 difference from dash tach reading.
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Old 11-03-2020, 07:04 AM   #9
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I am not sure I understand the problem.

IF the engine was operated as little as claimed there is a chance the cylinder bores had some rust , which pits the cylinder and the oil control ring cant scrape it.

Valve guides ( and seals if installed) can leak oil and of course the rings can be seized from long periods of ideling or low loads.

OIL IS CHEAP!

As long as the oil consumption is not so high its hard to afford or requires an engine shutdown every hour underway you may have no problems operating the boat for decades..

Much of the starting smoke hassles may also go away as the engine gets its first few hundred hours of operation underway under load..

If it smokes constantly after a few days of cruising ,a blow down test should ID the problem.
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Old 11-04-2020, 01:34 AM   #10
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I was wondering if anyone had any input on the symptoms on whether they may be from an unused engine.

I do thank you all and appreciate all the feedback and thoughts shared; they do make me understand the norms better on these older model engines.

We're moving forward with the adjusted offer and looking forward to cruising and continuously making improvements.
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Old 11-04-2020, 02:08 AM   #11
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Firstly Perkins are a long life industrial engine which are marinized.
The brown stuff you saw in the exhaust was crud from the intake filter getting flushed out because the boats not been used for a long while.
If it was my boat ( and this is what I did it on mine) would be to check the intake filter and all hoses for kinks or cracks.
Remove the raw water impeller and put a 'wet & dry' vacuum up the pipe to the heat exchanger and suck out any debris or old broken impeller vanes, or backflush it.
I would then use a proprietary radiator cleaner for your closed circuit cooling and thereafter use anti-freeze (even in hot weather) because anti-freeze keeps the water galleries clean and lubricates your closed circuit water pump.
Then I would pull the injectors and get them cleaned (cheaper in an agricultural dealers)and refitted, you can buy injector cleaner additive but its better to pull the injectors so the spray patterns can be verified.
All older non electronic engines will smoke a little on start up, its normal.
When you use your engine, start up, check oil pressures normal and cast off, run it under light load until it reaches working temperature after that you can work it hard, NO engine like to be run at WOT for more than few minutes so its unnecessary except in an emergency.
What IS very important in ANY engine is that when the engine is really hot after hard work let it cool down gently while you approach a harbour and tie up, that will allow the cooling system to relieve thermal stresses around the engine and lead to a much longer life.
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Old 11-04-2020, 03:54 PM   #12
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That seems like a lot of smoke to me and I have Lehmans!
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Old 11-04-2020, 06:03 PM   #13
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My Perkins is a similar model but seems to smoke less than your photos. I would guess the owner and other previous owners run the engine regularly in the slip for 5-10 minute then shut down.

My smoke is about half that when cold and about 1/4 that when warm. The only time I notice it is when idling for a long time in a lock where there is a dark background for contrast. The engine oil gets a chance to cool down. Out in the open water can't see it at all. One thing is my engine smoked more when I bought it because what I believe is the PO was using straight 30 weight oil. Switching to 10W30 Rotella T5 cut the smoke down considerably.
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Old 11-05-2020, 01:17 AM   #14
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My Perkins is a similar model but seems to smoke less than your photos. I would guess the owner and other previous owners run the engine regularly in the slip for 5-10 minute then shut down.

My smoke is about half that when cold and about 1/4 that when warm. The only time I notice it is when idling for a long time in a lock where there is a dark background for contrast. The engine oil gets a chance to cool down. Out in the open water can't see it at all. One thing is my engine smoked more when I bought it because what I believe is the PO was using straight 30 weight oil. Switching to 10W30 Rotella T5 cut the smoke down considerably.
Thanks for the info. What temps are cold and warm for you? I'd imagine big difference between NJ and FL. Seemed like current oil used is straight 30, I'd think of switching to 15W40 and see if any much difference.
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Old 11-05-2020, 02:32 AM   #15
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Just my two bits.
I would recommend using Shell Helix 15/40 which is a Series 3 oil suitable for both n/a and turbo engines.
(A Series 3 oil for diesel engines is designed to accept higher temperatures and not break down its lubricity under heavy/hot load as experienced in the turbo bearings).
Its perfectly suitable for your engine.
As High Wire has said previously it could be the PO let it idle for long periods which is not a good idea at all as I explained in an earlier post.
Also check the air filter as this is often overlooked but a dirty filter will upset the air/fuel mix.
Personally I'd take it out and let it gently warm up and the give it a good hard run for around 35/40 as it will clean it out and then you can check for smoke and take it from there.

kchace, I'm familiar with the Lehman's and if you have a smoke problem I respectfully suggest you contact Mike Bellamy at Lancing Marine in the UK.
Mike used to race the Ford diesels offshore and what he doesn't know about them could be written on a pinhead, they sell an aftermarket kit which considerably cuts down the smoke without impeding performance. If possible have you engine/model number when you contact them.
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Old 11-05-2020, 03:55 AM   #16
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Thanks for the info. What temps are cold and warm for you? I'd imagine big difference between NJ and FL. Seemed like current oil used is straight 30, I'd think of switching to 15W40 and see if any much difference.
Cold for me is a typical Florida morning startup of about 40-70 degrees F outside air temp. After running under load for at least 10 minutes my engine stabilizes around 180F coolant temp. Idling in a lock could last 30 minutes. Coolant temp will typically drop to 160F.

Hot is when running over 2000 RPM will reach about 200F coolant temp. I never run here more than a minute or two just to make sure I can get to WOT.

I use 10W30 Rotella because my generator recommends it and is on the list of approved oils for my Perkins. Its convenient to only need to carry one or two jugs of the same spare oil plus its readily available anywhere. 15W40 is an option.

I would not use straight SAE 30 without an oil pan heater or engine room ALWAYS above 70F. That's my choice.
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