Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Water in the engine...

After going to a yard in Ballard to have Agamere's bottom painted, zincs replaced and new folding prop installed (among other things) we spent several weeks in and out of Port Madison, both sailing and motoring to get a feel for our new equipment.  Just a few weeks away from shoving off from our home port for a year, we wanted to make sure everything was ship shape.  As the days went on, it was clear that something wasn't quite right with the starting of the engine and upon closer inspection, we discovered there was water in the engine oil - enough of it to raise the level of our dipstick to an overfull status. 

Toasted Turbo
We spent June 23rd taking apart the engine, including the turbo which was simultaneously discovered to be completely non functioning (see photo), the exhaust elbow, also in poor condition and the water cooling unit.  We took a sample of the scary looking oil for lab analysis - unsure if it was coolant or seawater in the oil.  Then we began the work of removing all of the grey/milky oil and replenishing the engine with fresh oil to stop any additional engine damage.  With four of us knocking our heads together, we finally figured out the source of our unwanted malice - it was seawater and it was intruding the engine through the exhaust system by way of the newly installed dripless packing gland.
Crew at work on engine
We were thankful that the watery oil was discovered now rather than halfway up the Straits of Georgia!  Our Yanmar needed a new turbo & new exhaust elbow so that we could put her back together and run cleaning agents and new oil throughout the lubricating system.  Hatten Marine in Seattle came through with five star service by taking our battered turbo (which was no longer made and only three remained in Japan) and had it sent out for a short turn around rebuild.  Five days later we had parts in hand and our intrepid crew went to work putting the parts back together and fired up the engine (with the dripless packing gland water hose re-routed as a vented system).  The oil looked crystal clear after running the engine for about 30 minutes.

Today we took Agamere out to see how the engine worked under load with its new turbo and clean oil.  For the first time since we've had the boat (three years), we can get her rpm's up to 3200 without blowing crazy black smoke - thanks to the new turbo.  In addition, the engine now starts up without a fuss as she did before the water intrusion began. 

Lessons learned by a non engine buff: 1.) a high oil level indicates that something is filling the oil and it is likely not the engine oil fairies 2.) idle for several minutes before shutting down your engine to let your turbo cool off - this is likely how the first turbo was shot years ago 3.) if your engine starts running differently - take note and check things out.  A huge thanks to Cranston, Cory, Steve and Bill for helping diagnose and repair the engine with us in what seemed like record time! 


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