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B.J. Porter

Crankshafted - Generator Issues

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So it's the little things that come back to bite you in the ass.

 

We've been trying to track down a small oil leak for the last month or two. Before we left I had "Verify Generator Oil Leak" as a to do item, but I didn't find anything. After a month+ aboard though I saw definitely signs something was up.

 

So we took the boat into a reputable yard in Maine and they determined it was the main front seal and replaced it. I was told to keep in eye on it in case the DX was wrong, and new fluffy white padding was left under the genset just in case. Well, it was still leaking. Took it to another yard, they looked at it and thought it might be the oil pan, but we wanted to dye test to be sure. After dye testing it appeared to be the seal at the timing cover.

 

Once it got all apart, the real problem showed up. The front end of the crankshaft has some wear and is no longer smooth. This meant the front seal replacement in Maine wasn't holding, and further replacements of the seal probably would just keep leaking until at some point it couldn't keep a seal any more.

 

Options to repair it correctly are to pull out the crankshaft and turn it on a lathe back to smooth & round, then replace the seal with an oversized seal to adjust for the lost material.

 

Of course, by the time you take the crankshaft out of a 15 year old generator with 1300+ hours on it you might as well do a full rebuild on the thing. Pulling the shaft and getting it machined has about the same lead time as pulling the whole damned engine out and mailing it off to Westerbeke.

 

So options presented are as follows. Note that we are scheduled to leave for the Carribean on 11/4 from Hampton, VA so time is running short (not all our fault, we've been pushing since September to get this solved and not always had deadlines met at yards).

 

Option 1: "Fix it Right/Rebuild"

Pull the crankshaft, take it to someplace to get it machined clean again and use an oversized seal to stop the leaks on the now smaller shaft. Might as well do the whole 100,000 mile rebuild and bring everything back to spec once you've got it ripped apart. Estimated time is six weeks, this really isn't feasible if we are trying to leave the states before Christmas.

Cost: +++

Time:+++++

 

Option 2: "The Band Aid"

Clean/smooth the shaft in place as best they can and replace the seal. Recognize that it will leak again, and will at some point need to be rebuilt properly. This could me a failure 500 miles of shore, or on some deserted atoll in the South Pacific where it can only be fixed at great expense and time once we get the boat (and/or the generator) to someplace it can actually be fixed. Short term repair time: Thursday.

 

Cost: +

Time: +

Longer term cost/time: ???, but likely BIG dollars and lots of down time someday.

 

Option 3: "The Replacement"

Replace the whole damned thing. Yup, yank the generator out and put in a brand spanking new one. This can be done fairly quickly since there is no need to ship the old one out and wait for it to be re-machined and returned. Hallberg-Rassy actually appears to have caulked in the floor of the cockpit (which is the ceiling of the engine room) and allowed for it to be pulled apart to raise/lower engines. The advantages are that I would not likely have to do anything more than check the coolant and change the oil for the next five years, it ought to be rock solid reliable and under warranty for as long as we own this boat. Downside is it will be WAY freaking expensive compared to anything else to do right now, but should get us to the rally on time.

Cost: +++++

Time: ++

 

Are we missing any options here? Do we have any other ideas or solutions?

 

Or do we just suck it up and write a bigass check?

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Sorry to hear about this. No matter what you choose, it's a defnite bummer.

 

My personal vote is buy a new one. I know a lot of the Oyster 56's had problems with the OEM and most of them went to Yanmar-based powerplant with general happiness, but don't know the details surrounding it.

 

In the end, sounds like fixing correctly isn't an option due to timing and therefore rather than hope it holds together knowing it will probably fail on the way to the Marquesas or whatever the worst possible time Mr Murphy figures out, the peace of mind of having it right is worth the check...

 

of course easy to spend your money, but I have rarely been mad at myself for spending money on things that make my boating time better.. I usually end up mad at myself for having waited that long and living with a problem when I could be enjoying the boat.

 

Best of luck

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How much is it leaking? Is just topping up the oil say once a week an option?

 

Rebuilds are a crapshoot . . . Replacing important components is usually the correct solution.. . . . but you do have to accept that the boat (any cruising boat) will never ever be perfect and you have to learn to live with some imperfections. . . .just not on mission critical parts. For us a generator is not mission critical, but for your family it may well be.

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Option 4:

 

 

Cost ++++

Time ++ (to running generator)

 

Replace, but send the current one in for a rebuild. Sell it as used once it's back up and running.

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Sorry to hear about this. No matter what you choose, it's a defnite bummer.

 

My personal vote is buy a new one. I know a lot of the Oyster 56's had problems with the OEM and most of them went to Yanmar-based powerplant with general happiness, but don't know the details surrounding it.

 

In the end, sounds like fixing correctly isn't an option due to timing and therefore rather than hope it holds together knowing it will probably fail on the way to the Marquesas or whatever the worst possible time Mr Murphy figures out, the peace of mind of having it right is worth the check...

 

of course easy to spend your money, but I have rarely been mad at myself for spending money on things that make my boating time better.. I usually end up mad at myself for having waited that long and living with a problem when I could be enjoying the boat.

 

Best of luck

 

Thanks. Still waiting for the estimate to replace, but I can sort of guess...

 

Here is the offending crankshaft wear:

 

Crankshaft.jpg

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Option 4:

 

 

Cost ++++

Time ++ (to running generator)

 

Replace, but send the current one in for a rebuild. Sell it as used once it's back up and running.

 

Yeah, I'm sitting here trying to figure out some way to capitalize on this thing besides selling it for scrap if we do replace it. More out of pocket to rebuild it, but we could maybe sell it for enough to make a little back. Seems like a crap shoot though - how much is a rebuilt generator really worth? Especially a 220/50Hz model in the US?

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Here is the offending crankshaft wear:

 

post-11-0-85323600-1350423324_thumb.jpg

 

That's not very pretty. I am surprised that the Maine folks thought slapping a new seal was going to work on that.

 

Any possibility of sleeving it in place?

 

Or of moving the shaft fore/aft, so the ugly part does not run right on the bearing?

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Maybe sleeve the crankshaft? Really thin sleeve that presses over damaged area, something like this. Don't even know if it's available for the application, but worth looking into, I've used them sucessfully on balancer seals.

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How much is it leaking? Is just topping up the oil say once a week an option?

 

Rebuilds are a crapshoot . . . Replacing important components is usually the correct solution.. . . . but you do have to accept that the boat (any cruising boat) will never ever be perfect and you have to learn to live with some imperfections. . . .just not on mission critical parts. For us a generator is not mission critical, but for your family it may well be.

 

It's not that big of a leak, yet. I added a quart the first month out with the boat living on board. I could easily live with checking the oil and adding as we go.

 

My concern is that some day it will fail completely and if we're lucky the low oil pressure cutoff will save us from seizing, then we'll be on the ass end of nowhere needing a rebuild.

 

Our boat, the way it's setup - yeah it's pretty critical. I don't have enough engine generation to charge the batteries routinely that way, and our engine uses WAY more fuel than our generator. I could do it, but it would mean running the boat around just to charge the batteries as the alternator doesn't put out nearly enough power idling to charge anything.

 

If we didn't have refrigeration, etc. it would be an easier do without but this is how the boat is rigged.

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Here is the offending crankshaft wear:

 

Crankshaft.jpg

 

That's not very pretty. I am surprised that the Maine folks thought slapping a new seal was going to work on that.

 

Any possibility of sleeving it in place?

 

Or of moving the shaft fore/aft, so the ugly part does not run right on the bearing?

 

I don't think the people in Maine saw that, it's only really visible with the timing cover off. I'm guessing you can replace the seal without removing that so they wouldn't see it.

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Maybe sleeve the crankshaft? Really thin sleeve that presses over damaged area, something like this. Don't even know if it's available for the application, but worth looking into, I've used them sucessfully on balancer seals.

I have heard that referred to as a "Speedi- sleave". If not available, I would guess having one made can't be to awefull expensive. It is essentially an interference fit tube, probably has a shoulder on the inside end so a properly sized tube pushes/presses it into place. They are only a couple thousndth thick so the stock seal may even work.

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Here is the offending crankshaft wear:

 

post-11-0-85323600-1350423324_thumb.jpg

 

That's not very pretty. I am surprised that the Maine folks thought slapping a new seal was going to work on that.

 

Any possibility of sleeving it in place?

 

Or of moving the shaft fore/aft, so the ugly part does not run right on the bearing?

 

I don't think the people in Maine saw that, it's only really visible with the timing cover off. I'm guessing you can replace the seal without removing that so they wouldn't see it.

If the seal bore is deep enough, you can put a spacer in the bore, then install the seal. The seal is now sealing on good shaft, not worn shaft. But maybe that shaft is too wienered up already.

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I did kluge-o-the=month repairs to my main propulsion engine for YEARS until it quit at the worst possible moment and nearly put me into a closed bridge. It came out right after that ;)

 

If you have the cash, it will never be any cheaper to replace than it will be right now. I used to sell Northern Lights generators and they were always nice reliable units.

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Maybe sleeve the crankshaft? Really thin sleeve that presses over damaged area, something like this. Don't even know if it's available for the application, but worth looking into, I've used them sucessfully on balancer seals.

I have heard that referred to as a "Speedi- sleave". If not available, I would guess having one made can't be to awefull expensive. It is essentially an interference fit tube, probably has a shoulder on the inside end so a properly sized tube pushes/presses it into place. They are only a couple thousndth thick so the stock seal may even work.

 

I love this place. Seems like an excellent avenue to explore, I've passed it on to the yard to check out.

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A couple of more possibilities:

This is the front SEAL on the generator cover right? This is not a LOAD bearing area like a rod or main bearing..so live with the leak - especially since it appears manageable.

 

I have also seen:

1. machine area down and get oversized seal

2. machine area down and sleeve it and get a standard sized seal

3.flame spray molten metal on it and then machine to get a standard sized seal

4. Annapolis is a good place for a tear out and install, but B-More might have shops that offer you up a shop to perform the other repairs. Any decent sized industrial machine shop should be able to handle those repairs.

 

You are right about the 50HZ unit, I think you want a reliable boat..I know they aint cheap but go for then you dont have to worry about it, especially if you are counting on it while you anchor (which you say you do a lot).

 

Regards

BTS

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Maybe sleeve the crankshaft? Really thin sleeve that presses over damaged area, something like this. Don't even know if it's available for the application, but worth looking into, I've used them sucessfully on balancer seals.

I have heard that referred to as a "Speedi- sleave". If not available, I would guess having one made can't be to awefull expensive. It is essentially an interference fit tube, probably has a shoulder on the inside end so a properly sized tube pushes/presses it into place. They are only a couple thousndth thick so the stock seal may even work.

 

I love this place. Seems like an excellent avenue to explore, I've passed it on to the yard to check out.

Check places that do industrial supply, Gear reducers, sheaves, pulleys, bearings,couplings and shafts. Likely the marina might not be aware, engine rebuilders and machine shops will know them. McMaster and Carr might have them! http://www.mcmaster.com/#speedi-sleeves/=jr24kd

Possible these are not sized for you but you get the picture here.

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As an alternative to the sleeve (which I think is the first thing to explore) . . . .is there some way to spin the shaft? Does not need to be very fast. If you can, you sort of have an inbuilt lathe and someone could tig the shaft imperfections, and then spin it to grind it smooth -perhaps build a jig to hold a grinder steady. I could see a machine shop in mexico making this work in an afternoon . . . not so sure how it would go over with an American machine shop.

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BJ

 

After 25 years in the transmission business I will give you this hard earned advice...move on.

 

In a common application good companies like SK or BW will make a repair kit with a sleeve and modified seal, you are not going to be that lucky.

 

I've seen so much good money thrown after bad, replace the crank or the unit.

 

Sad but true.

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A working fisherman who just wanted to get through the season (and deal with the 100% solution later) would probably just clean it up, slap on some JB Weld, and emery cloth it smooth. It would probably still leak a little, but it would get the job done, for now. And if the fisherman had a good season, he would buy a new unit next Spring...Thats the difference between a fisheman and a yachtsman - pragmatism.

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As an alternative to the sleeve (which I think is the first thing to explore) . . . .is there some way to spin the shaft? Does not need to be very fast. If you can, you sort of have an inbuilt lathe and someone could tig the shaft imperfections, and then spin it to grind it smooth -perhaps build a jig to hold a grinder steady. I could see a machine shop in mexico making this work in an afternoon . . . not so sure how it would go over with an American machine shop.

 

The issue is less turning the shaft, as getting it all out and putting it back together in there again.

 

Once you open that stuff up, you may start finding other likely issues.

 

I'm a little surprised this came up at 1300 hours too, it's not been used THAT much over the last 15 years.

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Bj

 

Go new and sell the unit as is. You'll get more for it as is than the net after a rebuild. If you want to, stow it in one of my sheds until it sells and the buyer can pick it up here.

 

No other solution makes your rally sched. Call Sharky at Zanheisers in Solomon's for a competitive quote. You are at a fine but expensive yard. Z's is not cheap but is a great yard and will give you an option/competitive bid.

 

 

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As an alternative to the sleeve (which I think is the first thing to explore) . . . .is there some way to spin the shaft? Does not need to be very fast. If you can, you sort of have an inbuilt lathe and someone could tig the shaft imperfections, and then spin it to grind it smooth -perhaps build a jig to hold a grinder steady. I could see a machine shop in mexico making this work in an afternoon . . . not so sure how it would go over with an American machine shop.

 

The issue is less turning the shaft, as getting it all out and putting it back together in there again.

 

 

If you can spin it . . . You can tig it and grind it in place . . . don't need to pull it.

 

I agree that taking it apart will probably lead to an ever expanding circle of work.

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I would investigate the sleeve option, if that won't work, I'd probably replace it. As you note, it's pretty critical to your use of the boat, and the farther you get from home the more difficult/expensive/time consuming it will be to deal with.

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Another Idea. Fit a second alternater to the main engine and reduce the use of the Genset.

 

Might not be ideal but saves you wrighting that big ass cheack now.

 

Main engine already has a 12V generator and a 75A high yield 24V alternator. There's not really room for another one.

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Maybe sleeve the crankshaft? Really thin sleeve that presses over damaged area, something like this. Don't even know if it's available for the application, but worth looking into, I've used them sucessfully on balancer seals.

I agree that something like this could work. I know that this is a fix for worn harmonic balancers like on my small block Ford V8. It should be thin, fit the crank tightly and be sealed to the crank with locktite or equivelant. Also, the timing gear cover/seal holder should be installed so that the seal is centered on the crankshaft.

 

The amount of wear seems excessive for only 1300 hours.

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Over loading the front of the crank is not without peril either.

 

Yes, that's one of the reasons we decide not to put a GINORMOUS 24V alternator on the engine. 1) it would have needed another pulley added since it needed two belts to turn, making 3 pulleys there and 2) loads on the front of the crank seemed like they might be excessive.

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So what caused that to wear in 1000 or so hours. not good. strictly an assumption: if there were metal chips in the oil that caused the shaft wear, what else is lurking in the engine. was the shaft case hardened in that area? I would think a proper engine repair would involve a new shaft. I'd consider it a safety item and replace it now. For example, for that one upcoming night that is90F & 95%RH, no wind, and the gen craps out taking the a/c with it, leaks hot stinky oil into the bilge, will it be safe to be on the boat with the wife? No experience with them but i have read where a lot of owners have had panda problems and replaced them with n.l.

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You are going to replace it sometime and there is nowhere in the world where a good generator is cheaper than in the USA.

Don't waste money on a repair, it's a no brainer.

 

Not to mention happy wife, happy life.

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Damn BJ. Really sorry to find this thread.

 

I say either sleeve it, or replace the whole thing. FWIW, something similar occurs to DeLorean transmission seals where the axle stubs go into the seals. The common repair, is to sleeve the stubs so that they quit tearing up the seals. It works well.

 

The difference here, is that if the DeLorean craps out, you walk or call for a ride on your cell phone. If the genny craps out in the South Pacific, well...

 

It just depends upon your level of paranoia I guess.

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A couple of more possibilities:

This is the front SEAL on the generator cover right? This is not a LOAD bearing area like a rod or main bearing..so live with the leak - especially since it appears manageable.

 

I have also seen:

1. machine area down and get oversized seal

2. machine area down and sleeve it and get a standard sized seal

3.flame spray molten metal on it and then machine to get a standard sized seal

4. Annapolis is a good place for a tear out and install, but B-More might have shops that offer you up a shop to perform the other repairs. Any decent sized industrial machine shop should be able to handle those repairs.

 

You are right about the 50HZ unit, I think you want a reliable boat..I know they aint cheap but go for then you dont have to worry about it, especially if you are counting on it while you anchor (which you say you do a lot).

 

Regards

BTS

Bruce has it nailed here, that repair is easily machinable by a competant shop.

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An engine losing some oil through a shaft seal is not in any great or immediate danger of failing, as long as the level is regularly checked and topped up as necessary.

 

Frankly, I'm surprised to see someone describe it as a safety item because you might just lose the A/C on a hot muggy day...

 

even though, rereading that post, I suspect he might be referring to the wife, which indeed might prove hazardous...

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An engine losing some oil through a shaft seal is not in any great or immediate danger of failing, as long as the level is regularly checked and topped up as necessary.

 

Frankly, I'm surprised to see someone describe it as a safety item because you might just lose the A/C on a hot muggy day...

 

even though, rereading that post, I suspect he might be referring to the wife, which indeed might prove hazardous...

 

An oil leak can a serious safety item, especially around a diesel (runs hotter) and doubly-especially in a closed-up space. Oil can do all sorts of ugly stuff from the obvious fire fire fire to wicking up inside a wire and shorting something bad (and then catching fire, probably) or just degrading in some impossible-to-clean spot and creating a fungy smell forever.

 

I would go with replacement, but then as pointed out earlier it's easy to spend other people's money. We've had some generator issues, but our good-old Chinese-built Onan has a Kubota tractor engine and spares can usually be had (if you know what to ask for) at the farm store. I don't know what to ask for but I'm good at taking things apart and plunking the offender on the counter and saying "I need one of these."

 

Taking the cockpit apart to get it out is a super PITA but if you go with a rebuild, it will be a much better job done on a nice bench in a comfy shop than crouching in your engine room (and messing up your cabin). Maybe the cost differential is enough that this is the way to go?

 

FB- Doug

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An engine losing some oil through a shaft seal is not in any great or immediate danger of failing, as long as the level is regularly checked and topped up as necessary.

 

Frankly, I'm surprised to see someone describe it as a safety item because you might just lose the A/C on a hot muggy day...

 

even though, rereading that post, I suspect he might be referring to the wife, which indeed might prove hazardous...

 

Actually my wife is much more resistant to replacing this than I am. She's the tougher one of the two of us and wouldn't be bothered by a bit of heat or discomfort.

 

If it failed on a passage, well we'd run the engine a bit more.

 

As a long term issue, yes, we need the generator functional for the proper running of the boat. However we could limp around with it for some time while we're fixing it if we had two, it would just quadruple the amount of diesel I burned to charge batteries, put wear on the engine, and be a general pain in the ass.

 

The bigger issue on failure on a passage is that when we get where we'd be going we'd likely be someplace remote then have to deal with it at twice the cost and ten times the aggravation.

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An engine losing some oil through a shaft seal is not in any great or immediate danger of failing, as long as the level is regularly checked and topped up as necessary.

 

Frankly, I'm surprised to see someone describe it as a safety item because you might just lose the A/C on a hot muggy day...

 

even though, rereading that post, I suspect he might be referring to the wife, which indeed might prove hazardous...

 

An oil leak can a serious safety item, especially around a diesel (runs hotter) and doubly-especially in a closed-up space. Oil can do all sorts of ugly stuff from the obvious fire fire fire to wicking up inside a wire and shorting something bad (and then catching fire, probably) or just degrading in some impossible-to-clean spot and creating a fungy smell forever.

 

I would go with replacement, but then as pointed out earlier it's easy to spend other people's money. We've had some generator issues, but our good-old Chinese-built Onan has a Kubota tractor engine and spares can usually be had (if you know what to ask for) at the farm store. I don't know what to ask for but I'm good at taking things apart and plunking the offender on the counter and saying "I need one of these."

 

Taking the cockpit apart to get it out is a super PITA but if you go with a rebuild, it will be a much better job done on a nice bench in a comfy shop than crouching in your engine room (and messing up your cabin). Maybe the cost differential is enough that this is the way to go?

 

FB- Doug

 

The rebuild has more of a time issue than a cost one - pulling the engine out to get it rebuilt is going to take a few weeks or more.

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BJ, you may want to call around the local machine shops. Maybe someone has mobil trepanning ability that would allow you to machine the shaft in place. Then you just need an oversize seal.

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I thought I posted this...guess not.

 

If you are replacing a genset, I always wondered why these things aren't very common?

post-25646-0-38426900-1350483694_thumb.jpg

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An engine losing some oil through a shaft seal is not in any great or immediate danger of failing, as long as the level is regularly checked and topped up as necessary.

 

Frankly, I'm surprised to see someone describe it as a safety item because you might just lose the A/C on a hot muggy day...

 

even though, rereading that post, I suspect he might be referring to the wife, which indeed might prove hazardous...

 

Actually my wife is much more resistant to replacing this than I am. She's the tougher one of the two of us and wouldn't be bothered by a bit of heat or discomfort.

 

If it failed on a passage, well we'd run the engine a bit more.

 

As a long term issue, yes, we need the generator functional for the proper running of the boat. However we could limp around with it for some time while we're fixing it if we had two, it would just quadruple the amount of diesel I burned to charge batteries, put wear on the engine, and be a general pain in the ass.

 

The bigger issue on failure on a passage is that when we get where we'd be going we'd likely be someplace remote then have to deal with it at twice the cost and ten times the aggravation.

 

Agree 100% that on the long term it's an issue - then the question is how long are you planning to be away from 'civilisation' on this cruise? If you're planning to be away for a few years, yes it might make sense to get it sorted one way or the other before leaving.

 

On the other hand, if you're planning on returning in 6 months or so, it might not be worth the aggravation of getting it sorted properly at this point, so close to departure...

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I thought I posted this...guess not.

 

If you are replacing a genset, I always wondered why these things aren't very common?

Space efficient yes, cycle efficient no. Take a 75 HP (56kW) engine and put a 5 kW generator in line with it. You are now running your primary engine under very light load to provide electricity. Will it work? Sure. You are setting yourself up for maintenance issues down the road, though.

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An engine losing some oil through a shaft seal is not in any great or immediate danger of failing, as long as the level is regularly checked and topped up as necessary.

 

Frankly, I'm surprised to see someone describe it as a safety item because you might just lose the A/C on a hot muggy day...

 

even though, rereading that post, I suspect he might be referring to the wife, which indeed might prove hazardous...

 

Actually my wife is much more resistant to replacing this than I am. She's the tougher one of the two of us and wouldn't be bothered by a bit of heat or discomfort.

 

If it failed on a passage, well we'd run the engine a bit more.

 

As a long term issue, yes, we need the generator functional for the proper running of the boat. However we could limp around with it for some time while we're fixing it if we had two, it would just quadruple the amount of diesel I burned to charge batteries, put wear on the engine, and be a general pain in the ass.

 

The bigger issue on failure on a passage is that when we get where we'd be going we'd likely be someplace remote then have to deal with it at twice the cost and ten times the aggravation.

 

Agree 100% that on the long term it's an issue - then the question is how long are you planning to be away from 'civilisation' on this cruise? If you're planning to be away for a few years, yes it might make sense to get it sorted one way or the other before leaving.

 

On the other hand, if you're planning on returning in 6 months or so, it might not be worth the aggravation of getting it sorted properly at this point, so close to departure...

 

We're planning to be out of the US with the boat for several years.

 

That being said, we've decided to sleeve the crankshaft.

 

I talked to to a local machine shop about the "mobile trepanning" which gave the guy a chuckle. He said it was an old school approach that no one did much any more, and the guys that were the best at it still didn't like the results most of the time. But we also had a nice chat about the putting a sleeve on the seal and he thought that would work pretty well, among other possible ideas he through out.

 

The yard's major concern is it isn't something they've done; they are a little concerned that it will come back and bite them and I needed to be aware that I was asking them to do something that wasn't within their normal approach to solving this problem. We both agreed it was better than the "band aid" approach of cleaning it up and hoping. I get that and told them that in no uncertain terms I was OK not holding them to warranty work on their nickel if this solution doesn't succeed so long as the sleeve is installed correctly in the first place.

 

Depending on where we are in the future we may revisit this with more leisure and maybe replace the genset, but I think spending some serious cabbage at the last minute in a rush like this could be an expensive mistake. This fix could hold for years in which case we wouldn't have to deal with it. We could also make some planned changes, e.g. come North to SoCal after we leave the Canal to get the work done if we are having a serious problem with it, or get the work done someplace else where the import duties make getting the work done feasible. Time = $$$.

 

You guys all rock BTW, that's why I love this place. I ask a question and get some sound advice from some people and a better alternative to the unattractive alternatives I've got in front of me.

 

Thanks.

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BJ,

 

One other thing- If you're really worried about the generator, have you considered buying a small Honda generator as some kind of emergency power supplement? Compact, stowable, quiet, and you're carrying gasoline for your dinghy motor anyway...

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So it's the little things that come back to bite you in the ass.

 

We've been trying to track down a small oil leak for the last month or two. Before we left I had "Verify Generator Oil Leak" as a to do item, but I didn't find anything. After a month+ aboard though I saw definitely signs something was up.

 

So we took the boat into a reputable yard in Maine and they determined it was the main front seal and replaced it. I was told to keep in eye on it in case the DX was wrong, and new fluffy white padding was left under the genset just in case. Well, it was still leaking. Took it to another yard, they looked at it and thought it might be the oil pan, but we wanted to dye test to be sure. After dye testing it appeared to be the seal at the timing cover.

 

Once it got all apart, the real problem showed up. The front end of the crankshaft has some wear and is no longer smooth. This meant the front seal replacement in Maine wasn't holding, and further replacements of the seal probably would just keep leaking until at some point it couldn't keep a seal any more.

 

Options to repair it correctly are to pull out the crankshaft and turn it on a lathe back to smooth & round, then replace the seal with an oversized seal to adjust for the lost material.

 

Of course, by the time you take the crankshaft out of a 15 year old generator with 1300+ hours on it you might as well do a full rebuild on the thing. Pulling the shaft and getting it machined has about the same lead time as pulling the whole damned engine out and mailing it off to Westerbeke.

 

So options presented are as follows. Note that we are scheduled to leave for the Carribean on 11/4 from Hampton, VA so time is running short (not all our fault, we've been pushing since September to get this solved and not always had deadlines met at yards).

 

Option 1: "Fix it Right/Rebuild"

Pull the crankshaft, take it to someplace to get it machined clean again and use an oversized seal to stop the leaks on the now smaller shaft. Might as well do the whole 100,000 mile rebuild and bring everything back to spec once you've got it ripped apart. Estimated time is six weeks, this really isn't feasible if we are trying to leave the states before Christmas.

Cost: +++

Time:+++++

 

Option 2: "The Band Aid"

Clean/smooth the shaft in place as best they can and replace the seal. Recognize that it will leak again, and will at some point need to be rebuilt properly. This could me a failure 500 miles of shore, or on some deserted atoll in the South Pacific where it can only be fixed at great expense and time once we get the boat (and/or the generator) to someplace it can actually be fixed. Short term repair time: Thursday.

 

Cost: +

Time: +

Longer term cost/time: ???, but likely BIG dollars and lots of down time someday.

 

Option 3: "The Replacement"

Replace the whole damned thing. Yup, yank the generator out and put in a brand spanking new one. This can be done fairly quickly since there is no need to ship the old one out and wait for it to be re-machined and returned. Hallberg-Rassy actually appears to have caulked in the floor of the cockpit (which is the ceiling of the engine room) and allowed for it to be pulled apart to raise/lower engines. The advantages are that I would not likely have to do anything more than check the coolant and change the oil for the next five years, it ought to be rock solid reliable and under warranty for as long as we own this boat. Downside is it will be WAY freaking expensive compared to anything else to do right now, but should get us to the rally on time.

Cost: +++++

Time: ++

 

Are we missing any options here? Do we have any other ideas or solutions?

 

Or do we just suck it up and write a bigass check?

 

Any chance to just replace the genset's engine? I'm admittedly ignorant on the costs, but, if there's a replacement engine that'll bolt into your genset's chassis, I'd think that would be faster than a rebuild, though more $$, and much less $$ and hassle than replacing the whole genset.

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BJ,

 

One other thing- If you're really worried about the generator, have you considered buying a small Honda generator as some kind of emergency power supplement? Compact, stowable, quiet, and you're carrying gasoline for your dinghy motor anyway...

 

That is exactly what I was going to say.

Our Honda does a great job. In fact a buddy's generator shit the bed while we were up in Desolation and he used it all the time.

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What an impressive thread. I read these things just for education- my mechanical experience is minimal, so it is great learning. What impresses me is the number of different people who replied from direct knowledge or experience, and how this thread stayed right on topic, at least until BJ set everyone free by announcing his plan.

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and how this thread stayed right on topic, at least until BJ set everyone free by announcing his plan.

 

Are you saying its important to stay on topic? Admirable? :-)

 

This from a guy who just regaled us with a great story about The Doors.... Thank god BJ set us free. I learned to ice skate in 1966 in Ann Arbor. There.

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BJ,

 

One other thing- If you're really worried about the generator, have you considered buying a small Honda generator as some kind of emergency power supplement? Compact, stowable, quiet, and you're carrying gasoline for your dinghy motor anyway...

 

That is exactly what I was going to say.

Our Honda does a great job. In fact a buddy's generator shit the bed while we were up in Desolation and he used it all the time.

If you go back near the top, you will note that BJ's genset is 220volt. Not a lot of choices with Honda generators with that voltage. Don't know if he can live with 120 volt.

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BJ,

 

One other thing- If you're really worried about the generator, have you considered buying a small Honda generator as some kind of emergency power supplement? Compact, stowable, quiet, and you're carrying gasoline for your dinghy motor anyway...

 

That is exactly what I was going to say.

Our Honda does a great job. In fact a buddy's generator shit the bed while we were up in Desolation and he used it all the time.

If you go back near the top, you will note that BJ's genset is 220volt. Not a lot of choices with Honda generators with that voltage. Don't know if he can live with 120 volt.

 

We do have the ability to use 110V 30A shore power. Yes, there is a step up transformer on the boat that will jump it to 220 to run things so I could, in theory, finagle some sort of wiring to be able to get the Honda genset to provide juice to my boat.

 

Or I could get TWO honda gensets and use my pigtail adapter! <_<

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Or I could get TWO honda gensets and use my pigtail adapter! <_<

 

The Honda's are well built and efficient. However, you will not make many friends in the anchorage running two on deck. On passage, you are the only one who will hear it, but they have an annoying oil level cut off switch that occasionally cuts off in a rolling swell (you can disable this and many who use them on passage do).

 

We got one for the two winters we spent in Patagonia - they were perfect for there - little sun for solar, and little wind for wind gen in the good anchorages, and no neighbours to worry about the noise.

 

One Honda 2000 would be a good backup if you ever get worried about the main genset, but I can't see you using it if the main genset is running.

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The Honda's are well built and efficient. However, you will not make many friends in the anchorage running two on deck.

 

+1 on that.

 

However sleeving it will work just fine. Some heavily used industrial machinery (like a John Deere tractor for example, or earth moving equipment) comes new with sleeves in place on the sealing surface. When it gets all grooved and ugly, you replace the sleeve and you are good for another 1000 hours. Locktite it well in place, or you will get seepage between the crank nose and the sleeve. Also if you go that way and have tracked down the right sleeve, surely you know to buy two, for the next time?

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I thought I posted this...guess not.

 

If you are replacing a genset, I always wondered why these things aren't very common?

 

Gate, I was wondering the same thing. If we ever get "serious" 'bout cruzzzzin' we'll put one in. We've got the space, just no need. I've never seen one in the wild. It would be perfect for us with out 18hp "main" engine.

 

BV

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B.J.

 

You might want to look at how far you will be from a good repair site. For example, there are great yards and mechanics in Auckland, NZ; like Whiting Power. Also in American Somoa. A lot of folks think that they have to write home to the US for everything, when the opposite is true. My last prop shaft was made at Whiting. Cheaper than having it made in the US including shipping.

 

If you're going to be within a month of a good yard as you cruise around, I'd just put oil I it and go. It'll run for years like that, most likely, and oil is cheap. Now that you know where it's coming from you can even wire up a catch can and re-use the oil for other things.

 

I remember seeing a radial engine crop duster pilot putting a bucket under the engine when he landed. Just before take off he'd pour all the oil back into the engine, toss the bucket in the passenger seat, and take off.

 

BV

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BJ,

Slight hijack but I am curious on how you deal with plugging in in the USA when the boat is a 220/50Hz. I am looking at boats like that, (I am USA based) and the only way around the issue is using one of these converters. Curious what you are doing. Rob

 

http://www.aseapower.../converters.php

 

 

 

Yeah, I'm sitting here trying to figure out some way to capitalize on this thing besides selling it for scrap if we do replace it. More out of pocket to rebuild it, but we could maybe sell it for enough to make a little back. Seems like a crap shoot though - how much is a rebuilt generator really worth? Especially a 220/50Hz model in the US?

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Or I could get TWO honda gensets and use my pigtail adapter! <_<

 

The Honda's are well built and efficient. However, you will not make many friends in the anchorage running two on deck. On passage, you are the only one who will hear it, but they have an annoying oil level cut off switch that occasionally cuts off in a rolling swell (you can disable this and many who use them on passage do).

 

We got one for the two winters we spent in Patagonia - they were perfect for there - little sun for solar, and little wind for wind gen in the good anchorages, and no neighbours to worry about the noise.

 

One Honda 2000 would be a good backup if you ever get worried about the main genset, but I can't see you using it if the main genset is running.

 

Nah, I don't see myself ever carrying one of them around. First of all, I despise them with every fiber of my being because they are so frigging irritating in a quiet anchorage. But they are also expensive (for something I refuse to be seen using!), large, and I just don't see myself making space for one. There's many other things I'd rather make space and budget for before that.

 

If the main genset shits the bed I will limp around with the engine alternator until I can get somewhere to replace it.

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B.J.

 

You might want to look at how far you will be from a good repair site. For example, there are great yards and mechanics in Auckland, NZ; like Whiting Power. Also in American Somoa. A lot of folks think that they have to write home to the US for everything, when the opposite is true. My last prop shaft was made at Whiting. Cheaper than having it made in the US including shipping.

 

If you're going to be within a month of a good yard as you cruise around, I'd just put oil I it and go. It'll run for years like that, most likely, and oil is cheap. Now that you know where it's coming from you can even wire up a catch can and re-use the oil for other things.

 

I remember seeing a radial engine crop duster pilot putting a bucket under the engine when he landed. Just before take off he'd pour all the oil back into the engine, toss the bucket in the passenger seat, and take off.

 

BV

 

I'm guessing if the primary genset pukes we pack up our stuff and head for someplace where we can get it fixed.

 

I was talking to someone recently that had a friend take his boat to St. Marten (can't remember which side) to get repowered because there weren't import duties on the engine & parts and the labor was reasonably priced and good quality. I'm certain there will be places we could replace it, it just may take a couple of weeks to get there.

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BJ,

Slight hijack but I am curious on how you deal with plugging in in the USA when the boat is a 220/50Hz. I am looking at boats like that, (I am USA based) and the only way around the issue is using one of these converters. Curious what you are doing. Rob

 

http://www.aseapower.../converters.php

 

 

 

Yeah, I'm sitting here trying to figure out some way to capitalize on this thing besides selling it for scrap if we do replace it. More out of pocket to rebuild it, but we could maybe sell it for enough to make a little back. Seems like a crap shoot though - how much is a rebuilt generator really worth? Especially a 220/50Hz model in the US?

 

You don't need anything that complex for shore power, you just plug into a 50A Shore power which is 220V. A 30A/30A pigtail adapter also works pretty well if your marina only has 30A, though it's not my first choice since it's only 60% of the power of a proper 220/50A connection.

 

The 50Hz/60Hz thing isn't really a problem that I've seen with the things that run on it like battery chargers, air conditioners and water heaters. They do fine with the different cycle rate though in some cases I suppose you may note different performance it's never really been anything I've picked up on, but I've never had the boat plugged in to 50Hz power.

 

The Hz really matters the most if you use it for a time related function, so if you have a clock on your microwave it might run fast.

 

Also my boat came with a step up transformer and a 30A shore power socket. So I can plug in to a 30A shore power and things will light up, but I have to be very careful because it's easy to blow the breakers since it's less than 1/3 the power I have available with a 50A/220 connection. Battery charging is OK, but if the batteries are charging too much I can't run anything else - say ONE A/C unit OR the water heater...maybe.

 

The bigger operational problem with a 220 boat in the US was household appliances, if you'd like to have things like a coffee maker, blender, power tools, etc. you may want to do what I did which is install a separate 110V/60Hz inverter. It's much cheaper than burning up appliances and tools by forgetting to put the proper adapter on them. When living in the states getting 220 appliances was a problem - special ordered and expensive and I still had troubles with them. I went through a couple of blenders and coffee makers before we installed the inverter.

 

Alternatively you could buy a heavy duty transformer to plug into your Euro plugs to power your 110 devices. I've had mostly poor results with the little converter bricks before I installed my permanent inverter, but a big heavy serious transformer will let you run some power tools pretty reliably. Don't even look for something that will convert between 50Mz & 60Mhz, it's much cheaper just to properly install a permanent 110 inverter.

 

Note that most things with "bricks" like laptops can autoswitch from 110/220 and 50/60 Hz so for those things all you need is a travel adapter from Radio Shack to fit them into your odd euro plugs.

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Just another thought. Have them work on the genset in their shop and ship it back to you somewhere further south in the US. Allows you to keep moving if the season starts to get cold...

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BJ,

 

One other thing- If you're really worried about the generator, have you considered buying a small Honda generator as some kind of emergency power supplement? Compact, stowable, quiet, and you're carrying gasoline for your dinghy motor anyway...

 

That is exactly what I was going to say.

Our Honda does a great job. In fact a buddy's generator shit the bed while we were up in Desolation and he used it all the time.

If you go back near the top, you will note that BJ's genset is 220volt. Not a lot of choices with Honda generators with that voltage. Don't know if he can live with 120 volt.

 

Honda make a 120V generator? Who knew? I've only ever seen 230V ones. ;)

 

Oh and don't listen to Beau, All our boats are made from tupawere and held togeather with twine and duck tape. Honest!

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In the end, I think the sleeve is going to work fine for a long while. As someone said, even if it does get scored, you just put on another one until you can replace the genset.

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B.J.

 

You might want to look at how far you will be from a good repair site. For example, there are great yards and mechanics in Auckland, NZ; like Whiting Power. Also in American Somoa. A lot of folks think that they have to write home to the US for everything, when the opposite is true. My last prop shaft was made at Whiting. Cheaper than having it made in the US including shipping.

 

If you're going to be within a month of a good yard as you cruise around, I'd just put oil I it and go. It'll run for years like that, most likely, and oil is cheap. Now that you know where it's coming from you can even wire up a catch can and re-use the oil for other things.

 

I remember seeing a radial engine crop duster pilot putting a bucket under the engine when he landed. Just before take off he'd pour all the oil back into the engine, toss the bucket in the passenger seat, and take off.

 

BV

+1

 

Before you start it check the oil, you'll get to learn what its using, and if the problem is getting worse. Make it part of your routine.

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Ya know, if you go the Honda route, there's a blog post somewhere about bypassing the oil level switch if it fails, may want to bookmark it... :ph34r:

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Have you checked the shaft for runout? Could it have been hitting the seal housing at some point? Or corrosion from bad maintenance? In the photo, looks like some corrosion pitting, but I don't know if that was the result of the wear. But if a P.O. didn't tend the oil, it got moist/acid and pitted the metal, the particles would then be in the seal, helping cause scoring.

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BJ, How many hours a day / days a week do you run your genset?

 

As a liveaboard now, about 4 hours every other day.

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BJ: I like the repair option lined out. I replaced a propulsion engine following much of the logic in the tread only to discover that it took a fair amount of time and money to get the new engine to fit the old space. Exhaust and water connections were in different places and so forth. The simple replacement could have knock-on delays because of replacement size/footprint, wiring or plumbing changes.

 

If I was doing it again, I'd probably do the replacement, but would double the delay and cost estimate.

 

Good luck.

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It's not that big of a leak, yet. I added a quart the first month out with the boat living on board. I could easily live with checking the oil and adding as we go.

 

 

It think you answered yourself.

 

Talk to it, sometimes things take up.

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Or I could get TWO honda gensets and use my pigtail adapter! <_<

 

The Honda's are well built and efficient. However, you will not make many friends in the anchorage running two on deck. On passage, you are the only one who will hear it, but they have an annoying oil level cut off switch that occasionally cuts off in a rolling swell (you can disable this and many who use them on passage do).

 

We got one for the two winters we spent in Patagonia - they were perfect for there - little sun for solar, and little wind for wind gen in the good anchorages, and no neighbours to worry about the noise.

 

One Honda 2000 would be a good backup if you ever get worried about the main genset, but I can't see you using it if the main genset is running.

 

Nah, I don't see myself ever carrying one of them around. First of all, I despise them with every fiber of my being because they are so frigging irritating in a quiet anchorage. But they are also expensive (for something I refuse to be seen using!), large, and I just don't see myself making space for one. There's many other things I'd rather make space and budget for before that.

 

If the main genset shits the bed I will limp around with the engine alternator until I can get somewhere to replace it.

 

I can't believe your genset is any quieter than the Honda.

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Or I could get TWO honda gensets and use my pigtail adapter! <_<

 

The Honda's are well built and efficient. However, you will not make many friends in the anchorage running two on deck. On passage, you are the only one who will hear it, but they have an annoying oil level cut off switch that occasionally cuts off in a rolling swell (you can disable this and many who use them on passage do).

 

We got one for the two winters we spent in Patagonia - they were perfect for there - little sun for solar, and little wind for wind gen in the good anchorages, and no neighbours to worry about the noise.

 

One Honda 2000 would be a good backup if you ever get worried about the main genset, but I can't see you using it if the main genset is running.

 

Nah, I don't see myself ever carrying one of them around. First of all, I despise them with every fiber of my being because they are so frigging irritating in a quiet anchorage. But they are also expensive (for something I refuse to be seen using!), large, and I just don't see myself making space for one. There's many other things I'd rather make space and budget for before that.

 

If the main genset shits the bed I will limp around with the engine alternator until I can get somewhere to replace it.

 

I can't believe your genset is any quieter than the Honda.

 

You would be very wrong. You can barely hear it in our cockpit when it is running. Next boat over? You'd never know - we have an exhaust splitter that sends the water out below the waterline so you don't hear the incessant splashing or see anything except the occasional small spit of water that makes it out the splitter.

 

Inside the engine room with the cover off? Yeah, that's loud. But there is a Westerbeke sound box around it, then the engine room itself has another couple of inches of sound proofing so there are two layers of sound proofing. Although you can hear it running, you can also sleep quite well in the aft cabin which is right behind the engine room if it's cold enough to want heat.

 

I've been next to those Honda things in an anchorage, and a friend of mine had one also when he rafted up his powerboat with us. Holy crap noisy; but the people rafted to me couldn't tell when my generator was on.

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... we have an exhaust splitter that sends the water out below the waterline so you don't hear the incessant splashing or see anything except the occasional small spit of water that makes it out the splitter.

 

 

I obsessively check for cooling water whenever I fire up any engine. How do you check if you can't see the flow?

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... we have an exhaust splitter that sends the water out below the waterline so you don't hear the incessant splashing or see anything except the occasional small spit of water that makes it out the splitter.

 

 

I obsessively check for cooling water whenever I fire up any engine. How do you check if you can't see the flow?

 

Obsessively check the temp gauge?

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... we have an exhaust splitter that sends the water out below the waterline so you don't hear the incessant splashing or see anything except the occasional small spit of water that makes it out the splitter.

 

 

I obsessively check for cooling water whenever I fire up any engine. How do you check if you can't see the flow?

 

Obsessively check the temp gauge?

 

Pretty much. When I replaced the splitter with a new one that worked better all of a sudden next to no water comes out. So I contacted the manufacturer and they said "yeah, you sort of need to watch the temperature."

 

A little water comes out, but not much. It mostly looks like you've got a busted impeller when it's operating normally. But it's very quiet!

 

I'm still very self conscious about running it with other boats around...

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Happy Birthday BJ. How's the repair coming?

 

Thanks.

 

Apparently sleeves in assorted sizes are arriving today. Looking at the Speedi-seal tables, apparently the shaft size as measured falls between two of their sizes so we're not exactly sure which size is best.

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Only when it's underwater.

 

+1. Those things a LOUD and carry across the water.

 

Only once have I seen a portable generator running on a boat that didn't set my teeth on edge. Don't know the brand, but it wasn't a Honda.

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I have the same basic setup with an Onan. It's nice and quiet. Many new larger boats have seperated exhausts. It's a lot nicer on the ears, but you do need to be attentive to the dials. It's a good idea anyway, because checking oil pressure is the other obvious armageddon scenario for your engines...

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Does it strike anyone else as odd that we have gauges on things like engine temp and oil, as opposed (in addition to?) to alarms. I don't know about you guys, but I only find a gauge useful when trying to see if there is some subtle change in rate, like warm up speed. What I'd really like is a set of sensors that Xmit the data over WiFi so I can log it and look at trends, although I must admit I love the way old school gauges look.

 

How about this and an iPhone:

 

http://www.seasmart.net/marine-wireless-networking-WebSites.html

 

BV

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