Saturday, November 9, 2013

The trouble with engines

If you have being cruising long you are aware of those like the Pardeys who sail the world round with out the assistance of an engine. It often invokes romantic visions of a simple existence, that of an intimate relationship with the sea. Yet few of us, though we long for the simplicity, wean ourselves from the great iron spinnaker.

I know for us, the Nadejda has spent far more time under the rumble of the
Peter removing the cylinder head
"Jolly Green Giant" (the nickname given to our Detroit 6-71) than in the rapture of moving under sail. Detroit Diesels are renowned for being the most efficient diesel engine ever built at turning chemical energy (diesel fuel) into noise; after a couple of years with the giant under our pilot house floor I am inclined to agree. Of course as with most things there is a silver lining; the longer you run one the quieter they get.

 "What was that I couldn't hear you?"

Almost off! Now how do we get it out of here!?!?
Well all of this is not a problem at the moment as the giant has fallen silent for the time being. This summer I had spent a great deal of time stripping the engine down to the block and going through all the external components, repainting and reassembling the engine. Note to others that buy a used boat: if you have the time, do this before you leave the dock; some the things I found were down right frightening. It brings to mind the old adage, "Ignorance is bliss", and the realization that if I had known then what I know now we would never have left the marina.

In the final days before our departure I was looking for a Detroit mechanic to come and take a look at the engine as it had a couple of issue (like not developing any power) that I thought was a matter of a tune up. The eveing before our scheduled departure I was able to get someone down to the boat. After a quick look around the engine we got his diagnosis, "Your head is worn out and needs to be rebuilt". When Molly asked how bad it was his reply was telling, " this head was worn out twenty five years ago" and "your governor has some major issues too".

So the head is off and at the machine shop being rebuilt, I have a line on a used governor and by the time we get the head and new governor installed  there is no sense in heading south for the winter. I have found myself down at the local marine supply store eyeing a set of oars and wondering if there isn't something to the whole going engine-less idea.


  1. Oh, sorry to hear about your engine issues. You're right to be proactive though, once you've gone through it an it works, you'll have something you can rely on. Best wishes to you all, we think of you often and miss AK. We just made it to Southern California today, still on our way to Mexico.

  2. Glad to hear you are almost to Mexico! Our intentions are to be there next fall, maybe we will see you there if the wanderlust hasn't taken you elsewhere by then.


  3. Nowadays diesel engines are extremely heavy and difficult to diagnose. I personally don't have any diagnostic equipment and all my knowledge comes from other people's experience. If your locomotive is not starting that may be due to various reasons like low compression, low fuel pressure, flat battery, relay faults, blocked fuel supply or any internal engine problems. It is hard to see the problem by your own, always moderate with any engine repair service before you start fixing.