good diesel engine is a real workhorse – or 30 horses in our case. They can go and go and go, then spontaneously drop
dead if not properly cared for. With so many other things on a boat to maintain on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual
basis, it can be easy to ignore the things that are working without complaint. But we’ve heard of, read about, and observed
enough horrifying events caused by the sudden death of an engine to know that it always occurs at the utmost inconvenient
time. Don witnessed one such event which comprised of a 50’ double masted schooner carried on a 10 knot current approaching
a dock 20’ away from a 10’ high bridge. Multiply all those factors for an approximate cost of damages.
On occasion, Don will be hit with what I have come to refer to as
a mechanical motivation storm. He is overcome with a desire to contort himself into impossible positions, squeeze into a dark,
greasy, sweltering cubby and pound on some rusty bolts. Usually, these storms are foreshadowed by a low mumbling about a leaky
hose, or the smell of oil, so I immediately take action by ordering engine parts. The important thing is that I am prepared
to respond when these storms blow through because they often show up completely unexpectedly and will quickly weaken if not
properly fueled by shiny, new valves and gaskets.
The mixing elbow storm passed fairly quickly, and the fuel filter tempest brought only minor frustration.
The horses galloped beautifully following the water pump squall, which required only 3 trips to the parts store and brought
with it rust removal and a whole new paint job. But I’d feared we were not going to endure through the gale that hit
when the gauges were to be replaced. Our panel of instruments never worked, leaving us to only guess at how our herd was doing
and the rat’s nest of wiring might as well have been a barbed wire fence to deter us from the task. Several sets of
gauges and sending units were considered, bought and returned for one reason or another. Yanmar was not going to make saving
money with non-OEM parts an option. After piles of research and hours of phone calls, Don tracked down a promise of compatible
gauges with built in alarms. Once again the storm began to build.
The temperature gauge gave little pause and was the
first to spring to life. But then, the tachometer refused to do its job and frustration threatened to stall the winds of change.
After months of gaping holes in the panel while wires were metered, a marine engine mechanic was hired to identify the culprit.
And as is appropriate for most well trained, highly paid professionals, he was quick to proclaim the mundane. “The tach
you bought is broke.” A replacement was swiftly acquired and soon we were enlightened to our RPMs. But alas, one more
gauge remained to put up a fight – the oil pressure.
The design of our Yanmar did not leave room for an oil filter,
sending unit and alarm, so a T pipe was used to accommodate for the limitations; however due to engine vibrations and corrosion,
this design was prone to failure. The clouds of ideas would build and dissipate with concepts of remote filters, brackets
and hoses. At last, the sky cleared as two 58 cent elbows were screwed together to set the sending unit. The gauge gale ended
with alarms buzzing, lights illuminating, and needles rising as our horses sprung to life. It was a sight to behold but alas,
there is always another storm brewing on the horizon. What was that I heard rumbling in the distance? Did he say fuel filters?
Where did I put that Racor catalog?