Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Engine work–learning on the fly

Posted by Scot

Engine maintenance by the book.  Literally right by the book.
Since I got back from Alberta, we have been working on chipping away at our project list prior to leaving Georgetown.  Even though Georgetown is pretty small, there are still a few places here where we can get supplies and help if needed.  Since we are not sure what sort of resources we will find once we move on, we are trying to get as much done as possible before we go.

One of the things near the top of the to do list is our routine engine maintenance.  Both our diesels and our generator are getting close to being due for oil and oil filter changes, so we figured we would just get them all done together.  While we were at it, we figured we would do all the other standard maintenance that a diesel engine needs periodically.  This includes cleaning the sea water strainers and the pre-fuel filters, changing the primary fuel filter, and checking and changing the impellers.

One of the great things we got when we bought this boat - lots of spares.
According to people that know about these things, in the world of engines, diesels are relatively simple beasts.  The conventional wisdom is that if you take good care of them with regular routine maintenance, they will reward you with a long and trouble free life.  So, we are committed to making sure we keep things in top shape, to avoid bigger problems down the line.

Still not a lot of room in the engine compartment.  Alexander stood by to reach in and lend a hand when he could.
The thing is, neither Sara or I have ever so much as changed the oil in our car before.  It has always been so easy just to take it into Mr. Lube that the need has never really come up.  Out here, though, there are no Mr. Lube’s for the boat.  If we really wanted, we could probably find someone to pay to service our engines, but given that it needs to be done about every 100 hours, that would be likely to really limit our mobility in the future.  Also, if there is one thing it will be good to be familiar with, it is our engines.

Sara sanding off the old impeller housing gasket.

Fortunately for us, with good internet access there is pretty much nothing you can’t learn.  After a quick google search, we found an awesome video of a guy servicing his Volvo engines.  Between watching that a few times, and reading the owner’s manual many times, we were ready to give it a shot.

That hose was right in the way of getting the fuel filter out.  Managed it with a few contortions (of both the hose and my wrist).
We started with the fuel system, draining the pre-filter bowl and putting in new pre-filters on both sides.  We then switched out the primary fuel filters as well.  We then moved on to the raw water cooling system, cleaning out the raw water sea strainers and putting in new impellers on both engines.

Lubing up a new impeller
After that, we were pretty much done for the day, so it wasn’t until the next day that we tackled the engine oil, draining both engines with our handy dandy oil pump, and then changing the oil filters before topping up with clean, new oil.

Handy dandy oil extractor actually made changing the oil the easiest job of the bunch.  We should have gotten a slightly bigger one, though.  Our engines take about 3.5 L of oil.
Once we had managed to do all that for both of the drive engines, we were feeling pretty confident, so the next day we did it all over again for the generator.  The generator was actually easier to service than the drive engines, since it is in a bit more accessible locker.

So, now we have three fully serviced engines, and more importantly, we have the skills and knowledge to keep them well maintained.  Hopefully this will save us money in repairs down the line.

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