Engine - refurbish or replace ?

Saverio

Member II
Good morning, my thought is to rebuild, cast iron engines are eternal, for the weekend ride what you have is fine, it depends on the use of the boat. If you allow me to give you advice, call a tractor mechanic as I did, given a lot of advice , now I try to fix and do things by myself, unfortunately the marine mechanics, most of the time they change pieces without knowing reason for breaking, they change many pieces and you pay. Sincerely.
 

Teranodon

Member III
Replacement is expensive, but shouldn't cost more than 12k or so, if you are willing to do a lot of the work yourself, under the guidance of a mechanic. Plus you need the time, and advanced-weekend-warrior-level mechanical skills. That's the way I did it, and it was both informative and enjoyable.
 

kapnkd

kapnkd
I
Replacement is expensive, but shouldn't cost more than 12k or so, if you are willing to do a lot of the work yourself, under the guidance of a mechanic. Plus you need the time, and advanced-weekend-warrior-level mechanical skills. That's the way I did it, and it was both informative and enjoyable.
It’s also a huge advantage to be knowledgeable and capable enough to repair the “Cast Iron Jib” yourself especially when cruising to more remote areas (Bahamas is a good example) AND have a supply of spare parts stored onboard.

...Getting something fixed in most remote areas is EXTREMELY costly and - WORSE - waiting for ordered parts is on a par with the actual Second Coming of Christ!!!
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
K2M,

That is a very interesting engine picture you posted. You should take more close ups to figure out how your alternator is really mounted.

The key disaster with the original bracket is not the bracket itself, but where the lower pivot point attaches to the engine:

Original Engine~2.jpg

That little "ear" circled in red is the bracket's attachment point to the gear case. That ear is what snaps off when the "bracket" fails.

Your picture makes it look like your bracket is attached to a piece that is already separate from the gear case. You should investigate that.

My blog post about the bracket replacement:

https://ericsonyachts.org/ie/ubs/ma...placement-exhaust-riser-rebuild-and-more.539/

It's a great time to "clean up" the engine if you have to remove the manifold to replace the bracket.
 
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K2MSmith

Member III
K2M,

That is a very interesting engine picture you posted. You should take more close ups to figure out how your alternator is really mounted.

The key disaster with the original bracket is not the bracket itself, but where the lower pivot point attaches to the engine:

View attachment 37970

That little "ear" circled in red is the bracket's attachment point to the gear case. That ear is what snaps off when the "bracket" fails.

Your picture makes it look like your bracket is attached to a piece that is already separate from the gear case. You should investigate that.

My blog post about the bracket replacement:

https://ericsonyachts.org/ie/ubs/ma...placement-exhaust-riser-rebuild-and-more.539/

It's a great time to "clean up" the engine if you have to remove the manifold to replace the bracket.
Thanks Ken, I am going sailing today, so I'll take more pictures of the alternator mounting at the boat. The diesel mechanic had the alternator out in the shop to rebuild it last week (they also tightened the stuffing box so it does not leak excessively - which was my main issues but actually the simplest to fix ). I ran the engine after that and everything worked (and I didn't see the stuffing box leaking), but I didn't check the alternator bracket - nor did I run the engine in gear for any length of time and check for stuffing box leaks after...
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Some photos of the alternator bracket. I think it’s the bad one . It appears the mount is part of the cover . No sign of imminent failure but it looks like I need to order the retrofit bracket .
 

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Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Not good.

As for signs of imminent failure: That bracket will work just fine until it doesn't. MaineSail's discussion of this should give anyone pause.
MaineSail's discussion is very good, as is most of his information, in my opinion.
However, on this issue of alternator bracket, he is still a bit unclear. He mentions only 2 or 3 of the engines affected by this bracket flaw - - the 25, M18 - - yet my 5416 16 hp also has that top arc bracket, but not that convoluted lower arrangement. So is it the arc, or the three piece bracket, or where it is bolted onto the engine that's the problem? He also mentions that one of the engine's brackets is made of aluminum, but when I removed mine for inspection last year, it is clearly made of iron.
It would be really helpful to have a better description of exactly which engine models and which brackets and bolt arrangement are problematic.
If someone could provide that, I would be most grateful.
Frank
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
This is my 5416 engine showing that bracket, and attachment to the engine.
Frank
 

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Alan Gomes

Sustaining Member
MaineSail's discussion is very good, as is most of his information, in my opinion.
However, on this issue of alternator bracket, he is still a bit unclear. He mentions only 2 or 3 of the engines affected by this bracket flaw - - the 25, M18 - - yet my 5416 16 hp also has that top arc bracket, but not that convoluted lower arrangement. So is it the arc, or the three piece bracket, or where it is bolted onto the engine that's the problem? He also mentions that one of the engine's brackets is made of aluminum, but when I removed mine for inspection last year, it is clearly made of iron.
It would be really helpful to have a better description of exactly which engine models and which brackets and bolt arrangement are problematic.
If someone could provide that, I would be most grateful.
Frank
Certainly good questions and something to look into. I think the bottom line is that you don't want anything bolted to that timing cover. It's a casting that is was not designed to take the stress of the alternator.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Here is the bracket retrofit kit . It contains new studs if the existing studs are not long enough to accommodate the new bracket.

 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
It would be really helpful to have a better description of exactly which engine models and which brackets and bolt arrangement are problematic.
If someone could provide that, I would be most grateful.
Frank,

Here is the service bulletin Westerbeke released in 1991 with respect to the alternator bracket. It references the M18, M25, and M25XP engines (file attached below):

20210327_230524.jpg

I asked my surveyor about it during my survey because I was concerned about the old bracket. He took a middle-of-the-road stance (I think, not wanting to offend buyer or seller) by acknowledging the alternator bracket problem but claiming it was usually the result of owners over-tightening the belt. I think a pretty common scenario on our multi-owner boats is this: Somebody decides to upgrade the 50A Motorola to a 75 or 100A model. That results in a higher hp draw on the engine and more torque on the alternator bracket. If the belt slips (more likely with a larger alternator), they crank down on the belt more for more tension (rather than installing a bigger belt and pulley)--which again increases the forces on the bracket.

While MaineSail points out that the cracked gearcase often occurred with the stock alternator, it's easy to see how a larger alternator and an over-tightened belt would hasten the problem.
 

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kapnkd

kapnkd
Not good.

As for signs of imminent failure: That bracket will work just fine until it doesn't. MaineSail's discussion of this should give anyone pause.

Well said! The infamous “Murphy’s Law” is always lurking nearby. (Not to mention O’Toole” who noted Murphy was but an optimist!)

Our project adage has always been “While we are at it” which leads to better overall piece of mind, especially if one is going to be cruising far from home port. This holds true regardless of what project is undertaken.
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
Kevin,

Definitely #1. These little engines are amazingly dependable and long lasting! It ain't broke, so don't fix it.

As far as the chipping, peeling paint, that is business as usual for any older boat. You can take care of that without much problem like this:

Go to an autoparts store or Home Depot near you and buy a spray can of engine enamel which is the correct color to match your engine (Universal Bronze, perhaps). Also get a brass detail brush like one of these..... cheapo is fine but don't use a regular metal, steel or iron wire brush.


Take this stuff and some old newspaper and masking tape to your boat. Spread newspaper under the engine, up the sides of the engine compartment (mask/tape some up to hold it in place) and protect from general paint flakes, dust, corrosion bits, etc, Go to work on the engine with your brass wire brush. Knock off the loose, flakey paint chips and expose the metal or old paint underneath. Wipe off as much as you can with paper towels. Then paint it with your spray can. A little bit of overspray on the hoses or other engine compartment contents is no big deal. If you missed a couple of spots, spray some paint into your paint cap (do this up on the dock) and while its still wet use a small brush to dab some of the wet paint onto those spots. Clean up the paper (without spilling the crud out of it, and admire your work! It will look 100% better and will be protected from corrosion again. Repeat once per year.

Go sailing and enjoy!

Make sure you change your zincs regularly to minimize corrosion.
This is exactly what I would suggest! I did same with my M25...it is a Kubota tractor engine and no engine is more reliable...we have an '81 Kubota tractor on our farm with a jillion hours of constant use; the hour meter died over 20 years ago and still shows 4244 hrs...no telling how many thousands since and starts/runs perfectly! Her name is "Old Reliable" when called into action. Here is my original Ericson M25 after I had done what Keith suggested some time back:
 

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K2MSmith

Member III
Thank you all for your comments. A few more data points after sailing yesterday a beautiful tour around the bay ) .
- I checked oils level again and engine ( after oil change last August) has not used any oil. It’s still at a high level.
- I don’t have a gauge but alternator belt tension appears to be good ( not too tight ) . I could believe that an over tensioned belt would cause the mount on engine to break .
- I’ll order the new bracket . It also looks like a crazy design because it mounts to the manifold studs (?) . I guess there is no other place to bolt it . I’ll need to use the new studs . Mine only have less than 1 mm thread exposed .
- what rpm is your M25’s happy cruising at ? Mine seems to vibrate more over 2200. I have a big folding prop, so I’m wondering about that . ( or maybe engine mounts could be replaced)
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Speaking of engine mounts, view maintenance of them just as you have learned to view oil changes. The interval is a lot longer, but like engine lubricant they degrade over time as the rubber compound hardens and breaks down. In their final years of partial collapse they throw off the alignment and this will cause premature problems with the cutlass bearing and misalignment of the shaft in the stern tube.

Rough rule of thumb -- Anywhere over 1500 hours and a decade or two, just put in new ones. Really.
Unfortunately a lot of boat owners view these engine parts as if they were made of metal and will sort of kind of last "forever"... not so.

BTW, I cruised our former M25XP, at 2400 to 2600, for decades and it seemed pretty content there, and that was the "cruising rpm" range specified by the manual. Best to read the manual for your model. Prop concern? Yup... if in doubt arrange to have it serviced and balanced by the maker, next haul out period. Those folders can develop wear around the blade pivot-pins.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Speaking of engine mounts, view maintenance of them just as you have learned to view oil changes. The interval is a lot longer, but like engine lubricant they degrade over time as the rubber compound hardens and breaks down. In their final years of partial collapse they throw off the alignment and this will cause premature problems with the cutlass bearing and misalignment of the shaft in the stern tube.

Rough rule of thumb -- Anywhere over 1500 hours and a decade or two, just put in new ones. Really.
Unfortunately a lot of boat owners view these engine parts as if they were made of metal and will sort of kind of last "forever"... not so.

BTW, I cruised our former M25XP, at 2400 to 2600, for decades and it seemed pretty content there, and that was the "cruising rpm" range specified by the manual. Best to read the manual for your model. Prop concern? Yup... if in doubt arrange to have it serviced and balanced by the maker, next haul out period. Those folders can develop wear around the blade pivot-pins.
The engine mounts ( rear ) don’t look very accessible on my boat so I am not sure I could replace them myself. I would need a “mini me” version of myself to get back there in the hole . I would hope they could be replaced by shimming and not removing the engine ? Any idea in what typical cost/ hours are to have them replaced?
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
There are various sources for these. I replaced the collapsed ones, all same age but not all had collapsed (all four) on our Universal with some from PYI. I could have sourced them from Universal/Westerbeke, and there are other sources too.
The trick is to raise the engine just enough, typically about 4 inches, per side. I know a mechanic that uses a flat plywood pad and a towel and an old scissor jack from a Honda Civic. Other folks used a small compressor and a basketball beneath it. I had the yard do mine and they had a couple of young and strong guys that reached over it and lifted each side.
Being young (and perhaps not yet wise...) helps considerably! :)
 

racushman

O34 - Los Angeles
Thank you all for your comments. A few more data points after sailing yesterday a beautiful tour around the bay ) .
- I checked oils level again and engine ( after oil change last August) has not used any oil. It’s still at a high level.
- I don’t have a gauge but alternator belt tension appears to be good ( not too tight ) . I could believe that an over tensioned belt would cause the mount on engine to break .
- I’ll order the new bracket . It also looks like a crazy design because it mounts to the manifold studs (?) . I guess there is no other place to bolt it . I’ll need to use the new studs . Mine only have less than 1 mm thread exposed .
- what rpm is your M25’s happy cruising at ? Mine seems to vibrate more over 2200. I have a big folding prop, so I’m wondering about that . ( or maybe engine mounts could be replaced)
Ken,

I also have the M25 and have come to be quite fond of it in the ~18 months we've been together. Mine is also a bit un-loved in appearance, however I've cleaned it up over the months and have come to conclude it is likely in good mechanical condition because of the following:
- It starts on the first revolution, every time (to me probably the most important sign of health)
- Doesn't use any measurable oil between changes
- Doesn't blow any blue or black smoke at startup, or during operation
- Will rev to >3000 RPMs in forward gear (under load)
- Operates at normal temperature
- Has a couple places where it appears to weep a little oil, nothing major it is 32 years old after all

To me these are all the signs that I've got a healthy engine that should be fine for many years to come if I take care of it. It's possible that it could fail catastrophically at any time for reasons I can't anticipate, but at middle age the same could be said about me and I trust the actuarial tables that both the engine and I have some decent runway left.

In my experience, the key things to a happy and long-lived diesel are:
- Regularly changed oil, and at least once a year no matter how many hours you've run it
- Clean fuel, regular primary and secondary filter changes
- Clean air (if you haven't changed the original Universal can air filter to the K&N do so immediately)
- Regular use that puts the engine under load, and gets it to full operating temperature (I try to run mine at least every 2 weeks)
- Change the heat exchanger zinc every 6 months

Pretty basic stuff, all things you can easily do yourself.

There are known transmission issues with this particular engine, however mine seems to work fine. Cross that bridge if I get to it.

Mine needs a coat of paint, and the engine mounts to be replaced as Loren says. Mine too feels a little too rough over 2200 RPMs... maybe it's the mounts, maybe the folding prop... for now not an immediate problem.

My take is replace the alternator bracket and continue to enjoy the engine and the boat.

Rob
 
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