Friday, February 15, 2013

Rebuild Number 4

We pulled the engine out of the boat yesterday to rebuild it once again.  For those keeping track this will be the fourth rebuild within a year.  It was about this time last year that we were towed in to the Barra lagoon where this tragic tale began.  I made the obvious decision to pull the engine again after the transmission decided to overheat last week.  That was it -- I'd had enough.

If you recall, our original plan was to haul the boat and re-pitch the prop so we could drive the engine at a higher RPM for 50 or so hours with the slim hope that the rings would seat and the oil-burning problem would resolve itself.  So, last Monday we pushed off the dock for an anticipated 3 to 4 day excursion to motor around during the day and anchor of the outlying islands in the evenings. 

Two hours in to that first day I noticed transmission fluid boiling out the breather vent, which quickly led to the captain's blood boiling out his ears.  After venting my frustration by cursing our idiot mechanic (again) over the revving engine, we motored over to Bird Island and dropped the hook for the night.  We watched the sunset and spent a peaceful night tucked in behind the island off a beautiful little beach with nobody else around -- an idyllic setting to help me wind down and, perhaps, gain a little perspective.  The next morning we made the short trip back to the marina, docked the boat, and asked our new mechanic to pull the whole thing out again.

And, it turns out, that was the right call.  The engine -- which is now a pile of parts on the workshop floor -- had a number of problems that were not going to resolve themselves no matter how many hours I motored around.  There was oil leaking out the front cover, oil leaking out the rear seal, and fuel leaking out the injector pump.  As I suspected, the cylinders were completely glazed over -- partly due to the propeller problem but also because they were not prepped correctly during the last rebuild.  Also, the rings were installed in the wrong positions which meant that it would never hold compression or stop leaking oil, even if the rings had seated.  The overheating transmission showed signs of wear on the discs and pump gears, indicating that they were not installed correctly.  Essentially every part that our bonehead mechanic in Barra touched was now junk.  I was, understandably, a little dismayed.

The good news is that we now have a competent mechanic with whom I have complete faith.  So, we'll go through the painful process once again.  Assuming we can rebuild it again, that is.  The block, crankshaft, and head were sent to a machine shop here in Mazatlan to be checked.  If, for some reason, there is a problem with any of those components we may be looking at a new engine...ouch!  Our friends across the dock have already faced that situation.  I'm trying not to think about it.  We should know within the next day or so.

In any event, we'll be here for a while waiting on repairs, which provided Millie a good opportunity to visit her parents in Florida.  They left Mazatlan last Saturday for a two-week trip.  Millie gets some quality time with her friends, Colin gets some quality time with his grandparents, James gets some quality time with a wrench.  Actually, it's nice to be able to work on the boat without interruptions.  So, it's a win-win-win.
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mom said...

Wow!! you've had your share of problems with this engine..we keep thinking positive thoughts for you... and i know there is something good in all this:>) I'll have to think about it, buttt, i know there is! i'm sure mills & colin are having a fun visit with her family.. that leaves you alone with your thoughts, frustrations & decisions with the "miss jeanmarie" :>) xoxo mom

Arvind said...

Good luck! Looks like your problem will be resolved soon, one way or the other. Just checked on the blog today, after a while. Colin looks so grown up :)