Tag: engine

Engine Woes.

Of course it could not go so well without trouble.

I have been working on Dagny for three days and boy, have I done a lot! Painting is finished. Well, not counting the touch-ups.. So, as on every work trip, I proceeded to run the engine for ten minutes, just to make sure it works and to move oil around a bit. Well, the starter turns the engine but there is no compression. I tried the hand crank, same issue, the engine turns freely. I checked the decompression lever, but I have never touched it before, since the engine always started right away. The lever feels very loose. Obviously it isn’t doing anything. This is really bad timing, or maybe good timing, depending on how you look at it.. Better now than in the middle of nowhere, but still, very frustrating. Armed with the supreme confidence of the novice in all things diesel, I decided to take the valves cover off. It all looks fine, though I have no idea what fine would be in this case, but there are no bits and pieces floating around at least.

Volvo Penta 2001 Valves

Volvo Penta 2001 Valves


When I turn the hand crank the valves go up and down, good. The decompression lever, used to start the engine by hand, turns a rod on top of the two valves.. Hum.. I can’t see what it is doing exactly. Maybe it is supposed to open some hole in the cylinder head or lift a valve to let air out. Bottom line is, if there is no compression, there is a leak somewhere, otherwise I would not be able to turn the engine by hand. Not that it all matters much anyway, because I doubt I will be able to fix it myself, though I haven’t given up yet. Anyone knows a good looking female diesel mechanic who accepts payments in nature? I thought not.

On the bright side, I will be varnishing today, completing all inside cosmetic work before heading back home. I did hoist the jib just to check everything, missing a couple shackles which I temporarily substituted for zip-ties. I still have to figure out how to rig the self-tacking jib and boom.

Self-Tacking Jib

Self-Tacking Jib

I guess something had to take me down from my high of hatch-fitting, painting completion bliss. It was just too good to last. I hope this will not delay my departure. It is what I call a no-go problem. Meaning, I can’t leave until it is solved. I have no other no-go problems right now. I can’t afford another engine, new or used, so I hope it will be a quick, most importantly cheap repair. The last stretch is always the hardest.

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Dinghy Outboard Motor and Safety.

My first thought was just to row… My Achilles LEX-77 rows well, though I have only used it on flat water. Browsing various cruising forums (Cruisers Forum and Sailnet, user gilgsn) it appears that not having an engine can be pretty unsafe. Winds and current can blow you out to sea or on rocks. So I decided that if possible I should look for a dinghy outboard motor of 2 to 4hp. If I could afford a new one, which I doubt, there are four models perfect for the task:

All these outboards except the Suzuki cost between 800 and 1000 USD.

The lighter model is the Honda at less than 30lbs. Its reputation is to be reliable but noisy due to air cooling.

The Yamaha, well, it’s a Yamaha and would be my first choice. It seems to be hard to find.

The Tohatsu is the same as the Mercury, and some other brands. With 3.5hp it might prove useful when wind and currents are strong or the boat is heavily loaded.

The Suzuki is said to be pretty powerful for its stated rating but not as reliable as the other three. It is also cheaper.

My main requirement is to be able to lift the engine with one arm, which I can do up to 50lbs, but 40 or less would be much easier. Two-strokes have a better power to weight ratio but require mixing oil in the fuel. They are also no longer available new in the United States, thanks to the EPA. When you think of how much oil BP has leaked in the Gulf of Mexico or how much and what large ships illegally dump in the ocean, it makes little sense. Four-strokes are quieter, more efficient, but their carburators gum up easily due to their small size. I was told it is better to turn them off by shutting off the fuel.

Any suggestion or offers would be welcome…

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