Breathing new life into the old auxiliary

Like most sailboats of her size (31 feet) ‘Imi Loa has an inboard engine. In our case it is a small (2 cylinder) Yanmar diesel. It is rated to produce a whopping 15 horsepower but it is old and tired and most certainly not producing 15 horsepower. It does have enough power to get us in and out of the marina and up and down the river when we have someplace to be but no wind to sail by.  However, the whole time it is running it belches black smoke and, if the engine is cold, it will only start if given a shot of ether. Which leaves us wondering if it will start when we really need it.

Diagnosis: Low compression.

Potential solutions:

a) Electric Propulsion: We really like the idea of going electric (quiet and no exhaust) but we really don’t want to spend that much. There are expensive ways (~$10k) and relatively inexpensive ways (~$2k) to go electric but all ultimately cost more than we are willing to spend at this point. FYI the system we were looking at putting together would probably cost in the neighborhood of $4,500. It is still not entirely off the table but it isn’t in the cards right now.

b) Repower with a newer (and likely bigger) diesel: Way too expensive (~$7k) and if we were going to spend that much money (and effort) we would definitely go electric.

c) Rebuild the engine we have: Still pretty expensive (maybe $2k) if we can even get all the parts we would need. And we would still have a noisy, stinky diesel and be $2k poorer.

d) Fix the problem we have (low compression): Replace the cylinder liners, pistons, and rings for $550.  It would still be noisy and stinky, but hopefully start easier, smoke less, and maybe even have a little more power.

And the winner is……. d of course 🙂

We actually bought the parts several weeks ago but put off starting the job until this past weekend because were moving to a new slip at the end of February and didn’t want to risk being without an engine (the move required going out into the river for a few hundred yards).

Here are a few pics of the work so far:

Engine prepped for removal from the boat.

Starting to hoist the engine using the boom and a "come-along".

The engine is out of the boat and safely on the dock!

The removal went pretty smoothly but required lots of re-rigging on the fly to get the engine onto the bridge deck and then over the combings and onto the dock. We actually videotaped the engine removal, if we can figure out how to edit the video to a manageable length we will post it later. The work would have been a little more fun if it hadn’t been raining and spitting snow, but then if the weather was nice we would have preferred to have been out sailing!

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