Engine Repair Odyssey

Posted: August 1, 2013  |  Tag: 

By: John Temple

Ed. Note: In the May 2013 issue (Ask the Experts, “Engine Trouble Diagnosis,” p. 17), John Temple answered a question about a diesel engine that wouldn’t start. He touched on a similar episode that had happened to his boat’s engine, so we asked him to expand on what he and his wife, Candy, chose to do and how they arrived at that conclusion.
There were actually three choices we could have made. Our engine was beyond an in-boat repair due to damage to the pistons and cylinder walls, so we had to decide between buying a new engine from the manufacturer, buying a reconditioned (recon) engine or having a company rebuild our existing engine.

A new engine cost the most and carried the best warranty. A recon engine from the manufacturer also had a great warranty. In fact, a new-engine sales rep complained that he couldn’t compete with a recon, because it costs less and the warranty can be almost as good. Having our existing engine rebuilt could save lots of money and be as dependable as or more dependable than a recon, even if the warranty didn’t match the manufacturer’s warranty.

We went with a rebuild for three reasons. First, I had a highly recommended engine repair shop, Pat’s Marine Engines in Seattle. It has a dock outside the shop, so it could take the engine out and replace it. No lay days. The people there want to get things done, to get their dock space back. Everything came to me from one vendor, which was the second reason for a rebuild. I got one quote and had one company responsible for it all. Third, the cost from Pat’s was less than one company buying a recon or going direct to Cummins.

To have our existing engine repaired, the block needed to be in good enough shape to be bored, sleeved and, if bored, able to accept oversized pistons. It turned out the block was fine; it could be bored, but they could not find oversized pistons. So, we ended up over boring it and putting in sleeves.

If anyone out there is in a similar situation, you’ll have to find a yard and get quotes to remove the engine, which is why a recommendation like I got is so valuable. Remember that the time it takes to get the engine back is a factor, too. So part of the process is figuring out how to get the engine in and out, by whom and how fast. The yard costs for removal are subject to how long the engine takes to be returned ready to go. So, once I determined that I had to replace the engine, I wanted a company that could do it all, and Pat’s fit the bill.

Finally, check with your insurance company. If you have insurance that covers consequential damages, things such as sucking up a plastic bag that causes overheating and damage, the insurance company may pay for most of the costs.

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