November 11, 2012

Getting an engine survey

IT HAS ALWAYS seemed strange to me that marine surveyors don’t survey some of the most important parts of a boat. Hardly any will investigate the condition of the auxiliary engine, for example.

The engine represents a large portion of the value of a sailboat. A new one professionally installed costs as much as a small car. If you’re buying a used boat, therefore, it will pay you to get a good mechanic to survey the engine.

A well-equipped mechanic can use a heat sensor to check for blocked water passages, a bad thermostat, and other cooling problems. A compression test will uncover bad rings or worn cylinders. Smoke, steam, and water coming from the exhaust all tell their own stories to the expert and an electrical test will determine the state of the batteries and the amount of charge from the alternator.

A good mechanic will check the fuel filters for signs of water and algae in the fuel tank. Engine alignment, the condition of hoses,

the color of the engine oil, the amount of corrosion, the condition of the engine mounts--all these things should be checked. It’s money well spent.

It’s a sure bet, though, that not every mechanic has all the equipment needed for a thorough survey. Make sure yours has.

Today’s Thought
The bad workmen, who form the majority of the operatives in many branches of industry, are decidedly of the opinion that bad workmen ought to receive the same wages as good.
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

“Why the tears?”
“Oh, Johnny, the dog ate your supper.”
“There, there, my dear.  I’ll buy you a new dog first thing tomorrow”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

KevinH said...

And not just the engine gets ignored. Few if any surveyors will climb up to the masthead to check on sheaves etc. Often the electronics and other boat systems, - gas cooker/bilge pumps/self steering gear etc. will not be tested. Neither will rigging/chainplates/rudder pintles be tested for crevice corrosion. Most surveys I've seen amount to little more than a description of the boat and a disclaimer/indemnity peppered with words like "latent defects" and "appears satisfactory". No, IMO you're best off cultivating the practical knowledge to check and repair your own boat and asking experienced boating friends for their input.