FROM 2-9. Greenland-N.Atlantic-Falmouth

5239 02720 Berri's engine problem

For anyone who might be interested – and people who design boats! Berri has a sealed fresh water cooling system that is cooled by raw water in a heat exchange on top of the engine. Raw water is pumped through a filter and anti-syphon device through the heat exchange and is mixed with exhaust gas just behind the exhaust manifold so it also cools the exhaust pipe. From the manifold, gas and water flow downhill (normally – see below!) through a muffler box, then uphill through a gooseneck and out through the transom. Some water will inevitably pool in the muffler. In heavy weather, we always put a stopper on the transom outlet to stop water being forced in by following waves.

In the recent bit of nastiness, the stopper was in and Berri was pitching through about 80 degrees and rolling through about the same with waves breaking over the stern. The pitching meant that the normal downhill slope to the muffler was reversed or at least mostly neutralised and combined with the roll, I think that water flowed back from the muffler towards the engine and in through the manifold and into any cylinder with an open valve.

When I tried to start it, the engine was seized. Conditions still awful. Modern diesels are not usually fitted with a crank and ours isn’t, so – take off starter motor (really tricky, and could only get one of the two bolts back in later) and use 2 ft screwdriver to lever ring gear around, tooth by tooth. Eventually got it moving – a bit. Then try to electric start – no go, so all over again. Then, no go, take out the pre heat plugs to give direct access to each cylinder and try to turn donk to force any water out. Pour in oil through hole and wash in with WD40, replace plugs (also not easy – needs special socket, but managed to improvise) and try again. No go but at least the engine was turning over. Take off air cleaner, squirt oil into intakes to try to get it into the cylinder to seal the rings and valves. Still no start and still a sticky bit on each turn so maybe stuck valve – last heave, take off rocker cover, check all valves moving, tap with hammer, but carefully so as not to knock off rocker arm, liberal squirts of WD40. Almost almost fired but not quite. Put it all back together and do not receive banana. Consult.

Finally, pumped as much sump oil out as conditions allowed – seemed to be no water in it so hopefully, head job will fix, wherever we can get to that has facilities. Will certainly try to push on to Falmouth, but if we get stuck within range of S. Ireland, might see if we can get towed in somewhere. Unlikely because we need to get further south to stay out of the nasty wx. Conor, if you’re reading this – take note! I have your mobile number.

Hoonster, will try to call you later. xx

PS – for the Kiwis and Gerry – I’m getting Taupo radio loud and clear on 6224 every day. Their transmitter must fry all the sheep within range!

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