“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Engine Cleaning, Heat Exchanger & Alternator


The Engine in General

So here is what my engine looked like at the end of the season.IMG_0734IMG_0735P3190006

You can see a good amount of rust on various parts.  Some were never coated with paint, others the paint has worn off and the parts have began to rust.  I blame part of this on my wet exhaust elbow failure last year that resulted in hot salt water and soot covering the motor and filling the engine bilge.  Also, the previous owner didn’t spend much time on the engine.

So the first step I took this year was to take off the alternator, heat exchanger, the exhaust elbow and all the hoses that I hadn’t replaced last year.  Here is what the engine looked like at that point.


Over the next month or so, I will take a wire brush to all the exposed rust and flaking paint.  Then I plan to prime the areas of exposed metal and then repaint all of the metal surfaces with the same color from Westerbeke.  I will prep the area with a combination of blue painters tape, tin foil and contractor’s paper.  I will post photos of the prep then the repainted engine.

Engine Compartment Modification

There was a design flaw with the C310 in that the back bulkhead of the engine compartment is too close to the exhaust elbow.  This has resulted in the bulkhead smoking and even catching fire on some boats when motoring for a long period of time.  We have had a few issues with this, although it has never caught fire.  I have tried a couple of fixes but none has really worked well.  So to permanently fix this issue I plan to cut away the area shown below and then install a new bulk head with about two more inches of spacing.  This will cut into the back birth slightly but not enough to out way the benefit of not catching on fire.  The new bump out would be lined with fiberglass and metal for heat shielding.

Engine Compartment Mod

Again, I will post an updated photo when completed.


When I pulled the alternator off it didn’t look so good.  I took it down to the local auto shop and had them test it.  It failed the test and needs to be rebuilt.  I have never rebuilt and alternator before, so this should be interesting.  I will do a separate post on just the alternator when I jump into that project.

Heat Exchanger

One of the motivations for the whole engine project is that I felt that there may have been an issue with the heat exchanger brackets.  And sure enough both were broken when I took it off.  One was broken at the bolt; the other broke off at the heat exchanger.  The brackets were just pieces of steel connected to the copper heat exchanger by solder.  I cleaned up the corrosion and paint and cleaned the outside as best I could.  I tried to channel my inner MaineSail but I am just not that good of a perfectionist.  Here is where I ended that part of the project.

IMG_0778 IMG_0779 IMG_0782

In the top photo, you can see the residual of the solder from the brackets.  I was thinking I could heat this with a torch to soften it and then wipe it off with a rag.  Is this a bad idea?

The next big step with the heat exchanger will be to take it to a radiator shop and have them pressure test and clean the internal tubes.  Then repaint and it will be ready for reinstallation.  Updates to come on this progress.

The most difficult part of the heat exchanger will be coming up with new brackets.  Anyone have any ideas?

I will post updated photos as the project progresses.  I want to give a big thanks to Maine Sail/Compass Marine and the people at Sailboat Owners.  I have no previous experience with diesel motors or really any experience with motors other than some minor work on my Jeep and old outboards.  Thanks to the help I get from these sources, I feel confident diving into these projects.

Cross-posted at SailboatOwners/Catalina 310 Owners Forum.

UPDATE – March 11th – Engine Disassembled and Ready for Paint

It’s been too long since my last update on this topic.  However, this weekend I was able to make some significant progress thanks to Tom’s help.  Below are some photos of the progress thus far.  The first thing to notice is the giant hole in the bulkhead behind the engine.  This previously had some far damage (see the before image, below).  The second thing is that most easily removable items have been removed.  We took wire brushes to the engine, a significant amount of Gunk applied with microfiber clothes, tooth brushes and Q-tips, and washed down the engine (using a garden sprayer to limit the volume of water) to prep it for painting.


Bulkhead Before


Bulkhead After


Engine at Start of Project


Engine prepped for Paint


An area of the engine not normally visible

Following this work I got to sleep on the boat because neither my Bride nor I were comfortable with leaving an electric heater on unattended.  It wasn’t too bad; a decent temperature with two electric space heaters going (one for the engine and one for me) and my laptop for watching a couple of Kevin Smith movies.

Next step will be finishing the masking and painting the engine.

UPDATE – March 27th – Engine Painted & New Alternator

OK, just a quick update.  The engine has been painted but has not been reassembled.  That is still about two weeks out.  Here is a quick photo I took after cleaning up the masking tape.


On the alternator, instead of rebuilding it I purchased a new one.  The rebuild kit was $45.  The new alternator (not a factory rebuild but brand new) was $77.50.  Simple decision given the time crunch and cost.  I will probably still order the rebuild kit and rebuild it over the summer to have a backup.  That was on the list of spares for the cruise anyways.

UPDATE – April 10th – Finished Project (Well, almost)

With the boat scheduled to be splashed on Monday, April 15th, I ended up spending this whole weekend on the boat, trying to finish up my projects.  That didn’t happen and I ended up taking yesterday off work to do some more.  I was able to get everything done except the exhaust riser.  Note the new air filter thanks to Paulj.  My custom-made (read “made by me”) exhaust riser didn’t quite fit as well as I wanted, so I am making some more tweaks to it before this weekend, when I will finish it up.  Here are a couple of photos.

IMG_0930 IMG_0932 IMG_0933

Bulkhead Modification

As mentioned before, we cut out a large portion of the bulkhead to allow for space around the exhaust riser to avoid the bulkhead catching on fire.  This was done by a teak box that extends into the rear birth approximately 3 inches.  My buddy Tom crafted this box beautifully and now it just needs a couple of latches, insulation and some stain/poly and it will be complete.


IMG_0919 IMG_0918  IMG_0938

Tom and I designed the bulkhead modification to have a removable panel to allow access to the rear of the motor.  I would now put the engine access on our C310 up against any sailboat out there.  I can tell you one job that is going to be really easy now, checking and changing the transmission fluid.

IMG_0915 IMG_0935

I still need to put some insulation up on the new bulkhead but I am not sure what I’m going to use.  Right now I am leaning towards similar insulation as to what the stairs have but might need to go with something different if the heat builds up to much.

7 thoughts on “Engine Cleaning, Heat Exchanger & Alternator

  1. Interesting article, I guess masking and painting the engine aren’t that too difficult. But it definitely looks quite complex to me just by looking at your pictures.

  2. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to
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  3. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing issues with your site. It appears like some of the written text within your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This may be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.

    Thank you

  4. Jesse, what did you do about new heat exchanger brackets??

    Thanks– Wayne

    • Hi Wayne,

      Westerbeke does have replacement brackets. They were essentially some steel rings that bend around the heat exchanger and then put a bolt through onto the engine. I don’t like them much.

      I have since seen a different style that are two piece brackets. Onside bolts to the engine and then you bolt the two halves together to hold the exchanger in place.

      The stock ones are awful. Don’t know why they went with that design.

      Good luck,


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