“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

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Quick, simple fuel polisher

We have been struggling with fuel issues since getting bad fuel running from Irma and Maria in 2017. The biggest problem is that Catalina did not install any inspection ports in the the fuel tank. To effectively clean the tank you need to access both sides of the baffle. Because the tank is installed under the sugar scoop you need to remove the tank to install clean outs. And why remove a 20 year old metal tank and re-install it, it might be better to get a new tank. That’s a job better suited to when we are stopped to work again. So I’m stuck trying to figure out the best way to keep the motor going for the next year or two.

I have decided my best option is install a fuel polishing system I can use regularly. Especially under sail in rough conditions when stuff get stirred up.

Some of these modifications would be slightly different on a stock motor with the Facet lift pump and Racor R20 primary filter. But the concept would still work.

We have a Racor 500 as our primary fuel filter and a Walbro FRB-8 fuel pump mounted on the bulkhead. We run a 10 micron filter element in the Racor 500. The on engine fuel filter is a 2 micron. The Walbro isn’t cheap but I had gotten frustrated with the poor quality of the cheap $35 automotive lift pumps. Since I was going to spend some real money on the fuel lift pump I researched options. The Walbro is larger than the factory Facet cube style pump. But it is also rebuildable in the field. A new Facet would have cost $80, the Walpro was $150. The Facet delivers fuel at about 7 gph, the Walbro varies on demand up to 40 gph. I did have the idea of building a polisher in mind when I made the decision to go with the Walbro.

To make the polisher I installed a three-way valve on the effluent of the Walbro pump. One direction goes to the supply for the on engine filter. The other direction is hard plumbed to a T fitting. One side of the T fitting goes to the return line to the tank. The other side of the T fitting goes to return coming from the engine.


When the three-way valve is turned to the engine fuel goes from the pump, to the one engine filter and then on to the high pressure pump and injectors. The return fuel goes to the T fitting and then on to the return line to the tank. When I select the polish position, the fuel goes from the pump directly to the return line to the tank.

The factory power setup for the pump is a quick disconnect tied to the solenoid switch. This is why you can push the key forward to activate the fuel pump as part of the self-priming system. On the pump side of the quick connect I added a second wire going to a switch. The other side of the switch is connected to my positive buss in the battery compartment with a fuse in line. If you turn on the switch, the fuel pump is activated. This is great for priming filters after changes. But it does active the solenoid switch and therefore activates the preheat circuit, you wouldn’t want to leave this on for long polishing efforts. But disconnecting the quick connect eliminates the preheat circuit. You could also add a second switch to shut off the preheat circuit. I did take a unused heat shrink quick disconnect end, put some wire insulation in the crimp end, crimped and shrunk it. Now it works as a cap to eliminate accidentally groundings to the engine.

So to activate the polisher you turn the selector valve to polish, disconnect the quick connect and flip the switch. It can run for hours polishing the fuel and returning it to the tank. Not a perfect system but good.


The next step will be to add a 2 micron filter somewhere on the return line, likely with a bypass loop so that returned fuel from the engine isn’t going through it.

Before I started building the system I shocked the tank with a double treatment of Biobor JF fuel treatment. I then ran the polisher for 20 hours in three sessions. The fuel looked clean and there was some definite build up in the bowl of the filter. I then switched to a 2 micron filter and ran it for another 8 hours (not advised for the Facet pump). Following that I did another treatment of the Biobor JF and a treatment of Starbrite Diesel Watersorb. I have now been running the polisher again for 2 hours. The fuel is now cloudy. Hopefully this clears up after several hours of polishing.


After the fuel clears up, I will change the filter back to a 10 micron and drain the sediment out of the bowl. Then it will be time to go for a sail in hopefully 6-8 foot seas to run the polisher while getting knocked around a bit.

I also need to break out the label maker and clean this up a bit.


Winter Boat Projects Update

While my Bride has been busy selling things, I have been plugging away on boat projects.  Just as a quick review of what the big project is this year, I am doing the following:

  • Replace the dampener plate
  • Replace the motor mounts
  • Replace the stuffing box with a dripless adapter
  • Replace the bronze shaft with a stainless steel one
  • Replace the cutlass bearing
  • Replace any original hoses left on the engine
  • Cleaning & rebuilding the strainer

The dampener plate replacement went fine, here is another photo to let you know how lucky we were that we were still able to use our engine this season.


Yup. Barely holding on.

Putting on the PSS dripless adapter became a bit of an issue.  There is a hump IMG_1027on my model of C310 that doesn’t exist on others.  This hump is just fiberglass and resin in the area that was hand laid.  But it made the area between the hump and the shaft log too tight for the PSS bellows.  So I had to grind some of this material away with my Dremel then reseal the area with some epoxy.  I then painted this area with a little Interlux Bilgekote since it will be hard to get below the PSS in the future.

Finally I put the PSS on and slide the new shaft into place.


And the new shaft in the new cutlass bearing.  Zero play, perfect fit.


Finally, with the help of my friend Frank, the motor went back in place on the new motor mounts.


Here is a close up of the new front mounts with the spacer plates made out of stainless steel thanks to my cousin’s machine shop.


To finish the project I need to align the motor and the shaft, reconnect a few stray wires and hoses and reinstall the line cutter and prop.  Hopefully the weather will let me tackle that this weekend and call this project complete.  The strainer is still in pieces in my garage but I want to hit the marine consignment store before I go any further on this strainer.  I might change from a Perko to a different brand.

Next on the list will be making some modifications to my raw water pump  Just changing out some fittings for a better fit.  I think my drive belt is hitting one fitting slightly.  Then it will be electric time.  I want to move my small 300 watt inverter from the hanging locker (PO used it for the TV) to the navigation station.  I will install a 12volt outlet near the hanging locker to get ready for a new, 12 volt TV.  I also want to put a 12 volt outlet or two in the cockpit for charging the iPad and maybe run some LED strip lights for the cockpit.

We also decided to ditch the foam pads for the back birth.  We don’t have people spend the night often.  When we do it’s usually drunken friends who usually just sleep in the cockpit. So we took out the two foam pads and replaced them with a air mattress.  The Coleman queen air mattress fits the area well and can be stored much easier.  What to do with the old foam pads is still up for debate.

While I have been doing this, my Bride has been working to purge the house and getting it ready for the market.  Now, if we can only get my buddy George to list it already.


Boat Projects, Winterization and Purging the House

Been to quiet on here.  I haven’t posted anything for over two months!  Woke up this morning to almost a foot of snow.  It’s turned over to rain and starting to turn into a slushy mess.  I am really starting to hate winter!

Smitty came out of the water on November 25th.  The weekend before was spent winterizing the boat and taking stuff home to store for the last winter she will be on the hard.  I always hate this time of year and I get a little depressed to think that it will be almost five months before I feel Smitty gently rocking under my feet.

The day after Thanksgiving I began my big winter project.  I had a friend who is a first rate diesel mechanic take a look at the boat this year.  Based on this inspection, my suspicion that the dampener plate needed to be replaced was confirmed.  To do this I had to disconnect the transmission coupling and remove the bell housing to access the flywheel where the dampener plate is attached.

We also discovered my motor mounts were worn and needed to be replaced.  This could be done by lifting each corner of the engine with a car jack allowing me to remove the old mount and install the new one.

In addition, the stuffing box house is original and the my cutlass bearing needs to be replaced.  This means separating my bronze shaft from the transmission coupling, taking the prop off of the shaft and sliding the shaft out past the rudder.  The problems with this plan is that the shaft and the coupling have never been separated and there is some scoring on the shaft.


So I went a little more aggressive with this project.  First I separate the transmission and the coupling.  Then I undid my existing motor mounts to separate them from the engine.  Using a 4X4 and a come-a-long I lifted the engine and moved it forward into the salon.  Finally, I cut my existing shaft with an angel grinder allowing me to remove the shaft in two pieces without having to separate the coupling or the prop from the shaft.


Once this was done, I was set to start the repairs and upgrades.

I brought the two parts of the shaft to Rose’s Machine Shop in Gloucester.  They used the old shaft to make a new, stainless steel shaft and a split coupling.  The shaft was fit and faced to the coupling and lap fitted to the prop.  They also set my line cutter up to attached to the new shaft.

My cousin’s machine shop made me two 1/2 inch stainless steel spacers to go under the front motor mounts.  The front mounts were adjusted almost as high as possible.  This isn’t the most stable position.  So the spacers will allow the motor mounts to be adjusted to a lower height and be more stable.  After some research I went with the OEM motor mounts.

IMG_0902Once I removed the bell housing I saw how bad my dampener plate really was and we were lucky that we didn’t breakdown and have to be towed back in this season.  The first sign was pieces of dampener plate in the bottom of the bell housing.  The dampener plate used by Catalina had a plastic ribbon that set the tension on the plate.  That ribbon sat in pieces at the bottom of the bell housing.

IMG_0906When I looked at the plate itself, the spline in the middle was almost round.  In addition, the four posts that hold the two main pieces together were all split in two.  Again, we were very lucky this didn’t cause us to have no engine use at some point this season.

I replaced the dampener plate and started putting the transmission back on.  I did paint the bottom of the bell housing and transmission first.  It had some rust so I degreased the area and painted it with three coats of the engine paint.  At bit analretentive I know but I just want to make sure the engine out lives me.


Bottom of the transmission and bell housing prior to painting

Bottom of the transmission and bell housing prior to painting

Following this great “how to” article from Compass Marine (thanks again to my guru Maine Sail), I removed the old cutlass bearing.  I then pressed in the new one with about $20 of hardware from Lowes.


Instead of putting the stuffing box back, I upgraded to a PSS drip-less adapter.  We really want to have a dry bilge to the largest extent possible.  So getting rid of the dripping stuffing box and going with a drip-less will help us get closer to the dry bilge.  I had researched several other drip-less stuffing boxes/adapters and believe that the additional money for some of the other  styles wouldn’t change the biggest draw back to the PSS.  You have to change the hose or the bellows every 8-10 years no matter which one you go with.

I am also replacing all of the hoses for the engine.  I have already replaced the short ones that go between various pumps and the heat exchanger, etc. on the engine.  So this mainly means the longer runs that go from the trough-hull to the strainer then to the raw water pump and the two runs that go from the engine to the water heater for heating water from the engine.  I also took my Perko strainer off the boat to clean and rebuild it.  That’s sitting in the garage with a few other parts that need some TLC.

After the holidays I will finish putting everything back together.  But for now, Smitty sits in the cold, all alone waiting for the end of the winter and for splash day: April 15, 2014.  Only 4 months until she is relaunched.  

IMG_0915See, she is first in line at the travel lift. 


Running a Diesel at Idle

In a discussion on the sailboatowners.com forum, I had posted that it was bad to run a diesel at idle.  I was quickly rebuked on this point by some knowledgeable/experienced boaters, including one very well respected moderator/featured contributor.   I have also seen this subject come up on the Cruisersforum.com.

First thing, lets establish the definition of idling because this was of some issue.  In the case of this discussion it would be running your motor in neutral. Even if you bring the RPMs up to 1,000 you are still idling your motor.  For instance, the idling range for my Universal M25-XPB is 1,00-1,200 RPM.

Pages from Universal Deisel Operation Manual_February 2010

From the Universal Diesel Operations Manual – February 2010

Now, I have always operated under the notion that idling is bad for your diesel engine.  For instance, running your diesel at anchor to charge your batteries and heat hot water.  My owner’s manual tells me such:

Idling from Universal Deisel Operation Manual_February 2010

But here are some quoted responses I got during the discussion on Sailboatowners.com.

From jviss:

For millions of sailboats running the main propulsion diesel is de rigueur for charging batteries, including everything from affordable, 20-something footers to 1/2 million dollar plus coastal cruisers (from Morris Yachts, for example). So while you may have a theoretical point, in practical terms it is meaningless. To paraphrase you: in general, it doesn’t matter.

I don’t idle mine, I usually run it at 1000 RPM or slightly higher. I don’t get enough of a difference in output at higher RPMs to make it worth the extra noise. At idle (700 RPM) it doesn’t make enough voltage to charge beyond a float level.

The only potential negative effects are glazing of the cylinder walls over time, that may cause some smoking. Mine has not exhibited this in 29 years of operation (at about 3000 hours). And, if it becomes necessary it is correctable: Westerbeke used to run generators on a dyno at 80% load with a teaspoon of feldspar in each cylinder to roughen up the cylinder walls and stop the smoking! (maybe they still do). You can break the glaze with a hone pretty quickly when it’s time, like every 40 years or so.  Probably won’t even need new rings.

A big charging load, taking conversion efficiencies and drag into account is about 3 or 4 HP, which is about 15 to 20% of max rated output for this engine; so, hardly idling.

A bonus is that it heats the domestic water, too…

From Maine Sail:

My buddy Darren owns a good sized excavating, irrigation and landscaping company in Colorado and we talk diesels quite a bit. Just got to see him last week.. He has a good sized fleet of them and a couple of them have over 20k hours with no rebuilds. The last time I spoke with him about engine longevity he had one Yanmar block and one Mitsubishi block with over 20k hours. He bought both of these machines used with about 5k hours on them back in the late 90’s.

Most of his smaller engines are either Yanmar or Kubota but he does have a few Mitsubishi’s too. His engines run all day and never shut off and they idle for long, long, long hours. Now granted these are not in a marine application but in well over 500,000 hours of combined run time on his fleet he has yet to rebuild an single small diesel engine. All his machines run Shell Rotella and it gets changed regularly. Of course he buys his oil in 55 gal drums and I buy it by the gallon…

If heavy equipment running Yanmar, Mitsubishi and Kubota blocks can rack up10k to 20k hours, while doing hundreds and hundreds of hours of idling per year, with no rebuilds then a well maintained marine diesel should be able to do the same.

When we had the discussion about not letting diesels idle a few years ago he just laughed about the glazing the cylinder walls. His sarcastic comment was something like “Sh&t I better let my guys know not to let them idle”. Course he’d already been doing it for 20 some odd years, with no failed engines or rebuilds needed, so he was surprised to find out his engines were going to die soon…

Our engine has idled perhaps half or more of its 3600+ hours. It burns ZERO oil, has cross hatching in the bores that looks like new and she purrs like a kitten. We have Sea Frost and often sail with the engine idling or will let it idle to chill the plate if we are alone and not disturbing others. Our boat also did a five year 24/7 on-the-hook almost circumnavigation. She had no generator and only the factory alt and a single solar panel. The batteries lasted six years and were still kicking.

When this came up on the Cruisersforum.com, the following replies were posted:

From Jd1:

Everything I have read and have experienced supports the notion that a diesel is best run in the 75% to 90% (or thereabouts) power output range. An occasional period of idling will not be detrimental if followed by a period of running at a good load (for example starting the engine and letting it idle for a while to warm up before heading out). The frequent in and out of the harbour short hops are murder to the poor diesel.

I can not explain why automotive diesels, which spend a lot of time idling, survive. I could speculate though that they would last a lot longer if run like a semi trailer road transport truck – much harder and much longer.

A modern diesel should last 20000 to 30000 hours yet they get replaced in boats at a fraction of the expected service life. IMHO that is, amongst other things, related to the unfavourable working conditions of a sail boat auxiliary engine.

Diesels like to run fairly hot (180 – 190 F range). Running colder and/or idling a lot causes more wear and tear, carbon buildup and soot buildup.

I am sorry that I can’t produce a link to something official looking.

From nes:

I don’t know if this applies to the small diesels (non turbo/super charged), but the diesel generator that I have a lot of experience running had 36 cylinders displacing 645 cubic inches each, and it had an interesting gear driven (at low load) turbo (at full load) charger/compressor.

This diesel had very specific directions against running at low load (less than 30%).

The reason given for the load restriction was lower cylinder pressure at low load. The piston rings are designed to operate at rated load combustion pressures, this ensures normal lube oil consumption rates. Light and no load operation promotes “souping”, which is excessive oil escaping past piston rings into combustion chamber. Souping causes smoking exhaust and potential exhaust manifold fires.

The recovery direction, if the engine was run at low load, was to follow that with at least a half hour at greater than 50% load.

Based on what I have seen running this engine, I would suggest that it is not a good idea to do extended runs at low load.

[Interesting side note, jviss and Jd1 both have Catalina 36s.]

So by posting this (and cross posting it to several different areas) I am hoping to get some feed back that will help me determine if idling is bad for my diesel.  If you comment on this, please try to provide something to support your opinion.

Fair winds,


Cross posted on Sailboatowners.com and Cruisersforum.com.


The “To-Do” List Just Got Bigger

Yesterday Jason, a friend of Tom and a very good diesel mechanic, came to the boat to give Smitty’s engine a once over.  There has been a lot of discussion on the C310 forum about damper plates, motor mounts and replacing transmissions.  Jason was coming up to check out Tom’s engine after he replaced his motor mounts, stuffing box and re-aligned his engine.  Piggy backing on Jason’s trip north from Rhode Island was a no brainer.

Here is what he found:

  1. When I did my work this winter I mixed the red antifreeze with the green antifreeze.  This is a big no-no as it can cause sludge deposits in the system.  I thought I had gotten all of the green out but most not have gotten it all from the hot water heater.  I will correct this mistake this weekend.
  2. The hose from my stuffing box to my shaft log is near the end of its life.  This I knew and it was on my list for this coming winter already.  I plan to go to a dripless type system.  Jason is not a big fan of the PSS system and instead recommended the Tides Marine system.  More research is needed.
  3. When doing the above replacement, he said I should go to a stainless steel shaft instead of the bronze shaft that is currently on the boat.  I was planning this already too.  I noticed some wear when I repacked the stuffing box last year.  Jason also said that I would be better off finding an old Monel shaft than buying a new one. I guess they are made better.
  4. My motor mounts need to be replaced.  According to Jason, motor mounts are typically good for about 10 years.  My are original.  The interesting thing about the motor mounts on my boat is that these get stiffer as they fail instead of getting looser.
  5. The damper plate is getting ready to fail and needs to be replaced.  I had suspected this and this was the main thing I wanted him to check out my engine.

As I said, most of these were already on the list but it will still be a fairly busy off-season.  In addition, I need to replace the cutlass bearing, sand off the bottom paint to the barrier coat and reapply bottom paint.

It also has me rethinking some of the live aboard plans.  We are definitely behind in cleaning out the house and getting it ready for sale.  I have a feeling this is going to mean we keep the house through next winter and sell it in the spring of 2014.  But with as good as my Bride is doing at selling things on eBay, Craigslist, etc. we are likely to end up in the same spot kitty wise when we are ready to leave in 2015.


Custom Exhaust Riser/Mixing Elbow

Since acquiring Smitty one system that has constantly given me a hassle has been the wet exhaust.  In 2011, our first year together, the stock exhaust split while powering out of the river right as we were getting ready to set the sails.  That spewed how sea water and soot all over engine.  We powered back in and I assessed the problem.  I found the crack, actually that was easy because the exhaust riser had split into two pieces.  Later this lead to an engine stall because the soot had clogged my factory air filter.  This probably contributed to rust on the engine and it was difficult to clean all the residual soot off the entire engine.

In researching a replacement I found out that Catalina made these custom for each boat model and in order to get a replacement, I would have to send the old one to California, it would take 4 weeks and cost like $300.  Another options would be to have one made locally.  My cousin has a machine shop and I took it to him.  It would cost about $200 at most machine shops to fabricate.  He doesn’t have a pipe bender so he could not do it.  But he did weld the broken one back together.  A third option that I got from reading at Sail Boat Owners was to make my own pipe from the home store.

For the remainder of 2011, I built my own exhaust riser out of black steel.  It was quick fix and relatively easy.  But it didn’t fit well and made the area along the bulk head cramped.

Factory Exhaust

Factory Exhaust Riser

My cousin welded my original exhaust riser back together and I put that back on for the 2012 season.  But at the end of the season, I removed the riser as part of repainting the engine and found that it was starting to leak again at the weld.

This lead to me making a custom exhaust riser that would be a permanent fix.  I wanted it to be made of commonly available pieces so that I could replace it easy in the future.  Also, since I had moved out the bulkhead by about 3 inches, I wanted to take advantage of that space and have an unwrapped riser for easy inspection.

For materials I chose to go with black steel instead of galvanized steel pipe.  There is some concern with galvanized steel when heated causing health problems.  However, the heat needed is much higher than produced by a small diesel like mine, but I decided to avoid this concern altogether and go with black steel.  I also went with brass for the real tufwater portion of the mixing elbow.  This was mainly due to availability.  I would have stayed with black steel but they don’t carry the parts needed at the local home store.  For a thread sealant I used Hercules Real-Tuff based on a previous recommendation from MaineSail.  It has a good temperature range and doesn’t contain zinc or other metals that could lead to corrosion problems.

When I first had to make my temporary exhaust riser the hardest part of the project was separating the riser from a 90 degree elbow with a flange.  That piece couldn’t be reproduced easily and took two large pipe wrenches (3 footers I had for work) and a 5 foot extension bar we used to put extra torque on the wrenches.  But eventually we (my buddy Tim and I) got it separated.  Since then I have used the Real-Tuff every time I have put it together and you don’t have to torque the pieces together to get tight treads.  As a result, you can separate it easier if you need to make changes or clean parts.

The factory exhaust riser was 1 1/4 inch schedule 80 stainless steel pipe.  The inner diameter is  1.28 inches.  The only reason I can think that they used the schedule 80 IMG_0939was they were bending it fairly sharply and then welding to it.  From a strength perspective, there is no reason schedule 40 wouldn’t work in this application.  The inner diameter for schedule 40 pipe is 1.38 inches.  That’s about a 15% increase in size.  I had thought about going bigger but it didn’t seem necessary.  My temporary exhaust riser from 2011 was 1 1/2 inch schedule 40 black iron and that was really too large to fit the area.  The 90 with the flange coming off the exhaust is 1 1/2 inches and the factory riser immediately reduced to the 1 1/4 inches.  So I mimicked this set up with a 1 1/2 by 1 1/4 inch reducing coupling.

Next I threaded a 4 inch piece of pipe into the coupling followed by a street 90 and then a t-fitting.  On the bottom of the tee fitting I placed another 4 inch piece of pipe as a point to connect the exhaust hosing leading to the muffler.  On the factory riser, it was just smooth pipe that fit into the hose and then was held with two hose clamps.  So I am doing the same and the threads on the pipe should affect the connection because there is enough flat section above the threads to get the first hose clamp on.

For the water injection portion, I used brass.  A combination of 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch.  I IMG_0941used a 3/4 by 1/2 reducing coupling.  Some of these couplings have the 1/2 inch threads all the way through the fitting.  If you don’t have threads all the way through the interior, you could complete the threading with a tap.  This allows a 1/2 inch pipe (3 inches long) to be threaded into the interior side of the reducing coupling.  A hose barb can be threaded into the top of the reducing coupling.  For this one I had to use an additional coupling in the middle due to a lack of pieces at the home store I went to.  Also, this is a potential site for galvanic corrosion.  So I will likely to some research with some suppliers I use at work and remake this portion with black iron to remove the problem.

IMG_0946The whole apparatus I made above was than threaded into the top of the t-fitting via a 1 1/2 by 3/4 inch reducing coupling.  So the water is injected in the middle of the 1 1/2 inch inner diameter of the pipe while allowing exhaust to flow around it before mixing.

The pipe that was threaded into the inside of theIMG_0945 3/4 by 1/2 inch reducing coupling brings the injection point for the water down to the lower portion of the opening.  This was done to prevent water from back flowing into the exhaust and hydro-locking the engine.

The rest of the pieces were assembled to complete the mockup.  I then dry fit the piece and made a couple of adjustments to the angles where several parts met.  IMG_0948

I painted the completed piece with Rustoleum high heat paint and installed it on the engine.


I ran the engine this weekend.  I let it get up to temperature and ran it with a load at about 1,500 RPM in gear, tied up to the dock.  I let the engine run for about an hour and took some readings with my IR thermometer.

Temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit

Temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit

I also checked the temperatures on the new bulkhead and those all stayed around 70 degrees.  I will keep monitoring temperatures and update if I make any changes. Now, no more planned projects for this year.  Bend on the sails and get out there.  Can’t wait to sail Maine later this year.


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.