Engines, who’d have ‘em? Part two

This is the bit that explains everything without any drama / trauma / shock and awe, you know, the one when you’ve had time to ponder upon things…

So if you’re into engines read on, if you’re not, YAWN. Yes it might be the driving force behind any boat, but due to circumstance I’ve had to GET interested in this one. Dave’s been an engineer all his working life, ok so that was planes, but it helps… As for me, well with a brain like a computer, when I hear the facts of the matter I’m pretty good at “diagnosis” if I say so myself. Hence for what’s that worth, (if anything at all), we’re still baffled…

First of all we’ve had no problems with this engine since we bought the boat. (Isuzu 55 – 4 years old). So in hindsight we should’ve had it serviced before now.. (Slap hand). A couple of weeks ago it had a full service with no problems to report (new filter even though it wasn’t gunged up), part of the service anyway…
However, during the service the engineer found that the coolant wasn’t quite topped up, so he added some more 50/50 mix. It wasn’t much at all. In fact thinking about it, it would have been about 6 litres, which as you know is a piddling amount in the grand scheme of things…

Back to when we set off from the mooring, the engine had been running for about 10 minutes while we were faffing about putting the lux con sides up, untying ropes etc. There was a normal engine temp of 78 degrees for about 3 minutes after we set off on tick over.

Then when I put the revs up:
The auxiliary light came on with a warning noise, saying it wasn’t charging the leisure batteries.

Then the engine temp started to go up to 90 degrees, (another alarm clanging).

Then, we could smell anti-freeze, at that point we suspected it was an air lock that had worked it’s way through the release valve “releasing” fumes… Worst case scenario was of course a massive leak causing the engine to overheat suddenly. I mean you do rely on the instrument panel, but what the hell the auxiliary had to do with it was still a question…
So while we were nursing the engine to the service area, the engine temp went back to normal and the batteries started charging. Mystery. But we could still smell anti-freeze. And hear a loud buzzing noise coming from the control panel…

Looking back, we realised the batteries (probably) hadn’t stopped charging and the engine (probably) hadn’t overheated. A small air lock shouldn’t make that happen! Or even bother an engine at all…However, we did wonder if the airlock was there before the engine service but further inside the system, perhaps for some time. So coolant mixture was being added on top of coolant as would appear normal…

Hence, as we set off, (in hindsight again) we suspected the airlock worked it’s way out and the coolant took it’s place, then needed a top up to fill what was originally an air gap. But like I said that still shouldn’t have been a big deal to the engine…

Other things were checked over at the service area like no leaks around the hot water tank, no anti-freeze in the hot water. Blimey imagine washing your face in that stuff? Fortunately we would’ve smelled it before it got chance to pull any skin off…!
More importantly no leaks down below the engine or coming out of a split pipe somewhere. The engineer really gave the engine one hell of a workout after he’d put the coolant in, he kept revving it hard on and off for about 10 minutes. Again, no leaks and the engine temperature was normal, it didn’t go above 78 degrees…

The alternators were also checked and voltage on the panel inside the boat read just over 14V charge for each, which is normal.
So what we’re left with is the mysterious buzzing sound coming from the control panel and the auxiliary light (half on) I mean very dim with no warning noise…
The buzzing hornet’s nest was louder than the engine on the way back from the service area. But the smell of anti-freeze had gone completely. We’d be able to smell it sat out back here if it were a slowww leak…

Mysterious timing, but it’s definitely an electrical problem we’re left with. I had a listen to the steering column on the way back – the noise is originating from down the bottom – not the top.

Dave went round yesterday to pay the bill, the engineer was with us for over an hour, then there’s the coolant he mixed and put in. They charged us just 5 quid, I think it´s sympathy, everyone knows what a badly behaved boat this is…

So now it’s supposedly all electrical. Dave booked the electrician to come round and he can make it on Wednesday. Earlier than we thought..
Well that was all a bit long winded, but like they say detail is everything…

Such an enigma could only happen to us. Part 3 on Wednesday – hopefully with some flippin answers…!

4 thoughts on “Engines, who’d have ‘em? Part two

  1. Hi Heth
    Have you got a battery management system fitted? One that will connect both alternators together to improve charging time on the domestic side? If so you could have a failed alternator, the 14.2v readings could actually be from the one that is doing all the work, depending on where the readings are taken from. The wiring for the failed one could still detect low voltage, hence the dim warning light.
    Might be worth swapping them over…
    Cheers, Geoff
    PS. Glad you stayed on line…


  2. Hi Geoff & Mags,
    Thanks for reading through all that! Hope you sat down for a brew & a digestive biscuit first..

    No we don't have a battery management system, when we upgraded to a more powerful alternator for the leisure batteries (ages ago). We were (still are) happy with it.

    However we'd heard about BMS & just out of curiosity at the time discussed the option with a friend who's a boat engineer. He told us altho some people swear by them & they do work. In our case, he wasn't going to “rip us off” & we'd be wasting our money. Turns out newer engines like this one do that job themsleves.

    Inside the boat there's 2 separate monitors for each alternator.

    I'm guessing swapping wiring wouldn't be a good idea anyway because the starter alternator has a “splitter” coming off it to power the bow thruster batteries.

    Makes it a bit more complex!
    Both alternators were checked with a volt meter while we were at the service area & both were fine.

    We highly suspect this is an electrical problem coming from inside the steering column. And because of it the control panel is “lying” to us!

    Well, no doubt we'll find out on Wednesday!

    And just to top it all I said to Dave when it happened “so while we're sat here we'll all have a mini-heatwave.” Sure enough Wednesday looks like being a scorcher, you can guarantee we'll have to wait for parts & by the weekend it'll be p*ssing down again!!!

    Heather the optimist!!

    PS: Thanks for “bearing with” during the “spat” which I foolishly got involved in. I really admire those people, CCer's like you who didn't get involved.

    Those who did should speak up for themselves about the issue of CCer's paying more, not hide behind that nonsense!!

    Happy cruising next week when a real summer sets in for a few days lol!!!

    H & {hugs to Mags} x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s