An overheated engine is never really good news for the head gasket. Having said that the general consensus from all the off grid lot who tend to use these engines across America is the heavy cast heads are quite robust. However with the engine getting hot and it having about 1500 hours on it plus there was evidence of some very slight weeping on both cylinders I took the decision to wring my wallet out once again (see the end of the post for thoughts on this) and organised a top end strip by Richard the marine engineer who's mooring we took at Shebdon.
I used Richard as he was local, I was going to ask Paul at Tony Redshaws who has been helpful to date on a couple of parts and advice on the gaskets (thanks Paul) but the distance was a decider plus Richard had pretty much left us his mooring intact with all the plants and willow weave hedging, even down to the rotary airer ! We were so glad to be able to take this mooring after the break in at the end of the mooring so it just felt right for a bit of payback.
The original plan was for me to stay aboard after our New Year break but the flatteries put paid to that so in minus temperatures I met Richard and got the genny out to run the little heater fan to make the engine room semi tolerable plus coffee when the tap had defrosted.
It was interesting to chat to him as he has a lot of experience of all engine types and lots of stories to tell of breakdowns and other interesting stuff.
A couple of hours in and it was all done. The heads will go off to be checked, valves and guides included. The injectors might as well be checked also while the engine is in this state.
So Percy's donk is getting a bit of TLC - I'm pleased I did not try this, I maybe could have but to be honest I doubt I'd have had the confidence. I know my limits, plus I have a motorbike in bits at home, a service on my car, a service on Rachels car and new brakes on Rachels car....!
A real minus 4 type frost overnight
Rocker covers off, rockers and pushrods removed...
Fuel lines off and injectors removed. I really want to get rid of that starter battery box !
First cylinder head off
Quite some size piston and not as much water cooling as I expected
No hurry. I'll clean up the edge of the block where the paint has been removed by the coolant leak. the heads will get a repaint in mid Brunswick green as will the edges of the block. Hopefully by the end of Jan it'll be all back together and then I can set to on the batteries.
Now the bit in brackets above...boat costs. This will not be cheap, but I have to expect to pay if I cannot or dare not do it myself. I have to be pragmatic about it, I save on costs on my cars bikes and boat where I can by doing it myself. I recon I may have saved close onto £400 on the bike service and half that on car services and repairs over recent time.
However when many come onto the forums asking about costs to live aboard and how much cheaper is it.... they really need to think about LTM as we used to call it at the University. Long Term Maintenance, it will need doing, so it needs to be planned for and saved for. I put £250 a month into a savings pot for license, insurance mooring and maintenance, this year it'll need topping up despite the reduction in mooring fees with the move.
Then there is PPM - Planned Preventative Maintenance - the service on the cars, bikes and boat (and house - painting for one !) I used to save for this but now it comes out of the hole in the wall as and when necessary and is part of a wider household budget I have.
Finally reactive maintenance, the stuff that needs doing immediately as it is unforeseen, the water dripping onto the solar controller being an annoying but relevant RM cost !
So these things are not cheap. It would be cheap if it was just this boat as there is no council tax, water rates or duplicate heating and maintenance costs. Having lived on a boat for a couple of periods I know its not for me, I can spend long periods but I need the security of bricks and mortar and am lucky we can afford (just) both.
So look after your assets and don't think it'll never happen, these things are mechanical and need attention, even if it is a good old service that'll keep the money in your wallet just a bit longer.