Engine, you don't scare me - as much

17.10.23 08:12 PM By Richard Westrick

Well, you still do a little bit...

In an earlier post with the same title, I admitted that I am uncomfortable around engines.  Also, at the end of that blog, I asked if anyone knew anything about fuel injectors, as mine were leaking.

As it happens, the leaks only got worse. I was going through fuel much faster than normal, and worse, there was diesel in my bilge. I used those "diapers" to soak it up (they worked amazingly well!) and I put one under the engine to stop fuel from getting into the bilge in the first place.

I talked to a great mechanic who talked me through tightening the injectors. Note: don't touch the second from bottom nut - this holds the injector in the housing and is torqued specifically so the injectors work correctly.

Anyway, tightening the second from the TOP nut (which seals the fuel return) and replacing my fuel return hoses (do I sound like I know what I'm doing?) the leak was stemmed, but still leaking.

So, my mechanic, Nick, from Island Marine in Rhode Island, came out. He took a look and determined that the injectors had to come out and go into the shop.  BTW, he is awesome. He showed me what he was doing, explained everything to me, and let me video it so I can put the new/repaired ones back in. Click here to see the video.

He put me on to a fuel injector repair place (Diesel's Fuel Injector Services in Bow, NH - super nice people) where I took them. Diesel's took a look and said they were shot. New ones were $84 each and I needed three.  This is probably the cheapest thing I've bought for this boat!

Once they came in, I installed them. Now, truth be told, I asked a friend to help as I needed someone to turn over the engine while I bled the injectors.  Having a second person there who was more comfortable with engines gave me the confidence I needed to install them.

Methodically, I put them in based on what Nick, my mechanic, had instructed (and that I recorded so I wouldn't forget).  I bled the aft-most injector by unscrewing the top nut that secures the fuel line while my buddy cranked the engine.  Note: I closed the raw water intake as excessive cranking can pull water into the muffler with no pressure to push it out. Surprisingly, the engine started right up with very little cranking. I didn't need to bleed the other injectors! :)  Once the engine was running, I opened up the water intake seacock.

However, I noticed what looked like wispy smoke coming from the injector area.  Putting a paper towel on it didn't show any fuel, but what else could it be?  There was no longer any residue from bleeding the injector on the engine; no oil.  It has to be an injector.

Tilting a flashlight so I could see the "smoke", we identified that the middle injector was leaking.   I put a wrench on the injector housing (the bottom most nut) and it turned.  It was definitely a little loose. After tightening that up, no wispy smoke. I took the boat out later for a sail, and motoring showed no fuel, smoke, or other bad stuff.

I can't tell you how satisfying this was.  What was at first a very scary thing became a huge confidence booster. As I get to know this engine better, I am more confident and less skittish about working on it.  In addition, it is giving me courage to attack the engine on my other boat; that engine is an old Perkins 4.236.  I need to address the pulleys as they are ripping through belts due to corrosion and likely mis-alignment.  I also have some issues with the engine instrument cluster.  I feel ready to tackle that as well.

As I watch YouTube videos of these guys (and gals) who just jump down to their engine and swap out a starter motor or impeller, I was feeling very inadequate.  But what those videos do show me is that anyone can work on an engine; it just takes getting over your fear.  And doing some research. And having a "phone a friend".  And you can always call in backup, aka Nick, if things go wrong!

If you are looking to swap out your fuel injectors, there is a template for that in BoatProject™ with a link to the video.  If you just want to see the video, here is the YouTube link.  Disclaimer:  I am not a video producer nor an expert with engines, so don't be disappointed if it is not as polished as the many other videos on YouTube!

If you have any comments, feel free to post below.  If you want to try BoatProject™ Silver membership free for a month (cancel anytime) so you can take a look at the templates, click this link or visit our website.
Thanks, and happy boating! Rich

Richard Westrick