SV Pilgrim - 1979 Morgan 382 - Homeport: Beaufort, NC

Friday, April 18, 2014

Exercise Is Good for the Idle Engine

Musical Engines… On the 16th we hoisted Pilgrim’s old Yanmar into the C&C 40.  This cleared the pallet just off Pilgrim’s stern.  Next we lifted the Beta Marine engine free of C’est la Vie and set it on the empty pallet. Not bad for a morning’s work.

Our Beta Marine engine has sat idle since we winterized it in December 2013.  A lack of exercise is as detrimental to a diesel engine as it is to the human body.  So I decided a bit of run time on the Beta would be worth the effort.

I plumbed up the coolant system, connected and bled the fuel system, wired up the glow plugs and starter motor, installed the alternator to serve as a pulley for the water pump, etc.

As usual she was a bit reluctant to start after a long rest, but once running she purred along nicely. 

Since the engine was so reluctant to start, I pulled the four glow plugs and tested each one individually.  I’ve never done this before.  It required a 10mm deep socket to extract each plug from the engine block.  Once in hand,  I wired the positive lead on the plug directly to the starter battery via a wire with a terminal eye.  I held the plug with a pair of vice grips – if functional they get very hot, very fast.  The plugs pick up their ground from the engine block.  To activate the plugs I simply held a ground wire against the threads on the plugs body.  Within 5 seconds the plugs grew hot.  By 10 seconds the ends visibly glowed red – hence the name. All of the plugs functioned properly. Prior to re-installing, I cleaned up each plug’s threads with a wire brush and added some graphite anti-seize. 

While the Beta is out of the boat I plan to replace the hose that connects the oil pan to the manual oil extraction pump.  The hose is not leaking, but does have obvious damage.  It likely got pinched when we last had the engine out of C’est la Vie in 2012.  The hand pump’s original mounting position is on the port side of the engine.  Based on Pilgrim’s engine compartment layout, I will likely mount the pump on the starboard side of the engine.

Pilgrim’s drive shaft is significantly larger than C’est la Vie’s.  We will need to replace the engine coupling.  This will also be completed while the engine is out of the vessel.


  1. Nicely done Jeff - you are no slouch mechanically!

    What is that surface in the yard? I've never seen anything like it...

    s/v Eolian

  2. Thanks Bob.

    The surface in the yard is a porous gravel paving grid. I'm not certain this is the exact manufacture, but here is a link to a company with a similar product... The surface works very well in the yard. It handily supports the blocked vessels and the travel lift. The surface is porous so there are never any puddles in the yard or issues with sinking jack stands after heavy rains. I do occasionally track the small pea gravel onto the boat, but it is much cleaner in general than dirt or pavement. It is much cooler in the summer than asphalt or concrete. The only issue I have found is if sprayed directly with a hose or engine exhaust the pea gravel will be expelled from the plastic cup. This is why I placed scrap plywood under the engine exhaust in the images. This also occurs below deck drains or bilge pump ports on vessels. It is a simple task to rake the gravel back into the cup(s) when this occurs. Of the yard in which we have hauled out this is the best surface we have encountered.