Wind Horse: 2000 Engine Hours!

Engine maintenance at the 2000-hour milestone.


It is hard to believe, but on the way north this spring we ticked over 2000 hours on the little diesels in Wind Horse’s engine room. Considering she was launched less than two years ago, and has had just ten months of use, this represents a lot of miles in a short period of time.

We’re in Seattle for a few days, checking things over before heading to the wilds of Alaska, and we’ve got Craig Hatton of Hatton Marine aboard to give the engines a once over.

John Deere Diesel

The first thing Craig looked at was our alternator belts, idler, and tensioner pulleys. These are 4.5kW DC alternators, and take up to 10HP when they are fully loaded, so belts and bearings see a lot of load. Belts were changed at 1500 hours, so they are OK. Both idler pulleys and one of the spring tensioners were fine too. But the bearing off the spring tensioner on the starboard engine has started to go bad. We’ve replaced all four pieces and will now change these automatically at 1500 hours.


One of the cool things about working with professionals like Craig is the tricks you can pick up. Here’s something simple, yet really useful. Take a 1-gallon (4-liter) plastic container and cut out a side. Perfect for collecting parts or garbage. We’ve got our own now.


Craig says it is now common on some gaskets to have the manufacturer place a ring of silicone to help with the seal (it is cured already). We had not seen this before.

diesel engine thermostat

The starboard engine has been running 15 degrees F cooler than the port, which we verified with our infrared laser remote temperature sensor (to make sure this was not gauge error). Craig pulled the thermostat housing and replaced the two thermostats.


There is quite a large gasket involved and this one does not have its own silicone sealant, so some high-temp silicone is placed along one side to help with the seal. We did not have a spare gasket and Craig indicated that silicone alone would not make a good seal.


We’ve had a couple of small oil leaks, just a few drops every day, hard to stop, and enough to make a mess under the engine. We’ve been fighting these for a year. The plug above was the cause of one. It was just hand tight and was dripping, in plain view no less. Not sure how we could have missed this ourselves!


Both our salt water pumps were blocked by drains from the Racor Crank Vent system. Craig moved the drains so they no longer block the impellers, making the impellers much easier to change in a hot, rolling engine room (they were OK at anchor – just an irritant).

John Deere Turbo

The turbos were inspected and looked clean. The starboard engine showed a slight buildup of oil. These may or may not be an indication of a future seal problem. We’ll check these on the way back from Alaska and if necessary, put in new seals.

Everything else is fine – which is to be expected at 2000 hours, as the engines are just now getting to the broken-in stage. They are running smoothly, quietly, and without smoke, even at idle.

Replacement of water pump impellers will be covered in a separate installment.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 14, 2007)

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