Top left: The machinist inspects the rebuilt block before installing new bearings and dropping in the crankshaft. Above right: The
crankshaft is re-installed at the machine shop where the block was rebuilt. Above left: The remanufactured block shows the fine
machining of new cylinder sleeves.
During this time, I also had the oil filters cut open,
and two tiny, nonferrous metal parts were found in one
of the filter elements. My only conclusion was that
something was wearing out prematurely but that it still
hadn’t adversely affected the engine’s performance.
HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN TO AN ENGINE
WITH SO FEW HOURS ON IT?
At the end of the 2008 season, I sent an oil sample to
Blackstone Laboratories and received a rather ominous
report. I called my Cat dealer, who now advised me that
“something was definitely going on” and said that the only
way to identify the problem was to pull the engine and
tear it down. Since they wouldn’t know what the problem
was until they had looked inside the engine, their rough
estimate was “not to exceed $35,000.” This number was
disheartening, to say the least, as the engine had fewer
than 1,600 hours on it and I had followed the book in
maintaining it. I had always used Shell’s high-quality
Rotella T 15W- 40 oil, and I religiously checked my Racor
fuel filters for water and soot contamination. In fact, one
mechanic jokingly referred to me as “anal” when it came
to maintaining my engine.
Although we loved cruising on Sawdust and she
continued to perform flawlessly, during the 2009 season,
my wife and I began to think about downsizing to a
pocket cruiser that we could easily truck to different parts
of the country. I knew I was going to have to solve this
engine mystery before I put Sawdust on the market. I
joined the Boat Diesel online forum ( www.boatdiesel.com)
and learned that owners of older Cat 3208s had problems
with condensation collecting in the aftercooler and finding
its way back into the engine. Supposedly, my engine had a
newer, improved aftercooler.