Albin 28 TE flush deck w/ yanmar 6lpa-stp 315 – water in cylinders and sump

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Hi all,
I’m trying to understand why this would have happened and how I can stop it from happening again.

The engine has on 8,700 hours, 8000 of which we have put on since we bought the boat in Jan 2017.

My boat was on a 4 day commercial fishing trip. My captain went to start the boat on Thursday morning to head home, and just heard “clunk”, as the starting motor would not turn the motor. We had assumed starting motor issues, as while it had never given trouble we were planning to get it serviced soon. I got the boat towed back to shore that day and offloaded the catch on Friday. The mechanic was a no-show on Saturday, and on Sunday I just decided to check the oil (which had just been changed before this trip) and realized it was about an inch and a half above the maximum mark on the dip stick. I then tried turning the engine using a socket on the flywheel and could not get it to budge. I got the oil pump, and pumped the oil up through the dipstick connection to check it, and at least a gallon of clear salt water came out first, before oil started to come.
Note that my coolant levels were fine, and my coolant is a bright orange colour. Definitely was not coolant in the oil.
Unfortunately my mechanic was a no-show again on Sunday. I removed the valve cover, but quickly realized that removing the injectors was beyond my limited knowledge. I arranged for a different mechanic to come on Monday (yesterday) and using a 6mm threaded rod devised as a slide hammer, he was able to remove the injectors, after removing the fuel return line. After squirting some penetrating lubricant down the injector holes, we were able to turn the engine by hand. Water hit the roof of the cabin from the pistons pushing the water out of the cylinders. We then cranked the engine briefly using the starting motor (with seacock closed) to clear out the remainder of the water. We then stopped for the evening due to fading light, after putting some more rust inhibitor lubricant in the injector holes.

I believe he will use diesel to flush the engine today, followed by an oil change or two. But any advice /suggestions here is appreciated.

Now, the main possibilities seem to be either relating to the oil cooler, or maybe an issue with the exhaust mixing elbow, or seawater back up the exhaust into the turbo, and then engine.

The engine has been working flawlessly without issue, and this trip was no different. My captain is also excellent in terms of picking up a change in engine noise. He would have run the engine for about 16 hours that day before switching off the night about 9 pm, and drifted till 4 am the morning when he went to start back up and have the issue. The sea did get rough overnight (but he has operated in plenty of rough conditions before also over the last ~ 5 years).
I would think that if it was the oil cooler, it would have had to occur while the engine was running, and he would have likely noticed some change in the engine noise. He would have idled for about 3 hours after dark, so may not have noticed any change to exhaust gases/smoke. I’m not sure what would be expected here, but I don’t think the engine would have liked a gallon of water in the sump, and cylinders full of water. I’m also not sure the cylinders could get full of water in this manner, via the engine running. So I am doubtful of this.

In relation to the exhaust. I changed the stock cast iron yanmar exhaust riser and mixing elbow with stainless steel replacements from HDI Marine back in 2017. ( ... ust-riser/ ). I had taken pics of the exhaust at the time and Tony advised that sea water appeared to have gotten to it at some point in time. In installing the new riser/mixing elbow, I rotated them slightly more, to get about an inch more height (before butting with the floor of the boat). Again, I have not had any sort of issue with water in the oil since that time.

I will also mention that occasionally this year while the boat has been on the open ocean drifting, my captain has had a “hard start” where he has to crank the engine slightly longer than normal. Normally the engine starts very easily, and never gives trouble starting at the mooring. He put this down to the boat listing slightly on one side while drifting, and thinking it was fuel related. I’m not sure I agree with this, but it does not happen very often. Note that the boat is also very loaded up with ice, fuel and so on for these fishing trips, so sits a little lower in the water.

My expectation is that sea water coming back through the exhaust is the culprit, and even though I have never seen sea water in the sump before on doing an oil change, or noticed the oil level being high, perhaps it didn’t happen in this quantity, and was the reason for the occasional hard start in the ocean.
If this is the issue, what options do I have? I can’t get the exhaust any higher, and the rubber hose that fits onto this runs at a decline from the engine, to the port side of the boat, then into a large fiberglass pipe running down the port side to the stern, exiting at the water level on the port side at the stern. I have no flapper valves. We used to stick a buoy in the exhaust hole when drifting but it used to come out easily, and at any rate, water would be in the fiberglass exhaust pipe anyway, so it might help with a “wave” but not with water coming up the exhaust due to an extended roll of the boat in heavy seas. I saw some suggestion of using a valve in the exhaust, but even if I could install one suitably, it would seem that was an accident waiting to happen, as forget it shut once, and you would have a major issue.

Sorry for the long post, but wanted to give as clear a picture as possible. Thanks for any help or suggestions.

I have also posted at ... ar/page/6/ for advice from Tony Athens & crew. Lots of pics on that post.

Thanks - Gary
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Impressive with 8,000 + hours on the Yanmar.
No idea why or how this happened to your Albin, but I had the exact same thing on sailboat I owned for 14 years.
One time, while heavily loaded for a 4 week Exuma trip from South Florida, and while anchored in Miami, the engine would not start next morning, click, click said the starter.
Batteries were good, plenty of voltage..
Tried to turn the motor, no cigar.
Removed the injectors and hit the start button, grey oil/water mix shooting out. :shock:
(Easy to remove the injectors on a Perkins 4108.)

The exhaust was at the stern close to the water, with the heavy load of fuel, water, stores, etc the exhaust got under water and a small plastic syphon breaker had clogged up with salt and the sea water got sucked into the cylinders.
I did an oil/filter change on the spot, sailed home for a day or two to trouble shoot and do another oil change, then back out again.

Trying to think how that could happen on an Albin 28TE with the Yanmar.
First time I heard it happen.

Please keep us posted on what it was? Damage Oil Cooler or flooded exhaust, whatever.
Either way, bad news.. :(
2001 28TE, 6LP-STE, 1,250 hrs, 19X18 four-blade wheel.
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The other suspect could be the fuel cooler but that I would expect to fail while running and the float valve in the filter to stop water entering the engine.

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with it being the exhaust - can only think it was some pretty big seas for it to happen.
Fisher Price 2
Hull Number AUL28489L900
Yanmar 6LP-STE
Built in Portsmouth RI, USA - Berthed in Portsmouth Hampshire, United Kingdom.
First Mate
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Posts: 48
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:09 am
Home Port: Barbados

Thanks. I didn't think of the fuel cooler. But as you said, it would have to be while running, and once the fuel injectors started ejecting saltwater into the cylinders I think the engine would have complained immediately. In this case, engine worked fine until the boat was stopped, and the seas got pretty rough while drifting overnight.

The reasons against the exhaust would be..
1) I have searched on this forum, and the net in general, and I haven't found that to be a complaint on this boat, with this engine set up. Although as it is low below the floor, even though when I changed my exhaust elbows to stainless steel, I re-angled them slightly and re-oriented the water hose, so that they are just about touching the bottom of the floor (to be at the highest possible point)

2) This isn't the first time we have drifted in rough seas. However, it might just be a case where it just takes that 1/100 extreme extended roll for it to happen.

Anyone knows if that big fiberglass muffler pipe that runs down the port side has in any baffles, or other means to stop water getting back up the hose to the exhaust?

Btw, we got the engine started back yesterday evening. Mechanic said to use it for about an hour today, and then change the oil again.
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