Skip to content

Is It Hard to Rebuild a Marine Diesel?

If you’re a diesel engine expert, we’d like your opinion as to whether or not an "average do-it yourselfer who is handy with tools" is likely to be capable of rebuilding a diesel engine.

We ask this question because we recently received PR material from Bennett Marine Video, "the largest boating, fishing, sailing, diving, and GPS video library." In support of their new Diesel Engine Tear Down, a Step-By-Step Guide to Rebuilding Your Marine Diesel ($34,95), they make the claim that rebuilding a diesel is within the realm of the average do-it-yourselfer.

It’s always been our understanding that when it comes to marine diesels, it helps to have a lot of special tools and training and experience before doing too much messing around. And that the slightest screw-ups can have major performance repercussions. But, since Doña de Mallorca is in charge of Profligate‘s internal combustion systems while we’re in charge of sail, what do we know?

So we’re wondering what professionals, or people who have tried to rebuild their own diesel, think about such a claim. We know of at least two people who tried to rebuild their diesels, only to end up having to buy new ones. And while we know that it’s extremely common to have truck and other diesel engines rebuilt, we also know of some professional rebuilds that had to be tossed after very little use.

So please, can we get some feedback from those of you who exude a whiff of diesel? Email Richard with your thoughts.

We don’t know much about diesels, but we do know three things: 1) Diesels are very expensive to rebuild or buy new, so you want to take very good care of them; 2) as hardy as they are, diesels are more sensitive to proper maintenance — change that oil! — than are gas engines; and 3) the kind of use most sailboats diesels get — not used very often, and then for just short periods of time — is about as close to diesel abuse as one can get. When it comes to diesels, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

Leave a Comment

Seen here high and dry – well, almost – on Akutan Island, Cesura apparently suffered little damage when she was grounded.