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Barry's Blog #152 - You can't do that!

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

"Oh no. You can't do that." said the guy on the other end of the phone.

"Why not?" was the response.

" Errm, because it's a turbo engine, so it has to have a turbo."

That was the word from Yanmar Turkey when our favourite mechanic Aydin spoke to them on the phone about the issue we were having with our engine.

I'll dive deeper into that conversation later in this blog, but for now let's start at the beginning.

Back to Kaş

The beautiful area of Kekova Roads on the south west coast of Turkey is one of the places that we plan on taking Patreon guests to visit and we wanted to scope out as many anchorages as possible. After 5 days of exploring and watching our exhaust smoke issue getting worse by the day we decided that it would be best to head back to Kaş and call in Aydin the mechanic.

Before we departed Kekova the engine oil was topped off with 2 litres of oil and we headed out with Jim and Kev, on our buddy boats Acheron and Barbara Ann, following slightly behind us so that they could observe the smoky exhaust. Jim and Kev, on our buddy boats Acheron and Barbara Ann, following slightly behind us so that they could observe the smoky exhaust. There was no wind at all so the 4 hour trip back to Kaş was all done under engine and Kev said that the smoke was definitely getting worse as the journey wore on. As we rounded the peninsula headland at the entrance to Kaş marina the oil pressure warning sound and light burst into life. A quick decision was made to switch the engine off and while we drifted in the wide channel add another litre of oil to the engine for the last 1km (0.6 mile) trip to our berth. We also took the opportunity to lower the dinghy from the davits and tie her to the amidships cleat in preparation to reversing onto the pontoon.

Once we were safely tied up and the engine off I asked our friend Tayfun to make a call to Aydin to see if he was available to come and have a look at our engine issue. I have to say that the smoke from the exhaust while we were manoeuvring into our spot was embarrassing and it lingered a while because there was no wind to carry it away. Engine inspection

Later that afternoon Aydin arrived and observed the voluminous, oily smelling smoke bellowing from our exhaust upon engine start up. Then he visually inspected the engine for 5 minutes and announced his verdict. It could be one of three things. The fuel injectors, the turbo or the piston rings. They all sounded rather expensive.

With a plan to return at 10:00 hrs on Monday Aydin left and much discussion between ourselves and our neighbours about what the problem might be, lasted throughout the weekend. I did some research on the Interwebs about all three propositions that Aydin had put forward and I learned a lot. With our 25 year old engine having been serviced regularly and with just 2,500 hours on the clock it was highly unlikely that it was the piston rings. Plus the onset of symptoms would've been much more gradual. This was good, as replacing the piston rings was the most expensive option because it would require the engine to be removed from A B Sea and taken to a workshop.

The fuel injectors were also not a likely candidate because alongside the smoky exhaust there would be other symptoms and the engine would run rough. Thankfully this wasn't happening.

That left us with the turbo option and I secretly wanted the problem to be the turbo. After reading up on them they are prissy little buggers that cause way too many issues if you don't treat them with kid gloves.

They spin at speeds between 80,000 and 200,000 RPM and operate at temperatures that can melt glass. And those two features are where the problems begin. Upon starting the engine, time must be allowed for the oil to come up to sufficient pressure to begin feeding oil into the turbo housing, where it both lubricates and slightly cools the turbo bearings. When stopping the engine, it must be allowed to idle for quite some time, to let the fast spinning turbo come to a stop and begin to cool down. The turbo unit should also be dismounted from the engine and serviced every year.

Failure to do these things will cause turbo issues that will make your blood boil out of your eyes, ears and nostrils and cause your bank balance to rapidly shrink.

Monday morning

In preparation for Aydin's arrival at 10:00 hrs I removed cabin doors, inspection panels and anything else I could, to allow easy access to all areas of the engine compartment. Within 20 minutes of his arrival Aydin sagely nodded that he was 90% convinced it was the turbo. I felt some relief.

To confirm this we began the process of removing the air intake/turbo/exhaust system components (Déjà vu anyone?) from the rear of the engine. Aydin working from one side and me from the other. Removing the parts from the boat and placing them on to a trolley we watched as Aydin trundled them away with a promise that he'd be back in about 3 hours. Before he left we'd discussed the option of completely taking the turbo out of the equation and living happily without one for the rest of our days.

About 2 hours later Tayfun our Turkish neighbour came to tell us that he'd had a phone call from Aydin requesting my presence at his workshop in Kaş town. Was that a good or bad sign? There was only one way to find out.

At Aydin's workshop I could see the dismantled parts on the bench and he showed me the snapped spindle of the turbo blades and the badly worn and damaged blades themselves. The turbo was cactus.

He said that he'd custom make a few parts, so that the system would work without a turbo, and he'd be back to the boat the following day to reinstall everything.

The phone call to Yanmar

When Aydin arrived at A B Sea on Tuesday morning he relayed a conversation he'd had with Yanmar Turkey. It went like this;

Aydin: Is it okay to remove and bypass the turbo on a Yanmar 4JH2TE diesel engine?

Yanmar: Errm. Oh no you can't do that. At least I don't think you can do that.

A: Why not?

Y: Errm, because it's a turbo engine, so it has to have a turbo.

A: Okay, so how much is a service kit?

Y: Oh we don't do service kits.

A: Okay, so how much is a new turbo?

Y: That is 3,400 Euros (AU$5,570).

A: Okay, thank you. Bye.

Next Aydin phoned a friend of his in Istanbul, who's a turbo specialist and asked the same question.

Aydin: Is it okay to remove and bypass the turbo on a Yanmar 4JH2TE diesel engine?

Specialist: Yes you can. But you may lose 5 to 6 horsepower and because the fuel injector nozzles are sized to inject a specific amount of fuel into the engine, all of the fuel may not burn and there may be some black smoke from the exhaust.

A: Okay, thank you. Bye.

So that's what we did. Aydin removed the broken turbo innards, manufactured an aluminium disk to close the gap inside the turbo and closed off the oil inflow and outflow holes at the turbo. Then between the two of us, with some help from Aannsha when we needed small fingers, we reconnected the air intake/ex-turbo/exhaust system to the rear of the engine and after topping off the oil and fresh water cooling system we fired her up.

At first there was a bit of white smoke which Aydin assured me was just residual oil burning off and we slowly upped the revs to 3,000rpm. The white smoke disappeared, no black smoke appeared and the engine ran perfectly at the right temperature for 20 minutes before a grinning Aydin instructed me to switch it off. I'd call that a win and I happily paid Aydin 3,100 Turkish Lira (AU$556) for his knowledge, time and the custom made parts.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.


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