Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Things We Wish We Had Found in Survey


We have had LUX for two years now and we've probably found all the major deficiencies that are likely to surface. It is time to record what we wish we had found during the purchase survey. Perhaps this list will be useful to others who are purchasing similar boats. The list has some items specific to the Leopard 40 as well as things that would apply to many boats. This list will probably add a half day to the survey process.

Engines

* Check the heat exchanger cores. Are there impeller parts in them and are the heat exchangers healthy? (LUX had a bad heat exchanger and we knew it from the big blob of red salt on the side of the engine under the heat exchanger.) Checking the heat exchanger cores on LUX would have been relatively easy to do, although I would have been hesitant to disassemble the port engine heat exchanger without replacement parts on hand.
* Determine if the exhaust mixer elbow is getting clogged and needs to be replaced. One way is to remove the mixer elbow and visually inspect it. Another way is to measure the volume of cooling water that comes out of the exhaust.  Capture the exhaust water in a bucket and measure the volume. LUX has Volvo MD2040D engines and they pump 4 gal/minute (we measure the volume in 15 seconds, and multiply by 4 to get gal/min). See Keeping Those Engines Cool 
* Take temperature readings on the engine and decide if they make sense. The exhaust mixing elbow and the heat exchanger should be around the temp of the thermostat (often around 180 deg F). Are all injectors running at about the same temp? Is the oil pan temp reasonable (LUX runs about 220 deg)? You won't  have historical values, so you may have to think about the readings to decide if something is out of kilter.
* Does the engine leak oil or fuel? Put clean oil absorbing pads under the engines and look for oil leaks and fuel leaks. Stuff paper towels around parts of the fuel system prior to the seatrial to detect small amounts of leaking fuel. Make sure that hoses and belts are in good condition. The surveyor may not be very thorough in performing these checks.
* Check the exhaust for black stuff after idling for a while, then throttling up. We have seen engines that exhaust a blob of black goo and smoke when the engine is throttled up after idling for a few minutes.
* Run the engine at wide open throttle (WOT) for a few minutes and make sure it gets within a few hundred RPM of the engine's spec max RPM. It's should be a regular part of the survey. It can tell you if the mixer elbow is clogged as well as if the prop is too big or has too much pitch. Black smoke indicates a problem. Black smoke, combined with oily exhaust can indicate a congested mixer elbow. If there are any symptoms, do an engine survey. You can also measure the volume of cooling water that each engine pumps by measuring the volume of water from the exhaust system. See Keeping Those Engines Cool
* Does water come into the engine compartment when running at 80% of WOT? LUX can do 7.5kn in flat water and at that speed, the first step is submerged. The rudder post is also below the water level and if the rudder post seal is leaking, water will come in there. Note that diesels like running with a load and they should be able to run at 80% all day long. We regularly run LUX's engines at 2800 RPM all day when we have to motor. The boat speed difference between running on one engine and two engines is about 1kn.
* Inspect the fuel tanks. See The Light at the End Of the Tunnel  and related fuel problem posts for more info. Check the inside for gunk in the bottom. This may be difficult if the tank is full. Inspect the tank mounting and bed. The tanks on LUX had salt under them, which eventually created small fuel leaks. It is best to find the potential for such leaks early. See It's Not Over 'Til It's Over - The Port Engine Fuel Tank 
* Check that the engine vibration is the same for both engines at all RPMs. We had a charter customer back over the dinghy hoist line and bend a prop. It caused extra vibration when under way at some throttle settings.


Systems

* Will the freezer get the compartment down to less than 20 deg F? The plates and plumbing should get to around 5 deg or less.
* Check for good caulk around the inside of the refrigerator and freezer compartments. LUX was missing caulk, allowing water to get to the foam insulation.
* Check the fridge gaskets. If you can push or easily pull a narrow piece of paper between the fridge gasket and the door frame, the gaskets are not seating properly and will need to be replaced. See Leopard 40 Refrigerator Gaskets 
* Halogen lamps in almost all lights will likely need to be replaced with LED lamps. While not technically a deficiency that warrants a survey exception, you should note whether this will be an upcoming expense. See Can We Get Some Light In Here? 
* Determine battery health. Add as many loads as possible, perhaps adding a small or medium inverter to run a heater or heat gun to create a large load, say 25 to 50 Amps, as measured by a clamp-on amp meter. How much does the battery voltage drop? If possible, run the load until it consumes about 150 Amp Hours. The house bank should have a voltage of more than 12.2 V at the end of the test, with the load still in place. The battery voltage should jump up to 12.3 V or more when the load is removed. A battery monitor makes this test easy to perform, but many charter boats don't have one installed.
* Look for water leaks. The hull bilges should be dry (engine compartments are typically not dry). I'm not sure how other boats work that have the engines in the living space. Find the source of any leaks, so you know what is involved in fixing it. LUX has had leaks in both water tanks and in the PEX plumbing connections to both water heaters. See Water System
* The LCDs should not have gray or black areas in the center of the display, making the display difficult to read. This means that the displays have a limited lifetime before the LCD must be replaced. Repair is a $350 charge at Raymarine or buy a replacement on eBay for a bit less.
* If the main anchor is a Delta, or similar plow-type anchor, plan to upgrade to a spade style anchor (Rocna, Manson, Spade, etc.). LUX drug anchor in a mild Chesapeake thunderstorm with the Delta and had problems getting it to set, regardless of the amount of chain that we deployed. See Hooked on the Rocna 
* Plan to upgrade the battery charger if the old Sentry charger is still on board. See Sentry Charger Settings and Electrifying! 
* Check for hatch leaks. Inspect the hatch gaskets for cracks which will leak. If you can, wet the hatches with a hose or take advantage of a nice storm.
*Make sure that the stove burner sparker works for all burners. The battery may need to be replaced, which isn't expensive or difficult. However, the micro switches on each burner need to be checked to make sure that they work reliably. They may need to be cleaned or replaced and it is good to know what is needed.
* Look for unexpected internal water leaks. On LUX, we found water in the core of the bulkhead that separates the salon from the forward lockers. It would have been easy to identify from some water drip tracks in the lockers. A moisture meter would have reported the damaged core if we had used it there. Check the bulkheads in the galley, under and around the sinks, bulkheads in the heads, and wherever there are deck fittings. See Water in the Bulkhead and Water in the Bulkhead, Part 2
* Inspect the water tanks. If they are the sort that can be removed, take the time to remove them and look for cracks at high stress locations, primarily around the bottom of the tanks where the hydrodynamic loading is greatest. We also found that there were small holes in the fiberglass layup around the base of the water tanks that allowed any leaking water to make its way into the forward cabins. The bunks in each forward cabin would get wet when we had a tank leak. We only found the holes in the layup when we removed the tanks. The repair was simple - apply 3M 5200 to the holes. We didn't see any reason to attack the holes with grinders and use epoxy to seal them since there was no cracking around the holes that would indicate structural problems. See Water System
* Inspect the holding tank(s). The tanks on LUX were aluminum and were corroding from the inside. Fortunately, the pump out discharge tubes developed holes before the tanks started leaking, alerting us to the problem and allowing us to address it when it was convenient for us. Fill the tank and pump it out while watching through an inspection port to make sure it is fully emptying. Also look for pitting or other defects on the inside of the tank. See It's a Poopy Job... 


Exterior (updated 22 Jan 2015)

* Check for leaks at all hatches and windows. Run a hose set for "rain" type of water on each hatch and on the salon windows. We've had several hatches with leaks, some around the acrylic-to-gasket seal and others from the base. Look in lockers under the bunks for evidence of leaks, such as the storage lockers under the forward bunks. Gently probe with a thin piece of plastic around the inside of the salon windows to check for a good seal. Look for evidence of leaks. Inquire whether the windows have been re-bedded since the boat was built. There are good descriptions of the process of re-bedding windows on the Yahoo Leopard list. The windows on LUX have been good so far. Remove the hatch trim or Ocean Air screens on each hatch and look for evidence of leaks, primarily staining on fitting fasteners and stains on the top of the headliner.
* Check for leaks along the toe-rail and deck fittings, particularly those on the deck above the salon. Pull down the headliner where it is velcroed up and look for evidence of leak stains on the back of the plywood liner. You typically only need a part of it down in order to get photos that show whether there are any leaks. You may need to make a tool to help break the velcro grip. A dull table knife, bent at 90 degrees about 1 inch from the end works well for getting behind the panels. See Summer Stop-the-Leaks Refit Project.
* Look for evidence of dings that have been repaired on the topsides. Look especially closely at the area around the cleats. We saw several boats that had obviously had the cleats pulled out and the area around the cleat repaired. Check any repairs from the inside. Un-repaired dings will need to be addressed.
* Check the sails and rigging. The sails on LUX were in reasonable shape. It was obvious that the Genoa would need replacing in a couple of years, which was accurate. The Genoa reefing line tends to need to be replaced periodically. It takes a lot of load when partially reefed and is easily chaffed.
* Inspect the hard-top supports at the top for stress cracks in the laminate. Also check the dinghy supports for delamination stress cracks around the bottom turn. Some models may have stainless pipe instead of fiberglass supports. In those cases, check the welds and attachment points for cracks and stress fractures. 

  -Terry

5 comments:

snowbird said...

Thanks for the many great tips. I am in negotiations to purchase a leopard 40 2007 .. Do you have any problem with crack at the door or elsewhere

Terry said...

Snowbird,
What kinds of cracks? It depends on the dimensions of the cracks and the exact location. It may be a defect in the original gelcoat and isn't structural. Or it may be a high stress area that needs reinforcing to distribute the load better. A good marine surveyor may be able to assist in determining the cause and possible remedies.
-Terry

reel thyme said...

Terry - Thanks for sharing this information. We are purchasing new Leopard (51PC) and some of your observations have given me ideas about establishing various baseline readings which can be monitored over time in subsequent engine room checks.

Terry said...

I added an update today, 22 Jan 2015, for three items.
* Better description of engine exhaust that indicates problems.
* Additional checks for leaks.
* Carefully check hard-top and dinghy hoist supports for stress fractures.
-Terry

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