Broken oil cooler
Thu 26 May 2011 11:19
Thursday, 26.05.2011, 07:00 local (11:00 UTC), 18:25.2N, 067:09.5W (Aguadilla, Puerto Rico)
I've managed to track down the problem. I dismantled the cooling circuit, and after removing the heat exchanger I found an oil cooler hidden behind it. The oil cooler is not mentioned in the engine manuals. It is also seawater cooled, made of cast-iron, and doesn't have an anode. Disaster waiting to happen. As it did, the casing is completely corroded and broken in two places.
I guess that's good news, because it's not a major engine fault and explains both leaks - oil and water. However, I still have to fix it. The oil cooler is beyond repair with liquid metal, the damage is too big and the pressures involved are too high. And getting a new one will take at least a week, probably more. Time I don't want to spent on this roly anchorage. But my brother Ralf assures me that I don't really need the oil-cooler, and I think so as well. So I'm going to look for hoses for the water and oil lines in town today and cut the oil cooler out of the system. With a little luck we're good to go again tomorrow. Reminder: Always bring spare engine hoses (oil resistant).
I feel stupid that this happened to me. I partly blame Volvo for hiding a sea-water cooled oil cooler behind the heat exchanger and not mentioning it in the manual. I ran the engine for less than 20h since I bought the boat last July and had done all the maintenance suggested by the manual. Somebody with more engine knowledge than I might have suspected the presence of an oil cooler from the run of the water and oil-lines. And that is the other part - I had failed to learn enough about engines to suspect it. And it shows, again, that living on a boat is very unforgiving in this regard. Ignorance is punished. And work never ends.
Ralf suggested I hire a ships engineer, so that I can have some free time on my sailing vacation. He also volunteered for the job ;-). I am very lucky to have a brother who's knowledge complements mine in many areas. And who's always ready to help and jump into the gap. Thanks bro!