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Old 07-29-2018, 09:10 AM
captainmurph captainmurph is offline
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Angry Flooded Boat - Now What?

I came out to my boat yesterday, opened the companionway, and saw the worst -3-4" of water in the saloon.

The amount of water in the engine area was not enough to fill the open flame arrestor on the carb, but did have the fuel pump and, unfortunately, the starter submersed in water.

I pulled a combination of mostly water and oil out of the engine and removed the fuel pump since I believe it needs the overhaul I had planned.

I can put fresh oil it it but wonder if I am going to need to remove and disassemble the starter before I can crank it.

This is fresh water and, although I can't rule out backflow from the open cooling supply thru hull, it may have only been 3 weeks worth of rainwater from the usual sources and packing gland.

Should I just pull the starter and take to a shop, spray with WD40 or just let it dry in a warm oven.

I can't do anything until I overhaul the fuel pump and put it back on, so I will appreciate any suggestions.

Greg Murphy
S/V Amalia
1965 Cal 30
Muskegon, MI
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Old 07-29-2018, 10:35 AM
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I think you need some way of getting oil well distributed throughout the engine to minimize rust/corrosion.

I had a similar experience and the mechanic I engaged to assist me was very concerned about rust once the oil/water mixture was removed from the engine. We pumped out the water, immediately filled with oil and started the engine. Ran till warm, pumped out oil, re-filled oil, ran til warm, etc. until oil came out non-milky.

While sorting the starter out I would first liberally fog/MMO the cylinders and turn over by hand a few times to make sure that they will not seize up.

I think I would dry the starter and try it. You will know immediately if it spins

Getting the engine running and warmed up so you can do a sequence of oil change - run - oil change etc. until you get nice non-milky oil would be my priority. This gets the water out.

Hope that helps,

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Old 07-29-2018, 11:19 AM
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chiron chiron is offline
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I have had my engine completely submerged twice since I have owned it, what can I say its an old wood boat and without working bilge pumps would sink in a couple weeks.

That said, of course get the water out, change the oil a couple times and it should fire up. I never removed the starter when mine flooded and it had no problems turning over.
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Old 07-29-2018, 11:38 AM
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ndutton ndutton is offline
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Until you get the starter resolved and the engine running with multiple oil changes, keep oiling the cylinders through the spark plug holes and keep the engine turning if even by hand, like at least every other day, daily if you can.

Have you thought about closing the below-the-waterline thru-hulls?
1977 Catalina 30
San Pedro, California
prior boats 1987 Westsail 32, 1970 Catalina 22
Had my hands in a few others
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Old 07-29-2018, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by ndutton View Post
Have you thought about closing the below-the-waterline thru-hulls?
I'd also find out with certainty WHERE that water came from.

'Lone Ranger'

1978 RANGER 30
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Old 07-29-2018, 02:46 PM
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Are you sure the starter is beat? A friend's boat sank - as in only the mast showing, and the salvage crew had the A4 running about 30 minutes after the boat was raised.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:54 PM
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Al Schober Al Schober is offline
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Water in a starter isn't good. Fresh water is certainly preferable to salt water.
With salt water, corrosion is the issue. First on the commutator, which can usually be cleaned up. Second is the brush springs, which when they corrode no longer keep the brushes in contact with the commutator.
Open it up, dry it out, then see what you've got. You might get lucky - dodging a bullet is a good thing!
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:26 PM
Sam Sam is offline
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9 yrs ago a hairline crack and a fouled auto bilge pump caused my Morgan 34 to "sink" about half way completely submerging the engine - similar to your problem. I got a gas pump on board and refloated the boat then but a small electric sump pump into the bilge to allow me to now work on the engine.
- pumped out a couple of gallons of water out of engine and added 4qts oil and added oil to all cylinders and manually turned over.
- pulled distributor, thoroughly dried and sprayed oil internally throughout
- drained the carb
- started engine and ran for a few minutes, alternator tested "0" output and I hooked up a small battery charger to one battery
- changed the oil [cheap oil] and ran a few minutes and changed again two more times. Changed again for the fifth time with good oil.
-had alternator rebuilt
-Put new plugs in and all was well for rest of the season

Problem developed after winter layup at spring launch. Starter "holds" some water and caused corrosion and needed to be rebuilt [bendix drive was sticking and not advancing]. Multi-Battery switch also corroded and needed replacement. Suggestion is to address these two issues immediately and not wait. All is still well.
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flood, starter, water in oil

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