Perky, the Little Engine that Could

This is the story of Perky, a Perkins 4-108 diesel engine who lives inside a Happy Sailing Vessel named Adventure.

When Adventure was a few years younger, Perky came to live in Adventure because a previous owner of the Vessel wanted a better engine than was in the boat.

Perky was newly rebuilt according to the previous owner. Perky appears to have about 900 operating hours since his rebuild, truthfully not even really “broken in”.

A year ago, Perky got sick and ran away. Not from home, but because he had too much oil, which was really oil plus diesel. Eventually, the sump filled and caused Perky to run away – a bad condition for a diesel engine, and the only way to shut this condition down is to remove air from his air intake.

A mechanic came in to make Perky well, charged us a lot of money to make it work right. Pulled injectors, pulled lift pump, stated lift pump was the problem, and supposedly rebuilt that pump.

A year later, and less than 20 more hours on the engine, Perky ran away again – because the Captain forgot to check the oil level before starting the engine a couple of weeks ago, and didn’t realize the oil levels had grown way over where they should have been.

So – after shutting Perky down, the Captain changed the oil. And removed the lift pump and checked it. It had NOT been “repaired” nor, even “rebuilt” or “replaced”. It was the original pump and parts inside. The Captain found out from Perkins they don’t even make rebuild kits any more.

It wasn’t leaking, but the Captain decided to change it anyway, as a new lift pump was only 25 bucks.

The oil, unfortunately, continued to grow.

So, now the Captain pulled the injectors from Perky and took them to a reputable place to test them. The test went well, but one of the injectors, number 2, failed. Without any significant pressure at all, it shot fuel out like a garden hose. Stuck open, or leaky, or whatever.

Injector #2 was rebuilt by the nice people at Diesel Parts of Carolina, brought back a few days ago and reinstalled with the other injectors.

The oil was removed, oil filter removed and changed, new oil added to the engine.

Yesterday, Perky fired right up…. with a little help from the Captain bleeding the air out of the fuel lines of course. The engine ran nicely.

The oil levels were checked every 15 minutes for about two hours with no noticeable change in levels.

This morning, after the engine had cooled over night, the oil levels were again checked.

And they seemed a tad higher than they were after the initial oil change. But not much.

And certainly not as much as the level had risen after the lift pump change.

So, Perky seems happy, but the Captain is still not quite happy.

Tomorrow we will run Perky once more for a couple of hours, bring him up to temperature, and check the levels again. IF the oil levels continue to increase, then we have no choice but to pull the injectors again and do a compression check, and if that is going, pull the Fuel Injection Pump and have it serviced.

We hope the problem is corrected. But, the Captain won’t be happy until we know for sure.

Tune in soon for the conclusion of “Perky, the Little Engine that Could”!

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