So, here is what happened.
One evening, about two months into owning the boat, our port engine seized. We were on plane and heading back to our home port when the port engine abruptly stopped running. It tried to restart the engine, but it seemed to be hydro-locked. Turning the key resulted in a loud ‘clunk’ from the engine and the lights dimming, not much else. We limped home about 4 miles or so on the single engine and were able to ease the boat back into the slip very slowly and carefully.
After getting back to the slip, and thinking that the engine was hydro-locked, I pulled all eight spark plugs but found no evidence of water intrusion. What I did find, however, was that the number #6 spark plug had taken a pretty good hit.
The damage to this spark plug seemed like a good indication that the plug had come into contact with the piston. The ceramic portion of the plug was shattered and the electrode was smashed flat. My fear at this point was that the block was toast. As a last effort, I tried to turn over the engine with all of the plugs out, but the engine still refused to rotate.
After going through all stages of grief and eventually accepting the fact that this was likely an engine failure, I decided that I would have to take apart the engine to get a better idea of the damage.
Once the decision was made to tear down the engine, the next steps were to remove the exhaust manifolds, intake manifolds, lifters, and heads to get a visual inspection of the block. In retrospect, I probably could have used a bore-scope in the spark plug holes to get a visual, however I was confident that the engine would need to be torn down regardless. I was also determined to performed as much of the work myself to save on labor costs (about $125 – $150 per hour for a mobile marine mechanic in my area).
I was very careful about keeping the tear down of the engine well documented. Pictures were taken of the engine that documented cable / hose routing. All nuts and bolts went into zip-lock bags that were separated by purpose and labeled with a sharpie (resulting in a lot of ziploc bags but it made the reassembly very easy). All hoses and cables were also labeled with masking tape and a sharpie to detonate what they were connected to and which side of the engine they came from.
(My labeling became a bit obsessive, but was really helpful during the reassembly)
It took about 5 – 6 hours worth of work to get the engine stripped down to the block. The damage to the engine was evident once the port side head was removed (which corresponds to the damaged #6 spark plug).
This is a view of the top of the block, facing the right side (front of engine is on the left). From the left, you can see cylinders #2, #4, #6, #8. If you look closely, you can see that something is amiss.
And here is top down view of cylinder #6. You can clearly see that something has gone very wrong. The connecting rod and piston appear to be in pieces in the oil pan. You can see that a corner of the piston is still lodged between the crankshaft and cylinder, which is keeping the crankshaft from spinning.
This is the situation I found myself in late July of 2017. I clearly had an engine that needed to be replaced, but didn’t know much about the engine other than it being a Crusader 6.0L ‘Captain’s Choice’ (whatever that means) marine engine. I also didn’t have the ability to pull the engine myself.
My first inclination was to try and find a marine mechanic that would be able to both source the engine and replace it for me, but I knew that the cost could quickly get out-of-hand. I have experience with rebuilding automotive engines, so I also knew that I could do some of the labor myself.
My next posts will chronicle my experience with trying to find a way to replace this engine, and researching exactly what constitutes a ‘Crusader 6.0L Captain’s Choice’ engine (circa 2006).