Here are a few tricks to extend the life of any engine. The number one cause of most early engine failures can be traced back to skipping oil changes, using poor quality oil, and not changing oil filters often enough and what the owners did during the first 10 minutes after each start –up.
Oil is an engines lifeblood it lubricates the engine and cools it. So use only oil that meets or exceeds the manufacturers specifications. That does not mean “Super Turbo Formula-One, with whingy-dingys”, but oil that is clearly labeled with the CF, API, or other certifying approval. For example the oil we use on Vega meets or exceeds API Service Classification CI-4, CH-4/SL, and the new DHD-1 specifications. Your engines manual will tell you the grade of oil and the classification recommended. The grade, such as SEA-40 or 10W-50, tells you how thick the oil is when it warms up. The higher the numbers the thicker the oil. For our type of engines it is best not to use multi grade oils but single grade usually 40W. Synthetic oils usually resist breaking down longer than mineral oils so give slightly better protection between changes.
As oil ages it collects bye products from combustion such as soot, acids, and metal particles from engine wear. The filters remove some of these contaminants but not all, especially the acids. Old oil also looses some of its ability to properly lubricate and cool the engine. When you change oil and filters you remove these waste products.
Not respecting oil change intervals allows acid build up causing serious damage to small parts as well as bearing surfaces and piston liners. Soot can constrict oil passages limiting the ability of the oil to flow freely and the metal particles will act like micro files wearing out important parts well before there time. When oil filters become blocked they restrict the oils free flow.
The greatest wear on any engine is while it is warming up. When an engine sits for long periods oil drains down from the parts leaving them without lubrication. If you just crank her up it takes several metal grinding seconds before the oil finally reaches all the engines parts. That is where half your machines life can quickly disappear. To avoid that useless waste on diesel engines try holding down the stop button while you hit the start button. That turns the engine over slowly without starting it and after a few seconds you will see the oil pressure go up or the light go out. Then you can start it without damage.
The second greatest cause of early wear on engines happens while they are warming up to operating temperature. When cold most engines are tight. As they warm up they loosen up a bit and there is less wear. A good rule of thumb is idle the engine or genset until it reaches minimum operating temperature before applying any loads. The same applies to outboards, in fact even more so to outboards. NEVER race an engine that has just been started.
And finally if you have a turbo you MUST let the engine idle for a few minutes while the turbo cools down before stopping the engine or you can cause serious damage to that expensive turbo. I always use the start / stop button trick (See above) when starting turbo engines just to make sure the turbo has oil when the engine starts.
There are no excuses at sea. The sea does not care one sardine if you make it to shore again or not. So, if you are going to sea and would like to come back again best learn how to maintain your own equipment.