By Captain Scott “Fraz” Murie
As I was writing this article, we were performing a major rebuild on both main engines. I’ve participated in many major engine rebuilds in years past. In the process, I’ve developed a great relationship with a group of “elite” mechanics from Texas. Working with these guys has taught me how to save thousands of dollars in labor. You can save on your boat too, all it takes is a little hard work from the captain and crew.
To start with, we set a time for the mechanics’ arrival so that we can start tearing down the motors before they get here. Then my crew and I get to work. First, we drain all
the oil from the engines and remove the filters. We also drain all the water from the heat exchanger. By the time the mechanics arrive, all fluids have been removed and disposed of so they can begin working immediately. This saves time and money.
As the specialists are working, the crew and I clean each part they remove from the motor. We clean every part, along with every gasket. Parts and gaskets are sanded or wired
brushed anywhere a seal or an o-ring will be found. We label every piece before cleaning it, and organize every nut and bolt. Then we prep and paint all the parts before they are reinstalled on the engines. I always try to keep someone on hand for the mechanics to use as a runner for anything they need. This can range from handing them a tool or getting a part from the truck to grabbing something from the parts store.
This way the mechanics can focus on the rebuild rather than having to crawl out of the hole just to get something out of the truck. At the end of each day during the rebuild, we are sure to clean and wipe down all the work areas and re-cover the cockpit area in preparation for the next day’s work.
I’ve seen plenty of rebuilds where the mechanics are left to do absolutely everything themselves – cleaning, scraping, painting, organizing, etc. This ends up taking twice as
long and costing a lot more money. These highly specialized mechanics are paid by the hour – and the rate they command reflects their skill. It doesn’t make sense for the boss to pay for many additional hours of their time to perform work that can be just as easily (and much more economically) be performed by the crew.
Beyond the money side of the equation, there is also a world of knowledge to be gained by the crew in helping the mechanics. This is to say nothing of the fact that as
crew you should know about your motors anyway. When it comes time to repower, don’t be lazy.
Instead, get dirty, learn a lot and save your boss thousands of dollars by getting the job done much faster. You’ll develop a relationship with your mechanics that will last your
career. Mechanics will remember this – your help goes a long way.
—That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz