Jonty Pearce struggles to get his ageing Bukh DV36 engine ready so he can finally go sailing again

In my last blog I described the need to replace the raw water exhaust manifold on my 41-year old Bukh DV36 due to a popped core plug.

Closer inspection revealed a corroded plug recess and old sealant.

The paint surrounding the core plug was eaten away by rust thereby destroying the manifold – this was clearly an ongoing problem, and it was evident that a previous bodge fix had failed.

Mind you, any bodge that lasts over 12 years has to be considered a good one!

It turned out that sourcing the new manifold was the easy part – John Page of Marine Enterprises produced a mint secondhand one.

It landed on my doorstep along with all the gaskets and thermostat ‘O’ rings within a few days.

A quick coat of paint and by the weekend I was ready for the 2-hour 50-minute drive to Pembrokeshire’s Neyland Yacht Haven.

The car was loaded down with all the tools I could imagine needing along with a clutch of LED work lights to illuminate those inaccessible places on the dark side of the moon.

I am 62, 6’2” tall and too short for my weight.

My shoulders are arthritic, and I’ve got a gammy knee.

Flexibility is no longer a word I use to describe myself. Sounds familiar?

The engine access on my Southerly 105 is through two adjacent removable panels of reasonable size on the port side of the compartment.

Continues below…

There is no access from the back or front, and the starboard side of the engine is tight up against a 270L fuel tank behind a protective board.

Jonty Pearce

Jonty Pearce is a lifelong cruising yachtsman and retired GP. He keeps his Southerly 105 in Milford Haven

The starter motor, oil cooler, water pump, impeller, and engine anode are all on this far inaccessible side, as is the exhaust manifold and thermostat.

You might deduce that I am not the right shape to reach over the engine to access the areas needing work.

In the past I have managed to clean out the oil cooler, regularly change the impeller and anode, and change the thermostat, but these are jobs I now find excuses not to do.

I will not bore you with the tale of my torture.

Suffice it to say the job took a day and a half (which included further partial dismantling and the manufacture of a new gasket out of a cork drinks mat when water cascaded from a poorly sealed joint), and that I ended up with chest and arm bruises and multiple hand abrasions.

The outcome was eventually a resounding success; Aurial is now again fully powered up by her trusty Bukh, and the open waters outside Milford Haven beckon.

My mate Hutch also used to own a Southerly 115 with the same Bukh engine.

He is an experienced marine engineer, neither suffering from being short for his weight nor extreme frame size.

Nevertheless, while chewing the cud after my labours, he agreed that he too is less supple than in past times.

We both agreed that looking after the nether regions of craft with deficient access such as our Southerlys was more of a younger man’s game; we were in danger of becoming too stiff and geriatric to cope.

How much worse could we get while still being able to be self-sufficient in the case not only of routine maintenance but also breakdowns at sea?

We concluded that while we are adequate for the moment, we accepted that the time may come when we might need to employ an agile grease monkey to refresh the parts that us older apes cannot reach.