This practical, hands-on guide for troubleshooting your diesel engine problems is highly recommended, says Julia Jones

Diesels Afloat (2nd edition)
Callum Smedley and Pat Manley
Fernhurst, £18.99

The legacy of sailor, RYA instructor, PBO technical contributor Pat Manley continues with this second edition of Diesels Afloat.

It’s been updated by Callum Smedley who is based in the Shetland Islands.

Smedley’s professional background is possibly more focussed on commercial engineering that Manley’s – he has worked for the Northern Lighthouse Board and Shetland Islands Council Ferries and trained candidates for MCA courses.

This gives a continuing hands-on solidity to this volume which is reassuring and pragmatic. He’s also a surveyor so able to use some telling actual examples.

Diesels Afloat opens with a brief history of the development of marine diesel engines, their construction and operation and some cogent arguments against what the authors view as a foolish modern tendency towards over-powering.

The message is hammered home that marine diesels work best when there is an equivalence between hull, engine and propellor and when they are run regularly under load rather than idled. I found this salutary.

Continues below…

Individual chapters are devoted to the fuel system, air system, engine cooling system, lubrication, engine electrics, power transmission, propellors, hull fittings, pollution and safety, care and maintenance, troubleshooting, layup and recommissioning, tools and spares.

It is an educational book geared to the requirements of the MCA Approved Engine Course part one.

This is a more substantial and vocational course than the RYA diesel engine course which can be completed in a single day.

Many, like me, who have swiftly completed and as swiftly forgotten that course will find this an excellent refresher.

The troubleshooting section, towards the end of the book states that a thorough knowledge base is required as well as a methodical approach.

The authors certainly provide that. Their best advice is probably the most obvious – and frequently disregarded – read the manufacturer’s handbook.

This hands-on and uncompromisingly professional approach may be beyond the commitment of many weekend yachtsmen but it makes for a solid and worthwhile book from which all may learn even if they then turn gratefully to the boatyard engineer for help. Recommended.

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