Contessa 26 Tech Notes

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Engine problem

I purchased a 1976 Contessa 26 in September of ‘99. I sailed and motored it from Ohio back to Long Island, NY. In October of that year, the engine, a 6.6 hp Petter, started giving me trouble, so I deceided to have it rebuilt. I got several good recommendations about a diesel mechanic on the south shore of LI. I spoke to this person and he agreed to do the work if I could obtain the parts needed. I removed the engine in January and, because I had to get the parts from England, I didn’t bring him the parts and engine until March 21, 2000. It took him 3 and 1/2 months to complete the job. I got the engine back in in the middle of July. The rebuilder said he had run it in his shop and the oil pressure was good. After numerous adjustments to the alinement and electrical system it fired right up and ran beautifully. I ran it a total of 1 to 1 1/2 hours after installing it to check for leaks and adjust linkage, etc., and the boat sat on my mooring until August 19. That weekend I took a trip to Milford CT from Smithtown Bay, a run of 5 hours. About a half mile from Milford the engine died and I couldn’t get it started. Friends I was meetin towed me to an anchorage. I was able to sail back to Port Jefferson the next day and leave the boat on a mooring at Setauket Yacht Club. I had been scheduled to have the boat hauled to do some rigging work, paint the bottom, install transducers and change some gate valves anyway, so I figured I’d work on the engine on the hard. Yesterday, September 1, I found out what was wrong. There was no oil in the engine! The oil pressure sender, which was replaced by the rebuilder, had backed almost completely out of the block. The engine is seized; you can’t even turn it over when it’s decompressed. I have left numerous messages with the rebuilder and he has not returned them. He’s probably away for the weekend on his boat. I paid him $1200.00 for his labor and I brought $700.00 worth of parts. I think I have the right to expect that the engine would be able to perform without checking each bolt and nut every time I start it. I did check the oil before I left on this trip, like I do each time I start any marine engine. It’s incredibly nerve wracking and frustratiing to spend all this money and go through all this work for nothing. Any opinions on my next move? I mean besides turning the engine into a mooring. Anyway, it did me good to vent.

Tom – 1976 J.J. Taylor “Hali Kai 2”


01Nov00 I went to the Annapolis Boat Show to meet a guy from NC who is a distributor of Beta Marine Engines. I put a down payment on a 14 HP model. I got a 15% discount. I’ll be taking delivery some time in December. I think this was the best solution. The new engine is 2 cylinder, fresh water cooled, twice the HP and only 15 LB more.