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Old 10-04-2009, 06:31 PM
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Default Rebuild 555 Cummins

Motor severely overheated and now it wont hold water.I checked the oil and the stick had white slime all over it.Pulled the valve covers cap off and its full of white junk.There is definitly water filling up the crank case.Motor still runs really good but im afraid it needs to be rebuilt.It has 4000 hours on it so its time.
Does anyone on here know if i can still have them motors rebuilt?they are really old motors.I plan on pulling the motor myself and taking it to the rebuild shop.
How much do you guys think im gonna spend to have the motor rebuilt.maybe a ball park figure.
Repower is out of the question right now.i cannot afford new shafts,props and all thats involved.
I have had nothing but problems from that motor so far anyway so i definitly want to rebuild it.
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:59 PM
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You have to have tear it down, to find out what the problem is. It could be just a simple problem, or it could be a block problem, which means you would have to find another block (rebuilts are available in industerial or marine configuration). $7,000 on up for rebuild. In either case, you need to totally drain the crank case, and fill it with diesel / oil mixture to prevent further damage.
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:05 PM
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Best place for the answers you seek: Boatdiesel.com
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:11 PM
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the "triple nickles" were bad engines, I would not spend any money on them.
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:43 AM
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Water in the oil is never good. The engine requires a rebuild dependent upon a few findings. Oil, of course, sits on top of water. The oil pump pickup is at the bottom of the pan. See where we're going here? Oil doesn't have the same lubrication and heat transfer properties that oil does. (I know it sounds stupid, but I've known some people...)

Best case scenario:
You tear the thing down, the head gaskets went away when it got hot and maybe bent the heads a little. Mill the head flat, polish the crank, knock the glaze off the cylinders (I like to go to the next size ALWAYS unless I'm freshening a race engine at the end of each season) and re-bearing/re-ring it. I'd have the heads freshened as well.

Middle case scenario:
The heads got really hot cracked and it put enough water in the cylinders to hydrolock one or two of them, leaving you with a couple of slightly bent rods. Then same as above, but with new cylinder head/s and a couple new rods/pistons.

There really is no "worst case" scenario. You could have a cracked cylinder head in combination with a cracked cylinder, or any combination of issues.

If you choose to rebuild instead of going with another powerplant (I know nothing about the 555's) then make sure the machine shop does the following:
Dry mag the cylinder heads, then pressure test it them.
Mill the heads flat, but be cognisant of "chamber" volume. Diesels are picky picky.
Pressure test the block.
Wet mag the crank.
Check all the rods for straight/square. If a rod is out of spec, change it along with the piston.
Get a new surface on the cylinders.

If it were me in my shop, the labor alone would run 5-7K due to the wieght and size of the parts involved. Any REPUTABLE diesel engine shop should be able to do you right, just ask around the marina.

Good luck with this!
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
the "triple nickles" were bad engines, I would not spend any money on them.

Wow, you really bring alot to the table with this advise.

The OP did say the motor has 4000 hours so 555's can't be all that bad.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:22 AM
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I think what was being expressed was that triple nickles are obsolete, enormous, low performance beasts that parts are getting scarce for. If you spend 10K on a rebuild, the engine will probably have a resale of 2,500 when finished.

It's a dilemna indeed, one I'm facing with Detroits now and I would suggest he look for replacement power, lose a ton or two of weight and increase the worth of the boat at the same time.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
the "triple nickles" were bad engines, I would not spend any money on them.
While that may not be 100% accurate, they are old, heavy and likely not worth rebuilding, which will likely require a new block. Since they are either 185 or 215 hp (this from 2,100 lbs of cast iron), you should be able to find a pair of Cummins 6B-220 hp take out's or rebuilts for the same money, and if you have the MG506 gears, they should go right in (other than reconfiguring the mounts and exhaust).
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Old 10-05-2009, 09:50 AM
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Unlikely i will find 2 takeouts for the cost of rebuilding the 1 i have now.I cannot afford 14 grand on new motors,Than ill have to redo the exaust risers,possibly transmissions.I can pull this motor and have it possibly rebuilt for far more less.i called truck city machine in pcola and they said they can definitly rebuild the motor.I have to give them the serial number for the estimate.
They will also gve me a warranty with the new rebuilt.The other motor runs like a champ and runs strong.I see no point in a repower at this time.I do not have 25 grand to just put into this boat.I can have the motor pulled out and put on a trailer for 100 bucks.Thats after i unbolt it from the hull and remove everything.
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Old 10-05-2009, 01:02 PM
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As someone else stated take a look at boatdiesel.com. If you search the classifieds you will find a listing back in March for a pair of running 555's for 3 grand. If you're lucky they still might be for sale!
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Old 10-05-2009, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
the "triple nickles" were bad engines, I would not spend any money on them.
The 555's are great engines,way overbuilt. The only problems are, heavy and low power. I'm going through this same dilemma use the 555's or re-power. The 555's are wet liner engines so the leakage can be from the cylinder seals or the head gaskets.
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:48 PM
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Well, my experience with them was they didn't last long. That is in addition to all the other stuff, big heavy low power V8's. We had them in several construction cranes and we did rebuild a few but way too soon, in our minds, they were gone again, lost compression, blow by, oil leaking all over, the usual for a shot diesel. We, investigated (asked around a lot), no one would say a good word about them. From then on, we never bought a crane with one but saw cranes going at auction very cheaply with the triple nickles. I might add that cranes are far less stressful on engine compared to boats unless it is a trawler maybe.
So, me, i would not want one in anything, boat, truck or whatever. It might be a good time to ask around with people who have used them in the past, you may want to rethink your options. Our experience was the the opposite of steves. So, who knows ? that was just what happened to us with these engines.
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Old 10-05-2009, 04:56 PM
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Triple nickels are the engines that were in all the Coast Guard 41 footers and they ran the snot out of those things...There used to be 3 of them at Marblehead Station on Lake Erie. I never saw one of those things when it was not being run WFO...Coasties seemed to get along with them..
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knotreel View Post
Well, my experience with them was they didn't last long. That is in addition to all the other stuff, big heavy low power V8's. We had them in several construction cranes and we did rebuild a few but way too soon, in our minds, they were gone again, lost compression, blow by, oil leaking all over, the usual for a shot diesel. We, investigated (asked around a lot), no one would say a good word about them. From then on, we never bought a crane with one but saw cranes going at auction very cheaply with the triple nickles. I might add that cranes are far less stressful on engine compared to boats unless it is a trawler maybe.
So, me, i would not want one in anything, boat, truck or whatever. It might be a good time to ask around with people who have used them in the past, you may want to rethink your options. Our experience was the the opposite of steves. So, who knows ? that was just what happened to us with these engines.
!00% accurate, one of the cranes I run has 18k hours, Am buying a crane with 6k hours on a cummins and I consider that almost new. No where near the same use as a marine motor.

Just remember you don't have the money now, but every dime of that rebuild will be a total waste. Of course if your like everybody else that has them and plan on never having to sell, then it will be the right move. I wouldn't give a boat with triple nickels a second look, Thats pretty bad, mine has 8.2l detriots, but 370hp cummins in the garage just waiting.
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Old 10-05-2009, 09:30 PM
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I know of an old lobster boat that has over 30,000 hours with the triple nickels.Those diesels have got to be the easiest motors to work on.I have spent the last 10 hors tearing down the motor and it is completely apart except for the block.Head gasket on right side is completely blown.Had alot of pieces missing and some of it stuck to the block.Another thing was a broken O ring on the exaust manifold.I have worked on alot of car motors but these have got to be the easiest by far i have ever messed with.
In 10 hours i have Learned ALOT about those motors.I found all the raw water intakes and removed the exchanger.Some of the hoses just fell apart.I will be spending about 2 weeks working on this motor.Im having the heads checked and machined,New head gaskets.The cylinder sleeves and Pistons looked really good.I was definitly intimated at first but after a 20000 dollar quote to rebuild and than i get a 3500 dollar quote from the machine shop to small block rebuild the motors.The mechanic was going to charge me almost 17 grand to break down the motor and take it to the machine shop.
After breaking down the motor its To easy.That engine really has nothing to it.its natural aspirated,It sips Fuel on the troll.I mean i cant see any reason to repower right now when I can get this thing rebuilt doing the work myself for under 5 grand.
Im also going to pressure test the exchanger,and redo the impellers .There is still alot to do but this motor will be worth alot to me when its finished.I dont plan on selling this boat anytime in the next ten years.I just got it.

One good thing after doing this one ill be able to do the other one with no sweat when it needs to be done.
Thanks for al you guys advice.
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Old 10-06-2009, 05:52 AM
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Well there you have it. Desperado asks a lot of questions when he already has the answers. Sweptvolume gave you some very good advice as did the guys saying look for a good running take out. If you really are going to keep the boat you should be on the look out for a spare engine or engines. I think it is great you can work on your 555; I work on my 3208's, but guys who do it for a living have to make money. It is not wise to denigrate what they provide to the folks who can't or don't care to work on their engines. They may stop offering free advice.
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:06 AM
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Desperato,
Please advise how this works out. I am a gas engine guy, but love all engine stories. Best of luck.
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:36 AM
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Will, please let us know how this turns out for you...
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Old 10-06-2009, 04:52 PM
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Ran across this on another forum:
Here we go again! Anyone on the list familiar with the Cummins VT555M
diesels? Rated 270 HP.

Kurt Volk answers:

Jim,

We have twin 555's (naturally aspirated) on our 1976 Bertram they have
reperformed flawlessly for nearly 25 years.

The only problems we've had were self inflicted (ten years ago, a sheet
metal screw found it's way into the air intake). We pulled and rebuilt the
head, re-sleeved the cyclinder and have had no problems since. It's a well
built motor and very similar to the Caterpillar 3208.

My best boating buddy, has the turbocharged 270 hp version on his 1977 Egg
Harbor. The boat has been up and down the East coast and made trips to the
Bahamas -- with no engine problems reported in his 15 years with the boat.

The 'triple nickels' didn't catch on with the 'go-fast' sportfish public
because the naturally aspirated version only rated around 230 HP. On the
turbo version the blower is mounted quite high on the engine, making
installation difficult on many popular production boats. Bertram shifted to
the Catepillar 3208 in the 35' for this reason -- while using the venerable
Cummins 903VTA in the 42' (and a few 38's). GM power went into the 46'
model.

Somewhere along the way, the 555 "triple nickels" picked up a partly
deserved (but thoroughly overblown) negative reputation when problems
occurred with turbocharged engines that went into trucks. I believe those
shortcomings were resolved. Cummins reps told me that the problems were
turbo-related and occurred in installations operating at widely varying RPM
ranges. I.E. the stop and go environment of short haul trucks and the up
and down speed ranges ("run hard and put away wet") characteristic of many
flogged sportfishing boats.

There must be 'horror stories' out there for every engine. But, in 20 years
of comparing notes with other Cummins 555 owners, I haven't heard about any
serious problems, firsthand. Come to think of it, repowering older 35'
Bertrams to make them faster (using the newer lightweight Cummins or Cats)
has become very popular recently. Even so, a lot of 'cheap-skates' like me
hold on to our 555's! I've talked to many Bertram owners who put off
repowering for YEARS. They want to go faster, but can't bring themselves to
spend $40m on a repower, when the 555's are still running beautifully. The
d-mn engines just won't die. Eventually they repower anyway -- selling the
555's to a commercial fisherman or someone looking for parts.

Parts and service can be a problem. This I have to admit. Parts are
available, but major items are in limited supply and expensive! If
something like an exhaust manifold fails, the replacement will cost a small
fortune.

The same is true of the VT555's big brother the Cummins 903 series. Even
so, in my biased opinion, this is a great diesel engine. They were the 'top
of the line' choice for installation in a number of magnificent Rybovich
sportfishing machines and are currently used in the U.S. Army's "Abrams
Tank" -- (Four engines per tank, I believe). The founder of Moroso
Autoparts had a pair of VT903's built to his specifications and installed in
his 60' custom sportfish. They managed to get ludicrous horsepower out of
the engines and the boat acheived better than 50 knots! A great, versatile,
engine!

The 'triple nickels' are no longer in production and the 903 is only built
for the military and for special order. For this reason, some people shy
away from boats with early Cummins power. Personally, I would be happy with
either engine -- so long as I liked the boat and planned to own it awhile!
These engines can be a drawback on resale, but if you're going to keep the
boat, it shouldn't make a difference. In fact, there are a few of us left,
that will lust after your boat if it has VTA903's!
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Old 10-07-2009, 05:11 AM
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Not to take away from the post, but M1Abrams tanks have turbines (1 per).
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