Sailors in less temperate climates are used to putting their boats to bed for a long winter’s rest. Putting the engine up for this relatively short storage period is pretty straightforward: change the oil, spray some fogging oil in the intake, kill the engine, pull the impeller, drain the exhaust system, done. With our restoration project of S/V Regina Oceani, though, our new engine was going down for a Rip Van Winkle-esque hibernation of several years. For this period of suspended animation, more consideration must be paid to internal rust and injection system contamination.
Militaries around the world know a lot about long-term layup of engines, especially those that will be stored or transported in marine environments. They have been using VCIs (volatile corrosion inhibitors) for many decades to prevent internal rusting of engines, and there are plenty of “Mil Spec” numbers to show for it. VCIs can be found in some special-purpose oils such as Shell’s Ensis motor oil. In fact, when my engine was assembled in England, it was run in with Ensis oil. Unfortunately, to ship the engine, that great product had to be drained. Short of special ordering a 55-gallon drum of the product, I found absolutely none available in the U.S.
The next alternative my research revealed was VCI oil additives. Caterpillar—you know, the guys who make the huge, yellow, earth-moving equipment—have a product in their catalog. I ordered a quart from my local dealer but it never arrived. Seems the only Cat dealer with any of it in the U.S. was not going to let it go.
More research led me to the Vappro “Industrial Assets Preservation System,” which includes every sort of product bearing volatile corrosion inhibitors, from bags for packaging metal parts to foam VCI emitters for your toolbox to VCI spray coatings, and yes, even VCI diesel engine oil additives, cooling system additive, transmission oil additive and diesel fuel additive. I spoke with Frank Berger, the North American representative for Magna Chemical of Canada, who carries the full Vappro line. Anyone with an email address like “FrankVCI” must be pretty serious about this VCI stuff.
Mr. VCI helped me navigate the Vappro selection and led me to Vappro 850 Engine Guard. Frank explained that during long-term storage, it is not the oil that protects your engine from rust, since the oil just drains to the oil pan, but rather it is the vapors given off by the VCI additive in the oil that protect the internal engine parts. Adding one ounce of Vappro 850 to every 10 ounces of oil does the trick. To keep the VCI within the engine, Frank recommended some plastic wrap over the air intake and exhaust. The oil is not thinned by the VCI, so you can run it until your first normally scheduled oil change once you are ready to start the engine up again.
For preserving the diesel fuel pump, lines and injectors against any moisture being attracted to the fuel, I learned a trick from the folks at Beta Marine. They use calibration fluid instead of diesel fuel when they run in a new engine. This clear fluid has the characteristics of “ideal” diesel fuel, yet it does not attract water like diesel. Shops that work on diesel injection pumps and injectors should be using this to test their work and, if nicely asked, might sell you some for about $20 per gallon (bring your own container). To flush your engine’s fuel system with calibration fluid, first remove your fuel source line and stick it in the calibration fluid (or better yet, use a funnel and keep your container of calibration fluid pristine). Disconnect the return fuel line and run this into a clear container. Run the engine until the return fuel is nice and clear. Your engine’s diesel system is now safe from the perils of moisture until you are ready to run it on regular diesel once again.
When we finally splash Regina Oceani, we know that her Beta 50 will be just like new.
BWS is following Pete and Jill Dubler’s refit and restoration of their Pearson 424, Regina Oceani. After more than 5,000 offshore miles crewing for others, Pete selected the 424 for future cruising. It will take a few years, but Pete is committed to the belief that cruising should not be “repairing boats in exotic locations,” so she will be “sound and Bristol when she splashes.”
What to do with the extra Vappro 850? Rustproof your toolbox, too! A quart of the Vappro 850 was much more than I needed to put up my engine, so I made some VCI “sachets” for my toolboxes and lockers by putting Vappro 850 in the bottom of a plastic film can and inserting foam over it. Just to be safe, I capped the can and poked a few holes in the lid. The slow release of VCI in a closed toolbox or locker should ward off rust for many months. Just add a little more VCI a few times each year and rust not, want not.
Wondering where to find Vappro 850? Frank Berger tells BWS that the product should soon be available in marine outlets, but in the meantime, you can contact him at Magna Chemical through the Vappro website, www.vappro.com, and he will be glad to ship you a quart directly.