They want an en­gine that goes ev­ery time and one you can fix if things go wrong.

Boating NZ - - Fea­ture -

It should have five or six threads vis­i­ble – any less it nor­mally means the en­gine is get­ting worn.”

Like­wise, en­gine op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture can also be con­trolled so the en­gine can op­er­ate at op­ti­mum tem­per­a­ture and oil pres­sure.

Gard­ner sto­ries are le­gion. Dave has talked with a fish­er­man who ran a crank­shaft bear­ing on his hard-worked 8L3. He knocked the bear­ing out at sea and wrapped his leather belt around it, then steamed home. I imag­ine the boat com­ing along­side the wharf with the skip­per us­ing one hand to hold his pants up and the other to op­er­ate the con­trols. But ev­ery­one has a Gard­ner story. The Pic­ton trawler, Amuri, had a 5L3 which was renowned for “nip­ping up” – that is, tem­po­rar­ily seiz­ing, if too much power was ap­plied be­fore it had warmed up. The only so­lu­tion was to drop the an­chor, wait un­til it could be turned over, be­fore restart­ing and tak­ing it easy while the en­gine warmed.

The New Zealand gov­ern­ment’s re­search trawler, RV James Cook, ran two 8LXB Gard­ners and an­other Gard­ner pow­ered the sail train­ing ship Spirit of New Zealand un­til re­cently. Fullers’ re­cently-re­tired ferry, Bay Belle, ran from Pai­hia to Opua for decades with the same Gard­ner and di­rect-drive 3UC gear­box.

Many Pa­cific Is­land ma­rine de­part­ments de­ployed Gard­ner­pow­ered ves­sels and kept stocks of spare parts which, be­ing Gard­ner, were never re­quired and to­day they’re a trea­sure trove of ma­chin­ery for re­build­ing en­gines.

“Over the years we’ve learned who’s got what,” says Shaw, “and I can nor­mally give them a ring and ne­go­ti­ate a price. But say­ing that, Gard­ner as­sures me that they will con­tinue mak­ing the parts as long as there’s a de­mand for them.”

He moves to the back of the work­shop and whisks away a dust cover like a ma­gi­cian pro­duc­ing a rab­bit from a top hat. “It’s a 1L2 I found at the Van­u­atu Mar­itime School. I’m do­ing it up for my­self, they’re quite rare – I’d like to take it home with me but my wife says no.”

He re­cently sourced an 8LXB from Cap­tain Cook Cruises in Syd­ney. “They bought it 35 years ago as a back-up for one of their other Gard­ners – but never used it. The old/new Gard­ner is des­tined for a fish­ing boat in Bluff. “All the new en­gines are com­puter-con­trolled – fish­er­men don’t want that shit,” he says. “They want an en­gine that goes ev­ery time and one you can fix if things go wrong.”

An­other Gard­ner trait is stingy fuel con­sump­tion. When they were tested for com­pli­ance to EU pol­lu­tion re­quire­ments, the 6LXB re­turned 203 grams per kwh – this from a 32- year-old en­gine de­sign. Mod­ern en­gines strive for 203 – 204 grams per kwh.

A few months ago, Shaw had a call from San Diego. The cus­tomer there had bought a boat with a 6LXB Gard­ner which hadn’t been started in 30 years. “Be­ing Amer­i­can, he didn’t know what a Gard­ner was. I told him to give her fresh oil and fuel fil­ters and hook up a bat­tery. She cranked over once and fired up. He was ec­static – he thought he’d bought a lemon.”

I think my favourite Gard­ner would be 8L3B – dunno what I’d do with it though. Pol­ish the brass?

Just like Gard­ner own­ers the world over.

They typ­i­cally weigh at least twice as much as a mod­ern en­gine and pro­duce half the horse­power – but they have char­ac­ter.

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