White smoke, but a black engine bay

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts -

Q My Lister SR2 starts fine and runs hap­pily, but pro­duces con­tin­u­ous white smoke. Also, the engine bilge is very oily and fuller than seems good, plus there is a fair bit of sooty de­posit around the engine bay. Any thoughts?

PETE SEDDON, via email

A TONY REPLIES… As far as the oily bilge is con­cerned, it’s com­mon with old en­gines, clean­ing it is a hor­ri­ble mucky job and far too of­ten such things are ig­nored. It might or might not sig­nify an oil leak, but the only way to find out is to clean it and see if it starts to fill with wa­ter or oil.

At least the SR is air-cooled so it won’t be a coolant leak, but it might have re­sulted from a leak­ing stern gland or loose weed hatch.

Sooty de­posits could be from an ex­haust that is bro­ken un­der the lag­ging; rub­ber dust from a wear­ing al­ter­na­tor belt; a blow­ing ex­haust man­i­fold; or maybe a slight blow on a head gas­ket. If it starts eas­ily and runs hap­pily, I would not worry about a slight head gas­ket blow, as there is no oil or coolant near the gas­ket.

White smoke could in­di­cate in­jec­tors need­ing over­haul­ing, faulty in­jec­tor pump tim­ing, or incorrectly set pump clear­ances, but the lat­ter would prob­a­bly give rise to poor start­ing.

Lister en­gines have a lot of in­ter­nal fuel pipes and when these de­velop leaks the sump starts to fill up, re­sult­ing in high oil level, thin oil that smells of diesel, low oil pres­sure, ex­haust smoke, po­ten­tial seizure or run­away. This could be the cause of your smoke.

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