Your engine may have saved our lives already.
At the height of our recent gale, I managed to claw down the jammed storm staysail at dawn… which was VERY good in one sense… but not another. We needed to heave-to. If we remained sail-less and sideways, we’d surely roll within minutes.
Thus I checked for sheets and lines overboard, and hit the starter button. The Perkins immediately sprang into life, and powered Ganesh directly into those powerful, giant, deck-sweeping 20 foot plus seas… without a problem… at a mere 1900 RPM. Thus Carolyn and I was able to spend the next 2.5 hours (I kid you not, please don’t ask) raising the double-reefed main.
YES! If the Perkins had not started or didn’t have enough power… I don’t know what would have happened–perhaps the Caribbean would have one less word-crazed Marine Columnist.
On a side note… the gale and being hove-to certainly made us heel sharply… at one point dipping the starboard rail for hours at a time… and the exhaust system did its job perfectly. GREAT!
We also had an amazing bit of luck (both good and bad) 14 miles off the coast of Ecuador.
It was pitch black. No moon. We were motorsailing at 6.3 knots, with the Perkins ticking along at 1600 RPM… when I sensed a change while sitting at the nav station belowdecks. The boat hadn’t shuttered and the engine hadn’t changed pitch… but something was wrong. I went on deck and looked at my gauges and my sails… then flicked on a spotlight… and saw we were stopped totally in a sea of bright green. Stopped? Sea of Green? Yeah! We’re run into an illegal drift fishing net which was miles long… and it had gently stopped us… and was all around us… under our keel and snagged on our skeg and binding up the rudder and on both sides of us and dead ahead…
AND YET HAD, SOMEHOW, NOT YET BEEN ENTANGLED IN THE STILL SPINNING PROP!
I immediately throttled down and put her in neutral… amazed at my good, great, unbelievable luck. (This was about 10 minutes before the angry, naked, high-on-cocaine Aztec with a 16″ Ikea butcher knife was standing on my deck… dripping & seething… and deciding whether to gut me like a fish or not… but, hey, that’s another sea yarn.)
Basically, the M92B is running perfectly and I’m very pleased.
Tier 4 is coming…Tier 4 is coming! I feel like a cross between Paul Revere and Chicken Little. I keep preaching that Tier 4 engines are coming, and they will be a real game changer to all diesel powered equipment owners in the Caribbean. But I’m not sure anyone is listening.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions requirements for diesel engines began what they call Tier 4 Interim a few years ago. Tier 4 Final is out next year. In order to meet these new emissions requirements, all engines will require Catalytic Converters, Soot Traps (usually a ceramic brick that captures carbon and has to periodically be cleaned off by burning the carbon at very high temperatures) and an additional process, in addition to being fully electronic. In order to function properly, these engines require Ultra Low Sulphur fuel that is formulated to work with the new exhaust systems. The exhaust systems for Tier 4 engines are supplied by the engine manufacturer with the new engine.
Tier 4 engines will simply not run on most diesel fuels that are standard in the Eastern Caribbean islands. The new engine exhausts have sensors in them to detect whether the gases fall within the parameters set by the EPA. If they do not, the engine will begin to de-rate its horsepower output in steps until it will only start and idle, but will not develop any power. That is the way that engine manufacturers are going to protect themselves.
Why am I worried? Most Caribbean islands are Lesser Regulated Countries (LRC) and do not need to comply with any EPA requirements, much less Tier 4. The problem is that most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are located in countries that are EPA compliant. When they build a piece of equipment, whether that equipment is a generator, back hoe loader, street sweeper or marine engine, they are building it for their biggest clientele base. If that clientele base is in the US, Canada, UK or Europe, they will have an EPA compliant engine in it. If that piece of equipment is purchased by someone in the Caribbean, it will not run for long. What is more, there is no warranty offered on that engine by the manufacturer.
What can you do? First, find out what the EPA rating of any engine in a diesel engine powered product is before you buy it. If it is Tier 3, you will know that it is most likely fully electronic. If it is Tier 4, you know that it will not run on anything but Ultra Low Sulphur fuel. If it is Tier 3, find out if there is a dealer with the electronic tooling necessary nearby who can fix that engine. If not, or if it is Tier 4, do not buy that product.
If you do inadvertently purchase a piece of equipment with a Tier 4 engine, some manufacturers are offering a program whereby the engine can be de-rated to a lower “Tier” so that the engine will run on lower grade fuels. But the de-ration process is neither easy to obtain (as you might guess) nor inexpensive. It is also not covered by warranty at present.
So if you thought that the Tier 3 fully electronic engines were frightening, Tier 4 will be a full-fledged nightmare for some customers in the Caribbean. Keep in mind that, if you are going to buy a Tier 3 engine, Perkins engines remain the best serviced engine in the Caribbean. There is a dealer on nearly every island and they have access to the electronic tooling necessary. If you, by some misfortune, end up with a Tier 4 engine in a Lesser Regulated Country without proper fuel, Perkins does have the deration program and it can be programmed to work on lesser grades of fuel.
So go with what you know. Specify Perkins engines when you buy a new diesel powered product.