This page was last updated on: January 4, 2017
moved details of the skeg story to a new page 24 April 2014

This page was created in October 00'
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Mechanical Failures on  Trip and Later

1. At or near hull speed (7.1 knots) the bilge pump hose just sucked the sea water back in. I tried a plunger and spring type check valve and that worked very well for about 400 miles and then the plunger started to have too much resistance and the Rule centrifugal pump could not overcome the check valve's restriction. Then I looked for an anti-siphon U fitting that would fit onto the recommended 1-1/8" hose for the pump. This size was not available. Later I met Peter and Carolyn Vehslage. They found a flapper type check valve for the bilge pump hose that never become clogged.  

In July of 02 we changed to a teflon impregnated flax and now get very little water into the bilge.  The shaft moves much more easily with the new teflon impregnated flax.

2. The emergency whale bilge pump's out put is connected to a "TEE" with one end connected to the through hull and another end to the 1-1/8" bilge pump output. This means that if there is not a check valve in the 1-1/8" bilge pump line, you'll not only be pumping water out of the bilge to the thru hull, but also back to the bilge.

3. While motoring out of Cedar Key, FL via the shallow south channel, we accidentally stepped on the ignition switch after the first month on the salt water and the switch stuck in the start position. I knew it was a sticky switch and I could not find the W4D and I should have used the PAM spray from the galley the day before. Anyway, the starter motor cooked real nice, stunk up the boat, and sucked down the battery. My first reaction was to shut down the engine, but it would not stop running until I realized that the starter was in fact on. So I was able to shut down the starter and then shut down the engine. That was my second mistake, you simply do not shut down a diesel; but we were able to drop the anchor get our wits together and sail the boat back to the anchorage. Westerbeck sure gets a lot of money for a lousy little starter motor from a simple Koboto farm tractor.

Later I found out that the newer control panels have not only a cover over most of the panel that prevents you from kicking out the guages or switches, but they also make the starter a water proof spring return push button.  See the photo on the right of the newer control panels with lexan covers.

We also got to use our ES-2500 Booster Pac  for the first time as we ran the batteries into the ground while anchored for five days.  These portable battery packs are really nice and got me out of a bind several more times during the trip.  Now I keep the lightweight battery in the car during the winter months and it has paid for itself there as well on several occasions.           

4. We are super glad our draft is only 5 feet and that the keel is not glass enclosed.

5. Also glad that we can sneak under 50 foot bridges at low tide it kept us on the inside while on the Florida Pan Handle and prevented Judy from becoming too scared. (Nobody likes big waves)

6. We lost a connecting plate from the rudder to the skeg click here for details.

7. The Coast Guard did board us outside of Clearwater and we passed the inspection. (Thanks to a good surveyor who told us all the things we needed.)

8. The local police boarded us while we were anchored outside a marina in Rouses Point NY. (No problem as we were warned ahead of time to disconnect the sanitation tank from the pump out system.)

9. The diesel fuel tank takes incredibly long to fill up. It takes me on the order of 20 minutes to add 20 gallons to my tank. The intake is on the bottom of the tank and the vent is on the top. The problem is that we get foam coming out of the fuel input port almost the instant that we start pouring fuel into the tank. The vent port does vent and often spits out foam long before the tank is really full. This is a real pain in the neck particularly when there are 4 or 5 fuel guzzlers wanting to add $1,000 worth of fuel while I am putting in $40 worth.  Peter Vehslage found a similar problem on hull #13 and the solution was to make sure the hose from the deck to the inlet never went below the top of the fuel tank.   see Peter's explanation and experience at

10. We were super glad to have spare fuel filters along as one day in the middle of the north channel the motor just stopped running and replacing the secondary fuel filter on the engine solved the problem.   I reasoned it was a clogged filter because as I was removing the bleed plug on top of the filter there was considerable pressure as fuel squirted out.

11. In May of 01'  I discovered that it was very hard to fill the fresh water system until I opened the thermostat housing and poured the antifreeze directly into that part of the engine.  Bill Ferguson  went a step further as he had the same problem.  He wrote.

.....................bleed all the air out of the
       cooling system. Three steps:

       One,Bleed at the water heater, there is a flip switch
        at the top near the OUT fixture,

       Two, Bleed the engine by removing the heat
       sensor or much better, have a machine shop put a bleed
       valve on the top of the thermostat housing, see Linos's picture

       Three, install an overflow container like you have on your
       car, to catch the coolant (this must be mounted at the
       engine but above the highest point of coolant which on
       my boat was above the level of the water heater).. Try
       auto supply store.. see Linos's engine compartment picture........

12.  In July of 01' we discovered that a small piece of fuel line hose about 1/8" square by 3/8" got stuck in the mechanical fuel pump's inlet valve.   We have replaced it with a Facet look alike, electric fuel pump that makes it super simple to purge the fuel lines and makes it easy transfer fuel to another container.   Nice pluses, but we have to have a battery or an alternator to keep the engine running. Click here for more stuff that followed.

13.  In June of 02' we discovered a loose coupling where the propeller shaft is connected to the transmission.  More details at or click here.

14.  In July of 02' we discovered that the  Oberdorfer sea water pump impeller can not be left in the pump over winter as it just plain deteriorated.  The broken blade pieces where stuck in the elbow at the pumps outlet yet the engine was running fine at low speed (1000 RPM), but slowly overheated at cruising speed (2000 RPM), and overheated in minutes at top speed (2800 RPM).

15.  With the new impeller she overheat if run at top speed for more than 20 minutes.  I was not happy with that (This is what we lived with on our entire trip in 99'-00') so I contacted Westerbeke and ordered the newer style (PART #302837) 6 GPM, sea water pump with adaptor kit from for roughly $250 plus installation and bigger hoses.  This new pump has twice the flow rate of the old Oberdorfer that only put out 3GPM at 2800 RPM.  Click here to see copy of Westerbeke response.  The new Sherwood pump puts out twice as much water and improves the situation substantially.   Other folks have taken the heat exchanger size increase route.  While yet others have taken the propeller pitch reduction route; and another, on a CAL 35,  found that the exhaust could never be underwater even at hull speed.   Link to Overheating Causes

16.  The pivotal change in solving the overheating was to removed the water heater from the heat exchanger circuit and put it into the thermostat by-pass circuit.  see Linos's picture   
Later I got feedback from Westerbeke's Joe Joyce that indicates the domestic water heater should have been in the thermostat bypass all along, and that they have some special 3/8" pipe thread to 5/8" hose ID adaptors.  Top steady state, speed is now 20% higher than before.

17.  Westerbeke indicates that  "THE ONLY THERMOSTAT  FOR THE 5432 IS PN#299798.  THIS IS A 160 DEGREE STAT"  ....."PROBABLY WITH STAT IN HAND AN AUTO STORE COULD PICK SOME THING OFF SHELF THAT IS 180"  I will stick to the 160 as I do not like to go outside the box in the hope of getting at least 5000 hours on the engine.  Still have 3500 hours to go.  I sure would like the engine to warm up faster at idle.  See graph of warm up time by clicking here.
18.  Compare Speed vs RPM  of my 16 x 13  two blade prop and a sister ship's 16 x 12 three blade prop.   

I used a Tiny-Tach  with the 6mm transducer/sending for $65.   It does not us the alternator so it should be very precise and it has a digital display plus an hour meter that I wanted any way.   The hour meter only runs if the engine is actually running.  The RPM is +/ 5 RPM above 1000 as the last zero never changes above 1000 RPM.   The two blade data shows no increase in speed above 2650 RPM.  Therefore, the pitch is a smidgen too high or my top RPM is too high.

Next I want to measure the propeller shaft speed with an optical device or a magnet combined with a bicycle computer  from Germany's Sigma Sport or other type of digital display. Measured simultaneously the ratio could indicate slipage in the transmission and the need for preventitive maintenance.  Might be a good new product idea for some entrepanur.

19.  The foot pump for the galley sink started leaking and was replaced.

20.  When tied to a mooring out on the reef in Florida some larger waves were encountered and after one of them passed I heard a loud clunk and later discovered that the wheel had moved and no longer returned to the center position.   The little stopper on the rudder sector forced itself passed the big limiting block.  Taking the stopper bolt out allowed me to rotate the rudder and wheel back to the spot between the two stops.  In 2002 I found that the stop is now cracked, but still very rigid.  This is the year we moored and I did not always put the brake on at the end of the day even though we have a lot of fishing boats and large cruisers to go past and leave 6 foot wakes about 200 feet from the mooring spot. 

21. Once while sailing with the wisker pole it some how ended up with a 150 bend in the middle.  I was able to put it back together, but now it is shorter and no longer telescopes for easy storage.

My engine is a Universal 5432 and is very similar to Westerbeke's M40    The Model 5432, a 91 cu in, 32 hp, 4 cylinder, based on the Kubota V-1501 block, was built from 1978 to 1982. It was also called the Atomic diesel. Approximately 650 were sold. It was replaced by the Model M40, which was produced from 1982 to 1998. The Model M-40 was also a 4 cylinder model, and the same size at 91 cu in and 32 hp but it was based on the Kubota V-1502 block. Approximately 360 were sold.

The Kubota model number may be stamped on the dipstick.  My 1980 5432 has  D1100Z750V1500 on the dip stick.  The serial number stamped on the front of the block is 315143 and there were some changes made from 151024 and up.  The following are Universal     /  Kubota   /  block numbers
M15/5411     Z-500
M18             Z-600
M25            D-850
M25XP        D-950
M30            D-1101
5432          L285 & L345          V-1501
M40           L285 & L345          V-1502

So far I know that they have been used on the following types of boats
Cal 35, Coronado, Ericson 38  E381, O'Day, Gulf, and Mariner  If you got this far please sign the guest book as you are probably a 5432 or M40 user that could benefit from being on the mail list for 5432's and M40's.

22.  Holding tank considerations   added dip tube, moved vents, and input line.

      Water Tank repair or replacement ideas, rigid plastic or flexible bladder.

23.  Oil Pressure Switch Failure Mode  required removal of starter
      and a 1 1/8" deep well socket.

24.   Water pump for hot and cold domestic water needs to be tapped to get it to start
       as if it has a brush that hangs up periodically.  Got replacement motor from
       BoatUS mail order, and they met the lowest price that I found on the net.
       The pump is a Jabsco, 3 GPM, PAR model 36800-1000.
        Three years later the pump sucked the battery dry.  As the pressure increased it
        simply stalled and got hotter than a pistol.  It kept drawing current till the battery
        was pretty well dead.
        The pressure switch a Jabsco 37121-0010 or 37121-0000  is not part of the
        pump's overhaul kit that came with the boat.
        I did not need a replacement pressure switch as I weaken the spring by
        removing 2 of the 10 loops.  Works just fine for a few days.
                             Click Here for the rest of the story.

        I reasoned that the pressure just does not go high enough to trip the switch
        as I could hear the little micro switch change state when I clicked the
        little red button on the it. With fewer loops on the spring, the switch should
        trip at a lower pressure thus preventing the motor from stalling.   
        For pictures click here

Also on the drinking water front; The diverter valve in the Galley Faucet became corroded.  This intermittently, prevented water from flowing out of the galley faucet as well as out of the sprayer.  Click here for how This Old House fixes it.  Click here for How Stuff Works fixes it.  I soaked  my corroded stainless sprayer diverter valve in Lime Away for ten minutes and then a mild solution of Lime Away over night.  Lots of gunky stuff came off and it freed up the flapper valve inside very nicely.

25.  The bronze propeller shaft had a key that started to rock so we replaced it with a                stainless shaft.

26.  The new electric fuel pump failed, but tapping it or shutting it off for a few minutes
      let it start up again, and if we opened the high pressure pump bypass it would
      just about run for several tens of minutes without the need to tap it periodically.
      Fortunately, I already had the new mechanical pump on board so now we have
       a defective electric in series with the new mechanical pump.  New electric fuel
        pump installed 2011 still in series with mechanical pump. >> more

27.   The 18 inch antenna whip disappeared, but the radio works pretty well,
       not exactly like it used to.

28.  Lost one of the two stringers of the Avon dinghy when we tossed the dinghy over board without enough pressure on one of the chambers, and she landed upside down in the water.  When we tipped her upside right the floor boards came out and came apart enough so that one stringer sank in about 7 feet of water.  I tried for hours with the boat hook to find the damn thing, but to no avail.  Click here for some shots of the parts. and

29.  In 2012 we had to replace the stuffing box hose as the old one developed a bulge along with some cracks.  click here for photo  plus

30.  Original Sales Brochure for the 5432 Universal Diesel.
      Original Owners Manual for the 5411, 5416, 5424, and 5432 Universal
          engins by Medalist.
      A company in Orrville, Ohio ,40 miles south of Clevland OH,  that rebuilds
      four cylinder units, has rebuild kits, and new engines.
      The newer engines accept the old water pump, "Tranny, exhaust manifolds,
       and have much more HP, but still the same size..

31. KENYON ¾” traveler system  are stocked at  One chap ordered two stops, not cheap @ $98 each. The measurements led him to believe that the track on the Mariner 36, is a Kenyon track.  He almost ordered the traveler control ends but they will not slip on the end of the track unless the track is pulled off.  Tempting, but since the track is not leaking he did not want to risk opening another can of worms.  Although it's a pain to adjust the traveler with the stops, he can live with it.   Good site for old boat rigging parts. 

I use the empty Jenny Winch to pull on the main sheet and that pulls the car nicely to windward. 

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In this Universal 5432 Engine, Guest Book please include the:

     Type and year of the boat,

     Serial numbers that are located on the front         of the block starting with 315XXX

    Serial numbers on the dip stick.

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