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South Coast: Diesel Course

February 16

Helena and I are keen to learn more about the detailed workings of our Westerly Ocean 33 SHUNA as we plan to sail further afield and do all our own maintenance.

To this end we attended the Mike Neal organised RYA Diesel Engine Course at Emsworth School of Navigation on Saturday 16th February.

The course started promptly at 0900 and Tutor Les Cox explained that we would cover in detail everything that we needed to know to service our engine to the same standard as a professional Mechanic.

Les started by explaining the Four Stroke Cycle. He then moved on to explaining the fuel system in detail. We then had the opportunity to change the pre-filter/ water separation filter and the fine secondary filter on a demonstration engine in the classroom. Then using water instead of real fuel Les took us through bleeding the fuel system, explaining that following bleeding the fuel it is important to run the engine for 15-20 minutes to check that it runs well and that all the air has been bled out of the system.

We then moved on to the cooling system and learnt the difference between Seawater cooled and Freshwater cooled engines. We all had the opportunity to inspect and change a water pump impeller. Les also demonstrated how to check the correct operation of a thermostat with hot water and a meat thermometer, and explained how to check the strength of the antifreeze in fresh water cooled engines.

We learned about the importance of maintaining the airways to allow air into and out of the machinery space.

We changed the alternator belt on the classroom engine and learnt how to adjust it for the correct tension, and covered the basics of battery capacity and charging.

We also covered oil changes and changed the oil filter on the classroom engine, and discussed in detail troubleshooting and problem solving.

Finally Les covered in detail how to winterise an engine explaining that following filling the saltwater cooling system with antifreeze it was important to plug the exhaust with an oily rag to prevent damp, salty air entering the engine.

The course finished a 1630 and Les kept it interesting and us all engaged throughout. At the end we all agreed that we had learnt a great deal and Helena and I now have the confidence to service Shuna’s engine ourselves.

We thoroughly recommend this course.

Stephen and Helena Thomas


February 16
Event Category:


Mike Neal


Emsworth School of Navigation
Emsworth Yacht Harbour, Thorney Road
Emsworth, Hampshire PO10 8BP United Kingdom
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