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Flibbertigibbet

4LK

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Hello, I'm new here, and have been reading up on this engine and Gardners in general. I am flirting with the, probably very bad, idea of buying a 60' narrowboat that has one fitted. From what I have found so far, I gather that although it's a great engine, parts are difficult to come by, servicing could be a nightmare, and it is probably/certainly overpowered for this type of boat. I think I would be buying an 'engine with a boat', as opposed to a 'boat with an engine'.

 

Would this purchase be a folly, a liability, a very expensive hobby, or a good investment?

 

I would be interested to hear any comments and ratings on my enthusiasm or stupidity.

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Its a big engine but plenty in use on nb's. Don't think servicing would be an issue but some spares might be difficult to get hold of (read expensive).

 

No great defence but there are also quite a few with the larger, heavier and more powerful 4LW in use.

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When my wife and I bought our boat it was definitely a case of "I chose the engine and she chose the boat", this being a 58 foot trad stern with a Gardner 3LW.

 

Yes there is a risk that a breakdown may involve expensive repairs, but if well looked after this is relatively unlikely and there are still people around who will do work on these engines. As they tend to be fewer in numbers and you may be keeping the boat far from one of them, consider how much servicing you can do yourself. Also look at the engines past history and get somebody knowledgeable to look at it before buying (I am an engineer, but with no prior knowledge of Gardners (diesels are not my field in any case) and took a bit of a gamble by not getting it checked out other than by the surveyor - this worked for me).

 

Three years on we are happy with the choice we made. As to your comments on stupidity/investment, "boat with an engine" etc, yes possibly (probably) all apply, however if you want a boat with an interesting engine, a delightful sound (to my ears) when cruising along and the associated raised interest of many other boaters and the gongoozlers then perhaps you have already made your mind up.

 

PS This type of boat will be quite noisey inside when cruising when compared to a cruiser or semi trad (as the engine is part way along the boat and not enclosed. This is another consideration. Perhaps you can try before you buy?

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Brilliant engines, servicing not difficult, spares for the LK series can be hard to source. It is a bit big for a Nb but what size is the prop?.

Hot water from the engine could be difficult unless underload (others may disagree).

 

Will sound great.

 

I have a 2LW and remember you are buying a lump of 'Ledgendary Engineering Excellence'.

 

Go for it, and don't 'fiddle round' with the settings, get a manual and have fun, avoid leaving it 'ticking' over for hours.

 

L

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Many thanks for the replies and the sage advice. I have the luxury of not being in a hurry to buy, so I will continue to look out for my perfect boat (if such a thing exists!)

 

I can quite see that having an old engine could become an addiction. icecream.gif

 

By the way, the 4LK in the OP has a PRM750 with a trolling valve, is that a 'good thing'? I haven't been able to obtain any more details about it, the prop, or the condition.

Edited by Flibbertigibbet

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Many thanks for the replies and the sage advice. I have the luxury of not being in a hurry to buy, so I will continue to look out for my perfect boat (if such a thing exists!)

 

I can quite see that having an old engine could become an addiction. icecream.gif

 

By the way, the 4LK in the OP has a PRM750 with a trolling valve, is that a 'good thing'? I haven't been able to obtain any more details about it, the prop, or the condition.

I had a 59ft boat (Norton Canes) with a 4LK and it was a great engine (sold it in 2008). It was easy to service providing the passageway through the engine room was on the port side (as all the stuff you need to access is that side of the engine). I had no problem at all heating the calorifier well despite some initial concerns expressed by others. It just didn't turn out to be the slightest problem at all. Can't remember the prop size now but what I had was well suited to the boat/engine combination. I had a PRM 500 gearbox but had to get a soft shift fitted to prevent the huge graunch/clunk as the gear was engaged so a trolling valve will do the same job but isn't really needed for speed control in my opinion as there was never a problem with getting a slow enough speed at tickover and a good speed when required.

Roger

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Regarding the trolling valve, I was told by my well respected surveyor that the gearbox (PRM 500) had one fitted but actually its the soft shift mechanism referred to above. Suggest you get the PRM manual and compare the drawings to be sure you understand what is fitted.

 

I suspect a trolling valve would have some benefits on our boat as the tickover speed through the water seems a little high when passing moored boats, but we can easily manage by dropping into neutral.

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Beware the 4LK when it comes to servicing. Gardner Parts (all that's left of the once-mighty Gardner empire) no longer "supports" the LK. They do, however, stock new parts for the LW range. I have a 2LW surrounded by a narrowboat; when the engine was serviced in September, the boatyard used genuine factory-fresh filters which came in Gardner boxes.

 

The acknowledged experts in this field are Walsh's Engineering in Manchester, owned by ex-Gardner employees. Perhaps it would be prudent to have a chat with them about spares availability before buying the boat.

 

I would say that the engine is on the large side for a narrowboat, but others may argue otherwise. That's one thing you'll always get on this forum: helpful, experienced members expressing authoritative views which directly conflict with each other!

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Beware the 4LK when it comes to servicing. Gardner Parts (all that's left of the once-mighty Gardner empire) no longer "supports" the LK. They do, however, stock new parts for the LW range. I have a 2LW surrounded by a narrowboat; when the engine was serviced in September, the boatyard used genuine factory-fresh filters which came in Gardner boxes.

 

The acknowledged experts in this field are Walsh's Engineering in Manchester, owned by ex-Gardner employees. Perhaps it would be prudent to have a chat with them about spares availability before buying the boat.

 

I would say that the engine is on the large side for a narrowboat, but others may argue otherwise. That's one thing you'll always get on this forum: helpful, experienced members expressing authoritative views which directly conflict with each other!

Forgot to mention in my post above that certain parts are, indeed, hard to come by. I was told back in 2000 ish (when my engine was built by Danny Williamson) that timing chains were like rocking horse pooh (due to the chain pitch I believe) and that head gaskets were also getting thin on the ground. My engine didn't have a renewable oil filter as it was a washable gauze type and it also had no air filter to worry about. It did have a replaceable fuel filter but I found a good supply of those so didn't have a problem with that. The fuel filter was effectively a secondary filter anyway as there was a typical CAV 296 fuel filter/agglomerator further up the supply pipe.

As regard engine size, yes, the engine could push the boat along at a great speed on major rivers and yet never had any problems on the restricted canals. Perhaps the prop site choice was about right then?

Roger

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On 15/10/2015 at 11:23, Flibbertigibbet said:

Hello, I'm new here, and have been reading up on this engine and Gardners in general. I am flirting with the, probably very bad, idea of buying a 60' narrowboat that has one fitted. From what I have found so far, I gather that although it's a great engine, parts are difficult to come by, servicing could be a nightmare, and it is probably/certainly overpowered for this type of boat. I think I would be buying an 'engine with a boat', as opposed to a 'boat with an engine'.

 

Would this purchase be a folly, a liability, a very expensive hobby, or a good investment?

 

I would be interested to hear any comments and ratings on my enthusiasm or stupidity.

We used to have a Stoke on Trent built boat with a 1937 4LK fitted.

A beautiful engine which proved very reliable.But and the gigantic but,I knew nothing about them and needed outside help.

For chug chug along the canals too powerful on idle with the 24" prop she sucked the canal water away.

Many complaints about cruising too fast past moored boats on idle !

Rivers were the place where the power shined.

If money no object then fine but being poor I was a nervous wreck in case the engine went wrong.

It always gave pleasure to look at the polished beautiful engine every day.

They are scarce and those who build and service even more so or at least will be rhe case as time goes on.

If you can afford one and the up keep of one then I say do it.

 

 

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Owning a vintage engine always comes with strings attached: You either need to be able to maintain it yourself or be on good terms with someone who will do it for you. The necessary  level of mechanic skill is not huge, but you still have to have the right tool kit, an understanding of diesel engine  basics an the knowledge to take the specialist bits to a specialist you also happen to know well. Your engine is unlike the rows of stationary engines at traction engine rallies and old-thyme farming fests. Yours has to work as hard as it was ever meant to, all day.  The show engines only have to go, occasionally, and rarely work harder than is needed to keep them going.

 

You also need to be ready to be good at ferreting out spares or people who can make them.  Some engines are easier than others- the Gardner LW is pretty good as are some Listers. The Gardner  LK is less so and anything by, say, Widdop, is serious ferreting. Some owners have already collected key spares- A boat that comes with useful spares like pistons,rings and valves is much more attractive than one that just has an old and nice sounding engine.

 

I would suggest  visiting a few boaters gatherings and talking to engine owners about their engines.  Most will be very pleased to tell you everything you wanted to know and a lot more!   This will give you some understanding of where the poo traps are before you fall down one.

N

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17 minutes ago, Stilllearning said:

Since the OP started this thread a tad over three years ago, is it possible that he didn’t buy the boat, as he hinted in a reply?

He has visited the forum quite recently. I've PM'd him and invited him to let us know how he got on with his proposed purchase.

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Hello, Happy New Year, and thanks for all the posts.

 

While there is a small part of me that would have loved to buy the boat mentioned (was it really three years ago!) I'm afraid that in the end I plumped for the safe course and went for one with a standard, boring, but ultimately cheap and easy, Beta 43.

 

I did weigh up all the pros and cons, and this forum has been very helpful in that respect, with many useful tips. I have to admit I admire passing Gardner's with some degree of envy!

 

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Good to hear from you again! Don't be a stranger.

We have a Gardner 2LW in our boat, but what I've heard about the Beta 43 has been mostly good.

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Beta 43s tend to be well thought of, my only complaint about them is to do with how they are fitted, usually in a cramped engine hole that makes for difficult maintenance. Were I ever to be allowed to have a boat again, it would have to have an engine room, so that I could get at it without needing to be a masochistic contortionist.

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