The Gulf 32 has Universal 32 HP diesel, model 40 (which is also model 5432). It is mounted immediately below the aft companionway and accessible by raising the floor-boards, if by “accessible” one means “can been seen.”
There are two situations where being ambidextrous is really useful, and marine engine maintenance is one of them. I score a 1 on the Edinburgh scale of handedness, where 0 is perfectly ambidextrous and 10 is perfectly handed, and I’ve never been so glad of it as when working on this engine, which is spectacularly perverse (and not in a good way) even by the usual standards of awkward marine design.
The Universal 32 has the oil filter and fuel filter on the right hand side, so when you’re facing the stern they are on the left, which for right-handed people must make them a serious pain to deal with. Pretty much everything I’m going to describe here with regard to the engine was done with my left hand.
Draining the oil is done by pumping it out through the dip-stick hole, which is about the only thing on the right side, down low under a coolant hose to make it maximally awkward to get to. The 5432 isn’t actually a model number, because it does not uniquely specify the model of the engine. There are at least two variants: ones with a cast oil-pan and ones with a stamped oil-pan. The one on the Gulf 32 (at least on “Gulf Winds”) is cast. The important difference is that the cast version uses just 8 litres of oil (I think the spec is 8.5 quarts, and 8 litre = 8.5 quarts). The stamped version uses something like 11.5 quarts, so it’s quite a big difference.
I used a “Sea Dog” electric oil pump from Canadian Tire. The wires and tubes it came with are too short, so I extended the wires by about 2 m (six feet). There is no place to put the pump down, and it vibrates enough when running to not stay put in any case. Getting the inlet tube down the dipstick hole was easy, but the bottom of the oil pan was hard to find. There wasn’t a definite “stop”, as I think the tube tended to curl up as it hit the bottom. But with care you should be able to feel it. I found holding the tube right where it feeds into the block was best.
When running, the pump vibrates and the outlet tube shakes like a drunk after two days sober, spattering oil all over the place if it gets away from you and jumps out of the container you’re draining things into. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Draining the oil took ten or fifteen minutes. Then came getting the oil filter off.
As I mentioned, the oil filter is at the stern and on your left as you face the engine. It’s also down below some cables and hoses. But that isn’t the best part. The best part is that it’s impossible to get a modern strap wrench on because there is a flange running along the block adjacent to it that has less than 1 mm clearance, as shown in the picture below:
Ubiquitous cell phone cameras must be the bane of marine designers, as they make it so easy to see and show others design choices like this one. Even given that after a few years you get pretty good at figuring out what you’re “seeing” with your fingers, it’s nice to be able to validate that with an actual image.
There are strap wrenches with steel bands, or there use to be back in the ’70′s, but most of them today have rubber straps that are too thick to fit into such a small gap. Therefore getting the oil filter off the Gulf 32 has to be done the old fashion way, by pounding a screwdriver through the sheet metal and using that as a lever. The thing will spill oil all over the place when it comes off, so I cut down a plastic juice container as a catcher underneath, which worked pretty well.
The good people at FRAM, bless them, are now selling replacement filters that have a rough coating on the top end, which may make the next change a lot easier, as it will be possible to grip it and twist, if you’re a) left handed or ambidextrous and b) your hands are unusually large and strong.
The new filter went on easily in the usual way, and the previous owner had included a nice wide-spout funnel as part of the boat’s equipment that made the refill very easy. I used MotoMaster 30 weight heavy duty oil, and after a fill, run and top-up it took about 8 litres, as expected. It’s always nice when as much goes in as you took out.
The fuel filter was much easier to get off, but getting the bleed screw out was painful. Again working left handed, it was just possible to get a socket on it with a universal joint attachment. The normal ~2″ extender was too long (it hit the header thoughtfully placed above) and without an extender the wrench couldn’t be turned. Once loosened it was possible to get the bolt out with my fingers, and running the electric fuel pump for quite a long time eventually refilled the system. Don’t forget to open the bleed screw on the injector pump (I did.)
After the fuel system was primed I ran the engine for 15 minutes or so, and it all worked, so that was good.
Changing the transmission oil was much easier. The 3/4 bolt on the right side when facing the stern is actually the top of the dipstick. The capacity for the HBW150 is 560 ml, and I found that about 60 ml stayed behind after pump-out, so 500 ml new Type A ATF should work just fine. I actually over-filled it and had to pump a bit back out. As ever, “HBW150″ is not actually a model number: there is an “A” and a “V” version. My boat has the “A” version, but the “V” takes 1.05 liters of fluid.
I found the following items really useful:
The gloves weren’t so valuable, as most of the stuff was done bare-handed. Number of tools dropped in the bilge: 0. So I count that as a win. But the narrow funnel for filling the transmission, the wide funnel for filling the engine and the cut-down juice container for catching stray oil were all valuable, as was the measuring cup.
It takes time to get to know a new engine, and I’m writing this in the hope that it’ll be useful to other sailors who don’t want to pay someone else to do maintenance for them, but who may not be familiar with the Universal 32, which are pretty common on boats of a certain age.