We went our for a late fall cruise this afternoon in our '67 Commander 31 with 327F's (900 hrs). The boat was running great at 3100 rpm's / 22.6 mpg. for a mile or two when I noticed the port engine rpm's dropping. Within another 1/4 mile or so it was loosing power and oil pressure dramatically! I also thought I heard a couple of "backfire" type noises, but they seemed to be coming from the FRONT of the engine room area (like just forward of my feet at the helm).

I shut it down immediately and we limped back in on the starboard engine. The engine never overheated (160 max) and when I checked, the oil level was only down 1/2 qt. or so.

I anxiously invite any "arm-chair quarter back" speculation before I call the yard in the morning. Thanks!!

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What you are describing now does sound timing/electrical or fuel related. I cannot figure the dramatic loss of oil pressure you originally described. Could the oil pressure gauges have lost power intermitently as well --hence reading close to/zero?

Greg, you ask for answers, stick around, you get your answers with questions ;-)

Tim, I confess I don't know if I have Pertronix or not. I switched distributors with ones from Robert Henkle and we (the yard) put in electronic ignitions when I first got the boat. Anyway, this is all sounding more encouraging than it was a week ago!

I appreciate all of your patience with me! As you can tell I'm a complete idiot when it comes to engines. Having been a competitive sailboat racer my whole life, this motor thing is quite baffling. I have neither the time, talent, tools nor temperament to do my own engine work. Your willingness to tolerate me is appreciated! 

Now cosmetic work... that I "get".

Greg, I had a 21 San Juan and a 15' fishing boat when I bought the 35.  The San Juan was moored with a group of  Comet and Lightning competition so don't feel alone.  The reason I asked about the Pertronix is that it is often a solution of mechanics but it has so many failure modes I don't trust them.  I do like fully electronic ignitions but doubt that is what you have especially with the reported symptoms.  If the distributors still have the cable tach drives I would guess Pertronix or similar.  If you don't have the tach drives then they may be fully electronic but the ignition problems are suspect.  New wires, new plugs then?  Keep the faith.


PS, I was the Commodore of the Fleet That Never Sailed.  Portage de Sioux, MO 1993

You're probably right Tim. The tachs are still original, they even have that sticky cable bounce. We'll get this sorted out over the winter... the boat comes out next week up here in the Frozen Tundra.

PS: Over 30 years of Tuesday nite beer-can racing, 8 Chicago to Mac races, etc. But I swear sometimes this big engine stuff is way more intimidating!

Oh yeah, no current no floods, no need to tack every 1/2 mile or less, no barges, no mindless powerboaters!  Lightweight sailing ;-)  http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/Portals/48/docs/Nav/NavigationCharts/...

Harbor was above Portage light.  Bluffs on the opposite side >100'  when not in flood somewhere on the above lock and dams the current was around 2 knots if gates were open below, current ~5-6 knots.  Good news, current drops white capping to >15 mph wind from west or east. 

Tim, I can't even imagine trying to sail in those tight quarters with 5-6 knot currents. No wonder the fleet "Never Sailed!"

Mystery solved this morning. Turns out it WAS sticking parts in the distributor. Repair parts on order but won't be in before the boat gets pulled for the year. So our season is over, we'll address this during lay-up. 

In a way I'm relieved to have the boat on the hard for a while. We've had our share of drama this year... ;)

Fleet that never sailed, link for reason. https://tinyurl.com/yau6qx5u

As we say about our sports teams, "Wait 'til next year."

Good luck

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