Caterpillar won't release engine records

Discussion in 'Diesel Engines/Drives/Transmissions/Props' started by Arickosmo, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. Arickosmo

    Arickosmo Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Middle Coast
    2003 400DB
    Mercruiser 8.1L
    Well I am trying to get some information on a 1998 400 Sedan Bridge and can't get records on the engines. Sure I'll get them at the time of the survey ($1000+) but if I had them in advance I'd feel alot better. So strange that I can't have that kind of information. I have the serial numbers but no one wants to tell me the history incase it sours the kidding, nice to know prior to buying a survey. I know this, if the survey comes back bad, I'm publishing it since they wouldn't let me see records prior.
  2. skolbe

    skolbe Active Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    St. Louis, MO
    320 Sundancer, Mercury 310 Sport Inflatable Tohatsu 6HP
    350 Mag V-Drive - Kohler 5ecd
    Can't the current owner get them for you?
  3. Bt Doctur

    Bt Doctur Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2010
    New Jersey
    Ex SRV 240 Weekender twin
    in between
    No record access= walk away
  4. tdschafer

    tdschafer Well-Known Member

    Aug 24, 2009
    Long island , NY
    1997 330 sundancer
    twin 454's, Carb, V-Drives

    Sent from my SM-J320V using Tapatalk
  5. Woody

    Woody Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Nov 20, 2007
    N. Wisconsin/Lk Superior
    2005 420DA
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    Who is it that you are asking?
  6. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    I think you will be disappointed when you get whatever records Caterpillar can furnish. Caterpillar only retains records that are warranty claims, your engines re well out of warranty so the records may not have been retained, Next, the Caterpillar dealer who may have done the service and routine maintenance may have those work orders, but they are not owned or controlled by Caterpillar so they may have a policy of not releasing records to anyone but their customer who paid for the service. To complicate things even further, if the previous owner took the boat to a Sea Ray dealer for service, that dealer may have some service records, but will likely have only totals but may not not have the details on subcontracted work, as in if they called in a diesel service company to do the diesel related work. Lastly, if the previous owner(s) used an independent diesel service company for service and repairs, in that case, it is very likely that only the owner will have the details.

    Rebuilding the service history is probably a waste of time because the path to the total picture can be so convoluted. If it is available from the previous owner, then ask for it. If he can't produce the service history, it says more about the previous owner's attention to detail and keeping up with his boat that it says about the condition of the boat. The survey and fluid analyses are the gold standard in doing your due diligence……….you are interested in the engine's condition now, the fact that there is no record of an oil change 19 years ago isn't really material is it?

    If you are looking for a a service history red flag, ask the surveyor to look for evidence that the engine overheads were reset at about 250 hours (scarred paint on the valve cover bolts, noisy valves) and be sure he includes the coolant in the fluid samples he collects.

    Don't lose sleep over this…..move on.


    Jan 4, 2017
    Solomons Island Maryland
    SeaRay 400 sedan bridge
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    Nothing easy about buying a used boat. Went through roughly the same thing you are going through. Even if you get the records that does not mean there won't be issues. The previous owner of the boat we just purchased did all his own maintenance. Thought he was a diesel mechanic, at the sea trial both head gaskets had leaks and had high intake temps. ( cummins 8.3l ). come to find out he had the after cooler bundles in backwards and denied the head gasket leaks ( even after showing him video taken at the sea trial ).Long story short it all worked out eventually. So with that being said it is well worth the $$$ for the survey even with the records. I would suggest an engine survey in addition to the hull/systems survey. Better to send $1000.00 when talking $100,000+ purchase price
  8. hakunamatata

    hakunamatata Member SILVER Sponsor

    Aug 18, 2015
    Southport Marina - Kenosha WI - Lake Michigan
    410 Sundancer
    Caterpillar 3126
    Agreed with everything Frank has said here. If you really like the boat and PO doesn't have records, or wont provide, then take a chance and have the surveys done. This will reveal more about the boat then records from 2, 5, possibly longer will reveal. I'm currently working with the facility I purchased the boat through and PO to resolve some issues that popped up since I bought the boat. It was on the hard and couldn't get the mechanical survey done, and when this finally was able to happen, a couple of issues came up that we're working to address This is why I had money held back in escrow just for this reason.
  9. endless seas

    endless seas Active Member

    Feb 13, 2008
    1997 450 DA
    Cat 420
    Cat told me they only keep for 7 years.
  10. Arickosmo

    Arickosmo Member

    Apr 10, 2012
    Middle Coast
    2003 400DB
    Mercruiser 8.1L
    Thanks again guys. Excellent advice as always. I'm just shy about spending $1000 for the survey and a few days on the road to be there when it happens. I wish I had more info first. I'm sure he'll hand over the records at survey but I'd like to feel better about the drive to atlanta. It's the boat in Buford, GA on boat trader. I really wanted newer but this is our last effort for the season. I've had so much help from this forum and really appreciate it. Hopefully I'll be able to repay the favor. (I do still visit the 370DA section to see if I can help)

    Frank, it's funny you said don't lose sleep. That's what I did last night. I'm trying to loosen up but I did the same thing when I bought the 370DA outright. I tend to stress about it more than necessary.
  11. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2007 44DB
    Cummins QSC 8.3s
    Is this a 1998 400DB for sale by Singleton Marine?

  12. cwiert

    cwiert Active Member

    May 7, 2008
    Westbrook, CT
    1998 400 Sedan Bridge
    CAT 3116 - 350HP
    Hey there. I ran into a similar issue when I bought my boat 1.5 years ago. Cat wouldn't tell me anything. I kept calling different Cat dealers until one of them slipped up and told me me the info that no one else wanted to tell me. And like Frank said, I was disappointed. The "info" was that there was no records of recalls or warranty work. Gee, thanks. But I took it that no news to report was good news. I did end up getting the full maintenance report at the survey. But like you said, that was after I bought the survey.

    BTW - that boat looks like a carbon copy of mine.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
  13. Gofirstclass

    Gofirstclass Well-Known Member

    Apr 20, 2010
    Tri Cities, WA
    1995 550 Sedan Bridge,
    2010 Boston Whaler 130 Super Sport,
    1981 Boston Whaler 130 Sport,
    CAT 3406C's, 580hp.
    When I bought Beachcomber I had arranged to have the engine surveys done by the Cat mechanic who had maintained the boat under the prior owner's care. He told me over the phone prior to doing the sea trial and having the survey done that the owner had maintained the boat with an open wallet and that the only thing the engines and trannies ever needed was routine maintenance. There was NO record in Cat's computers of any warranty work done.
  14. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    I was able to get the last 5 or 6 years of maintenance records (yard bills) for my boat when I bought it recently. The boat was a trade in and the salesman that took it in on trade was able to contact the previous owner and the yard that did all the work on the boat to give me copies of all the invoices.
    As helpful as it was to know what was done and when it was done, it really didn't give me enough info to judge the condition of the motors when I was going through the purchase process so I paid for a separate survey of the engines.
    If you really like the boat, and it seems to run well, it is probably worth the gamble to have it surveyed, including survey of the motors by someone who knows Caterpillars.
  15. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    In reading thru the posts on this thread, it is a little concerning that many of you seem to look at an engine survey on a diesel boats as as last resort option. Please keep in mind that the engines in question will cost you about $30K each to replace. Missing a serious problem by not doing a survey can quickly turn your "good buy" into a project boat that you will never be able to get your money out of, assuming you can write a $30K (or $30K x2) for the repairs.

    A survey by a Caterpillar trained or experienced technician will take 4-6 hours and should include fluid analyses on engine lube oil, engine coolant and transmission lube oil, and a blow by test, if the mechanic sees any signs of excess blow-by. The cost should be $800-$1000 plus the fluid sample reports…..$14 at Caterpillar or oil; $23 for coolant.

    A clean bill of health or a solid reason to reject the boat for about $1000 ? …..seems like a real cheap investment in piece of mind to me. It is part of the cost of doing business at this level of boating and I would never buy a diesel boat without and engine survey.
  16. cwiert

    cwiert Active Member

    May 7, 2008
    Westbrook, CT
    1998 400 Sedan Bridge
    CAT 3116 - 350HP
    Wow. That certainly wasn't my experience when shopping for a engine survey. When I bought my boat in the Fall of '15, the only company that would come to do a survey on the CAT engines was HO Penn. And here is what their rates were and what it included:
    - A $2200 flat fee that includes all travel time and all fluid samples (8 total). Oil, trans fluid, coolant and genny oil.
    - The full-day survey includes visual inspection and sea trial.
    - In 24-72 hours you get a full report. And within the week you get the oil samples back.
    - They were pretty busy, and were booking 3-4 weeks out. They don’t do weekends.

    Other companies wouldn't come because they said it was HO Penn territory. The hull survey for my boat was $1200 and also included oil samples. At the time, I had just completed another hull survey for another boat that failed survey (another $1200), and another $2200 survey was not appealing. We decided (me, wife, and hull surveyor), that we would do the hull survey first. If anything raised a flag, we'd order the $2200 engine survey. We were already getting oil samples from the hull survey and we did the WOT RPM test for 5-10 minutes during the sea trial. The engines hit their 2800 RPM per spec, and we were satisfied with the results of the oil samples. It was also a 1-owner boat and all service work was handled by the upscale yard where it was kept. They provided me with a binder of all service records going back to 1998. I guess you could say we took a gamble. We weren't getting the warm and fuzzies from HO Penn anyway, so we took that chance.

    I'm not suggesting that the OP (or anyone) skip the engine survey. Hopefully he has better engine survey companies where he lives. My point is that not all engine surveys are 800-1000. If they were, we would have ordered one in a heartbeat.
  17. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    I know what is involved in a survey and it just isn't that much time. It is disheartening when a Cat dealer tries to hit a home run on a simple job that takes less than a day. We have heard of dealers even charging for truck rental, per diem expense rates of over $100, sending 2 men in 2 trucks for twice the hourly rate, twice the miles, twice the expenses, etc. when it really just takes one guy and a hand full of non specialty tools. The total bill for the last 2 surveys I was involved in (Texas coast and Tennessee lakes) was under $1000.

    To John's point re: HO Penn, I have friends in the CT are who have used them for years, but less so more recently. Their work is good, but their pricing seems to be getting more unreasonable as time goes by. For simpler tasks, the folks I know up there are using independent diesel mechanics more and more.
  18. cwiert

    cwiert Active Member

    May 7, 2008
    Westbrook, CT
    1998 400 Sedan Bridge
    CAT 3116 - 350HP
    Someone told me (and I think it was the sales rep who answered the phone when I called HO Penn), that HO Penn really isn't making a big effort to do marine work anymore. They have all they can handle with the earth-moving heavy equipment work. And to that point, they've been trying to price themselves out of the marine market. But when they're the only authorized CAT dealer around, that puts boat owners in a tough position.

    Anyway, apologies to the OP for getting off topic.
  19. Boatingnut

    Boatingnut Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Saugatuck, MI
    2001 Neptunus 56 Express
    3196 Cats
    I am in the middle of possibly purchasing a boat with Cats, and the owner had Cat release its records. They had the critical records I was looking for: Warranty work done in 2002 and the 1000 hour work in 2011. Some of the work was ordered via the marina, but once Cat had the engine serial numbers, all of this popped up.

    Cat just quoted me about 800.00 to 1000.00 dollars to perform all the work Frank listed above.
  20. swaterhouse

    swaterhouse Active Member

    Jan 7, 2015
    Mattapoisett, MA
    2007 Sundancer 44
    Cummins QSC 8.3
    Not to continue the off track discussions just wanted to add a couple data points.

    In our search 2 years ago we looked seriously at three 2007 44DA's. We only surveyed one but I got quotes to survey the others while we were in price negotiations all three were from the nearest Cummins dealer to the boat and included the same things - both engines and generator, sea trial, fluid samples (oil, coolant, transmission). The FL boat was $950, the one in Boston was $2500, the one in New York was $2600. I really think its a regional thing. In both northeast cases it was the "owner"/most senior mechanic performing the work, not sure who would have done the FL work. Possibly in areas that have longer boating seasons they have more staff members capable of that type of work.

    Back on track:
    To the OP - ask the broker if he can supply the records. Also, remember the survey allows you to renegotiate the deal. You can also do the hull survey first as mentioned and schedule the engines the following day(s). We arranged our survey so we did the out of water inspection first, then launched boat and the engine surveyor showed up an hour or so later. By the time the hull surveyor was ready for a sea trial the enging surveyor was as well. Both were instructed to let me know the minute they saw something they thought would be a deal breaker.

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