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This page updated:
September 2006

David Pascoe's "Exhaust Risers"
BoatU.S.'s "Exhaust Manifolds"

See "The Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual" by Nigel Calder.

Types of exhaust systems:

Some systems are a combination of these types. My Perkins 6.354 engine has a water-jacketed exhaust manifold, then a dry riser, then an elbow that mixes water and gas, which then runs downhill and out.

A dry riser is cheap (it's just a pipe), and avoids the possibility of a failure in a water-jacketed riser that could leak water down into the cylinders.

The water-jacketed exhaust manifold could fail and leak water down into the cylinders. I'm thinking of installing a manual drain valve to drain water out of it after stopping the engine.

From Mo Girard's "Spring Check Up":
You should visibly inspect the entire length of the exhaust hoses, the through-hull fittings, and any other components such as mufflers, elbows, or straight pipes for any signs of wear, corrosion, or leaks. You can usually spot even a very small leak by looking for an outcropping of salt crystals or a deposit of white powder. This is a guaranteed sign that a small leak has developed and needs to be addressed. The salt is a clue even if the leak is only present under pressure when the engine is running.

From Norm on The Live-Aboard List:
... the best thermo device aboard is also the cheapest (about $10) and simplest. It is a normally open thermoswitch [Therm-O_Disc brand fan control switch made by White Rodgers; Grainger part number 2E246] held against the rubber exhaust hose with a spring around the hose. The switch closes at 120 degrees. On the genset it shuts down the engine. On the main engine it rings a bell. The rubber hose is the first thing that gets too hot if you lose seawater flow, the primary cause of overheating on my engines. It has shut down the genset three times so far due to plugged sea suction strainer or thruhull. I cleaned out the debris and was off and running again. Without that little switch it would have meant three exhaust hose replacements, not a fun day. Before the switch was installed I burned up a main engine hose. It is 5" id and twenty feet long. It was not a fun day.

From Norm on The Live-Aboard List:
I have had a temperature sensor on my (water-cooled) exhaust hose on my 8 KW genset for many years and it has saved my butt many times.

It consists of a normally-open Klixon-type thermoswitch, used by the HVAC industry, that closes at 120 deg F. It is a small button device with two wings to take sheet metal screws mounting into 3/4" hole in a duct. There are two push-on 1/4" quick connectors. I attached the switch to the rubber exhaust hose about three inches from the water injection point using a spring from one mounting tab, around the hose to the other mounting tab to hold the button against the hose. One electrical connection goes to ground, the other to the oil low pressure/block high temp line.

When (not "if") the seawater flow is inadequate to keep the hose below 120 deg F, the genset shuts down. Without this shutdown, it often happens that the rubber exhaust hose is damaged. In the case of sudden water loss, the block will not heat up fast enough for the block high-temp switch to shut down the engine before the exhaust hose is damaged.

I had this happen on my main engine once. That hose is 5" x 20', expensive and a pain to replace.

The switch on the genset exhaust hose has shut it down at least a half-dozen times, enabling me to fix the problem without damage to the exhaust hose.

From John Dunsmoor:
[Re: redesigning the exhaust system:]

It is an exhaust system NOT brain surgery.

The only reason you have water injection is to cool the exhaust. So all the plumbing is nearly a damn foolish exercise in the first place.

At the same time the largest threat is getting water back into the engine causing considerable damage.

Gravity ... for the most part water runs downhill. Mounting the engine below the exhaust outlet is dangerous, and done all the time.

Hydrolift exhaust system, doing everything wrong and getting away with it.

Custom stainless exhaust riser-and-elbow ... twelve hundred dollars ... what bullsh*t. These guys think they are brain surgeons.

You could build what you need out of galvanized steel from your local plumbing store for $35 and it would work just fine, for years. In the old days that is just what you had: IRON, not stainless or aluminum.

Lots of elbows are made out of aluminum. Problems: hot, corrosive, salt water, coupled with dissimilar metals, and just the softness of aluminum and they die. This can be especially true for poor-quality castings that might not have the molecular durability of an extruded piece of material.

These elements can be the same for bronze, but less so.

You're a smart, thoughtful, careful, engineer type of person. Get a flashlight, a sketch pad, a glass of ice tea and just think it out. What you have is there due to elements such as availability of parts, what the engine came with, the way we always did it, where the cabinet work is ... sometimes last on the list is getting exhaust out of the boat.

Westsail 43 did away with the long run for the exhaust and ported right out the side of the boat. This took a normal run of twenty feet and turned into three.

From Stuart Burgess:
A couple of hints in the metal-working department. DON'T use marine fabricators. They are a complete rip-off. Stainless 316 and aluminium tubing is very cheap to buy. Phone a metal stockholder and you will find that they will have bends and shapes and tube in stock and may even let you nosey about in their warehouse. Buy yourself a top-quality metal hacksaw and top-quality blades for cutting stainless. Then with your cheap collection of tubing and bends, cut these by hand until you get the shape and size you need.

Mark each piece where it needs to be welded to the next piece (I use tipex for this). Then phone around and find a firm or someone who TIG welds agriculture/food machinery (this is 316 stainless mostly) and ask them to weld it for you. It will cost you peanuts.

I was quoted 700 to produce a new stainless high riser off my exhaust manifold with a water injection inlet.

I bought all the stainless from a stockholder for 20 and had it welded after I cut it to shape, for 40! In fact I bought so many bends I fabricated a spare one just in case.

If your exhaust looks bad/ropey, it will actually be much worse than its initial appearance and you should replace it. It's a simple matter to weld a stainless exhaust onto a cast manifold plate if you want to replace it in stainless, using a TIG welder.

From article by Aussie Bray in 8/2003 issue of Sail magazine:

Idea from Roy Cecil:
To make a cheap elbow on top of a dry riser:

The riser is a vertical pipe; at the top, another pipe attaches at 90 degrees, and runs downhill to stern.

At that top point, join the pipes with a tee-fitting, where the middle part of the tee attaches to the riser pipe.

On the uphill (empty) part of the tee, insert a smaller pipe, letting it run entirely through the body of the tee and out into the downhill pipe. The first few uphill-end inches of the outside of that smaller pipe have to be threaded to seal onto the tee. You'll need a reducing plug, because the smaller pipe has to be significantly narrower than the tee and downhill pipe.

Clamp the seawater hose to the uphill end of that smaller pipe.

Now the tee and smaller pipe form an elbow, with the water being injected past the tee and in the downhill section. No welding or custom part needed, just some threading.

You could put some kind of nozzle on the end of the smaller pipe, to make the water spray out and mix well with the gasses.

My experience:
I replaced my leaking $1300 stainless-steel wet riser with a $250 galvanized-pipe dry riser.

The dry riser works fine, doesn't sound louder, is simpler, will be cheap to repair, and gives me confidence that water will never run back into my cylinders. But it gets very hot. There is a bit of odor, and I don't know if it's exhaust gas leaking, or paint being burned off (I used high-temp paint on it). And since I did it, I've heard that galvanized pipe emits bad fumes under high temperature; maybe I should have used plain steel pipe or something else.

As of 2/2012, the dry riser has worked fine for 9 years. I'm happy with it.

Barr Marine
Buck Algonquin
Sierra Marine
Stainless Marine
Water-lift canisters:
Nauqualift Silencers at Boatman's I-Net Marine
Centek (available from West Marine)