Diesel Engine Fundamentals

In this two-part online class series, dive into the heart of diesel engine fundamentals where we will cover core maintenance tasks that can be undertaken by every boat owner (and some that can not), while also uncovering advanced and essential troubleshooting techniques.

2x 90 Min Sessions English Unlimited Access

If properly installed and maintained, diesel engines are remarkably reliable - and almost all problems are self-inflicted due to neglect. In this online class we journey into the world of marine diesel engines. Delve into the nuances of proper maintenance and upkeep, both suitable and unsuitable for boat owners, and learn troubleshooting tips and tricks from our experts, Nigel Calder & Jan Athenstadt of BoatHowTo.com, for navigating any unforeseen hurdles that may arise on and off the water.

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This course is for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of a diesel engine (and who does not mind getting their hands a little dirty). While a basic familiarity with engine components and prior experience with fundamental tools may be beneficial, they are not a necessity for this online class.


Learn how to save money and ensure engine reliability by keeping up with essential maintenance for marine diesel engines. Discover how to identify common problems and the symptoms associated with them while learning simple troubleshooting procedures and fixes that are within the capability of most boat owners. Finally, we address systems and procedures that should be left to professional mechanics.


  • The critical importance of clean fuel
  • Oil changes with minimal mess
  • Raw and freshwater cooling system maintenance
  • Heat exchangers and sacrificial anodes
  • From air inlets to exhausts
  • Common problem symptoms
  • Simple troubleshooting procedures and fixes for many common problems


FOUNDER, BoatHowTo.com

Nigel Calder and his wife, Terrie, have built or owned a succession of boats on which they have cruised extensively in the Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe with Pippin (now aged 38) and Paul (37) augmenting the crew along the way. For decades Nigel has experimented with advanced electrical and propulsion systems, with funding from the European Union, the UK government, and a large U.S. corporation. Nigel has partnered with OceanPlanet Energy in Bath, Maine, to continue development of advanced solar panels, alternators and controllers. Nigel is a thirty-year veteran of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) which writes the standards for recreational boat electrical systems. He is best known for his Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, now in its 4th edition, and his Marine Diesel Engines, in its 3rd edition.

In addition to hundreds of magazine articles, he has also authored a Cruising Guide to the Northwest Caribbean, Cuba: A Cruising Guide, Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook, How to Read a Nautical Chart, and a memoir of his family’s first long cruise titled Shakedown Cruise. His most recent venture is a partnership to provide detailed and accurate online marine technical education at www.BoatHowTo.com. Currently available are courses in Basic Marine Electrics (BE 101) and Advanced Marine Electrics. Soon to be released is a course on Diesel Engine Maintenance.

CO-FOUNDER, BoatHowTo.com

Jan co-founded BoatHowTo.com with Nigel to share comprehensive knowledge about boat electrics and mechanics with a broader audience. Holding a PhD in computer science, Jan brings valuable expertise to this online class as a moderator. His experience as a full-time liveaboard and operator of an online boat supplies shop in Germany will add practical insights to the discussion.