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Old 01-17-2010, 06:38 AM   #1
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Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Assuming 120 - 300hp, twins for trawler speed - Which engines do you covet, have great reputations and enhance a boats value? Which ones have idiosyncrasies or are more difficult or expensive to maintain? And which ones are deal killers that would turn you away from a perspective boat?

Having been a go-fast gas boat owner for decades who knows those engines inside and out, as I begin my transition to the go-slow world, the only diesel I've experienced is the Cummins in my truck - which seems to be pretty bulletproof.

Would love to hear others views and experiences. Thanks.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:04 AM   #2
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Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

I'm standing by to hear this discussion as well.Great thread starter.
boatdiesel.com has some good info.


I doubt there are any "bad" diesels out there, but I'm interested to hear others experience.


But, would the make of a diesel engine make an otherwise perfect boat a no deal????


-- Edited by timjet on Sunday 17th of January 2010 08:05:43 AM

-- Edited by timjet on Sunday 17th of January 2010 08:08:49 AM
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:14 AM   #3
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

From what I have heard, there ARE a few duds out there. 'Lemons'. The only experience I have so far is my Perkins 130. It seems to be a good solid motor that is found in a large number of boats, as is the Lehman (made by Ford). That being said, parts for my Perkins aren't that easy to find and don't populate the shevles of the marine supply stores. There are a few different versions of the same engine, so when I go for parts, I usually have to come armed with my block's serial number.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:57 AM   #4
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

From my personal experience on my prior trawler I had Perkins 6.354's. Great engines as far as reliability and economy, however parts can at times be problematic. I was able to locate through various forums a number of suppliers. I now have Perkins 4.236 on my current boat and with only 1400 hrs starts at the push of a button.

Having worked in a chandlery for a short period of time I will say that Volvo parts are very expensive. While the engines may be fine, from a maintenance standpoint this must be taken into account.

No personal experience with Lehman's, Cats, Cummins, Lugger, etc. but from everything I've read these seem to be the engines of choice.
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:16 AM   #5
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Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Good diesels in used boats are largely determined by prior owner diligence and care. Go through their log and maintenance books. Proper HX maintenance is a must.* Does the boat have a good fuel filter system* or is it a jury rigged mess.**A boat survey is also great to do because it will tell among other things if the boat can reach WOT. If not with the current props, be careful.* The cleanliness and appearance of the ER is another clue as to is it a good diesel.

All of the above are irresepctive of paint color. For brand info, yes, go to boat diesel .com. Me, I have*avoided serious consideration of smokey Volvos, certain SN Yanmars and DD 8.2s.* I'll stop there lest this become Ford vs Chevy, drip vs dripless, washer dryer yes or no, twins vs singles or Infiniti vs Mercedes (no contest there by the way(.


-- Edited by sunchaser on Sunday 17th of January 2010 09:17:50 AM
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:26 AM   #6
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

My favorite:

Ford Lehmans(Naturally aspirated), Lugger, Cat 3208(NA), Deere

One notch down:

Cummins(6BT), Yanmar, Perkins, other Cats, Detroits, Isuzu

Dealbreaker:

Volvo, bastard offbrands

I will say that all of the ones in the second group are good engines. Cummins in a slow displacement application I have no problem with. It is when more is asked of them. That 6BT engine was boosted all the way to over 400hp(NA it is 115hp). 210hp and below in a non-planing application, it is fine. Yanmars I love but they are usually high revving which makes them a little noisier. Perkins are excellent engines and run forever but they are usually a little dirty...they all seem to leak a little bit. Detroits....excellent engines but dirty loud and thirsty. Isuzu is somewhat of a bastard but probably one of the best engines out there....dunno how hard the parts are to get. I have seen them in water taxi operations with 30,000 hours on them and going strong(obviously well maintained).

My wife works at a yacht service company. SO when I consider boats, not only do I have to appeal to her girly touchy feely senses, she knows enough about engines that they have to pass muster with her as well. And Volvos are an instant NO-NO in her book. SO they are in mine by default.

I am sure there are many that I am leaving out but that is what pops into my head at this moment.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:30 AM   #7
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

The brand name is of less importance than the condition and age of the engine.

Older designs had lower injection pressure than modern designs, so were much smokier. Part of the reason some engines have a reputation for being smoky, is their longevity. Take any boat built in the early 70s and start it up cold. If it has no smoke, it has been repowered.

Parts accessibility is also related to the need to keep those parts in stock. Less demand and the chandler will not stock the part, necessitating higher shipping cost to get it for you in a hurry when you really need it. Most diesels need parts very rarely, so the cost of parts really shouldn't figure into your decision unless you are looking at an old boat that has never been properly maintained.

Boatdiesel.com will get you the technical information you want, if you take a membership. Some of teh contributors their earn their living fixing diesels, so there won't be an engine they don't know.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:52 AM   #8
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Great responses, thanks. Interesting that my "gut" feeling from reading blogs, forums, magazine articles and talking with boat owners was very similar to John's list. So far it seems my preference would be for a set of Lehman 135's. I'm going to look at this Defever with a set in a few weeks (http://www.whiteakeryachtsales.com/1...-TAR-BABY.aspx) if it had Volvo's I's still want to look at it but be less interested.

And I do agree with you Keith that condition and age are more important.

I remember reading somewhere about a specific model Cat motor that is notorious for breaking the original motor mounts that Cat spec'ed but I can't recall the specific model - anyone know which one I'm referring to? Thanks.
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:24 AM   #9
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Quote:
Theta wrote:

Assuming 120 - 300hp, twins for trawler speed - Which engines do you covet, have great reputations and enhance a boats value?
Other responses have covered the "depends on how the engines were treated by the previous owner" aspect, which is for the most part more important than the brand.

But based on my observation and limited experience, the brands and/or models I favor in terms of reliability, serviceabiity, etc. are (not in order of preference):

Ford Lehman 120.* (The FL135 is a more trouble-prone engine relatively speaking--- it is not based on the same engine as the FL120.)

Lugger, 6-cylinder, NA.

Detroit 6-71

Deere

I would not buy a boat in the 32 to 46 foot range with a 4-cylinder engine or a V-8 (or a pair of either one) of any make.
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Old 01-17-2010, 12:10 PM   #10
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Baker* My Perkins Sabres are the cleanest diesels you could ask for. Not one drop anywhere. Cat uses same engine painted yellow AKA as 3056. CCV system works perfectly.
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Old 01-17-2010, 01:19 PM   #11
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

I am not quite ready to put the Deere on my list as they are to new.* The reason they are popular is there is no other straight 6 or 8 cylinder.* I think the Lugger uses the Deere engine block, so Deere started marketing direct.* DD and Cat are the engines in the large hp.* Parts and service availablity in your area is also an important factor.*
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Old 01-17-2010, 03:02 PM   #12
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Whoa Marin,
135's more prone to trouble than 120's? Where did that come from?
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:41 AM   #13
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

I was preparing to make an offer on a '86 Vista 40 powered by twin 165 HP Volvo's. We intended to use the boat around the SW Florida area with the anticipation of doing the loop in a couple of years. After reading the opinions of folks on this forum and from a friend with years of experience on boats of this size, I've decided the Volvo's are too risky. Though I believe the Volvo's are good reliable engines, the cost to repair them is just too much. The consensus is Volvo parts are expensive and hard to find and so are the mechanics.

The last thing I want is to be in some remote location on the loop and having to hire a mechanic to drive 200 miles to repair my pride and joy and waiting 3 weeks for a part and waiting (and paying) the mechanic to drive back and fix it.

If anyone doubts the possibility of this happening read Chapter 4 of Honey, Let's Get a Boat by Ron Stob, the story of a CA couple who bought a 40' Kha Shing solely to do the loop. The boat powered by Volvo's was not properly surveyed. This also highlights the reason not to use a surveyor recommended by the broker.

I will also post this rambling on the thread When is a engine too small, since I think it is relevant there.
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:18 AM   #14
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Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Tim, I read that chapter as well - I've also read many blogs and seen similar stories with other engines and drive train parts. I guess it comes down to the luck of the draw as to what breaks and where it happens. That being said, with the research (read: no practical experience) I've done, I think I will shy away from the Volvo's as well. There is just so much inventory out there right now I believe buyers can be choosy. Lehmans will be my first choice but I won't shy away from Perkins, Deere (Lugger), DD, Cat, Yanmar and Cummins - as long as the prior owner has given them the love they deserve.

BTW were you looking at "High Life" in Ft. Meyers?

-- Edited by Theta on Monday 18th of January 2010 08:29:29 AM
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:46 AM   #15
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Theta,

Yes I was looking at High Life. PM me and I'll give you additional details
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Old 01-18-2010, 07:47 AM   #16
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Sometimes it's luck, but sometimes it's trust. Don't discount one or the other based on a few posts on a web forum. Do the research and ask professionals in the field. No matter what people say their credentials are, they are still subject to distant objectivity. Ask for the names of the mechanics in the area that have worked on the boat in question or ask a nearby parts store how readily available parts are. I see a lot of ads for marine diesel services and most, if not all, say they service Volvo. It's a popular brand. There's probably a reason for that.

One more note on trust. While the idea and principal of not using a surveyor that is recommended by the broker seems logical, there can be limited options in some markets. In Eastern NC, there aren't a lot of choices. So in my case, since I had a very good relationship with the broker, I trusted him to steer me the right way. He did. The broker has a good reason to not screw you. You will want to come back again when your needs or wants change. That comes back to the smaller market of this area. Competition is high for the limited number of sales made compared to other areas of the country. I am now friends with our broker, will recommend him highly to any buyers I meet and surely use him again when the time comes.

So if you trust your broker, there is no reason to not take his/her advice in some areas of the sale. That's all I'm sayin'.
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:31 AM   #17
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Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Sloboat** Many of the trawers want a low hp natural engine*with a slim/narrow profile engine, especially if twins.**I can walk around, well actaully I have to climb over the shaft*guard,*our single 671, so working on and getting to is a*easy even for the 200+ lbs guys.** (-;

If you are going to use a bank/finance,*they have a prefered surveyor list that they work with.* I would also would not use a surveyor recomended by the broker if possible.**

-- Edited by Phil Fill on Monday 18th of January 2010 09:35:00 AM
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:24 AM   #18
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Quote:
Forkliftt wrote:

Whoa Marin,
135's more prone to trouble than 120's? Where did that come from?
From the Grand Banks owners forum and from the diesel shop we use.* I'm not saying the FL135 is an unreliable engine by any means.* But they apparently can develop problems that tend not to develop with the FL120.

*
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:35 AM   #19
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Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

Quote:
oldfishboat wrote:Ya Marin its a 4 cylinder !
I don't favor 4-cylinder engines because of any inherent reliability problems.* I've had some vehicles with four-cylinder engines, including a 1973 Land Rover I bought new and still drive today, and have had no trouble with them.* But a 4-cylinder is inherently unbalanced and generates more vibration.* An in-line six is a very balanced and smooth cylinder arrangement--- about the only thing better is a V-12.

*

I have nothing against V-8s other than the space they take up width-wise, which in the engine room of a typical trawler-type boat up to about 42 or 46 feet means it's usually more awkward and time-consuming to service or maintain the engines as opposed to having a pair of in-line engines.* I have a good friend who owned a converted fireboat with a pair of Detroit 8V-71s and they were great engines, albeit pretty noisy.* But that boat had tons of room around each engine in a stand-up engine room with no obstructions around the engines like through-hulls, plumbing, pumps, etc. to hinder engine access.

A boat with a single V-8 would not have have the access issues of a twin.



-- Edited by Marin on Monday 18th of January 2010 02:45:44 PM
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:32 PM   #20
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RE: Diesel Engines - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly?

It's my belief that most diesels will be fairly reliable given proper maintenance, and that's a big one.* Are you going to be able to properly service an engine with restricted access?* Sure it can be done, but the chances (and cost) of it getting done are in direct proportion to the ease of access.* When I was last boat shopping, I looked at a couple twin v8 instillation's, and almost universally, access to the outboard side of the engines was extremely limited.* What I found was that componants on that side were ignored for the most part.* With my flashlight and mirror, I saw rust, oil leaks, cracked wiring and general disregard for inspection and maintenance.* On the other hand, the inboard sides of the engines looked far better. One boat had mirror tiles glued to the fuel tanks, allowing at least a minimal view of the sides of the engine. There was no way I was going to buy a boat that would require me to loosen engine mounts and the couplings in* order to remove the starter, fuel pump or other parts.* We have twin Perkins,(parts have been easy to find by the way) and despite my large size, I'm still able to squeeze into the outboard sides for maintenance, and simply seeing that side is pretty easy too.* I tend to take stuff apart for inspection far before failure, such as starters, alternators, and most recently my windlass.* Lack of access almost guarantees this won't happen.* The areas we cruise in Alaska don't forgive sloppy maintenance, and lack of access makes this really easy to ignore. ** ...............Arctic Traveller
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