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Old 03-18-2019, 03:53 PM   #1
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Ford Lehman vs Cat 3208

We're considering two boats. Part of the decision comes down to the power plants.

Ford Lehman 2715E NA 120 HP, 3500 hrs, 1983 vintage. Installed in 40 ft Ocean Alexander.

Cat 3208 NA 210 HP, 3900 hrs, 1983 vintage. Installed in 42 ft Californian 42.

With the understanding that both boat's power plants are getting long in the tooth with respect to both years and hours I'm looking for experienced based opinions on these engines.

Reliability going forward. Availability of parts and service. Operating costs. And of course, rebuild costs should that be necessary.

Both are considered good engines by many. But I'm favoring the Ford Lehmans.

I haven't yet seen maintenance and repair records on either boat.

Thank you all for your input.
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Old 03-18-2019, 05:01 PM   #2
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I assume that these are both twins, right? And that you don't plan to use the extra power of the Cats.


Then my choice would be the straight six of the Lehmans. Decent engine access in a 40' boat but the Cat V8s would be tight.


Both are of about the same vintage. The Cats might have better OEM parts support but American Diesel can get you just about anything for the Lehmans. Both are solid engines.



David
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Old 03-18-2019, 05:17 PM   #3
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David,

Thank you for the reply. I'm thinking along those lines.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:01 PM   #4
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I may be biased since we own twin SP225s. I like the Lehmans because the hours you are quoting as nothing for a 120. The Cats are a good engine but donít seem to have as long a life as the Lehmans. But having said that I would not make the choice just on engines. I would pick the boat that best fits you and is in the best condition. Unless the Cats make maintenance difficult due to being V8s and thus being wider. The support from American Diesel is excellent.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:20 PM   #5
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Please remember that the Cat 3208 are NOT “sleeved” cylinders. Must yank the whole motor out of the boat for a rebuild.
That said, my last boat (DeFever) had 3208 T with 5100 hours are still going very strong! All depends on how they’re cared for.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:02 PM   #6
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Cat 3208’s need to run at a minimum 1500 rpms according to Cat. So if your goal is to go slow and save fuel you will be better off with the Lehman’s. If you want to have the option of going Seattle Friday Harbor in 3 hours or going through Deception Pass against the current then you want the Cat’s.

You will get better PNW service out of NC Machinery for the Cat’s than you will be able to get out of Lehman. NC knows how to use Kenmore to get parts flown to your boat.

Those hours are a non concern for either engine. Past maintenance will be far more important.
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:10 PM   #7
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Cat 3208ís need to run at a minimum 1500 rpms according to Cat.
If Caterpillar had written the manual for the Lehman, I suspect it would say the same thing.

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Old 03-18-2019, 10:41 PM   #8
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Go for the Ford, you will be tripping over the Cat 3208 in the process of getting there, that Cat is due for rebuild.
Got love a Detroit Diesel the longer you listen to one the quieter it will become !
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:05 AM   #9
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3900 hours on a 3208 natural is not even remotely due for a rebuild. I doubt you will ever in your life need to think about touching rings or sleeving cylinders due to wearing them out. Not in a natural, no way.

Either engine may have something break. Either can get parts. I have 3208 na, but also might entertain the straight six if it makes access easier. Never a fun day working on the blind outboard side of the engines.
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:14 AM   #10
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Also...I have run my 3208ís for long lengths of time at 1300-1400 rpm. Donít know if cat frowns, but I can find no empirical evidence of issues, even after going through a head last winter. No more carbon than usual, cylinders looked clean. They come fully up to temp and purr like a kitten at that speed. I use to burn the rings clean, but for the last 8 or 9 years, I just let em run. If Iím going to be picking up the pace, which I hardly do anymore, Iíll throttle in stages and let them clean up as they go. One of the nice things about naturals is no turbo to always clean up after. I suspect this is where the minimum rpm may come from. When I went to naturals, I never looked back and donít miss them.
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Old 03-19-2019, 05:57 AM   #11
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On engines that are nearly 4 decades old, multiple owners have likely caused some problems that will crop up. Climb around the ER on each and check for access for the hang on items.

If access not an issue, go for the best overall boat. And better than your Tolly 40. Personally, a Cummins repowered Tolly 44 would be a nice catch. They're out there.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:04 AM   #12
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Having had both, I like them equally on many points, most already made.


For engine room space if you don't need the ponies, then Lehman's have a nice advantage.


But the statements about earlier rebuids I would take with a grain of salt. I sold my 1988 3208Ts with 3500 hours 15 years ago and heard they were fine up till a few years ago. That was in a sportfish with much harder usage.


They dont seem to like low throttle settings unlike Lehman's, but after a day of slow speed trolling, a 15 minute hard run seemed to clean up the smoke exhaust just fine.
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:14 AM   #13
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3208 were built for speed, zoom-zoom, if you were going some were fast 3208 is your boy. Docks in Vancouver are full of them, you will be tripping over them while on a leisurely walk. Only cat I would have is a house cat, not a big fan! Best engine for a boat is Gardner hands down but where oh where can you get a Gardner.
DD's longer you listen to them the quieter they get !
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
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3900 hours on a 3208 natural is not even remotely due for a rebuild. I doubt you will ever in your life need to think about touching rings or sleeving cylinders due to wearing them out. Not in a natural, no way.

Either engine may have something break. Either can get parts. I have 3208 na, but also might entertain the straight six if it makes access easier. Never a fun day working on the blind outboard side of the engines.
The last 3208 I had was in a Ford tractor, pulling a 50' trailer. It had about 9,000 hours on it and when we sold the truck, it wasn't even close to needing any major work.
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:37 AM   #15
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7300 hours on our 3208NAs and still going strong. The only concern with the NAs are the wet cast iron risers need to be replaced every 6-10 years to prevent leaks into the engine.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
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3208 were built for speed, zoom-zoom, if you were going some were fast 3208 is your boy. Docks in Vancouver are full of them, you will be tripping over them while on a leisurely walk. Only cat I would have is a house cat, not a big fan! Best engine for a boat is Gardner hands down but where oh where can you get a Gardner.
DD's longer you listen to them the quieter they get !
I know a marine engineer with impressive credentials who would disagree with on your Gardner vote. And CAT 3208s powered a lot of fishing boats in their day...not all zoom zoom engines.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:54 AM   #17
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Thanks all for the responses! I apologize for not responding sooner.

I did quite a bit of reading on boatdiesel.com before posting my question here. I understand and agree with much of what you all have said. The 3208 NAs seem to be good reliable engines. However I favor the Lehman's for a number of reasons. One is the Tolly's big V8 gassers have taught me to hate having to deal with the outboard side of those engines.

As mentioned in your responses we'll make the final decision based on the better boat for our needs and deal with the power plants.

About the only thing I disagree with (in a good spirited way) is Ejdakins "DD's longer you listen to them the quieter they get !" Yeah, they get quieter cause your hearing goes away! I lost too much hearing to 12-71s early in my career. And I was too young and dumb to wear hearing protection. DD's for me are a love hate relationship. Gotta love 'em cause if you can get 'em to start they'll get ya home no matter how sick they are. And you can get a mechanic and bucket full of parts in any port. But, they're leaky and they're LOUD.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:38 PM   #18
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Both engines are great. I had them both on different boats. My choice is Lehmans all the way. Currently I have twin SP-225 on my boat. Can not say anything bad. Very simple yet extremely reliable engine. And support from American Diesel is absolutely the best. Most important it is you who will be enjoying one or the other. Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2019, 02:38 PM   #19
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My 2 cents and 40 yrs and 14 boats:
The Cat Vs. Lehman actually compares to DIFFERENT design and operating duty cycles.
Both have fine histories, depending on the vessel application AND how they are used. Only you will know what your expectations will be.

A SUMMARY, respectfully submitted for your consideration is:
My bias is for LEHMAN for 3 reasons; it represents a proven history for reliability and durability commensurate with the lowest operating cost per hour.

A V8 configured Cat is generally disadvantaged in the last category.
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:22 PM   #20
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The Lehmans require that oil in the injection pumps be changed at intervals ranging from 50 hrs to 200 hrs, depending on which manual you have and who you talk to. This means climbing around to the outboard side of the starboard engine or paying someone to do it. The 40’ OA Europa has pretty good access, I don’t know about the aft cabin.
Not all brokers know the difference between a 120 and a 135 and that year could have either, or even one of each. The 135 does not have the injector pump oil change requirement.
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