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Old 05-20-2019, 07:49 PM   #1
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Volvo Engine

I am looking at a 1988, 40 ft trawler with twin Volvo TMD41A engines, 3000 hrs
Looking for advise on reliability and longevity. Thanks
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Old 05-21-2019, 06:10 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misssjody View Post
I am looking at a 1988, 40 ft trawler with twin Volvo TMD41A engines, 3000 hrs

Looking for advise on reliability and longevity. Thanks


OK you will get a lot of conversation here . . . I have these engines (DeFever 41T, 1988 w/Volvo TAMD 41A Engines) with a few more hours. The beef is that upon cranking they do not have an efficient fuel burn until they heat up, thus emit “smoke” (mainly mist of unspent fuel). This can be annoying with no wind in a marina environment, you can read many remedies from adding engine heaters, etc. parts as you might imagine can be difficult to find, thus expensive. That being said, my experience has been positive, always crank (and run) fuel efficient, easy to work on (not loaded with electronics/computer chips), etc. Are there better more modern engines, absolutely, but 3,000 hours on these (or most any diesel) engines is nothing. Keep fluids, zincs, impellers changed, find a good local diesel mechanic and once your engine surveyor approves the engines prior to purchase wear them out . . . BTW, except for the initial start up “smoke “ this holds true for many 30 year old engines. Volvo has been making Diesel engines a long time. Standing by -
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Old 05-21-2019, 06:13 AM   #3
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"Volvo has been making Diesel engines a long time."

Volvo has been selling Diesel engines a long time, some they actually manufacture , some the purchase and convert.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:33 AM   #4
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Hi Jody,

As with pretty much any diesel engine, it's all about the historical maintenance and running. Engines that have been run hard and not been maintained will be worn out at 3000 hours, often before. Those that have been carefully maintained and run at "trawler speeds" can easily go 10,000 to 20,000 hours. This is where careful inspection of the trip and maintenance logs and a thorough review by a mechanical surveyor will be hugely important.

We run larger Volvos in our 52' Jefferson (TAMD-72P) and can report pretty much the same as Jim did, above.

I wouldn't be afraid of the hours... IF the current owner can document the maintenance and a surveyor says, "Yay verily."

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Old 05-21-2019, 08:55 AM   #5
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Good solid base engine. Second that about being smoky cold, but that does no real harm. A few things I don't like: Lots of aluminum in cooling system (corrosion issue), sea water oil cooler (also aluminum, corrosion issue again), high rpm (3800) if you work it hard. Parts super expensive and some may be unobtanium at this age.

But run in trawler service, like 1500-2500 rpm, they can last long. Pretty quiet running engine when run easy.

I would not worry about the hours. You will not wear it out. Corrosion is what will kill it. Get a good engine inspection.

Some have Volvo transmissions which can be a particular PITA.
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:33 AM   #6
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My TAMD41P has been a peach. At 1850 hours it will far outlast me. This replaced an "A" model in 2002 that failed for some unknown reason....Boat was 14 years old with 200 hours...I suspect that was the cause, lack of use.. Use it and enjoy it. They are generally as reliable as most, though parts (if you need them) can be pricey and harder to source..
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Old 05-21-2019, 09:56 AM   #7
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I did not have a good experience with these engines and worse yet with the way Volvo handled them. I had three failures on two engines and wound up paying a metallurgist to cut pistons in half to figure out what was going on. Later we discovered a very misleading service bulletin that Volvo did not propagate to their online bulletin system, copied were only kept in paper form and I believe to this day may still not be searchable. In short, they were not fully drilling the passageways of their oil cooling nozzles and pistons were not cooling properly. I tested my box of parts from past failures and sure enough, about one out of 5 cooling nozzles would dribble, not spray. Volvo suggested I pound sand, because product support was up to their dealers. The dealer said failed Volvo parts was Volvo’s responsibility. This is how Volvo’s support arrangement is different than other manufacturers.

You need to find out whether these engines have ever been repaired/rebuilt. The Volvo dealer would replace the failed piston, but other pistons were already damaged and would fail down the road.

Personally I will never own another Volvo again, ever. They hid this, plain and simple. I had and have boxes of verifiable bad parts, but they did not care, did not want to see our metallurgical analysis. I also had the Volvo transmission that once upon a time was one of the quietest shifting transmissions I’ve ever seen, but when the drive plate failed, the original was no longer made and the replacement worked but chattered like crazy.

Be careful with Volvo’s, they have a history of sub standard practices. Be especially careful with 31/41 series engines if there is any hint of them getting the bad cooling nozzles, or in Volvo speak if you did not benefit from new and glorious improvements in their testing methods.



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Old 05-21-2019, 10:43 AM   #8
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Like Ghost, I had issues with Volvo. Mine was a 2004 29 HP engine in a sailboat. Even with a relatively new engine, parts were sometimes unavailable, except from Europe with the associated "extra freight" (which in one case cost more than the part).

On mine, I had a total lower end failure when one of the nuts used to connect the connecting rod and cap to the crankshaft "backed off". The boat was less than 4 years old with just over 500 hours. Volvo said "operator error". My metallugical engineer produced a report that showed conclusively that the nut in question was never torqued properly from the factory and totally discredited any "operator error" claim! Volvo denied the claim as the engine was a few (very few) hours past the warranty hours limit (but it was under the warranty time limit) and without even viewing the engine stated that the engineer was wrong.
Because of this situation, parts availability and parts pricing (expensive), I will not own a Volvo again.
However, to be fair, there are many Volvo owners who are happy with their engines and have not experienced anything like what Ghost and I have described. The decision is yours.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:20 AM   #9
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My experience with Volvo was with new gas engines in a brand new boat. Every time I needed a part it took forever to get it. The boat dealer would have to take the part out of a new boat and then wait for Volvo to finally ship the part. Where I live now waiting that long for parts would be at least half of the boating season. Volvo, no thanks but some people love them...
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Misssjody View Post
I am looking at a 1988, 40 ft trawler with twin Volvo TMD41A engines, 3000 hrs
Looking for advise on reliability and longevity. Thanks
The above reports of failures aside, I have 2 of those engines, which I retrofitted to my boat at 1500 hours, in 2000. They now have 3400 hours. I wouldn't shy away due to a couple of failures that are well reported. I have heard as many horror stories related to other brands, but boats continue to run well with any or all.
The main issues are maintenance and a good engine survey.

Oil needs to be changed on a regular schedule, fuel needs to be clean, zincs need to be changed regularly. Otherwise, barring a calamity, there are no maintenance issues. I expect my engines will go to at least 10000 hours, so at my usual 150/yr, another 40+ years. Should do.
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Old 05-21-2019, 03:58 PM   #11
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My experience with the newer D Series was not good so I ruled them out during out last boat search when I was considering both new and used boats.
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Old 05-21-2019, 04:10 PM   #12
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Hi Keith,
While I agree in general with everything you have stated in the above post, If I were in the market I would also factor in not only parts pricing (and Volvo has the reputation for being expensive) but parts availability. I know that this can be an issue with ANY older engine, but again Volvo has the reputation of poor support in this area (and that is what I experienced with my relatively new model when I owned a Volvo and parts were hard to find).

For those reasons (putting aside my mechanical breakdown and their lack of responsiveness) I (personally) would not buy a Volvo unless I absolutely fell in love with all other aspects of the boat and the engine (and boat) had been meticulously maintained with complete records kept and it received a great survey result.
It is not my intent to "Volvo bash", as I now have no grudge against Volvo (I do however feel it is fair to state the facts of my experience with a Volvo engine), I just think (my opinion) that there are other great choices out there and that my money could be better spent on other engines (the rest of the boat being equal).
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Old 05-21-2019, 07:37 PM   #13
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Hi Keith,
While I agree in general with everything you have stated in the above post, If I were in the market I would also factor in not only parts pricing (and Volvo has the reputation for being expensive) but parts availability. I know that this can be an issue with ANY older engine, but again Volvo has the reputation of poor support in this area (and that is what I experienced with my relatively new model when I owned a Volvo and parts were hard to find).

For those reasons (putting aside my mechanical breakdown and their lack of responsiveness) I (personally) would not buy a Volvo unless I absolutely fell in love with all other aspects of the boat and the engine (and boat) had been meticulously maintained with complete records kept and it received a great survey result.
It is not my intent to "Volvo bash", as I now have no grudge against Volvo (I do however feel it is fair to state the facts of my experience with a Volvo engine), I just think (my opinion) that there are other great choices out there and that my money could be better spent on other engines (the rest of the boat being equal).
Hey Tom, sorry to hear you were not well served in Nanaimo. I am surprised at that, as I have been very well served by Inlet Marine in Port Moody. Maybe because they were clients of mine I was served better than other customers, but I doubt that really factored in. I have never seen any evidence of higher prices than the norm for boat parts, nor have I ever experienced poor availability. That may also be because those engines just don't need parts all that often. When I bought the engines I had the injectors done, I have replaced things like water pumps and exhaust elbows, as most do, and they were easily obtained and though expensive, not exorbitantly so.
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:17 PM   #14
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1988 is a thirty year old boat. I would want to know parts availability and support on those engines. I like old Detroit’s as there will never be a parts shortage in my life time. I also like Cat 3208’s as the factory still supports the engine. Cummins has a great reputation but I have heard parts for the 555 are difficult to find. I don’t know if that’s true but I would do my research before I bought one. I have no idea what parts availability is on these older Volvo’s.
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