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Old 04-03-2015, 10:08 PM   #1
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Cat 3208 TA expected longevity

Hey all,
Considering an extremely well cared for DeFever with twin 3208 TA's 325hp with 4900 hrs.
I plan to do a full mechanical survey with oil samples.
Regular oil changes have occurred every 100 to 200 hours.

Any idea how many hours these motors typically go before a major overhaul?

Any experience with those with high hours?

Input much appreciated.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:44 PM   #2
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Previous care is the key. If, like you state, the engines have had regular prescribed maintenance then I would expect 12,000 to 15,000 hours, or more, before a possible rebuild. Heck, even if they only make it to 10,000 hours, they would give you about 25 years of service (assuming 200 hours per year of use).
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:11 AM   #3
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All engines have a service life , usually detirmined by how much fuel it can digest before the end.

Since HP and fuel flow are related , the service life if the engines were run at rated power 325 Ho is probably near the end.

If it was run at 150 HP 8-10 GPH you are nowhere close.

Read the log book!
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:21 AM   #4
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Are you sure they are TA's at only 325hp?

Mine were 320Ts.

I didn't think they were TA's until 375hp.

The 3208Ts on my old boat are still going strong at 5000 hrs and 28 years old pushing a 37 foot sportfish.

My CAT mech friends say 10,000 hrs if well cared for.....and rebuilds or replacements are cheap but the bolt on components arent. FF is right about using fuel more so than hrs for life expectancy, CAT does too I believe.
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:31 AM   #5
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Lowest TA rating I've seen is 355, highest T I've seen is 320. Never seen a 325, but cat made lots of variations. T's tend to live longer than TA's mostly because an aftercooler leak can take them out.

Regarding life, if run at hull speed should have plently left.

Measure blowby, that checks ring condition. At idle there should be no puffing of blowby.

Might be due for head gaskets. They age quicker than the rest of the engine on these.

Also check for rot on the oil pans. If sea water pump has been leaking, salt gets on pan and they rust quick.
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:50 AM   #6
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A great source for information is boatdiesel.com, has a lot of pros posting and which devotes an entire forum to Caterpillar engines.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FF View Post
All engines have a service life , usually detirmined by how much fuel it can digest before the end.

Since HP and fuel flow are related , the service life if the engines were run at rated power 325 Ho is probably near the end.

If it was run at 150 HP 8-10 GPH you are nowhere close.

Read the log book!
Agree, read the log book. I owned a 3208 TA rated at 375 hp. and really like that engine.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:09 AM   #8
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Remember seeing a CAT spec of fuel used and not hours, so like others have said its all related on how it was run, you should be able to search that spec up, along with boatdiesel.com is a great resource as well.

I would also add, if run in salt water you want to see what has been replaced etc on the cooling side of the system.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:32 AM   #9
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No easy Internet answer. A really good Cat 3208 marine guy can give you a good guess after looking at it. These guys are not common so as suggested ask for reference on Boatdiesel. Ski notes trouble spots, these alone are about $5K per engine. The beauty of the 3208 is drop in rebuilds through Cat can be available.

There is a number, albeit rough, floating around for 3208s, 30,000 gallons of fuel to worn out. At 2400 RPM that may be true, at 1600 probably not. Marine age will do in any engine sooner or later, just sitting in moisture is bad. I've a friend with his 3rd set of 3208s, about 5000 hours at hard running before replacement on his higher HP versions in a Tolly 44.

So, I'm sure this will get some hackles raised, but if it were me I'd buy the vessel and negotiate as if the engines were a year or two from junk. Figure a "new" low HP 3208 drop in at $15K apiece installed. DeFevers are really easy to drop in a new engine so install issues and costs should be in your favor.

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Old 04-06-2015, 11:05 AM   #10
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I closed on a boat not long ago with 3208 Cats. The buyer used an engine surveyor from my list of suggestions. His name is Bruce Hicks in Fort Lauderdale and check out his phone number 954-661-3208.
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Old 05-26-2015, 11:56 PM   #11
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Yes, I believe the 3208's are rated at 30,000 gal, not hours. So turbos have a much shorter TBO.
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Old 05-28-2015, 02:12 PM   #12
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I had Caterpillar do a full engine survey during a sea trial. They measured pressures and blow by. Most things were in spec.It was expensive but worth it to me. All engines are represented as well maintained at the time of a sale. Good luck. My 3208TA 375HP are 24 years old with about 5000 hours. I am hoping they hold up. On the delivery trip home we had a broken fuel injector line which was fixed by a good mechanic. We had lots of black smoke billowing out the exhaust. Other than that they ran well. They peak at about 2630 RPM. The turbo boost is low and this was given as the cause. I was also advised not to try to fix the turbos due to the expense and the fact that more stress on the engines might not be a good thing.
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:27 PM   #13
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Yes, I think the 3208 is rated at 30,000 gallons before overhaul. So turbos go much earlier.
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:49 PM   #14
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The turbo boost is low and this was given as the cause. I was also advised not to try to fix the turbos due to the expense and the fact that more stress on the engines might not be a good thing.

There must be more to this story. It is unlikely all turbos would be equally bad.
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Old 06-24-2015, 07:11 PM   #15
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3208 turbos erode the cast iron housing around the turbine. Causes low boost. Well known issue. The fix is to replace the housing or whole turbo.
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Old 09-23-2015, 03:25 PM   #16
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3208 problem

We broke another fuel injector line under the manifold cover on the first trip home from winter storage after an uneventful one hour shakedown trip the week before when every thing seemed OK. This resulted in a runaway which caused a piston to melt down. Rebuilding both engines and transmissions. Very big project on our boat. Taking the opportunity to replace everything we can get to in the engine room. Plenty of room with those big engines in the shop.
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Old 09-24-2015, 09:12 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henrymei View Post
We broke another fuel injector line under the manifold cover on the first trip home from winter storage after an uneventful one hour shakedown trip the week before when every thing seemed OK. This resulted in a runaway which caused a piston to melt down. Rebuilding both engines and transmissions. Very big project on our boat. Taking the opportunity to replace everything we can get to in the engine room. Plenty of room with those big engines in the shop.
That's interesting, I had three injector lines that broke on one of my 3208's when I had them.
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Old 09-24-2015, 09:21 AM   #18
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My engines were built 89, commissioned in 92 with about 4200 hrs. Avg 20 gph. How old were yours? This formerly rare problem may be age related
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Old 09-24-2015, 10:33 AM   #19
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A transient boat pulled into slip next to us a few years back with a fuel leak in a component located in the "V", and under the intercooler. He hired a CAt dealer to do the repair. Turned out the second engine was also starting to leak from the same seal/o-ring. He had them clean the aftercoolers while they were in there. Big, and very expensive job. Surveyor should look for this.
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Old 09-24-2015, 11:35 AM   #20
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Interesting. We had a leak from a nut on the underside of a rebuilt fuel pump. Valley cover filled with diesel. Both engines being totally rebuilt by T&S
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