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Old 01-07-2015, 10:26 PM   #1
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Cat 3208 Ti longevity

Hi all,
Can anyone shed light on the longevity of Cat 3208 Ti diesels?
Assume good maintenance, oil changes and no abuse.

Any thoughts on how many hours one can expect to get out of these motors before a major overhaul?

Thank you for the feedback!

Taras
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:39 PM   #2
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Hi all,
Can anyone shed light on the longevity of Cat 3208 Ti diesels?
Assume good maintenance, oil changes and no abuse.

Any thoughts on how many hours one can expect to get out of these motors before a major overhaul?

Thank you for the feedback!

Taras
I think it depends on the service level. Constant up and down in loading, then shorter life. Constant output most of the time, then very long life. 25,000 hours, perhaps?
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:43 PM   #3
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Assume good maintenance, oil changes and no abuse. Taras
Assume good maintenance in past or future? Was the vessel always propped correctly? If a 20+ year old and +2000 hours engine, the answer is elusive and will certainly entail some major maintenance along the way to keep it going.

If fresh out of Cat reman/rebuild shop, no problem getting 5000 hours over about 20 years, if maintained right, not pushed too hard and propped correctly.


These were not designed to be high hour engines.
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Old 01-08-2015, 07:31 AM   #4
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Engines today are rated by the total fuel burn till overhaul.

The basic 3208 as a 210 hp engine (probably 160 honest horses ) will easily go 8,000 -10,000 hours , and use 10GPH while on the pin.

Hop it up to 350 HP and it will still be worn out after the same 80,000-100,000 Gal of diesel has gone thru it.

Hoe HARD the engine needs to be kept in mind , to estimate service life.

Remember this is NOT an industrial engine so can not be overhauled in place.

It requires complete removal to rebuild it , so is considered a throw away by commercial operators.

Discover the cruise fuel burn to guesstimate service life left.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:49 AM   #5
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Assume good maintenance in past or future? Was the vessel always propped correctly? If a 20+ year old and +2000 hours engine, the answer is elusive and will certainly entail some major maintenance along the way to keep it going.

If fresh out of Cat reman/rebuild shop, no problem getting 5000 hours over about 20 years, if maintained right, not pushed too hard and propped correctly.


These were not designed to be high hour engines.
I'm surprised so low, Tom. we got 15000 hours from one of these in short haul around town delivery service. We were told it was a 'throw away' engine when we bought it new but it just kept going.
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:00 AM   #6
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This is a solid engine. Well maintained 15 k hours is no problem. I have owned these in the past and would buy again. Some folks call them a throw away because they are not sleeved, but they are routinely boared out for rebuild and not a throw away. This engine is still a popular engine in the commercial fishing boats where we live even though Cat no longer makes it. I owned the first marine version of this engine and it is still going strong.
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:30 AM   #7
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I'm surprised so low, Tom. we got 15000 hours from one of these in short haul around town delivery service. We were told it was a 'throw away' engine when we bought it new but it just kept going.

Remember, we are talking the 375 HP version. So----


Marine age creeps into the equation. Sitting around for 20+ years is tough on any marine engine. The V8 3208 is basically a twin engine in disguise with two of the things that if not tended right, can cause early engine demise - two exhaust elbows, two head gaskets, two exhaust manifolds, etc.

The OP asked about the 375 HP version which in a planing vessel will be routinely running at 2300 to 2400 RPM and 75% load. this is very tough duty, much more so than in a road truck.

In boatdiesel, the questions and discussions there (many hundreds of 3208 posts) seem to indicate that "my engine is at 5000 hours and running fine" is getting into bragging territory for those few that really know how to prop and maintain their vessel. 5000 hours out of any planing diesel engine used for recreational purposes (say 250 hours per year) is a lot of use, and provides too much potential for abuse as multi users come into play.

For Cat and most marine diesel engines, if they were not designed do double duty as a genset at 1500 or 1800 RPM, assume a shorter life light weight engine. That is the case with the 375 HP 3208, especially the 375 and higher HP versions.

All this said, the 3208 is a great marine engine, especially in the lower HP versions.
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:05 PM   #8
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375hp is too much for this light block and as the cylinders have no sleeve they are often disposed of rather than rebuilt. These were originally built as disposable school bus engines but lasted longer than even Caterpillar expected.

it depends but ......... I'd expect 15,000hrs from a 210hp
and almost half that for 375hp or 425hp
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Old 01-08-2015, 01:28 PM   #9
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Remember, we are talking the 375 HP version. So----


Marine age creeps into the equation. Sitting around for 20+ years is tough on any marine engine. The V8 3208 is basically a twin engine in disguise with two of the things that if not tended right, can cause early engine demise - two exhaust elbows, two head gaskets, two exhaust manifolds, etc.

The OP asked about the 375 HP version which in a planing vessel will be routinely running at 2300 to 2400 RPM and 75% load. this is very tough duty, much more so than in a road truck.

In boatdiesel, the questions and discussions there (many hundreds of 3208 posts) seem to indicate that "my engine is at 5000 hours and running fine" is getting into bragging territory for those few that really know how to prop and maintain their vessel. 5000 hours out of any planing diesel engine used for recreational purposes (say 250 hours per year) is a lot of use, and provides too much potential for abuse as multi users come into play.

For Cat and most marine diesel engines, if they were not designed do double duty as a genset at 1500 or 1800 RPM, assume a shorter life light weight engine. That is the case with the 375 HP 3208, especially the 375 and higher HP versions.

All this said, the 3208 is a great marine engine, especially in the lower HP versions.
Ah so. Yes, mine was 275 something hp. A big difference.
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Old 01-08-2015, 02:09 PM   #10
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I just hate these "how many hour" discussions for marine motors in a recreational application. With 15K hours listed by boatpoker and old deckhand for the base 210 HP version that equates to 50, 60 or even 70 years. Few boats last that long. Skipperdude could opine on a base 3208NA as he tried to keep his running in Alaska.

Further how many hours for what? The bare block is the normal answer. In a marine setting with water vapor (or just plain salt water) entering the engine internals via the exhaust and corroding all things metal away, what really matters is marine age, not hours.

The OP is thinking of buying a boat it would seem. He came seeking advice. Sellers like to crow about low (whatever that means) engine hours, buyers should think in terms of years, prior overheats if any and demonstrated diligence towards maintenance.

So here is one question, would I buy a planing vessel with +5000 hour 375 HP 3208s? Answer, not unless the boat value was low to comps by about $80K for motor replacements.

Second question, would I buy a trawler speed boat that had 35 year old 210 HP 3208s with 2000 hours? Not unless the engine had gone through a Cat redo of all gaskets, seals and other things soft.
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Old 01-08-2015, 02:17 PM   #11
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Anyone know what T&S in Crisfield is charging these days for a drop in 3208?

They were the bargain of the century a decade ago.....around $20,000 for 2 drop in 320 hp 3208Ts on my boat.....for the whole deal including the marina next door storage and forklift services to pull the engine.

Haven't heard a recent quote though.....
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Old 01-08-2015, 02:18 PM   #12
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Major Service Intervals Measured in Gallons of Fuel

We have Cat 3208 210hp NA engines in Avalon. FWIW the Caterpillar manuals spec major service intervals in gallons of fuel. For example the 210hp NA, and I believe all HP ratings for 3208 motors, has a major rebuild recommended at 30,000 gallons. At 2 gph that gives us 15,000 hrs.

After 24 years in service we currently have approx. 4,000 hrs and the engines run flawlessly and use less than 1 qt of oil over a 150hr season. I've also come across numerous other 210hp owners with hrs well in excess of 15,000 hrs.


However, I agree that in a recreational setting its all about age and maintenance - not hrs - when considering a purchase.
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Old 01-08-2015, 02:30 PM   #13
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Sunchaser makes a good point that engines run in commercial service are more likely to reach the longevity "guesses" rather than a recreational motor that sits not running most of its life.

Sure...no absolutes....but a reasonable assumption....also depends on how they are treated/run.

a guy putting 50 to 100 hours a years will never see that 15,000 mark...but he doesn't care....

But buying a 35 year old engine with 2500 hours on it means there was a lot of sitting.... who would trust most of its internal or external components? Maybe I would....but I would have to know a detailed history and hopefully T & S is still a deal!
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Old 01-08-2015, 02:37 PM   #14
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T and S still doing 3208's. Price depends on how trashed the cores are, and what hp. But still reasonable.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:08 PM   #15
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Yes, I'm looking at a 1985 boat with Cat 3208 Ti - 4100 hours on the twin motors. This is a trawler, full displacement. Cruise at 9 kts.

Trying to get a feel for when they may need rebuilds. I guess the best measure would be a survey with compression check?
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:10 PM   #16
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Yes, I'm looking at a 1985 boat with Cat 3208 Ti - 4100 hours on the twin motors. This is a trawler, full displacement. Cruise at 9 kts.

Trying to get a feel for when they may need rebuilds. I guess the best measure would be a survey with compression check?
An absolutely ridiculous amount of horsepower for a displacement boat with a hull speed of 9nph
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:16 PM   #17
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Trying to get a feel for when they may need rebuilds. I guess the best measure would be a survey with compression check?
Suggest you read the boatdiesel archives on the 3208 in your HP. There are some really top notch 3208 guys there to ask questions and get answers. And not just any old survey IMHO, get a really top notch Cat guy that eats, lives and breathes these engines. They are out there. Compression checks on 4 stroke diesels are not necessarily helpful.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:26 PM   #18
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An absolutely ridiculous amount of horsepower for a displacement boat with a hull speed of 9nph
Well just pull the throttles back. At 1800 or so RPM they will be very thrifty.
And without being told the boat builder yet they are likely just fine. 33 years ago when the boat was being designed that may well have been the best match. In the early 80s it was Cat, 555s or DD 2 strokers if you wanted an engine in the mid 300 HP range. Since they have not been in a planing boat running at 75%+ load they should have some life left in them

So what is the vessel Taras? Sounds interesting
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:54 AM   #19
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The best answer here is that for recreational non sport fish service, hours will have little if anything to do with it. This is the most frequently asked question of boat purchases and is simply the wrong question. Marine engines die all the time, very very few ever have anything to do with being worn out, meaning worn rings and bearings and maybe valve train. The things you end up spending money in are simply not hours related. This is not a cat thing. All engines require maintenance.

The best used engine is the one that has a documented history of being used and maintained regularly. Emphasis on regularly. I'd happily take a 30 year old cat 3208, 325 hp or less or so, so long as you can show me maintenance history. The family I bought my boat from did not understand boats and would not let me have the maint logs, claiming they were lost. I frowned, but if actually told me what I needed to know. They freaked out when they realized they had a book with a pile of receipts in it. The layman thinks a history of having to spend money is bad. That's plain wrong. I want to see exactly that. The boat I passed up was the one with 500 hours and the salesman bragging about how little work had been done.

Now, I'm biased of course. I have 3208N with about 4500 hours. Later next week, I'll be starting to swap out oil coolers due to a gasket that is starting to weep. Nasty job, but that's what you do. You constantly interrogate and find what is acting up, and you go after it. If you ignore it, you lose an engine. Has nothing to do with hours. There is a lot more to an engine than rings and bearings.

You will spend many times the cost of renewing those just on a boats cooling system, fuel system and electrical than you will ever spend on an overhaul. Yet, because the engine makes a bit more fuss over the overhaul, that's all we pretend is important. Makes no sense. You might think about an overhaul once a decade or three if you are lucky. It's very infrequent. Now, a manifold, or a water pump or a heat exchanger. Heck, your doing something, somewhere all the time. Each and every year. That adds up. That's where your cash will go.

You want to know whether your old diesel is serviceable? Either you will be doing the work yourself, so how much do you need to teach yourself about this particular engine. That, or what is the support like for that particular engine IN YOUR LOCATION. That is the definition of an engines probable life.

We just need to stop asking about hours. It's just that the hours are there to look at. It's a human nature thing. Humans direct their attention at whatever is in front of them. If it's not there they ignore it. I build databases for a living, and it's the same thing there. If there is a measurement on a report, everybody wants to talk about it. Rarely do people stop to ask what isn't there. People make decisions in a vacuum all the time. That's the normal situation. With engines, there is only ever one usage based measure available, hours, so that's all anyone thinks about. Nobody even considers that if all they ever did was to measure the weight of the maintenance papers without even looking what was on them, they would have a higher correlation to lifespan than the engine hours themselves.

Hours are there to schedule maintenance. Nothing more. The hour meter has no knowledge of how those engines were run or how well they were maintained.
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Old 01-09-2015, 02:35 AM   #20
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Sunchaser you need to re-read my post. I said 15 K hours for the 375. I have owned this engine and it is a great engine. What is your experience with is engine? There are boat here with the na version getting 25 K hours with no problems. I have owned the 210 and the 375. Cheers
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