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Old 01-09-2013, 06:56 PM   #1
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Good Engine, Bad Engine

We've been searching the forum and talking to boaters about their likes and dislikes and have been running into a question we keep asking ourselves as we look for our future trawler.

We don't have a lot of experience with marine diesel engines and we are wondering what experiences people have had with various engines. I'm sure marine engines, just like any other product we buy, have some that are held in high regard and some that are not. We're wondering what peoples experiences are regarding different makes and models of marine engines when it comes to reliability, maintainability, availability, affordability, etc. It would be great information to know as we shop around and see various boats with various engines. We look forward to your experiences and opinions.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:12 PM   #2
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We've been searching the forum and talking to boaters about their likes and dislikes and have been running into a question we keep asking ourselves as we look for our future trawler.

We don't have a lot of experience with marine diesel engines and we are wondering what experiences people have had with various engines. I'm sure marine engines, just like any other product we buy, have some that are held in high regard and some that are not. We're wondering what peoples experiences are regarding different makes and models of marine engines when it comes to reliability, maintainability, availability, affordability, etc. It would be great information to know as we shop around and see various boats with various engines. We look forward to your experiences and opinions.
what size kind age boat will these engines be used in?
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:20 PM   #3
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We're wondering what peoples experiences are regarding different makes and models of marine engines when it comes to reliability, maintainability, availability, affordability, etc. We look forward to your experiences and opinions.
WOW! I can only imagine the future number of posts on this subject.

Well, you asked and here is my take. I've had Cat 3208s, Perkins 200s, Detroit 8V92s & Cummins 210s & a 330. (5.9s)

I'm in love with the Cummins!

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Old 01-09-2013, 07:30 PM   #4
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bfloyd4445 - We're looking at slow trawlers in the 35 to 45 ft range so I guess i'm looking for opinions on engines that would be appropriate for a boat of that size.

Sea Horse II - Thanks for the reply. Can you tell me what you like about the Cummins and what sets it apart from the others you've had experience with.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:34 PM   #5
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Perkins HT354, 20,000 hours before rebuild
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:41 PM   #6
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Thanks for the reply boatpoker - Can you elaborate on your experiences with your engine? I'm trying to understand the total ownership details of engines and which ones I should look for or stay away from. I'm new to this so as far as I know 20k hours is expected for a rebuild on a marine diesel. Did it require twice as many oil changes as a different make/model? Did it cost twice as much to maintain? Is it difficult to service yourself due to the layout of the engine? Those are the details i'm looking for.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:43 PM   #7
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Most people here like popular brands. Perhaps they like to tell others what they've got under the deck.

I choose mine as a repower for features, history of those offering the engine, suitability to my boat including the ideal amount of power. I can't say price was an issue as I was seriously considering the most expensive engine on my list of 6 or 7 engines.

One of the features I wanted was a steel or iron manifold. Put another way (anything but aluminum).

One of the best boats to buy is one that has been repowered.

I like lots of old things but when it comes to engines new is better unless you find a really exceptional unit.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:49 PM   #8
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Sea Horse II - Thanks for the reply. Can you tell me what you like about the Cummins and what sets it apart from the others you've had experience with.
#1 I've owned 4 Cummins engines since 1995 and have never had one problem with them. I don't go by the number of hours they've run but rather by the amount of fuel that's been pushed through them. I used to really pump them up (cruised at 2450 most of the time) back when fuel was cheap.

#2 They are very easy to work on.

#3 At idle they sound like a sewing machine. Beautiful sound!

Please don't get me wrong! You can't go wrong with any of the others I mentioned. I simply answered your question as to my preference.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:53 PM   #9
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My Perkins was one of the rare 5 ring versions designed for continuous use as a generator or sometimes they put wheels on them and called them tractors. In fact I bought all my parts from farm supply houses who apply a 30% government (Canada) subsidy to "farm equipment" but I also did not get hit with the well known "marine" markup".

Thousands of these engines were distributed world wide and parts were never an issue. Maintenance was of the normal variety, oil, fuel filters etc.
The heat exchanger corroded in year 28 (engine built in 1971).

We purchased the boat with 8,000 hours on it and added another 12,000 hours in fifteen years. There was a tiny bit of piston slap in one cyclinder at 20,000 hours and we had the engine rebuilt then sold her. I found this engine to be simple and easy to work on and wish I could have it back.
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:59 PM   #10
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Heaps of 80s trawlers had 6 cyl 6.2 L/380cu. Ford Dorset diesel engines models 2715E/D380, marinised by Lehman and called Ford Lehman engines, producing 120hp. There was a "Super" version @ 135hp. Lehmans are still supported for parts by American Diesel. They also made 4cyl versions, and 6cyl turbos.
Solid, understressed, reliable, long life engines, good at typical trawler hull speeds. Raw water pumps had issues.
I have the 120 hp ones. Also previous boat had the similar Perkins equivalent 6354,also a highly regarded marine engine,mine was turbo & after-cooled.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:07 PM   #11
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I have had 3 Cummins over 15 yrs and they have been extremely reliable. Parts are reasonable and their distributor in my area has been able to keep me stocked with everything I have needed. I am not a mechanical genius but have been able to adjust valves, switch out a water pump, and do most of the regular maintenance. I had a Volvo before that and it was exactly the opposite, word for word. It is very important with whatever engine you choose to make sure your engine makes over full rated RPM when fully loaded. To not do so will dramatically shorten its life.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:14 PM   #12
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I owned a Camano 31 with a Volvo 210 hp 2004-2008
this Monk 36 with a 6BT Cummins 220 HP. I had no trouble with either of them, touch Wood, both were singles.
From what I have read usually it is the add on accessories which cause problems. Stuff like alternator, heat exchangers, pumps, ect.
I know from my work in agriculture and earthmoving Cat and JD are also excellent engines.
I have read that parts for US made engines are significantly less expensive and easier to find, in the USA, probably in many other countries too.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:22 PM   #13
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Dont take us seriously. To get serious help in choosing an engine, go to Boatdiesel.com or ask a mechanic who has extensive marine engine experience. Here you will get lectured by those who want to validate their own choices, and whose opinions are not based upon experience of comparing one engine to another (with the exception of RickB).
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:33 PM   #14
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It's not so much the brand but how it was cared for...if you're buying used.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:48 PM   #15
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Thanks everyone - These are the kind of insightful responses I was hoping to get. I absolutely agree that the best engine is one that was well cared for. I will definitely buy a used boat and will have the engine surveyed and look for something that was well maintained and documented. However, stories like these of personal experiences with certain engines help to narrow the search of some to look for and stay away from.

Feel free to bring on the experiences... this is great information.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:41 PM   #16
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Some people swear by these:
Gardner Marine Diesel Engine Maintenance Services - HOME
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:50 PM   #17
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It's not so much the brand but how it was cared for...if you're buying used.
Most important point made here yet, I think.

As a point of information for the OP, the FL120 has the reputation of being a 12,000 to 14,000 hour engine in recreational boat service ASSUMING the engine is operated, serviced, and maintained properly.

This 1950s-designed engine is a little more maintenance-intense than other engines if for no other reason that the fuel injection pump has it's own oil sump as opposed to being lubed by the engine's lubrication system. And for a reason more detailed than is worth going into here, the lube oil in the pump should be changed every 50 hours. It's not hard, it only takes a few minutes, but it's something that should be done that most other engines do not require.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:58 PM   #18
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And for a reason more detailed than is worth going into here, the lube oil in the pump should be changed every 50 hours. It's not hard, it only takes a few minutes, but it's something that should be done that most other engines do not require.
I think this is the kind of information Divebums is looking for.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:44 AM   #19
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I've got twin Yanmars, 240 HP each, in my 34' Mainship Trawler. They are model 4LHA-STP. I've got about 1500 hours on them in 5 1/2 years of cruising in SE Alaska. Have not had a single problem with them. I run them pretty easy, and I of course make sure I keep up with all the normal maintenance routines (filters, pencil zincs, etc.)
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:18 AM   #20
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While the engine is a large item in a trawler , most folks will not purchase a boat based on the engine.

Some will avoid a specific brand (like Volvo) but few will base the selection on what is installed.

In most slow cruisers the ability to operate at a small percentage of the rated power is a plus.

And active ongoing support from the engines marinizer is a big plus.
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