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Old 09-22-2016, 07:59 AM   #1
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Mercruiser 180hp 6 cyl diesel 1990's experience

Who has experience with the Mercruiser (formerly BMW) 6 cyl 180hp turbo diesel I think #219, based on VM motor base engine.from the early 1990's.
Straight shaft not I/O.

My research shows despite being a good engine it's not well supported and parts are a big issue and some had an overheating issue if something was not maintained properly.
I'm looking at a boat with one of these engines but think I should walk away because of the rarity of the engine.

Thanks in advance

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Old 09-22-2016, 08:19 AM   #2
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You will probably have to join to get an answer to your questions on the BMW diesel or the Mercruiser diesel.

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Old 09-22-2016, 09:21 AM   #3
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I would be very cautious. IIRC mercruiser small diesel conversions were often too small for marine applications.
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:49 AM   #4
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If I could get the boat at a reduced rate to cover most of repowering then great, if not walk away...
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Old 09-23-2016, 07:47 AM   #5
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Mercruiser diesel from BMW into Cummins

Thanks for thoughts guys.
I find difficult but will try again.

I have been researching this for a bit and would like to find folks who are dealing with this engine daily in USA.
The early 1990's 6 cyl turbo 180hp VM based Mercruiser. D219?

It does seem these diesels were installed much more in Europe particularly as they were the new alternatives to the old 1960's type Volvo penta diesel that we going to be fazed out as they did not meet the coming pollution regulations. These VM engine were a good stab at it. The very latest VM marine engines are really interesting as they have tried to eliminate as many external hoses as possible to reduce pollution causing leaks.
Also VM Motori is making the highly rated Eco-diesel in Ram/ Chrysler products.

The Mercruiser engine is reportedly v low smoke on start up and smooth and relatively quiet.

I got this From the YBM forum a while ago , it confirms my own research into the engine history.
( poster is a BMW expert)
RichLangtry. 25-10-12, 15:40
This engine was first introduced to the marine market by BMW in the early 1980's as a 3.6 liters 6 cylinder. When you're reputedly the best engine manufacturer in the world, for BMW to outsource engines could be considered a huge compliment to VM Motori.

At the end of 1987, Mercury acquired the BMW plant in Belgium and continued manufacturing the 'BMW' D636 and D530 engines.

In the early 1990's, the 3.6 was bored and stroked to 4.2 liters. These continue to be 'IDI' engines. With the D254 assembly in Belgium ended. VM now produced and badged the engines as Mercruisers. In the lates 90s, VM modified the engine to direct injection (DI).

Around 2004, Mercury and Cummins partnered in CMD with a majority of engine and parts distribution falling on the Cummins' distribution system.

This is why there is confusion in the marketplace.

Our perception is the Cummins sales staff would rather sell their American made engines over a foreign one made in Italy.

As to quality, this engine is a tunnel bore design, that is the crankshaft is housed inside the block (like a camshaft) rather than strapped on to the bottom. Structurally significiantly better.

The earliest BMW models cooling system was marginal. Overheating caused havoc with the top end. A major Italian rebuilder of these engines automatically replaces the cylinder heads with new ones. ( my understanding is that regular cleaning of the heat exchanger and a larger design later solved this and it was only really a problem for the I/O installations that got run hard , less of a trawler issue, Warren)

Now as to parts availability. The Mercruiser early parts catalogues were mere copies of the better quality BMW parts catalogues. Mercury changed the BMW part numbers to their own system. We find Mercury's part number system for these engines to be very confusing and we are sure that the Cummins / CMD parts staff found the same problems/issues.

But the parts are out there. The problem is ordering and getting the correct part. Patience is defintely required. Parts are more readily available in Europe than other parts of the world. This explains my confusion researching part availability,Warren


Mercruiser did offer training schools on these engines. Finding a mechanic confident in working on these engines is a challenge. In North Birwick, Maine, Phil Thain at PT Engines LLC. is a good bet. In Scotland, Kilmarnock Engines Services. In New Zealand, Performance Imports. In Australia, Empire Bay Marina. In Italy, Ghisellini. In Finland, Telva. These are but a few that come to mind.

We cannot comment on the installations using the Mercruiser Bravo drives.(I understand these are a poor paring as some of these drives are not diesel torque rated,I'm looking at shaft drive in a 7000# small trawler,Warren )

These are inline 6 cylinder engines, and therefore smoother running than the alternatives, and easier to work on as well.

Rich Langtry
V12 Engineering
Home - V12 Engineering

Below is photo of engine in question. Can't say I like the corrosion I see but it is a 1992 engine,25 yes old!
Ps I'm posting this information in case somebody else need what I have found out.
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