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Old 04-24-2017, 01:59 AM   #1
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Silly question about Cat 3208

We've got an offer in on a Marine Trader 40 and have engine and marine surveys being completed later this week. It's a 1981 and the CAT 3208NA has 5400 hours. The owner is out of the country and the broker could not give me many details regarding past service. The owner will supply those details upon his return. I will say however that it's evident that the boat has been very well maintained and clearly professionally upgraded. All of the electrical and plumbing appear very neatly run, marked and well secured with a lot of new switches, busses, inverter and cabling. It's also been boathouse kept for at least the last 10 years at least.

My main concern was for what I perceive is high hours (5400) on the engine. I had spoken with a few CAT shops this past week and both said "if" and it's a variable "if", the engine has been well looked after and run fairly regularly at cruise speeds, then it's not uncommon to see 10K + hours out of the 3208NA.

Here's my question. I noticed tonight that my picture of the engine shows it to be painted white from the mounts up, not yellow. Would this indicate a major amount of work and if so, how much? Is it ever done simply for aesthetic reasons or is this a sure sign of a certain level of overhaul?

I know I'll get the answer in 4 -5 days but I usually learn other things by asking a question.

Thanks!
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Old 04-24-2017, 04:49 AM   #2
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You'd be a hell of a detective to determine what had/hadn't been done to the motor by its paint job!
The good thing about it is that it doesn't appear to be freshly applied.
Fresh paint on a used motor indicates that there is something to hide there.
The color might be a matter of aesthetics, but some of the most meticulous mechanics I know insist on painting all motors only white so that leaks and discolorations are easy to track down. Picture looking for an oil leak on a black motor.
I can tell you that the starter/solenoid has been recently changed, as have the transmission oil cooler hoses, but some of the other hoses are at least as old as the paint job, and probably OEM.
The transmission appears to be a different color than the motor, likely changed out too.
The hours are indeed high, and who's to say whether you will get double that out of them or not? I would consider deducting some from the bid due to the high hours.
That said, a 3208 na is a very robust motor, and many have achieved the legendary 10,000 hr mark.
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Old 04-24-2017, 06:38 AM   #3
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My friends CAT 3116 is white from the factory. Ive seen other white CATs in trawlers. Not limited to yellow.
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Old 04-24-2017, 07:15 AM   #4
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My pair of 3208TAs (vintage 1999) are white from the factory.
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Old 04-24-2017, 09:29 AM   #5
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On an engine approaching 40 years, deteriorating seals, gaskets and O rings are an area worth watching. On the 3208s I've seen head gaskets start to leak coolant at about 20 years. No matter how perfect the routine maintenance marine age and mother time will affect other things too like hoses and non metallic fuel lines.

Be sure to inspect the fuel tank tops for water drips from above that over time can become onerous. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:04 AM   #6
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Head gaskets do seem to age out on these, at 35yrs it is not a bad idea to go ahead and replace.

Many Cats come white from factory.

Exhaust mixers are cast iron with sea water inside, they need periodic replacement.

Oil pan and oil cooler subject to rust, check them.

Get a tech to sea trial and check all the normal stuff, but especially blowby.
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Old 04-24-2017, 10:30 AM   #7
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The number of hours is not as important as the condition of this individual engine. If your engine surveyor knows his stuff, he will be able to quickly determine its condition. I wouldn't put much faith in what the previous owner or the broker tells you. Even if the engine was maintained according to factory recommendations, it is still an old engine, and as Ski and others have said, you should expect to encounter some age related issues. Your engine surveyor will be able to give you an estimate of the cost of repairs, and you should subtract that from the purchase price.

The good thing is that this is a very common engine that is used in many non marine applications, so parts and service are readily available.
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