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Old 09-21-2012, 04:00 PM   #1
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Volvo Penta V-6 diesels

Reports on usefulness, longevity, or caution points for Volvo Penta V-6 or straight-6 diesels? Early 80’s models I believe... with about 1400 hrs. Thanks in advance for info! - Art
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:03 PM   #2
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I have 2 1988 TMD41A turbocharged volvo straight 6 diesels in my trawler with 1400 hours on them. Seem like nice motors except for replacement parts. I can buy piston sleeve rod sets to rebuild it in place but they are like $1200 each. Taken care of they should make 10K hours. They smoke cold but run clean with not smoke or soot at 2500 rpm. The MS4A reversing gears on them are another story. I have been told i will be lucky to get 2K hours out of these.
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Old 09-21-2012, 08:16 PM   #3
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I have 2 1988 TMD41A turbocharged volvo straight 6 diesels in my trawler with 1400 hours on them. Seem like nice motors except for replacement parts. I can buy piston sleeve rod sets to rebuild it in place but they are like $1200 each. Taken care of they should make 10K hours. They smoke cold but run clean with not smoke or soot at 2500 rpm. The MS4A reversing gears on them are another story. I have been told i will be lucky to get 2K hours out of these.
Hi TR

Thanks for input. I've never dealt with Volvo before. So... while I make ready for sea test of an older used boat my learning curve is straight up on Volvo diesels.
1. Do they always smoke under 2500 rpm, or just when cold at lower RPM?
2. Is it OK to run them at trolling speeds for long periods, or do they need bursts to keep them cleared out?
3. You mention "lucky to get 2K hrs" on MS4A reversing gears. You mean in separate from engine transmissions... or... do you mean reverse gears that are part of the Volvo diesels themselves?
4. Your Volvo able to meet the newer EPA and other orginizations' standards/restrictions/requirements?

Again, Thanks! – Art
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:04 PM   #4
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Art
I also have TAMD41A Volvos. Mine are about 1990, so no different. Mine have 3000 hours on them. I bought mine and repowered at 1500 hrs. since then they have run mostly at 2100 rpm. I recently had an issue: my on engine fuel filter on the port engine clogged (after 1500 hours) so I had to replace it. I am thinking of doing the one on the Starboard engine soon.

I hear all the time about how expensive Volvo parts are. Frankly, that information is flagrantly inflammatory, as these engines are so reliable, they never need the parts. I think that is why the parts cost so much....nobody keeps them in stock, so they have to be ordered from the factory, if ever actually needed.

Smoky at startup? sure, for a minute or two, then clean running. This is just a measure of injection pressure. Look at any boat that puts out smoke at startup and quiz the owner about the age of his engines. You will find a correlation between the year of the engine (hence the injection pressure) and the amount of smoke. You will not find a correlation between the make of the engine and the amount of smoke. They all used to be smoky. Now they are all required to be smoke free. Injection pressures have risen over the last 40 years from under 1000 psi to over 25000 psi, all in search of cleaner burning.

No, I have no financial interest in Volvo, I just like a quality product.
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Old 09-21-2012, 11:54 PM   #5
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With the rapid transformation of Volvo--- they recently acquired Nissan Diesel and Renault Trucks (which includes Mack Trucks), and Renault has since become Volvo's largest shareholder---- one wonders how long support of it's older products will continue.

No question the company makes quality products. But I would be leery today of buying an older Volvo product. A long-time friend of mine operates a small fleet of longline tuna boats out of Honolulu. I used to sportfish with him in the 1970s. His boats have always had Volvo diesels in them, at least up through the early 2000s. He gets excellent service out of them but from what he's told me the cost and difficult availability of parts has become a major problem to the point where the last I heard from him on the subject he was considering re-engining his boats simply to get away from the cost and delay factors of operating these engines in commercial service.

Recreational service is not nearly as demanding so perhaps the cost and availability issues are not that much of a factor. On the other hand, the owner of the marine electronics shop we use has a cruiser with a pair of older Volvo diesels in them and he told us last weekend his boat has been out of service now for three months waiting for a part for one of his engines.

Likewise a couple in our yacht club is preparing their sailboat for a trans-Pacific cruise and then some. They are replacing the boat's Volvo engine with a Kubota. The Volvo runs just fine, but their reasoning is that their research has shown the availability of parts and service for Volvo engines in anything other than large metropolitan areas is slim to none. Where with Kubota, Yanmar, etc., parts and service are available virtually everywhere on the planet. Or at least everywhere they are planning to go.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:02 AM   #6
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Art
I also have TAMD41A Volvos. Mine are about 1990, so no different. Mine have 3000 hours on them. I bought mine and repowered at 1500 hrs. since then they have run mostly at 2100 rpm. I recently had an issue: my on engine fuel filter on the port engine clogged (after 1500 hours) so I had to replace it. I am thinking of doing the one on the Starboard engine soon.

I hear all the time about how expensive Volvo parts are. Frankly, that information is flagrantly inflammatory, as these engines are so reliable, they never need the parts. I think that is why the parts cost so much....nobody keeps them in stock, so they have to be ordered from the factory, if ever actually needed.

Smoky at startup? sure, for a minute or two, then clean running. This is just a measure of injection pressure. Look at any boat that puts out smoke at startup and quiz the owner about the age of his engines. You will find a correlation between the year of the engine (hence the injection pressure) and the amount of smoke. You will not find a correlation between the make of the engine and the amount of smoke. They all used to be smoky. Now they are all required to be smoke free. Injection pressures have risen over the last 40 years from under 1000 psi to over 25000 psi, all in search of cleaner burning.

No, I have no financial interest in Volvo, I just like a quality product.
Thanks, koliver... Volvo ought to hire you as their web promoter! You've got humor and fact combined to produce a huge thumbs-up for these engines. I will move further into review of the sport fisher that contains these Volvo Diesels. - Art
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:15 AM   #7
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Marin - Thanks for input. I'll keep items in mind. - Art
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:13 AM   #8
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Marin - Thanks for input. I'll keep items in mind. - Art
Given your location I would imagine parts and service availability for Volvo diesels would be at the higher end of the scale.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:02 AM   #9
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To answer your questions above
They only smoke cold, after a good run the are clean at idle
The trolling speed thing is kind of a myth from what i have read. Look at tony Athens articles on Boat diesel.com and make your own decision
The MS4A transmissions (reversing gears) are the stock setup on these motors at the time. They have cone clutches known for having issues.
Also the A series of the TMD41 engine had lower compression ratio and smoked more. the B and up have less smoke cold.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:08 AM   #10
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Given your location I would imagine parts and service availability for Volvo diesels would be at the higher end of the scale.
Agreed!
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:08 AM   #11
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To answer your questions above
They only smoke cold, after a good run the are clean at idle
The trolling speed thing is kind of a myth from what i have read. Look at tony Athens articles on Boat diesel.com and make your own decision
The MS4A transmissions (reversing gears) are the stock setup on these motors at the time. They have cone clutches known for having issues.
Also the A series of the TMD41 engine had lower compression ratio and smoked more. the B and up have less smoke cold.
TY for follow up!
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Old 09-22-2012, 06:59 AM   #12
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"You will find a correlation between the year of the engine (hence the injection pressure) and the amount of smoke."

The COMPRESSION pressure if low will give white smoke till the cylinders get warm and everything expands and fits better.

With Bosch style fuel injection low pressure simply will not be enough to open the injector and get the squirt of fuel.

Bosch style injectors are fairly cheap to have rebuilt, new nozzle and springs shimmed to correct pressure is maybe $65 each . R&R no big deal.

"Injection pressures have risen over the last 40 years from under 1000 psi to over 25000 psi, all in search of cleaner burning."

Your Volvo will be about 15 -1600psi to operate,The 25,000 lb units are a grand each! Plus a $10,000 black box.

"I hear all the time about how expensive Volvo parts are. Frankly, that information is flagrantly inflammatory, as these engines are so reliable, they never need the parts. I think that is why the parts cost so much....nobody keeps them in stock, so they have to be ordered from the factory, if ever actually needed."


Somewhat unique concept as piston miles , time om the engine or gallons of fuel burned wear out ALL engines.

If Volvo never wore out the commercials would ALL install Volvo, instead of avoiding them like the Plague!

Having repaired and replaced most type engines under 300hp , A Volvo would never be specified in any new build of ours.

Even normal PM parts are seldom in stock , pay to fly in a fuel filter ? no thanks.
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Old 09-22-2012, 09:27 AM   #13
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"You will find a correlation between the year of the engine (hence the injection pressure) and the amount of smoke."

The COMPRESSION pressure if low will give white smoke till the cylinders get warm and everything expands and fits better.

With Bosch style fuel injection low pressure simply will not be enough to open the injector and get the squirt of fuel.

Bosch style injectors are fairly cheap to have rebuilt, new nozzle and springs shimmed to correct pressure is maybe $65 each . R&R no big deal.

"Injection pressures have risen over the last 40 years from under 1000 psi to over 25000 psi, all in search of cleaner burning."

Your Volvo will be about 15 -1600psi to operate,The 25,000 lb units are a grand each! Plus a $10,000 black box.

"I hear all the time about how expensive Volvo parts are. Frankly, that information is flagrantly inflammatory, as these engines are so reliable, they never need the parts. I think that is why the parts cost so much....nobody keeps them in stock, so they have to be ordered from the factory, if ever actually needed."


Somewhat unique concept as piston miles , time om the engine or gallons of fuel burned wear out ALL engines.

If Volvo never wore out the commercials would ALL install Volvo, instead of avoiding them like the Plague!

Having repaired and replaced most type engines under 300hp , A Volvo would never be specified in any new build of ours.

Even normal PM parts are seldom in stock , pay to fly in a fuel filter ? no thanks.
Fred - TY for input. Of the posts you seem most cautionary about Volvo diesels. I've a couple questions and highlighted your areas pertaining to same:

"The COMPRESSION pressure if low will give white smoke till the cylinders get warm and everything expands and fits better." - Due to same reasons as with most diesel engine brandss - correct?

"With Bosch style fuel injection low pressure simply will not be enough to open the injector and get the squirt of fuel." - Is Bosch fuel injection standard on Volvo? Other types available that might be more conducive to higher pressure?

"Bosch style injectors are fairly cheap to have rebuilt, new nozzle and springs shimmed to correct pressure is maybe $65 each. R&R no big deal." - At $65 plus easy R&R to rebuild Bosch seems OK. How long do Bosch last with good pressure between rebuilds?

"Your Volvo will be about 15 -1600psi to operate,The 25,000 lb units are a grand each! Plus a $10,000 black box." - Yow! 25,000 lb units a grand plus $10,000 black box. Please define "back box"???

"If Volvo never wore out the commercials would ALL install Volvo, instead of avoiding them like the Plague!

Having repaired and replaced most type engines under 300hp , A Volvo would never be specified in any new build of ours.

Even normal PM parts are seldom in stock, pay to fly in a fuel filter? no thanks." - Fred, I'd say you are in general thumbs down toward Volvo Diesels. Any upside at all to Volvo that you see?

Again, Thanks, Art
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Old 09-22-2012, 09:55 AM   #14
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a freind of mine had to wait 5 weeks for a oil cooler and the cost was 2400$ for volvo engine no one had one in stock?
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:08 AM   #15
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a freind of mine had to wait 5 weeks for a oil cooler and the cost was 2400$ for volvo engine no one had one in stock?
one of the things that always amazes me is that a lot of boat owners think that there are not alternatives to some of the extraneous parts on our engines. Oil coolers, fuel filters, transmission coolers, heat exchangers many times do not need to be replaced with the exact original part. Most times they can be replaced with a " universal" part that will function as good or better than the stock part. There will be the need to fab up additional brackets/mounts but is can be done with little hassle in most cases. Granted it may take some thought and trial and error but just about anything is possible
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:16 AM   #16
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the oil cooler was part of the engine block and could nort be jury rigged with another cooler, or it would have been done.sometimes you have to bight the bullet?
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:21 AM   #17
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a freind of mine had to wait 5 weeks for a oil cooler and the cost was 2400$ for volvo engine no one had one in stock?
Ouch!

I wonder why Volvo parts are as such... just reduced parts sales due to low numbers of engine sales... I guess???
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:27 AM   #18
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one of the things that always amazes me is that a lot of boat owners think that there are not alternatives to some of the extraneous parts on our engines. Oil coolers, fuel filters, transmission coolers, heat exchangers many times do not need to be replaced with the exact original part. Most times they can be replaced with a " universal" part that will function as good or better than the stock part. There will be the need to fab up additional brackets/mounts but is can be done with little hassle in most cases. Granted it may take some thought and trial and error but just about anything is possible
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True!
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:28 AM   #19
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the oil cooler was part of the engine block and could nort be jury rigged with another cooler, or it would have been done.sometimes you have to bight the bullet?
Another black mark toward Volvo diesels.
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:51 AM   #20
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the oil cooler was part of the engine block and could nort be jury rigged with another cooler, or it would have been done.sometimes you have to bight the bullet?

Most of the time a little " Macgyver" engineering can remedy the stock configuration.

We were headed out of one of the southern passes in Fiji on our passage to New Zealand in 1994 when I the bilge alarm went off. A quick assessment was that the heat exchanger had blown through a couple of tubes. We pulled back into the lee of a reef, removed the exchanger... JB welded the offending tubes shut and continued the passage south. When we sold the boat a couple years later the same heat exchanger was in service. Many times yacht owners will ONLY use the " stock" setup as they are led to believe ( a lot of the time by marine trades mechanics ) it is the only way.
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