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Old 05-24-2022, 07:28 PM   #1
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Early 70's Detroit 4-53

Hello Everyone,

I am wondering the general thoughts of this propulsion system..? I have heard really good things of Detroit Diesels, and I'm assuming this model would be no different.

I am also wondering about the serviceability of this engine. Are parts still readily available? If a rebuild was needed, would it be worth the effort over repower with something newer? I realize this is a very general question, and more details would be needed for an accurate opinion... If a repower was in order, I would welcome your opinions/suggestions on modern day equivalent to these powerplants.

My apologies if this has already been discussed... If so, please direct me to the thread. I was not able to find such a thread in my searches.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-24-2022, 07:42 PM   #2
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They are noisy and generally leak. But parts are available and they tend to run forever. They are loud but it is a throaty noise so to me they sound great. You can get more efficient engines with newer technology but will it ever payoff? Probably not.
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Old 05-24-2022, 08:06 PM   #3
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The "throaty roar" you speak of is the two stroke engine firing twice as many times as a four stroker per revolution,,,and they were not designed to leak and can be made oil tight with some effort..>>>Dan
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Old 05-24-2022, 08:13 PM   #4
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still parts available...but even DD 2 stroke parts are getting harder to find. I'd rebuild and wouldn't hesitate if it was in a boat that I really liked and was considering buying.. You don't provide many details so...
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Old 05-24-2022, 08:55 PM   #5
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Detroits are generally loud, but apparently can be quietened a bit by people in the know. Some of it comes from induction (air intake) which I guess is where part of the focus would be.

However, I gather that the the 4-53 is noisier than most of the other models. I recall a guy with them in a Hatteras LRC. He has to wear earmuffs when at the helm. That would cross a red line for me. Throaty sounds are fine, but going deaf from industrial noise is not OK in this day and age.
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Old 05-24-2022, 10:18 PM   #6
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4-53 came in several different HP configurations. At 140hp. It is an awesome long life engine. At 260hp it is an awesome short life engine.
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Old 05-24-2022, 10:45 PM   #7
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Mechanics who really know 2-cycle Detroits are getting harder to find. My shop won't work on them anymore after their specialist retired. Parts are available but check out service availability in your area.
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Old 05-25-2022, 01:10 AM   #8
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Mechanics who really know 2-cycle Detroits are getting harder to find. My shop won't work on them anymore after their specialist retired. Parts are available but check out service availability in your area.
A lot of mechanics now donít know what to do if they canít plug a computer into the engineÖ
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Old 05-25-2022, 02:14 AM   #9
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I would ask a couple local shops about service. I last worked with them in the early 80s. They were good engines but leaked at the end plates and airbox covers. Really touchy about timing. they had a mechanical centrifugal governor and you needed about 5 special tools that were machined pins that were used to set injector timing. Called setting the rack i would spend about a day getting it perfect and they would really runout good. If you have a shop about running the rack and they just give dumb looks your in trouble. They didnt like to lug. That was the cause of most of the oil leaks. The rule for the driver was to run it floored. That moved a lot more air helping keep the air boxes pressurized around the cylinder liners.
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Old 05-26-2022, 02:39 AM   #10
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Detroit 2 cycles are some of the most reliable marine engines. Much simpler than anything built today.

There's a bunch of places that sell engine kits. Check the internet. Rebuild parts are available world wide. ebay has parts and rebuild kits. Some people buy and disassemble engines to sell the parts.
I ran 6v53s in Vietnam. They held up well for having kids run them at full throttle all the time.
Detroits don't have to leak. It depends on the mechanic. Properly installed seals and gaskets don't leak. But the engines do put out an oily mist when not configured right. Buy a service manual, usually found on ebay, and be your own best mechanic.
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Old 06-02-2022, 05:39 PM   #11
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Thank you everyone for all the information. The knowledge on this forum never ceases to amaze me. If/when I get more details I might have some follow up questions, but the information herein has been very helpful
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Old 06-02-2022, 08:22 PM   #12
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Duwam

I was aboard Duwam in about 2010.

The skipper was a wiley old man like me now. Had been a fisherman for many decades. I was amazed when I looked down the stairs and saw how incredibility deep this boat was. Duwam was designed by Hand (William I think) and powered by a 4-53 GM diesel. I heard nothing but positive re the 4-53. I think he was 73 then. IMO the three cylinder 53 engine would probably have been plenty of power.
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Old 06-06-2022, 12:57 PM   #13
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Yes finding an experienced technician is the key. I would imagine in HI there is someone who can help you. If not, fly someone in from the Pacific NW. You do that - and your oil leaks are gone.
DD's run great. If you want quiet in a boat it's just cubic dollars and you are there. Even DD's. Someday in retirement that might be a good project for me to tackle.
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Old 06-06-2022, 01:53 PM   #14
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... fly someone in from the Pacific NW. You do that - and your oil leaks are gone.
I found that eliminating the oil leaks on my 6-71s was rather simple and the new gaskets were affordable. Regarding to rebuilding, a guy with a 50 year old 4-53 may not have the budget to fly in a tech. For the same cost however, he could buy an old but excellent service manual, join boatdiesel.com for $25, and purchase an entire in-frame rebuild kit. Then either do it himself or with a local mechanic as a guide.
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Old 06-06-2022, 07:28 PM   #15
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I had twin 4-53's of approx 1972 heritage in my 1969 GB-42-125. It originally had Daytona's when Robert & Mildred Newton (founder of American Marine Ltd., now Grand Banks Ltd.) first owned her, but somewhere during the second owner, that guy knew Daytona Marine Diesel DME-6 was discontinued around 1974+/-. So he did NOT want motors he could not get parts for, so he had 4-53's with the smallest injectors M-10, I believe, rated at 100 hp continuous duty, some books stated 120 hp.
These engines were phenomenal. Absolutely, hands down, better in my opinion than Ford Lehmans. These were not too loud, no hearing protection for me outside of the engine room. Loved the sounds from the FB. Easiest to maintain and could get my GB 42 classic to 7.5 knots (on flat water) at 1.15/gallons/hour per engine as verified from 40 gallon and 40-inch high day tank with sight gauge visible from aft stateroom. So it was way more accurate than the four flow sensors I have on my smaller vessel with FL that often registers twice to three times that consumption.
Boy I have wished many, many times that I could have those DD 4-53's over my FL 120's (E-Con-O Power).
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Old 06-19-2022, 07:57 AM   #16
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I have the 453 in my Willard with 2400 original hours,runs great,starts every time,very reliable,sounds great when I run her hard,seems that anyone that has had them absolutely love them,wish it was the 353,but this engine grew on me,so easy to work on,parts are everywhere and wouldn’t even hesitate to get another,even if I ever repowered it would be the 353
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