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Old 11-13-2017, 12:38 AM   #21
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The OP has to start somewhere and some of the ideas expressed are, imo, not far off the mark. Based on my experience, the experiences of other boat owners I talk to, even things I read on TF.
I second comments Hino is a reputable brand.So are Perkins, but watch for the ones rebranded Volvo. Lehmans are good, but not without fault. I wonder if any engine is completely without fault. Of course maintenance is important, but it won`t turn a pigs ear into a silk purse.
Some of the responses are like those mystery received regarding the Beneteau 44. That`s before he received the apologies.
Hang in there ScottH, there is constructive help embedded.

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Old 11-13-2017, 01:30 AM   #22
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The OP is looking at a boat size that is kinda interesting. IMO below 40' and its feasible for the average Joe to run a planing hull, even if he mostly runs at trawler speeds. Above 40' and you start getting into significantly heavier boats with relatively high HP engines. Sure you can get these boats to plane but the fuel burn gets horrendous pretty fast. There are exceptions to this as well, such as newer foam-cored hulls. But in older boats I think the first decision is whether you are happy with <10kn or want high teens. If the latter, then specific engine brands, and how hard they have been pushed in terms of HP/litre, can become a factor.

Next is to find a boat that ticks the boxes in regard to layout, number of cabins etc. Then boat condition, and finally what engines does it have? Are there regular maintenance records? Personally I may well baulk at the final hurdle if it had 2 stroke diesels. Or Volvo. But again, it depends on what the engine survey indicated, and the boat price.

You can always factor in a re-power down the track once you have confirmed the boat meets your needs in all other aspects. Again, is it a good price? Know you may never recoup the cost of a re-power. And for the cost of a re-power you will get a many, many years worth of expensive Volvo parts. Still, once done you should have excellent reliability and confidence that you can rely on it for extended trips, or rare and precious holidays if you are still working. That peace of mind is almost priceless. For a boat you know you will keep for many years, its fine to go down the re-power path.

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Old 11-13-2017, 07:32 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by ScottH View Post
I've heard lots of comments saying some engines are great, others are to be avoided. It hard to know which comments are accurate and which are not.

Good that you can do research...

But forget all that for a while.... find a boat you like and that meets your basic requirements, then do research on the engine(s) in question.

There have been some "bad" Cats (the French-built bad block issue), a Volvo can be great when your Volvo tech is just around the corner, old Detroit 2-strokes can be rebuilt/repaired forever, Hino diesels are probably in a boatload of Isuzu and Toyota trucks maybe everywhere but the U.S., turbos and aftercoolers aren't all that big a deal...

And when it comes down to it, fitness for purpose -- and more importantly, the routine maintenance and service (with records) for the specific engine(s) you encounter in the boat you might buy -- are much more important than the brand/model... in most cases.

Concentrate on features you require -- space, layout, systems, etc. -- first, and worry about minor details like propulsion power after you've identified your target boat(s).

IOW, don't shop for engines with a boat attached. Instead, shop for boats... that happen to have engines.

Chesapeake Bay, USA
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Old 11-13-2017, 07:39 AM   #24
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Whichever brand has the lowest cost and easiest to find parts, and plenty of folks in your area that work on them. The lowest cost parts and labor will easily offset any small gains in better fuel efficiency, unless you plan to cruise 10,000's of hours per year.

Agree with AusCan in #4.

Specific brands don't mean much, especially as opinions on the "interwebs" are typically from people who have had only one specific incident and then attribute their singular experience to an entire line of engines.

Also ask those same mechanics in your area which engines they PREFER to work on.
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Old 11-13-2017, 07:46 AM   #25
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On a used boat the decades of use and maint will be more important than the brand.

And there is seldom much you can do if the PO didnt keep records.

A boat with a decade of oil sample results would show a smart owner ,that probably did service the engine, but there rare.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:25 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
We can't compare truck diesels to boat diesels because there aren't any boat diesels any more.

There have been a few small purpose built marine diesels in the past such as the the Volvo MD series up until 1984. (It was one of their good engines) Almost all new "marine" diesels are truck, bus, or tractor engines that have been marinized.

Yanmar tries to market their marine engines as "purpose built" and give them a different model number from the tractor engines, but they are still basically the same with a marinizing kit.

I agree that Yanmar have great parts service. That has been Volvo's downfall.

Very well said AusCan, Bruck K, Conrad, Twistedtree and others.
Gaston I’m pleasantly surprised to know Hino’s are Isuzus. As one of my favorites I tried to get an Isuzu for Willy but they didn’t have the right size. I preach not to overpower and I practice what I preach.

As AusCan wrote there are no marine engines. I can produce a list of engines in the 50’s that were actually marine engines. Most all of them had the flywheel on the front of the engine so the engine could be installed as low in the hull as possible. And as many were flat head gas engines very low engine heights were common.

For me I’m still where I was 12 years ago. My Mitsu has been perfect in every way so I’d get another. And I’m sure if I had bought an Isuzu I’d be just as happy. And I’ve never had to buy parts so I probably would have been just as happy w a Volvo.

Regarding rebuilding one rebuild isn’t as another. Rebuilding a DD is almost a bullet proof choice w a reputable shop. Rebuilding others can be an excellent choice if parts are still available and the basic engine design is not laced w hard to justify old technology. Yes I said that. But w my own engine I don’t know any benefits from the engine as a result of it being new. Someone said thinwall block casting is probably one. Maybe some aspect of fuel injection. Metallurgy in valves pistons or cylinder walls ... ?? However one of the reasons I bought it was for the combustion chamber starting heaters. Going to Alaska I wanted every advantage to dependable starting. I even pulled one of the heaters out and checked. It got red hot. However my Yanmar engine started very dependably. And it had no prechamber or heater.

The OP was wise making this post beyond the fact that we needed something to talk about. But what he was actually looking for he’ll be unlikely to find. Few here will mention any common faults in an engine that many have in their boats on TF. All those people would consider it badmouthing and feel attacked. As if they made the engine. Kinda the opposite of asking the dealer of brand C about brand B.

But as others have said the big takaway is that all engines are basically good and the boat and engine history is much more important than engine brand. However if one repowers that’s one history not to be worried about.
And you don’t need a dealer down the street. But the historical ability for engine people to service customers in distant places is golden. Shy away from “airfreight .. oh we don’t do that”.

Whenever someone asks me about buying old boats I tell them to give great preference to the boats w newer engines.

North Western Washington State USA
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:32 AM   #27
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"Cummins: Pros: Been around forever. Good fuel economy. Reliable.
Cons: After-market parts not readily available. Require mechanics with specialized training to fix them. Those mechanics are not always available locally. Labor & mechanics' travel costs can make repairs much.more expensive than for other engines."

I think these comments pertain to the Tier 3 common rail engines. Routine service including fluids and valve adjustment and aftercooler cleaning can be performed by almost any diesel mechanics and boatyard.

Finding service tech trained on the computer controlled side of the engine is indeed harder. BUT the same problem exists for any of the computer controlled Tier 3 common rail engines including Yanmar, Cat, Lugger and John Deere. It is not unique to Cummins. I ran a boatyard which was a service center for all of those engines. We had techs trained on tier 3 Deeres and Yanmars, but not on Tier 3 Cummins or Cats. We knew better than to try and work on the engines for which our techs were not trained or certified. My own boat was one of the very first Cummins common rail engines to be hit by lightning. I had no certified tech and could not lt my own technicians work. on my own engine.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:40 AM   #28
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Let me comment in bold below:

Originally Posted by ScottH View Post

Ford Lehman: Pros: Been around for years. Good, simple engines with good fuel economy, not breakdown prone, and last a long time. After-market parts readily available, and reasonably priced. Most mechanics can work on them. Mostly true. American Diesel is the go to source for info and parts.
Cons: None

Caterpillar: Same as Ford Lehman. The NA 3208 is really the most prevalent Cat engine seen on older trawlers. I would call it about the same as the Lehman.

Perkins: Same as Ford Lehman. The Perkins mani or multi coolers are almost unobtainable and if you can find a new one, very expensive or you have to get a new one fabricated, also expensive.

John Deer/Lugger- You missed this one. Solid, dependable, heavy block, low speed for its power. Used by commercial fishermen a lot.

Detroit: Pros: Been around for ever, After-market parts readily available. Most mechanics can fix them.
Cons: 2 cycle diesels. Run at higher revs than 4-strokes and burn a lot more fuel. More prone to breakdowns, and don't last as long. Burns no more fuel than a Perkins, Lehman or Cummins. Their long lasting hit comes from sport fishermen who run them to the pins. Run them like you would the Lehman and they will last every bit as long.

Cummins: Pros: Been around forever. Good fuel economy. Reliable.
Cons: After-market parts not readily available. Require mechanics with specialized training to fix them. Those mechanics are not always available locally. Labor & mechanics' travel costs can make repairs much.more expensive than for other engines. I beg to differ on all of the cons unless you are talking about the current QSBs. And that comment is applicable to all electronic, common rail engines.

Volvo: Have heard nothing good about Volvo's. They are very prone to breakdowns, no after-market parts are available, Volvo parts are hard to get, take a long time to arrive, and are extremely expensive. And Volvo mechanics are said to be some of the most expensive out there. Breakdowns are frequent and repair costs are 'outrageous'. Saw an online survey about recommended brands for repowering boats, and 4 out of 5 respondents said Volvos were the worst possible choice you could make.

Yanmar: You also missed this one. Generally you only see the smaller JH series Yanmars in the smaller trawlers, but it is as solid an engine as any. The bigger 4LH, 6LP and 6LY Yanmars are all turbo charged and after cooled, but no more problematic than any others of this type.

Hino:. Many Bayliner 45's have them installed. Haven't heard anything about them, good, bad or indifferent. Don't know who makes them. Sceptical of a 'no name' brand.

Also, if you have any thoughts about turbocharged engines vs naturally aspirated, I'd appreciate your comments. There have been volumes posted on this forum on this topic. In very, very summary form- turbo charged engines let you produce high power when you need it. And other than some extra maintenance, no real downside if you don't need it. But if you never need it, stay away- more money, complexity and maintenance.

And finally, any opinions on dual engines vs single engines in a trawler would be appreciated. More than volumes have been written on this topic, maybe more than on anchors. Do a search on this forum. That will give you hours of reading pleasure.

And there you have it. You can comment here, or shoot me an email directly at

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Old 11-13-2017, 11:43 AM   #29
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I'm a newbie here so I can't speak to the pros and cons of each engine manufacturer. All I can offer is my own, limited experience and opinion as we moved through the selection/elimination/purchase process

As we searched for our "perfect" boat I read what seemed like hundreds of post or blogs either praising or denouncing just about every mfg. For every example of a pro I would also find examples of cons. The only "pattern" I found was that examples seemed to be either from anecdotal failure experience or a strong opinion, sometimes hearsay but never data.

It's like the Ford vs Chevy debate - a religious discussion. I've owned both brands (and others) over the years and both work just fine when managed and maintained.

I think this decision has more to do with your specific use case than anything else. For us, we wanted something simple, DIY ready (I'm fairly handy) and economical (both in running and in maintenance).

Early on I had a preference for Lehman engines, but also looked at boats with Cats and Cummins. I preferred non-turbo and low tech in each case (we decided on a full displacement hull so didn't need extra hp). I also looked more at actual maintenance (documented and apparent) as that said a lot about how the engine was managed during what might be a 30+ year lifespan. I never disqualified an engine mfg up front but would consider it as a factor only after we like the actual boat. For example, early on, we looked at several OA MK1's. One had a Cummins, another had Lehman's and a third was re-powered with JDs (reflected in the price). All things equal I had a preference for the OA with the Lehman's because I felt as if I could perform most of the preventative maintenance and troubleshooting myself.

In the end we landed on a boat that wasn't even on our radar and the fact that it had low hour, well maintained Lehman's just helped to close the deal for us.

The one thing I highly recommend is when you find the boat, pay for a separate engine/mechanical survey. We did and it was invaluable for calibrating what we saw in apparent and documented maintenance matched up with reality. I also got a lot of free advice along with the survey.

In short, find the right boat, then evaluate the installed power plant on their own merit as they sit in the hull.

Good luck with your search
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:07 PM   #30
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A very important consideration is serviceability. Is there a reputable service / parts source close by. Even a “Bad” Engine can be a reliable power plant if you have a knowledgeable service facility/ technician to rely on. There are fixes for most problems engineered into an engine by the OEM. It’s usually just a question of having a technician with the product knowledge, experience, and access to technical service bullitans (TSB’s) to resolve the problem. The damage really occurs when inexperience and ignorance comes into play.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:43 PM   #31
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I'd suggest first looking for boats that meet you objectives, then once you have a candidate, get the EXACT model engine and go search for it on You will pretty quickly get a picture of what to look out for with at particular engine. Most have a wart or two. Occasionally their will be dead silence or very few posts. That's usually a really good sign.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:53 PM   #32
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I've owned:

Yamaha outboard
Mercruiser I/O
Volvo I/O
Textron (formerly Weber) Inboard


HP-100 hp to 2,895

Never any significant problems with the engines or getting service.

All purchased new and all maintained only by good mechanics certified in the brand.

Common rail, turbocharged, electronic, none of those things have been negatives.

However, in purchasing used you don't know so two means of protection. One is reviewing the maintenance history. The other is the engine survey including fluid analysis. Brand name is not going to protect you against a poorly maintained engine or one serviced by someone who didn't know what they were doing.

Now, your planned use for the engine is important and your planned cruising area. The last boat we purchased, which we just sold, offered Volvo IPS Pods, MAN's or CAT. We chose the MAN because they're much quieter than the CAT's. We didn't choose the pods because we were going to be doing the loop and the likelihood of finding mechanics experienced and trained on pods was much less than those with experience on straight inboards in many areas we'd be traveling.

Recently there were discussions here on Hyundai Seasall. From everything I have heard a fine engine with some significant advantages of size and weight. My concern was service in many areas. Still some concern, but just in the months since the conversations, their service network has dramatically improved.

I've also seen some RIB's using the Subaru Boxer Diesel Engines which allow a diesel where none has gone before in a small rib with only 200 pounds more weight than a comparable gas engine. Traditionally in RIB's, the weight difference has been closer to 700 pounds. Interesting and could be tempting to some. Different, but nothing unusual about the engine or parts. However, for the average boatyard it would be a strange little beast.

Every manufacturer has also had some issues over their lifetime so whatever brand it is, talk to those knowledgeable about that brand to find out what they know about that model in that year. Here's where real fans of the brand are helpful, because they also know the issues experienced best. Also, it's important to check with someone knowledgeable of the brand to know about parts availability for the model and year in question. Parts will become more difficult to find at some point in the life of every engine. This is where the advantage often goes to the engines made in the greatest quantity.

Ultimately, you don't care brand, what you care about is the one or two specific engines in a specific boat. I'll use CAT's in SF's as an example. SF people will praise them as the greatest and how well they take the abuse given by many. However, the other side is that many of them have been abused.
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Old 11-13-2017, 02:37 PM   #33
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I agree about putting the collection of wive's tales, dockside legend, and generalizations in the opening post through a shredder and data wiping the memory of it.

If you can't afford to have a reserve account for an engine or transmission failure, or the equivalent, then save some more money until you do. The boat will find a way of asking for it sooner or later; unless of course you win the yachtsman's lottery as I am sure some will have claimed to on here at some point.

"There's the Right Way, the Wrong Way, and what some guy says he's gotten away with"
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Old 11-13-2017, 03:02 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
If you can't afford to have a reserve account for an engine or transmission failure, or the equivalent, then save some more money until you do.

Good point. Especially if looking for a "bargain".
It was one of the reasons I bought a full displacement boat with a small, single engine. It can be re-powered without mortgaging the house.
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Old 11-13-2017, 03:42 PM   #35
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I am in Vero Beach and sat next to a gentleman on the bus who told me about his 2000 American tug. He has a six cylinder Cummins, over 12,000 hours on the engine, and he has done nothing internal. That is a pretty impressive number.
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Old 11-13-2017, 04:25 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Let me comment in bold below:
David, to add to your post #28 good summary:

Cat 3208s have not been made since the late 80s. The 3116 and 3126 replaced them and in turn were replaced by the C7

DD 6-71s were done by the early 90s, I had a chance to buy a refloated 48 Tolly, that during rebuild had installed the last two ever made - and had been crated up for a decade by DD.

The last year for the Lehmans was about 1988

Perkins has not made any engines with mani coolers since the early 90s. All made during the last two decades are termed Perkins Sabre.
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Old 11-13-2017, 05:08 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Gordon J View Post
I am in Vero Beach and sat next to a gentleman on the bus who told me about his 2000 American tug. He has a six cylinder Cummins, over 12,000 hours on the engine, and he has done nothing internal. That is a pretty impressive number.

That's only 3 years in a truck at much higher RPM
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Old 11-13-2017, 06:55 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by gaston View Post
That's only 3 years in a truck at much higher RPM
? This truck comment has nothing to do with the thread. the guy was talking about a boat with a Cummins that has run so far almost 18 years with no internal work needed....
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Old 11-13-2017, 07:03 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Hamrow View Post
? This truck comment has nothing to do with the thread. the guy was talking about a boat with a Cummins that has run so far almost 18 years with no internal work needed....

Was just pointing out 12000 hours on internals is nothing to worry about sorry to upset you
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Old 11-13-2017, 07:41 PM   #40
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Just traded in my 12 year old Suburban. It had about 1700 hours. I'm impressed with 12K hours on a boat with a Cummins. Much tougher operating parameters than a light duty truck with same engine.

But how do you put 12K in 17 years on a small boat unless commercial?

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