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Old 05-08-2021, 12:10 PM   #1
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Volvo ??

We are looking for a 34'-40' Trawler (or diesel motor yacht) and have seen a couple we like with Volvo's. From what I've read and heard they smoke a lot and parts are expensive and sometimes hard to find. This has me thinking we need to keep looking. Can a Volvo be "tuned" so she doesn't smoke so much and are the concerns with parts real ??
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:36 PM   #2
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There are some Volvo supporters and some Volvo haters here on TF. You need to ask at your local marine diesel mechanic's shop to see what the local supply of parts is, as not all locations are the same.]Here in SW BC, Canada, Volvos are well supported and popular.

Smoky engines are often related to their design age. Cat 3208's for example, are notorious smokers, and in my own experience, much worse smokers than most other older engines. Some old Detroit Diesels are smoky, again related to their age. What the EPA regs did for diesels in general was to eliminate smoke, but if you are looking for an older boat, you won't get one with the newer technology in the ER, as the old engine that the boat came with is still working just fine.
I upgraded from Volvo TMD40s to Volvo TAMD41s. As part of that renewal, to a more modern engine, I got a little less smoke. It hadn't been bad in the older engines and wasn't the reason for the change, just a post renewal observation. My "new" engines were built in 1990, so before EPA mandated improvements.
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Old 05-08-2021, 12:59 PM   #3
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Navigator yachts had a mostly exclusive deal with Volvo’s , they built hundreds of boats with them. Very few engine related issues, plenty of successful installations.

Smoke can be related to incorrect prop size or bad fuel. Cetane boosters can help. Prop the boat the correct way, at least 50rpm over rated rpm at full load and you should have no problems. The other issue can be related to exhaust back pressure, have to ensure that their is no excessive exhaust pressure overworking the engine.
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Old 05-08-2021, 02:02 PM   #4
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Volvo support depends on where you are located. I had them in a previous boat and would never have them again. Parts took forever to get even on a brand new boat. Older engines parts may be very difficult to source and may take a very long time to get. And they will be very expensive. We are looking for a new boat to us, when I look at a boat on Yachtworld the first thing I look at is what engines it has. If they are Volvos I move on to another boat. But that is just my experience, others experiences may be different.
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Old 05-08-2021, 04:37 PM   #5
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As Keith stated, there are Volvo supporters and those who would chose to avoid them.
I have told my experiences here on TF several times. My experience with Volvo and Volvo Canada in particular started in 2005 (with a new boat) and ended when I sold that boat in late 2015.
Most brands of boat engines have made some good engines and some "not so" good engines. Volvo is not alone in that. However, from my experience with a new engine under warranty for half of the time I owned it, I found that customer service from Volvo Canada was very sub-par, bordering on bad. I found parts to be on the expensive side, and sometimes hard to get (even with a relatively new engine). Once I had to wait for a part to be shipped from the eastern US (about a week or so) and once for a part to be shipped from Sweden! With the Sweden part, I had a choice of paying for air freight (cost more than the part) or wait for "regular' shipping (long wait).

My engine suffered a lower end failure just after the 5 year mark (which theoretically meant the warranty was over), but the engine hours were below the cutoff. I had a metallugical engineer examine the failed parts, and he concluded with 100% confidence that the fault was caused by a connecting rod cap nut not being torqued properly from the factory. Independently the same conclusions were reached by the mechanic who repaired that engine and the insurance adjustor who examined it. Volvo (who did not even see the engine) decided that the cause was "user error" even though they had received a copy of the engineer's report. I had dealt with them earlier for a different issue, and again the response was "user error", with no evidence to support that. Can you say, "Standard answer"?? To be fair, Volvo did end up relenting a bit (after lots of pressure from me), and paid for my insurance deductible when my boat insurance covered most of the cost to repair that engine.

I also experienced a situation where the "local mechanic" (not in my home port) would not even look at the engine because it was a Volvo. Admittedly this would be rare.
My Nordic Tug had a Cummins 6BTA, and I loved that engine. Every mechanic knows that engine, parts are readily available and usually reasonably priced.
Volvo is a popular engine right now for new builds because they offer many incentives to the builder, that I guess other engine company's don't feel they need to offer?
"But that is just my experience, others experiences may be different."
PS - Edit: I know of 2 other boats with the same Volvo engine that suffered the same failure. Just saying.
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Old 05-08-2021, 06:24 PM   #6
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I've never owned Volvos but chartered a couple boats with them in the 1980's. They performed fine but I do remember the smoke. The gears on one boat were slow to answer the helm...something about having a cone clutch?

As stated above, make sure you can get parts and competent service where you live. When you identify a parts source, have the shop give you prices on some random Volvo parts (that you choose) and then compare the price to an equivalent part from, say, Cummins. You can then draw your own conclusions on Volvo parts cost.
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Old 05-08-2021, 07:02 PM   #7
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I will say this from a manufacturers side- Navigator delivered 100s of Volvo powered boats and Carver jumped on the same band wagon. As far as a warranty/policy issue for the builder they were so low that it was not even on the top 50 items. Can’t say that for other engine manufacturers I have worked with.

We did Cat, Cummins: Detroit’s and a couple of MTUs. I do recall Cummins trying to pull the card on an Operator Issue even though it was still under warranty.

All installations were signed off by the Engine supplier, meaning it met all there requirements. One thing I admired was that we would prep a boat for the Seattle boat show, the dealer would pick it up in mid December and run it up north from Newport Beach to Seattle on a tight winter weather window.

The Volvo’s always performed, never skipped a beat on a 1000 mile first “sea trial” with just our minimal factory prep 30 miles from the ocean. Have to admire that out of the box performance.

With the IPS market, Volvo should have a better footprint in the US, they have to be doing pretty good in the diesel inboard market.
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Old 05-08-2021, 08:58 PM   #8
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I'm another Volvo hater, and after three of them you couldn't pay me to take another. No need to. Parts are brutal, IF you can get them. Volvo mechanics are very rare.


Now, if you buy a Volvo powered boat, get it cheap enough to get a re power.


Another MAJOR thing, if you absolutely just gotta have one, look at the real Volvo dealerships and find out how many of them are around you and how many parts they have and what is their service protocol. Some areas have none.
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Old 05-09-2021, 07:41 AM   #9
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I avoided Volvos but eventually found out “otherwise perfect” boat and it had TAMD 72s. A couple of minor parts needed to be replaced but they were made by Siemens and Bosch and were readily available. There is a top notch Volvo technician locally but I never really needed him. The most expensive part was the seal and gasket kit for the Charge Air Cooler service and that was $300. They started every time, ran like a dream and never smoked, even when cold.

Volvo had a deal with a lot of manufacturers where their engines could be installed and the manufacturer didn’t have to pay for them until the boat sold. Good deal for the manufacturer so there are a lot of Volvo engines out there. They’re also in a lot of semi trucks and heavy equipment but you don’t see them broken down on the side of the road.

I’m less worried about the brand of the engine and more worried about how it has been run and how it has been maintained.
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Old 05-09-2021, 08:00 AM   #10
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From everyone I've ever talked to (including some current boat neighbors with Volvos, both gas and diesel), the primary issues are getting parts in a timely manner, parts cost, and availability of a tech willing / able to work on them (which isn't a problem everywhere). For the most part, the engines themselves don't seem to be a source of complaints.
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Old 05-09-2021, 09:29 AM   #11
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I have TAMD40B Volvo diesels and the thing I find is they rarely need parts. In 10 years I have only had to rebuild the circulating pumps. I use GM alternators and keep zincs in my heat exchangers. Glo plugs Autolite FRA1103 are $6 each, New starters are $150 each. There is also a good used market. I can buy an entire running drop out engine if need be for around $3000. And, my Volvos do not smoke. If I was in the market I would want a boat with Volvos.
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Old 05-09-2021, 12:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by obthomas View Post
I have TAMD40B Volvo diesels and the thing I find is they rarely need parts. In 10 years I have only had to rebuild the circulating pumps. I use GM alternators and keep zincs in my heat exchangers. Glo plugs Autolite FRA1103 are $6 each, New starters are $150 each. There is also a good used market. I can buy an entire running drop out engine if need be for around $3000.[/B] And, my Volvos do not smoke. If I was in the market I would want a boat with Volvos.

$3000 would cover what ???
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Old 05-09-2021, 12:44 PM   #13
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As a VOLVO owner for 21 years, I agree with all the negative comments, however my VOLVOs with over 2,000 hours do NOT smoke.
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Old 05-09-2021, 07:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JohnEasley View Post
I avoided Volvos but eventually found out “otherwise perfect” boat and it had TAMD 72s. A couple of minor parts needed to be replaced but they were made by Siemens and Bosch and were readily available. There is a top notch Volvo technician locally but I never really needed him. The most expensive part was the seal and gasket kit for the Charge Air Cooler service and that was $300. They started every time, ran like a dream and never smoked, even when cold.

Volvo had a deal with a lot of manufacturers where their engines could be installed and the manufacturer didn’t have to pay for them until the boat sold. Good deal for the manufacturer so there are a lot of Volvo engines out there. They’re also in a lot of semi trucks and heavy equipment but you don’t see them broken down on the side of the road.

I’m less worried about the brand of the engine and more worried about how it has been run and how it has been maintained.

Not sure where you heard that Volvo would carry terms until a boat sold, never happened in my experience. You have to remember that every boat that leaves a manufacturers plant is already sold to the dealer, the title and liability transfer as soon as it leaves the drive way.

Now they may offer terms that could very from net 30 to net 90, but that is common to all engine suppliers.
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Old 05-10-2021, 06:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnEasley View Post
I avoided Volvos but eventually found out “otherwise perfect” boat and it had TAMD 72s. A couple of minor parts needed to be replaced but they were made by Siemens and Bosch and were readily available. There is a top notch Volvo technician locally but I never really needed him. The most expensive part was the seal and gasket kit for the Charge Air Cooler service and that was $300. They started every time, ran like a dream and never smoked, even when cold.

Volvo had a deal with a lot of manufacturers where their engines could be installed and the manufacturer didn’t have to pay for them until the boat sold. Good deal for the manufacturer so there are a lot of Volvo engines out there. They’re also in a lot of semi trucks and heavy equipment but you don’t see them broken down on the side of the road.

I’m less worried about the brand of the engine and more worried about how it has been run and how it has been maintained.

John,


Glad you had good experience.



Question: Who is the top notch Volvo mechanic locally? I'm in your area (St. Pete) and could never find one. But, you're right, the mechanic was rarely needed and often didn't require specialized skills, but what was needed was a good source for reasonable parts that one could get in a timely fashion... non existent.
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