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Old 31-07-2015, 20:22   #1
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Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

We are looking at catamarans for sale from the mid 90's. Many of these boats have high engine hours and would need to be re-powered. The boats we like all have sail drives and around 30 horsepower diesels. If we have this opportunity it would allow us to change manufacturers potentially.
What would your recommendation be based on experience. I am thinking about service intervals and costs. Has anyone had bad experiences with one particular sail drive? I am assuming Volvo or Yanmar.
I would love to just have a straight shaft but don't like most of the low bridge deck designs that seem to go along with them ( Leopards mostly ).
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Old 31-07-2015, 20:56   #2
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

Having had both a Yanmar 3HM35F and a Volvo MD2020 in two different boats (both original engines), I'd vote for Yanmar.
Quieter and more dependable.
Both were shaft drive.
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Old 31-07-2015, 20:59   #3
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

Nanni or Beta.. Thats my vote! Especially if the boats are bought in the USA. Very good network of knowledgeable people that can assist with the refit.

After the fit, anywhere in the world has parts availability for both (since they are based on a Kubota block!).
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Old 31-07-2015, 21:04   #4
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

Yanmar seems to have more affordable parts prices.

However, either engine, if well cared for, can reliably operate for 8-10.000 hours. Maybe you don't need to repower.
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Old 31-07-2015, 21:10   #5
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

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Originally Posted by redsky49 View Post
Yanmar seems to have more affordable parts prices.

However, either engine, if well cared for, can reliably operate for 8-10.000 hours. Maybe you don't need to repower.
I'm not an expert, but I think that number is more like 12-18,000..
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Old 31-07-2015, 21:50   #6
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

Yanmar diesel and a Volvo saildrive......guess it wouldn't work though.


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Old 01-08-2015, 05:39   #7
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

The Volvo saildrive will be the most reliable of all the saildrive brands by far and requires the least maintenance, so that narrows your choice if this is a consideration.

You may also want to consider what is already installed. Changing engine beds, wiring, hoses, cable run, etc can be challenging. Often, staying with the existing brand, only a new model, makes this easier.

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Old 01-08-2015, 09:22   #8
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

I'm in a similar situation as I have 1978 Rafiki 37 with the original volvo md17c engine. I talked to my local 30 years in the business marine surveyor and he recommended any of the marinized Kubota engines like the Beta Marine engine.

He commented that Volvo doesn't provide support for their engines after about 10 years and I can attest to the fact that their parts are extremely expensive. The Kubota engine is a tractor engine and after you determine what model engine you have you can buy parts directly from Kubota at tractor rather than marine pricing.

We never did get around to talking about Yanmar so can't help you there. This link might help a little:
Marinized Kubota Engine . . . What Are the Differences ?
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:31   #9
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

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I'm in a similar situation as I have 1978 Rafiki 37 with the original volvo md17c engine. I talked to my local 30 years in the business marine surveyor and he recommended any of the marinized Kubota engines like the Beta Marine engine.

He commented that Volvo doesn't provide support for their engines after about 10 years and I can attest to the fact that their parts are extremely expensive. The Kubota engine is a tractor engine and after you determine what model engine you have you can buy parts directly from Kubota at tractor rather than marine pricing.

We never did get around to talking about Yanmar so can't help you there. This link might help a little:
Marinized Kubota Engine . . . What Are the Differences ?
If you have a drive shaft then Beta is probably and excellent choice but these folks are discussing sail drives and while Beta makes a sail drive I believe Volvo is the leader in this type of set up.
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:20   #10
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

The Yanmar are good engines. But if you o with saildrive, beware of the Yanmar SD40 and SD50 -- they have lousy designs and will fail at about 500 hours. Supposedly, the SD60 has a different design, and is not known to have these problems (yet).
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:30   #11
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

Hi I have a diesel mechanic friend in the SA navy here in Simonstown and he works on both and says Volvo is far more problematic generally than Yanmar.I had 2x18 HP two GM 20's in my cat a 36 ft Dean aero and they needed to be overhauled and it cost next to nothing .I was really surprised at how simple they were.Hope that helps .
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:51   #12
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

I should modify my statement above regarding saildrives to say that the Yanmar SD20 is a rugged drive. The only Yanmar drive I would be satisfied with - the SD60 hasn't been around long enough for reliability data.

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Old 01-08-2015, 12:36   #13
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

Had Marinized Isuzu, great engine BUT the marinzation part meant I had to completely remove water pump to change impeller. Huge PIA.. ONLY Yanmar makes a dedicated marine engine ( Maybe John Deere and Beta too).

Volvo may make great cars but ALL their engines suck big time and are often shooty at the exhaust! Had one of them too, never again! No question Yanmar. JD was 50% heavier and 50% more $$$$ to boot.
Russ VERY Happy Yanmar owner for 5 years now.
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Old 01-08-2015, 13:02   #14
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

I vote yanmar.

I've had a couple atomic 4, volvo 2002, yanmar 2gm, yanmar 3gm, and OMC saildrive. I like yanmar.
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Old 01-08-2015, 13:38   #15
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Re: Re-powering: Volvo or Yanmar

If you aren't going to do the re-powering yourself, changing engine brands could be very expensive. Little things like rerouting fuel lines, wiring and mounts adds up in hours to accomplish. At $80 plus an hour or whatever the local mechanics get, you could easily piss away a couple of boat units in piddly things necessitated by changing engine Mfg.
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