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Old 17-05-2009, 07:29   #1
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42hp Pathfinder Marine Engine

Hi to all,
I'm looking to purchase a 1979 Islander Freeport 36 located in the northeast, Kent Narrows Md. Over all the boat is a real dog in poor shape,water leaks,wet cabin sole..ect. additionally she is not the "plan B model"
The engine is a Pathfinder 42hp that was rebuild two years ago "suppposedly!!!", but never wired up or started.
Any firsthand experinces with these Germany VW engines? The early Rabbit diesels were great are they the same engine basically?
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Old 17-05-2009, 11:29   #2
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My understanding is that the rabbit diesel engine was a converted gas engine and I know from working on them (gas engine) that they were breaking down all the time.
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Old 17-05-2009, 12:33   #3
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I had a 1981 Freeport with the Pathfinder for many years. After doing all the upgrades it proved to be a good and fairly reliable engine. It originally had problems with overheating so I had to re-prop (less pitch), upgrade the water pump">raw water pump, upgrade the hose diameters and install a diverter to divert some of the exhaust water.

I think I also swapped out the generator bracket. It failed on the way to Hawaii and I remember spending 2 days at sea fashioning stainless steel splints with a hack saw and a bit and brace drill.

I had chronic starter motor problems too. I replace one every other year on average, maybe 5 or 6 altogether. Never did figure out why.

Pathfinder in Canada was very helpful in walking me through the cooling system modifications process. That was 15+ years ago though.

The Freeport itself is a sweet boat. Good performance and comfortable. I converted mine to a cutter with running backs.

Good luck,
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Old 17-05-2009, 13:34   #4
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For whatever reason, the Pathfinder diesel fell out of favor. I owned a 1969 Rabbit Diesel, made in Germany, and it was a piece of junk. Engine blew up with under 40,000 miles. The guy who bought my Westsail re-engined it with a pathfinder and it's still going strong after nearly 20 years and a lot of hours.

Aloha
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Pearson 35
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Old 17-05-2009, 14:33   #5
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I have a 1981 Islander Freeport 36 with that Pathfinder engine, but I haven't had any problems with it. When I purchased the boat over 2 years ago, the one system that had the most deferred maintenance was the engine. The engine itself was in good condition, but it took over $4,000.00 to bring everything connected to the engine up to snuff. I stay on top of the regular maintenance, and the engine performs well. Pathfinder has an upgraded engine that can be swapped out for the older engine (along with some cash), and if I ever need to re-power I would go that route. Like roverhi mentioned it fell out of favor for whatever the reason, and it is a little bit harder to find mechanics that know the engine...but if you have the engine manual and membership with Pathfinder it makes things a whole lot easier. From a mechanics point of view it's not all that easy to work on, because it sits low under the floor boards. But from a sailing point of view, that low center of gravity helps a lot in the stability of the boat.
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Old 18-05-2009, 10:22   #6
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Pathfinder diesels were marinized VW Rabbit engines.
They had rubber timing belts, which should be changed out every 2,500 to 3,000 hours. If they break, they tend to eat the valves, and the engines are then often a total loss.

Delmarrey has an ‘81 with 7000 hours and still running strong:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/gallery...age.php?i=1185
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Old 18-05-2009, 11:36   #7
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Islander Freeport 36.... I love those boats! I use to race with someone who had a Pathfinder... boy what a rough running engine.... a lot of vibration
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Old 18-05-2009, 15:47   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Pathfinder diesels were marinized VW Rabbit engines.
They had rubber timing belts, which should be changed out every 2,500 to 3,000 hours. If they break, they tend to eat the valves, and the engines are then often a total loss.

Delmarrey has an 81 with 7000 hours and still running strong:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/gallery...age.php?i=1185
Actually Pathfinder recommends changing the timing belts every 1,000 hours.
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Old 19-05-2009, 06:01   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JiffyLube View Post
Actually Pathfinder recommends changing the timing belts every 1,000 hours.
Thanks for the IMPORTANT correction!
(I indicated changeouts at 2500-3000 Hrs)
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Old 31-10-2009, 18:33   #10
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Pathfinder (VW) Diesel

In 1997, I replaced a Volvo MD6B in my Columbia 9.6 with a VW Rabbit Diesel and lots of help from Pathfinder. I started with 4 Rabbit Diesels from 1981 Vintage cars, all with warped heads due to over heating. I took the best parts from each and built 1 good engine after getting the best head milled at NAPA. Saved lots of spares (alternators, injectors, glow plugs, etc); the rest went in the dumpster.


Then I called Pathfinder and purchased from them the following major modifications - some new, some refurbished.
  • Extra deep aluminum Oil pan (to avoid needing oil cooler)
  • Different Bell Housing and Fly wheel which adapted to Hurth transmission.
  • Water cooled exhaust manifold
  • Raw water pump mounting adaper (bolts on front end of crankshaft) and Raw water pump
  • Heat exchanger
The Hurth transmission is the same as used with many Yanmar engines.

Had to rebuild engine beds/mounts and work out other details such as Morse Throttle & Shift Cables, Electric controls, switches, relays, etc.

Engine is still running good.

I can provide lots more info if you have questions.
gurutwo
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Old 31-10-2009, 20:57   #11
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1000 hours.......
For some that would be the lifetime of the owner
For some that would be 3 months
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Old 31-10-2009, 21:24   #12
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Known issues with the 40 hp diesel vw 1980 era.
Head gaskets would go every 100,000 miles
Heads crack between exhaust and intake valves. This doesn't cause a problem.
If heads are planes, milles you add a thicker headgasket. These have 1-4 notches in the gasket visible from the outside.
In the cars the rubber motormount in the front of the engine would go soft and send excessive vibration to the cars frame. 3-6 hours to change the mount.
Lots of bolts are allen screws.

All in all the engine were right from Germany. In the cars/trucks they got 48 mpg. Would run at high rpms. Start fairly well in cold.

Working on them is straight foward, except extra patients is requires from the allen bolts. If it was mine I would fire it up and run her in the slip for some hours.

If it was TBO 2 years ago then it should be like new money. Fire it up. If you don't want it sell here on ebay. Check out what these vw trucks are going for. They are Hot.
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:41   #13
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Question Where is Pathfinder now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JiffyLube View Post
...the one system that had the most deferred maintenance was the engine. The engine itself was in good condition, but it took over $4,000.00 to bring everything connected to the engine up to snuff. I stay on top of the regular maintenance...if you have the engine manual and membership with Pathfinder it makes things a whole lot easier...
JiffyLube,
I'm considering making an offer on a boat with a Pathfinder 42 HP and a 1.5:1 "V" drive, I suspect that the engine also has a lot of deferred maintenance as did your Islander. I find references to PathfinderMarine.com on the web, go there and get a page about professional development. From everything that I can tell Pathfinder Marine is out of business. How do you get this "membership with Pathfinder"?

For the group,
If I go forward with this boat, I would include a compression test and a fresh water cooling system pressure test (looking for head gasket issues) as part of the survey. Anything else specific to the Pathfinder engine?
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:50   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Pathfinder diesels were marinized VW Rabbit engines.
They had rubber timing belts, which should be changed out every 2,500 to 3,000 hours. If they break, they tend to eat the valves, and the engines are then often a total loss.

Delmarrey has an ‘81 with 7000 hours and still running strong:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/gallery...age.php?i=1185
HAD until this last trip. The idler pully bearing went out, threw the belt and broke the cam. Other then that it was a great running motor. I bought a Yanmar to replace it but I intend to repair the VW if it's not to bad and install it in an old powerboat for puttin' around and maybe some fishin'.
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Old 08-01-2010, 18:33   #15
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I had one until this fall and have dealt with Pathfinder until last summer. Try e-mail pathfinder@pathfindermarine.com phone 514 695 6676
or 514 695 1080 I think one of those will work. They don't have a website.
If that doesn't work try directory assistance for Montreal.
I hope they are still in business Inge and John were great to deal with.
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