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Old 17-06-2014, 18:27   #1
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Bullet Proof Diesel

Hi, looking to buy my first yacht in coming months and would like one with a diesel motor rather than out board. I noticed after 2 yrs of looking at yacht sales, especially in the lower price brackets, it seems than Yanmar diesels are prone to seizing than any other makes. Is this true and if so what would you recommend as a bullet proof make of diesel motor as this might influence my choice of boat. And as I live in Australia, this discussion would mostly concern diesels that are common in boats here I guess. I welcome your feedback.
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Old 17-06-2014, 18:54   #2
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

I'm not a big fan of Yanmar myself, despite their popularity. I suspect that their pricing policies with the big boatbuilder firms has lead to their big numbers in the yachting fleet.

At any rate, for good longevity, you might consider engines based on industrial or farm equipment blocks. The Kubota based marine conversions offered by several vendors come to mind... firms like Beta and Nanni are examples. In larger engines, Cummins, Ford/Lehman and venerable marques like Gardner and Catapillar are very long lived and reliable (and expensive!).

But really, any of the ones that commonly appear in modern yachts, if well maintained, are likely to outlast your ownership of the vessel. The maintenance is your responsibility (and if buying used, that of the PO).

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Old 17-06-2014, 19:30   #3
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

I would consider my cruising plans as a factor. Can I get parts in remote locations.

If staying home in Oz what are the distributor networks like?

Same goes for transmissions.

A guy here basically spent a year trying to find clutch disks for an out of production tranny. Ended up having to have a machine shop make them.

Parts for an older engine line (many Volvo's and Perkins) may exist today but not in 15 years.

Yanmar may be delicate - I don't really have an opinion - but they are plentiful.
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Old 17-06-2014, 19:51   #4
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

I have a different view on Yanmar, if properly maintained, excellent motors. But then I also have a different view on outboards.
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Old 17-06-2014, 19:54   #5
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

Don't think that Yanmars are more prone to seize than any other popular makes. May just be that the lower end price bracket boats are in worse condition with less well maintained engines. Proper maintenance can make a big difference in diesel engine life span. And may appear skewed simply because they are so common.
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Old 17-06-2014, 19:59   #6
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

"Bullet proof diesel"? You must live in my neighbourhood! If I buy a piece of machinery that has a relatively low number produced, I look at availability of parts and servicing. Unless many reports show it to be a real dog, then proper maintenance should keep it reliable.
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Old 17-06-2014, 20:12   #7
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
At any rate, for good longevity, you might consider engines based on industrial or farm equipment blocks.
Like a Yanmar?
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Old 17-06-2014, 20:26   #8
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

"Bullet Proof"??? are you sailing to Chicago?
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Old 17-06-2014, 21:04   #9
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

First, consider how the vast majority of small marine diesel engines are used: Most are installed in sailboats and probably 99% of those boats are used less than two or three times a month and then for only a few hours at a time. Diesel engine manufacturers like Yanmar and Volvo know this and specifically design their engines for this extremely light-duty use. My brother owns a Norseman 447 with a Volvo D3 in it. There's a small placard riveted to the engine block that says, "This engine has a useful life of 1,000 hours" which, for the way most sailboats accumulate engine hours, would be about 20 years.

Blue-water cruising boats are only slightly different. Whereas a long-distance cruiser may put more hours on the engine, its rarely at full-throttle, full load. Most cruisers operate their diesel at a constant speed with only occasional full-throttle bursts. In contrast to this is the construction industry, where diesel-powered equipment is almost always operated by someone other than the owner, where time is money and getting the job done quickly is more important that making sure the piece of equipment is handled gently. Construction equipment is often operated in hot, dusty conditions and where the frequency of maintenance is sometimes pushed to the limit.

These are some of the reasons I chose a Beta Marine when I repowered our boat. It's Kubota engine has a legendary reputation in the construction and agricultural industries for reliability. I can run the engine at Wide Open Throttle with confidence that the engine was built to take it. After 2,200 hours of use, the engine doesn't use or leak any oil in between oil changes (recommended by the engine manufacturer to be every 500 hours) and at our cruising speed only uses .9 gallons/hour of fuel. Its been remarkably reliable.

All that said, a Yanmar or Volvo, despite their light-duty designs, will probably provide the person who owns a sailboat with years of reliable service.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 18-06-2014, 01:42   #10
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

Thanks for all your advice, I can see now that a Yanmar would be okay if it has been looked after and that begs the question, how would I know if its been looked after. Do I ask for service records, probably hard if the boat is over twenty years old and had a few owners. Do I insist on engine report before buying. Makes you wonder if the way to go is buy a cheaper boat and spend saved dollars on engine upgrade. Member:Factor, you said something about views on outboards, what are they, do you feel they are alright on a yacht. I am looking at coastal cruising here on the eastern seaboard of Queensland, going north and inside of Barrier Reef but although I will not be crossing oceans, I would like to, a least once, point the bow east and sail a couple of hundred Kilometers out into open ocean and back again . Some of the yachts I have been looking at, have outboard wells inside the cockpit and I wondered if these would be okay in a swell as opposed to yachts with outboards sitting out in the middle of no where on the back of a transom. You would think those would get swamped by waves and drowned. Again, comments welcome. PS: georgetheleo, I am wondering why you wanted to know if I was traveling to Chicago.
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Old 18-06-2014, 02:46   #11
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pirate Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

The Chicago reference was a US joke about crime rates. Guns are not OK in Chicago yet there's a bunch of shootings and killings in the inner city by urban youth of urban youth. Evolution working IMO.

When I was a kid outboard engines were reliably unreliable but modern electronic ignition systems cured that. Still, few of us want all that weight hanging off the back of the boat.
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Old 18-06-2014, 05:30   #12
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

Isuzu, Kubota, John Deere, Cat., Lister, are the most bullet proof engines I know, the old style that doesn't need electronics to run. As has been stated before, a key element is maintenance. Keep clean fuel, clean oil, clean air going into the engine and almost any diesel will run a long time, unless you overheat it. When Yanmar initially entered the marine diesel market they had some issues, because of that I have a distrust of them. I also have a distrust of high rpm diesels, they may be perfectly fine, they just scare me. Once you get over 2150 rpm in my mind you are on dangerous ground with a diesel engine, nothing factual to back up my feelings about this, I am just accustomed to running a slower turning engine.
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Old 18-06-2014, 06:24   #13
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by nhschneider View Post
My brother owns a Norseman 447 with a Volvo D3 in it. There's a small placard riveted to the engine block that says, "This engine has a useful life of 1,000 hours"
I can find no other info other than your posts corroborating this placard and the 1,000hrs.

What I have been able to find is that Volvo-Penta warranties that engine for 1,000hrs or 2yrs, whichever comes first.

Are you sure you haven't misinterpreted that placard? It would be strange that the warranty period on the engine was placed so close to a known end-of-life. I mean, if it died at 999hrs, Volvo would have to replace it. Doesn't seem likely to me.

Further, the identical Perkins engine does not seem to have that either. Volvo simply resells the Perkins in a different color.

Mark
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Old 18-06-2014, 06:26   #14
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

I am with you captain58, I do not know a lot about diesel motors, but what I do know influences me toward slower revving diesels for longer life, that's a moot point i guess when they price range of boats that I am looking at mainly have yanmar and a sprinkling of volvo's amonst them. And just to add another dimension to this debate, what do you think of raw salt water cooled diesel engines(no heat exchangers) as a lot of volvo diesel engines here in Australia seem to have that setup.
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Old 18-06-2014, 06:35   #15
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Re: Bullet Proof Diesel

Definitely like the keel cooler, isolated system, opposed to raw water cooling.
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