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Old 15-06-2018, 22:47   #1
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Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

If you were going to re power your boat would you go with common rail or standard engine.

There are definite advantages to both, and scare stories about CR shutting down. (Standard diesels also shut down but at least can be worked on by the owner).

Has anyone actually had their CR engine shut down due to cpu problems, if so how was it repaired.
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Old 15-06-2018, 22:58   #2
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

Maybe a reflection of my ignorance but 'common rail' is a fuel delivery system and 'naturally aspirated' is talking about the air delivery system .... so the 'or' between the two words should probably be an 'and' no ?


.... and just for the record, I would go with a naturally aspirated engine with an old style injector pump if I had a choice.
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Old 15-06-2018, 23:06   #3
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

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Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
Maybe a reflection of my ignorance but 'common rail' is a fuel delivery system and 'naturally aspirated' is talking about the air delivery system .... so the 'or' between the two words should probably be an 'and' no ?


.... and just for the record, I would go with a naturally aspirated engine with an old style injector pump if I had a choice.
"Naturally aspirated" has not been mentioned so far. The OP is wondering about common rail injection compared to mechanical pump injection... the old standard type of diesel we are all familiar with.

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Old 15-06-2018, 23:07   #4
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

It was a reflection of my ignorance too , so i changed the title! You are quite correct
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Old 15-06-2018, 23:09   #5
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

Methinks I was caught in between edits!

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Old 15-06-2018, 23:10   #6
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

Jim, i did have natural aspitated in the title due to my lack of knowledge , but i edited this out, for STANDARD, as pointed out, sorry for confusion.
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Old 15-06-2018, 23:55   #7
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

If you're crossing oceans or have other reasons for reliability, I would pick an engine that was 100% mechanical with no electrical needs other than starting.

I had tugs and other commercial boats. I still have many working friends. Electronics in a salt water environment are not as reliable as the old mechanical systems. They're not even reliable in trucks, but there you can pull over and wait for a mechanic. I know people that carry a full set of sensors, injectors and circuit boards as spares. Hundreds, if not thousands of dollars tied up in spare electronic parts. A fisherman friend with a new electronic diesel could only idle back in from 100 miles out. And a hundred other stories.

Another issue is the time getting parts at far away places.
The people that love them are the ones that fix them, have the specialized diagnostic equipment, and sell parts.
My diesel pickup is just as bad. My glove box if full of spare electronic parts.
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Old 16-06-2018, 01:11   #8
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Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

I dunno, Im pretty mechanically inclined but Im not sure what Id do if I had a problem with my magic mechanical injection pump.

The thought of a quick swap with spares on a common rail engine is pretty appealing to me.

I wonder if the tradeoff presently is that you are more likely to have a problem with common rail, but also more likely to be able to field repair (assuming you carried spares)?
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Old 16-06-2018, 01:25   #9
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

I am sure common rail diesel engines have their place, including boats. They are common place in cars and trucks, they are smaller, lighter, more environmentally friendly, maybe a tad more fuel efficient.

Those who consider common rail engines, in car, truck or boat. Go to the local repair shop/dealer and ask these questions:
Do you have qualified mechanics that can work on engine XYZ?
Do you have diagnostic tools/computer to check my engine: brand X and model YZ?
How much $$$$ is a set of injectors?
How much $$$$ is an injector pump?
How much $$$$ to replace my computer / wire harness?
How many weeks or months does it take to get it here?
If the first 2 questions are an affirmative, and if you were to need the items in the other questions 3 and 4, and you do not mind the $$$$, and do dont mind waiting for the parts to arrive..go for it, and change to a common rail engine.

For those considering an old diesel workhorse without any electrics the following questions should be asked:
Can I still get spare parts, and how much?
Can I do all the work myself?
Do I need special tools/knowledge?
If answer on the above is yes, yes and no, then an older Perkins, Ford Lehman, Cummings is for you. And for the aficionados: Gardner.assuming you have the room and capacity to carry that weight. Did I mention GM 6V53? eh.. just looked at the OP profile, has a Hans Christian 41? Forget the last 2 brands/models. You may have only limited room under the cockpit, and would like to reduce the weight aft as much as possible. Maybe for you a common rail engine would be a good choice! Or have a look at some Beta/ Nanni/Kubota.

Disclaimer: I may be biased in a 2 to 1 ratio: have x2 old fashioned simple and heavy diesel engines (in off-road RV and boat) and have a common rail engine in my pickup truck/ute and I am happy with all three.
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Old 16-06-2018, 02:50   #10
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

Having spent my working life in the business of repairing European automobiles, I watched the evolution of electronic fuel systems.
I have heard plenty of horror stories about electronics failing and I have witnessed many misdiagnosed sensor and control unit replacements.
I have also seen scores of mechanical fuel system repairs that were mishandled.
The fact is that most people have little to no idea how to properly repair a Diesel engine of either mechanical injection or common rail type.
I discount the stories of people traveling with sensors and harnesss just like I discount the stories of mechanical systems never breaking.
Id love to see some real statistics about reliability of modern diesel engines but Id wager that like most things produced today, common rail fuel systems are at least as reliable (Id bet probably more...) than anything built ever.
OK, there are always exceptions to a statement like the one I just made but in general, modern engine electronics are incredibly robust.
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Old 16-06-2018, 04:42   #11
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

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Originally Posted by Bruce Beard View Post
...
I discount the stories of people traveling with sensors and harnesss just like I discount the stories of mechanical systems never breaking.

....
I carry a full set of electronic spares in my Jeep, including an ECU, so I dont get stranded on the trail (also because it has an ancient RENIX control system which hasnt been made in decades). All fits in a shoebox sized container. My boat engines are mechanical, but I do carry a full set of the electrical spares: relays, fuses, wire harness, starter.
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Old 16-06-2018, 04:55   #12
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

Thanks for all the opinions so far, keep them coming.

We do live on a hans christian 41, yanmar4jh2-te at the moment, looks like modern engines will fit ok, if we ever did this.

I have heard about cars etc going wrong with CR but no first hand marine engine shut downs, maybe that tells its own story or it is too early and not enough are out there.

We will be in out of the way places, so standard diesel has definite attractions, but within the 30 years since our engine was installed, i am sure things have progressed ! And newer engines are quieter, more efficient, and not as smokey!
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Old 16-06-2018, 05:09   #13
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

If I were to replace my engine now I would go with a beta marine as they as mechanical in nature and avoid the electronics.

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Old 16-06-2018, 06:32   #14
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

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Originally Posted by Bruce Beard View Post
Having spent my working life in the business of repairing European automobiles, I watched the evolution of electronic fuel systems.
I have heard plenty of horror stories about electronics failing and I have witnessed many misdiagnosed sensor and control unit replacements.
I have also seen scores of mechanical fuel system repairs that were mishandled.
The fact is that most people have little to no idea how to properly repair a Diesel engine of either mechanical injection or common rail type.
I discount the stories of people traveling with sensors and harnesss just like I discount the stories of mechanical systems never breaking.
Id love to see some real statistics about reliability of modern diesel engines but Id wager that like most things produced today, common rail fuel systems are at least as reliable (Id bet probably more...) than anything built ever.
OK, there are always exceptions to a statement like the one I just made but in general, modern engine electronics are incredibly robust.
Like he ^^^ said.

I just read everything in this thread so far. There has not been any actual comments about first hand problems with CR marine diesels, it is all rumor and assumption, and comments about older automotive designs.

Certainly, some of the first generation computerized marine diesels had really terrible diagnostic tools. (Volvo, I am looking at you...) That seems to have improved dramatically.

Realistically, NOBODY is ever going to repair a broken mechanical injection pump without a full specialized shop and the highly specialized tools to do so. Don't tell me you have a mechanical injection pump because you can fix it--you can't. On the other hand, they don't break often. Kind of like a well designed and built CR system.

Forty years ago we could have been having this discussion on an automotive forum about the relative merits of carburetors vs. fuel injection. A modern fuel injection system is SO much more reliable than a carburetor that such a discussion would seem almost quaint. Where are we on the technology curve for CR systems? Have they passed mechanical systems in reliability yet? I don't know for sure. And I have seen no information in this thread to help me decide.

My take on it at this point is I would happily install a CR engine for coastal cruising and be very happy with the improved performance. For longterm, world-wide cruising... maybe not yet. Part availability would be the key there.

Ultimately, I have a sailboat. From anywhere in the world I can get my boat to a place to get the diesel fixed.
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Old 16-06-2018, 06:58   #15
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Re: Common rail marine diesel engine v standard

This identical argument has occurred several times before.
First I remember was electronic ignition, then of course electronic fuel injection, then ECUs.
Do you release that the average auto has three ECUs? Engine, power train and body. However failures do occur, but are exceedingly rare and are usually easily diagnosed, and easily replaced. You dont fix these things, you R&R.

If I had a common rail, I may carry an ECU and an injector, possibly a HP pump, but likely not.
The ECU should be a quick change item and injector about as hard as a current mechanical one.

A common rail motor can be butter smooth and very, very quiet. I would love smooth and quiet in my boat.
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