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Old 10-05-2015, 05:27   #1
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Diesel engine life expectancy

Hello all,
We bought our Lagoon Catamaran in February last year. At the time both engines had just under 8000 hrs on each of them. When purchasing the boat we budgeted and negotiated on replacing both motors.
Now 18 months on and almost 700 hours added to each motor they are still going very very strong. They are not using any oil or water. We just had a service which identified some minor issues with bolts vibrating out of an engine mount and a suspect water pump but on the whole no big deal.
Now the question arises how much life can I expect out of these motors. (Both Yanmar 40 HP sail drives) Researching the web has not really identified expected life spans. In fact I have found many boats that are in excess of 50 years old with the original motor still working. I have also noted the perceptions of a lot of boaters I speak with that in general they consider 2000 hrs to be a lot of use on a boat. So what do we as a boating fraternity base our opinion on, fact or perceptions. I must admit I always was of the opinion that 2000 plus hours was a lot of hours on a marine motor but now I am thinking otherwise.
I would be most interested to hear members thoughts on engine life and also the hours people have on their motors. I take it as a given that good life also equates to good maintenance and service.
Looking forward to your responses

Greg and Sue
SV Sunshine
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Old 10-05-2015, 05:37   #2
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re: Diesel engine life expectancy

As much as 10,000 Hours +

Yanmar Engine Life Expectancy?

Diesel engine life expectancy

Life Expectancy of a Yanmar 3GM30

Engine life expectancy
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Old 10-05-2015, 05:41   #3
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re: Diesel engine life expectancy

i want to know this too !

my motors have 400 each.

From researsch so far and knowing about truck diesels (one lasted more than 1,500,000 km) is not about hours but how you treat them how you switch to gear, how to turn them off, exchange oil, how often abused, replace spares...

One needs to listen to sound and can feel if singing happily or not. There is virtaually no wear if all runs smoothly.

its a bit of work though. each week of the year they need proper exercise.

If they exchange owner will get bad real soon as new owner will not know tweaks and ruin harmony real quick.
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Old 10-05-2015, 05:48   #4
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re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Most marine engines die from abuse and neglect not hours.


I believe the normal assumption is around 100hrs motoring per year, so 2000hrs is 20yrs, likely the 2nd or 3rd owner and odds are the abuse and neglect has started.


If they are running well, count yourself lucky, keep up on the maintenance and you should get many more hours out of them.
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Old 10-05-2015, 05:49   #5
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re: Diesel engine life expectancy

I have 6,600 hrs. on my Yanmar and it's doing very well for me. Recently, I spent sometime looking at used boats to help my daughter & son-in-law purchase their liveaboard cruiser. Among the other features we survyed, we looked at about two dozen engines on boats averaging twenty-five years old.

In most cases the engines aboard boats that had little use or years of dormancy were trash, even though they might have had low hours of use. Those motors that were never exposed to years out of service were far better.
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Old 10-05-2015, 06:28   #6
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re: Diesel engine life expectancy

I'm o the firm opinion that it's not the hours that kill engines, rather the lack of them. I've got a generator at the house that is the same block as the propulsion engine on the boat. It's well over 6k hours and runs like a top. At work we've got trucks who's engines pull double duty of operating hydraulics when not running the highway. Several of these have in excess of 50k hours on them.


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Old 10-05-2015, 06:47   #7
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re: Diesel engine life expectancy

A friend who is chief mechanic on oil rigs liveaboard his Bene 475 replaced his volvo engine of 11,000 hours with a new one. He said the old engine is still running fine and starts on first turn but he felt with the hours, the time has come for the engine to retire as he does not want to rely on it for his 6,000 nm journey back to oz/Tasmania.

A Choy Lee 38 with Perkins 4-108 ran his engine at least an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening for charging for the last 30 years with no solar still starts on the first turn. The old pan rusted out and engine mount busted. He swears by adding STP has protected his engine day one . This include a hydrlock while he was at Phoenix Island for 6 months as Robinson Crusoe.

Mine is a Yanmar 4JH-HTE with 3,000 hours , removed the turbo and intercooler. Did a compression test all looks good. Hope this engine will last till 10,000 hours.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:09   #8
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Hi all,
I just read a lengthy article about trawlers made in Taiwan. In it, was some information from the guy in charge of supplying all the Ford Lehman engines for this market. He stated that with proper care there was no reason a normally aspirated diesel could not reach 20,000 hours. He sold thousands of these motors, many of which are still happily chugging along. It's all about the care and use. YMMV.

BTW, I have a Perkins 4-154 in my boat that runs like a top. It was replaced in 1988.

Cheers, Bill
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:45   #9
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Our 4-154 appears to have replaced a 6500 hour charter company engine.


We have 4600 hours, and aside from the classic/typical rear seal leak, it runs like we'd want it to.

We used to think we'd have to replace fairly soon. We're now of the thought that we likely will be forced off the boat for age or health reasons before it gives up.

We change at 1/2 the recommended 300 hour interval; a bit like a 3000 mile oil change when the maker WARRANTY requires 7500 mile (or better, of course) intervals.

Time will tell, but recent injectors and very recent pressure pump R&R&R has Perky running very smoothly.
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Old 10-05-2015, 09:50   #10
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Have the engines surveyed. Compression and oil analysis(Need oil from 50+hrs use). If the engine specks out and is properly maintained and run your engine should last for years.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:02   #11
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

The wonderful thing about a diesel is indeed its long life. But to know just how many hours you trusty engine will last one must first think ....its not how many hours just what kind of hours were placed upon this unit.
To diesels don't like to run not under load so to leave your engine running while not in gear is hard on it, it needs to reach thermal operating temp or you will get excess carbon and sludge buildup inside.
Most people just don't change oil enough. At 150-200 hours its ready for new oil and filters. The marine environment plays hell on them and nothing can ruin it faster then water in the fuel injection system. NEVER store your boat with empty fuel tanks or you will get water condensation inside the tanks. Speaking of the fuel system the injectors (easy to change) should be removed inspected and perhaps changed each 3-4 thousand hours of service. Look at the engine anti-freeze and if your using the green stuff you might want to think about flushing the system and converting to the red colored longer life coolant. NEVER mix the colors. Anti-freeze has chemical compounds that fight against electro corrosion inside your engine and this stops nasty things like cylinder sleeves from being eaten away as well as oil and trans coolers. The red colored coolant last much longer.
Don't run your engine at more then 75% of it rated output. Your dealer will have an engine RPM power output scale if you don't already know what its is. For example an Isuzu C-240 60 HP engine will reach its max output of 60 HP at 2400 rpm. If you just use 40 HP of its potential you might be holding your RPM back to 1800 max. As long as the engine is reaching its running temps and sounds happy why push it so much harder when you will only get one more kt speed yet shorten your engine life.
With proper care a good engine can easy last 25,000 -30,000 hours before you are looking at a rebuild. Your fuel injection system will last approx. 15,000 hours with clean fuel before the pump should be pulled and inspected.
How long will it last ? Its hard to say given all the possible aspects. But with good care it will indeed last as long as you own the boat.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:03   #12
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

I have lived around diesel engines most of my seventy four years and could write a volume on them. I would say that if I was going to buy a boat with a diesel I would ask if the engine starts ok. If I am told that it has to be turned a few times but runs better than new when it's going, I would walk away. That means it is worn and lacks compression but when warm and the oil gets around the engine it will "take up" but pistons and bearings are slack by wear and offer no drag and it goes well. (for a time.)

Try to view the engine early in the morning when it has been idle all night and if it starts quickly and doesn't sound like a bag of nails it is probably OK. Before starting I would put my hand on the engine to feel for warmth which would mean that the owner has already started it as he is unsure if it will start for you. If I saw the ubiquitous tin of Easy Start. That would really give the game away, I wouldn't walk away I would run.

Check the dip stick to make sure it is not contaminated with water and the engine log, has the entries been made by the same pen? if so they could have all been made at the same time. Before starting the engine give it a good wipe over and let it run for a while to see if there are any leaks.

Exhaust smoke is a science but briefly, most engines will smoke when first started but not when warmed up. It is possible to get engine oil checked for engine faults if the owner has not told you to b>>>>> off by now.

I have now swallowed the anchor but wish you all happy days and a strong and pleasant breeze
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:09   #13
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Engines used often... and for long periods (as opposed to just getting the boat out of the marina) often go for more hours than engines that don't get enough use.
My guess is you are getting close to the limit on a Yanmar.... but really hard to say. it sounds like yours is an ex charter boat with those hours.
You could get many more hours.... maybe the oil analysis makes sense.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:29   #14
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Both my 1968 DAF-DS575's have 5100 hours on them and they both run great.200 hours ago i had both injection pumps rebuilt and both raw water pumps and both heat exchangers rebuilt.Recently i replaced all steel cooling pipes with stainless steel ones and replaced both wet exhaust pipes with stainless steel.Plus replaced all rubber hoses with silicone.All i have left to do is replace both oil pans and valve covers and engine mounts.Im going to have them made in stainless steel too.Maybe ill have the turbo oil pipes done in stainless too.I hate rusty looking pipes.
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Old 10-05-2015, 10:45   #15
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Re: Diesel engine life expectancy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
I'm o the firm opinion that it's not the hours that kill engines, rather the lack of them. I've got a generator at the house that is the same block as the propulsion engine on the boat. It's well over 6k hours and runs like a top. At work we've got trucks who's engines pull double duty of operating hydraulics when not running the highway. Several of these have in excess of 50k hours on them.


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only know of what i've read over last few years on this and firing up and pulling out of slip and shutting down was never a good idea. need to burn up deposits and get the blood flowin. so let it run much longer article stated, forget source but a no brainer when you think about it
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