Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 01-11-2008, 17:37   #16
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Boston, Providence, Padanaram
Boat: Krogen Cutter 38' -- Angel Rose
Posts: 4
Pathfinder Engines

I know this is a bit late in the thread, but I just came on.
About the Pathfinder engine, I wrote a little bit here on this in Cruising World a couple of years ago. If you're still deciding on old vs new, I thought it might be of interest.

Avoid the VW?
I was a little dismayed that in his otherwise wonderful review of the Nicholson 35 (Classic Plastic, Jan 05), reviewer John Kretschmer advised potential owners to avoid vessels with a marinized VW diesel of “dubious reputation.”

These engines, called Pathfinders, are the marine version of the strong, reliable, and very efficient 40hp industrial VW diesel built in Germany from 1978 to 1992. VW Rabbit pickup trucks routinely put hundreds of thousands of miles on the land version -- at close to 50 mpg. The marine version has not only been a workhorse on Canadian fishing boats for over a quarter century, but they’ve been cranking along quite nicely in thousands of well-maintained sailboats for years – including our ’82 Krogen 38.

Discussion on the Internet tells me that any reputation issues stem strictly from the Pathfinders early use of the (now common) rubber timing belt. Evidently no one knew back then that with lack of use these belts could get brittle, break, and ruin an engine.

But older VW mechanics have also told me (and still tell me) that these engines are still one of their favorites – easy to work on, including the belt, with parts still available from any Volkswagen dealer. (A company in Canada still provides customized manuals, parts, and advice -- as well as new and rebuilt engines.)

I would certainly not avoid these little diesels. Properly maintained, they should run virtually trouble free for many thousands of hours – with the added benefits of being easy to start, quiet, very smooth, and quite stingy with the fuel.

Anyway, if you haven't bought your boat yet, I would not rule out something with the Pathfinders -- Pathfinder Marine has a very good service group up in Canada that has helped me out considerably. I have a VW mechanic that helps me out on the big stuff, but I've been able to do it all on my own so far, and I'm not a mechanic.

Last, not all VW marinized engines are Pathfinders. John from Pathfinder wrote to me after he saw the Cruising World article to say the Nicholsons actually had a South American VW conversion that was not a Pathfinder. Pathfinders are orange from 1978-82, and silver grey after that. New replacements are available should you need one, but mine is still running strong after 27 years -- and yes, I change the timing belt every few years.


Boberuska is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2008, 22:35   #17
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: The Neteherlands, now India
Boat: Phillip Rhodes 60 ft
Posts: 101
Send a message via Skype™ to Alondra
our 6 cylinder Perkins is doing 6000 hours, is 17 years old and runs well. Would not even think of rebuilding her yet, way to dangerous since she runs like new.
Maintanance is everything and we keep track of her daily, weekly, monthly and so on...
25000 is the first overhaul date planned!

Alondra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2012, 16:03   #18
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Boat: Nightwind 35'
Posts: 8
VW Pathfinder - Diesel not starting

I realize it's been many moons since you posted this article and I hope you can still reply to it. I too have a VW pathfinder (1981) and you made reference to a place in Canada where you can still get parts. Do you have any contact details for these folks in Canada?
gradyk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2012, 16:42   #19
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Pickering Ontario
Boat: 1995 hunter 430
Posts: 269
Re: Marine Diesel: Age or Hours?

I hope to start mine soon with 5800 hours....(I dont think it has been maintained very well)......I would like to see 10,000 without breaking the engine apart............may the force be with me
Navicula is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2012, 16:58   #20
Senior Cruiser
s/v Beth's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Coos Bay, Oregon
Boat: Valiant 40 (1975)
Posts: 4,064
Re: Marine Diesel: Age or Hours?

We are all in agreement about the Pathfinder, but the replacement? I am really happy with the Beta, and it was about the same price.

s/v Beth is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Marine Diesel Links GordMay Engines and Propulsion Systems 3 13-06-2008 12:58
Inland Marine Diesel never monday Commercial Posts 9 13-05-2008 07:49
Converting a car diesel to marine brian and clare Engines and Propulsion Systems 11 10-06-2007 08:25
Marine Diesel Mechanic Needed chicago sailor Forum Tech Support & Site Help 0 23-05-2006 12:52

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 18:25.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.