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Old 13-10-2018, 09:44   #1
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Universal m40 engine life expectancy

I am considering buying a freshwater mid-1980's Tartan 40' in very good condition. It is powered by a Universal M40 diesel with 5300 hours on it. How long can I expect it to last? How should I have the engine inspected to determine its condition? What might an overhaul or a replacement engine cost?

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Old 13-10-2018, 20:00   #2
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Re: Universal m40 engine life expectancy

Apparently the Universal Engine is made by Westerbeke?

Maybe there's some useful information in this link?

Useful Life of Universal Diesel Engines? - Ericson Yachts The Starting Point on Ericson Yachts! ... General Ericson Forums Maintenance & Mechanical
Dec 27, 2009 - I am about to tear half my Universal engine apart to replace a $6 .... Oil consumption will be your first indicator of the need for a major overhaul.
Universal 5432 & M40 engine information 27 Jul. 2011
Engine Replacement vs. Rebuild 1 Jun. 2007
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Old 14-10-2018, 07:54   #3
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Universal m40 engine life expectancy

Life expectancy is largely a function of how it has been maintained and how its been run and there is no real way for you to tell that short of availability of a maintenance log and a conversation with the previous owner.

I have a mid-eighties Universal M50 with slightly fewer hours. I expect it to last a good long time, with proper care. It has good compression, starts instantly, and burns maybe half a quart of oil every 100 hours of operation. It would not be unreasonable to get 10k hours or more out of it.

Universal used to be an independent company before it was bought by Westerbeke. They use Kabota tractor engine blocks and are pretty robust. Non-marinized parts are available at Napa.

If your really concerned I would get an engine survey done. If it comes back good you have some peace of mind as well as suggestions about minor issues that might need attention. If it comes back bad you can decide if its a show stopper.

Some of the marinized parts are getting expensive and/or difficult to find. An engine survey should be read with that in mind. As a freshwater boat that should be less of a potential issue.

Replacement would run you $15,000 (new motor and labor) and up, dependent on how difficult removal and installation is on that particular boat and how all the related gear (exhaust, wires, fuel hoses, etc) are.
"Having a yacht is reason for being more cheerful than most." -Kurt Vonnegut
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Old 15-10-2018, 19:13   #4
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Re: Universal m40 engine life expectancy

M40 is a great, very heavy, Kabota engine. It's main bearing caps are 6 bolt type, with cross-bolts, like a 427 Ford FE. In facts, cross-bolting the 427 for Daytona use was lifted from a Ford engineer in a Tractor seminar around 1965. Back to the M40, take good care of the heat exchanger. Also, it holds over 10 quarts of oil, so is a super duty engine, only thing that would hold it back would be a compromised cooling system. Had two different ones in two Ericson 38s.
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Old 15-10-2018, 19:28   #5
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Re: Universal m40 engine life expectancy

It's KUBOTA in case you're doing a search.
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Old 15-10-2018, 23:24   #6
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Re: Universal m40 engine life expectancy

Engine inspection should include a compression test & oil pressure check if it doesn't have a gauge at the bare minimum. Those 2 things can tell part of the story. Good if the mechanic who does the test is familiar with those engines. 10,000 hrs is a ballpark figure for a diesel that has regular maintenance before it needs a rebuild but I have no knowledge of that particular engine. Kubota has a good reputation overall

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