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Old 12-05-2013, 22:39   #1
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volvo penta single cylinder engines

We're looking at a catamaran with 2 x 9 hp Volvo Penta single cylinder engines linked to sail drives. We're unfamiliar with them and wonder about noise, vibration and maintenance. How common is it to use single cylinders in yachts? Would appreciate any comments and feedback from those who know the beasts.
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Old 13-05-2013, 03:28   #2
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

G'day,
Like most Volvos they are unforgiving when it comes to regular maintainance, check log books closley.I reckon your dealing with aprox 35 yr old Model MD5A when up on Revs they are smooth and Quite. They do not have the grunt to hurt the attached Saildrive.
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Old 13-05-2013, 06:55   #3
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

Thanks for your feedback Shakey Doug. I had a chat today with a marine diesel mechanic at Pittwater (got the contacts from an earlier post on this site) and he reckons they're 2001 models which I think were produced up until about 1991. I think the MD5 models are only 7.5 hp. Most parts should still be available, he says.
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Old 13-05-2013, 07:31   #4
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

Engine database - Engine database : Volvo Penta

Have your pick.

To me, series 2xxx VP are amongst the least reliable engines, giving me, and my sailing friends plenty of headache.

Older engines were better designed, better built, but today parts are not easily available anymore, (and expensive).

If your units are pristine, they start up fine and they run smooth and rev up with no smoke, they may be fine. Still, do all regular maintenance and all checks to make sure the engine will work as advertised.

Engines can be thoroughly tested by any competent mechanic. Do hire one, if you do not feel 100% certain what you are buying is sound.

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Old 13-05-2013, 07:45   #5
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

The good news is Volvo sold a shed full of the 200X series engines and still support them with spares all be it a little pricey for some items. There is also a good second hand market for bits.

They have no cold start unlike todays diesels so can be tricky to start if the weather is really freezing cold, but once running will go on for ever. There is a knack (start procedure) of using full throttle then pull the stop cable out fully and push back in before cranking. This sets the FIP to start mode.

Raw water cooled seem a little more robust due to the lack of the extra pump and cooling bits.

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Old 13-05-2013, 14:42   #6
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

Hi I had a md1 Volvo I use that for 21 years only had to replace an injector still running when I sold it. They do vibrate. it always started even cold weather. I have a Md2b 1975 one of the last years they made it slow turning diesel I love
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Old 13-05-2013, 17:50   #7
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

Barnakiel, thanks for the info. Can you tell me how they were unreliable? Is it a parts failure issue, more rigorous maintenance requirements or a design issue? Would definitely get a mechanic to check them out.
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Old 14-05-2013, 04:02   #8
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Barnakiel, thanks for the info. Can you tell me how they were unreliable? Is it a parts failure issue, more rigorous maintenance requirements or a design issue? Would definitely get a mechanic to check them out.
There are a couple of areas to keep an eye on. The shaft version had a gearbox with a hex drive problem that costs $600 to sort out, not sure if it also affects the sail drive version you have. In a nut shell the gearbox drive shaft that fitted into the flywheel wasn't lubed so wore after a couple of decades.

There is a cooling pipe inside the block which can block and lead to higher running temperatures. A strip and clean isn't too dificult.

The injector is held in place with a copper slieve, replacement requires the head off and a special tool to replace the injector.

The exhaust elbow requires the occasional clean out or it blocks up reducing the cooling water flow.

As you would expect, engine mountings can wear after a couple of decades, worth a check that they haven't settled.

Finally the later fuel pumps are better than the original, we replaced ours last year after 23 years.

This is all regular maintenance stuff really and you will have advanced notice of things going wrong so I wouldn't worry. Plus much of what is likely to go wrong would affect any engine of this age. By comparison the single Yanmar 10hp engine has its own faults.

Carry a good selection of filters and some fan belts plus a can of easy start for emergencies and you will be fine.
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Old 14-05-2013, 06:35   #9
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
Barnakiel, thanks for the info. Can you tell me how they were unreliable? Is it a parts failure issue, more rigorous maintenance requirements or a design issue? Would definitely get a mechanic to check them out.
IMHO problems may stem from design flaws. MD 2xxx series got blocks from a completely different source than their previous models. Many issues related to the cooling system. Below I give you some examples of how they failed:

- back in 2003 we met a boat with engine issues, we made sure the engine had air, fuel, injectors were fine, compression was fine, battery was fine; the engine refused to start, it was then a 'nearly new' unit,

- my neighbour's boat (I believe type MD2003): engine overheated and the mechanic changed parts, cleaned the elbow, etc, too bad when putting the elbow back, he did not place the gasket well, small leak from the elbow and a piston ring corroded and seized (look at how the elbow attaches to the manifold and there is no more questions about design flaws, I think, http://www.manuals.zoomshare.com/10....XYOY/image.jpg),

- another engine, around 2005, in NZ: overheated, we cleaned the whole kit, checked the thermo, checked the impeller, still overheated,

- my neighbour on the other side: transmission locked in reverse, saildrive unit, impossible to fix without removing the transmission, impossible to remove the transmission due to space limitations, I have seen this kind of transmission failure at least 3 times by now - locks in either reverse or forward,.

etc.,

All the above were small 2xxx series.

I have had D-2 55 twice and they were great engines, I have MD7 in my boat and I know the pre- 2xxx series pretty well - all good engines, reliable and repairable. I have seen the newest small engine (I think post-2009 or thereabouts) and they seem to be re-designed in many ways.

I think these engines if kept in perfect conditions and current maintenance done on the regular basis, can be fine engines. Alas, very, very many boat owners have no clue and many boats develop engine problems sooner or later.

b.
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Old 14-05-2013, 17:13   #10
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Re: volvo penta single cylinder engines

Great information Pete7 and Barnakiel. Many thanks. We can make a decision now based on much better information - eyes wide open.
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