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Old 23-06-2009, 09:41   #1
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VW Diesel Questions

I searched past threads and have found a little information. But, not much. One, a VW diesel might be a little light for a sailboat application, and two, parts maybe hard to come by in some locales.
I am looking at a trimaran, approximately 10,000 displacement with a 50 hp VW diesel.
Does anyone have any thoughts and/or experience with a VW diesel in a cruising sailboat? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Ray
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Old 23-06-2009, 09:49   #2
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Pathfinder was the marinized seller of VW engines. I had one in a car and it was piece of crap. Plenty of power but blew up with under 40,000 miles. The guy who bought my Westsail put a Pathfinder in it 15+ years ago. It's been all over SoPac and a number of years doing dinner cruises so they can last.

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Old 23-06-2009, 09:54   #3
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Given JD Power's rates Volkswagens reliability as worse than any car except Suzuki, I would not put a Volkswagen engine in a boat. I would be more inclined to go with an engine manufacturer who has years and years of experience manufacturing boat engines. I think you would be very disappointed with the results and in the long run not save any money.
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Old 23-06-2009, 10:01   #4
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I don't think it is fair to judge marinized diesel engines based on how the gasoline powered cars that the manufacturer also builds, fairs in reliability.

All Diesel cars are built in Germany. Gas cars are built in the US and Mexico, and ?

We have had two VW Diesel cars. The first had some electrical quirks, but was reliable for 7 years. The second has been going strong without any issues since new in 2004.

I have heard good things about the pathfinder diesels. The engines themselves (VW) are very reliable, if treated well.

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Given JD Power's rates Volkswagens reliability as worse than any car except Suzuki, I would not put a Volkswagen engine in a boat. I would be more inclined to go with an engine manufacturer who has years and years of experience manufacturing boat engines. I think you would be very disappointed with the results and in the long run not save any money.
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Old 23-06-2009, 10:13   #5
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I never liked the 1980's era V-W Pathfinder diesels, but others will tell they are an excellent, reliable, & long-lasting diesel.
40 or 50 HP should be adequate for a 10,000 Lb Trimaran.

The older V-W “Pathfinders” were rated 40HP
Pathfinder Marine Inc. used to service & sell parts for these diesels:

Pathfinder Marine Inc.
16753 boul Hymus
Kirkland, Quebec, H9H 3L4
Phone: 514-695-6676
Fax: 514-695-1086
Website (appears “dead”): www.pathfindermarine.com

Alternate address:

Pathfinder Marine Inc.
8 Linden St
KIRKLAND, Quebec, H9H 3K6
Telephone: (514) 695-6676
Fax: (514) 695-1080

Volkswagon Marine Downloads (current engines):
Volkswagen Marine - Superior Technology
And:
Volkswagen Marine - Superior Technology

SDI 50-4 (50HP @ 3000RPM) Performance Specshttp://www.vw-m.de/fileadmin/PDFs/en...SDI_50-4_e.pdf
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Old 23-06-2009, 10:44   #6
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We had a VW diesel, starting at around 60K mi it kept blowing head gaskets even with a quality VW diesel mechanic doing the work.
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Old 23-06-2009, 12:13   #7
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The positive side

I have a 1981 Pathfinder w/ 7000 hours. It's had a head job and a new exhaust/heat exchanger a few years ago but it's doing OK. This spring it hadn't been started for 18 months and it only took two seconds for it to kick off with no smoke or any other problems.

I did winterize it and drain the coolant for the duration. They do have a lot of alum. innerds so the proper coolant is a must. They are a light weight motor but 10K should be fine, mines 15K. The 50 hp are hard to find parts so I'd go a different motor.

The truck/cars had a different cam shaft, more for high speed (up to 4K) but the marinized has a torque cam. If this were the 80's or even the 90's I'd buy another one but not now.

The new (small) Pathfinders are now 65 hp and a bit larger. I retrofitted a larger water pump">raw water pump because parts were not available for the old one. Plus, I'll be adding a "T" w/ a stainer on the inlet side to go down to the bilge for a backup/emergency pump.

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Old 24-06-2009, 23:01   #8
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Thanks to everyone for the information. I can find very little about Pathfinder Marine or marine VW diesels on the web.
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Old 24-06-2009, 23:33   #9
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I have a Pathfinder 50 in our IF36 and it has run very good for us, but you do have to stay on top of the regular maintenance to have a trouble free experience...I guess you could say that about any engine though.

Pathfinder engines were used on many different boats in the 70s and 80s, but for some reason fell out of favor to other engines. About half of the IF36s still sailing after about 30 years still have their original engines (mine included), and the other slightly older IF36s are still running their original Perkins engines. There are a smaller amount of IF36s that re-powered after their engines failed with newer type engines, but only a small percentage compared to the rest of the fleet. There are newer, more updated versions of the Pathfinder made these days, and if I had to re-power I would probably go with the newer versions.

Parts are really not that difficult to get in my experience. The reality of finding a VW diesel mechanic in many foreign ports is not all that hard, considering how widely distributed VWs are around the world.

I would not be afraid to use a Pathfinder, just because it's not the 'in' engine today.
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Old 25-06-2009, 00:13   #10
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Here is the only know dealer on the North America's mainland. But his web site doesn't work anymore. The guy took me for a ride. I paid for a membership to get updates and access to parts but I never got one piece of paper or parts that I needed. I ended up going to VW wrecking yards and dealers. Connect with Pathfinder Marine Inc. in Kirkland, QC.

The heat exchanger is no longer available either. But parts maybe (boots & core) Bowman - Marine Heat Exchangers Spares
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Old 25-06-2009, 22:23   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
Here is the only know dealer on the North America's mainland. But his web site doesn't work anymore. The guy took me for a ride. I paid for a membership to get updates and access to parts but I never got one piece of paper or parts that I needed. I ended up going to VW wrecking yards and dealers. Connect with Pathfinder Marine Inc. in Kirkland, QC.

The heat exchanger is no longer available either. But parts maybe (boots & core) Bowman - Marine Heat Exchangers Spares

Try these links.

Engine Overland Parts Inc.

Engine Beta Marine US Ltd. Distributors for Kubota based marine

Boots Webchandler supplies narrowboat chandlery, boat accessories and canalia
most likely #2679

Heat exchanger most likely Boman VW150 http://www.ejbowman.co.uk/pdf/marine.pdf
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Old 25-06-2009, 22:51   #12
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pirate VW DIESELS

I have driven vw diesels for thirty years. The old ones were simply gas conversions and not true diesels. My 2002 turbo charged diesel has 200k on it. and runs very well.

I am thinking about repowering my Morgan 462, It has a 4=154 Perkins that I have heard is difficult to find parts for and I am thinking of going to a 4-236.

I would not, repeat not put a VW diesel in my boat simply because I do not think a belt driven camshaft belongs on a blue water boat.

Bill
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Old 25-06-2009, 23:04   #13
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Thanks for the info. The VW motor is already in the boat I am thinking about buying. Just trying to get a little info on it.
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Old 26-06-2009, 02:40   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scuba066 View Post
Thanks for the info. The VW motor is already in the boat I am thinking about buying. Just trying to get a little info on it.
I found that getting the boots from the Webchandler in the U.K. was cheaper than anywhere I could get in the U.S., even after the exchange rate and shipping. I bought two pairs for about the same price that one pair would cost me here in the U.S., and the people at the Webchandler were very eager to help me.

I bought a Pathfinder engine like mine that was a basket of parts for $125.00, and the first part that I was able to recondition was the heat exchanger with the tube stack. New would cost me some big bucks, but I only spent $70.00 reconditioning. If I don't use another part in the basket, I still made out big time...guess what a new heat exchanger with tube stack costs!
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Old 21-04-2010, 17:33   #15
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Scuba066;
Did you find any more info on the pathfinder? I just a 41ft Piver with a 50hp pathfinder in it.
Kelldog.
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