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Old 22-01-2021, 06:30   #1
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choosing a new engine

I am currently needing to replace my Volvo Penta MD2040. I'm looking at the Beta 38, the Yanmar 3JH5E and The Volvo Penta D2-40. I was considering the 40hp Yanmar common rail engine:3JH40, but have heard that the technology may tend to have problems that the average owner cannot fix, and that a lighning strike will take out the CPU and injectors. My only reason for considering the volvo - beside the fact that it is a pretty good engine - is that is has counter-clockwise rotation as does my current (non-functional) engine. Also, I'm told that it has the same footprint.
The boat I'm powering is a 1974 Irwin, 37' CCKetch, displacing 18,000lbs.
I'm basing my three choices on an article I found in Crusing magazine on the best small deisel engines. I'm wondering if I can order the counter clockwise rotation on the Beta or the Yanmar ?
and can anyone tell me what is meant by the term "bobtail" in reference to the marine gear?
Any advice on all of this would be most welcome. Its time to buy, and I'm completely uncertain!
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Old 22-01-2021, 11:58   #2
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Re: choosing a new engine

Personally, I would go with the one that is easiest to install and maintain. Engine bed, exhaust hose, overall size and weight, ease of service once installed (where is dipstick, water pump etc).
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Old 22-01-2021, 12:08   #3
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Re: choosing a new engine

We have a pair of the D2-40s and have been generally happy with them. I don't know if Volvo still sell the MDI (mechanical diesel interface) version, the MDI boxes are notorious for failures (and recalls) but can be readily bypassed or replaced with third-party options. The MDI versions are really straight, mechanical diesel engines so from that perspective they are "old school".

"Bobtail" is a common engine term that refers to a complete engine delivered without a transmission. Generally ready to have a transmission be bolted up to it and ready to run, but there may be a few parts in the mating area that are subject to interpretation.
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Old 22-01-2021, 12:10   #4
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Thumbs up Re: choosing a new engine

Thanks, "TheOffice" !
Yes, I've been thinking along those lines. It does seem that I'll have to alter the engine bed with any of them, now that I compare the dimensions I have online. So I think that the Volvo D2 is out. I'd love the Beta, except for the fact that it puts the sea water pump in the worst place for me to access ( My old MD2040 had the same location, and that a big part of how it died)...I have heard good things about both the Beta and the Yanmar.
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Old 22-01-2021, 12:22   #5
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Re: choosing a new engine

Propeller rotation is dictated by the transmission. Beta does offer transmissions for the Beta 38 that can be counter rotated. I.E., Left hand or right hand propeller rotation for forward.
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Old 22-01-2021, 12:33   #6
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Re: choosing a new engine

If you have, or are planning to buy, a MaxProp, shaft rotation does not matter, the prop can be set for either.
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Old 22-01-2021, 17:06   #7
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Re: choosing a new engine

Originally Posted by AJA View Post
Thanks, "TheOffice" !
Yes, I've been thinking along those lines. It does seem that I'll have to alter the engine bed with any of them, now that I compare the dimensions I have online. So I think that the Volvo D2 is out. I'd love the Beta, except for the fact that it puts the sea water pump in the worst place for me to access ( My old MD2040 had the same location, and that a big part of how it died)...I have heard good things about both the Beta and the Yanmar.
No experience with those engines that you are considering but do know that Yanmar & Volvo have very high parts prices, Beta much more reasonable& accessible as you can get from Kubota tractor store.
If buying a new engine you shouldnt need many parts, tho, as other poster said lotta black box failures reported on volvo.
Beta makes custom mounts to suit engine beds I believe.
IMO its safer to have off the block belt driven raw water pumps to avoid the possibility of seawater getting into lubricating oil but they arent as neat or efficient I guess. Probably none of your options have that setup.
I'd choose mechanical injection as more user serviceable if you are going away from easy to access tech support.
Did talk to a new 20hp Beta owner who had problems with his heat exchanger & had to threaten legal action to get it replaced under warranty.
He did say they had changed heat exchanger supplier since then but guess he got that from Beta seller.
It would be a choice between Beta & Yanmar for me.
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Old 23-01-2021, 09:45   #8
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Re: choosing a new engine

I've been researching replacing an old Volvo Penta that turns counter-clockwise. If the new engine you fancy runs clockwise and you have a good prop that you want to keep, you may be able to get it re-engineered for a clockwise rotation. That might cost $600 - $700 but could be cheaper than a new prop.

Beta are on my shortlist for a new Engine. I've heard that Yanmar parts are expensive. I've experienced the expense of some Volvo Penta parts. It's also worth looking at the cost of oil and fuel filters and impellers. They can vary quite widely for different engines.
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Old 23-01-2021, 09:50   #9
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Re: choosing a new engine

Beta, or other Kubota variant, is the simplest and most reliable IMHO.

No electronics besides the shutoff solenoid (which can be done manually), easy self maintenance and no requirement for a factory authorized dealer to do the maintenance or risk voiding the warranty.

Both yanmar and volvo have gotten way too complicated in their design, and complicated leads to problems. Additionally, they try to force everything through their highly marked up dealer networks and if there are any problems the factories back the dealer’s viewpoint.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:05   #10
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Re: choosing a new engine

Love the Beta, those Kubota tractor blocks are bulletproof, reliable, and last forever if you take care of them.

Beta is distinctive because you can move some of the most used parts to be easily accessible, such as the oil extractor pump, fuel filter and bleeder pump, oil filter, etc. First boat with a Beta that we had (Beta 30) I was able to access everything right in front after opening the access door. Easy peasy.

Had many boats and engines in the past 35 years (Yanmar, Volvo, Ford, etc) and after buying one 10 years ago repowered with Beta I now wouldn't want any other engine. We re-powered our current 20 ton boat with a Beta 85 and our new generator is NexGen, which is a Kubota as well.

Below is my Google Review of the engine and the shop that installed it (SF Bay Area). Let me know if you have questions from an owner's perspective.


“Beta? What’s a Beta?” This question led me to two of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my 35-years as a boat owner - to re-power our beloved Nauticat 43 cutter/ketch with a Beta Marine diesel engine with H & M Marine in Sausalito.

THE ENGINE: I asked “What’s a Beta?” when considering purchasing our previous boat which had a Beta 30 installed by H & M Marine (also known as Beta Marine West and Hirschfeld Yacht, LLC). When I opened the engine compartment of that boat for the first time, I was sold. It was the most beautiful engine install I’ve ever seen (clean, organized) and this gleaming red engine had all the maintenance parts within immediate reach – oil and fuel filters, dipstick, impeller, belts, oil change pump, etc.

But the performance of the Beta is what matters most. Is it possible to “Love” your engine? Quiet, reliable, strong, easy to maintain, she never let us down and always carried us home, even in the hairiest conditions off the Pacific coast and in S.F Bay. When we moved up to our Nauticat with a tired, smoky 90hp Ford Lehman, our top priority was to re-power with Beta at H & M Marine.

THE SHOP: These guys are simply the best. After doing my due diligence for such an expensive and important decision by getting competitive bids for re-powering with Volvo, Yanmar, etc. with other shops, getting a Beta with H & M Marine ended up being a no-brainer.

When we arrived at their dock in Sausalito I was introduced to co-owner Shane McCormack, the “M” of H & M Marine. Simply put, Shane is a friggin mechanical genius and passionate about Beta and his work. He personally does each Beta install and was the guy who did the beautiful install of the engine in our previous boat. Every boat is different and every re-power requires a high level of expertise to design a system that is a good fit for the boat and new engine, more like a heart transplant than “plug and play.”

Matching the prop, shaft, and engine to the size, displacement, and type of boat is an art and science that makes or breaks the re-power project. Shane not only designed and installed a beautiful fit of engine and boat, he elegantly re-designed our fuel transfer system (we have two 110 gallon fuel tanks), oil change system, and fuel filtering system. Shane also installed our new generator (NextGen, a Beta of course) and handled two huge projects that local boatyards either messed up or couldn’t handle: One of our fuel tanks was leaking and required a lot of custom work to remove and replace that was beyond the capabilities of the local boatyard, and our dual-helm hydraulic steering system was leaking and the cockpit helm needed replacing. A previous boatyard attempted to fix this and messed it up badly (cross-threaded, cheap “Home Depot” type fittings, etc.). Not only did Shane fix our hydraulic steering system, he improved on the original design making it far easier to bleed and maintain than when the boat left the manufacturer. He should patent his bleeding system; it’s that unique and brilliant.

I could go on and on about Shane, who is the only guy who I will allow to touch my boat’s mechanicals from now on, but H & M Marine is a busy, well run shop with a lot of staff. Their prime Sausalito location in Clipper Harbor means they have all the work they need, but unlike other shops I’ve experienced, in my time here I’ve observed these guys to be on top of every job and take immaculate care of every customer. While Shane will always be either deep inside a boat or in his shop, Ethan is seemingly everywhere at once taking care of everything and everybody- moving boats and trailers, on the phone, on the computer, directing staff, helping customers, while finding time to go crabbing (in season, of course), while John, the General Manager is the strong, friendly, efficient guy that keeps everything running smoothly. When we first arrived John blew us away by personally driving us across the bay to retrieve our car, and we’ve felt well taken care of every step of the way since.

And, yes, we Love our new Beta, thanks to H & M Marine.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:21   #11
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Re: choosing a new engine

The water pump">raw water pump can be mounted either in the front or in the rear under the air cleaner on the Beta 38
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:25   #12
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Re: choosing a new engine

I have a Beta 38 self installed 9 years ago. As the water pump is in the front, how is it not accessible? Are you running it thru a V-drive? Check exhaust size, usually Yanmars have larger exhaust size requirements- 3"??..A 38hp should be fine for your boat. Mine weighs 24000#.
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Old 23-01-2021, 10:55   #13
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Re: choosing a new engine

DO NOT BUY VOLVO PENTA! We have a brand new D2-50 Volvo Penta. The engine is excellent. Volvo Penta management is just horrible. Asking any technical information they consider giving it the same as giving military intelligence to the enemy. Just horrible to deal with. Additionally you do not get a warrantee until the installation is inspected and sea trial by a Volvo tech. The tech I got was a real hard ass. A year + and all the stuff the tech required I still do not have a warrantee. If I had to do it again, as sweet as the Volvo runs, I would have bought Beta.
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Old 23-01-2021, 11:57   #14
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Re: choosing a new engine

I recently installed a new NANNI n 30 in my boat and love it. Nanni is of the same Kubota based engine as Beta at a lesser price. Beta has a lot of excess electrical wiring because they use the same electrical harness for generators and propulsion. I have a friend who has a Beta and he got so fed up with a resistor burning out that he tore out the original harness and rewired with only basic needs. No more problems. That is why I went with NANNI. Simple and basic.
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Old 23-01-2021, 12:09   #15
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Re: choosing a new engine

What Beta engine does your friend have (Captndave1)?? on my 38 there is a harness from the instrument panel to a harness connector at the engine. Where are the resistors?? Simple-simple plug it in. Beta has many more dealers ( also in USA) so part acquisition might be easier than nanni. I don't know about Nanni support but Beta USA is know for support for DIY installation and after sales support.
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