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Old 06-01-2021, 14:56   #1
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Buying a boat with broken engine?

I'm exploring options to live aboard, and how to get a boat for "cheap". I'm very eager to go full electric (propulsion, cooking...) for a variety of reasons (environmental, noise, smell, risks with gas onboard...). This thread is not intended to revive the debate around elec vs diesel, I've read a bunch of posts about the issue, I understand there are drawbacks. Let's assume that I'm happy with them.


I think it's pretty safe to assume I won't find a used monohull for sale with an electric motor installed, so I'm imagining I'd have to look for one with (ideally) a broken diesel that would need fixing. Benefit for me would also be that the boat would probably sell for cheapish.


What would be the (typical) reasons a boat would sell with a broken diesel, and where would I have higher odds of finding them? For instance, I've heard of people getting one where the motor has died due to bad winterization, so I thought colder climates might see more of that than, say, Greece


I'm not after a complete project boat that needs rebuilding almost entirely, things like the Expedition Evans youtube adventure is not what I want.


Thanks for any thoughts!
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Old 06-01-2021, 19:05   #2
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

In very general terms a repower costs $20,000


So in most cases, when an engine fails, the boat owner will repower if the boat will be worth more than $20,000 once the work is compete, and will scrap the boat otherwise. Oversimplificaton but that's a place to start.


Marine diesels in sailboats typically last around 20-25 years depending on maintenance practices, engine hours, and luck. Beyond that point, even if the engine is functional, repair parts availability becomes a concern.


It is uncommon for marine diesels to fail so badly they cannot be repaired for reasons other than accumulative wear. Fuel system problems can usually be repaired without scrapping the engine, as can top end problems in most cases (valves/heads) so it takes bottom end (cylinders/rings/pistons/bearings/crankshaft) failures to force replacement. Ordinarily these failures only occur as a result of wear, manufacturing defects, or oil starvation.



I think your best bet would be to look for a boat with an older but still functional diesel that has been well maintained. These are readily available and there isn't much value left in the engine.
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Old 06-01-2021, 19:26   #3
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

You might consider looking at boats that are typically equipped with less desirable engines vs blown ones. If you're looking for boats in the 30-ish foot size, look at brands that frequently had Atomic 4s installed. Engine adds zero value and the boat itself might be in decent condition.

Would also observe that boats with 4.107s (vs 4.108s) are a bit older and closer to end of life due to greater tendency to have leaky seals.

Some boats had engines that are not common in US (assuming you're looking in US) or are woefully undersized by modern standards. and thus don't add much value. Lister and Nanni come to mind.

Good luck.

Peter
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Old 06-01-2021, 21:57   #4
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Winterizing errors are rare but once a diesel is over 20 years lots of things can happen - especially if the owner does not maintain it well.

Often this will show up as an engine that will not start, smokes badly, or leaks from the wrong place during a buyer's survey. Depending on the cause the fix can be cheap or expensive. If expensive the buyer often backs out.

So I would contact some boat brokers and tell them you'd be interested in a boat that fails survey because of engine problems. I doubt you'll have to wait long for a call as there are a lot more boats with broken engines than people like you.

As suggested, this should get a $20,000 price cut.
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Old 06-01-2021, 23:00   #5
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnerual View Post
I'm exploring options to live aboard, and how to get a boat for "cheap". I'm very eager to go full electric (propulsion, cooking...) for a variety of reasons (environmental, noise, smell, risks with gas onboard...). This thread is not intended to revive the debate around elec vs diesel, I've read a bunch of posts about the issue, I understand there are drawbacks. Let's assume that I'm happy with them.


I think it's pretty safe to assume I won't find a used monohull for sale with an electric motor installed, so I'm imagining I'd have to look for one with (ideally) a broken diesel that would need fixing. Benefit for me would also be that the boat would probably sell for cheapish.


What would be the (typical) reasons a boat would sell with a broken diesel, and where would I have higher odds of finding them? For instance, I've heard of people getting one where the motor has died due to bad winterization, so I thought colder climates might see more of that than, say, Greece


I'm not after a complete project boat that needs rebuilding almost entirely, things like the Expedition Evans youtube adventure is not what I want.


Thanks for any thoughts!


I would look at late ‘60s Cals that had Atomic-4s: 29,34,36.
A. You could probably sell the A4 to Moyer Marine for a small amount.
B. All 3 can be pushed by a 10hp electric.
C. All 3 have SA/D of 17 or greater so they should sail decently or better in light winds which is something you really want if you go electric.
D. The 34&36 are arranged appropriately to install an outboard-inboard. With that you can still use an outboard in calm to moderate seastate to make long miles at a moderate speed. https://www.atomvoyages.com/articles...oard-well.html

If you are going electric the big thing is C, ability to sail in light winds. Look for higher SA/D ratios. On boats under 30’ 18 & up. Longer than 30’ the 17& up. When you move aboard the amount of personal gear your bring will weigh about the same regardless of boat size but that amount of weight on a bigger boat is less of a drag.

I would happily talk to you about EP & EG but here’s not the place.
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Old 07-01-2021, 00:35   #6
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Another option might be to look for a good boat with a highly desirable motor and sell the motor.

I don't know much about it but just another way of thinking about it.
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Old 07-01-2021, 08:19   #7
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Wow, all these answers are fantastic! So much to think about, but so many helpful ideas. I would most likely be looking in Europe, though I keep seeing that prices are much lower on the other side of the pond, and that keeps me thinking


On the size aspect, my main concern is my own height above water (1.97/6"6), and the idea of living aboard a yacht where I can't stand below does not excite me, but that's for a separate thread.
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Old 07-01-2021, 08:21   #8
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
If you are going electric the big thing is C, ability to sail in light winds. Look for higher SA/D ratios. On boats under 30’ 18 & up. Longer than 30’ the 17& up. When you move aboard the amount of personal gear your bring will weigh about the same regardless of boat size but that amount of weight on a bigger boat is less of a drag.

I would happily talk to you about EP & EG but here’s not the place.

I love these ratios, as an engineer, this is exactly the sort of stuff I enjoy! Can you point me to some thread or webpage that explains what EP & EG are? I've tried to take a guess, but couldn't find anything that seems to match. Just a link so I can go to bed being a little less ignorant
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Old 07-01-2021, 08:24   #9
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_S View Post
Another option might be to look for a good boat with a highly desirable motor and sell the motor.

I don't know much about it but just another way of thinking about it.
That's actually a pretty good idea....a recent Yanmar might have some significant value if you bought the boat 'right' overall.

Peter
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Old 07-01-2021, 09:20   #10
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnerual View Post
Wow, all these answers are fantastic! So much to think about, but so many helpful ideas. I would most likely be looking in Europe, though I keep seeing that prices are much lower on the other side of the pond, and that keeps me thinking


On the size aspect, my main concern is my own height above water (1.97/6"6), and the idea of living aboard a yacht where I can't stand below does not excite me, but that's for a separate thread.


Columbia 34,39,43 should be tall enough for you.
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Old 07-01-2021, 10:04   #11
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Here you go:

https://www.kijiji.ca/v-sailboat/bro...oat/1544363704

That's a lot of boat for little money!

Read to the bottom of the ad...the Atomic 4 has been removed. It's included, but needs a rebuild.

I would hazard a guess that the most common reason a decent boat would have no engine is over-ambitious owners. People buy boats all the time with the intent to fix them up and sail around the world. Buying the boat is the easy part... doing the work is the hard part. Many give up. Usually right after they pull out the engine, or remove the entire interior, or have it trucked to their home hundred of miles from any navigable waterway.

Enjoy.
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Old 07-01-2021, 10:42   #12
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnerual View Post
I love these ratios, as an engineer, this is exactly the sort of stuff I enjoy! Can you point me to some thread or webpage that explains what EP & EG are? I've tried to take a guess, but couldn't find anything that seems to match. Just a link so I can go to bed being a little less ignorant
I’m not 100% certain but EP may be electric propulsion and EG could be electric generation. Just a guess.
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Old 07-01-2021, 10:49   #13
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tnerual View Post
I love these ratios, as an engineer, this is exactly the sort of stuff I enjoy! Can you point me to some thread or webpage that explains what EP & EG are? I've tried to take a guess, but couldn't find anything that seems to match. Just a link so I can go to bed being a little less ignorant
Bad Adelie, bad Adelie.
I shouldn’t have used this acronyms without defining.
EP - Electric Propulsion
EG - Electric Galley

SA/D is Sail Area to Displacement Ratio but the formula is actually:
(Area of main + area of fore-triangle) / (displacement in lb)^0.666
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Old 07-01-2021, 10:50   #14
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

What a great informative thread! From the OP through all the responses.
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Old 07-01-2021, 11:10   #15
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Re: Buying a boat with broken engine?

Tneruel, For what it's worth, there are places in the sailing world where boats tend to fetch up for various reasons, including sick or dead engines. Often their owners try to sell them to bargain hunters rather than try to repair them in out of the way locations. These locations include Trinidad, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Thailand, and Malaysia. I have seen boats sold at 'giveaway' prices in all of these places.
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