Pick a New Engine | What to Look For | Making a Blank | Removing the Old Engine | Disconnecting Systems | Mounts and Coupler | Lifting the Old Engine | Engine Beds | Shimming | Filling Holes | Flat Mounts | Landing the Engine | Exhaust System | Other Systems | Finishing Up
Picking the right replacement.
This is an area where it is very difficult to find an unbiased opinion. Boat owners are generally very familiar with the type of engine they work with every day, and unfamiliar except in passing with every other engine. Engine sales people have a bit of the same problem, but they definitely have a vested interest in selling engines. As the author, I obviously have my own set of opinions on the subject, so the first thing to remember is take everything with a grain of salt, even this.
If you, like so many others, are upgrading from an old Atomic 4, or your Saab or Volvo Penta is gasping its last breath, you have been probably been astonished by the price of a new engine. Even if you are doing your own work, a new engine can cost upwards of $10,000 for a 34’ sailboat.
Yanmar has become the top brand in the last 10 years, cornering almost 80% of the new build market, and being the most common upgrade for older boats. One of their big selling points is that Yanmars are everywhere, so parts and mechanics are easy to find. It is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but nonetheless true.
I have not installed a new Volvo, so I won’t go into their pros and cons except to say that parts have to come from Germany, and the cost and time seems to reflect that.
Kubota is the Walmart engine at the moment. They are a lot cheaper than Yanmar, and they are built with correspondingly lower quality. The general consensus is that their quality is gradually improving, and their prices will be rising. A common solution is to buy a Kubota diesel that has been marinized by a shop. Beta Marine has a nice niche market in California for this type of motor.
Electric drives (and eventually hybrids) are coming over the horizon gradually. A complete repower replacing an internal combustion engine with a quiet, green, and powerful electric motor is nearing the price of a traditional diesel. I will try to provide info that would be useful to a new electric drive owner, but the additional changes necessary to add batteries, controllers, etc are outside of the scope of this article.
There are a number of other engine manufacturers out there, and if you do your homework you may find just the right solution for yourself.
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