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Rebuild or Repower?

DiamondDealer

Member II
The little passage we had to make the other day turned into quite an adventure. We got caught in a gale, managed to bring her to dock in a blinding rain, left again for our home slip and the engine blew. We had to get towed. Head gasket, rings, we're really not sure yet. It's a 50 year old Atomic 4 with a two-blade folding prop that didn't perform terribly well, so the thought is that it's time to repower her with a diesel and a better prop. Any recommendations or observations?

Black Diamond is a 1970 E39, btw, and we have to motor her in and out of a very tricky very fast running channel at times. Any thoughts are very welcome. Thanks!
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Starting with this blog entry, I have several discussing our engine (whole drive train) changeout a couple seasons ago.

Ironically the ship wright that did the precision part of my work just ordered up a new Yanmar for his 41 footer -- because his engine compartment is just too small for the the Betamarine that he wanted - by about 4 inches. He is replacing a 44 hp with a 45 hp.

I would advocate looking at either brand, and avoiding Volvo. You could go with a Universal or a Westerbeke, but I believe that the marination of the excellent Kubota engines is done better by Betamarine.

Keep us posted with your decision.
 

Kevin A Wright

Member III
Just a couple.
You'll probably hear from loads of people that you should just rebuild the A4. Cheap and not that hard. About 35 years ago I was in a similar situation with my E27 and decided to put in a brand spanking new Perkins M20 diesel. Everyone thought I was crazy and that I'd never get 'my money out of it' but I had 30 years of flawless running before I sold the boat so figure it was worth every penny. But you should probably consider how many more years you want to own the boat when you are making this decision.

A couple of other things to consider when looking at this project:

You won't be just changing an engine and a prop. More torque out of the engine may mean a bigger shaft as well. I had to go from a 3/4 inch shaft to a 1". Which also meant new stuffing box and strut bearing. You also normally go to a larger diameter prop so need to make sure you have clearance between the prop and hull.

It also means a new fuel tank. Or if you are lucky, just a modification to your existing one. Diesels require a return line to the fuel tank. I was able to empty my gas tank, drill a hole in the top for a return line and got off easy. One BIG plus with the diesel is that same fuel tank will have 4 times the range it did as a gas tank. My A4 burned a gallon an hour at cruising. My Perkins a quart.

The other big thing is don't believe any advertising about a 'drop in replacement' for an A4. They don't exist. Take a careful look at the specs on any engine you choose. Note which side the exhaust comes off, which side are the engine controls on (and which direction do they go Push or pull?), and most importantly will the engine fit in your engine compartment?

To figure that out you need to measure everything based off the shaft compared to your A4. I ended up having to raise the stringers 2 1/2 inches and the engine compartment box cover an inch to get it all in and lined up. Most diesels out there are taller than an A4 based on the shaft. But at least on an Ericson that means raising a wooden engine box up a bit, as opposed to my old friend with a Hunter 28 who had to cut a hole in his cockpit sole and raise the sole 2 inches to get a Yanmar in there.

One other important aspect. If you do the work your self, you will know in intimate detail every inch of your piping, plumbing, and wiring in the engine compartment by the time you are done.

Oh yeah, I also had to put in a new raw water through hull. The old one for the A4 was barely 1/4 ID. Kept collapsing hoses and clogging with seaweed from the more powerful raw water pump on the diesel trying to suck through a straw.

Good Luck!

Kevin Wright
E35 Hydro Therapy
 

Sailingfun

Member II
There are a lot of rebuild atomic 4 around. Take at look at the ad I link below... brand new for $4500 and he is running this ad for at least 3 month so I think could be prone to go down with the price.
A quick swap is much better than replace gas for diesel with thousand little decision make on the spot and a lot of money in the process.
Good luck!

 

DiamondDealer

Member II
Thanks all for the input. Looks like we’ve got to really consider the options before doing something stupid. (I like to really think about it, and then do something stupid). I’ll let you know which way he decides to go.
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
Suggestion only: If you decide not to overhaul or replace with the same gas engine...go with any diesel marine conversion Kubota tractor engine with the specs you want. Parts available in every state/city/county/parish in the country and world for that matter. These Kubota engines are pretty much simple bullet proof tractor engines that have a terrific long life track record for decades. Put off buying a new car for another couple of years and its paid for. Your E39 is well worth it in spades.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Like Tex said--Kubotas are great. Parts are easily available. I believe though that Yanmar is the most popular small diesel in the world, so I wouldn't dismiss them at all if you can make one fit. I've heard many warnings against Volvos over the years, manly due to high parts costs.

Other manufacturers (Perkins, Bukh, Ford-Lehman) never seemed to gain much market share. I would be worried about parts availability and finding mechanics willing to work on those engines.
 
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supersailor

Contributing Partner
One of the biggest advantages of the Betamarine is the low cost of parts when sourced through Kubota. As an example, a glow plug sourced through Universal was $59.99. Through Kubota, it was $15.99 and through A-1 auto, it was $5.99. This was for the same Champion plug in each case. The Marine Dealers are thieves and shameless about it.

If your parts can't be sourced through a non-marine source, you will pay through the nose for them. The high prices can't avoided for the marinized parts of the Betamarine.

That engine Loren has is a mighty nice engine. Its a little pricy but so are the others. If you repower, figure at least $12,000 unless you are crazy like me and do everything yourself. Also, your fuel tank will probably need replacement at the same time as most of the old boats had mild steel tanks that are not suitable for diesel. If there is a 3/4" shaft, it needs replacement too. The result of the expense will be another 30 years of reliable power. Do check to be sure your replacement will fit in the allotted engine space. This can be a problem when converting to a diesel.
 

Sailingfun

Member II
I asked for a beta marine 20hp here at the bay area. The final bill will be around $20.000. I will keep my trustee MD7 until the last of his day. And if I still being the owner that day, will put an electric one. Batteries are cheaper every day.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I asked for a beta marine 20hp here at the bay area. The final bill will be around $20.000. I will keep my trustee MD7 until the last of his day. And if I still being the owner that day, will put an electric one. Batteries are cheaper every day.
That's an unexpectedly high number compared to my install of a new Betamarine25. I wonder if that price is for a professional install @ $100/hour?
(FWIW I would have had a difficult time budgeting for our engine change if I hired out all of the labor that I provided. My engine alone was just under $10K)
 

Sailingfun

Member II
That's an unexpectedly high number compared to my install of a new Betamarine25. I wonder if that price is for a professional install @ $100/hour?
(FWIW I would have had a difficult time budgeting for our engine change if I hired out all of the labor that I provided. My engine alone was just under $10K)

...Welcome to North California prices.... mechanic, electrician and plumbers start in $100/hs...
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Yup, so I have heard, Note that I did the engine swap at the slip, and also did all of the inside preparation and cleaning. Also wiring and fuel plumbing. I saved several thousand that way -- I was still out about 5K for the (excellent) work done by our ship wright.
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
Labor rates at my current boatyard in Richmond, CA (SF Bay):

General Labor - Bottom Prep/Detailing $102
Skilled Craftsperson $120
Master Craftsperson* $125
Forklift $150
Crane or Travelift $300
Travelift $300
 

Kevin A Wright

Member III
Well it looks like I may have to join this thread again. Now looking at repowering my E35 3. Trying to decided between a Beta 25 or 30. Loren how much Umph does that 25 have in your Olsen 34? Got to beat against some strong currents in these parts and wondering if the 30 might be worth while? I know the M25 that was original in her seemed a bit underpowered.

I just got quotes from the local guy of $9500 for a Beta 25 and $10,500 for a Beta 30.

Kevin Wright
E35 Hydro Therapy
 

mbp

Ericson 34
@Kevin A Wright This will get some future blog posts, but we are right now installing a Beta 30 in our Ericson 34. We live in Bellingham and had the same concerns about currents, both in the San Juan islands and heading north.

An Olsen 34 displaces 10,600 lbs, about 20% less than an Ericson 34. If you add 20% to a 25hp engine, you get 30hp. @Teranodon installed a Beta 25 in his Ericson 34. A Beta 25 weighs about 40 lbs less than the M25. The Beta 30 is 20 lbs more.

Looking at this list, many of the boats that are similar to an Ericson 34/35 repowered with a Beta 30.

Some caveats:

The M25 has three engine mounts; the Beta engines have 4. You’ll need to extend the engine stringers for the Beta engine mounts.

The Beta 30 is a very tight fit in an E34. I took careful measurements of the engine compartment and made a CAD model to make sure it would fit before making the commitment. The E35 has a different engine compartment, so you would need to check if you have the room.
 

racushman

Member II
Maybe a bit of a contrarian here, but most of my engine replacement thinking tends toward an electric drive replacement. Seems like that technology has come a long way in recent years.

Has anyone on this forum gone through this analysis? When I was looking at options to repower my old Catalina 30, it seemed like it made a lot of sense. There was a big cost differential on the initial installation, and the complexity of the system for maintenance purposes was quite low. No oil, fuel, hoses, zincs, transmissions, etc.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Well it looks like I may have to join this thread again. Now looking at repowering my E35 3. Trying to decided between a Beta 25 or 30. Loren how much Umph does that 25 have in your Olsen 34? Got to beat against some strong currents in these parts and wondering if the 30 might be worth while? I know the M25 that was original in her seemed a bit underpowered.

I just got quotes from the local guy of $9500 for a Beta 25 and $10,500 for a Beta 30.

Kevin Wright
E35 Hydro Therapy
I have looked at the engine compartment in a 34-2 and at a Betamarine 25 installed in a 32-3. There is not a lot of room to spare, seems to me.
While I did toy with the idea the Beta 30, the weight takes a good sized jump, and some measurements like side to side, and total length made it problematical for the Olson.
As for power, we had adequate power with the old 23 hp Universal, so the Beta 25 was also fine.
You do need to print out the spec sheets and really do some measuring - check the distance from trans to stuffing box carefully.
Please look over my photos in my engine blog, for reference.

Good luck,
Loren
 

Teranodon

Member III
... most of my engine replacement thinking tends toward an electric drive replacement. Seems like that technology has come a long way in recent years.

Has anyone on this forum gone through this analysis? ...

Electric propulsion just doesn't have the numbers. Here's a back-of-the-envelope analysis:

The key figure of merit is energy. It determines how far you can go, other things being equal. Diesel fuel contains 45 Megajoules of energy per kilogram. A kilogram of lithium ion battery can store 200 watt-hours of energy. Now turn the computational crank, and this is what you get:

The energy available from a 20-gallon tankfull of diesel fuel is equal to the energy in 20,000 pounds of lithium ion batteries. That's one and one-half times the weight of an Ericson 34!

Personally, I think that electric propulsion has its place: on the transom of my dinghy. I recently bought an ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 Plus electric outboard and, so far, I'm pleased with it. I'll post a full review soon.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
The local opinion in this area (Sausalito) seems to be to go with Yanmar. They are smooth running and since they are popular, you can get parts and people that know how to fix them. I was told to avoid Volvo and some mechanics won't work on them. Yanmar is more expensive than Beta but I was told that you have to look at the entire package price (labor + engine + hw) because you can get discounts on the engines.

I will eventually repower my boat but it's not the highest thing on the list right now and my motor is still running. I like electric power but it's a bit of waiting game. The longer we wait the better technology will be out there.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Maybe a bit of a contrarian here, but most of my engine replacement thinking tends toward an electric drive replacement. Seems like that technology has come a long way in recent years.

Has anyone on this forum gone through this analysis? When I was looking at options to repower my old Catalina 30, it seemed like it made a lot of sense. There was a big cost differential on the initial installation, and the complexity of the system for maintenance purposes was quite low. No oil, fuel, hoses, zincs, transmissions, etc.
I think it would depend a lot on how you use your motor. If you are doing a lot of longer distance motor-sailing, I would not want to rely on electric unless it was a hybrid system. For where I live where one tank of fuel lasts the entire year, I think electric could be a good option, but I have not done the analysis yet. There are also weight considerations with the batteries/motor and cooling can be a problem. the total cost of the system is definitely not less than a new diesel especially with lithium batteries. There are a lot of youtube videos out by sailors that have converted their boat. In all of them range anxiety seemed to be issue along with cooling and speeds limited to conserve on power. It;s still early days compared to automotive e-power. Automotive is driving the technology right now...
 
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