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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New Westminster, BC
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I've owned two boats with marinized VW engines (and still have one). I don't think the magnesium issue is a seriously valid concern... fires on diesel engines - or boats for that matter - are rare enough.
As for the engine it seems to me that the tens of thousands Rabbits around the world getting 2-300 K miles on them without issue is testament enough to the toughness and durability of the core power. With a worldwide base, I reckon basic engine parts are more widely available than any Yanmar/Volvo/ etc source. Certainly parts are cheaper and quicker to access. The marinized parts (RWP, manifold/reservoir, gearboxes) are mainstream brands like Perkins or Jabsco or Sherwood, Hurth and as such are little different from the rest.
The aluminium head calls for caution and a studious avoidance of overheating, but at 4 cyl, 40+ HP and relatively light weight it makes for a pretty nice reliable engine. A bit noisy compared to some, but careful path treatment can eliminate or minimize a lot of that. As with any installation, vibration issues often create more noise than the engine itself.
I believe my boat sat on the market for some time because of the engine.. and for that, I'm grateful. On our previous boat we did a complete rebuild top to bottom for no more than $2500.... price that out for a 4 cyl Volvo or Yanmar.... Some years ago a friend was out of pocket $3400 by the time he fixed/replaced the cylinder head on a 8 hp 1 cyl Bukh.
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
Last edited by Faster; 06-11-2010 at 03:04 PM.