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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Engines > Diesel
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  #1  
Old 08-18-2012
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Universal Diesels?

Anybody know anything about the origins of the Universal Diesel? We used to seem 'em in lots of production sailboats but I never really knew much about their guts and what parts they had ( maybe because they didn't often fail?) but now I'm seeing lots of older, quality built boats that have Universals. Are these original blocks that are still going? Are parts available in Outer Mongolia?
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Universal Diesels?

A Google search will turn up a history of Universal Motors. Bottom line is the Universal diesels are marinized Japanese Kubota industrial diesels. Parts are readily available from Universal/Westerbeke or directly from Kubota for the parts that were not added in the marine conversion.
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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Universal Diesels?

I can't tell you much about the blocks and parts origin but the company was created from or originated from the company that made the Atomic 4 which was in most production sailboats and ran gas. The Universal was made to have the same size and footprint so it would be a direct replacement. That is probably why there are so many Universal motors out there. A Yanmar or Westerbeke required modification of the engine bed and room to make it work.

The Universal, I believe, is a marinized Kubota tractor engine so some parts are interchangeable.

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Old 08-19-2012
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Re: Universal Diesels?

As JimsCal said.

We just got rid of ours and bought a new engine. The Universal was 30 years old and raw water cooled. One summer we had to wait months for a new exhaust manifold to be recast (enough people had to need them first), then it was the starter, then something else. After about $3000 in repairs the engine mechanics said they really felt bad taking our money. We finally wanted the assurance that when we turned the key, the engine would start.

Now the marina is holding it so we can sell it for parts.
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Old 08-29-2012
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Re: Universal Diesels?

Last year I could not find a raw water pump for my Universal anywhere. The Japan tsunami closed the parts factory. Finally, someone turned me onto the Kubato tractor engines website. Had the part in 2 days and saved the rest of the sailing season.
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Old 08-29-2012
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Highway/High Seas Robbery

I helped a friend with a Universal 5424 engine shop around for new glow plugs for their engine.
Torreson Marine had them listed for around $80 a piece.
Quite a bit of web searching and cross referencing later and I found the same glow plugs listed at a tractor supply place for $8 a piece.
I kid you not.

It would seem that the 'marine engine' makers have paid Kubota gag money to discourage marine engine owners from buying Kubota parts so the 'marine engine' folks can mark the parts up as much as 100%.
If you speak to a Kubota dealer do not tell them you have a Universal or Westerbeke engine. You need to look up the Kubota engine block model. With the engine block model # they (or you) can look up the Kubota parts that go with your engine.
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