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joyinPNW 01-16-2013 05:13 PM

Repower from volvo engine?
Greetings All- we've learned much from this site over the years but haven't posted until now. We hope to glean advice from all you mechanics- we recently acquired a 1991 Beneteau 35s5 which we picked for it's racer/cruiser characteristics. We have sailed a San Juan 24 for years so we're happy with more space/performance/comfort. Before purchasing we had extensive surveys of the hull and engine (Volvo Penta 2003) which revealed some seemingly minor repairs needed and the boat price was reduced to reflect this. Now that we have the boat tucked in, we're exploring the survey recommendations and after spending massive amounts of time doing research on this site, it seems Volvo engines, while sturdy, can be costly to repair over the long run. So, my question for you all is: it's a 20 year old engine, well-maintained but is it worth it to consider a repower if we plan on keeping this boat for at least 10 more years? The survey recommended the heat exchanger be replaced as it appeared to be original equipment. The other things found were possible corroded injector, new exhaust riser, new front engine mounts as they are loose. Their estimate to complete the work was around $5k, and the heat exchanger is the difficult part to find. I'm looking down the road and thinking that $5k now, a 20+ yr old engine...should we be thinking repower now (even tho the engine appears healthy) or get the repairs and worry about it later. I don't want to spend that much now only to find out in 5yrs that parts are even harder to find or non-existent. I've researched the Betas and our Seattle boat show is coming up...What do you all think?? Thank you all for any advice. We're not wanting to spend $ on a new engine but I don't like throwing good money after bad.

Lake Superior Sailor 01-16-2013 06:40 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
Sounds like a lot of money for parts, before I'd drop that much I would check elsewere . If you repower I suppose you could recoop something on the old motor,selling it. The real question is how do you know how long you will keep the boat, not having used it yet? I would try to get by a year first then decide.....Dale

PorFin 01-16-2013 06:46 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?

An interesting question.

Pull the h/x and take a close look at the innards. Just because something is "original" doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad; you can clean out any calcification, and may be surprised to find that it's perfectly acceptable. You could either buy your own RydLime and clean it yourself, or take the tube stack to a radiator shop and have them do it in their boil tank.

Ditto the suspect injector. Pull it and have it pop-tested at a diesel shop.

Engine mounts and exhaust riser are fairly simple fixes.

I'd think you could do all of the above for well, well less than $5k.

Don't forget that a repower is probably going to cost you at double of what the new engine price may be. In addition to the engine, there's all the rest of the stuff that may no longer fit (exhaust hose, muffler, prop shaft, transmission, prop), possibly having to modify your engine beds, material handling equipment rental, labor for anything you sub out, etc, etc.

I'd be inclined to set aside (or start contributing to) your own repowering fund. If the Penta dies, replace it. Until then run it 'til it breaks.

All the best,

Silvio 01-16-2013 06:58 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
If it aint broke...
Do the maintenance, sail the boat, enjoy life, save for a possible repower in the future.

If the engine has been well maintained, there should be many more years left in it beyond its first 20.

Removing a heat exchanger is typically not that difficult, take it to a radiator shop and have it cleaned and inspected. If you aren't having over heating problems there is no reason to replace it as a preventive measure.

Have fun!

joyinPNW 01-16-2013 09:23 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
Thanks to all of you for the suggestions. I tend towards being cautious and knowing the previous owner of our boat (who is now deceased) did keep up with maintenance is reassuring. I suppose the survey recommendations/cost and the reported difficulty finding Volvo parts started me on the path to considering repowering. My hubby and I would rather just enjoy the sailing, and not spend all the time at the dock so for now perhaps we'll just take a "wait and evaluate" view while trying to find some solid diesel mechanic in the South Puget Sound area. Thanks again to all of you-if we have questions after doing some repairs ourselves, I'll post them because I know you all will have some good answers!

Faster 01-16-2013 09:37 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
As has been said, a sound H/E can be cleaned and checked out, 3 injectors could be rebuilt to near new for $100 each, maybe double that for new.. A mixing elbow can be expensive from Volvo but in many cases they can be fabricated for much less. Are the engine mounts just 'loose' or is the rubber breaking down? Severely rusted? In any event I'd think you could find some generic replacements for less money here too.

Repowering certainly can open a whole new can of worms.. Try to minimize what you have to spend right now and see how she runs for a season...

joyinPNW 01-16-2013 09:43 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
The front mounts are slightly loose, but not rusty. The rubber has worn off on the front right one. When you say a mixing elbow can be fabricated, who does that? or, I mean, what sort of business? A metal fabricating place? Sorry for the machine ignorance-I'm in the tooth business, not the diesel business...

Faster 01-16-2013 10:02 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
In the past I've saved the attachment flange but attached/welded/otherwise fabricated mixing elbows that seem to work well. There's a debate on SS vs black iron, either will work, any good welding/fabrication shop should be able to replicate the functionality. If the entire assembly is cast, it's more difficult to create a mating flange for the exhaust manifold, but still not impossible. It really pays to have welder and machinist friends!!:) Maybe some kind of bartering is possible for you...

It's also possible that it will only need cleaning - and may have several seasons left in it.

Classic30 01-16-2013 10:36 PM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
The Volvo Penta 2003 must be one of the most common marine diesels out there. Because they stopped selling the 2000-series years ago, yes, new parts are expensive BUT, good 2nd hand parts can usually be found not far away and the Operating and Maintenance Manuals are freely available on the internet and not too difficult to follow.

My suggestion? If, on closer inspection, the one you have looks like it'll need major parts - buy a 2nd-hand 2003 on Ebay or from your local friendly Volvo mechanic (who is bound to have one stashed away somewhere - since it's not a big engine and there are a lot of them around) and use it for parts.

IMHO, it'll be far cheaper in the long run to fix the one you have using your own supply of bits with only occasional assistance from the local mechanic than doing a complete re-power and ending up with something no-one knows anything about...

Minnewaska 01-17-2013 06:40 AM

Re: Repower from volvo engine?
Its a good question, but I would take at least one crack at saving money on the repair. You list should be doable for much less than $5k. I swear that some shops will pad their Volvo repair bills for two reasons. Some boaters just believe the reputation and expect the higher bill, so they yard gets away with it. More often, the boat yard just isn't very familiar and takes many more hours to source parts and figure out what they are doing. Find a good Volvo experienced shop. They are not as common as Yanmar shops in the US.

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