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post #1 of 4 Old 08-13-2002 Thread Starter
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Saildrive engine

Many new boats are being built with a saildrive engine as opposed to the more traditional inboard system with cutlass bearing, etc.

I am looking at a boat with a Volvo saildrive engine.

I do not know much about them. I was hoping to get some feedback, pros and cons on this system.

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-13-2002
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Saildrive engine

Others will chime in with the cons, so I''ll give a couple of pros. A friend last year bought a mid-''80''s Etap 30 with saildrive. Despite what you hear about corrosion, the lower unit looks great after all these years (I checked it out on land over the winter.) It needs zincs of course, so keep up with that for sure -- just as you would with a regular shaft and prop. Where the saildrive unit exits the hull is a sealed joint, so no leaks (as from a stuffing box) to worry about. And the boat handles very well under power. It turns on a dime, has little vibration, and almost no prop walk.

Manufacturers like them because they are cheaper to install, and Volvo must be making some sweetheart deals to sell their engines as well. From all the griping you hear about the high prices of Volvo parts, Volvo must know they can make a profit on parts later on. Most European makers use saildrive, as does Tartan, at least for some of their models, in the US.

The cons I''ve read on here usually revolve around lack of access to the lower unit to change oil, etc. if you are off shore, or in a foreign land where a haul out may be difficult. But I''ll let others go into that.
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post #3 of 4 Old 08-14-2002
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Saildrive engine


I don''t think this falls into an ''anti'' or ''con'' answer so much as a list of the things you should consider, for the boat you''re looking at, re: its saildrive installation. All these issues can be pertinent but some moreso in one installation than another, or some not at all. I''d recommend talking to a local Volvo dealer about the particular model you might be inheriting...
1. Engine access (since designers sometimes bury the little engine box to take maximum advantage of the saildrive arrangement)
2. Access (from the engine) for checking hypoid (sail leg) oil level and possible water contamination
3. Ability to change hypoid oil (or at least to top it up - these two my be different) with boat in the water
4. Age of the rubber gasket that seals the hole they cut in the hull in order to install the leg; if not relatively new, you might research how it must be replaced for that boat & installation, since doing so might require pulling/lifting the engine
5. Zinc replacement with the boat in the water; especially important if you end up in a ''hot slip'' or find your own boat suddenly creating a problem and find the zincs disappearing - some legs have zincs installed forward of the prop, others aft, still others in both positions; what''s reasonable to expect a diver to do?
6. If you plan extended motoring (e.g. a season in the islands, an ICW trip down & back, a season in Sea of Cortez), just how long do you feel comfortable stretching use of the same hyphoid oil without hauling
7. Condition of the aluminum leg, a less noble metal for constant immersion.

As you''re finding when looking at boats, every engine installation & running gear has its issues. Sometimes sail drive installations have a lot; other times perhaps only comparable ones, unless you''re headed offshore to more remote cruising grounds. Then it''s a clear disadvantage IMO.

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-15-2002
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Saildrive engine

I used two of them during more than 13 years. No problem at all. The last one, on a Frers 36, I used it during 10 years, and never needed even to change the hull gaskets; despite I checked them every season. Maintenance is clean and easy. Aluminium folding prop did need a replacement after 5 years. But unlike the standard shaft, no leaks , no vibrations, no aligment.

The propeller works horizontal, so is more efficiently.

My current VOlvo 59 HP carries a standard shaft.

Regards. Fernando
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