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post #1 of 28 Old 11-20-2017 Thread Starter
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Question Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

We've fallen in love with a 35' boat from 1982. The owner recently put 40K in in new electronics, incl. solar panels/batteries/inverter/autopilot, rigging, bimini, etc as he planned to island hop this year but unfortunately came down with cancer and is selling the boat. It is a gorgeous blue water TANK!

Our only holdup would be that the boat still has it's original 1982 Yanmar 3HMF diesel. The exterior of the engine looks brand new/super clean - we are TOLD this is because it was a "fresh water" boat in the Great Lakes up until about 9 months ago and that this is engine should last several years longer especially because of this. This seems like a load of bullocks to me, but I wanted to get some input from you guys.

Questions being:
1. Does it make a difference on the life expectancy of an engine if it's a fresh water vs salt water boat?
2. How long should be expect this engine to last?
3. Would it be worth it for us to do an engine survey before purchase, and is this common?
4. Would we do the survey before or after the marine survey/sea trial?
5. How much do single engine surveys typically cost? We are in the Chesapeake Bay area near the coast.
6. Should we just say hell no to a boat with a 35 year old engine? The boat is listed at 45K but the owner is ready to negotiate.

Also: this is my first post! Hello Sailnet! I'm super excited to find this website
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post #2 of 28 Old 11-20-2017
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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

Might very well be a load of Gems...rather than Bullocks...
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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wayshegoes View Post
We've fallen in love with a 35' boat from 1982.
Never fall in love until she's at your slip. It affects your judgement. Still, I'm glad you have a strong prospect.

Quote:
1. Does it make a difference on the life expectancy of an engine if it's a fresh water vs salt water boat?
Not necessarily, it depends entirely on how she was used and maintained. Fresh water environments theoretically are less corrosive on the boat in general, but there are poorly maintained fresh water boats and expertly maintained salt water boats that debunk the generalization.

Quote:
2. How long should be expect this engine to last?
The range is too dependent on the last answer. If this motor has never had any major surgery to refresh wear parts, it will need it before too long. That's just age appropriate.

Quote:
3. Would it be worth it for us to do an engine survey before purchase, and is this common?
Yes and Yes.

Quote:
4. Would we do the survey before or after the marine survey/sea trial?
If this is your primary concern, I would do it first. If your purchase price is dependent on a serviceable engine, you would avoid the cost of the survey if a problem is detected that you can't reconcile with the current owner.

Quote:
5. How much do single engine surveys typically cost? We are in the Chesapeake Bay area near the coast.
Less than the hull survey, most likely. It will depend on what they do. Is it just a static test at the slip, testing compression and listening. Will you have an oil analysis done. How about checking valve timing, etc. Find a local reference. No one can give a guarantee here.

Quote:
6. Should we just say hell no to a boat with a 35 year old engine? The boat is listed at 45K but the owner is ready to negotiate.
If she starts easily, runs smoothly and doesn't have notable exhaust smoke, it could be just fine for now. However, also understand that it will need to be overhauled or replaced at some point. That's why you're not paying new prices.

Quote:
Also: this is my first post! Hello Sailnet! I'm super excited to find this website
Welcome aboard.
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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

Welcome to Sailnet, Wayshegoes! I wouldn't rule a boat out just because it has an original engine. The things I would look for are the hours on the engine - with good care and maintenance that engine should last 10,000 hours or more - and info on how well the engine was maintained. Ask the PO for any service records they have. Having a marine mechanic go over the engine is a great idea, and probably doesn't matter if it happens before or after the survey and sea trial. You should be able to get that done for between $100 and $200. Get an oil analysis, also - it will provide objective info on any wear issues in the engine.....Blackstone Labs is one vendor that does them and it will cost less than $50.

Good luck with the process!

Andy
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S/V Everlasting Moon
1981 Endeavour 32

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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

I will echo the points raised by @Minnewaska and @bigdogandy . The only thing that I will add is that if the engine is used regularly it will be in far better shape than if it sat unused for a long time.

Based on my research and reading, well cared for marine diesels (regular use, regular oil changes, and clean fuel) should be able to go about 5000 hours before requiring major service, and they should last to well over 10K hours. If you are concerned, have an oil analysis done on the engine and transmission. If you are still concerned, hold some money in escrow for the first month. Personally, I would be most concerned about what is in the fuel tank.

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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

An engine oil analysis is the definitive health check. It doesn't require a "surveyor." Ask the owner to provide an oil sample with you being present during collection of the sample, and mail it off for analysis. It's not even expensive.

Ask for any maintenance records.
Ask if the engine has an hour meter, and what the reading is.*

* An hour meter can be helpful, but not is not definitive. If the boat has had electrical faults, the hour meter may have extended periods where it was not recording.

Yanmar diesels are known for the mixing elbow becoming clogged over long periods with mineralized salt deposits. This restricts cooling water output and increases exhaust backpressure. It's not a big deal, you just clean or replace the elbow periodically. As a fresh water boat, this engine should not have any such deposits from the outset. Just something you should be aware of.

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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

We just repowered a big Yanmar in a power boat after 5000 hrs. It was a 1997 motor, but the problem originated when an oil line failed and drained the crank case at cruise RPM. By the time the low oil pressure buzzer went, it was nearly dry. It manifested as a low end knock 30 hrs later, probably fixable, but to do it involved removing the motor to get at the crank shaft anyway, and after 5K hrs, and this being an offshore fishing boat, we choose to repower.

Most diesels, and Yanmar's in particular do not do well if they've been overheated or run dry of oil. Short of this 5 to 10K hrs is possible. Great advice from everyone above, but the other enemy of long life in a sailboat in particular is lack of use. After so many years, let's see, how was it used? A coastal seasonal cruiser, maybe 100 hrs a year X 35 years or so, 3500 hrs. If used as a full time cruiser in the tropics or a charter boat, maybe a lot more. Sat around for a while, maybe a lot less but they don't like that either.

I assume this is a fresh water cooled engine with a heat exchanger. If that has been taken care of, salt or fresh doesn't matter that much. Larger engines have salt water in more systems (intercooler, oil cooler, transmission cooler) and all those heat exchangers do need service and do experience salt corrosion.

I'd buy this boat at a price that reflected a reasonable chance I'd be repowering in the next few years. If it ran well, with little smoke and up to power propped correctly, I'd run the old engine till it died, unless I was embarking on a long voyage, then I'd do it pre-emptively if I anticipated needing to repower in parts unknown. It could run another 10+ years. It might not.

Good luck. Remember if you do repower, you end up with an engine that only you have taken care of, and you'll know exactly what you have. That has a certain peace of mind that you never get on any used engine, even with low hours and relatively new.
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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

The condition of the boat and the cleanliness of the engine area bodes well.. I think it's pretty rare that an engine that looks clean and cared for hasn't been. Hours are an indicator, but as mentioned above, the tickers are not guaranteed accurate and there are 'hours' and then there 'hours', depending on use.

A few thousand hours at this point would make me happier than a few hundred.

Ease of starting, clean running, everything else as you like it, you may have a winner.
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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

Hey,

A few more or less random thoughts:
-Fresh water is better than salt water because salt water corrodes everything. The raw water pump on my previous boat developed a leak. Nothing serious, just a few drips. However, by the time I found it, the salt water had dripped down onto the engine block and started to damage that. If I had not found and repaired the leak, the block could have been seriously damaged. I have SEEN engine pans get corroded from salt water exposure - serious enough to develop pin hole leaks. Once you loose oil, the engine is basically shot

-Age doesn't affect an engine much. Assuming it's kept clean, dry, and serviced, hours of operation mean more than years. You can find charter boats that are 5 years old with 5000 hours on the engine and private boats that are 20 years old with 1000 hours on the engine. Which engine do you think will last longer?

-What are YOU going to do with the boat and how many hours per year do you think you will put on the engine? If you will live aboard and will run the engine every day, and need the engine to get around, and you would really be stuck if you had a serious issue, then you have different requirements than if sail a few times a month, just for fun. Personally I only put about 50 hours a year on my engine. My last boat came with over 3000 hours on the engine. It started easily (once I got the glow plugs straightened out), didn't burn oil, didn't smoke, and made good power. So I felt it could last over 10 years for me (at 50 hours / year). When I sold the boat the engine was still running strong.

Good luck,
Barry

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Re: Questions about buying a used boat with original engine?

The thumbnails indicate its a fresh water cooled engine—meaning that there is a heat exchanger—so that raw water does not see the block. That’s a plus. But it looks like the hoses are painted, as if they are original. That’s hard to believe, but changing out the hoses, belts, and exhaust elbow are good preventative maintenance practices for a new owner.

My own Yanmar is 1990 vintage and I don’t doubt that it will keep going for many more years, but I’ve been maintaining it for the past 21 years and am somewhat familiar with it. It wouldn’t hurt to interview the current owner about how long he/she has had it and whether or not they are familiar with the maintenance history.

BTW, my “newer” engine looks OK, but not as spiffy and the one in the thumbnails.
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