Westerbeke versus Volvo - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-30-2016 Thread Starter
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Westerbeke versus Volvo

If you were looking at two boats that were basically close enough to be a coin toss and it came down to the engines as the deciding factor, would you choose the
Westerbeke 3 cyl 30 hp with 2800 hours but a new valve job, new hoses and new fuel injectors...

or..

the Volvo 29 hp 3 cyl with 2100 and not the upgrades mentioned above?
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-30-2016
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Re: Westerbeke versus Volvo

I think I'd lean to the Westerbeke, esp if it's a Volvo '2003' (model, not year). Volvo generally is well known for rather expensive parts.

If you can determine which engine the Westerbeke is based on (outside of Yanmar and Volvo most engines are based on tractor blocks like Kubota, Nissan, etc) actual engine parts might be available from non marine sources.
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-30-2016
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Re: Westerbeke versus Volvo

During my search, I had nixed boats BECAUSE they has a Volvo engine. While reliable, they are expensive as hell to fix or find parts for. (ex $90 for a thermostat!?!)

Westerbeake, on the other hand, sources their blocks from Mitsubishi and Kubota (probably others too). Meaning that parts are plentiful and cheap. I believe that the Westerbeake 30B engine uses a Mitsubishi K3D or K3E block.


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post #4 of 8 Old 06-30-2016
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Re: Westerbeke versus Volvo

Having owned Volvo's and having worked on many hundreds of boats with Volvo's has lead me to my own mantra.

If a boat i am looking at has a Volvo it is removed from the list unless the owner reduces price enough to repower.

Pretty simple for me...

I currently have a customer with a 2004 MD2030 that has slightly over 600 hours on it. The engine has been meticulously maintained. In May it spit a "casting plug" in an oil journal. According to multiple Volvo dealers, and Volvo themselves, this is never supposed to happen and has never happened.

Long and short it took them 6 weeks just to get the part and when it was finally installed the engine was found to be totaled having completely run out of oil. The owner shut it down immediately upon hearing the alarm but the screeching started at the same time.

No big deal, it's just money, we'll just order a long block...

Wrong!!! Volvo never made an MD2030 long block. Who makes an engine but does not offer a long block, even when the engine was in production..? The engine is now out of production and the parts necessary to "rebuild" the motor come to a whopping total of over $14,000.00 before we do any labor. The block alone (they don't even offer a short block), just the cast iron block and nothing else, is 4K but he needs everything oil touches.

Long and short apparently Volvo chose to use the cheapest Japanese diesel they could to maintain their lowest bidder OEM pricing, a Shibaura. The Shibaura uses an aluminum casting plug in a cast iron block. Volvo specifies them as SS but even the replacement was soft aluminum.

Getting in touch with an engineer or human being at Volvo, who knows anything, is nearly impossible. Getting parts quickly? Ha, ha ha, yeah right.... On our last Volvo we lost an entire season due to a "back ordered part". Yep an entire season wiped out of the memory books thanks to the green grief....

On my customers engine I have well in excess of 3.5 hours on hold and making phone calls on behalf of this customer and still got essentially nowhere, including some super secret back door numbers from industry contacts. When I finally did get in touch with a human being, who even seemed to know something about the MD2030, he basically told me, "Never even heard of that" & "You're $hit out of luck." & "We never offered that engine in a long block.".

On the other hand I can pick up the phone and have either of two Westerbeke engineers, Joe or Bob, on the phone in seconds. If it came down to Westerbeke over The Green Grief its Westerbeke all the way for me.

That said if I was re-powering today it would be Beta hands down, then Yanmar then Westerbeke. Sadly Volvo never makes the list for me.

Sorry to be so blunt but when you have a customer with a 600 hour engine that is now needing a full repower, for something that "never happens" and Volvo says sorry pound sand and refuses to even try to come up with a long block, that we are fully willing to pay for, well..................
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 06-30-2016 at 01:28 PM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-30-2016
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Re: Westerbeke versus Volvo

We have a Westerbeke 58 and it has been very reliable but parts are definitely not cheap, although perhaps a bit better than Volvo. The block used our engine doesn't seem to have been imported into North America in tractor form. I was able to find lots of reference to it being used in tractors in Europe, so you may want to check the block of the engine you are considering.

After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-30-2016 Thread Starter
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Thank you, this is all very helpful information. It is consistent with what I have seen on other discussions on here and on other forums. I have had a bad impression of Volvo marine engines and I just wanted to confirm if my impressions were valid. I think I will look for a boat with any kind of engine other than a Volvo.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-28-2017
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Re: Westerbeke versus Volvo

I gave an islander 36 thumbs down today just because of all the bad reviews on the Volvo engines.
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-29-2017
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Re: Westerbeke versus Volvo

I've had one engine... Volvo MD17D for 32 years over 5,000 hrs.... no major problems... yeah expensive parts... that is creepy. I don't know any other engines but this one... and have no recommendations... only my experience with the MD17D.
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