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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A year ago I installed a brand new Beta 20 with a Sea Prop 60 saildrive leg into my Islander Bahama 30, replacing an aging Volvo MD7A. I performed the installation myself with assistance and direction from the local Canadian Beta representative. All went well. I have over 100 hours on the engine to date and am really pleased with how the unit performs. However, and there always seems to be a "however", the unit makes an unusual clicking noise in gear (forward or reverse) at speeds under 1500 rpm. The clicking noise is louder than the running diesel at that speed! The noise can be heard from a distance before the engine can be heard. Having spent considerable resources on sound insulation in the engine compartment, I have found the level of this noise unacceptable. The local distributor does not have an answer. Assuming it was the saildrive unit I enquired with Technodrive, the parent company for Sea Prop. Technodrive responded to my enquiry almost immediately and suspected the connecting device between the transmission and engine. They had not had a report of this type of noise before. I subsequently enquired with Beta in England, twice. I have sent two messages since early December 2012 without a single response. I have also sent them a sound file with the noise, no response. All I am asking is to have them set up my configuration in the factory to see if a similar noise is being produced and at what level. Unfortunately, ripping the engine and saildrive unit out of the boat at this point is beyond my financial capabilities. The engine and saildrive unit are working well and I suspect I will have to learn to live with the noise. However, if you are in the market for a replacement engine I cannot recommend a Beta unit only because of the level of service and response from Beta England. The least they could do was respond with something, anything! I am more than willing (and have done so in the past) to give kudos to companies that back their product. This will be the first time that I have publicly condemed a company for any reason. Usually if I have a problem with support I simply stop recommending a company to my clients and stop purchasing any of their products. As can be imagined, I have stopped recommending Beta to my clients and am stuck with a noisy unit that reminds me every time I use it of the lack of support.
 

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The local distributor does not have an answer.
Have they been any help in trying to contact Beta? Have they come out and 'listened' to the noise? I'd expect that they would be your first avenue for answers/redress/solution and that they'd be interested in finding out what's gone on there.

Is this an unusual combination? Has the local guy done this before or on another boat?

One thing you might do is to take a long screwdriver, and place the handle against your ear and press the blade in strategic places on the engine/drive.. you may actually be able to pinpoint a more precise location where the sound is coming from. It's quite unlikely to be engine related, I'd guess.. and much more likely to be in the drive itself, or the connection between the two.
 
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Have you tried the telephone? Many times email goes unanswered. Don't ask me why...
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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From what I hear most owners who have re-powered with a Beta engine are quite happy. I'd say that your complaint has only to do with the sail drive unit. I'll go one step further to say that I'd avoid putting a sail drive system in any sailboat if avoidable.

My $.02.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The local distributor believes the noise to be "gear lash" out of the sail drive unit. But he doesn't know for certain as this is the first Sea Prop 60 that he has encountered. Although not a "mechanic" I have plenty of mechanical experience. And this does not sound like "gear lash". If it is, the gear box is in real misalignment. The sound file was originally provided to him and he forwarded it to Beta. I actually went out and purchased mechanic earphones to localize the noise, and it's certainly coming from the sail drive / engine connection area. And yes, as mentioned, the engine is purring along nicely and the thrust from the sail drive Gori folding prop is better than expected. My beef is the lack of response from Beta to e-mails to their "customer service" mailbox. Not even my local distributor can get an answer to my request. If your new car has a problem you can bet your dealer would be addressing your concerns. Like I said, I give credit where it's due, but on the other side of that coin.......

Islander 36 Maintenance

Bert Vermeer
s/v Natasha
Sidney, BC
 

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Have you done back to back tests in gear and out of gear? Ideally, you would unhook each component and move down the line that way until the noise reappeared but that is an awful lot of work. A mechanic's stethoscope definitely is a good start.

Can you post the sound clip where we can hear it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes I have. The sound file (which the Sailnet system won't allow me to attach) has the engine in and out of gear and the clicking noise is quite distinct and noticable. Unfortunately, the engine/sail-drive unit is joined together on a bed and I am not able to separate to test unless I remove the engine. This is something that I am prepared to do, if there are alternatives available from Beta. My request to them was to set up my system in their factory and then test for the noise. I could do that as well, using an electric drive on the saildrive unit to eliminate the diesel noise and focus on the clicking noise. However, if there is no options available from Beta on connecting hardware between the engine and transmission then I'm doing it for nothing (and it's somewhat of a big job!). Beta does not have schematics available that describe the connection inside the saildrive unit. Neither does Technodrive. Without some direction from Beta I am at a loss. If you're interested I can flip the sound file to an e-mail address.
 

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Bert, if the "engine is purring away nicely" and you've localized the issue to the gear drive, what do you expect Beta to do? Othger than not answering your emails...have you tried calling them yourself?
 
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Bert, if the "engine is purring away nicely" and you've localized the issue to the gear drive, what do you expect Beta to do? Othger than not answering your emails...have you tried calling them yourself?
That's kind of my thoughts too... clearly it's not Beta's problem, but still it would be nice if they'd at least respond..

I wonder what kind of history there is with the Seaprop drive.. there seems little opportunity for misalignment there, have you contacted them about the noise? Their website looks good, but I'd not heard of them before this. What do they say?

I also find it a bit strange that your original supplier isn't more interested in getting to the bottom of this.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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Like Faster above, I'm disappointed to hear that the dealer hasn't been all over this trying to solve the problem, especially since I'm contemplating writing Beta a large check in the near future.
Please keep us updated to any new developments.
 

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This is just to address the Beta Marine customer service. We had a Beta installed last year and had prompt replies to all of our questions before and after the installation from both US dealers. We ended up buying from the one in North Carolina only because they are closer. If you have not already, you might try one of them in the US.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Twin Disc (the manufacturer of the Sea Prop 60) did respond in a timely manner. They sent my concern (and the sound file) to their technical department. The technical department replied with;
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Dear Sir.

First we want you to know that this product is manufactured in Italy by Twin Disc srl, a company of the Twin Disc Group.

We have supplied some hundreds of these transmissions in the last 36 months to Beta, Allpa, Nanni, Vetus, Lombardini, etc. and many of them has been used to replace some competitors’ units too. The sail drive systems (any brand) do not have any adjusting device to “change or modify the noise”.

In general and based on our experience too, noise between 900 and 1500 rpm “may” be caused by the input flexible coupling characteristics. This coupling is usually selected by the engine manufacturer or supplier, based on similar and most popular applications with various saildrives. Therefore you may try to improve the situation with the engine dealer or a local distributor of input couplings (with a “softer” flexible element to reduce the torsional vibrations coming from the engine)
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So with this information I went back to my local distributor who forwarded it to Beta England. Without a response I also sent the same e-mail string to Beta twice without a response. And yes, the Kubota 722 block is running very nicely, as is the sail drive unit. But there is no point in taking them apart to identify the coupling as the problem if there are no coupling options available. Taking the two units apart while still afloat is possible, but somewhat risky. Haulouts are expensive in this part of the world!

I shouldn't have to resort to a phone call, it is after all their "customer service" site that I e-mailed. But I may just do that (perhaps my frustration is clouding my judgement!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey! I got a reply! I sent a third e-mail (this time to the sales department) and got an immedate reply from the technical department with an apology for failing to respond the previous two times. It appears that they have an in-house solution that may solve the noise issue.

Dear Bert

I am sorry for not replying, I should have replied straight away, but as time went on I forgot to do it.

Anyway from what I can hear the noise is greater in gear at low speed than in neutral, is that the case? We do have a different drive plate that is designed for use with Aquadrive units, this plate is a progressive roller plate and is very good at absorbing torsional vibrations. I don’t normally fit this type of plate to the small engines but from what I can make out on the recording the noise sounds like torsional vibration. To fit this plate the inertia plate must be changed, so it will involve removing the engine from the leg, and then removing the flywheel housing. The inertia plate can then be changed, then fit the new plate. What do you think?

Best regards Laurance

I will see what develops. If this solves the noise problem then I will be extremely pleased with the entire set-up!
 

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If it were me, and I could not get a response from the dealer I made the purchase from, I would file with Small Claims Court.

Not sure if you have that option, but here in the US you can go up to $10k claim I think and you represent yourself- no court or lawyer fees. Usually just the filing will get you a favourable response.

This assumes the dealer also installed the saildrive / engine into the boat. If you purchased from dealer then someone else installed, that could complicate things due to the finger pointing. Seeing you installed under direction of dealer, I think you should be covered.

Good Luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
As mentioned earlier, I got a reply. Beta will be sending me a replacement drive plate (the shock absorbing device between the engine and transmission, located inside the bell housing at the rear of the engine) without charge as long as I report the results of the change. It will be on a flight on Monday and should arrive in Sidney, BC some time during this coming week. The local distributor, Beta Canada (otherwise known as Gartside Marine) has offered to do the installation without charge. This will require the removal of the engine into the cabin, change out the drive plate and re-install the engine onto the saildrive unit. This can all be done without hauling the boat (I know, I've done it!). This is all good news!
My original, and only complaint and caution, on this web site was the lack of response by Beta Marine in England. They have now responded and have satisfied me to this point. Whether the replacement drive plate solves the noise problem is an entirely different issue. Again, the engine and sail-drive unit have worked flawlessly since installation. If the replacement solves the noise issue I will be a very happy camper! I will post the results......
 

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Great news... thanks for keeping us all up to date.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
As an end to this thread, Beta England has responded to my concerns regarding the ticking noise at low RPM in gear. The replacement (different) drive plate hasn't solved the problem yet. The noise has not affected engine or sail drive performance. The original "beef" of this thread was the lack of response from Beta service. That has been resolved. We are continuing research on how to stop this annoying noise.
 

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As an end to this thread, Beta England has responded to my concerns regarding the ticking noise at low RPM in gear. The replacement (different) drive plate hasn't solved the problem yet. The noise has not affected engine or sail drive performance. The original "beef" of this thread was the lack of response from Beta service. That has been resolved. We are continuing research on how to stop this annoying noise.
Thanks for the followup, Beta tops my list if repowering becomes necessary and your experience was beginning to concern me.
 

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As an end to this thread, Beta England has responded to my concerns regarding the ticking noise at low RPM in gear. The replacement (different) drive plate hasn't solved the problem yet. The noise has not affected engine or sail drive performance. The original "beef" of this thread was the lack of response from Beta service. That has been resolved. We are continuing research on how to stop this annoying noise.
Not sure if you are or have an equivalency to our Boat US in Canada..but from our experience when we couldn't resolve an issue with a failed engine rebuild where the distributor was pointing fingers at the installer and the installer was pointing fingers at the distributor as to why the newly rebuilt engine failed..our insurer Boat US stepped in and was extremely helpful in solving the issue. We tried to stay away from the court system as the only winners are the lawyers and would possible hold up the situation in excess of a year or more going that route..

Speaking from personal experience...
 
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