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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
John and I are prepping to buy Next Boat. We chose the type of boat. That is set in stone. It's a sorta heavy offshore boat.

What I am trying to talk myself out of is one with a Volvo engine.

The Chatterlings have almost convinced me that I should run, not walk, away from a boat with a Volvo engine. Too expensive to maintain, parts too hard to find, crappy engine overall, etc. I'm 99% in agreement. I want to be sure.

The fact that the used models with a Volvo have a more than $100K price difference should be a red flag and slap on the cheek. OK, and when we repowered Halcyon our marina, an authorized Volvo repair center, said don't get one for the same reasons.

Still. I did a search for parts. I found parts (although I didn't choose one engine model and search for those specific parts).

Problem is, within the money we're budgeting for this boat, there are four around the world for sale. Adding the boats with a Volvo will add two more to the list.

Are Volvo engines really as bad as their reputation says they are? Does the internet take the "parts are hard to find" off the negative side?

One suggestion was to use the difference in cost and put in a different engine. After the experience with our little engine in Halcyon and the final cost for that, I think because it has to be a much larger engine, the location in the boat and all the rest, it will quickly eat into the savings and won't be worth the mental cost in the end of doing that.

I'm just trying to eliminate the last 1% of doubt.

Thanks.
 
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the pointy end is the bow
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We have an old Volvo engine in our boat. It's worn out with a little over 3000 hours on it. Parts are expensive and some of them are hard to come by. We're going to do a repower and it won't be with another Volvo. The replacement Kubota type engine will be lighter, have more horsepower yet fit in the same engine compartment. I don't really have anything against the way the motors run but I think they wear out prematurely and I have a feeling their business model is like some of the cheap printer manufactures out there. Sell them cheap up front and collect it later when it's time to buy printer cartridges. I'm not a fan of older Volvo marine motors.

We also have a Volvo power pack in our patrol boat. Out drives only last 1500 hrs., then it's a rebuild or replacement that costs nearly $10,000. We're on our third outdrive. Raw water pump is worn out and can't be rebuilt. We have to replace the whole darn thing. I'm not a fan of new Volvo motors either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Which model volvo. I have a 2003T. Never had a problem finding parts w/ some effort at times. There is an on line volvo parts store. Parts can be pricy.
Jim
One listing says MD2003T, the other says just 2003T. Probably the same engine.

I did a search on the model and some posts in other forums seem to think of all the models, that particular one is the least desirable.

Since it's a Swedish boat, probably they used a Swedish (at the time) engine when it was factory new.
 

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I worked as a mechanic in a small Volvoshop back in 70-71. The early imports; the B-16thru B-18 and 20 were cast iron workhorses. Engines as late as 1968 and were difficult to get parts for. It seemed that we. waited forthem to mine the ore! Remember...these were the days of regular overhauls in EU and UK. Americans. wanted engines to run for 100's of thousands of miles betweeeen rebuilds and near zero maint.
There were specialtool sets and gear for every model/must be "approved" and Volvo branded! Aftermarket parts were available in some instances; used particularly by autos out of warrantee.
Once the "thinking man's car" became more a status symbol, it was all downhill. I had a '72 wagon that near broke me in parts and maint..My '65 544 ? never a worry...until parts dried up!

A Volvo sail-drive??

Double-Whammy! ;)
 

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Couple things on the 2003t.
They have a potential problem w/ the spline on the trany shaft into the fly wheel. If the motor was slammed into reverse a lot, think launch, the fly wheel gets stripped. There is a fix but requires some machining.
The engine has no engine zinc so check corrosion on the heat exchanger and raw water side. parts are available but not cheap. Don't ask how I know.
Rebuild kits for the turbo are getting hard to find but there out there. I found one for mine last winter for $180. It is a common turbo and shops can do the work.
My motor runs smooth and quiet but when I have to replace it I won't get another volvo.
Jim
 

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Donna, I do think that whatever engine you get, you're going to need a reliable supply of parts for and good local service.

I'm quite happy with my old MD2040 - mainly because (a) it runs reliably, (b) it's easy to service (almost everything in a sensible spot on the engine you can access from the front) and (c)has more grunt than I'll ever need (as a test I towed 2 other yachts - one 30' and one 28' - at hull speed once and found I still had power to spare!)

People rave about Yanmar, but a friend of mine (who owns the abovementioned 30-footer) swears at the lack of access and the fact it's let him down on more than one occasion.. including the one above.

Sure, Volvo parts are expensive - but at least you can buy them pretty-much anywhere in the world without the mechanic looking at you funny and saying "Bukh?!? Never heard of it.. Isn't that something you read?"

Caution note: Whatever you get, make sure you can easily access all the important parts (oil drain, dipstick, drain plugs, drain cocks, fuel filters, injectors, fuel pump, belts, starter, wiring connections). Unless they're not designed to be marine engines from the block upward, some brands are right pigs from the second you get them into the boat.

..oh, and avoid turbo'd engines like the plague. They're only something else to go wrong. ;)
 

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I think if you do a little serious Internet searching, you'll find that Volvo has more of a bad rep than it deserves.

I've got a couple MD2030s in the cat and I can't find anything particularly wrong with them, and the saildrives they're hooked to are 20 years old, original to the boat. The engines have been replaced, and I was not told why when I bought the boat. Boat's had a hard life, her first ten years were in the charter service, so I figure that's prolly why the engines were tired. Plus, they were lower hp than these 2030s.

MarinePartsExpress.com is a valuable resource for Volvo stuff.

And also, if you do some searching, you'll find that quite a few of the Volvos are actually rebranded, for instance, Perkins. Thus, you can find parts cheaper than the Volvo branded parts by searching for the 'real' engine maker. Below is a quote from another forum, with a really good description in regards who's making engines for Volvo.

"

I have the same engine, although mine's called a Perkins M30, and often otherwise referred to as a Perama, or 100 Series... You can save yourself some money by avoiding dealing with either a Volvo or Perkins reseller, after coming to an understanding that this little beast has become one of the most popular tractor engines in the world...

This information was originally posted by Blais Marine in Seattle, and has since been widely circulated on a number of forums. I don't have the original link, this is from what I've saved in a file:

Quote:

Those filters are getting easier to find, if you know where to look, and this is why:

Your engine is what Perkins calls a 103-10. Perkins started importing these 100 series engines from a Japanese company called Ishikawajima Shibaura Machinery, Ltd. nearly twenty years ago. ISM is part of Ishikawajima Harima Industries, one of Japan’s largest industrial companies. Perkins marketed this engine in a marinized version as the Perama M30. They sold the engine to Volvo Penta who marketed it as their MD2030. They also sold the engine to Massey Ferguson, McCormick, Terramite, Textron, Jacobsen, Cushman, Vermeer, Leech Lewis, JCB, Kobelco, and Northern Lights to name just a few. In the US, the engine was distributed thru Detroit Diesel – Allison which is closely tied to the MTU conglomerate. By 1996, Perkins had become so successful at marketing these engines to other equipment manufacturers that they formed a joint venture with ISM called Perkins Shibaura Engines, Ltd. and began assembling the engines at the Perkins facility in Peterborough, UK from parts shipped from Japan. In 1997, Perkins was acquired by Caterpillar. With an added boost from Caterpillar, this little engine has become one of the most popular engines in the world. It’s used in turf equipment, tractors, mini-excavators, brush choppers, compressors, welders, pumps, generators, etc. etc. etc. Even Caterpillar uses it in some of their smaller equipment. The “Perkins” name was highlighted on the engine ID plate which is located on a distinctive boss just forward of the injection pump. The 2006 model year’s production of the engine has “Shibaura” highlighted on the ID plate. In 2001, the larger Shibaura 400 series engine was introduced with assembling at Peterborough, UK from parts mostly from Japan, and in June, 2004 assembling of the 400 series engine began at a Caterpillar facility in Griffin, Georgia, USA with production exceeding 100,000 units per year.

Perkins’ current part number for the oil filter is 140517050 and sells here in Kent, WA at Perkins Pacific for $6.85. At least that was the price a couple of months ago. All the earlier Perkins oil filter part numbers for this series of engine have superseded to this number. And all the engines in this series (two, three, and four cylinder 100 series) are supposed to take the same filter. I believe that Volvo’s part number is or was 834337. The filter should be readily available from any of the other equipment manufacturer’s using the engine including Caterpillar, and from many of the major filter manufacturers.

I think the numbers you had were:

Oil Filter = Fleetguard LF3826 or LF3376, Wix 51335, Fram PH3512, NAPA FIL1335.
Diesel Filter = Fleetguard LF5114, Wix 33386, Fram P3627, NAPA FIL3386, Volvo 861477-8?.

Disclaimer: Before using any parts suggested here, check them out for yourself, I could be mistook.
His last caution should be noted, as this original information is now perhaps a decade old... Parts numbers change over time, I'm currently using Fleetguard oil flters, for instance, and the current number is now different from the one listed...

If you ever need help with parts for the Volvo 2030/Perkins M30, a good source is TransAtlantic Diesel in Whitemarsh, VA... They're very knowledgeable about this series of engine, nice folks to deal with, they've always given me great service... But for major items like a starter, for instance, you can do much better shopping around with an understanding of what the engine really is, beneath the brand plate..."
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all.

Now my 99% against has gone down to 85% against. I'll continue the research.

Also, because all the other boats listed have Yanmars, I'm thinking that if they DID have the Volvo as the original engine, that it came to the end of its life and they repowered. If that's the case, I probably won't have much time before I'd have to do the same, which is what happened with us two years ago with Halcyon and her 30-YO engine.

All this is part of my research and your responses are very much appreciated.
 

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If/when we re-power it won't be with a new Volvo, but in general I think the negative reputation of the older engines is undeserved. Consider the fact that there are thousands of older Volvos still in older boats that are generally working fine. That tells me that those engines last a long time and parts must be available, right? Our current engine (model MD31A, 62hp, 4 cyl., 1988) has 5000+- hrs on it and it runs perfectly other than a little smoke at start up. It uses no oil between changes (100 hrs), parts are available (although I've heard some are starting to be difficult to find, and expensive), and it generally acts like it will last forever. My father's boat had a 1970 Volvo in it and that little engine was running great until he had it replaced just a few years ago. The reason he replaced it was the transmission cone clutch went out and they were no longer available, but it was 40 years old! On the other side of the coin, I had a newer Volvo (AD41P, 200hp, 6 cyl, 2002) that was defective (bad casting in the block resulting in several head gasket changes) and had several other issues as well. So I'm not a fan of ALL Volvo engines. I wouldn't rule out a boat solely because it had a Volvo engine, but like any other engine I would have it thoroughly checked out by the best mechanic available.
The other consideration when looking at older boats is if you can get a nice boat with a bad engine and can negotiate a good price you could just plan to replace the engine immediately and consider it part of the purchase price of a boat with a brand new engine of your choosing.
 

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We have a Volvo in our current boat and I have mixed reactions. First, I don't think parts are all that much more expensive. All marine parts are expensive. I also find everything I need online.

The fact that I need so many parts is a different story. The thing needs TLC. That said, it's never failed to start or get me home.

The big advantage of my motor in particular (TAMD31S) is that it runs at a much lower rpm than the equivalent Yanmar, therefore, it's much quieter. It's essentially a block they use for a 150hp motor and de-rate it to 100hp. Suppose to be bullet prof, but I don't know about that.

The most painful thing I've had to do so far is replace the turbo. My model can not be rebuilt. 3 grand. I think the PO maintained the engine poorly. For starters, the heat shield was installed incorrectly, preventing the wastegate from working properly. Thankfully, it stuck open, but then coked up the turbo. If stuck closed, it would have killed the motor. I hate turbos on sailboat diesels.

I guess the final analysis is this. I would not pass on the right boat, if it had a Volvo. But learn how to moantian it! However, if I were re-powering, I probably wouldn't put one back. Yanmar is just much more prolific in the States. I even wanted to take the Mack Boring diesel class, but they have nothing like my motor. They have tons of Yanmars.
 

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When I bought my yacht in 1989 (built 1968) it had an 1967 MD2 Volvo 15.5 HP that died on the 360 mile trip to my home port. That was due to a not uncommon fault of the raw water thermostat not opening. When reconditioning that engine I found that it had already been reconditioned but had the inlet and exhaust valves mixed up and well, to cut a long story short, a few things 'mucked up'. That engine then lasted me OK until I sold it, however I did fit over heat alarms and drilled out the by pass hole in the new thermostat. It ran 'OK' for an old engine but was way under powered for my yacht. I found a 1992 2003 series 28/29 HP Volvo which I stripped down and found to have no perceivable wear but a fuel pump gear cam worn flat. Yes I did????. I replaced the cam and fitted a new gearbox and have since done 2000 hours with that. It has given a few problems and as I understand it, was the last Volvo designed engine before Perkins was adopted for the small engine range. It was raw water cooled and had done 1000 hours. I added the fresh water cooling kit at a cost of around $NZ2000. I 'thought' that it was going to be the 'bees knees' however it is more an enthusiasts engine as such as the starter motor has planetary gears and there are three injection pumps, one for each cylinder, each timed with shims. I have replaced the exhaust water mixing elbow, injectors, repaired the starter motor and fixed the leaks from the 'o' rings that seal the heat exchanger cooling water system. I fitted an in line anode when the gearbox starter to corrode where the water cooled gearbox copper pipes sealed with rubber seal washers had corroded and leaked. Although it did its job and was not using oil, after 2000 hours further use to total about 3000 hrs, it now uses oil.
I fitted gauges and alarms below deck and above, along with a raw water flow gauge so have always known what has been 'going on' with the engine. While in that range still, I have seen Yanmar have water pump failures (belt driven) and gearbox failures, the actual engine seems to give good service generally however I have also seen a lot of older Yanmars in unreliable condition. Everything wears out eventually. My thoughts are that if in doubt stay out can apply to not attempting to make safe harbour if there is a risk of ship wreck. To my thinking, why go for an engine where there is doubt as you will always 'wonder' if it is going to last the distance. With an open mind, a thorough research of the charter companies and the work boats and what they have got the best runs out of is a perhaps a good start. For instance, in NZ, by far the predominant name seen on the fishing boats is Furuno when it comes to radars.
How much an engine has been up rated is worthwhile researching. For 'continuous service' a work engine is often a de-rated to achieve a longer life. 'Hotted up' engines need rebuilding more often as everything is obviously working a lot harder and usually a lot faster. If I can fit it in, my next engine will be a Beta/Kubota 35 Hp at 2800 rpm which is the same basic 'engine' as the 38 HP at 3600 rpm Beta engine. The 35 HP has a higher torque rating. I have not yet found any negative feed back about the Beta small engine range and have not researched the higher powered engines. All the best in finding the most reliable engine. Cheers, John
 

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We all have preferences and reasons for them so much is anecdotal . For 45 hp and under my vote goes for Kybota. I wanted more and looked at them all. Cat and Cummins had a reasonable offer but flywheel housing too big for the refit. Yanmar looked like a 20 grand sewing machine motor and I ended up with a 90 hp continuous (DB4) Isuzu .Naturally aspirated which is a must in my book. they also make a great 60 hp. Nearly every delivery van in the world has one and by far the best bang for the buck. My farthing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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The other consideration when looking at older boats is if you can get a nice boat with a bad engine and can negotiate a good price you could just plan to replace the engine immediately and consider it part of the purchase price of a boat with a brand new engine of your choosing.
The other part of this is that there is a possibility that we won't buy the boat in the U.S. I'm weighing all possibilities. If the boat is not local, we have to decide how much of a PITA repowering vs. not buying one with a Volvo to begin with will be. I'm not sure what's considered "old" but, unlike our Catalina, we won't be buying a 30 YO boat.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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The other part of this is that there is a possibility that we won't buy the boat in the U.S. I'm weighing all possibilities. If the boat is not local, we have to decide how much of a PITA repowering vs. not buying one with a Volvo to begin with will be. I'm not sure what's considered "old" but, unlike our Catalina, we won't be buying a 30 YO boat.
Donna, if it helps, a handy rule-of-thumb is to ask questions if the engine is more than 20 years old. If the owners can show it's been rebuilt, that's probably quite okay - but if they can't, then in my experience, after 20 years in a marine environment any marine engine (not just a Volvo) is going to start costing money. Think of it as the boat equivalent of 100,000 miles in a car..

Repowering is expensive since it's likely everything forward of the stern gland will need modification of some kind. Budget 2x retail price of the new engine and that should cover it.

FWIW, my boat is on it's third engine.. and the first two were replaced at almost exactly 20-year intervals and the original engine was a brand that no longer exists. ;)
 

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The other part of this is that there is a possibility that we won't buy the boat in the U.S. .....
Is it going to stay out of the country? If the motor surveys well, just wait till you get her back, if she's coming back. In some isolated circumstances, getting marine work done outside the US can actually be less expensive too. No experience with here though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Is it going to stay out of the country? ...
Eventually it will be coming back. We might leave it and fly back and forth for a bit until we get accustomed to the boat enough and do any work that needs to be done for it (and us) to cross the Atlantic. Since the plan is to sail outside of the U.S. and the whole reason for getting an offshore-capable boat, leaving it over there isn't messing up any of our plans. Vague as they are at this point.
 

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A long distance romance with a boat is extraordinarily difficult, unless you have the luxury of having plenty of time to get back and forth and stay for extended periods. A week, or even two, here and there is tough. I'm thinking of all the times I arrived and found I need something I couldn't get until the following week and we live in the land of abundance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A long distance romance with a boat is extraordinarily difficult, unless you have the luxury of having plenty of time to get back and forth and stay for extended periods. A week, or even two, here and there is tough. I'm thinking of all the times I arrived and found I need something I couldn't get until the following week and we live in the land of abundance.
Yes. No illusions there. We have friends and/or family in several of the potential countries and they've been drafted to help if needed. One of the first of my project plan tasks to be completed. :)
 

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If you avoid the 2002, 2003 series Volvo engines, I don't think you will have a problem with quality of the motors. The real problem, and it is a big problem, is the truly savage cost of spare parts.
In 1998 I was quoted £1300 Sterling (about $2000) for an exhaust manifold for what was then a 20 year-old motor, a Volvo MD17C. That's just the exhaust manifold.
£1300 was about 5 times what Lister-Petter quoted for their equivalent part.

Do not be fooled by Volvo. their initial cost of the motor is competitive, and the cost of the consumables is too, but you wait to later.
Later you get screwed, and it does not cost Volvo a thought.

I like the MD17C, it is a good motor, but I will never buy another Volvo by choice. Absolutely not. Next motor will be a Kubota (Beta Marine).
 
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