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Well;
Here's a bump to this thread. I have just acquired a 41 ft Trimaran with the pathfinder diesel in it..runs great but need an air fillter. Can someone give me an idea where to get one of find the company in canada? (if it still around)
Thank you,
Kelldog
 

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I've read about Cal owners not liking the Pathfinder engines but it's nice to get some positive comments. For me the biggest problem is deciding if I can get parts in 5 years. I'd sleep a lot better if the engine in the boat I'm looking at was a 4-108.
 

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Is there somebody outthere with experience about marinised VW 1900 diesels out of rabbits, golfs ect? Marinising kits are available, but I''d like to know about them before going into one
I would do A LOT of research about that engine. Older VW engines have a lot of parts made out of magnesium. Have you ever seen magnesium burn? If that engine were to catch fire on your boat.....Magnesium burns underwater and when water is applied to a magnesium fire, it lights up like a white pospherous grenade. So, putting water on it makes it worse. A lot worse. You would be surrounded by water if it were to catch fire.
 

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I would do A LOT of research about that engine. Older VW engines have a lot of parts made out of magnesium. Have you ever seen magnesium burn? If that engine were to catch fire on your boat.....Magnesium burns underwater and when water is applied to a magnesium fire, it lights up like a white pospherous grenade. So, putting water on it makes it worse. A lot worse. You would be surrounded by water if it were to catch fire.
While I agree with the magnesium heat, I have seen very few fiberglass boats survive catching fire. If I were on a steel/aluminum boat I doubt I could pump enough water or carry enough Class D extinguishers to put the fire(s) out.
 

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Trailblazer, can you cite any ONE reference to a magnesium engine block, magnesium engine parts, magnesium lawnmower deck, magnesium laptop case...magnesium ANYTHING on the consumer market experiencing a magnesium fire?

I doubt it.

You might be able to set engine parts on fire, but well before then you'd have a fully involved fuel fire on the boat and you'd be abandoning ship anyway.

While you're at it, worry about engine intake and exhaust valves. The really good ones are internally cooled by a liquid sodium flow in their cores, and liquid sodium isn't very nice to be around either. Yet somehow, it never is a problem in engine parts.
 

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I've owned two boats with marinized VW engines (and still have one). I don't think the magnesium issue is a seriously valid concern... fires on diesel engines - or boats for that matter - are rare enough.

As for the engine it seems to me that the tens of thousands Rabbits around the world getting 2-300 K miles on them without issue is testament enough to the toughness and durability of the core power. With a worldwide base, I reckon basic engine parts are more widely available than any Yanmar/Volvo/ etc source. Certainly parts are cheaper and quicker to access. The marinized parts (RWP, manifold/reservoir, gearboxes) are mainstream brands like Perkins or Jabsco or Sherwood, Hurth and as such are little different from the rest.

The aluminium head calls for caution and a studious avoidance of overheating, but at 4 cyl, 40+ HP and relatively light weight it makes for a pretty nice reliable engine. A bit noisy compared to some, but careful path treatment can eliminate or minimize a lot of that. As with any installation, vibration issues often create more noise than the engine itself.

I believe my boat sat on the market for some time because of the engine.. and for that, I'm grateful. On our previous boat we did a complete rebuild top to bottom for no more than $2500.... price that out for a 4 cyl Volvo or Yanmar.... Some years ago a friend was out of pocket $3400 by the time he fixed/replaced the cylinder head on a 8 hp 1 cyl Bukh.
 

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I have own an Islander sailboat with a pathfinder 50 for ten years. The engine is like all engines, if maintained properly it will run great for years. As for as Pathfinder, they are still in business. You can contact them at [email protected] or call them at 514-695-6676. They offer great service and techincal support. Give them an engine serial number and they will produce a manual specifically for that engine. Included in the manual will be a parts list with corresponding VW part numbers so that you can buy parts locally.

rcarr
 

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Trailblazer, can you cite any ONE reference to a magnesium engine block, magnesium engine parts, magnesium lawnmower deck, magnesium laptop case...magnesium ANYTHING on the consumer market experiencing a magnesium fire?

I doubt it.

You might be able to set engine parts on fire, but well before then you'd have a fully involved fuel fire on the boat and you'd be abandoning ship anyway.

While you're at it, worry about engine intake and exhaust valves. The really good ones are internally cooled by a liquid sodium flow in their cores, and liquid sodium isn't very nice to be around either. Yet somehow, it never is a problem in engine parts.
Sure. Actually, during firefighting school we saw plenty of videos and the instructors made sure we knew about them when approaching a car fire. VW's used to be the worst offenders. YOUTUBE search offers this
YouTube - magnesiumfire
When he puts water on the engine block notice the tell tale white light.

I agree, there are many, many things to worry about. This is probably not a major concern. But, hell, it's good to know. Find out if your engine has mag. parts. If so and it catches fire....Don't throw the wet stuff on it. Sure, first instinct is to hit it with that tiny fire extinguisher. But when that runs out in 6 seconds and the fire still burns....True, you will PROBABLY abandon ship. But I am sure there are some that will try to stay and fight it out using the abundance of wet material that surrounds them. Bad choice.

BTW, since you mentioned it, which marine engines...beside nuclear powered vessels, use liquid sodium? Just curious. Maybe that is the bigger issue.
 

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I think the difference is that the VW diesel was not specifically designed to be put under constant load (like an engine designed to do heavy work). I have heard that there are issues with the cylinder heads warping and blowing head gaskets. This is probably associated with over-loading the engine or running at constant high load for long durations.

As far as the magnesium issue goes; I think they used it in air-cooled engines; but not sure on the water cooled diesels. I would venture to say that they did not since it would not be necessary to the design.
 

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Keelhaulin,

I had a VW diesel Rabbit. When on a trip to Wyoming during
extremely cold weather before starting, which was very
difficult, needed a very small shot of ether, coolant would
weep out at the head gasket. After it warmed up a little the
leak stopped, with no further problem. I know, no ether with pre-
combustion chamber heads, but it was the only way to get it started
at 10 degrees below zero. I ran it for over 100,000 miles, no problems.
I think it was basically a converted gas engine, OK for automotive
use, but not sure about continous long term loading of marine use?

Dabnis
 

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Yes; that's what I am thinking. They were fine for automobile use because the (earlier) engines were not specifically designed for heavy loads like the "tractor" engine designs were (perkins, caterpillar, kubota). Not to say they were not excellent engines for their intended use (automotive); but not suited as well for a boat engine where loads are constant and much higher than an auto going down the expressway.

If you need to use ether on a diesel engine the best way is to spray it onto a rag and then hold it near the intake. Usually it will only take a whiff; if it requires more you might have a compression problem. My perkins 4-108 has no glow plugs; and on cold days it's stubborn. I crank it for 15-20 seconds, then wait 30 seconds and try again. The warming of the cylinders from compression cycles is enough to get it to start on the second try. If it had glow plugs or an intake warming glow plug it would start immediately. Try cranking 2-3 times before going for the ether.
 

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Keelhaulin,

Right, I only used just a whiff and only in below zero
conditions. In "normal" conditions the glow plugs worked fine.
My daughter had a turbo diesel VW Jetta. After about 60,000
miles after climbing Donner summit or any other long grade
the oil pressure would drop to about 5 to 10 pounds at idle,
setting off the low pressure warning light. Heavier oil didn't
help. Either it was the lower end loosening up or the pump
wearing out? Other than that it ran fine, the turbo really helped
performance. I think it was the same basic engine as in the Rabbit,
maybe a little more displacement, and of course the turbo.
Again, not sure about marine use although in an earlier post Faster
said he had one in two boats with no trouble?

Dabnis
 

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@ rcarr - thanks for the link

As for the Pathfinder on the Cal 39 I'm looking at, it started right up and ran without any smoke or weird noises. It did cause some vibration in the cockpit at about 700rpm (the owner wanted to run it at 1100-1200) but that may be the junk in the lockers vibrating.

I didn't know about the aluminum heads so I see I'm going to do some more research.
 

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If you do buy a boat with a pathfinder you might want to consider putting a smaller than recommended prop on it to minimize loading and over-heating. If you are just going to use the boat for daysailing and the distance from your marina to where you will sail is short; I would not worry too much about it. If you need to motor long distances you should ease up on the throttle for a minute or two every 20-30 minutes of time to let the engine cool down.
 

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Our experience is quite different... We have a relatively chunky prop on an 11,500 lb boat and with 42 HP can push the boat to a little over 7 knots. We usually run at 6.4 and about 17-1800 rpm. In our summer we are plagued with light to no winds in many areas and we are often required to motor for hours on end. On our previous boat with the same engine, but much larger displacement we operated it similarly but at higher rpms. At no time did we overheat due to loading.. and that's now going on 17 years with two different marinized VWs.

The aluminum head contributes to the engine's relatively light weight and as long as you keep the cooling system properly operating we've not found any issue with it whatsoever.

KH, you may well be correct about the original design mandate, but our experience is that this is as reliable an engine as you can have provided (like any others) you look after it. I was thrilled to find another.
 

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Good news, Faster, thanks.

The boat I'm looking hard at has the original Pathfinder and appears to be in OK condition. There are problems however (ratted out generator belt, some kind of liquid in the bilge, and a rather disturbing idle rumble), but the temps looked good on the mooring after a half hour or so.

If I have to drop the RPMs every half hour or so then, as far as I'm concerned, the motor has serious problems. A motor with the proper sized prop, running within the specified RPM range should be able to run 24/7. I will concede that running in warmer water will raise the temperature of the engine but if the heat exchanger is properly sized and working as designed, the rise in temperature should not require throttling back.
 
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