Repowering your Boat or Yacht – 10 things you should know.

Oil leaks, belching smoke, strange noises emanating from the engine room, difficult starting, high hours on the engine meter…

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Boat engines are one of the most under-maintained, abused, neglected and complicated parts aboard our boats. “Out of sight, out of mind” sums it up – I suppose. And yet those of us who boat here in the great Pacific Northwest rely on our engines more than our boating bretheran in warmer climates. If my engine quits on the way from Newport to Catalina Island, it’s a nuisance. If my engine quits while negotiating one of the many local passes, with or against the current, it could be downright dangerous.

Maintenance is crucial for engine longevity. A modern marine diesel engine should easily reach 5000 hours with proper maintenance and proper use. Because this is not a maintenance article, I’ll step down from the maintenance podium and address repowering – that is; installing a new engine in the boat.

In case you haven’t noticed, anyone and everyone who has ever produced an engine has managed to install their engine in a boat. Sailboat “X” could have any one of 6 different brands of engine under the cockpit floor! It’s amazing. Some of these engines are no longer manufactured, some are difficult or impossible to find parts for, and some of them are still available. The engine may be American, British, Swedish, German, Japanese, Chinese, Romainian or Russian! And I’ve probably forgotten a few!

The new replacement engine will usually be one of the modern brand names that have been around a while. Here at Sea Marine, we’ve installed many different brands but we prefer Beta Marine for diesel engines, we have our reasons of course but I wont go in to that here.

Whats involved in a repowering project?

When an owner contacts us about repowering, the first question is “what will it cost?”.  That’s not a difficult question, but it’s not as simple as buying a new engine and bolting it in place. The cost of the engine itself it usually about 60% of the total project cost. The reason for this is that all of the systems that are connected to the engine are just as worn-out and tired as the engine itself! Fuel hoses & filters, raw water hoses & seacocks, exhaust hoses & muffler, Throttle and shift controls & cables, battery cables & engine associated wiring, propeller shaft, stuffing box & hose… The list goes on.

Often the engine bed will have to be modified to accommodate the new engines’ mounts and properly locate the engine in reference to the propeller shaft.

It’s a great time to repaint/gelcoat the engine bed or bilge area and to replace an old packing gland with a new dripless shaft seal. Old sound insulation can be replaced much easier with the engine out of the way. If the fuel tank is trapped by the engine, consider removing it for inspection or replacement.

Other things to consider

A quality engine installation will meet all safety standards as well as being pleasing to the eye, that is – the installation should be clean and uncluttered. Systems should flow from the engine in an organized and understandable way so that the owner can easily perform maintenance, and immediately spot any problems.

A quality yard should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate for your repower project. At Sea Marine we do just that, and we have a good track-record for meeting our estimates. If you are considering repowering your sailboat or powerboat, let us hear from you. We can help you have peace of mind by installing a reliable, long lasting engine into your boat, and providing timely maintenance to extend your engines’ life.

Make SEA Marine your Homeport and start your season off right.

Here’s to a wonderful cruising season in 2013!

Bob McMurray