Transmission problems brought us back to Deaton’s, but we’ve known for some time that putting a new engine in the boat was a foreseeable possibility. Although our Yanmar 3HM35F runs like a champ, it’s been obsolete for decades, and finding parts is a time-consuming and expensive proposition. Had our current transmission not been able to be rebuilt, a replacement would have cost $10,000. All it takes is that repair plus a couple of others, and suddenly we’ve paid for a new engine. Our cruising plans are taking us far afield, and we can’t be hampered by an engine failure that could strand us or wipe us out financially.
So rather than a death of a thousand cuts, we decided to go ahead and buy a new engine. We want an engine that is robust, proven, and user-maintainable. We had three options that would fit in Kestrel: a Yanmar, a Volvo, and a Beta. The Volvo engine model that would fit has been recalled and is no longer available. The Yanmar engine model that would fit is like a modern car engine in that it requires a computer to diagnose issues and recalibrate the engine after repairs or tweaks; the repairs require specialized and expensive tools, and the onboard computer module is notorious for failing. No thanks!
We decided on a Beta 38 because it ticks all of our boxes. Beta Marine engines are Kubota engines that have been marine-ized by Beta Marine in the UK. They are heavy duty, industrial diesel engines that can be fixed by regular people with standard tools and readily available commercial parts. File under “another reason why this was meant to be” or “who woulda thought”: Beta Marine’s North American distributor is about 12 miles down the road in Minnesott Beach. We got to see the engine and talk at length with subject matter experts while we were making our decision, and having that opportunity was a real boon.
Our Beta 38 arrived yesterday, and she’s a beauty. Today we spent the morning detaching all of the water lines, fuel lines, exhaust hoses, and electrical connections to our current engine in preparation for its removal. And this afternoon, our (now) old engine was removed from Kestrel. It took three men and a crane on the travel lift, and 15 minutes later, we were a rowboat.
The next phase is to see what alterations may be required for a perfect fit. The engine bay was built around our Yanmar, and while the Beta is essentially the same size as our Yanmar, some modifications will need to be made. We’re excited and relieved to be moving along to the next step!