Installing our new engine is a series of steps, each one of which is critical no matter how small. Once our old engine was out, the first step was to clean the engine bay pan of any grime or old paint using Simple Green and lacquer thinner. A clean engine bay lets you immediately spot any leaks, so it’s incredibly important.
Because our engine bay was built by Island Packet to fit around our old engine, we knew that some modifications to the engine bay would be required. The Beta 38 is a few inches longer than our old engine, which left two mounting options: mount it further forward than our old engine, or mount it in the same place as our old one but make room for it to stick our further aft. We elected to mount it in essentially the same place.
There is already a hole in the engine bay aft bulkhead for the shaft to go through, and the Captain enlarged it so that we can access the transmission, which now sticks further back.
He also cut a larger hole under our starter battery bank’s removable floor so that we can access the shaft if necessary.
Our mechanic, Gary, determined what height the Beta has to be to maintain proper alignment with the shaft. He switched from the Beta motor mounts that were included with the engine to some Yanmar motor mounts that are taller. He then attached the motor mounts to a length of 1” x 3” aluminum bar stock, which is the sexiest shim I’ve ever seen.
Then came the moment of truth: the dry fit. The yard crew gently maneuvered the new engine into our bay using the crane, and it fit with no major issues. Many of the Beta’s fittings are on the opposite side of our old Yanmar’s, so the Captain and Gary discussed the options for moving wall-mounted components to locations that are more practical.
The next day we had a short haul, meaning that the boat never left the travel lift slings. Gary removed our propeller and shaft and then inserted a shaft “stub” in the hole so that we could go back in the water the same day (thank goodness, because I am a real fan of air conditioning now). Because the Beta is longer than our old engine, our propeller shaft must be cut down in length. We piled into the car and drove the shaft to Bircher Inc., a fantastic machine shop in Morehead City. We were able to deliver our shaft to Jim Bircher himself, and we have great confidence that the job will be done well.
The Captain removed a number of components that were mounted to the engine bay walls, including the Groco engine strainer, the antifreeze expansion tank, the Racor filter bowl, and the Algae X. These will be remounted in different positions later. He also stripped out some engine bay insulation that was too close to the alternator.
In addition to the new engine, we also purchased a new engine panel to go in the cockpit. Gary folded himself into the engine bay, shouting through the bulkhead to the Captain, who was sweltering in the lazarette under the panel; between them they sorted out the wiring for the new panel. A 10 foot wiring harness came with the Beta, and we needed 17 feet. I called Beta, and they custom made a 6 meter wiring harness for us that we picked up the same day; this is the benefit of being so close to the distributor.
There is still much left to do, but we are thrilled at the progress that’s been made thus far.