Often times we get asked about whether it is better to overhaul engines in a particular vessel or replace them. It is a question that on the surface seems like a simple yes or no but upon further analysis it’s anything but simple! These are the basic questions that you should ask yourself before you decide a big repower vs overhaul project. How long do you want to keep the boat? Do you want to customize the engine room during repower? How much are you willing to spend? Do you plan to resell the boat within the next ten years?
Considerations If you are going through the trouble to replace the main engines you will need to look into replacing other aged equipment as well. The areas which need attention are the engine mounts, exhaust system, sea water inlet system, fuel system, electrical system and control system. Almost all new engines come with new mounts but often the mounting brackets which bolt onto the engines’ blocks must be fabricated to facilitate custom stringers. Marine exhaust systems in pleasure boats have a safe useful life of 10-15 years. Even if the exhaust system looks like it can be modified, it won’t be as reliable as a brand new system. The sea water inlet valves should be removed,disassembled and inspected before reuse. New sea water hoses and clamps are a must. The fuel hoses in a Marine engine room are subject to high temperatures and should be replaced during an engine repower or refit. Most engine manufacturers state that the fuel hoses are good only for 10 years. The electrical system should at a minimum receive new batteries and battery cables. Oftentimes the controls will need to be replaced to go with a new engine set as the old controls become obsolete or impractical to match up. A benefit of new electronic control systems are the great features and options like easy docking, joystick control, dynamic positioning, advanced trolling and hand held cockpit/docking controls.The engine room space in a salt water boat also has many other pieces of machinery that have a design life of 10-15 years. They too should be considered for replacement anytime engines are replaced. These include battery chargers, air conditioning compressors, water makers and fuel transfer pumps.
Benefits Warranty: New engines are covered under a more complete longer term warranty. Emissions: Any new engine package will adhere to the latest EPA standards for exhaust emissions, currently Tier III Emission output is the new standard for pleasure craft engines over 100 hp. Engines built even 5 years ago cannot run as clean as today’s Common Rail engines. Cleaner means better fuel consumption figures and engines that are better for the environment. New Accessories: A new engine package will usually be accompanied by new accessories such as steering hydraulic pump, fuel cooler, gearbox cooler, transmission, shift and troll, water hoses, clamps, isolating mounts, and torsional coupling. Resale: You may not recoup the money that you put into a boat where a repower or refit is concerned but there may be some benefits which are just as important. Suppose there are 5 other boats just like your 55 foot sport fish for sale locally. All are similarly equipped but one of the five has new engines and gearboxes. That boat has a higher asking price but it also gets the most attention because it has newer equipment. In some circumstances that boat may get its higher asking price if the rest of the boat is in good to excellent condition. Even if it doesn’t recoup the total investment for new engines it will probably sell faster than its peers! Next time we will address overhauling existing engines and it's benefits.