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ENGINE REPLACEMENT 4.108

pmf44

Member
I think it's time to replace the grand old Blue Perkins 4.108. It's original from 1980 and the oil leaks are becoming unmanageable. I dont want to keep throwing money at it. I've discussed this with a handful of informed people and my diesel mechanic and I am convinced that repowering is the best option--with a new Yanmar Beta or similar. I am happy to learn from and consider any stories, ideas or opinions--or references to a dealer or shop. I am based in Annapolis.

At this point, I am definitely not interested in a rebuild. I don't think that selling my otherwise restored, re-rigged and nice boat is a good option, and I would not fetch a decent price due to the obvious engine needs. But she starts fine, runs well, has new motor mounts, rebuilt transmission, new water pump. I think I might be able to part out some of the engine or the gearbox, or maybe sell the whole engine as is to a more qualified mechanic who will see it as a rebuild and resale possibility.

My "guess" is that depending on the extent of whatever else I might need, I am looking at $15k to perhaps $20K. At this point the Yanmar 4H series is my top choice.
Your thoughts and experience please?
 

mpearson

Mark Pearson
Staff member
Hi Paul (pmf44) - We repowered with a Yanmar 4JH45 two years ago and still love it. Super clean (no spraying oil!), no vibrations, much more quiet, and so far totally reliable. Starts super easily even in cold temperatures.

We had narrowed the choices down to the Yanmar 4JH45 (45 HP), Volvo D2-40 (40 HP), or Beta Marine 38 (38 HP) and I think any of these 3 would have been similarly great experience provided the install was well done. The Morganeers who installed those other engines report good things too. In our case, it was an extremely close choice and probably pushed toward the Yanmar because we had a very excellent, well trusted dealer/installer super close (2 blocks) from where we keep Zia. I also tend to not be afraid of trying the "newer" technologies like the Common Rail, especially because it's not really new anymore.

You probably saw my post here, with before and after photos, etc.:

The bottom line is we seriously use Zia a lot, and plan to use her even more. Our Perkins seemed to have been treated badly early in its life and could easily have left us in a bad situation had it failed at the wrong time.

For us, it was a huge (additional) investment, but while we had the engine out, we replaced the entire exhaust system, almost all the hoses, etc. With all the extra work it ended up being more like $20k, but it gives us huge returns in reliability & therefore reduced stress.

In hindsight, I wish I would have also replaced our Idler too when the engine was out. Ours was in bad shape and it would have been a piece of cake when the engine was out.


You might be able to get some $ for the old engine & parts. I wasn't able to get much and our installer showed me his collection of old engines that he tries to sell/part out, but ends up hauling to the landfill in bulk a couple of times per year. There might be more of a market for it in the Annapolis area than in Portland, Oregon.

I saw your note on my profile, Paul, and I'll give you a ring this weekend.
Cheers,
-Mark
 

struell

Stephen Ruell
As Mark says the Beta 38 is a good choice also if you like the local dealer. That is what we did and have been very happy with it. Others have considered the next size larger Beta 43 which may be a little quieter if it can run at lower rpm. I have been impressed with Beta customer service. If you are a DIY installer you may do better with Beta for support.

Plan on doing a lot of other stuff while the engine is out since you will never have a better chance. Consider a machine shop trip for the prop and shaft while the engine is out, and replacing the cutlass and stuffing box. I would figure on at least $20k.

My son was able to sell the old Yanmar 3QM30 on eBay, don't know if that was fluke or not. It was still in good shape with fairly low hours.
 

pmf44

Member
Good Morning and thanks to Stephen and Mark I have actually been planning that this day would come since buying and beginning to restore Non Sea Quitter in 2015. My top-notch nearby mechanic specializes exclusively in small diesels for sailboats. In 2015 we made the choice to replace the rigging pull, polish inspect and replace all chainplates rather than focus too much on the engine. We did pullout the Perkins, replace cutlass bearing, shaft, prop and engine mounts, boil the radiator etc etc, paint and insulate the engine area. That was about 5k and my labor. Then a year later the Hurth 10 failed and that was $1750 and my labor to remove and reinstall. Since then, the only problems were the raw water pump (can you believe it is a $500 part????) and slow ongoing rear leaks...but now...serious leaks forward, a loose pulley on the oil pump and as my diesel expert said five years ago...she will slowly deteriorate and it is not worth putting money into her as it is 40 year old technology and you'll spend so much to keep her going. He basically said that for the type of sailing I was planning, just run her until she slowly putters away. NOW--he cautioned me, if you were going to cruise to Florida and run her 8-10 hours a day...that would be a different story. And he has been correct I believe in his assessment. He recommends the Yanmar and is preparing an estimate. Another nearby expert recommends the Volvo and is doing the same. He says Volvo provides better service and warranty.. Another one says Beta. I have yet to compare the price and the warranty. The actual engine may be the only real concern at this point as the only really viable option is to replace the engine (or sell now and cut my "losses"?). I may make up some costs by selling the alternator, the water pump and maybe get a few bucks?? I think that perhaps a DIY or shadetree mechanic may give me some $$ for the old block and head but who knows? Otherwise my expert says it will fetch seven cents a pound for iron scrap...let's see...seven cents per pound times 400 lbs...hmmm...hmmm???

I expect a total replacement will be 20-25k and involve some engine bed-stringer work and exhaust reworking. So I guess the big question here is does anyone have any compelling reason to suggest one engine over another? Parts? Warranty? My main concern would be ease of access and checking fluids, bleeding the fuel lines (very difficult on the 4.108 as access to the governor is...no fun..) additional costs for engine/exhaust work

I suppose the only other option is to sell as is....or maybe consider electric...??? (not likely...) A discussion about current and resale value is best left to private conversation and would be welcomes. If anyone else would like to comment, your thoughts will also be much appreciated. As this progresses I will provide updates but decision time is fast approaching in order to have this done by March. THANK YOU
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
I'll be the contrarian:
Fitting a new engine is expensive... obviously. Yachtworld has listed M-38X's from $25k to $40K.
Putting a $20k improvement in a $20-30K boat makes little sense fiscally unless you are cruising the world or keeping the boat "forever".
But having a working reliable engine is a must in a cruising boat (in my opinion at least). I also believe any mechanical device can be repaired properly. But I own a 50 yr old British sports car so obviously I have issues.

I would suggest at least talking to Trans Atlantic Diesel (TAD) in Hayes, VA. about the feasibility of having a good result from a rebuild. You would need to find an experienced machine shop, a real Perkins 104 mechanic to assemble the engine and fit the touchy rear rope seal. A diesel fuel injection shop to rebuild the high pressure pump and injectors. I believe TAD (who used to rebuild 4-108's) can answer those questions. Possibly point you to where you can find those tradesmen. Last time I looked, a full Perkins rebuild kit was under $2k. Every thing new inside the engine except the crankshaft. Perhaps there are critical parts that are NLA. Shelley Moon at TAD would probably know.

I believe the cost of rebuilt engine is retrievable at time of sale. You'll be upside down with a new engine. All depends on your priorities.
If there is a place where 4-108 experts ARE its the Chesapeake Bay area.
Good luck!
Dave
 

pmf44

Member
Dave Your comments are greatly appreciated and well reasoned. I have thought about this as well. However, somehow or another, anytime it comes to boats, we have to figure out how to balance the rational with the intuitive; the practical with the esthetic; the financial with the romantic...and this is one of those cases. Obviously there is a practical and financial upside with a rebuild rather than a replacement. NO doubt about it. But what about the fact that it is still 50 year old technology, the engines are getting hard to repair and service, they are heavier and noisier than newer engine etc etc? When the time comes to resell, will a likely buyer care if there is a rebuilt or a newer engine? Maybe, Maybe not. But a rebuilt engine will not raise the value of the boat significantly. A rebuild will help maintain the current value. An expensive replacement will raise it only slightly. And yes, my personal plans are also based on considerations other than just financial, as you suggest. The money I save can go into sails, canvas, other upgrades etc which may actually help maintain or raise the value of the boat more than a rebuild versus a new engine.

I suppose that when the time comes, a prospective buyer can make that choice for himself or herself. I am taking your thoughts into consideration and I am familiar with Atlantic Diesel and will contact them as you suggest. Plese feel free to tell more about your engine/situation either here or to me directly. Regards and thanks
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
It's a tough decision. Steven & Mark are happy with their choice. If you rely on others to do the install or rebuild you're at their "mercy" so a new engine does eliminate some of those variables.
How many hours are on your Perkins? Mine had just under 3700hrs. Old mechanics say they'll go 10K before rebuild. Obviously time takes a toll as well. Gaskets and rubber parts etc. Oh yeah, British stuff does leak oil, designed in. I put 50-75 hrs a year. Changed the aft "diaper" yearly. Never had to add oil etc. Once I got rid of dirty fuel & rebuilt the injectors it ran well. Still leaked a bit every day (when running). Good luck with the decision. Let us know how you go.
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
I think I have mentioned this to Mark, whose Yanmar sounds wonderful. My concern with that machine is its reliance on a computer and very fine injector tolerances. Any good mechanic in the world can work on a regular old diesel like a Beta. But getting stuck in some out of the way place with a busted Yanmar computer concerns me. But Mark should weigh in.
 

MDHazel

New Member
It has been my observation in talking with others that the price of Volvo parts will make your eyes bleed. Be sure to look at not only availability of parts but also their prices. I know of one person who needed to replace a Volvo oil cooler that would fit in your hand. It's price was $3500! My suggestion was to purchase an after market cooler and either make a mount or mount it off engine.
 

mpearson

Mark Pearson
Staff member
We are planning more extensive cruising, and part of my rationale was not wanting to put my friends and family into a situation that could be dangerous because I wanted to save some money. In the cruising we have done up the Pacific coast, and on other boats throughout the world, we have had many situations where an engine failing could be dangerous.

If our Perkins was as well behaved as many others on this forum, I would not have replaced it. Ours was a sullen, angry, oily beast though, and no amount of love or $$$ seemed to change it.

In the Yanmar vs. Volvo vs. Beta discussion, I don't think you can really go wrong with any of those. As you probably know, the Beta is "lower tech" and therefore appealing if you will be cruising to some really far-flung places. Or if you are really into serious DIY mechanics. As Terry said, the Yanmar (and probably the Volvo) are computer controlled and if the computer gets fried, the engine is a big (expensive) brick. I've learned that the computer is fairly modular & if we go "far flung" I will probably take a spare and it looks like swapping it out is not difficult. Other parts of the engine are also higher tech, though, and that could be a factor.

I do agree with Dave, too, in that it for sure is not a sound financial investment and merits some serious thought. It is probably not recommended for most people. Especially people who have not owned/used their boat long enough to know if they really like boat ownership, or if they really just like the idea of owning a boat. I'd say that 85% of boat owners fall into the latter category and that's why 90% of the boats in a marina almost never leave the dock.

For us, Zia has been the major source of our fun/enjoyment for the last 8 years and I hope the next 20+ years. So, we are content with our financially irrational decision. ;)
 

pmf44

Member
Thanks to all again for more thoughtful replies. I spoke with another M38 owner not far from me who has gone through a similar experience, so everyone is offering very helpful advice--much more reliable and well meaning that the usual chatter from online forums. I will be sharing what I learn and updating everyone. For the record, I am a highly experienced boat owner and operator and do plan to continue running tours on the Bay on Non Sea Quitter. I continue to restore her and equip her for the six passenger tours and have a very busy and successful season, starting on Memorial Day. So Covid got me a late start, but it's been extremely busy ever since. I am giving serious consideration to rebuilding mainly because I simply can't see the vastly greater expense for what is already an old boat--getting older every day. She has depreciated about as much as she ever will and a new engine will not raise her value so much as to be worth it, but a rebuilt engine--even if 40+ years old gives me the option of fixing and repairing and upgrading many other things. When I sell her, the new owner can have rebuilt 4.108 and he or she can decide what to do , but for me, right now, I am thinking rebuilding. Repowering may be a better option for some, but not all. THANKS TO ALL!
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
Just make sure that "no longer available" parts doesn't ruin the rebuild life span. That is what I would really try to get out of TAD:
Have they had to scrap an otherwise serviceable 4-108 because a particular part was unavailable from aftermarket or a used take out. Perkins no longer cares beyond a rebuild kit as far as I know. Sherry Moon at TAD was very knowledgeable.
 

rickdowe2

Richard Dowe
Hi Paul, I did a complete rebuild on my engine. Did I need to, after the fact no. My friends said it was easy which it was but the engine was hard starting and I figured a rebuild was in order. It turn out the fuel injector pump needed to be rebuilt the company that did it said it was scored inside and to use a lubricity additive in the fuel. Since your engine starts fine and what I here is you just have leaks that can be taken care of by replacing external gaskets. My vote fix what you have. Good luck Rick
 

pmf44

Member
Rick Based on what I know, a rebuild is in order and it does make it much easier to the job of course. It was leaking at the rear seal and now at the front seal, a pump bearing is wearing and wobbling loosely. The rebuild involves under $1000 in parts and additional costs such as uninstalling, lifting, reinstalling and realigning etc., mainly extra fees to the yard for crane/forklift but I can of course clean, and repaint and do other things in the engine room so I am going for the rebuild. From what I am understanding, parts are still available. My plan essentially "buys me time" and some degree of reliability for the next few years. I doubt I will ever replace the engine, but the next buyer can make that choice and take that expense. After doing some initial measuring, it seems that the entire block and head will be lifted out without disassembling, other than maybe transmission/alternator. Thanks again
 

dave_a

Dave Ahlers
Good luck! Find a machine shop you can trust to do the work. TAD can help with that decision. Same with the injection pump & injector rebuild.
Spend your money on the right guys particularly if they are reassembling the engine.
You really need to educate yourself on what the important and key issues are on a 4.108 rebuild. There are experts out there. Become one.
There are actually guys out there who know how to install the rear rope seal so it doesn't leak....that much. Hey - its British!
 
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