Saturday, June 28, 2014

Volvo Penta D2-40 Marine Diesel Engine, Sailboat Heart and Love

My 39.9 foot steel cutter rigged 13 ton sailboat, SV GIRI, needed to have a new engine.  The great Yanmar 26.6 hp workhorse had seen better days.  I’d had it rebuilt once.  It’d taken out the injectors myself on several occasions and had them restored.  I’d replaced the alternators a couple of times at least. I’d had  the starter motor replaced twice.  I’d completely replaced the water cooling system.  Yet never had I complained about the engine demanding maintenance, care and repair.  It did a tremendous amount of work over a quarter century of use and served me well. Maybe even saved my life on occasion.  When it began to leak oil and the bill for repair was going to be $7000, it simply was time to face the facts.
At that time, my engineer sailing buddy, Tom, noted the same engine with very very low mileage up for sale second hand.  I was in a recurrent boat crisis of whether to sell or sink my boat rather than throw good money after bad. All the money I’ve put in the GIRI has been good money mind you, but it’s like a marriage.  A guy just gets tired of stoking the engine only to hear more complaining.   I thought to sell the boat knowing that one simply doesn’t get any return on used boats.  Because I’ve divorced too many times I’ve learned the same thing goes for women. My next marriage wasn’t any better than the last except that I was older and saw my mistakes more clearly.
The women were great, obviously. I married them as the best of the best. It's all about wear and tear. Personally I guess I'm like the marine environment. Caustic. Maybe I could have paid better attention to maintenance on the Yanmar and got even more years of life out of her. I certainly know that was true for my marriages. Without lawyers and in laws,  in the typical recurrent boaters marriage to their boat I had a reverse of heart. I found myself looking nostalgically at the old girl especially after others remarked on her loyalty and virtue.
In for a penny, in for a pound.  The second hand Yanmar was no longer available.  I was a little concerned anyway about inheritting somebody else’s  problems.  The engine is the heart of a sailboat.  It’s not just propulsion, especially for crossing bars and going against currents, its the generator for all the boats lights, communication,radar, winches and electronics.
Stem to Stern Marine Services ( are real engine specialists.  These are the folk that had been selling me Yanmar parts for years and advising me.  We’d talked about replacing my engine for a couple of years at the Vancouver Boat Show too.  The Vancouver Boat Show is one of the great places where the greatest authorities in the industry are generally just standing around willing to talk to you.  Any other time these engineers and mechanics are neck deep in orders and work so aren’t as able to chat and jaw.
Having committed once again to the SV GIRI, remembering sailing solo to Hawaii through winter storms to the sultry trade winds,  dreaming again of circumnavigating the world, sailing again to Mexico at least,   or finally visiting Australia, or just going fishing up by Lund, I got into the shop and talked to Ben and the rest of the folk at Stem to Stern.  The men are handsome, strong and intelligent while the women are beautiful and obviously very smart indeed. They love dogs, too so Gilbert thinks them a better class of folk, like the Queen with her corkies. It was an interesting experience because I went back several times. Each time I asked them one of the specialists which engine they recommended and after much discussion each  in the shop steered me to the Volvo.
The D2-40 is 4 cylinders. I liked that.  The Yanmar had 3. More cylinders is better.  Cylinders are things of beauty and joy. In a jam I’ve run the Yanmar on 2 cylinders. The cylinder diameter /stroke is 77/81 mm. The compression ratio on the D2 -40 Volvo is 23.5:1. Engine revolutions are 2800  to 3200 rpm.  The crankshaft power is 29.1 KW. This is all very good.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Yanmar. It was a jewel and if I had just replaced it I would have had another jewel.  Like a couple of my wives really. The advantage of the Volvo was that I could get a 10 hp more powerful motor to fit in the same space.  Further Volvo had made improvements in their engine which made it better for the sailor at this power range than the equivalent Yanmar.  It had low cruising rpms, quiet running, low vibrations and exhaust emission.
I never minded the noise of my engine. I feel the same about the sound of my Harley Davidson motorcycle.  I liken it to the sound of a mother’s heart to a baby in the womb. However as my Yanmar aged I confess it vibrated more and the exhaust fumes are a critical factor with an indoor engine.  I had one utterly gorgeous buxom American genius beauty on board who actually complained about the smog in my cabin after we’d been driving some hours on the Strait.  Her concern for her lungs was nearly as great as mine. When Ben mentioned the improvement in exhaust I naturally thought of that smoking hot babe and her lungs.   This was Volvo’s year.
As well, my brilliant sister in law has a Volvo convertible sportscar which is really reliable. We all know everyone with a baby wants a Volvo car because of their concern for safety. I’ve got Gilbert the cockapoo to think of.  The Swedes are great northern designers and know how to make heavy equipment.  The Volvo Group make buses, and  big ass construction equipment . The Swedes are high end manufacturers with the same reputation the Germans have with their BMW’s.  I’d just bought a new Winchester rifle but I’d studied the Swedish equivalents and their technical workmanship is unsurpassed. Friends who have Volvo’s in their blue water sailing boats swear by them too.  Everyone loves their Yanmar but when guys talk about their Volvos they’re just a little more misty eyed. You can hear the violins.
If I consult a specialist, and I trust they’re not just into making more money but really care about customer service like Stem to Stern has over the years,  (and I don’t know a whole whole lot about something except what I research on the internet), frankly,  I  take their advice.  Stem to Stern know their engines.  I took their advice. There was little difference in price but a promise of better satisfaction with better performance. If I'd listened to advice about women wiser men gave me I might have saved myself a divorce or two.
Off shore the question of parts came up.  Yanmar is apparently more available the world over but what I found when I sailed solo to Hawaii was when I needed electronic parts for name brand equipment they still had to send it to me.  That’s the difference today from the old days.  If they don’t have something locally you can have it by Fed Ex  or UPS within a few days. Everything a sailboat needs, all the parts for everything, can be ordered on line from the manufacturer directly if need be.  If I’m cruising I don’t mind hanging out for a day or two or week waiting for a part.  That’s why we call Offshore Cruising, "doing boat work in exotic ports". The fact is, everyone who has the tools for diesel engine repair can fix either machine.  Diesel engines in this regard are like the cars we had up to the 70’s.  I’d been working on my own engines until the computers got added with emission control and all the little mind boggling sensor arrays in the new motors that require special computer programs to monitor.  I’ll carry spares when I cruise and know I’ll be able to fix things if I need to though the beauty of a new engine is you really do get years of worry free life.  
I’ve also got a Hamm radio, Hamm radio license,  and take a Satellite phone offshore with me because I like asking experts for advice when I’m in a jam.
(The psychologist I asked about my marriage though was an idiot and just agreed with me she was a bitch. What woman you're thinking of isn't a bitch when you're thinking of divorcing her. Someone needs to remind you of when you met her her and that first night of love making. No one thinks of that when they're talking to psychologists or lawyers. I think marriage therapists and lawyers should have to give back half the pay if the couple divorce and suddenly we'd see some world class counselling going on rather than all the 'facilitating' divorce that these folks do for personal profit - but I digress. My friends thankfully reminded me of how I loved the GIRI. Of course I'll hate them when I get the bill or the next problem arises.)
When I had problems with my rigging off Vancouver Island I got a radio patch on my Hamm to the best of the best riggers, Pro Tech Yacht Services Vancouver.  They  told me  just what to do with my fouled self furling system .  When the mast broke on the way back from Hawaii I used my Iridium Satellite phone to Eric at Pocomarine Coquitlam BC (  who got me in touch with the right experts to help me complete the ‘mission’.  
 That’s what comes with maturity. I know I’m not alone spiritually or even physically. It’s a global community.  When I was younger, I had something to prove and  wanted to do it ‘my’ way.  Now I’m just  glad to ‘get’r done’.
It was with great pleasure I saw my new Volvo D2-40 installed in my sailboat.  The GIRI is up on the hard in Lynwood. While Stem to Stern was taking the Yanmar Engine out (very respectful of my mahogany cabin too) and putting the Volvo in, I took a couple of days to sand and bottom paint the blessed GIRI adding new zincs.  Ben wasn’t comfortable with putting my old winter fuel in his brand new engine so we had the fuel scrubbed too. The old shaft was buggered a bit by fights with logs so I got a new shaft to go with the new engine.  Added to that my pre engine fuel filters and bilge pumps weren’t working as well as Ben would have them. I knew that. One of the two bilge pumps was intermittent because of a short and one of the two pre fuel filters was only half working. I’d been planning on getting around to repairing them, relying in the meantime on one. Offshore double and triple redundancy are necessary. Still,
I liked that Ben didn’t want my new engine drowned in bilge or with shitty fuel going into the new baby.  Of course I encouraged him to make the improvements.  No sense putting a new diaper on a baby if you’re not going to clean the bottom. Just like Ben I wanted this new Volvo to smell sweet from day one and give me years of joy.  Best to listen to the experts.
The Volvo Penta D2 - 40 sure is pretty.  Sea trials are set for this week.  The SV GIRI is looking especially pleased with her new heart and with her bottom all shiny and clean.
IMG 5451IMG 5452IMG 5453IMG 5454IMG 5379IMG 5442IMG 5435IMG 5439IMG 5446IMG 5445

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well I guess there are 2 sides to each conflict

as you said separate with love

your Volvo Engine sure looks good and well laid out too

very best wishes