Jump to content
Strawberry Orange Banana Lime Leaf Slate Sky Blueberry Grape Watermelon Chocolate Marble
Strawberry Orange Banana Lime Leaf Slate Sky Blueberry Grape Watermelon Chocolate Marble

Canal World is funded by our loyal members. Please feel free do donate to us by clicking here. Thank you 

FluffyVal

Which diesel engine would people recommend for a narrowboat

Featured Posts

I am looking to get a live aboard narrowboat.

I previously had, some years ago, a 55' narrowboat with a Lister sr3 engine (I think)

Bearing in mind the fact that I know very little about engines, which make and model should I be looking for as one of the factors to consider when looking for a suitable boat. I am thinking of an engine which is well thought of, has spares readily available, is one which engineers are generally well versed in.

I apologise if there is already a post about this but I did search for one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, rusty69 said:

Beta marine are apparently good. 

What about Lister?

Barrus Shire/Yanmar

Vetus?

Nanni?

Canaline?

BMC?

Sabb?

etc

You should be able to check engine oil, and the other  daily checks, keep an engine log [diary]

Any engineer can do an engine oil, gear oil and any filter change for you, you should follow the manufacturers recommendation on this. 

 

You should probably carry a few spares specific to your engine, some spares are much more expensive than others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, BruceinSanity said:

Beta every time for boaters like the OP who isn't interested in engine coddling.

Well, yes, but once OP has excluded 50% of boats on price 

50% of those on length

etc etc,  

Of the 3/4 boats on my current short list, the top one has a Beta Marine BD1005. 

It is the only one, so I suppose that gives me a lot of confidence, but I am not sure I would select on that one criteria, maybe I should, but Isuzi are used by hire operators, so that's a gold star, and I know Yanmar/Barrus are reliable and easy to maintain from experience.

 

Edited by LadyG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought beta marine were marinisers of base engines kuboto Isuzu and others rather than engine builders.  

Reliability is down  to maintainance  ownership and installation not initial build especially when used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We on Nightwatch gave a Barras Shire. It's been onboard now for 14 plus years and has been all over the country in recent years. I do my own servicing, which is simple otherwise I wouldn't be doing my own servicing. Replaced both alternators in the last three three years, had an issue with the engine eating drive belts three or so years ago, soloved that by using wet and dry, dry, on the pulleys.uses very little oil, started to smoke a little upon start up or after a few days battery charging alongside.

Beta are supposed to be good.

Martyn

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, LadyG said:

What about Lister

We have a lister. I would recommend it cos it's never gone wrong. Trouble is I suspect anyone could recommend any of the big name engines and they would be OK especially if they have low hours and are well maintained. 

Think i would have asked if there are any engines to avoid? 

 

Kingfisher anyone? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My old boat had a Ford Transit 2.5 di (banana engine) fitted started first time every time it has no glow plugs obviously these engines were for road vehicles so would need marinising my new old boat has a BMC 1500 fitted good luck with your choice ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

dare I ask - as a 'liveaboard' do you plan to sit in a marina or residential mooring most of the time, or will you be (genuinely) continuously cruising?  There is a world of difference between:

- sitting in a marina with mains hook-up and rarely running the engine

- sitting on a mooring and using the engine to charge your batteries every day

- travelling  

I don't have experience of the first 2 options, but I'm sure some experts will be along to advise which engines fare better under those conditions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

Think i would have asked if there are any engines to avoid? 

That was exactly what I was going to say.

-------------

Ooh Beta Marine Hybrid anyone?

Edited by Tumshie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I realise you may have started other threads about the kind of boat you are looking for, but you haven't given too many clues in this one.

I would say the amount you have to spend on the boat, and the age of what you buy, will have a likely determining factor in what you end up with for an engine.

Buy something fairly recent, and there is a very strong chance you will be looking at a marinised industrial or plant engine from the Far East.  There doesn't appear to be a huge difference between these, and a base engine from one manufacturer may in fact be supplied by multiple mariners. (When you look at names like Beta Nanni or Vetus they don't make the engines - somebody else like Kubota or Mitsubishi actually builds the base engine).  Some of the marinisers do seem to attract attention that their spare parts are more expensive, though it may be possible to undercut them by going to a supplier of parts for the base engine.  Look at what the hire fleets use - they know from experience what is most reliable, and a typical hire boat can quickly rack up engine hours a lot faster than many private ones.  Beta is popular in hire fleets, as were HMI marinisations of Isuzu engines, (the latter no longer an option in a new boat, I think?).

But the older you go, the greater the chance you will be looking at engines not from the Far East, maybe Listers or marinised vehicle engines such as the BMC.  Once upon a time if you looked at (say) a hire boat there was a 90% or more chance it would have such an engine, so they have a proven track record, but you have not been able to buy a new BMC (for example) for some years, so you are unlikely to find one in recently built boats.  They can still be fine, but condition is everything.

You mentioned (you thought) a Lister SR3 in a previous boat.  That probably meant a boat from round about the 1970s era, when they were a very common fitment. The difference with Lister SL, SR & ST series engines is that they are air cooled units, whereas for many years now the trend has been to fit water cooled engines.  The latter are almost invariably quieter and can heat domestic water for you as a by-product of cruising, but at the expense of one more thing that can go wrong, (any problems with the water cooling circuit, and all the extra bits it entails).  If you buy old enough you can still find boats with air-cooled Listers, and in good order these can last more or less indefinitely.  However in a large number of boats being sold with them, they are probably long past being in good order!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, FluffyVal said:

I am looking to get a live aboard narrowboat.

I previously had, some years ago, a 55' narrowboat with a Lister sr3 engine (I think)

Bearing in mind the fact that I know very little about engines, which make and model should I be looking for as one of the factors to consider when looking for a suitable boat. I am thinking of an engine which is well thought of, has spares readily available, is one which engineers are generally well versed in.

I apologise if there is already a post about this but I did search for one.

Provided its Japanese it will be fine. It will also be very easy to service and get bits for and do many many hours.

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I have a Kingfisher temporarily in one of my boats and it is a great engine. Bags of power and very reliable. 

Scrub that then.

 

Just now, mrsmelly said:

Provided its Japanese it will be fine. It will also be very easy to service and get bits for and do many many hours.

Come on mrsmelly. You've had at least 7 engines. Which was the worst? 

  • Greenie 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

Think i would have asked if there are any engines to avoid?

Kingfisher anyone? 

By all accounts, if there is a modern one to avoid, it is the Barrus Shanks - a marinisation of a Chinese (I think) engine at lower cost than other engines of the time, but which nobody seems to be able to say anything about.

You might also choose to avoid those (modern-sh) Listers that dictate oil changes on frequencies of no more than 100 hours - I can't recall exactly which models this does and does not apply to.

Not sure why you have singled out Kingfisher, but definite to avoid are things like air cooled Ducati engines if any are still limping on.

I would also avoid DIY marinisations of automotive diesels from manufacturers where almost nobody else has one in a narrow boat, such as Volkswagen, Peugeot etc.  Stick to things lots of people have, and engineers are more likely to be familiar with them.

  • Greenie 1
  • Happy 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All the engines mentioned here have their good and bad points.Mine is a BMC 1500,generally reckoned to be a reliable and durable lump.

The engine installation is an important consideration too; is there easy access to service items,[fuel water trap,fuel filter,oil filter,bleeding points,etc] Mine is a rather snug fit in the engine bay making it necessary to practically do a handstand to get at stuff.

What cooling system does the engine have? [air?direct raw water?heat exchanger indirect raw water?skin tanks?] All these systems,like the engine,will have issues from time to time,and you will find that opinions on the best engine and the best cooling system will  vary from person to person.

To make an informed choice,talk to as many boaters as possible to canvass opinions,[we are generally a gregarious bunch] and eventually a common thread will emerge.

You pays your money and makes your choice.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, rusty69 said:

Scrub that then.

 

Come on mrsmelly. You've had at least 7 engines. Which was the worst? 

Non were bad. The first boat had an air cooled Lister which though small and noisey was brilliant and economical but as Alan said in his post these engines now thirty years on from my first boat are very long in the tooth and not quite so easy to deal with. I had a Ford D series in one that was also damned good. I have had two betas a bmc and now an Isuzu all have been fine. The worst I would say was a vetus mainly due to spare prices and a too small header tank but the base engine was still good. My first choice now for ease of maintainance and all other considerations is Beta or Isuzu.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Might be easier to say which engines are not ok, Probably anything hand start in the unlikely event you do find one fitted and anything old and oily. Another vote for Japanese and also a vote for anything without a really tiny mechanical gearbox. Personally I don't mind getting spanners out and fixing things but the OP might not have a big box of rusty old Whitworth spanners.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

You might also choose to avoid those (modern-sh) Listers that dictate oil changes on frequencies of no more than 100 hours - I can't recall exactly which models this does and does not apply to.

Not sure why you have singled out Kingfisher, but definite to avoid are things like air cooled Ducati engines if any are still limping on.

Our lister lpw4s requires regular oil changes, although I've heard it's possible to fit a larger oil filter to extend time between changes. 

I think i was confusing the kingfisher (sorry kingfisher) with an engine we had that was based on the kingfisher(AJ). This particular engine was very unreliable, but doesn't mean they all were. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Machpoint005 said:

The spanners for a Japanese base engine will be shiny and metric, like mine! 

Never trust a mechanic with clean tools...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

I realise you may have started other threads about the kind of boat you are looking for, but you haven't given too many clues in this one.

I would say the amount you have to spend on the boat, and the age of what you buy, will have a likely determining factor in what you end up with for an engine.

Buy something fairly recent, and there is a very strong chance you will be looking at a marinised industrial or plant engine from the Far East.  There doesn't appear to be a huge difference between these, and a base engine from one manufacturer may in fact be supplied by multiple mariners. (When you look at names like Beta Nanni or Vetus they don't make the engines - somebody else like Kubota or Mitsubishi actually builds the base engine).  Some of the marinisers do seem to attract attention that their spare parts are more expensive, though it may be possible to undercut them by going to a supplier of parts for the base engine.  Look at what the hire fleets use - they know from experience what is most reliable, and a typical hire boat can quickly rack up engine hours a lot faster than many private ones.  Beta is popular in hire fleets, as were HMI marinisations of Isuzu engines, (the latter no longer an option in a new boat, I think?).

But the older you go, the greater the chance you will be looking at engines not from the Far East, maybe Listers or marinised vehicle engines such as the BMC.  Once upon a time if you looked at (say) a hire boat there was a 90% or more chance it would have such an engine, so they have a proven track record, but you have not been able to buy a new BMC (for example) for some years, so you are unlikely to find one in recently built boats.  They can still be fine, but condition is everything.

You mentioned (you thought) a Lister SR3 in a previous boat.  That probably meant a boat from round about the 1970s era, when they were a very common fitment. The difference with Lister SL, SR & ST series engines is that they are air cooled units, whereas for many years now the trend has been to fit water cooled engines.  The latter are almost invariably quieter and can heat domestic water for you as a by-product of cruising, but at the expense of one more thing that can go wrong, (any problems with the water cooling circuit, and all the extra bits it entails).  If you buy old enough you can still find boats with air-cooled Listers, and in good order these can last more or less indefinitely.  However in a large number of boats being sold with them, they are probably long past being in good order!

Calcutt were still putting brand new (Turkish built) BMCs in their clipper boats until very recently.  Do you know that they have stopped?  You can certainly still buy an 'off the shelf' recon BMC engine from Calcutt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, alan_fincher said:

I realise you may have started other threads about the kind of boat you are looking for, but you haven't given too many clues in this one.

I would say the amount you have to spend on the boat, and the age of what you buy, will have a likely determining factor in what you end up with for an engine.

Buy something fairly recent, and there is a very strong chance you will be looking at a marinised industrial or plant engine from the Far East.  There doesn't appear to be a huge difference between these, and a base engine from one manufacturer may in fact be supplied by multiple mariners. (When you look at names like Beta Nanni or Vetus they don't make the engines - somebody else like Kubota or Mitsubishi actually builds the base engine).  Some of the marinisers do seem to attract attention that their spare parts are more expensive, though it may be possible to undercut them by going to a supplier of parts for the base engine.  Look at what the hire fleets use - they know from experience what is most reliable, and a typical hire boat can quickly rack up engine hours a lot faster than many private ones.  Beta is popular in hire fleets, as were HMI marinisations of Isuzu engines, (the latter no longer an option in a new boat, I think?).

But the older you go, the greater the chance you will be looking at engines not from the Far East, maybe Listers or marinised vehicle engines such as the BMC.  Once upon a time if you looked at (say) a hire boat there was a 90% or more chance it would have such an engine, so they have a proven track record, but you have not been able to buy a new BMC (for example) for some years, so you are unlikely to find one in recently built boats.  They can still be fine, but condition is everything.

You mentioned (you thought) a Lister SR3 in a previous boat.  That probably meant a boat from round about the 1970s era, when they were a very common fitment. The difference with Lister SL, SR & ST series engines is that they are air cooled units, whereas for many years now the trend has been to fit water cooled engines.  The latter are almost invariably quieter and can heat domestic water for you as a by-product of cruising, but at the expense of one more thing that can go wrong, (any problems with the water cooling circuit, and all the extra bits it entails).  If you buy old enough you can still find boats with air-cooled Listers, and in good order these can last more or less indefinitely.  However in a large number of boats being sold with them, they are probably long past being in good order!

Some SR and ST's are water cooled. Not as popular as the air cooled though.

All the genuine Japanese engines, Kubota, Yanmar, Isuzu, Mitsubishi are all very good.   What about a Doxford. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×