I ended up choosing the Beta 38 with a TCM60 2.83:1 as the new power plant for Satori. The Beta Marine engines are based on the Kubota v1505 block. I came to the decision to replace the engine for the following reasons:
Spare Parts: I used and maintained the Yanmar 3QM30 for 2 years before hauling the boat to do the swap. During this time I needed various parts (air cleaner, impeller, new pump seals, etc..) and due to Yanmars “zoned” parts distribution system, you can’t order parts online. I had to go to the distributor in Baltimore each time I wanted to order something, then wait for the part to come in. Compounding all this is the fact that the QM30 was only produced for a few years. Finding the right part even with the manuals can be difficult.
The Beta Marine engine I ended up deciding on uses the Kubota v1505 block. You can source the core engine parts through any tractor shop in the world. Also, tractor parts = tractor prices. Additionally, Beta Marine USA ships all its marine specific parts from North Carolina to anywhere in the world.
Age: During my short tenure with the 3QM30 I had several hoses burst, an engine oil dipstick come apart and the Air filter housing disintegrate in my hands while cleaning it. Even if I were to rebuild all the hoses and water systems, I’m still left with an old injector pump, fuel pump, and heat exchanger. There was also about 4,000 hours on the engine. I’ve heard these motors will run for 10,000 hours, but I would reason that claim would only extend to the core of the engine. The accessories and fuel system will still need rebuilding at some point.
Intended Use of The Boat: I have every intention of doing several years of long distance cruising on this boat. That will equate to a few thousand hours of running the engine. If I were to put several more thousand hours on the 3QM30 I am bound to have to undertake a major transmission or engine rebuild of some type. This will inevitably need to be done in some remote location where I wont have access to the scarce and hard to source parts for this antiquated block. If I was just using the boat locally on the Chesapeake it would be a different story and I could probably keep the old girl going for 10 more years.
I arrived at the Beta 38 for the following reasons:
Kubota Block: The v1505 block is used in many tractors, generators, and other off road vehicles. Its one of Kubota’s main engine series. I like this because I know with this many applications, main components of this engine should be available for a long, long, time. This is a big advantage of the conversion engines over a Yanmar or Universal. The scope of application is far greater than just the relatively small marine auxiliary market.
In addition, the modern design of the combustion and exhaust systems produces a much quieter running motor than the old Yanmar design. I also gain a cylinder over the Yanmar, bringing the total to 4. A 4 cylinder engine is more balanced than a 3 banger (which is why most small cars, trucks and motorcycles use a 4 cylinder design).
Finally, the engine is much smaller and lighter than the old Yanmar. This gives more room to work around the engine, the ability to add sound reduction to the engine cover, and saves me 150 pounds of weight on the boat that can go towards provisions.
Reputation of the company: Founded in 1987, the company is as old as I am. They’ve delivered about 25,000 engines over the years, which is enough to know I’ll be able to find the marine specific components in the future should the company go under. Beta Marine also has a great reputation for standing behind their engines. My dealings with the company have only confirmed this fact.
Design Of The Marine Conversion: The design of the engine puts all the service items (impeller, oil filter, fuel filter) right on the front where access is extremely good on my boat. Theres also a pump to remove the crankcase oil mounted on the front of the engine. If you’ve ever had a manual oil pump explode in your cabin you’ll appreciate that feature. Having easy access to maintenance items raises the chances of the engine being properly maintained, which in turn extends the life and reliability of the engine.