Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Hillary
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Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Hillary »

I have recently bought a Centaur and I have found that the engine won't start without the use of Cold start. Unfortunately it seems the compression is very low. The engine is the original Watamota Sea Panther. Once running the engine runs OK and seems to power the boat OK. But I am thinking that the first time I get into a difficult situation will be the time it won't start at all.

I would like to re-engine the boat but I had not anticipated the expense and finding the money will be hard so I am looking for the most cost effective way of replacing the engine. The problem is I know nothing about how to re-engine a Centaur and could really do with some advice.

I have done some research and I could purchase a new Panther short Block from Stephenson Marine in Dartmouth and swap the injectors fuel pump etc to the new block I think the cost of this will be around £1800 to re-furbish the engine. I am not including costs of taking the boat out of the water.

Or I can buy a new engine there is a Thornycroft T20 for £3660 from Marine enterprises in Dorchester who will also take the old engine in part ex for about £250.

Or I can get a second hand engine such as a Bukh DV24 24hp with less than 250 hours for £2,700 but I think that if I go for a new or recon second-hand engine I will have to replace the prop and drive shaft as well. I am not sure how much that will add to the cost.

I don't know how to go about choosing the right engine or how I should set about replacing it. The boat is based in Fareham Creek so recommendations for boat yards who could take the boat out of the water and assist with the swap-out would be very welcome particularly if they have reasonable charges.

I would love some advice if any of you have replaced an engine in a Centaur.

Cheers and thanks,

Hillary
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Gary-Cottam »

Hi Hilary,

I replaced the original VP MD2B in my Centaur over the winter with a refurbished VP MD2020B. The swap over went relatively smoothly itself, although I have yet to sail this year due to an oil leak that I am having difficulty in curing.

Part of the reason I was keen to re-engine with the MD2020B was that I could keep all of the existing stern gear, LH prop, shaft, PSS seal etc.

I undertook the work myself, glad I did as I have learned lots, particularly in respect of the fuel and cooling systems. But, given the choices again I would definitely go for a brand new engine. If you take into account any replacement parts that may be required, exhaust elbow, raw water pump, starter etc, the difference in cost between a second-hand engine and a new one could be very little.

I do not have any personal experience of a Thornycroft, but it looks a good engine at a good price, I would go new.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by TyroSailor »

I'm in the middle of doing this. It should have been finished months ago but the mechanic is clearly in no rush :(

The old MD2b had all sorts of problems: reluctant starter motor (fixed); blown alternator (my fault, fixed); dodgy gearbox; fuel pump problems; severe rust and finally copious water in the oil. I looked at a secondhand reconditioned one from Marine Enterprises in Poole but decided eventually that if I was going to pay £2500 for one of those I mightas well pay £3000 for a new one and have all the associated benefits.

I eventually decided on a Vetus M2.18, since the ME was able to get it at a good price (see above) and it seems to be powerful enough for the boat. Since it's not in yet I can't vouch for its efficacy but watch this space....
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Hillary »

Thanks very much For the advice Steve and Gary.

Did you both take the boat out of the water to re-engine? One of the Members at the Sailing Club suggested I use the engine hoist on the workshop pontoon and do the swap without taking the Centaur out of the water. It would save a bit of money I guess but is it a risky thing to do?

Looking at the Vetus range I like the look of the Vetus M3.29 http://www.vetus.com/engines-and-around ... m3-29.html Its 27 HP which is a big jump up from 16 and possibly not necessary, but the existing Sea panther is rated at 28HP and 16HP is almost half that. Is it sufficient? Obviously cost is a big issue for me so if its a big jump up from the smaller engine then it might not be possible.

I don't feel confident to do the work myself although i certainly could do some. i am good at electrics and general boat DIY but I don't have the first clue about diesels. I am hoping the work won't take months and months because I really would like it to be in and ready for next season.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Jolly Roger »

If the stern gear does not need changing then it is quite possible to remove and fit a new engine whilst in the water. A friend had an identical engine swap done in a couple of hours whilst in the water.

You say you are a competent at DIY, then you should be able to complete the whole process. Beta produce a downloadable guide that you should find very useful.
http://betamarine.co.uk/seagoing-engine ... ion-guide/

If you also run this google link, it will bring up plenty more web sites you can check, including youtube videos.
https://www.google.co.uk/?client=firefo ... &gfe_rd=cr

The first thing you will need to check is whether your current prop size and pitch is compatible to the new engine as the cruising revs may be completely different. Do this by contacting several prop suppliers and answering their questions. The second consideration is the alignment of the prop shaft to the engine, as it may require some adjustment to the feet to get the height correct.

As to engine size, a 27 HP is far too large. I would suggest you look at the 14 to 20 HP size, with 20 HP as the largest possible. Westerly only fitted a 20 HP to the 34ft Storm, so why consider 27 HP for a 26ft Centaur?

Personally I would fit a new engine whilst out of the water. Take your time to check everything before removing anything. Take plenty of photos of the existing engine and components. Then strip out everything. You would be wise to remove the fuel tank and get it checked for rust (and repaired) as they were normally mild steel, plus get it cleaned thoroughly. If there is not a drain at the lowest part of the tank, get it installed so you can drain any crud out easily in the future. Clean and repaint the engine compartment, and fit new soundproofing. Then start fitting the new engine and components, taking lots of photos for future reference. Most manufacturers offer a warranty on new engines, but allow DIY fitting - provided it is check by a marine engineer. This should also be your local point of contact if you have problems.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by TyroSailor »

It'll certainly need a new prop if the new engine goes round the other way. The VP MD2b (as all that series) were left-handed, and all modern ones are right-handed. Don't know about Watermota though. Prop size depends partly on engine speed too, and modern ones tend to turn faster than old ones. There are websites that allow you to calculate the diameter and pitch of the prop you need.
And if the new engine's shorter than the old one, you'll probably need a new shaft too.

As far as power is concerned, I believe the rule of thumb is to have 1hp per ton displacement to get to hull speed in flat water (depending, no doubt on hull shape) but 3hp/t is advisable to cope with adverse conditions (and the alternator). If it's a Centaur, that's about 4t all-up weight (I think) so 12hp would do. Having said that, no doubt Westerly put in a bigger engine for a reason....

Interesting point about the warranty, Roger. I wonder if my engineer (who hasn't done a stroke on my boat since April) knows about that....

I'd agree about the fuel tank - I might even do the same to mine if I find there's still no engine installed later this week. It's stainless steel but there's no sump or drain plug. And the cut-off is a gate valve.
Last edited by TyroSailor on Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Hillary »

Thanks all brilliant advice and lots to think about. I am not sure if the prop is right or left handed but the boat walks to starboard when going astern.
The maximum revs seems to be about 3000 and I note that todays diesels max out at around 3600. I think most original engines in the Centaur were around 20 to 23 Horse power the Sea panther was rated at 28 which does seem high in light of the comments and calculations on here.
I think I will go to the Southampton Boat Show and have a look at some engines. Then get some estimates for refurbishing the Sea panther and I guess the final arbiter will be my bank manager.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by aquaplane »

So you have an engine that starts and runs OK?

Why do you think it has low compression?

My MD11C wouldn't start easily without the cold start, but once it was warm it didn't need it, does yours?

If you intend to keep the boat for ages and want the benefit of a new engine, all the other info here is good.

If you are trying out boating and are likely to decide you want a bigger or newer boat in a couple of years, work with what you have for now.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by chris.moody »

If the boat walks to the starboard side of the boat when going astern it's a left handed prop.
Hillary wrote:I am not sure if the prop is right or left handed but the boat walks to starboard when going astern.


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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Jolly Roger »

I agree with Chris Moody that you have a left handed propeller.

Aquaplane's comment is also very valid. If you replace the engine, you will only increase the value of the boat by about 50% of the cost but will make it far easier to sell. If you do decide to repair the existing engine, be prepared for a bill of several thousand pounds, but you will still have an old engine. Also a repaired engine is more likely to fail again as it is over 40 years old. From memory, the Watermota engines were marinised car engines that have not been made for decades, and may in the future become even more difficult to obtain spare parts.

Have a chat with a local marine engineer and see what they say about costs and reliability before going to the boat show.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Hillary »

Hi Aquaplane,

It starts from cold but only on Ether (Holts Cold start) Once warm it will start without Ether and I have been told that is indicative of worn bores. If your engine has the same symptoms I would suspect worn bores too ?

I have found a marine engineer who says he will come and take a quick look next week if he can, just to see what needs doing, but he also said he has 5 month worth of work on the books so it might be a while before its resolved.

I want to keep the boat and would like to be confident that in an emergency I can start the engine on the button reliably. At the moment it takes two people to start it. One to administer cold-start and one to push the start button. So in a man overboard or we are about to hit the rocks situation I would be a bit stuck. Also I have a longer term plan to take it through the French Canals to the Med and that means a LOT of engine.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by chris.moody »

I always assumed that a new engine increased the value very little, but made the boat much easier to sell, so it's good to know that around half of the investment adds to the value of your boat.

My view with the old Westerly engines (mine is 38 years old) is that I will run it until it becomes less reliable than a new engine would be, but once it starts to become troublesome I will re-engine with a new one.
Jolly Roger wrote: If you replace the engine, you will only increase the value of the boat by about 50% of the cost but will make it far easier to sell.......

....... Also a repaired engine is more likely to fail again as it is over 40 years old.


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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Hillary »

Hi All,

I really appreciate the advice here. On the subject of engine size discussed earlier in the thread - I had an interesting discussion with the VETUS rep from the Hamble today. VETUS make two suitable engines. One of 16hp and one of 27hp. You may recall the Sea panther is rated at 28hp

When I suggested the smaller engine might be a better choice the rep suggested that they could supply a gearbox for a left-handed prop and the bigger engine which would be compatible with my existing prop and stern gear which is an advantage of the bigger engine that I had not considered.
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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by chris.moody »

How does the price of the Vetus compare to the Thorycroft ?


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Re: Re-engine a Centaur Advice needed please

Post by Hillary »

Good Point Chris,

The Thornycroft T20 is over £1000 cheaper than the Vetus but it is also 7hp less powerful at 20HP
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