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Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:41 pm
by Willhc
The MD11C in m Centaur is on its last legs. Block corrosion, poor water flow through the cooling channels, oil burner, etc etc... So, in prep for the big spend at some stage in the next year or two, looking for recommendations on replacement engines. I haven't done any research so far, but Beta seems to be a regular name. Volvo, I am assuming, is higher cost? Solo? Suggestions from owners with experience of alternative engines gratefully received! Any indication on the £ also useful - if only to dull the pain when the inevitable finally occurs.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:27 pm
by Jolly Roger
If I was choosing an engine for any Westerly, I would have Beta at the top of the list (my boat came with a Beta). Beta are very good to deal with and as the engines are based on Kubota engines, so spares are readily available at reasonable prices.

The others to consider would be Nanni, Yamaha and Vetus. Buhk are quite expensive to buy. Vovlo Penta would be my last choice as spares can be so expensive, a they are sold at a huge discount to builders and know they will make their money over time.

When checking engine details and prices, I suggest you check where all the regular service parts are on the engine and how easily they will be accessible in your engine compartment.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:29 pm
by 30wn78

I dropped a beta 20 in my centaur last winter. The beta fits well and wasn't too difficult. The hours you spend reading the forums will be hours saved upside down in the back of the engine bay balancing on your head and a shoulder.

In all I did:
Engine - high rise exhaust-calorifier take off
water filter
Radice seal
Exhaust outlet
rope cutter
Fuel, water hose. telefax controls

There was some change from £5k but not enough for a pint.

I went for new as I personally prefer it and it has a 5 year warranty.
You can get recon beta's for a bit less I believe.

I heard Vetus make a good engine and is a bit cheaper than the beta, taking discounts into consideration.
Volvo and Yanmar I think are on the higher end of price but maybe you could get a deal.
There is a chinese engine that has reviews on ybw but is a basic diesel and not preheat etc.

Another option is 2nd hand recon,
there are a few companies about (marine enterprises rings a bell) that sell a large stock.
Think they current have a recon MD11C for £1100ish.
That would by far be the cheapest but its like for like and could fail in the future, but hey, at least you would have plenty of spares.

The consideration is that if you fit 2nd hand you may pay £2-2.5K wish for the engine but another 1-1.5K for the bits. So for another 1k could have brand new with a warranty and adding value to you boat. Not the money spent mind you.

Sorry for the long post. Just my experience and not what might be right for you.



Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:41 pm
by Willhc
Thanks Mike and @Jolly roger. Good to have a number in mind...

Mike - do you find access (impeller, filters, etc) easy with the Beta 20?

Which controls and gearbox did you go for - if I follow, there look to be quite a few options!

I assume you fitted it yourself? Did the cutlass also get changed?

How long did it take you to do the change?

Many thanks,


Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:23 pm
by 30wn78
Hi Will,

Yes, I forgot that price also included a new cutless bearing.

Working on the engine is very easy although I have only done the service stuff. The good thing about it though is at only 100kg if anything major went I could slide it forward into the salon and work on it there.

I went for the TMC40/I had the key control panel with rev gauge and stop button.

I did it on weekends as I live 120 miles away.
Usually drive down, 6 hours day 1 then 2-3 hours day2 and home. So maybe not a true representation on going at it solid.

From memory it went something like this:
Old fuel tank out (for working on at home) 1 hour
Disconnecting fuel, electrical prop shaft, 2 hours
Prop off, 10 minutes (I was lucky) shaft out another 10, cutless replacement
and seal 1 hour.
Engine out using a chain hoist about 2 hours. Very stressful having 240kg hanging off the boom, pay a crane is my advice.
Cleaning the engine bay/paint 2 hours
Fuel tank in 30 minutes
Bearers in 1 hour
engine in (using a crane) 1 hour.
Shaft, prop and seals 2 hours
alignment 4 hours ish
Water, fuel, electrical 3 hours
Exhaust 2 hours
Commissioning 2 hours

Total ~25 hours roughly as there are always bits you forget. Mine went quite smoothly without a great deal of issue
This excludes the many tea breaks and other things that get in the way.
I guess if you had all the bits needed you could do it in a week.
I think it took 4 weekends.

If you do decide on the beta I would be happy to offer tips on what I learnt the hard way.


Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:30 pm
by TyroSailor
I had a new Vetus M2.18 fitted in my Centaur a year or two ago. It seems to drive it OK and uses very little fuel, unless I open the throttle wide. It was £3k, but another £1200 or so for coupling, propshaft, prop, stern seal and Cutless bearing. And fitting, which I didn't feel confident to do myself. It's also, like the Beta, half the weight of the old MD2b but I haven't encountered any trim problems yet.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:27 pm
by Hillary
Very happy with my Beta 20. Very happy with Beta Customer service. One good thing about the engine in a Centaur is all the service is easily done from the front except the gear box fluid which is easily done from the cockpit.

Don't forget whatever engine you get you will probably need new bearers.


Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:58 am
by UserError
I was thinking of making a similar post to WillHC, as peering into the boat-shaped hole in the sea...

From my research, which may be slightly ahead of WillHC's, IIRC if you buy a new Beta, they can supply mounts to fit your current ones. If secondhand, you have to live with whatever it comes with, although Beta may supply mounts only, which might be easier (but probably not cheaper) than changing your own bearers?

"Don't forget whatever engine you get you will probably need new bearers."

Does that entail hacking the old ones out & glassing new ones in? Are they steel members in there - I haven't looked down there yet.

Anyone have experience of replacing/modifying their own bearers? Or any good resources on this?
Many thanks

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:31 pm
by Willhc
Mike and others,

When changing engines, have you found that replacement engines need a bit more cooling water flow - a larger through hull/seacock than the 1/2” original fitting on the Centaur?

Thanks again for the useful info to date, and time estimates!

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:20 pm
by dj7613
Yes larger inlet recommended.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:37 pm
by TyroSailor
My steel bearers were held in place by 10 bolts each and I was able (with the aid of my then new socket set and several squirts of WD40) to remove them all without damage! I had two new bits of angle iron (well, mild steel) cut to size and primed and painted them for the engineer to bolt into their new position, No fibreglass work required.

No resources as good as this in the known universe.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:27 pm
by Hillary
For me It was a case of Removing the old bearers which were bolted in and since the new engine was narrower than the old one We needed to fit wider angle-irons. The old ones fought but succumbed eventually to brute force and penetrating oil. Then getting some steel angle-iron of the right size and measuring the angle the engine would have to sit at carefully. I took careful measurements from the Beta drawings published on their website and mocked it all up carefully. However when the Beta arrived the engine mounts were different so my advice would be to measure the actual engine.
But no fibreglass just bolting and unbolting but get yourself some nice sharp drills because whatever the engine upright bearers that you bolt the angle-irons too are made of gosh its TOUGH stuff.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:46 pm
by UserError
Thanks Tyro & Hillary.
Been down on the boat today and saw the angle iron bearers. Much less work than I thought :-)

I might start annointing my bearer bolts with Plus Gas, so that they stand a better chance of letting go more easily when the day comes (be it soon or less so).

Gave the injectors a good dose today but didn't have time to get them out.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:18 pm
by 30wn78
I had to drill mine out as they were toast.
If I recall the beta 20 needs 50x80mm angle steel around 2.5m in total. Easy to buy. Use the old angle as a template for the holes.

I got away with a very cheap vetus 0.9m prop shaft as I wanted the engine as far back as possible to minimise trim adjustment.

Exhaust is a fun job 😎

I was very lucky with my water inlet. Only had to change the hose tail coming from the stop cock. Check yours first as may be big enough.

Re: Replacement engine for Centaur

Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:01 am
by chrisbarton
Good morning.
I have just had a new Beta 20hp 3 cylinder replacement for my Volvo MD7A. this included a new RH prop on my Griffon
Sea trial this week
I was most disappointed to find the previously well balanced tiller when motoring now vered sharply to port as soon as it was released.
When the revs were more than 2000, it was difficult to hold a course without going to port. This is potentially dangerous if suddenly vering to port near other boats or moorings with difficulty correcting it. apparently called "prop walk"
I am not sure if the autohelm would hold it in anything of a sea.
My engineer did not have an answer.
Could this be due to size of prop?
I replaced an expensive Gori 3 blade folding prop 15 x 10 left hand with a fixed 3 blade 12 x 10 RH.

Also the final cost was a lot more than £5000 done by an engineer.