Purchasing Good Hope with an electric engine for the GGR meant that and engine install was on the horizon. The removal of the electric motor prior to the sale meant the price of the boat was lowered and brought the boat into my price range. Thus, my first course of action was going to be a repowering of the boat. I did not have much experience with marine diesel engines, I did study some mechanical engineering and dabble around with motorbike engines in my youth and did not expect what this engine install was going to throw at me.
1. The engine selection
First choice was to get a rebuilt or used beta 35/38/40. Looking around on ebay and every sailing website possible led nowhere. Those are great engines that go on long enough to not be discarded. On the market were Yanmar’s and Volvo’s but none of them matched the specifications I wanted.
I needed the engine for going in and out from the marina and then if I happen to get stuck in an emergency to charge batteries via the alternator and to get me out of the situation. I would rather be stuck somewhere in a wind hole than start the engine unless it’s necessary which means I was not going to put a lot of hours on the engine.
I also wanted it to be an economical choice as I could save a bit. The engine + install
Beta 30 standard package — $9874.00 (Reg. price $10,971.00)
Beta 35 standard package — $11,081.00 (Reg. price $12,312.00)
Beta 38 standard package — $11,295.00 (Reg. price $12,550.00)
Add to the above prices was the installation cost and the installation materials required. I would have required a new exhaust system and a new muffler to add to the boat along
The Beta 35 cost would be 13,900(including tax) + 4,000 install labor + 3,000 materials = $20,900
That is more expensive than the price at which I bought the boat.
Here is where I heard of the Chinese engines that were being used on fishing boats in India. These fishermen need these boats for their livelihood, so the engine must be reliable in all circumstances. I did a bit of googling myself and found a few good experiences on Cruisersforum(https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f54/chinese-engines-houfeng-hf-power-226557-5.html) of some individuals using those engines and having had a great experience with them. Let’s look at the match for a Chinese engine.
The engine was delivered within a month to a customs agent in Toronto and all I had to do was rent a car and pick it up. It came in a huge box and had a box full of spares. Everything I would need to install the engine.
In the times of covid the installation was about to be a nightmare.
I was speaking with the mechanic at the first yard I was at and midway through June when the yard opened, the owner of yard decided to fire him. Which meant I was stuck there with no mechanic and boat I needed to get out of the to my yacht club. No other mechanic was ready to work on my boat as the yard was supposed to be one of the roughest places on the lake, oh my luck!
They finally found another marine services guy who was ready to do the install, but that guy turned out to be useless. He hired the boat lift twice to move around the engine inside the boat to find the proper alignment then figured my shaft wasn’t long enough and ran away with the shaft. After tracking him down he wanted me to get a longer shaft but never delivered the measurements. He had asked for $120 an hour for being absolutely the worst mechanic on the lake.
Then, just frustrated I moved the boat from the yard to my yacht club using an alongside tow using a dinghy with a 9.9 outboard.
While getting out of the yard I was lucky to have bumped into Chris from St Vincent and the Grenadines. He was an all rounder for all work on the boat and agreed to help with the install only after watching me masterfully tie a reef knot. He was convinced I knew what I was doing.
I got a hold of him some days later.
We had to start with rebuilding the stringers to match the position of the new engine mounts. This was a lot of work as we found it difficult to find enough purchase using smaller lag nuts for the aft mounts. We quickly worked out that the only solution would be to pull the engine further ahead which would require reworking the engine cover and a longer shaft.
The solution for using the longer shaft was using a brunton’s sigmadrive along with a 4” R&D marine bobbin shaft coupling.
Brunton’s sigmadrive was the best investment I made during the engine install. It is used to compensate for alignment in all 3 directions and provides an effective anti-noise and anti-vibration solution. This was going to save us from the compromises we had to make and not purchasing a new shaft.
With the Brunton’s the alignment was very easy, but we had two days of head scratching, because once we had put the engine in place after taking all precise measurements, the bloody thing seemed misaligned. All my fault, I had inserted the studs in the wrong holes. Wasted a day figuring that out.
With the engine installed the next problem was the exhaust system. The exhaust system had been removed to install the electric, so I was going in blind. One thing I knew was that I would need a riser, so I had it welded from Sam from HSQE manufacturing in London do made it for me in two days for free.
I also decided to move the exhaust to the port side as the access to the starboard side aft was going to be blocked very soon with the installation of the Cape Horn Wind vane.
4. What I learned from the install
Everything on Chinese engines is in metric and everything in North America is imperial.
Chinese do make high quality products
Always purchase everything you will need for the install. I wasted a lot of hours driving to and from, hardware and marine shops.
I learned how an engine is installed, how it works and how to troubleshoot almost anything. I could probably install a new engine if it must come to that in my next boat. I worked hands-on with Chris and it was a great experience. Knowing what and how things could go wrong on an engine is a must on a race like the Golden Globe Race.