WHEN THE DREADED day comes, and your old auxiliary engine finally decides to head for the great scrapyard in the sky, what are you going to replace it with? There’s almost complete agreement these days. You’ve got to get a new diesel, right?
But why a diesel? It’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone who owns a good old boat. In fact, it’s more of a fashion than a logical choice. There’s much to be said for modern gas engines with fuel injection and solid-state ignition.
The most popular reason given for choosing a replacement diesel is that it’s safer. But sailors who own diesels mostly cook with propane gas, which can blow a boat to pieces just as easily as gasoline can.
A gas engine is cheaper, smoother, and more powerful than a diesel of the same weight. It’s easier to crank, easier to repair, even for an amateur, easier to remove from the boat, and much quieter in action.
Gasoline engines in cars are designed to run about 3,000 hours, or 100,000 miles before they need an overhaul. Now, the average boat owner logs 200 engine hours a year, so, if you maintain it faithfully, it would take nearly 15 years before a gas engine needed an overhaul.
As for safety — your nose is very good at sniffing out very small concentrations of gasoline. Together with a bilge blower, run for five minutes before every start, it will virtually eliminate the chances of a surprise explosion.
So, when the time comes to replace your auxiliary motor, don’t be stampeded into diesel. Gasoline engines have been used in small boats for many decades. Consider their advantages very carefully before you make your choice.
To some will come a time when change
Itself is beauty, if not heaven.
—E. A. Robinson, Llewellyn and the Tree
Notice outside a muffler shop:
“No appointment necessary. We heard you coming.”
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