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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How long does an engine last?

One of the questions I've been asked most often by prospective owners of a share in a narrowboat is 'How long does an engine last?'

It's one of those piece of string questions, but I've generally quoted between 10 and 13 years, particularly in relation to BMC engines, which were the most common in the Ownerships fleet.

But I think I need to revise that.  When I was at Alvechurch for the recent show, Dave Taylor, ABC's technical manager was trying to save the engine in a boat that was just 8 years old.  I've since heard that the engine had reached the end of the road.  The clincher was the worn camshaft - a common problem with ageing BMCs.  With various other problems and the fact that the engine has to come out of the boat to have the camshaft replaced, the economics were clearly in favour of replacement and Ophelia now has a new Beta engine.

The Isuzu engine that replaced the
11 yr old BMC in Sundowner a couple
of years ago. It's quieter and more
efficient -and hopefully longer lasting
At the other end of the scale, Shadow, launched in July 1995, is still running happily on her original engine - although it did have a camshaft transplant and other work a couple of years ago.

So that piece of string is even longer than I thought - the life of a BMC engine in a shared ownership narrowboat is probably within the range of 8 to 17 years!

Various engines have been used to replace BMCs.  We replaced the one in Sundowner a couple of years ago with an Isuzu.  Unfortunately those are no longer available, but a new engine such as that should give a longer life with more efficient operation.

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