Repowering Pt 1

Part One:  Preparing the Volvo Penta MDIIc to be removed from the boat.

The day has finally come! We are ready to start the removal process of the old diesel.  This is the engine the boat came with and while it was rebuilt and has low hours after the rebuild it has sat for a long time and would need some love to get back in operating condition.  As you know by now, I do not shy away from repair and I love doing it myself, however I have some pretty strong feelings on auxiliary engines on serious cruising sailboats.

First strong feeling: I believe that if your going to live on your boat and sail any long distance for an extended period of time you need to have a good working engine on that boat.  I’m well aware of many people who have done otherwise: Lin and Larry Pardey being the most famous.  I have a TON of respect for Lin and Larry – it cannot be understated.  However, I think my convictions are centered around this: if you choose to go out on a small boat and sail long distances you should recognize the challenges and be prepared to meet them on your own.  On your own means without assistance.  No calling the coast guard to come rescue you off your still floating boat.  No getting towed into port because there is no wind and your drifting into a shipping lane.  Erin and I would not be adequately prepared without a reliable engine.

Second strong feeling: I witnessed my parents struggle with their old diesel year after year and also witnessed them repower.  I think they would agree that repowering in the beginning would have been the better option in hindsight.  We don’t want to spend all of these years working on the boat just to find we have to repower at a greater expense and with less convenience later down the road.

Third strong feeling: Cap’n Fatty Goodlander is well respected by me.  He is also a pretty frugal dude.  The Cap’n sailed many years in an engineless boat quite safely.  He also repowered before sailing around the world in Wild Card.  When he got Ganesh he repowered again before he sailed around the world with her.  Those engines weren’t cheap and they weren’t hunks of rust he pieced together.  Fatty has some strong convictions of his own on diesels and I tend to share his opinions.

This will be the single biggest expense on the boat that we make.  Hell, it approaches the cost of the boat!  That said, for the reasons above, among others,  we easily made the decision to spend the money to have a reliable engine.  Reliable = safe to us.  Its an integral part of seamanship in my opinion.

So now the fun part: getting this old, nasty thing out of the boat!


The first part was stripping her of all the bits that come off, like the alternator, intakes, and exhaust system.  After a bit of contortion here they all are! Liberated!


And then there was quite a bit of this:


Ive spent the last couple days laying over the engine taking all of the hoses and wires apart.  Once that was done I had a phone consultation with my Dad about the measurements I needed to take before moving anything.  You have to make sure the new engine will align perfectly with the prop shaft – not so easy a task.  Ultimately after studying engine diagrams for hours I came to the conclusion that I had the measurements I needed and could take more useful alignment measurements with the engine out of the way than I could at this point.

While laying over the engine oh so comfortably I used a large pipe wrench to hold the shaft coupler in place while I loosened the socket head bolts with an alan wrench.  You can see in the picture on the left that I used the bilge pump handle for more leverage on the alan key to get the bolts started.  Once they broke free it was pretty easy to back them out.

Heres a picture of the bolts I am working on:


And here is a picture once I got the coupler free!!! Woo Hoo!!

2017-02-13 14.34.26.jpg

The engine is now free, it is just resting on its four feet which I have taken all but two bolts out of.  Next step: build a platform for the crane and winch the engine out!


7 thoughts on “Repowering Pt 1

  1. Hi there,

    I’ve read this whole blog and I’m glad to see you posting again! I just purchased a 1974 Alberg 37 (quick video: and I am in the very beginning of the long process you started a couple years ago with yours. I eagerly anticipate your updates.

    Have you already picked out an engine, or at least narrowed it down to how much horsepower you want?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Curtis, thanks for the encouragement! I really liked your video, looks like you might even be in a little better shape than we were when we got ours 😉 at least yours floats! haha Looks like a great boat.
      We have decided on the Beta 35 with 2:1 TMC60A transmission with a 7 degree down angle. I’ll try to do a post soon on the decision making process and give some more details.


  2. I can’t agree with you more. I have already been looking into a new Beta 35 as a new engine option for SV Imagine. Though my engine look 1000x worse than yours 🙂 I feel it’s better to “buy once cry once”. I will be following your repower closely. Do you have a youtube channel I have not found?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with the buy once cry once! haha. We have not created a youtube channel – honestly never really thought about it… maybe I will start playing around with some video and see what happens, thanks for the idea!
      Email Beta and you will probably get a reply from one of the owners of the company – they are great people and very helpful!


  3. Thanks for the kind words Ryan, and I second John on the interest in a youtube channel–I’d watch! I can see you doing something like Mads ( I enjoy the amount of detail and documentation you do of the process.

    It’s funny, because I, too, am considering the Beta range, though I’m not sure on the amount of power yet. Now I’ll be super interested in seeing how the 35 fits into the boat. Would also be really interested in final costs, as I have only the vaguest notion on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Ryan I own hull 246 a 1987 Yawl one of the last three A37s ever built it has Volvo 2003 and it’s time to upgrade I have been talking with beta and like their engines so I have a couple questions did you install the 35 ? If you did what diameter prop did you use ? What boat speed are you getting flat water. Look forward to more updates by the way it’s a great boat and will take you anywhere you want to go. David Sullins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey David! Thanks for stopping by!
      We have not installed the Beta yet, and wont for some time. However, Stanley at Beta recommended a 17″X12″ three blade prop with 50% BAR.
      Katja on S/V Imagine installed a 28HP Beta on their A37 in 2012 and they have been cruising the Sea of Cortez for the last year or so. She is very active on the A37 Facebook page and you can also find her at if you’d like to ask her about boat speeds.
      If they can get up to hull speed with the 28 I’m quite confident in the 35. I like the extra HP because we will be cruising in areas with high currents and will surely also see some rough seas – its built in safety for a less than ideal situation in my opinion. Also we will not be using the engine to charge our batteries so we don’t have low load concerns as most people do (or should! haha).
      I hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

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