Repowering 1972 Albin Ballad

Diarmuid

Super Anarchist
3,363
1,369
Laramie, WY, USA
I've given up on the idea of nursing along the Volvo Penta MD6A that came with our 30' Ballad. It has several negatives:

  1. It's raw water cooled, which was fine when it was a Great Lakes boat but won't be in the salty Sea of Cortez.
  2. It came with a water jacket exhaust, so a certain amount of jiggery would be required to make a water lift mixing elbow.
  3. It is only 10hp, on a good day.
  4. At some point, the block froze & cracked and started seeping coolant. Some PO's JB Weld repair is flaking off.
  5. Motor mounts are Well Fooked.
  6. It features the mad Dynastart starter/magneto, plus a separate alternator which produces only, like, 38A on a good day.
  7. It's a 1972 obsolete Volvo, so parts are brutally expensive (if you can get them).

So let's play "repower options". I like the idea of used Yanmars for the same reason I drive used Toyotas. :) There are quite a few runners available via eBay. Something in the 14-20hp range is probably suitable for my needs; any preference for models? Special winners in the 2GM, 2QM, or 3YM lines?

If you really want to roll the dice, there are salvage rackets in India stripping barely-used diesels out of lifeboats and selling them at good prices, FOB some container port somewhere. In theory, they should have lived easy lives on scheduled service rotas. In theory.

There are a (very) few people selling complete remans, like Alfred Holzer in Bayview, WI.  Probably better than a Hurricane Sandy tearout ... right? Delivery and core swap is a hassle, and probably many of those motors are raw-water cooled too.

Finally, I could spring for a spanking new Beta 14 or 16 at about twice the cost -- about $10,100 to $10,700 delivered to WY. Kubota base, which is fine. And Beta does some neat things like putting the fuel & oil filters and quick-access impeller up front, and they include an oil change pump and the correct motor mounts/risers/ brackets to adapt to your old engine bay. The idea makes me tingly, but the cost difference would buy a new genoa and Reefit furler.

Advice welcome -- I know basically zero about marine diesel engines.

 

Alex W

Super Anarchist
3,300
292
Seattle, WA
2QMs are old (I think the GM replaced them in the early 80s) and I think are usually or always raw water cooled. The 2GM is a reliable workhorse. 

Beta comes with factory installed mount adapters that will bolt right up to where your Volvo was. That probably saves money on the install, ask your mechanic. 
 

 
I've given up on the idea of nursing along the Volvo Penta MD6A that came with our 30' Ballad. It has several negatives:

  1. It's raw water cooled, which was fine when it was a Great Lakes boat but won't be in the salty Sea of Cortez.
  2. It came with a water jacket exhaust, so a certain amount of jiggery would be required to make a water lift mixing elbow.
  3. It is only 10hp, on a good day.
  4. At some point, the block froze & cracked and started seeping coolant. Some PO's JB Weld repair is flaking off.
  5. Motor mounts are Well Fooked.
  6. It features the mad Dynastart starter/magneto, plus a separate alternator which produces only, like, 38A on a good day.
  7. It's a 1972 obsolete Volvo, so parts are brutally expensive (if you can get them).

So let's play "repower options".
I looked at the options from Volvo, Beta Marine, and Yanmar when I replaced my 1981 Volvo MD7A on my Morris Annie recently. I went electric and I couldn't be happier.




 
Last edited by a moderator:

Diarmuid

Super Anarchist
3,363
1,369
Laramie, WY, USA
I looked at the options from Volvo, Beta Marine, and Yanmar when I replaced my 1981 Volvo MD7A on my Morris Annie recently. I went electric and I couldn't be happier.
It is a thought -- I've lived off the electrical grid for 19 years so am comfortable with large battery electric systems. And certainly Western Mexico sees plenty of sunlight, tho solar panel real estate will be necessarily limited. A small suitcase (inverting) generator can charge batteries faster than any plausible diesel alternator. Guess I should describe expected use: auxiliary only. Will be mostly hopping between anchorages in the Sea of Cortez. If the wind doesn't suit, I stay put. Not schedule-driven. Hate noisy motoring, so engine is for getting in and out of places. I like sailing upwind. If we need to bash back north to LA, I'd probably do it via Hawaii. ^_^ That said, I have been stuck in the shipping lanes when the wind failed off Palos Verdes, and it wasn't much fun (having only a trolling motor and one Group27 battery on our SJ21).

So I'm open to electric drive solutions, but they'd have to come in under $10k all up and provide, say, 30 miles of range @ 4 kts.

ETA: The Ballad is a 7200lb IOR half-tonner -- so it's a small 30 footer. Definitely not Westsail load-carrying or COTB abilities.

251655_f8f1ac00fbbd1f94c9fb3986f76db401.jpg


 
Last edited by a moderator:
I

So I'm open to electric drive solutions, but they'd have to come in under $10k all up and provide, say, 30 miles of range @ 4 kts.
$10K for 30 miles of range at 4 kts with your boat is very doable if you are your own mechanic. Contact ElectricYachts for motor solutions and battery recommendations. You will have to go with cheaper batteries via Amazon vs something like Battle Born if you want lithium ion. You can always go with AGM batteries to keep the price down as well. I have 330W of solar panels for my 48V system. That charges the batteries fairly quickly when you couple it with engine regen mode at night. The ElectricYachts QuietTorque 10 pushes my 30', 11,500 lb Annie just fine and I have much more range than you specified with a 300 Ahr battery system. 

 

Jim in Halifax

Super Anarchist
1,489
590
Nova Scotia
I had a Vega with the MD6A. I rebuilt it (myself) about 30 years ago and, last time I talked to the new owner, it was still going strong. But your observation that the MD6A is raw-water cooled with unobtainium parts is spot-on. I have had a Yanmar 3QM30 (FW cooled) and a 3GM30 on subsequent boats and been very pleased with them but, if it was my Ballad, I would go with the 'drop in' Beta Marine. Good reputation and very popular with Vega owners too. And, for me, I would not ever think of an electric conversion in these small, light Swedes.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

SemiSalt

Super Anarchist
7,711
252
WLIS
I have a 7800lb boat with a 2GM. Its plenty of power; less would be OK 95% of the time. I've had no trouble with parts. All the mechanics know all about them.

My biggest complaint from a maintenance point of view is that changing the water pump impeller is harder than seems necessary. 

A friend replaced the engine in one of his J-boats. He used a refurbished engine from somewhere,  maybe the guy in Wisconsin. It worked out fine.

 

lakeneuch

Member
56
51
Europe
I have a 3YM30, but that's probably alot more power than you need. Yanmars are great engines with miserable electronics. If you go the 2YM or 2GM route with a second hand engine I would advice a custom panel solution. The GM series is known for problems with the starter contact, and the solution of it for the YM (a motor mounted electric relay) shakes itself to death every 10 years.

 

Ajax

Super Anarchist
14,355
2,718
Edgewater, MD
I think your choice of propulsion should be driven by your use case.

Are you and your wife planning on doing long range, small boat cruising? If so, you may want a diesel.

Oh, I see- Anchorage hopping in the Sea of Cortez. In that case, you could go electric if you can cram all the components in that will get you the desired range.  Like Kolibri, I believe that electric auxiliaries are feasible with current technology if you're willing to make some compromise. I do agree with @Whinging Pom that you'd better make sure that all the components will fit without sacrificing what little storage space a Ballad has.

Man, that's a lovely boat. I love the lines.

Anyway, the best news is that you are the King of Fabrication, living out there in Wyoming. Your self-sufficiency and ability to design and fabricate means that you can engineer the best system for your use case.

Question- Won't the lifeboat engines be rather large for the Ballad?

If it were me, the decision would be between a Beta and going electric.  That choice would be driven by my intended use and whether I could fit a sufficiently sized battery bank.

 

Panoramix

Super Anarchist
If it were me, the decision would be between a Beta and going electric.  That choice would be driven by my intended use and whether I could fit a sufficiently sized battery bank.
Presumably some space will be freed from the existing diesel but yes lack of space is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. plus ideally you want the weight close to the centre of the boat.

 
I also gave up on the Volvo MD7 in my Dufour 2800 as I could not get the parts and the mechanic convinced me that it was not worth investing more time and money into it. I installed a drop down bracket on the stern with the intention of buying a new 6hp sailpro long shaft outboard. My reasoning being,: it costs only $1800; brand new so it  should give me a fair amount of trouble free motoring; it will also charge my battery; I don't have to pay a mechanic to install it; and it's a sailboat - how much motoring do I want to do.

As luck would have it I found a Yanmar 2Qm15 close by on  craigslist for $1500. It had good compression and rebuilt injectors, so I put it in "Dufour Now" and 5 years later it's still going strong. You've got to ask yourself what you need and how much you are wiling to shell out, considering what you're going to be doing and how long you will keep the boat. You most likely will not get the investment back when you sell, but you will get the enjoyment of using it.

I enjoyed the learning experience of doing the installation myself, but it was not as simple as I thought it would be. What I did not take into account was that the Volvo was longer ( I needed a new shaft and the mounting had to be adapted for the Yanmar). Volvo spins opposite direction to the Yanmar. ( meant changing the prop) Fuel, wiring loom and throttle position needed to be moved. Even the exhaust was a different length and diameter. So it's not just a case of buy a new Beta and bung it in. There will be other tasks and expenses.

I enjoy the project process, while others see it as a pain and a waste of time. So the other question is,: Do you want to go sailing or do you want to work on your boat?

 

SloopJonB

Super Anarchist
65,079
10,593
Great Wet North
I've had 3 X GMF's - 2 X 2GMF and 1 X 3GMF.

They will run forever is a small sailboat and parts are not a problem.

If you can find one with low (under 5K hours) your grandchildren will inherit it.

 

Diarmuid

Super Anarchist
3,363
1,369
Laramie, WY, USA
I used to own an Albin Ballad, hull no. 104.  if going electric, where are you going to put all the batteries?  Not much room in that slim hull, nor much space for solar panels.
That's the tricky bit. Things get snug aft of the companionway! OTOH, pull that 360lb Volvo and its fuel tank (only 7 gal, BTW) out of there, you free up some space. LiFPos are light enuf to stack vertically. PV square footage becomes the limiting factor: in my experience, you need either lots of panels or lots of time. The Ballad would require lots of time, b/c it is hard to imagine more than 300W of mounted PV. Could have a couple loose panels you move around the deck....

Oh, I see- Anchorage hopping in the Sea of Cortez. In that case, you could go electric if you can cram all the components in that will get you the desired range.  Like Kolibri, I believe that electric auxiliaries are feasible with current technology if you're willing to make some compromise. I do agree with @Whinging Pom that you'd better make sure that all the components will fit without sacrificing what little storage space a Ballad has.

Man, that's a lovely boat. I love the lines.
In some ways, harbor-hopping Cortez is almost a perfect scenario for electric propulsion. :) Our house needs are minimal: no refrigeration or electric cooking (for now). Just LED lighting, instruments, and some 12V fans. Long days, blue skies, and plenty of charging time between uses. Also, the boat will be parked up in dry storage for much of the year, and that seems to favor batteries over diesel.

OTOH, the nice thing about IC engines is they will go as long as you keep pouring fuel down their throats. If the PV we can fit doesn't reliably keep the batts topped, you are down to running a generator on deck. Which sort of defeats the benefits of electric. :mellow: What we won't have, nearly ever, is shore power.

It is a sexy boat from certain angles. :wub:

img_5719_2.jpg


But small-small. And low to the water. It would appeal to a submariner.

p2295656011-3.jpg


 

allweather

Member
392
76
baltic
PV square footage becomes the limiting factor: in my experience
Way I see it you can already mount panels on your dodger, between dodger and mast(not perfect, but works!) and if you wanted to even on the bow hatch. Unless that is one where you get/need light from?

More importantly, nowadays the electrics should come with regeneration of some sort. As per your preference to sail, that should give you a lot of opportunity to recharge when you have more than... 10 or so knots. Yes, drag is a thing but compared to what it takes to drive a boat through the water at higher speeds, it may not be as bad as one could fear.(unless at low wind and speed, then of course the small watts make all the difference)

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
8,871
4,781
Canada
1) I would skip the lifeboat engines, tempting though they are. They have had a soft life, but I bet the bores are rusted as are a lot of the internals from lack of use. Lifeboat drills are not a monthly thing. More like every 6 months for 15 minutes, drive a circle around the ship, and get hoisted back aboard. This is not a recipe for a happy diesel.

2) Used 2GM20F is big enough for your boat. Avoid the 1GM because they are 1 cylinder and shake the whole boat. The 3GM30F is way overkill. We had a single one in our 40' 15,000 lb catamaran and it would push us at 5 knots all day happily loafing along. Top speed about 6.3-6.4 knots with a clean bottom

3) Similarly if you can afford it, the Beta 14 is plenty of engine. We have one in our sailing co-op Catalina 30. Not quite enough engine for the 10,000 Cat 30 but for your size boat it will be enough. Or the Beta 16 if you want to drive a big alternator.

4) I would avoid the Yanmar QM series as they are getting very old and you're just trading one expensive old parts monster for another. The GM series were more popular and around longer so parts are likely to be widely available. The injector shop I went to in PV looked at my injectors and just said "Yanmar" right away when I showed him them.

5) If new Yanmar is considered, the 2YM15. Actually 14 HP but that is marketing for you.

If you regularly leave the boat for months, change the oil just before you leave, not when you return.

6) Electric - if you are limited to 300 W, do some math. We cruised the Sea for 1 summer in a 30' boat with a single 50W panel which had similar electrical demands as yours. So that leaves 250 W to charge batteries. Say you have a 5 kW motor (7.5 HP) and a 10 kW.hr battery. That gives you maybe 4 hours of motoring at 4.5 knots.

To charge your 10 kW.hr (10,000 W.hr) battery you need to have the 250 W panels producing that for 10,000 W.hr / 250 W = 40 hours. Now you won't get peak production for all the time the sun is up, but say 5 hours/day. That's 6 or 8 days to charge your small battery bank.

A 12V 100 A.hr Li-ion battery (I'm using Battleborn as an example) is 31 lbs and about 0.5 ft3.  12V @ 100 A.hr = 1.2 kW if you flatten them totally when using them.

To get 10 kW. hr you need 8 batteries, about 4 ft3, about 250 lbs, about $7000. That gets you 4 hours of range and you haven't bought a motor, cables, or controller yet.

In the summer in the Sea of Cortez there are LOTS of days with very little wind. When you are running low on water and the nearest supply is a town 50 miles away it is something to consider. We cruised for a bit with a Santana 30 who had no engine. They ended up begging us and other boats for water when the wind didn't cooperate the local village we were anchored off didn't have any to spare. 

 
We had a Beta 14 in our last boat, full keel 29 ft, so a little shorter but a few more lbs.  It was plenty to push us at hull speed in almost every condition.  I loved that engine, very easy for the regular maintenance stuff.  When time comes to repower current boat, will go Beta again.  I don't think you would need anything over the 14.  

 
Top