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Cost of ownership: Express w/Outboards VS Convertible w/Diesels

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Cost of ownership: Express w/Outboards VS Convertible w/Diesels

Old 11-17-2019, 06:56 PM
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Default Cost of ownership: Express w/Outboards VS Convertible w/Diesels

Hey all, I'm a newer boater buying a boat and a couple friends have suggested getting as much boat as I can so I can have a boat to grow into a bit. Like a 36-40' convertible with diesels because they know my long term goal is to cruise around offshore around the SoCal Channel Islands and spend time staying in harbors and coves for multi-day trips. Maybe eventually have a boat I can take to the Sea of Cortez in Baja.

Another friend has suggested a more conservative approach in which, since I don't know how and how much I'll actually use my boat until I get one, that I get one a bit smaller, faster and simpler express with outboards so I can have fun speeding around, getting more confidence on a smaller boat first, and if I don't end up boating in the way I think I will, I won't be in over my head with all the extra costs, complexities and maintenance of a larger diesel boat to manage. Then trade up into a bigger boat in a couple years if I really will utilize a larger boat well.

So my question is: what really are the differences between owning a twin outboard express and a twin diesel convertible? Costs for engine maintenance, drive system and exhaust maintenance, isinglass/canvas, cleaning? I'm thinking worst case scenario is a repower, 50k for outboards, 100k for diesels? What are yearly engine maintenance costs each? What cost is getting new isinglass/canvas for each? Cleaning costs? And then time commitments for each (diesels have daily checks every time you use I think?)? I'm relatively handy but let's just say I have to pay a mechanic to do most everything to both sets of engines and the other systems.

I know there are a lot of variables and things you can't plan for like an engine going bad too fast or improper maintenance, but let's say we're doing the cost comparison with all things more or less being equal between the outboard and diesel, with 300 hours in a year. Let's say we're comparing an average 2006 Pursuit 3370 Express with twin Yamaha 250s vs an average 2005 Luhrs 36 Convertible with twin CATs. Thanks for any feedback!
Old 11-17-2019, 07:20 PM
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Everything about the inboard diesel is more expensive except it will be slightly more fuel efficient.

i went from twin suzuki 250s to twin diesels and the diesels require far more maintenance and are more expensive to service and replace.
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Old 11-17-2019, 07:35 PM
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Annual Cost of a 40ftish Convertible
Old 11-17-2019, 07:46 PM
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let's see 1100 hrs on Cummins. maintenance each year about $350.00 . 1 water pump complete new 450.00


1,100 hrs on outboard its trade in time $20k with trade in .
diesel wins
Old 11-17-2019, 07:58 PM
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Clockwork: Thanks. At this point in the process I've figured out that diesels are more expensive. Have you had the diesels long enough that you could estimate an average 3 years of costs for the diesels vs 3 years of costs for the outboards?

Mystery: Thanks. I haven't dug into this link yet but does it cover the inboard piece, or only the diesels?

Fireisland1: Touche, haha. I replaced the Pursuit link with 735 hour yamahas to make the comparison a little more even.
Old 11-17-2019, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by fireisland1 View Post
let's see 1100 hrs on Cummins. maintenance each year about $350.00 . 1 water pump complete new 450.00


1,100 hrs on outboard its trade in time $20k with trade in .
diesel wins
what outboard needs trading in at 1100hrs.
Old 11-18-2019, 04:54 AM
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Just go to the For Sale posts. Every day there are sets of OB’s engines for sale. 1000 hrs seems typical. And let’s face it, a used boat with 1500 hours Ob’s is considered done. It would have to be deeply discounted to move.
Perfect example. Next thread down.

Should 1000 hours on 2015 Yamaha 300 be an alarming number. I’m looking to repower a 2002 32 Scarab and am so concerned about putting to much money in the deal that the boat is not worth it. I use the boat 100 hours a year. Thx
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:33 AM
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Just because this year you only spent $800 on a single diesel it seems … that excludes proper preventative maintenance costs that don't occur every year....besides, if you put 1100 hours on a diesel in one year and only $350 in "maintenance costs" …. that would mean you didn't follow the manufacturers scheduled oil changes, filter changes and other basic maintenance items like impellers, zinc's, etc.

I'd buy a boat with the outboard with 1100 hours than your diesel time bomb any day.
Old 11-18-2019, 05:46 AM
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I had a 29 Blackfin with twin Cummins 6Bs and now have a 30 Pursuit with twin Yam 250s.

If you perform all of the recommended maintenance, the diesels are slightly less annually but jump ahead when you factor in the major servicings. Costs can be mitigated if you do some things yourself. A good diesel mechanic and a good outboard mechanic are like calling in a brain surgeon and a heart surgeon. Pick your poison.

Now there will be guys that say just change the oil but if you follow what the mfg recommends, service is far more than that.

Lastly, 3,000 hours on either are possible. Everything depends on maintenance and how they were run. I would not hesitate on a 1,000 hr four stroke with proper maintenance records. One of the beauties of modern outboards is the ability to get a printout of how they were run.

Environmental factors also weigh in. Here in FL I do not have a lift and boat is in water all the time. The ability to pull motors up out if the water is important.
Old 11-18-2019, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by LongIslandFisherman View Post
Just because this year you only spent $800 on a single diesel it seems … that excludes proper preventative maintenance costs that don't occur every year....besides, if you put 1100 hours on a diesel in one year and only $350 in "maintenance costs" …. that would mean you didn't follow the manufacturers scheduled oil changes, filter changes and other basic maintenance items like impellers, zinc's, etc.

I'd buy a boat with the outboard with 1100 hours than your diesel time bomb any day.
huh? Diesel engines are extremely durable on a relative basis....what’s this “time bomb” stuff?

I had 35 year old 3208s with 5000+ hours each on my last boat. Not many outboards with that durability. CAT 3208 Diesels are known to clock 10,000+ hours on work boats some up to 20k+. Wonder why virtually every work boat powers with them ?

Zincs, filters, oil, belts included I usually spent less than 1000 on my diesels (twins). Only one “major” repair which was a whopping 2500 bucks in labor and parts.

Not saying they are superior in every way.. If I ran a boat like the average boater (under 50 hours a year) I’d get outboards.

Diesel SHOULD last a lot longer if you maintain
Old 11-18-2019, 06:02 AM
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Diesel maintenance may be a bit more $. Consider all maintenance on outboard and diesel are performed. At 2k hours which would you take 50 miles offshore? I’ll be in the diesel.
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Old 11-18-2019, 06:12 AM
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Back to your original question - not sure if you are looking at those particular boats but I’d pass on the Luhrs because I think they are garbage boats and the 3126s are a mixed bag.Id take the pursuit over Luhrs 10/10 times.

Find a solid seaworthy hull with some Cummins 6BTAs (mechanicals) and you will be a happy man for a long long time. Or C series
Old 11-18-2019, 06:20 AM
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I’ve had a 28 Carolina classic with Volvo’s and a 28 Southport. Sorry but the Southport was so much better in everyway. At 700 hours the Volvo’s needed intercooler cleaning, 2 injectors, one burned a little more oil, plus a bear to change oil. Plus the boat was slow and very loud. Also had to get it pulled out of the water both props taken off and rebalanced. Probably from hitting things. The Southport was basically turnkey and go. Best part when not using you tilt the engines up out of the water. So no growth whatsoever on the whole propulsion system. I hit a huge log coming home from the canyon , huge bang, stopped looked around, then continued home. Just one of the skegs was slightly bent. If same happened in the CC would have been a huge issue, props, shaft alignment, rudder adjustments. Just so much more enjoyable running outboards. Also try scheduling an appointment for a good diesel mechanic, take a month or so. Yamaha mechanics are all over the place comparatively speaking. That’s my opinion.
Old 11-18-2019, 06:29 AM
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In the 5+ years of twin Cummins diesels I've had zero repair and minimal maintenance issues. The only major difference than outboards is having to open up the aftercoolers every couple of years. Air/fuel filters, oil changes are constants with both.

Electrical - different story but that's not an outboard/diesel debate.
Old 11-18-2019, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Trout Dog View Post
I’ve had a 28 Carolina classic with Volvo’s and a 28 Southport. Sorry but the Southport was so much better in everyway. At 700 hours the Volvo’s needed intercooler cleaning, 2 injectors, one burned a little more oil, plus a bear to change oil. Plus the boat was slow and very loud. Also had to get it pulled out of the water both props taken off and rebalanced. Probably from hitting things. The Southport was basically turnkey and go. Best part when not using you tilt the engines up out of the water. So no growth whatsoever on the whole propulsion system. I hit a huge log coming home from the canyon , huge bang, stopped looked around, then continued home. Just one of the skegs was slightly bent. If same happened in the CC would have been a huge issue, props, shaft alignment, rudder adjustments. Just so much more enjoyable running outboards. Also try scheduling an appointment for a good diesel mechanic, take a month or so. Yamaha mechanics are all over the place comparatively speaking. That’s my opinion.
Volvo’s are good engines but holy moly are they awful to own for all the reasons you just listed

there are several reliable diesel guys in my area I don’t think that saying outboard mechanics are more reliable is fair or accurate

I don’t have an ax to grind here but some misconceptions out there on diesels. In fact, I own two boats with outboards right now....
Old 11-18-2019, 06:39 AM
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I don't think, at this point, it really matters which costs less or which is considered "better" ..............the fact of the matter is outboards are the preferred power for 70% + of boaters today. Inboards today are like bottom paint, people just don't want them - for whatever reason it doesn't matter.

One thing i can say for absolute certainty - the (2) 6 cylinder diesels i have now - it costs 1/3 to change the oil and filters of what it cost on the (2) 150 suzuki 4 strokes that i had before them. Rotella you can buy for $12 - $13 bucks a gallon. Likewise, no spark plugs, no wires, none of that. My transmissions use the same oil as the engines - 15-40 rotella and require the oil and filter be changed once a season (unless you run 100's of hours) and isn't any more labor intensive than changing the oil in the leg of an outboard.

Where you will see the cost and "maintenance" difference diesel vs outboard - a diesels raw water circuit needs to be maintained. On many, you are cleaning the heat exchange, oil cooler, after cooler probably once every couple years at least. I do mine every season because..........i like to do it, it's easy, and i like a trouble free season.

I also think there's a HUGE difference when comparing a low HP (lets say less than 450hp) mechanical diesel to some of the big boy stuff ( > 1000hp), tier 3 common rail. People get so worked up about a diesels 1000 hr service ....................on my very simple 200 hp mechanical diesels, that basically means i need a mechanic to come and check the valve adjustment.........cost me about $200. Now, on a 100k 1200+HP MAN, i think there's a much more rigorous maintenance schedule that costs alot of money.

I have (2) Volvo TAMD 41P diesels @ 200hp each. The previous owner ran them for 16 years and 1500 hrs without ever doing anything to them other than fluid and filter changes. They are currently 20 years old, 2000 hrs, and i regularly go 50 - 70 miles offshore in the northeast. I hope that they run for many more years, but if they don't - i'm not going to cry about it because 20 years in purely salt is a good long life. My engines have never run in fresh water, and that i know of have never even been freshwater flushed, and the boat is wet slipped 8-9 months of the year.
Old 11-18-2019, 07:30 AM
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We had a Pursuit 345 Offshore with twin Yamaha 350s then to a Viking 43 Open with twin 800 MANs, and now going to a Pursuit 385 with trip Yamaha 350’s.

Our MANs nickel and dimed us to death but they ran great most of the time. Both of the outboard boats are more efferent at a faster cruise and a much higher top end but in a decent sea, ther is no replacement for displacement. The lower center of gravity that comes with the inboards is nice as well when it gets sloppy.

Repower on the Viking was around 250k and a repower on the 385 will be closer to the 100k mark although I have not really checked.

The larger inboard boats tend to have more systems on them which is more stuff to break which turns into a higher cost of ownership. Anyone who says different is wrong. While an inboard can be better annually, the likely hood is that something will break and it will cost.

We went back to an outboard for a few reason that include simplicity, better efficiency, and a shallower draft which is important to us and where we keep the boat.

You also have to factor in that if you are looking at even money, you will be in an older inboard boat with aging systems. And AC is 4-5 grand, refrigeration, generator, pumps, etc.... will be older and therefore closer to the end of life expectancy.

A larger boat will cost more on a daily basis for slips, power, details, etc.....

Our insurance is about the same but we are going from a 2001 boat to a 2016 boat so the replacement value is much different.

I do believe that the inboard diesel boats hold their value a little better over the years. The outboard boats tend to depreciate fast from what I can tell.

I love a diesel boat and would have another one but it doesn't fit in out current program. If you have any thoughts that you may not like owning a boat like this, I would want a late model example of a very popular boat in your area. Our Viking was on the market for almost a year with price drops. Buy it right and be prepared to sell it right if it isn’t for you. Avoid obscure boats that are unique to your area if you can help it as certain boats do better in certain areas.
Old 11-18-2019, 08:32 AM
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One more thing to add to the last post. What is your local support like?

If there is only one option in your area for Cummins or Cats or Suzuki or Honda,etc. Expect to pay more for possibly inferior service. You pretty much can't throw a rock without hitting a Yamaha or Merc mechanic. But when they are busy, getting them gets spotty unless you build a relationship with a good one.
Old 11-18-2019, 08:38 AM
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Figure about $10,000/year for a 36FT twin diesel boat to cover all your maintenance expenses. I run twin Cummins QSC 8.3's, with a generator about 200 hours per year. The engines had 500 hours on the clock when I bought the boat, and now have 1700 hours. The $10,000 estimate covers:
-haul out/winterization
-bottom paint
-launch/start up of systems, engines generator
-two per year oil changes ($300-$400 each time doing myself using Cummins recommended Valvoline and all Cummins filters)
-transmission oil/filter changes
-Racor filter changes (2 engine/ 1 generator)
-inline spin on filter changes
-internal/external zincs
-upkeep of all hoses, belts, batteries, impellers, engine paint, etc.
-propeller tuning (we have them done every 2 years), cutlass bearings
-Heat exchanger cleaning (every 3 years)
-valve adjustments
-1000 hour service
-insurance
-cosmetic upkeep, (which includes detailing/waxing, teak maintenance, etc.)
-woodwork (varnished toe/helm rail maintenance and interior cabinet maintenance)
-soft goods repair/replacement and maintenance

Keep in mind, I am very proactive and stay ahead by doing regular change outs of various components to prevent failures while 80 miles offshore. I do about 70% of the work myself on the maintenance, but leave the more complicated diesel repairs (heat exchangers, turbos) to the pros. But you always have some unexpected component fail, adding significant cost. Over 6 years of ownership, I've had failures of engine wiring harness and brain, alternators, fuel pumps, and even a turbo on the one engine. All of these factors ended up averaging out to the $10,000/year figure, which is a pretty accurate budgetary figure. Keep in mind on the big diesel boat, you also have items like a full head/pump out, air conditioner, fridge, freezers/drink coolers in the cockpit, raw water pumps (for the freezers/AC), battery charger, halon fire extinguisher system, entertainment system, etc. That figure does not include the $30,000 upgrade in electronics I spent two years ago, (but that would be similar in the CC if it had 3 screens and a small tower).

Comparing cost of ownership to my newly purchased 2005 Southport 28 with twin Yamaha 250's, is not even close. I'd spend approximately $3000/year in maintenance on the Yamaha's and ran them to 1100 hours before selling. Oil change costs were significantly less, (even using Yamaha oil and filters). Fuel filter costs and changes were also less. Granted, I kept my boat on a lift, and did not require haul out, but I regularly had a Yamaha Tech inspect and lube the engines, change internal zincs, and change out water pumps and impellers. That averaged about $3000/year which included haul out/launch parts and labor over the 8 years of ownership. The Yamaha's required much less maintenance in my opinion.

Eisenglass: Having a complete replacement of the enclosure done this offseason. Total replacement of the Costa Clear, (Costa's version of the EZ2CY) is $11,000. That consists of upgrading all enclosure, (currently 3 Costa Clear panels in front and 4 Stratglass panels on the sides) to complete Costa Clear/EZ2CY all around. Could save $1000 by going with the original Strataglass/Eisenglass on the sides. Enclosure replacement on the center console would be a fraction of the cost.

Keep in mind all the above costs do not include dockage, as both boats were kept at my own private slip.

Now, you ask me with all of the above do I regret moving from the 28' CC to a 36' Express, knowing what I know now after 6 years of ownership of the Express. Absolutely not. There is no replacement for displacement. I'm running a 24,000LB beast compared to a 6000LB missile. At my age, getting back 1/2 hour sooner to the dock after an 80 mile run offshore is just not important any more. I'm still tired, (since I got up at 2AM the night before), but my body is not beat up and recovers much more quickly. I've never looked back. Lots of great memories on the CC, but I'll keep the larger boat at this stage of the game.

However, purchasing a boat of that size as your first boat would probably not be a good idea. Learn the ropes on a smaller boat, and then gradually trade up to a boat that suits your needs.
Old 11-18-2019, 12:25 PM
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Very good input, appreciate it guys.

It's looking like my takeaway is that twin diesel engines on a good year can be similar, or even cheaper if you do all your own work, to maintain as a couple outboards. But realistically over time, with more parts and systems to break down (that eventually will almost no matter how well maintained the boat), and higher costs for labor, rebuilds and replacements on the diesels, over 3, 5, and 10 year time frames the diesels will almost certainly cost significantly more to maintain. I realize this is somewhat dependent on a lot of factors like use, how closely you adhere to manufacturer maintenance schedules, and even just plain luck, etc.

This makes me want to re-focus on getting an outboard express for my first boat. The Pursuit 3370 has 6' of headroom in the cabin, which is basically my height, and less in the head. So I balked on buying that boat because I feel like a cabin where my head is touching the ceiling, and crouching in the head, would be hard to relax well in. The Grady-White 330 has 1'1" more beam than the Pursuit (11'7" vs 10'6") and I've heard it has 6'3 headroom in the cabin and 6'1 in the head so I want to check that boat out and see if the layout feels good with the extra beam and headroom. I prefer the Pursuit theoretically but ultimately I want a boat that will be comfortable for me.

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