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Volvo Penta i/o sterndrives? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

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Volvo Penta i/o sterndrives? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

Old 09-26-2020, 06:29 AM
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Question Volvo Penta i/o sterndrives? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?

Hello again, oh ye wise and all knowing forum...

I am currently taking a closer look at a vessel with twin 330HP Volvo D6 Diesel coupled to Duo-Prop Outdrives.

Should I be happy or should I run away?

I have heard some warnings that these engines and drives are know for problems... is this true? I would like to here from anyone that has owned, run, or heard of their reputation.

Thanks y'all,

~Salty~

**sidenote question
**The vessel is also equipped with joystick control and I am curious if anyone knows if Volvos EVC is capable of holding position (GPS DP) with sterndrives or if this is a feature only capable with the IPS drives. That would make this joystick only usable for autopilot and docking. But \I am curious if it would also be able to hold position by pushing a "digital anchor" button like Optimus 360 or Skyhook.
Old 09-26-2020, 07:51 AM
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Don't know about the engines (diesel) but the drives are great Just be glad they aren't Mercs
They aren't anything like the Skyhook system


Old 09-26-2020, 08:26 AM
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fascinating to watch!
Old 09-26-2020, 09:02 AM
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Cool video.

So far I love my 2007 duo prop/ big block setup.
Old 09-26-2020, 04:28 PM
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Steering rams are known to leak, have superceded a number of times. Sensors that go on the outside of the rams are expensive if they need replacing. Check drives for water in oil.

Check coolers on the d6s, they also corrode at the oil filter adaptors. Check that the supercharger cuts in. Check for corrosion around the top of the exhaust horn as well as where it connects to the transom shield, and see if they have the latest horn with the anode. If the horns need replacement it's motor out.
Old 09-26-2020, 07:17 PM
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A local guy here with big Kevlacat, ran VP diesel I/Os. He switched to bracketed Yamaha 425's.
I think that says alot!
Old 09-28-2020, 08:45 PM
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I have twin '14 merc 350 MAG MPI / Bravo III with DTS including Axius joystick and Skyhook...

Absolutely love it....Skyhook holds spot-on in med chop (3-4ft on 8 sec) and moderate winds (10kt avg, 15kt pk) all day long.

With Axius, can dock in tight qtrs in up to ~8kt avg, 10kt pk crosswinds, ~3kt currents...beyond that, I tend to go back to the sticks for extra control / thrust.
Old 09-28-2020, 08:47 PM
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Forgot to note, boat is 33.4'...10.6' beam...~18Klbs loaded
Old 09-28-2020, 08:54 PM
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I’ve owned one of the Volvo Penta units and despite all the bad-rumors spread by folks who’ve never owned one... I got over my worries as it ran almost flawlessly for 30 years for me and as far as I know is still running.
The only problem I ran into was that I couldn’t just walk into the dealer and pick up the uncommon parts. (Impellers, pumps, etc..no problem if he didn’t have it ... it was available overnight.... but I had to wait 3-5 days for outdrive boots and lower-unit seals. They didn’t fail.... I just wanted to change them out in a preventive action.)
I feel good about the Volvo-Penta products.

edit: On further note: This is not bashing, but when I was shopping I knew nothing about VP and had heard rumors against them. I asked a shop who handled all types of repairs and he pointed to a pile of failed Merc outdrives behind his shop sitting in the grass. He then pointed to a pile of OMC outdrives sitting opposite. He then pointed to the only VP sitting in the yard and told me there was nothing wrong with it, as he’d re-sealed it for a customer who disappeared on him years earlier and had never returned to pick it up. “I make a lot of money on Mercs and OMC outdrives...not so much on Volvos...”
I went back to the seller and bought that VP and had very few problems, the most common problem for me was Bosch starter motors. I replaced 3 in the first ten years, eventually keeping a spare.... so of course, never had another starter problem after that. LOL

Last edited by Fishinado; 09-29-2020 at 04:21 AM.
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Saltydog Charters View Post
Hello again, oh ye wise and all knowing forum...

I am currently taking a closer look at a vessel with twin 330HP Volvo D6 Diesel coupled to Duo-Prop Outdrives.

Should I be happy or should I run away?

I have heard some warnings that these engines and drives are know for problems... is this true? I would like to here from anyone that has owned, run, or heard of their reputation.

Thanks y'all,

~Salty~

**sidenote question
**The vessel is also equipped with joystick control and I am curious if anyone knows if Volvos EVC is capable of holding position (GPS DP) with sterndrives or if this is a feature only capable with the IPS drives. That would make this joystick only usable for autopilot and docking. But \I am curious if it would also be able to hold position by pushing a "digital anchor" button like Optimus 360 or Skyhook.
What year are the engines and what version (A,B,C, etc) are the DPH drives?
How much does the boat weigh?

Is there any oil sample history on either?

One of the nice things about the D6-330 it only has one belt, as it doesn’t have the turbo...

Based on my experience, if I get a larger I/O boat, the twin D6-330 w/DPH would be my first choice.

Last edited by aubv; 09-29-2020 at 05:04 AM.
Old 09-29-2020, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by brendanm View Post
Steering rams are known to leak, have superceded a number of times. Sensors that go on the outside of the rams are expensive if they need replacing. Check drives for water in oil.

Check coolers on the d6s, they also corrode at the oil filter adaptors. Check that the supercharger cuts in. Check for corrosion around the top of the exhaust horn as well as where it connects to the transom shield, and see if they have the latest horn with the anode. If the horns need replacement it's motor out.
Uh, small issue with your comment; no supercharger on the D6-330 engine. I’ve got two and there is definitely no supercharger on this model. Quite possibly on higher horsepower rated models.
Old 09-29-2020, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by aubv View Post
What year are the engines and what version (A,B,C, etc) are the DPH drives?
How much does the boat weigh?

Is there any oil sample history on either?

One of the nice things about the D6-330 it only has one belt, as it doesn’t have the turbo...

Based on my experience, if I get a larger I/O boat, the twin D6-330 w/DPH would be my first choice.
Guys, get it straight; D6-330 NO to supercharger, YES to turbocharger

Old 09-29-2020, 07:13 AM
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I've no experience with these particular stern drive legs but had twin 280 Volvo drives on a boat a very long time ago. My only input would be if you are going to keep the boat permanently in saltwater be prepared to spend a lot of time keeping the stern drive legs clean. Mine were always antifouled with aluminium compatible paint but I still had to make a vinyl dam that went under the stern and around the legs to prevent water circulating around them and therefore marine growth while she was moored.
Old 09-29-2020, 07:27 AM
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Can’t comment on Volvo vs Merc having only had the OMC Cobra for 18 years but if any sterndrive is going to be kept in salt water moorage or docked it’s going to be extra work, they have a lot of nooks and crannies that will accumulate marine growth and every year you will be doing the power wash, scrape, sand, prime and repaint ritual. The anti fouling for aluminum doesn’t work that well and despite that the paint is quite expensive. You can even get growth in the water intakes of the outdrive. I made up a tool from stiff wire to rod that out while the drive was tilted up on the mooring. Then there’s the driveshaft bellows and anodes etc. Pulling the drive once a season to make sure the bellows does not have water in it is strongly advised. So after 18 years I can say that with regular maintenance done each season the OMC drive has been reliable with few repairs and if not kept in the water maintenance is not bad at all. No major repairs were needed. I’d expect the Volvo would be better although parts cost is high.
Old 09-29-2020, 07:42 AM
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I would not keep an I/O boat permanently moored in saltwater if at all possible. I would much rather have either outboards or inboards for a boat kept in salt water.

I would also avoid Volvo diesel engines if possible just because their routine maintenance parts are $$$$ compared to Cummins/Yanmar.

If you do get the Volvo I/O duoprop make sure you remove and regrease the prop shafts at least twice per year. Otherwise they will become permanently attached.
Old 10-04-2020, 02:52 AM
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Wow thanks guys. That's a lot of good info. Unfortunately she will have to sit in salt water and grow all kinds of little life on her, as she will be moored in a canal that is brackish. We do have cranes that they pull all the oyster and shrimp boats out with to scrub their bellies. I guess I will just have to write that off in the cost, to give her regular maintenance. I will be running 200+ miles often so hopefully I will make that up in the 30% improves fuel efficiency of the diesels. This boat will be used for 2-3 day overnight fish and cruise expeditions. Running flat protected water to the barrier islands about 40 miles from port, and then anchoring around them to putt out and fish oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico most days.

~Salty~

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