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Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Old 12-31-2008, 03:14 PM
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Default Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Looking at a boat with a pair of them...Owner states 1900 hours, since new, what should be the reasonable time for these engines to stay healthy. I know that with good maintanence they will last a long time, but need a real world answer to the question....are they done @ 2000...3000....4000 Any insight here or should I pass. Planning on Oil analysis and tanny fluid analysis as well.

Boat is a 1986 model 40 footer also owner states a 20 MPH cruise.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:29 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

do an oil analysis and find out how it was operated like cruise rpm and does it make top rpms if not it is over proped and that is not good if all good you cam expect 5000 hrs i have a freind whith 10000 hrs on one with 435 hp
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:31 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

There are a bunch of variables,this is best answered with a cheap investment in a membership to boat diesel.com these forum is worth its weight in gold to find info on diesels. Good luck
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:47 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Anyone who has had a 3208 apart will tell you they were never designed for long term life. They were built to power class 5 and 6 trucks with a 300,000 to 500,000 mile life at the 180 to 250 hp rating. EVT and EFI have offered much more power but still it is not a linered motor so in the end it is a disposable motor designed to be used and discarded. 60 year old Detroits are still in daily use all over the world because you can replace the liners and a few wear parts and have a new engine again when the 3208 has been bored a couple of times the next step is scrap metal.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

biggest factor with that motor is configuration. the lower hp variations have done incredibly well and last long time maintained right
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:02 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Age and lack of use will do more to reduce the lifespan than 1900 hrs of usage. That is 86 hrs per year...which means they sit and rust for the other 8,764 hrs in the year. I do have a problem with the 3208 being called a "disposable" motor. By the time they cannot be sleeved anymore, can be in the area of 5-figure hours. Realistically, how long do you expect a motor to last? Today, the last day of 2008, given a choice, even if a Detroit were re-built, why would you want one? They were a fantastic motor for the time but why would I want a oil leaking, loud, fuel-inefficient engine?(I am talking the 71 and 92 series engines)

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Old 12-31-2008, 04:14 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

JAGSARE1 - 12/31/2008 7:02 PM

Age and lack of use will do more to reduce the lifespan than 1900 hrs of usage. That is 86 hrs per year...which means they sit and rust for the other 8,764 hrs in the year. I do have a problem with the 3208 being called a "disposable" motor. By the time they cannot be sleeved anymore, can be in the area of 5-figure hours. Realistically, how long do you expect a motor to last? Today, the last day of 2008, given a choice, even if a Detroit were re-built, why would you want one? They were a fantastic motor for the time but why would I want a oil leaking, loud, fuel-inefficient engine?(I am talking the 71 and 92 series engines)
I happen to agree 100 % Disposable ? Anyone whos been around the 3208 knows better.
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:15 PM
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Default RE: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

I will assume that you are talking about 3208's rated at about 320hp or less. This would mean they are turbo charged (Thats the "T") with no after cooler. If the engines spin up to the max WOT of 2800rpm with a full load on board and they have been serviced regularly, I see no reason the motors should not last 4,000 hours or more.

The key is service records and a good survey. If the engines are well cared for, reach 2800+rpm at WOT, and they run 100% I would not hesitate to buy.
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:54 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

A friend of mine had a 50 ft trawler with a pair of 3208s. He ran that boat for years at low rpms and sold it with over 4000 hrs on the motors still running strong.
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:15 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

I disagree with the disposable comment. I have worked on many 3208's and do not believe that to be true. The 375 Hp engines we see in commercial use average 10,000 hrs between rebuilds. If it is a 225 or 250 hp natural in a trawler style vessel that gets run alot, you will see upwards of 20,000 or more.
I've even work on a few irragation pumps with them and have seen 25,000 hrs.
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:04 PM
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Default RE: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

beleive they are 330 Hp models...
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Old 12-31-2008, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

435 hp were the bummer models what ever the cruise is to be safe pull back a bit
and check your bottom and props
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Old 12-31-2008, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Bryan, there were no 330hp models for the 3208. Could it be 320hp? Just in case there is some confusion, there were 330hp Cummins engines.
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:25 AM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Disposable engines? Surely you jest. The 3208 is one of the better and longest running production engine ever put in a boat. Like all marine diesels there was a demand to squeeze more power out of them by increasing HP over the years. The buyer demand for speed of the modern day sportfisherman has greatly affected engine life across all brands not just Cat. The need for speed greatly affected engine longetivity as the builders tried to cram more and more HP into their boats. Unfortunately those older engine rooms couldn't take bigger motors so the answer was to get more HP out of the same size motors. A new Cabo 43 for example is now powered with 900 HP MAN V8-900CRM's. Those engines are almost 900 CI displacement and they fit into 40-45 foot sports yet the maintenance requirements are large money. You don't even want to ask what the yearly maintenance cost following MANs recommendations.

The difference between a NA engine and a highly boosted engine is huge when longetivity is the primary goal. Put a lower HP variant of the 3208 in a lobster boat or trawler and they run for many thousands of hours. Put the highest power variant in a big sportfish and run it 200 off the top and life is greatly reduced. This is really no different than any other diesel engine, the same holds true for an old 671NA compared to it's highly boosted counterpart 671TI producing more than twice the horsepower. As Jags points out there is also a line you cross where age becomes a factor more than hours. Hour meters like odometers seem to be the predominant decision logic when looking at older engines which is really just a small indicator of the life left in any engine. How the engines were maintained is of course a huge factor but the application (boat size, weight and cruise rpms) play a huge part in the longetivity equation. A 40 something sportfisherman running a couple hudred off the top it's whole life compared to a displacement hull running slow speeds is like night and day no matter what engine is installed.
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:23 AM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

JAGSARE1 - 12/31/2008 10:35 PM

Bryan, there were no 330hp models for the 3208. Could it be 320hp? Just in case there is some confusion, there were 330hp Cummins engines.
Checked ...they are 320 HP
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:28 AM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Cat says the 3208 goes about 30,000 gallons before rebuild. That is hard to figure on a pleasure boat. Headgaskets are a weak point. When they go you know; but there is little warning. Meaning a survey will not turn up a near future problem. They start easy even in very cold weather. The way Cats are usually rebuilt is the bore and dry sleeve. That way all standard bore pistons are used. The engines do have to be removed from the boat. Old DD like 671's can be "in frame" overhauled. If there is room to get the oil pan of so the bottom of the engine exposed you can even do the bottom end in the boat
I have 1984 300T Cats. So far the only work has been headgaskets. Maybe this year new injectors. I have almost 2000 hours on the motors. The boat is a 35Bertram and my engines have almost no rust; but I keep after things. I have seen 35B's with their Cats rusted bad. The biggest problem is a wet engine room with high humidity. When you habve large swings in temperature those 2 tons of cast iron get condensation all over them.I keep my engine room warn in the winten and well ventalited in the summer.

Mainiac you are a total idiot. Sure Cat 3208's like all diesel designs has a few flaws; but to even mention they are "throw away" engines just show how little really you know. You just sound like like an old DD mechanic living in the distant past.
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:35 AM
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Default RE: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Bryan Rose - 12/31/2008 6:14 PM



Boat is a 1986 model 40 footer also owner states a 20 MPH cruise.
Jersey Dawn by chance?
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Old 01-01-2009, 03:14 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

Another question on a diesel boat is what would cause a mild diesel smell in the interior areas of the rig....is it just natural with diesels or is it more likely a leaking fitting somwhere or worse the tanks letting go...any insight here.

Bryan
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Old 01-01-2009, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

I know of work boats with 3208s in them that have worked the crap out of them and done nothing but basic matainance. They are not throw-aways.
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Old 01-01-2009, 06:28 PM
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Default Re: Life span of Cat 3208 T's

CB makes a good point with the head gaskets. I have never done them on a 3208 but maybe that is something to consider as part of the purchase. If you are serious about the boat I would recommend a true engine survey by a CAT dealer. Some Marine surveyors will tell you they inspect the engines but the good ones will tell you their inspection is cursory at best with perhaps the most important part being the operational trial. I would be willing to bet that the engine mechanic you hire would have no problem recommending head gaskets considering the age of the engines in his report. Almost nobody considers head gaskets maintenance items these days but I would look hard at that on engines this old as well as cooler cleaning.
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