Re: Any SM owners use a Beta engine??

Mark Barter

We have had a nightmare fitting the Beta 85T to our 1993 Super Maramu.

The fitter that we employed took the Perkins out and it was only when it was put next to the Beta that he he realised that they were different sizes. I genuinely think that he thought that the Beta would just plug in. The Beta was fitted with a straight through gearbox. The fitter told me that I should have made it clear that what he called a dropbox should have been fitted. A dropbox is more accurately described as a gearbox with an offset output shaft. I hadn't been asked about the gearbox and if I had been I would have had to research the difference before I could have answered the question.

After the final checks were done by the fitter I found 2 coolant leaks and a fuel leak. They had used the wrong thread seal on the calorifier fittings so they weren't even hand tight. The had also re used the 27 year old fuel return pipe instead of putting new pipe in. The mind boggles.  

The engine is in now but the fitter failed to fit new engine feet so the boat vibrates terribly when the engine is running. We are going to have the engine removed and have new feet fitted. 

I blame myself for a lot of these problems because I put too much trust in the fitter. With the benefit of hindsight I would have done a better job myself.

Here are few takeaways which might assist any others thinking about this project:

1. If you want a high powered 24v alternator as we did, Beta will insist on fitting it if they are to honour the warranty.

2. Beta will fit the alternator to the starboard side of the engine. On a Super Maramu if the alternator is fitted there the engine will not fit because the water drain tube that goes through the engine room is in the way. It must be fitted to the port side.

3. The best plan is to remove the engine bed, fit the engine to the bed and then put it all in together. Our fitter didn't remove the engine bed. He fitted the engine to the bed whilst the bed was still bolted to the hull. That is why the feet were not changed.

4. The gearbox you need is a PRM 280. Our fitter ordered the wrong gearbox then blamed me for that and is now trying to charge me for returning the wrong gearbox. Good luck with that.

5. You need to know that changing an impeller will be a complete PITA. The water pump faces aft (when the engine is fitted) and is under the heat exchanger on the starboard side. The problem with that is that you can only access it from the rear of the engine. Due to problems with access, unless you are a contortionist, you will be fitting the impeller by feel. I intend to replace the short 4mm bolts with some studs and to get some brass thumb screws to secure the impeller cover. That should make life easier but I dread having to change an impeller in an emergency.

6. The engine is very simple. The advantage is that it will be easy to repair if anything goes wrong. The downside is that it has no refinement. It is after all a tractor engine. I suspect that even when we change the engine feet it will still be very noisy. I had planned to replace the yellow foam sound deadening material anyway so hopefully that will help.

7. You will need the fitting tool to align the engine. It can be made easily.

8. We have only run the engine for 7 hours on our way back from Gibraltar but my impression is that at lower revs it is more powerful than the Perkins. 

I won't name the fitter publicly for obvious reasons but if anyone is thinking of having any boat work done in Gibraltar contact me first. 

It is too soon for me to say whether fitting the Beta was a good option because at the moment I am very disappointed with the result. I think however that is more down to the fitter than the engine. When the new feet have been fitted I will report back. I am going to run a test on a decibel meter before and after the remedial work is done so that I can provide some actual data on the issue.

Mark & Nicky Barter
S/V Nunky
SM 110

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