Saturday, May 28, 2011

Engine Musings

Its been a while since I posted about engines, but, as the engine room is coming together, more serious thought is being given. If I had to buy an engine now, it would be a BETA Marine engine. Reasons include the specific features for ease of maintenance, very desireable in a cruising boat. I have heard of a number of Westsail owners who repowered with Beta Marine engines. In fact Bud over at World Cruiser (Westsail support) recommends Beta Marine.

Beta Marine 60

  • Based on Kubota block.
  • Number of Cylinders : 4 
  • Bore and Stroke : 87 X 102.4mm 
  • Swept Volume : 2434cc / 148.5ci 
  • BHP @2700 r/min : 56 
  • Engine Net Weight : 287 kg / 631 lbs 
  • Reliable heat exchanger cooled, naturally aspirated, indirect injection diesel engine.
  • Cast iron cylinder head and block with a gear driven camshaft and sea water pump.
  • Three vortex combustion system for quiet running, excellent fuel consumption, and emission compliance in all countries.
  • Installation angles up to 15° maximum when static, and 25° when heeling.
  • Technodrive or PRM gearboxes. Output rotation is clockwise in ahead viewed from gearbox end
Handy Features:
  • Easy access oil removal hand pumps
  • Easy access raw water pump
  • Second alternator option

Parallel Hybrid Option

The Beta 60 has a parallel electric hybrid option available. Which is essentially a brush-less DC motor with belt drive that can be engaged/disengaged on the transmission output shaft. The DC motor is used to drive the prop shaft directly. Beta's hybrid approach seems to be no-nonsense, simple and easy.

Beta 25 with Hybrid option. The Beta 60 Hybrid would be similar.
While not as sophisticated as other parallel hybrids (which might be considered a good thing). The DC motor parts, used in many other non-marine applications are "off the shelf" and therefore readily available.

"Virtual" test fit of the Beta 60 Hybrid in the engine room. Just enough!

As much as the geek in me appreciates the "green" aspects of hybrid propulsion, I would not consider it for those "green" reasons alone. Especially for a boat the size and weight as that of the Westsail 42. What does make it more compelling is the fact that the electric drive can be reversed for power generation. By engaging the belt drive and running the engine in gear (as when you are motoring), you effectively have a compact DC generator. And, while sailing, you can "free wheel" generate via the propeller. Such a setup eliminates the need for a second diesel engine driven generator, saving space in the engine room.


Bill K said...

The free wheeling means that the transmission will not be hurt by letting the shaft spin ?

The reason I ask is that some transmissions you have to lock the shaft from turning such as in a twin engine vessel if you are running on one engine.

Bill Kelleher

robert s said...

Bill, I believe 'yes'. When freewheeling, the transmission is in neutral, with just the output shaft spinning. I presume this is not bad for the transmission as the engine maker says there is no problem freewheeling.

Crew said...

Any thoughts by you or Beta Marine on which propeller would be a good fit with this design. My Perkins 108 is getting into its Senior years and needs to be retired. Plus it is underpowered for the W42.


The Incredible Hull said...

Hi Robert

The "power generation" aspect is interesting but as you are aware there is no free lunch. From our choice of boats we both like solid long keel traditional sailboats. Most of our "sailing time" while cruising (which from my experience will be shockingly limited) will involve trying to get the beast to move above 6Kts. Anything that slows the vessel is not a good thing.

robert s said...

Thanks Gerry,

I am under no illusion that hybrid power strictly for propulsion ALONE, on a boat like this will net any advantages. My guess is that, under electric drive, about 3/4 hull speed would be max.

But, if I can engage the hybrid "generator" while motoring/idling the diesel to charge batteries or run high loads, in place of what otherwise would be separate installed genset (and all the redundant cooling/fuel/exhaust systems that goes with a genset), that could make this setup attractive. Cost (both dollars and space) of engine+hybrid vs engine+genset still needs to be analyzed.

Tate said...


I had a talk with a Beta dealer after looking into this for our boat, a W32. I found that the cost of the hybrid system was over double the cost of just the motor. I was a bit shocked that it was so high, but there you have it.


robert s said...

Thanks Tate, I got a price quote too and no they don't seem cheap. But compared to what? Just a thought here but, does cost $(BetaHybrid) >= $(Beta) + $(DC Genset) ? That is about the only comparison I can come up with.

Tate said...


We never priced a genset. It just isn't in the cards for us as we are trying to go with the wind/solar option. (read: we're poor).

I thought the hybrid was really cool. If it is in the ballpark of the genset + repower I'd definitely go for it. Or maybe even if it was only 20% more than the genset + motor. How much is a genset btw?