Engines lose performance as they age. Either from heavy use, environmental conditions, or even through the lack of use. Cylinders can become grooved, seals and gaskets become worn, and the engine is no longer providing the performance it once gave. This situation is not only with marine engines. Though marine engines operate under much harsher conditions than industrial engines or engines in land vehicles, those engines eventually also wear out and need replacement. This article is not so much related to replacing worn out engines. The rebuild versus re-power argument usually comes down to cost, and sometimes feasibility (Engines can only be rebuilt so many times).
What if you have an engine that is still functioning? Are there reasons to consider re-powering before the end of that life cycle?
Here are five reasons:
- Fuel Efficiency: We were recently involved in a project that was asking us to perform a cost / benefit analysis on re-powering some vehicles equipped with some old Cummins engines. Though these engines still operated, and were quite fuel efficient when they were manufactured (around 1990), re-powering with modern, MarineDiesel engines could save the customer almost 20% in fuel savings over the course of one year. Technology changes, and engines have become far more efficient in the last 20 years. Even though rebuilding the existing engines would be cheaper, the fuel savings over the long term more than make up for the additional acquisition cost.
- Emissions: Emissions regulations have become extremely strict, especially in North America, Europe, and the Polar regions. Old engines were manufactured under different emissions regulations. What was once compliant is now non-compliant.
- Performance: As engine efficiency has increased, engines are now lighter and more powerful than ever. New engines nearly always show increases in vessel performance over rebuilt old engines.
- Vibration and Noise: As engines wear, they tend to vibrate more, offering a reduced life cycle over time. Additionally, the standards for vibration and, particularly, noise have changed over time. Modern engines are far quieter and produce less vibration than rebuilt engines.
- Cost of Maintenance: Every time an engine is rebuilt, a little of the life cycle goes with it. Though engines can be rebuilt to a very high degree of competence, they are still older engines with a significant level of use. Maintenance expenses will always increase. Perhaps not by much, but they will increase nonetheless. Add in the fact that, on average, the cost of rebuilding an engine averages 60% of its’ cost new. Extra maintenance expenses can quickly close the gap between new / rebuilt.