What is marinization?
A diesel is a diesel, right? It should work just fine whether you use it in a boat or a car.
This question occasionally comes up in inquiries to our parts department.
In theory, at least, any diesel engine should operate on any vehicle, land or sea. However, in the years we have been in the marine business, we have never seen one of these independent project come to a successful fruition. The normal scenario is that someone is either given, or has picked up very cheap, an old diesel automobile or truck engine, and they come to us when they cannot get it working.
Marinization is the engineering and manufacturing of engines specifically for marine use.
What are the differences between marine and land engines? There are many. However, the following systems are nearly always different: Cooling, exhaust, and gearbox.
Marine engines need to be liquid cooled. That means that they use a heat exchanger instead of a radiator. As has been written many times before on this blog, heat is an engine’s worst enemy, and the heat produced by combustion must be dispersed effectively in some manner.
As to exhaust, engines used on land typically use a dry exhaust system. Try this on the water and you will have a very noisy engine, indeed. A big issue with wet exhaust systems is that they typically require modified cylinder heads in order to function properly. That old school bus engine most certainly would require new cylinder heads.
Transmissions, or gearboxes, are another issue. We refer back to the old school bus engine. Though you might save a little on the engine, you will need a marine gearbox with proper ratio in order to use that engine on the water. Gear ratios for marine engines are substantially different than on land.
Electronics and electrical systems are also substantially different on marine engines. Something often overlooked is the need for a new control panel, since all of the gauges will be different. Wiring suitable to the marine environment is also necessary. Add in the fact that if the engine to be marinized is electronic, the ECU programming will be completely different. This problem can become extremely expensive to correct, and normally cannot be done by the average person or mechanic.
This brings us to the environment, in general. Marinized engines use components that are manufactured from non-corrosive metals and alloys. Engines used on land are not.
When all of the above is added up in the decision making process, that bargain engine most likely will not turn out to be as big of a bargain as it may seem. In our experience, nearly every one of these projects has resulted in very expensive failures.
Marinediesel has spent the money in properly engineering the marinization of our engines. We have already made the mistakes. We have engineered a bonafide marine engine, suitable for use on boats.
That is the definition of marinization and a very brief explanation about the steps necessary to accomplish the goal of diesel use on water.