Pin Me

How To Buy Second Hand Boat Engine?

written by: Ricky • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 7/12/2009

It is not possible for everyone to buy a luxury boat or have time to go cruising on a luxury liner. Yet you can consider having your own simple boat which you can use for fishing or enjoying. But you certainly need to buy a diesel engine for that.

  • slide 1 of 4


    If you are planning to buy a used marine diesel engine, this article would be really helpful and I will give you some really practical and useful tips to buy them. But before that I would like to suggest that there is no substitute for knowledge. I mean I could tell you a dozen points and you can simply check them and make a perfect deal. Yet it would be better if you know some of the theory behind these engines. If you would like to do so, I would suggest you go through these articles listed in the paragraph below.

    There are lot of informative articles on this site about marine diesel engines and we have talked about their theoretical cycles and various components such as the crankshaft, bedplate, pistons, cylinder liner and cylinder head. One important point to be noted here is that these articles considered the mainstream marine diesel engines which are used in large commercial merchant marine vessels or ships. Yet the basic principles behind the engine theory remain the same more or less and even if you are interested in buying a relatively small marine diesel engine for your personal boat, lifeboat, Formula 1 boat, motorized kayak or yatch, which you might want to use for leisure fishing or relaxing, these articles would help increase your knowledge. If you think you have all the background knowledge then you can straight away proceed to the next section and learn the tips

  • slide 2 of 4

    Going Shopping

    There are basically 3 ways to go about while buying a marine diesel engine.

    1. Buy a New Engine
    2. Buy an RTO
    3. Rebuild the Engine

    The first way is quite obvious; you shop around for the best available engine in terms of your power requirements, size, performance and so forth and buy a brand new engine directly from the manufacturer or from their authorized dealers. All goes well in this scheme except that more often than not, you may find yourself a bit short of cash as new marine diesel engines cost a lot and it is a lot different from going to the corner shop to buy a loaf of bread. There are several popular manufacturers which you could consider buying such as MAN, Caterpillar, Yanmar, Detroit and so forth. But we wont consider this option and will delve straight into the other options namely RTO and Rebuild.

  • slide 3 of 4

    RTO vs Rebuild


    RTO refers to Running Take Out engine and basically it means the engine which has been taken out (from its original or previous boat) while running (not literally though). This obviously ensures that there no serious defects in the engine though you still would have to assess its condition either yourself or get the help of a professional. This is necessary to ensure that the engine is not at the edge (not of technology but its lifespan). Using an RTO can save you substantial sum of money and if you take proper care of your RTO engine you can certainly make it last a long time.

    • Do not depend totally on what the salesman says but do check out for the running condition yourself.
    • Make sure there are not abnormal noises/vibrations when the engine is running or if there are any leaks of oil, gas or fuel
    • Check out the speed control and governor functioning
    • Since used engines do not have a fixed MRP like new company engines, try to bargain reasonably and if the seller feels that you know your stuff, you would be in a better position to bargain

    Rebuild Engines

    The only difference between a rebuild engine and a new engine is that most of the parts are replaced with brand new parts except the basic block of the engine. So they are almost as good as new engines with a much lower cost but they should have been rebuilt by a thorough professional and not a hobbyist, I mean unless you find it adventurous to get stuck in the middle of the sea when your engine fails you at that critical time.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Using Technology

    Reading the above information may be quite useful but there is one problem. A loaf of bread is available at literally every corner shop but unfortunately the same cannot be said about second hand marine diesel engines. So why not use the modern day technology of Internet and use websites for searching for such engines.

    This would give you a lot of options in terms of make, model, condition and price. You can correspond with them and find out if they can ship the required model to your place. Even if not such an online research would give you a deep insight into the price levels etc which will help you to make a buying decision.

    Also though size does matter and normally bigger is considered better, it could also be true the other way round since large websites might have too many options which means you might get confused and lost. So sometimes it is better to contact smaller websites which might have the time to provide personal and customized service to you.

    Some of the sites which could be of help are as follows and it depends on what sort, type, model, size and power engine you are looking for.


    Trans Atlantic Diesels

    Gold Coast Power

    In case you also want to buy a propeller for your boat, here is an article which deals with such stuff.