Narrowboat Engine Replacement (All You Need To Know)

Well, isn’t replacing a narrowboat engine a minefield of confusing information and puzzling prices? In this article, we aim to tell you exactly what a narrowboat engine replacement will cost, how long it will take and some more too. As you know, it is very difficult to find costs of narrowboat engine replacements. Many people know a narrowboater who knew a guy once who had their engine replaced. Still, there are too many people out there with any concrete evidence of how much a narrowboat engine costs to replace. So, we’ve tried our best to find examples of narrowboat engine replacement costs, and you can find them below. Still, please take these with a pinch of salt!

The cost of replacing a narrowboat engine

Okay, so the first thing to remember about replacing a narrowboat engine is that if you opt for a direct replacement of your current engine, it is the cheapest option. This is because the engine mounts don’t need to be replaced, the gearbox doesn’t need replacing and so on. So, if the cost is a real issue for you, try your best to find a direct replacement for your current engine. You could find a refurbished engine for your narrowboat too.

If you want your narrowboat to have more power, then you will likely have to pay more. This is because the new engine will need different parts and mounting points to work correctly. Plus, you may need a new prop and gearbox to get the most out of your new engine.

New narrowboat engines range in cost (and power) from just under £4,000 to about £8,000. Reconditioned engines start from about £1,000 and go up to about £8,000 for a very decent one. That is the cost for the engine alone, not the fitting of the engine. Most boatyards don’t provide the cost of fitting an engine on their website because there are so many variables. Additional skin cooling, a new prop, a new gearbox. All of this and more can really make the cost of a narrowboat engine replacement shoot up.

One of the best examples of a narrowboat engine replacement we could find is a replacement of a Yanmar 4TNE84 diesel engine from a canal boat forum. The total cost of replacing this engine (the replacement was a 5000hr 4 cyl Yanmar) was £5000 (this was just an estimate from a forum user). Other forum users say that they could replace their narrowboat engine in a weekend if it were a direct replacement with an engine that costs about £1,000. Take needs a pinch of salt too, I think!

Another case we found on a canal boat forum states that the owner of a Barrus Shire 30hp engine was quoted £12,000 to replace it with a beefier Beta Marine 43hp motor. A commenter on that forum post did state that in 2007, they had replaced a BMC 1.8 with a Beta 43hp engine for £7,000. So, £12,000 did seem quite high even if the skin tank needed replacing.

These are the best examples of narrowboat engine replacements that we can currently find. Replacing your narrowboat’s engine and the subsequent cost depends greatly on the type of engine you have and the type you are replacing it with. If the engine is a direct replacement, expect to pay less. If you want more power on your boat, you will likely need to pay more.

How long does replacing an engine take?

Again, depending on the work that’s involved in your narrowboat engine replacement, it could take anywhere up to a month. Some boatyards do offer an exclusive job type deal where you can pay a bit more, and they’ll have it completed a bit quicker. Still, if they need to replace the engine, prop and add new skin cooling and more, it may take longer.

Does a narrowboat need to be taken out of the water to have its engine replaced?

In most cases, a narrowboat can have a replacement engine fitted without being removed from the water. In fact, most boatyards can do gearbox replacements and even prop replacements without taking your narrowboat out of the water. Of course, in certain circumstances, a boatyard may need to take your boat out of the water, but it is rare.

Does my narrowboat engine need replacing?

One thing that comes up in the boating forums a lot when discussing narrowboat engine replacement is that the gearbox and/or prop may not be well-matched to the engine. The prop and the gearbox are just as important as the engine. They work like a well-oiled machine (as long as they are well-oiled), or, at least they should. Having the perfect gearbox ratio and the right sized prop makes all the difference to the performance of your narrowboat’s engine. If there is an issue with your boat’s gearbox or prop not being well-matched to your engine, your boat’s engine will have to work much harder. So, if your narrowboat engine feels underpowered or like it’s working too hard, it’s worth investigating the gearbox and the prop.

This is common in ex-hire narrowboats. Some sellers will swap the engines to a brand new engine to entice buyers that may not have owned a narrowboat before. The appeal of a new engine is too much. However, the engine may not be best suited to the gearbox and prop. So the engine may appear underpowered when really it is a combination of things making the ratio incorrect.

We hope this look at replacing a narrowboat engine has been helpful. We’re sorry there isn’t more information available for replacing narrowboat engines. Narrowboat engines are tough cookies and so replacing the engine is quite rare. However, to save some money, look for a direct replacement or a refurbished engine. If you want more power, bear in mind that you will likely need to replace the prop, gearbox or both as well the skin cooling and possibly other parts. All of which will increase the cost. Finally, if you feel that your engine is underpowered, it could be that your prop, engine and gearbox are not well matched. In which case, a new prop or gearbox could make all the difference. Please explore our website further for more info about narrowboats, the best pubs on the canals and a great more!

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