Newbie needs help? Cat 3208's Pros & Cons

Discussion in 'Newbie Lounge - NEW' started by Spectator, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Spectator

    Spectator New Member

    Jul 12, 2009
    San Diego
    Want One
    Hi everyone,
    I'm currently looking at a very clean 430 Convertible with Cat 3208TA's. They appear to run well and are clean and dry but they are in a 1988 Sportfisher with 4500 hours on them. This is a Bank Repo boat so the boats history including engine maintenence is not available so I have to take the "word" of the broker until I decide to spend the money on my own Complete survey.

    Do I pass this one due to the specific engines or the time on them. I know the trucking world considered these throw away motors. Also any idea what kind of fuel burn I'd have in a economy mode?

  2. docofthebay

    docofthebay New Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay Alabama
    1985 390 EC
    twin 3208TA Cats
    Twin disc transmissions
    In general those actually are fantastic engines.They are one of the most common diesel engines made. The term throw away was used as these engines don't have liners in the cylinders and the rebuild process is different but by no means did it mean that the engine was tossed when trouble developed. And in trucking applications the engine would last 10,000 to 20,000 hours before that rebuild was necessary. Life is shorter in marine apps as the work load is generally tougher, but depending on the shape of these engines at present, they may have 1000-3000 hours left before rebuild and in our noncommercial uses of these boats, thats many years of life.
    I have those engines and they really are great. They fire up instantly, run flawlessly are are strong. At 2400 rpms cruise I get 1mpg and at 2200 I get 1.2 mpg. Down at hull speed of 8-9 mph it can be closer to 3.
    Get a good engine survey and if they pass, then dont be afraid at all
  3. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    The rebuild process is different in that the engines are bored and sleeved (liners installed) then new pistons etc. installed. You do not throw these engines away, in fact, Caterpillar sells remanufactured 3208's regularly.

    Run conservatively, these engines live a long time. I have a friend who runs a pair in a custom built charter boat. He's out every day from March 1 until about the end of Nov. The last time I spoke with him was in December and he had 17,500 hours on them at that time. He has replaced a 2 alternators, one fuel pump and a few injectors in that time and has never had to cancel a charter die to engines. Other than that, all he has ever done is to change the oil, filters and maintain the engines.

    Figure 26.8 gph at 2400 rpm cruise on 435 hp engines, but the 43/44 CV isn't a speed demon.

    Do not buy this boat without have the hull surveyed and having a Caterpillar dealer do a mechanical survey including fluid samples on the engines and generator.

    Good luck..........
  4. my3sons

    my3sons Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2009
    Upstate NY (lake Erie)
    2004 400DB, Onan 9 kw Gen, Highfield RIB,
    Cummins 6CTA
    I wouldn't be afraid of the motors if they check out ok. Cat may be able to give you some maint. backround by running the numbers.
    We have 2 in late 80's mediums that get regular use, and 1 in a drill rig. Granted, we don't run that rig full time, but only because the newer rigs have better tool handling systems on them.....not because of the motors.
    Others can tell you about fuel burn.
    Good luck with your search and welcome to CSR

    I guess Frank already did tell you about fuel burn....see what happens when I start a post then go eat breakfast and come back without checking...Ha
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2011
  5. Pietro

    Pietro Active Member

    Nov 1, 2009
    Rome, Italy
    1990 390 EC
    3208 375HP CAT
    Great engines as Frank and docofthebay stated. Possibly one of the best marine engine ever!
    I have had them since 17 years and they never ever ruined my vacations!
  6. katricol

    katricol Active Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    2000 540DA
    CAT 3196 660 HP the cat dealer in your area and they will tell you what info they have on those particular engines !!!
  7. Spectator

    Spectator New Member

    Jul 12, 2009
    San Diego
    Want One
    Thanks everyone for the input. I'll get the surveys and go from there!

    thx Again,
    Nice to be here!

  8. swgroup

    swgroup New Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    1993 sey ray 290
    one 454 merc
    can anyone tell me where i can buy new striping for my 1993 sea ray 290?
  9. BonBini

    BonBini New Member

    Sep 28, 2009
    Great Lakes
    88 268
    7.4L Alpha One
    The Cat 3208 was a medium duty diesel engineered for 50,000 gals of fuel. Typical a set of rebuilt heads and a lower end overhaul (rod and main bearings) was needed at mid life to get one to go the full run without failure. I’ve seen a lot of well maintained 3208’s go the distance and then some. I’ve also seen a lot of them with spun lower end bearings, dropped valves and poor maintenance records.

    If/When you have an engine survey: I think you should request to have one of the rocker shafts pulled and inspect the tappet and valve keeper area closely.
  10. hemibird

    hemibird New Member

    Jan 24, 2010
    Huntington Beach, California
    1982 36' Sea Ray Vanguard sportfisher, auto pilot, gps, everything
    Twin 3208 turbo
    I have twin 3208 turbo 275 hp engines on my 1982 36' sport fisher. They run great and the boat loves to run with no trouble at 2400 rpms all day. The only problems I have experienced are that the oil pans are well known for rotting on the bottom causing leaks. The only main issues I have had were normal exterior wear and tear: raw water pumps leaked, fuel shut off solinoid (1) burned out, and one ignition relay. Other then that regular maintainance is importand as all mentioned above. Have qualified CAT mechanic test oil.
  11. Escape22

    Escape22 Member

    May 22, 2017
    Milwaukee WI
    1986 210 SXL
    5.7 260 Merc
    old thread.

    Should you do the rods and mains at 1000hrs? 3208
    I also read the aftercoolers should be cleaned.
    Supposedly recently serviced by CAT and has 1100hrs original fresh H2o.

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