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Westerbeke vs Yanmar

Maine Sail

Moderator
Feb 6, 1998
11,036
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
I currently have a Westerbeke. The engine is a marinized Mitsubishi industrial engine and a wonderful base block, just as Yanmar's are and Kubota's are. Westerbeke has always had any marinized part I needed and the rest I get from the industrial side. In fact I can't remember the last time Westerbeke ran out of a part we needed to fix a customers Universal or Westerbeke, other than the M-25 timing gear covers, but that was Kubota who ran out....

The only marinized diesel blocks I shy away from are Shibaura's. These are found in Perkins and Volvo engines.

I would not snub my nose at any boat with a Westerbeke, Yanmar or any engine that is a marinized Kubota block.

That said, if I were repowering today, I would go Beta Marine (Kubota), hands down, in a split second. My second choice would be Yanmar. I won't even look at a boat if it has the "Green Grief" in it, been there, done that, never again...
 
Jan 11, 2014
4,155
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
How does one tell if the Westerbeke or any other marinized diesel is a Kubota, Mitsubishi, or some other block?
 
Dec 25, 2000
3,906
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Our 1991 boat came with a Yanmar four cylinder tractor engine and a three cylinder Kubota tractor engine, both of which were modified for a marine application. Other than routine maintenance, these both start and run flawlessly as long as they have clean fuel filters and sea water strainers.
 
Aug 20, 2017
10
O'day 26 Kismet Gig Harbor, WA
Yeah......I think I'll just find a late model boat with a well maintained Yanmar.
 
Aug 17, 2017
19
O'Day 272LE MYC
I recently completed major engine work on my Universal M-12, (Kubota-based, Westerbeke relative). So as I searched for parts, I found that Universal and Westerbeke parts were just about synonymous. I found that the parts were expensive and that there were few (read: one) providers for said parts, and that some critical parts were just not in inventory (back-ordered, for months). Based on my experience and the experience of my mechanic, there is no way I would replace my Universal with another Universal or Westerbeke. Should I choose to repower, I would go with Yanmar or other (perhaps Volvo-Penta?) If your final decision is based on the engine manufacturer, I would suggest you keep shopping.
 

Maine Sail

Moderator
Feb 6, 1998
11,036
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
I recently completed major engine work on my Universal M-12, (Kubota-based, Westerbeke relative). So as I searched for parts, I found that Universal and Westerbeke parts were just about synonymous. I found that the parts were expensive and that there were few (read: one) providers for said parts, and that some critical parts were just not in inventory (back-ordered, for months). Based on my experience and the experience of my mechanic, there is no way I would replace my Universal with another Universal or Westerbeke. Should I choose to repower, I would go with Yanmar or other (perhaps Volvo-Penta?) If your final decision is based on the engine manufacturer, I would suggest you keep shopping.
The M-12 was built from 1983 to 1988 so that engine could be 31-36 years old. How many vehicles that old can you still get 100% of the parts for?

Compare that engine to any other engine built during the same or similar time frame and you'll find parts no longer available, regardless of brand.

We find plenty of Yanmar parts we can no longer source other than used on eBay. Volvo parts availability is some of the worst we have to deal with.. We've had two customers in the last two years, with Volvo MD2030's, both of which were impeccably maintained, yet still failed. Both of these engines were made in the mid 2000's, one boat is a 2006 and the other a 2008. A huge amount of the parts necessary to repair these engines did not and do not exist. neither engien was repairable due to lack of parts. These are 2006 and 2008 motors! No parts..... They also never even offered a short or long block so that route was a dead end.

The good thing about Westerbeke Corp is, if they can still make the part, even cast parts, they will bend over backwards to do so.. Volvo basically tells you to pound sand and buy a new motor.. Yanmar, like Kubota (worlds largest producer of diesel engines under 100HP) or Mitsubishi or Isuzu blocks are all really very good engines. I even have a commercial lobsterman with an Isuzu based engine that has 17,000 hours on it and it has never been torn down nor rebuilt.

I would not re-power my own personal vessel with a Yanmar because I dislike how their dealer network operates in order to control parts pricing at high levels. I can source the identical Yanmar parts, with a little research, from a John Deere dealer for about 50% less than through Mack-Boring, (who we have to go through based on geography) and Deere is known to have high pricing in the tractor world. Westerbeke does the same, as does Volvo to control parts pricing.

Beta Marine does not do this, and in fact tells you, upfront, where to find the Kubota parts for less money.
 
Aug 22, 2017
1,562
Hunter 26.5, 212, 170 West Palm Beach
A few years ago, I had breakfast with the guy who was in charge of US distribution for Westerbeke parts. According to him, at that time, parts availability for most motors was good, but the motors that had been outlawed by the EPA were getting weaker support on major components (like blocks). Friends of mine, with Westerbekes currently in their boats, seem to have no problem sourcing standard maintenance parts off the internet for acceptable prices. Another friend of mine is having a heck of a time trying to find a replacement exhaust manifold for a Perkins that he just had rebuilt. His old & rotted-out manifold is now at some welding shop, to see if they can get it back into shape for him. I had previously been asked if I could repair it for him. My answer was flat out no. That's an answer that I don't often give to a friend. I just did not see any way that I could make that part reliable again.
 
Last edited:
Jul 7, 2004
5,918
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
I'm no authority on engines, but if the boat is in a great shape as you say and the price is right, I wouldn't let the type of engine it has scare you off. Always remember, it's a sailboat first.
 
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Jan 4, 2013
208
Catalina 270 Rochester, NY
"The M-12 was built from 1983 to 1988 so that engine could be 31-36 years old. How many vehicles that old can you still get 100% of the parts for?"
You mean I can't get engine parts from GM for my 1959 Cadillac?
 
Feb 5, 2004
3,933
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
The good thing about Westerbeke Corp is, if they can still make the part, even cast parts, they will bend over backwards to do so.
Yes, indeed. My only current frustration is that I haven't figured out exactly what Mitsubishi engine mine's based on; and, that parts for the JS gear are no longer available. It's a Westerbeke 38B-FOUR.
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,092
Columbia 36 Muskegon
My Westerbeke M-35 is a Kobota V1200 engine. I can get all parts (at a much lower price) from the local Kobota dealer or on line. The Westerbeke manual is identical to the Kobota manual except the part numbers are changed. Illustrations and text is the same.

The M35 is actually a Universal engine, which is now owned by Westerbeke. All the Universals are really Kubotas, which makes parts cheap and available if you know the tractor Kubota put that engine in. That info is available with a Google search. The Kubota parts guys are pretty helpful, but they do not know which Universal engines their Kubota's cross to. For example my M25 is really a D850 from a Kubota B1550 tractor. With that tractor model info I can get any part I need for about one tenth what Universal/Westerbeke charges.
The red Westerbekes are mostly Mitsubishi engines, it should work the same with them.
 
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Maine Sail

Moderator
Feb 6, 1998
11,036
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
The red Westerbekes are mostly Mitsubishi engines, it should work the same with them.
Some Westerbekes were Perkins, some Mitsubishi and some are Isuzu. Westerbeke has a contract with Mitsubishi that says Mitsubishi industrial dealers are not allowed to sell parts for Westerbeke engines. In other-words if you tell the industrial engine dealer you need parts for a Westerbeke, no parts for you....

I have a "wood chipper" that has a Mitsubishi S4L-2 & that's all I know...
"What is the serial number?"
"I don't know and I can't make it out."

Westerbeke gets special identifying serial numbers on their blocks so don't ever give the Mitsubishi dealer this info, just model number....
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,092
Columbia 36 Muskegon
Some Westerbekes were Perkins, some Mitsubishi and some are Isuzu. Westerbeke has a contract with Mitsubishi that says Mitsubishi industrial dealers are not allowed to sell parts for Westerbeke engines. In other-words if you tell the industrial engine dealer you need parts for a Westerbeke, no parts for you....

I have a "wood chipper" that has a Mitsubishi S4L-2 & that's all I know...
"What is the serial number?"
"I don't know and I can't make it out."

Westerbeke gets special identifying serial numbers on their blocks so don't ever give the Mitsubishi dealer this info, just model number....

I think it's probably the same with Kubotas. You would think that after a while in a heavy boating area they would get to know the right engine info. But they're not allowed to admit it.