As you may know, diesel engines aren’t something

you should take lightly. There are good reasons

why the rush to put them in cars back in the 70s

flopped. Diesel isn’t the ideal power source for

all applications.

Engine speed

Diesel engines gained the reputation for long

service life early on in the history of the

engines, mainly from engines that were used in

commercial operations. These were big, very

slow to turn engines that were usually in the

600 – 1,000 RPM range.

The long service life of the diesel engine isn’t

really a myth when used in the proper application.

It’s only a myth in pleasure craft, where the

engines are operated in-frequently at high and

low speeds, normally under very heavy loads and

adverse conditions.

Fuel consumption

If you plan to engage on some serious long range

travel, especially if fuel stops aren’t available,

then fuel consumption will become an issue.

Diesel engines will normally burn 1/3 to 1/2 the

amount of fuel as their gas equals. Considering

the cost of the engines versus the amount of

fuel you’ll burn during the time you own the

boat, fuel savings isn’t really important.


Most questions of choice arise for boats that

are in the 28 to 34 foot range where either type

of engine is available with adequate horsepower.

Gas engines do have the advantage that they are

cheap to buy and also cheap to repair.

Diesel boats are just the opposite, as for the

price of one you could buy three gas engines.

For the price of a smaller in-line 6 cylinder

diesel, you can buy two gas engines.

Therefore, cost wise, unless you really need

diesel power, diesels aren’t very practical.

The advantage to diesel comes only at the

point where the extra torque is needed because

a gasoline engine would simply be under too

much strain to have an adequate amount of

service life.

If you have a choice of gas versus diesel,

your first concern should be to determine

whether or not you can really afford to own a

diesel, as the initial price is only part of

the cost.

If you simply can’t afford to write a big check

for routine maintenance, then you will probably

be better off going with gas. On the other hand,

if you have a lot of money, diesel would be

your best bet. Diesel engines are great to

have, although they cost a lot of money to

up keep and they generally aren’t the way to go

for those on a budget.

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